Ezekiel 3:14
So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) I went in bitterness, in the heat of my prophet now begins to realise the sorrow and the trial of the task laid upon him. The command of the Lord was sweet (Ezekiel 3:3), its performance is bitter. “But the hand of the Lord was strongupon him, and he could not forbear. Compare the similar experience of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:8-9; see also Amos 3:8), when in his discouragement he had almost resolved to refuse to declare God s message, but the word of the Lord was as a burning fire within, and he could not refrain—an experience which every faithful teacher in God’s name is obliged, more or less fully, to pass through.

Ezekiel 3:14. So the spirit lifted me up and took me away — Caught me up into the air, and carried me, (as Philip was carried away from the eunuch,) and brought me to the place where I was to deliver my message, the place where the captive Jews were settled in great numbers: compare 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Acts 8:39. I went in bitterness, &c. — I went in grief and anguish of mind, on account of the grievous things I was to declare to them, and the offence I foresaw I should give, and the opposition and ill treatment I should meet with. But the hand of the Lord was strong upon me — Urging and impelling, as well as empowering me to execute my commission.

3:12-21 This mission made the holy angels rejoice. All this was to convince Ezekiel, that the God who sent him had power to bear him out in his work. He was overwhelmed with grief for the sins and miseries of his people, and overpowered by the glory of the vision he had seen. And however retirement, meditation, and communion with God may be sweet, the servant of the Lord must prepare to serve his generation. The Lord told the prophet he had appointed him a watchman to the house of Israel. If we warn the wicked, we are not chargeable with their ruin. Though such passages refer to the national covenant made with Israel, they are equally to be applied to the final state of all men under every dispensation. We are not only to encourage and comfort those who appear to be righteous, but they are to be warned, for many have grown high-minded and secure, have fallen, and even died in their sins. Surely then the hearers of the gospel should desire warnings, and even reproofs.Lifted me up - We are not to suppose that the prophet was miraculously transported from one place to another in the land of his captivity. Compare Matthew 4:1; Acts 8:39. He had been in an ecstatic vision Ezekiel 1:1, and now guided by the Spirit he goes forth among his countrymen.

The heat of my spirit - Full of the righteous indignation, which God inspired, against the sin which he was to denounce.

But the hand - and "the hand." The Lord strengthened him for his mission.

14. bitterness—sadness on account of the impending calamities of which I was required to be the unwelcome messenger. But the "hand," or powerful impulse of Jehovah, urged me forward. So, Heb. And, or then, at that very time.

The spirit, the Spirit of God, as Ezekiel 3:12, which see.

Lifted me up, either from that prostration which the terrible vision had caused when he fell to the ground; or rather, caught him, who before was on his legs and well come to himself, up into the air.

Took me away; carried me, (as was Philip when carried away from the eunuch,) and brought me to the place where I was to deliver my message, the place where the captive Jews were crowded together.

I went: hitherto nothing appears of the prophet’s concurrence, but the verse seems to speak constraint and force, but now you have his voluntary concurrence with the motion of the Spirit. He went when so moved and assisted.

In bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; Heb. bitter in the heat of my spirit; grieved, sad, and my spirit within me was as all in a heat of anger: either,

1. Enkindled within by the sympathy he had with his countrymen in their sufferings and calamities; or,

2. Because of those wickednesses he saw and reproved in them; or,

3. Because he must be the unwelcome messenger of such unwelcome news; or,

4. Because of the danger he was exposed to among enraged desperadoes: which way soever you explain it, Ezekiel’s weakness and distempered humour will appear in it; Jonas-like, he will be angry. But; for, as some others; and, as the Hebrew. The hand of the Lord was strong upon me; either in general the power of God, which cannot be resisted; or the Spirit of prophecy, which, as a fire shut up, will break forth, as in Jeremiah 20:7-9; indeed both concur.

So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away,.... Lifted him up from the earth, and carried him through the air:

and I went in bitterness; full of trouble and sorrow, that the Lord was departing from the temple; that his people had been guilty, of such crimes they had, and were such an impudent, and hardhearted people they were; and that such judgments were coming upon them he had seers written in the roll, full of lamentations, mourning, and woe:

in the heat of my spirit; the Targum and Vulgate Latin render it, "in the indignation of my spirit"; his spirit was hot and angry, he was froward and unwilling to go on the errand, to prophesy sad and dismal things to his people:

but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me; the Spirit of the Lord powerfully wrought upon him, and obliged him to go; and the hand of the Lord strengthened him, and removed his frowardness and perverseness of spirit. The Targum is,

"and prophecy from before the Lord was strong upon me;''

so Kimchi interprets it of the hand of prophecy; the Spirit of the Lord, as a spirit of prophecy, came upon him, with great impulse upon his spirit, and he could not refuse going to his people, to declare it to them.

So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I {e} went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me.

