The ministry of a prophet is unique. He’s certainly not a pastor. He’s not trying to shepherd a flock of people and establish a local ministry where he is sent. He preaches God’s words and often what he has to say is very negative. In Ezek 3:4-14, we see some aspects of Ezekiel’s ministry.
He’s sent to a specific audience – Ezek 3:4 – “get thee unto the house of Israel.” 3:11 “get thee to them of the captivity.” Examples: 1 Ki 11:29, Ahijah went to Jeroboam to prophesy of the split kingdom. 1 Ki 13:1-2, the man of God came to Bethel to prophesy to Jeroboam and the altar upon which he was worshipping. Jer 1:7, the Lord said to Jeremiah, “thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak,” which leads to the next point.
He’s sent with specific words – Ezek 3:4 – “speak with my words unto them.” Ezek 3:10 “all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears.” As in Prov 22:17-22, “all my words” are heard with the ears and received in the heart. Thus, the prophet is not just getting the gist of the message. He is getting the exact words to speak. This is why he can truly say, “Thus saith the Lord God,” Ezek 3:11. Jesus confidently spoke the words he was given, Jn 8:28, 12:49. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I have put my words in thy mouth,” Jer 1:9.
He’s not sent as a missionary – Ezek 3:5-6 – “thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language.” “They would have hearkened unto thee.” The Lord is saying that Gentiles would have listened to and received his words. A missionary often has a more receptive audience than the people in his own country. The people in Nineveh certainly hearkened unto Jonah. Gentiles certainly responded favorably to Paul’s preaching, Acts 28:28.
He often prophesies to people who won’t hear – Ezek 3:7 – “the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee.” They are “impudent and hard hearted.” This must be one of the most challenging parts of a prophet’s ministry, Amos 5:10. Ahab wouldn’t listen to Micaiah, 2 Chr 18:25-27. More times than not, the prophet is jailed, or persecuted, or even killed. Joash incredibly killed Zechariah, Jehoiada’s son, 2 Chr 24:20-22.
He has to be as hard headed as they are – Ezek 3:8-9 – “I have made thy face strong… and thy forehead strong.” “As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead.” He has to be hard headed because they are rebellious. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “I have made thee this day a defended city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls,” Jer 1:18. In Jer 1:19, the Lord said, “they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee.” About Jesus Isaiah wrote, “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed,” Is 50:7.
He’s directed by the spirit – Ezek 3:12-14 – “the spirit took me up… the spirit lifted me up, and took me away.” Ezekiel gets “carried away” on several occasions, Ezek 8:3, 11:1, 11:24, 43:5. John was supernaturally transported by the spirit, Rev 4:2, 17:3, 21:10. More normally, the Spirit simply leads a man as in Acts 9:26, 29, 39. Paul experienced this direct leading of the Spirit in Acts 16:7-10, for instance. The noise of a great rushing matches Acts 2:2, when the Spirit was given.
His message often riles him up – Ezek 3:14 – “I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit.” John experienced this bitterness after he had eaten the little book in Rev 10:10-11. It was sweet as honey in his mouth, like Ezek 3:3, but it was bitter in his belly. Elihu experienced this in Job 32:18-20. Jeremiah was weary with forbearing; he had to speak, Jer 20:8-9. Jesus experienced this, Mk 3:4-6, Matt 21:12-13.
Conclusion: this passage gives us a good view into the unique ministry of a prophet. He is God’s man sent by the Spirit to preach God’s exact words to specific people, who more times than not, don’t want to hear what he has to say. He has to be adamant and say what God wants him to say regardless whether they will listen or not. What a tough ministry.