1 “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:
3 And they committed whoredoms in
whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and
there they bruised the teats of their virginity.”
After another pause, the prophet enters on another elaborate parallel, after
the pattern of Ezekiel 16., but with a marked variation. There we have the
history of one harlot,
two sister harlots, the daughters of one mother, and they
are represented as having had a separate existence, even during the period
of the sojourn in
cleavage caused by the claims of Ephraim to supremacy appearing again
and again long before the revolt of the ten tribes under Jeroboam
(Judges 8:1; 12:1; II Samuel 19:43). Both were alike tainted with
in the history of the golden calf, when they came out of
(compare ch.16:7; 20:7-8). Yet even then Jehovah, like Hoses in the
personal history which was to be to him as a parable of
compassion on them, harlots though they were (Hosea 1:2). They became
his, and “bare sons and daughters.”
4 “And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her
sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus
were their names;
The occurrence of proper names is almost unique in the parables
of the Bible, the Lazarus of Luke 16:20 being the only other instance.
Their meaning is sufficiently clear. Aholah (but both names should begin
with O rather than A) means “Her tent;” Aholibah, “My tent is in her.” A
parallel, which may have suggested the names, is found in the Aholibamah
(equivalent to “My tent is in the high place”) of Genesis 36:2, and
another in the use of Ohel as a proper name in I Chronicles 3:20. The
common element of the two names is the word that is commonly used for
the sacred tent or tabernacle in the Pentateuch and elsewhere. The
distinctive element of each points to the fact that the worship in
was unauthorized. Her “tent” was hers, not Jehovah’s. Of
her privilege, also aggravated her guilt. Keil and others take the adjective
here, as in ch.16:46, as meaning “greater” rather than “older.” The
former adjective is, of course, applicable to the greater power of the
kingdom of the Ten Tribes, and, even if we retain the renderings of the
Authorized Version, is probably the explanation of
the elder of the two.
Aholah and Aholibah (v. 4)
“Her tent” and “My tent is in her.” These names stand respectively for
was independent after secession from
mother’s tent and has one of her own.
representative of the tabernacle of the wilderness; therefore God’s tent was
in her. These prosaic facts were suggestive of deeper traits of national
character, which the symbolical names suggested.
independent. This national independence has its counterpart in individual
independence. Jacob leaves his home and fights his own battle with the
world. Joseph is sent away from his family, and cast in his youth among the
grand opportunities of a great nation and the direful temptations of a
dissolute society. The young man going out into the world enters on the
exhilarating but trying career of independent life. There are special
opportunities, duties, and dangers in having one’s own tent.
Ø Opportunities. The independent position is not hampered with
restrictions. Freedom means a wide range for individual activity. Now is
the time to realize the long-cherished dreams of earlier days.
Ø Duties. Duty dogs the footsteps of opportunity. As our scope for choice
and individual activity is enlarged, the obligations of service are
correspondingly increased. The slave has few duties; the free man great
obligations. The liberty of manhood brings the burden of a man’s duty.
Christian liberty increases the obligations of Christian service.
tyranny of Rehoboam; but the liberty which was got by separation brought
its own great dangers. Cut off from the temple-worship, excluded from the
national festivals, deprived of the highest religious ministrations, the freed
people were tempted to fall into the idolatry of their ancestors and their
neighbors. This temptation was too great for them, and they apostatized
ordinances. The young man who leaves the Christian home of his
childhood for new scenes of worldly life is entering on a path of danger.
A self-contained life is open to temptation. To seek TO BE
INDEPENDENT OF GOD IS TO COURT RUIN!
her. She has the outward means and symbols, at least, of the Divine
presence. This fact represents high privileges, with corresponding guilt
when God is forsaken.
Ø High privileges.
o Prosperity. God’s presence brings joy and true welfare.
o Protection. If God’s tent is in our midst, the Captain of salvation is
with us, and though a host should encamp around us, we need fear
o Spiritual grace. The temple was not a mere meeting-place, sanctuary,
and fortress. Its services were “means of grace.” God is with us to
enlighten, purify, quicken.
Ø Heavy guilt. Aholibah apostatized. Her guilt was all the greater that she
bore such a name, and could claim the symbol of God’s presence as
peculiarly her own. The greatest guilt is that of men who know God and
have enjoyed his presence and grace in the past, and who, sinning openly
against light, have spurned those privileges and willfully rebelled against
their chosen God. No sinners are so guilty as apostatized Christians. Mark:
it is possible to be Aholibah and to enjoy God’s presence, and yet to turn
against Him, fall, and be ruined.