(e) This shows that there is always an infirmity of the flesh which can never be ready to render full obedience to God, and also God's grace who ever assists his, and overcomes their rebellious affections.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. in bitterness] i. e. indignation, or anger, Jdg 18:25 (angry fellows), 2 Samuel 17:8. Similarly “heat of spirit” is fury or wrath. The prophet was lifted up into sympathy with God and shared his righteous indignation against Israel. Again Jeremiah is his model: “Therefore I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding in: Pour it out upon the children in the street and upon the assembly of young men together,” Jeremiah 6:11. LXX. omits “bitterness.”

but the hand] Rather: and (or, for) the hand. See on ch. Ezekiel 1:3. Cf. Jeremiah 15:17, “I sat not in the assembly of them that make merry, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand; for thou hast filled me with indignation.”

Verse 14. - The Spirit lifted me up (see note on ver. 12). Here the LXX. has the more definite phrase, "the Spirit of the Lord. For bitterness (see note on Ezekiel 2:3). The heat of my spirit. The first noun is here translated literally. Elsewhere it is rendered as "wrath" (Deuteronomy 29:23; Job 21:20; Proverbs 15:11, et al.), "fury" (Jeremiah 4:4). Here probably it points to the conflict of emotions - indignation against the sins of his people, the dread of failure, the consciousness of unfitness. The hand of the Lord, etc. The word for "strong" is the same as that which enters into Ezekiel's name. Taking this and ver. 9 into account, there seems sufficient reason for translating as the Vulgate does, confortans (so Luther, "held me firm"), at least for thinking of that meaning as implied (comp. Ezra 7:9; Ezra 8:18; Nehemiah 2:8; Daniel 10:18). There was a sustaining power in spite of the "bitterness" and the "heat." In a more general sense, as in Ezekiel 1:3, it is used as implying a special intensity of prophetic inspiration, as in the case of Elisha (2 Kings 3:15); but this is the only case in which it occurs with the adjective "strong." Ezekiel 3:14After the Lord had pointed out to the prophet the difficulties of the call laid upon him, He prepared him for the performance of his office, by inspiring him with the divine word which he is to announce. - Ezekiel 2:8. And thou, son of man, hear what I say to thee, Be not stiff-necked like the stiff-necked race; open thy mouth, and eat what I give unto thee. Ezekiel 2:9. Then I saw, and, lo, a hand outstretched towards me; and, lo, in the same a roll of a book. Ezekiel 2:10. And He spread it out before me; the same was written upon the front and back: and there were written upon it lamentations, and sighing, and woe. Ezekiel 3:1. And He said to me: Son of man, what thou findest eat; eat the roll, and go and speak to the house of Israel. Ezekiel 3:2. Then opened I my mouth, and He gave me this roll to eat. Ezekiel 3:3. And said to me: Son of man, feed thy belly, and fill thy body with this roll which I give thee. And I ate it, and it was in my mouth as honey and sweetness. - The prophet is to announce to the people of Israel only that which the Lord inspires him to announce. This thought is embodied in symbol, in such a way that an outstretched hand reaches to him a book, which he is to swallow, and which also, at God's command, he does swallow; cf. Revelation 10:9. This roll was inscribed on both sides with lamentations, sighing, and woe (הי is either abbreviated from נהי, not equals אי, or as Ewald, 101c, thinks, is only a more distinct form of הוי or הו). The meaning is not, that upon the roll was inscribed a multitude of mournful expressions of every kind, but that there was written upon it all that the prophet was to announce, and what we now read in his book. These contents were of a mournful nature, for they related to the destruction of the kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple. That Ezekiel may look over the contents, the roll is spread out before his eyes, and then handed to him to be eaten, with the words, "Go and speak to the children of Israel," i.e., announce to the children of Israel what you have received into yourself, or as it is termed in Ezekiel 3:4, דּברי, "my words." The words in Ezekiel 3:3 were spoken by God while handing to the prophet the roll to be eaten. He is not merely to eat, i.e., take it into his mouth, but he is to fill his body and belly therewith, i.e., he is to receive into his innermost being the word of God presented to him, to change it, as it were, into sap and blood. Whilst eating it, it was sweet in his mouth. The sweet taste must not, with Kliefoth, be explained away into a sweet "after-taste," and made to bear this reference, that the destruction of Jerusalem would be followed by a more glorious restoration. The roll, inscribed with lamentation, sorrow, and woe, tasted to him sweetly, because its contents was God's word, which sufficed for the joy and gladness of his heart (Jeremiah 15:16); for it is "infinitely sweet and lovely to be the organ and spokesman of the Omnipotent," and even the most painful of divine truths possess to a spiritually-minded man a joyful and quickening side (Hengstenberg on Revelation 10:9). To this it is added, that the divine penal judgments reveal not only the holiness and righteousness of God, but also prepare the way for the revelation of salvation, and minister to the saving of the soul.
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