Outline of Ezekiel 1-3:
Ezekiel’s Inaugural Vision (chs. 1-3) I. The Divine Vision (ch. 1) II. The Call and Commission (2:1-3:15) III. Warning to Israel (3:16-27)
Ezekiel, a soon-to-be priest in Israel, was taken into captivity during the first Babylonian attack on Jerusalem in 597 B.C. (cf. 2 Kings 24:12-15). The Book of Ezekiel begins about five years after this attack. The story opens with Ezekiel sitting on the banks of the Chebar River (a tributary or canal that flows into the Euphrates). Ezekiel is apparently turning 30 years old, the age that a qualified person would enter the Levitical priesthood (Numbers 4:3). However, Ezekiel was denied this opportunity due to his exile in Babylon. One can only imagine his state of mind in light of this exile from Jerusalem and the loss of the future that Ezekiel had right in front of him.
God breaks into this dull moment in Ezekiel’s life with a vision that will change his course and calling; from priest to prophet (Ezk. 1:4-28). He sees a storm cloud approaching with wind and flashes of lightning. Inside the cloud are four strange creatures, wings stretched out, wheels beneath each creature, their wings supported a platform. On the platform was a throne and on this throne was a man-like figure. This figure’s appearance was like hot metal engulfed on fire, surrounded by a brilliant rainbow. Ezekiel writes, This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord (Ezk.1:28). Ezekiel fell on his face before this creature. Chapter two and three records the initial message of this creature, revealed to be the Sovereign Lord (2:4).
It is significant to the context of this passage to note that God’s glory had for centuries been associated with the Temple in Jerusalem (c.f. 1 Kings 8:11, Psalm 26:8, 63:2, 96:6, 102:16). Now God has left His Temple to appear to Ezekiel in a place of exile.
Examine the Passage – Ezekiel 2:1-5
2:1 He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you.
The Hebrew, ben adam, translated Son of man or mortal is used 93 times in Ezekiel. This phrase is God’s way of calling attention to the prophet’s humanity and mortality, which this book portrays in dramatic contrast to God’s glory. In the New Testament, Jesus frequently referred to himself as the Son of Man (Matthew 8:20, 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 32, 40; etc.), but never explained what he meant by that term. In the early church, Christians sometimes used the phrase “Son of Man” to designate Jesus’ humanity—alongside “Son of God” to designate his deity.
2:2 And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me.
Ezekiel’s initial response to his vision was to fall on his face in the presence of God. God now calls him to stand on his feet to receive his marching orders. It seems to be inferred that the Holy Spirit is given to Ezekiel in order to equip him for the challenging mission he will face. It will be vital for Ezekiel to keep in step with the Spirit.
2:3-5 He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD.” Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.
Israel’s rebellious nature has a long history at this point, yet God continues to send prophets to warn them and call them back to faithfulness and fruitfulness. Their stubborn willfulness has resulted in their exile, God’s stubborn love will not let them go. He is sending a prophet to rebuke them and to bring correction in hopes that they will heed this word and be restored.
Ezekiel is accountable only for obeying God, he is not accountable for the people’s failure to listen (cf. Ezk. 3:18-19).
Ezekiel 2 reminds us that to speak for God is both a privileged calling and a difficult, even dangerous assignment. Before one takes on such a mission, he/she must humble themselves before God and wait for the enabling power of God’s Spirit. An encounter with the Holy God not only moves one to a posture of humility, it also strengthens the servant to speak truth in love, even when it feels threatening to do so.
Another important point of application is the standard of accountability for anyone who is called to preach and teach God’s Word. God will hold the messenger accountable for being faithful, not for being successful (as the world measures success). Faithfulness requires our best efforts in prayer, study, preparation, and presentation. Love requires a broken heart for lost and misdirected people, and love always perseveres. Thus, do not get discouraged. As Paul instructs Timothy: 1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. [ 2 Timothy 4:1-5 ]
 The NIV Study Bible. Kenneth Barker, General Editor, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI., 1995. P.1224.
 Ibid, p. 1225.