5 “And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted
on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbors,” The history of both the sisters
passes from the time of the Exodus to that of their separate existence, and starts,
in fact, from their first
intercourse with the great monarchies of
less a survey of their successive stages of degradation, like that of Ezekiel 16.,
than a retrospect of their political alliances. Aholah played the harlot. The
lovers, as in ch.16:33, are the nations with which the
alliance, and of these the Assyrians are named as preeminent. The word neighbors,
which in its literal sense is hardly applicable, is probably to be taken of spiritual
affinity, or may be taken as “come near” is in Genesis 20:4; Leviticus 20:16;
ch.18:6. The Assyrians were those who, in that sense, came near to the harlot city.
We have in II Kings 15:20 the fact that Menahem paid tribute to Pul. Hosea 5:13
and 7:11 speak generally of such alliances. The black obelisk of Shalmaneser
records the fact that Jehu paid tribute to him (‘Records of the Past,’ 5:41). In the
last-named case the tribute consisted chiefly of vessels of gold, bowls, goblets, etc.
Exalted Relationship and Enormous Sin (v. 5a)
“And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine.”
· A RELATIONSHIP OF THE HIGHEST PRIVILEGE. “She was
mine.” Aholah is intended
to represent the people of
from the people of
with all other peoples,
Ø By creation. God “Himself giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”
He is “the Father of spirits.”
Ø By sustentation. He is “the God in whose hand our breath is, and
whose are all our ways.” With Job, we may say to him, “Thou hast granted
me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” But:
illustration of the redemption of man from sin effected by our Savior
Jesus Christ. “The Lord hath anointed Him… to proclaim liberty to the
captives,” etc. (Isaiah 61:1-2). He “gave himself a ransom for all.”
(I Timothy 2:6)
thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou
becamest mine” (ch. 16:8). They belonged to Him as a wife belongs
to her husband. This is the relationship to which the text points, and which
is treated of in Ezekiel 16. It is great condescension on the part of God to
authorize the prophets thus to represent his relation to his people. “Thy
Maker is thy Husband; the Lord of hosts is His name” (Isaiah 54:5).
“Return, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am a Husband unto
you” (Jeremiah 3:14). This relationship should be characterized by:
Tender affection. We may see this in the way in which
the love between Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:23-32). When
marriage is contracted without true mutual affection, the relation is
o Exalted privilege. In taking the Israelites to be His, God gave Himself to
them as their supreme Portion. “They shall be my people, and I will be
their God (Jeremiah 32:38). “This of God’s being our God,” says
Charnocke, “is the quintessence of the covenant, the soul of all the
promises: in this He hath promised whatsoever is infinite in Him,
whatsoever is the glory and ornament of His nature, for our use;
not a part of Him, or one single perfection, but the whole vigor and
strength of all. As He is not a God without infinite wisdom, and infinite
power, and infinite goodness, and infinite blessedness, etc., so He passes
over, in this covenant, all that which presents Him as the most adorable
Being to His creatures: He will be to them as great, as wise, as powerful,
as good, as He is in Himself. And the assuring us, in this covenant, to be
our God, imports also that He will do as much for us as we would do for
ourselves, were we furnished with the same goodness, power, and wisdom:
in being our God, He testifies it is all one as if we had the same perfections
in our power to employ for our use; for He being possessed with them,
it is as much as if we ourselves were possessed with them for our own
advantage, according to the rules of wisdom, and the several conditions
we pass through for His glory.”
o Scrupulous fidelity. The relationship imperatively demands this. God
would not fail in one jot or tittle on His part. “If we are faithless,
He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Hmself.” (II Timothy 2:13 -
one of my favorite verses - CY - 2022) And Israel was required to be
true to Him in obeying His commands, and above all in worshipping
him alone. “I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the
other gods before me,” etc. (Exodus 20:1-3). Through Jesus Christ
we may each enter into this exalted relationship. Through Him we may
each be enabled, without presumption, to say of the great God,
“He is my God and my Father.”
· A SIN OF THE GREATEST HEINOUSNESS. “And Aholah played
the harlot when she was mine.”
been unfaithful to her husband. The primary reference is to the sin of
Jeroboam in setting up the
golden calves at
upon the people to worship God through them (1 Kings 12:26-33).
And this was but the beginning
Baal and Astarte. Their sin involved:
Ø Positive injustice. They robbed God of His rights. He has a just claim on
our obedience, our reverence, and our love. This claim is firmly based
upon WHAT HE IS IN HIMSELF — the Supremely Great and Good;
and upon what he is and does in relation to us — our Creator, etc.
