This new article is available as a PDF:
D. A. Carson, “Excerpts From A Sermon: The Call of the Prophet in Declining Time: Ezekiel 1–3,” The Spurgeon Fellowship Journal (Fall 2007).
“Now what is vital for us, in the opening chapters, is the nature of God’s call on Ezekiel’s life. For God does not call all prophets in exactly the same way.”
- “It [is] a call to see God and be humbled (1:4–2:2).”
- “It is a call to speak God’s words and be fearless (2:3–8). . . . It is always crucial in a fallen world to declare all of the counsel of God. But it is specially important in declining times for three reasons:
- “It is important because in declining times it takes special courage. . . .
- “It is also the means by which God does His work; whether it is the work of judgment or a work of revival and renewal. . . .
- “In a culture where most of the people have inherited a Judeo-Christian worldview, a Judeo-Christian framework, then what we meant by preaching the gospel tended to be a sub-set of the biblical big picture. . . . But now, suddenly, we are dealing with people for whom none of the original givens are any longer givens. And what do we do? Those who are still involved in evangelism know that there is only one thing to do. That is, to start farther back.”
- “It is a call to empathize with God’s perspective and be unyielding (2:9–3:15).”
Conclusion: “What is at stake here, and throughout the rest of this chapter, is this powerful insistence that Ezekiel must be a man with unswerving loyalty to God’s perspective . . . In fact, God says in v. 8, ‘I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint.’ Do you hear what God is saying? He is envisioning a kind of headbutting contest. ‘And Ezekiel,’ He says, ‘you are not going to lose. I am going to make your forehead harder than anybody’s.’ Now I realize, again, this can be played out to make preachers harsh and unsympathetic and unyielding bound up with their own ego and their own rightness in every issue. That is not quite the point. The point here is that you do not have reformers that are wimps. Eventually you need reformers who are so impassioned by the word of God that when they do engage in head-butting contests they win because of God’s strength in them, such that their foreheads are harder than flint. They butt-up against the culture and they don’t bend. They don’t crack. They are strong. Or, to put it differently, this is a call to empathize with God’s perspective and be unyielding.”