Michelangelo's Ezekiel
A hard-headed priest-prophet

Still thinking about Ezekiel 3:1-11, the Uniform Series text for this Sunday; here are some questions we might take up in class:

Ezekiel is warned “not to be rebellious” in connection with eating the spread-out scroll (Ez. 2:8). The scroll is unusual, in that it is covered with writing front and back, making it especially dense; the text conveys lamentation, mourning and woe (Ez. 2:9-10); when Ezekiel does eat the scroll, it tastes sweet (Ez. 3:1-3). How does this story make you feel about Ezekiel, about God, about their relationship, and about what is in store for Ezekiel? If you were in Ezekiel’s position, what would you be feeling and thinking? In light of this, what ideas do you have about what the scroll is supposed to do to or for Ezekiel?

God informs Ezekiel that he is being sent to people who speak his language, but who will not listen. What might be the purpose of delivering a message to people who will not listen? Can you think of human situations that might call for delivering a message, whether or not the recipient listens to it, or in which you or someone you can think of might want to do that, or might feel compelled to do that? Could those situations shed any light on God’s motivations in this situation, or not? If they could, what light do they seem to shed?

In verses 7-9, both the house of Israel and Ezekiel are described as “hard.” Does this quality make them “the same,” or “different,” from one another? How, if at all, is the “hard” quality of the house of Israel different from that of Ezekiel? In what way does Ezekiel’s “hard” quality connect him to the house of Israel? In what way or ways does it distinguish him or set him apart from the other exiles?

What difference does it make that the people to whom Ezekiel is being sent are his “own people?” What difference does it make that Ezekiel is eligible to be a priest? How might these be helpful or vital qualifications for Ezekiel’s mission?

Why might it be important for the people to “know there has been a prophet among them” (Ez. 2:5)? How might that knowledge be important? Would or could it be positive, or negative? Beneficial or harmful? In what way or ways?

Why might God instruct Ezekiel not to be afraid of the people (Ez.. 2:6)? What would lead Ezekiel to fear the people? What would allay this fear?

Do you see any similarities between Ezekiel’s 6th century situation and your own or anyone else’s 21st century situation? What are they? Do you see differences between the two historical situations? What are they? In light of the similarities and differences you perceive, how does what you learn about God’s character from the Ezekiel story seem to pertain to the way you sense or do not sense God working in the world today?