Not to comply with His claims is to defraud Him HIS DUE!
Base ingratitude. How shameful were the returns which
His great kindness to them! Very strikingly is this set forth in Ezekiel 16.
And their conduct has been too closely reproduced by us.
o For His fidelity we have returned unbelief;
o for His love, coldness of heart;
o for His beneficence, disobedience.
How heinous this ingratitude is! And yet, alas, how common!
“Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
“Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the Waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember’d not.”
Heinous infidelity. This is the aspect of
is given in the text. In forsaking the Lord God for idols they committed a
treacherous breach of a sacred engagement. Their conduct is an
illustration of the action of those who, having avowed their allegiance
to Him, turn their backs upon Him and upon His cause. Terrible is
their guilt, and deplorable their condition. “It is a miserable thing,”
says Bishop Ryle, “to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can
befall a man, I suppose it is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged
eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in
ruins, — all these are sad sights; but a backslider is a sadder sight still.”
And appalling will be their doom, even “a certain fearful expectation
of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the
adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:27) Says Bunyan, “They fall deepest into
hell who fall backwards into hell.” Let backsliders return unto the Lord
while there is yet time. “Return, thou backsliding
I will not look in anger upon you,” etc. (Jeremiah 3:12-14; Hosea 14:1-4).
6 “Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them
desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.”
Clothed with blue. The same word as that used in the
description of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:4;31, et al.). It was
probably some hue of the Tyrian purple kind which marked the official
dress of the “captains” of the Assyrian armies. The words, with those that
follow, bring before us the magnificent array of the Assyrian cavalry — a
force in which
Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 36:8.).
7 “Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that
were the chosen
with all their idols she defiled herself. 8 Neither left she her whoredoms
the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.
9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the
hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted. 10 These discovered her
nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the
sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed
judgment upon her.” These verses paint the consequence of the alliance
first with Assyria and then with
probably in the form of the worship of Ishtar (Ashtoreth) as the queen of
heaven. Having done this, the kings of
kingdom against the other (see Hosea 7:11; II Kings 17:4). It was,
in fact, the discovery of Hoshea’s treachery in this matter that led
Shalmaneser to besiege
general terms in v. 10. She, the city of
sword, her sons and daughters were taken into exile. So she became
famous (i.e. infamous, like the Latin famosus), literally, a name among
women, sc. among the neighboring nations.
Sinners Left to Themselves and to Their Sins (v. 9)
“Wherefore I delivered her into the hand of her lovers,” etc. The aspect of
the sin of
idolatry so much as their contracting political alliances which were
forbidden by God. The imagery is similar to that in ch.16.; but here the reference
is not, as there, so much to the breach of the spiritual marriage-covenant with God
by the people’s idolatries, as by their worldly spirit, and their trusting to alliances
with the heathen for safety, rather than to God.” Our text suggests two observations:
THE SINNER TO TAKE HIS OWN COURSE. The Israelites would trust
against political alliances with heathen nations, or conformity to their
religious observances, with warnings of the consequences of so doing, had
been addressed to them in vain. Exhortations to trust in Jehovah alone had
proved fruitless. All moral means had been employed to secure their fidelity
to their duty and their God, but without avail. Wherefore the Lord
“delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians,
upon whom she doted.” The Israelites would have their own way, and God
at length allowed them to take it (Psalm 81:11-12). There are some
today in whom we fear the same process is at work. Here is a man who
makes riches the object of his supreme concern. Money is the god in which
he trusts, and to which he is devoted. His great and constant efforts are
made in order to acquire and retain riches. Remonstrances and rebukes for
the course he is pursuing are unheeded by him. Exhortations and
encouragements to cherish a different and nobler ambition, to trust a
worthy object, and to live to God, are addressed to him in vain. He will go
on in HIS OWN WAY! And at length God allows him to take his course, and
live for money. The same thing takes place with others who make a god of
pleasure, or who will trust supremely in their own sagacity and judgment,
or whose grand ambition and ruling purpose is to attain conspicuous
position or commanding power. If they are invincibly determined to follow
their own course, God allows them to do so. The case is thus forcibly set
forth: a man sets his mind on standing on some high place; he points to a pillar,
and says that if he could ascend to its summit he would see from that lofty
elevation glimpses of heaven, and he determines that he will stand upon that
summit, whatever hazards he may incur. At length God grants him his request;
and when the man has ascended to the eminence which he coveted, what does
he find? Sand, sand, sand! Mile on mile of sand — sand for mile on mile!
