Ezekiel 2:4-5

4. For they are impudent children and stiff-hearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God.

4. Et filii duri fade, et robusti corde: ergo mitto to ad eos. et dices illis, Sic dieit Dominator Iehovah.

5. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.

5. Et ipsi sive audiant sive desistant quoniam domus rebellionis ipsi: et1 scient quod propheta fuerit inter ipsos.


God proceeds in the same discourse, but expresses in other words the great rebellion of the people, for they were not only obstinate and unbending in heart, but also of a contumacious countenance: therefore he places hardness in face as well as in heart. The words indeed are different, ysq, keshi, and yqzx, chezki, "of brazen countenance," for we may translate "winked" and "contumacious," for this disposition appears in the countenance, nor is it objectionable to render it "impudent." But. propriety of speech must be retained; for we must speak of the robust of heart as "broken down," or if the allusion seems more apposite, we must render it "of broken countenance," then of "broken spirits," as we call the wicked "brazen-fronted." The meaning is, that the Jews were not only rebellious against God and puffed up with proud contempt, but their impiety was so desperate that they opposed themselves to God without disguise, as if they had been horned oxen or furious bulls. We know that hypocrisy often lies hid in the mind, and although men swell with malice, yet they do not betray what they inwardly nourish. But the Prophet here signifies that the Israelites were so immersed in impiety, that they displayed themselves as the open enemies of God in their very countenances. The result is, that the Prophet, while he applied himself to perform the commands of God, ought so to determine with himself, when he approaches the people, that his teaching would be not only useless as to them, because it would not be received with the reverence which it deserves, but would be even exposed to many reproaches: since the Israelites were not only filled with a hidden contempt of God, but they openly showed their ferocity, so to speak, since they were of so brazen a front that they would without doubt purposely reject the Prophet. They are hard-hearted children, etc., yet I send thee unto them. Here, again, God opposes his own command, as the Prophet simply acquiesces in this word alone, "I have a divine mission." If he displeases men, he is content to have his labor approved of God. This is the meaning of the phrase which is now a second time repeated, I send thee unto them. For the Prophet might object, What can I do? for if they are of a brazen heart and of an iron front, I shall labor in vain. But God answers in return, that the Prophet need not be anxious, it is enough to have a command: as if a prince should not explain the whole of his counsel to his ambassador, and yet should order him to discharge his embassy, thus God acts towards his servant. We see then how God here magnifies his authority: and we must mark this diligently, that we may not wish always to be bargaining with him, as we are accustomed. For unless God show us the present fruit of our labor, we languish, and so we endeavor by turning back to withdraw ourselves from his authority: but God opposes this single sentence, Behold I send thee. The rest I leave till to-morrow.


Grant, O Almighty God, since thou hast counted us worthy of enjoying the privilege of daily listening to thy word, that it may not find our hearts of stone and our minds of iron, but may we so submit ourselves to thee with all due docility, that we may truly perceive thee to be our Father, and may be confirmed in the confidence of our adoption, as long as thou perseverest to address us, until at length we enjoy not merely thy voice, but also the aspect of thy glory in thy heavenly kingdom, which thine only-begotten Son has acquired for us by his blood. -- Amen.

Lecture Seventh.

After God has admonished his servant as to the difficulty of his mission, he now strengthens him and exhorts him to unconquered freedom. Thou shalt say, says he, Thus saith the Lord, as if he should say, this alone is sufficient for overcoming all obstacles, that he has to take in hand God's business. For even here God does not give fixed commands, that he will do afterwards in its place, but the observation is general. Thus saith Jehovah: that is, I bring forward nothing of myself, but faithfully relate what God has commanded. We see then the Almighty's object here: viz., to oppose his name to the obstinacy of the people, and he orders the Prophet when instructed by his authority to be of a brave and intrepid disposition, although he has stern and hard-hearted enemies. Afterwards he adds, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, yet they shall acknowledge that a prophet has been among them.

Here, again, God exhorts his servant to persevere whatever be the event of his labor, for if we do not succeed according to the desire of our minds, we are inclined to despair: but God wishes us to proceed in the course of our duty, though all things should turn out contrary to our wishes. But he shows that there shall be some fruit of our labor, although the people, through their own depravity, reject what has been said to them: for this thought breaks the spirits of God's servants, when they do not perceive the usefulness of their labor: for we always desire to accomplish something worth the trouble which we give to it. God therefore here signifies that he has some other object in view than the salvation of men; namely, the removal of all pretext for error, and the stripping off of every disguise of impiety in which men willingly clothe themselves. For even hypocrites, though they perish knowingly and willfully, yet think themselves excusable, unless God afford them the light of his doctrine. The meaning therefore is, although the Prophet's teaching would not profit the Israelites, yet it would be useful in another way, namely, that they may perceive that there has been a prophet among them. In this way there is no defect, although some think the words of the Prophet abrupt: for an important word seems to be wanting when he says, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, because they are a rebellious house, and they shall know, etc. For we have said that the copula ought to be resolved into the adversative particle, because even then they shall know: for their perverseness shall not prevent their being convinced by God. We may learn then from this place, that although the impious furiously endeavor to reject the doctrine of God, yet they obtain no other end than the more complete manifestation of their own wickedness. Hence, also, we may learn that God's doctrine is precious to himself, and that he cannot bear us to despise it. The wicked then never can escape punishment when they treat with contempt the divine teaching, for it is as if they trampled upon inestimable treasure, Those who are left without the law and the prophets shall not escape God's hand, because their conscience is sufficient to take away all excuse. (Romans 2:12.) But when God invites men to himself, and approaches near them, and offers himself to them in a peculiar manner as their Father and Teacher, if they reject so remarkable a benefit, truly their ingratitude is worthy of the utmost severity. For as often as God raises up prophets for us and faithful ministers of his doctrine, let this which has just been said come into our minds: unless we embrace such a benefit, we at length shall know that a prophet has been among us, because God will exact fearful vengeance for the contempt of his great loving-kindness. Now it follows --

1 The copula "and" is here redundant, but it may be resolved into the adverb of time or the adversative particle -- " trot they shall know." -- Calvin.


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