(I can remember as a child my grandmother teaching me about the man who
built his house upon the sand! – Matthew 7:26-27 - CY – 2014). And now he
wishes to descend; but how to get down is his great difficulty. There may
be no way down but that which involves suicide. Yet the man was
determined to reach that elevation; nothing could stand between him and
his wish; he urged God to grant him his request; with importunate desire he
besought that he might have his own way; and there is no punishment
heavier than that which falls upon any man when God allows him to take
his own course. God does much to lead men to forsake sin and follow
holiness; He gave His own beloved Son as a sacrifice for the abolition of sin
and the salvation of the sinner; he is working for these ends by many and
powerful agencies; for these objects He will do everything that He can,
everything that is consistent with His own holiness and with the moral
constitution which He has given to man. But one thing He will not do — He
will not compel men to forsake their own evil ways and walk in His way of
holiness. And if men were forced into righteousness of action, what would
such righteousness be worth? The obedience which is not willing is
mechanical, not moral. The goodness which is not hearty is in the sight of
God but a dead and hypocritical form.
SIN ITSELF. “Wherefore I delivered her up into the hand of her lovers,
into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.” The cause which
at last brought destruction on
conspiracies in Hoshea, who was intriguing with
he acknowledged himself a
Henry says “The neighboring nations, whose idolatries she had
conformed to and whose friendship she had confided in, and in both had
affronted God, are now made use of as the instruments of her destruction.
The Assyrians, on whom she doted, soon spied out the nakedness of the
land, discovered her blind side, on which to attack her, stripped her of all
her ornaments and all her defenses, and so uncovered her, and made her
naked and bare, carried her sons and daughters into captivity, slew her with
the sword, and quite destroyed that kingdom and put an end to it .... And
that the Assyrians, whom they had been so fond of, should be employed in
executing judgments upon them, was very remarkable, and shows how
God, in a way of righteous judgment, often makes that a scourge to sinners
which they have inordinately set their hearts upon. The devil will for ever
be a tormentor to those impenitent sinners who now hearken to him and
comply with him as a tempter.” God often employs tempters to punish
those who listen to them. And Shakespeare:
“Heaven is most just, and of our pleasant vices
Makes instruments to scourge us.”
In the righteous government of God punishment is not arbitrarily annexed
to sin: it grows out of the sin. As Hesiod observes, “The seeds of our own
punishment are sown at the same time we commit sin.” “Whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap,” etc. (Galatians 6:7-8). If men will trust
in riches or rank, in pleasure or power; if they will live for these things,
their life will bear its appropriate fruit. These their gods will prove their
ruin. Their hopes will be utterly disappointed, their lives deplorably
impoverished and degraded, and their souls lost. Let us take heed to the
object of our trust. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and
whose hope the Lord is,” etc. (Jeremiah 17:7-8). The teaching of God
is “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct
(Proverbs 3:5-6); Jesus
said, “Seek ye first the
and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
11 “And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in
her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her
sister in her whoredoms. 12 She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbors,
captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses,
all of them desirable young men.” The issue of the Assyrian alliance in the fall of
also ‘courted the alliance of the kings of
(II Kings 16:7-10) and Tiglath-Pileser. Hezekiah followed in the same
line, though he too trusted in
paid tribute, and made
included that of
the faithful vassal of either Assyria or
the place of “clothed in blue” in v. 6, describing, probably, the same fact.
Doting on the Assyrians (v. 12)
This foolish, fatal infatuation of
striking instance of the
fascination of worldliness.
true God, and had been called to a peculiar destiny as a holy and separate
nation; yet she turned aside from her high vocation, lured by the fatal
charms of military splendor and sensuous luxury in a great heathen empire.
FROM THE WORLD. Who hears the call of God must follow Him into the
wilderness, or, if He gives them a land flowing with milk and honey, must
still keep themselves apart from the evil world. This does not mean the
physical separation of a hermit’s exile or a monk’s cloistered imprisonment.
The true separation is spiritual, not local. We are called to forsake the spirit
of the world, to renounce its evil practices, and to repudiate its low,
material, sensuous tone of life.
GOD. It is not content to let them stand aloof; it appears as a tempter
trying to charm the bride of Christ into infidelity. We cannot afford to
despise its fascinating influence, for this is most subtle and potent. It comes
through various means.
Proximity. Assyria was a “neighbor”
world. Christian men are in daily intercourse with worldly men. “Evil
communications corrupt good manners.” (I Corinthians 15:33)
Ø Earthly attractiveness. There was a material splendor in the great empire
made familiar to us by Layard and others put beyond question. The
“governors and rulers clothed most gorgeously,” and the horsemen,
“all of them desirable young men,” awoke the admiration of the poor
luscious literature and sensuous art, its enormous resources, and its
elaborate culture of earthly refinement, are necessarily most fascinating.
Ø Natural inclination. The world could not touch us for harm if it found
nothing sympathetic in us. But it easily discovers remains of its old
dominion. The old Adam is not quite dead. Passion within may be roused
to answer to temptation from without.
ARE ENTANGLED IN THEM.
o to her religion,
o her morals, and
o HER NATIONAL EXISTENCE!
To succumb to the spirit of the world is to MAKE SHIPWRECK OF LIFE!
Ø Religious ruin. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)
The spirit of worldliness is antagonistic to God. As surely as this spirit gains
ground in our lives, the spirit of devotion will recede.
Ø Moral ruin. True worldliness is morally evil. It is not a mere habit of
external and earthly living. It carries with it the indulgence of
THE LOWER LIFE! At least it tends to this, and all its fascinations
drag the soul down.
Ø Life-ruin. In the end the Christian man who gives himself up to the
attractions of worldly living will reap the consequences of his sin in
corruption and death. (Galatians 6:7-8)
13 “Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,
14 And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men
portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed
with vermilion,” The sin of
courted the alliance of the Chaldeans. Probably the sojourn of Manasseh at
implies, on the other hand, that
speak, as another act of whoredom. Aholibah saw the images of the
Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion (probably “red ochre:” colors seem
to have been used largely both in Assyrian and Babylonian sculpture as in
Egyptian, and Judah seems to have copied them, Jeremiah 22:14) and
fell in love with them. As the passions of a Messalina might be roused by
sensuous pictures of masculine beauty (today pornography is the bane of
many! – CY –
the magnificence of the palaces, the strength of the armies, of the Chaldeans.
The journey of Jonah to
the prophecy of Nahum, all indicate a more or less intimate knowledge of the
Mesopotamian monarchies. The mission of Merodach-Baladan would be
naturally followed by a return embassy from
Zedekiah meets us in Jeremiah 29:3.
15 “Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon
their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the
Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:” Exceeding in dyed attire;
better, with dyed turbans, or tiaras, such as are seen on the Assyrian monuments
16 “And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them,
messengers unto them into
came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom,
and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.
18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness:
then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from
her sister.” The words paint the intimate alliance, the political prostitution,
as it were, involved in the alliance with
from them. Interpreted by the history, the words point to the fact that
Babylon, and turned, after Josiah’s death, to
the history of Amnon (II Samuel 13:15), lust, when it had wrought its
will, passed into loathing and disgust. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah were
examples of what we may well call this distracted policy. But, as it was,
this alienation did but increase her guilt. As things were, it would have
been better, as Jeremiah all along counseled, to accept the rule of the
Chaldeans. The mind of Jehovah was alienated from
been from the Chaldeans.
19 “Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the
days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of
Foreign alliances, and with them foreign idolatries, were courted more eagerly
than ever, though in a different direction. The lovers were changed, but the
harlotry went on.
20 “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of
asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 21 Thus thou calledst to
remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the
Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.” She doted on her paramours.
Commonly the word is used of a concubine (Genesis 22:24; Judges 8:31).
Here it is used in scorn of the Egyptian princes whose favor
reminding us of Homer’s Ἀχαιίδες οὐκετ Ἀχαίοι - Achaiides ouket Achaioi –
as indicating their political weakness. –All that need be said of the comparison
that follows is that here also Ezekiel follows in the footsteps of Jeremiah
(Jeremiah 5:8). What is indicated is that
as it were, to her first love, and RENEWED THE WHOREDOMS OF HER
22 “Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will
raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated,
and I will bring them against thee on every side;
23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and
Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young
men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them
lovers from whom the mind of
alienated were, as in v. 17, the Chaldeans. With these are joined Pekod,
and Shoa, and Koa. The Authorized and Revised Versions, following the
Septuagint take these as proper names, and Ewald Smend, and Furst find in
them those of Chaldean tribes. The Vulgate, followed by Luther, gives
nobiles, tyrannosque, et principes, and Keil and Hengstenberg substantially
adopt this rendering, giving “rulers, lords, and nobles.” “Pekod” appears as
a place in Jeremiah 50:21 (compare Schrader’s ‘Cuneiform Inscriptions,’ 2.
pp. 32, 117,120, where Shoa and Koa are identified with Medo-Elamite
tribes east of the
the whole, the balance seems in favor of the rendering in the text. With
these are joined all the Assyrians, who, under Nebuchadnezzar, fought, of
course, in his armies.” Now she should see her desirable young men…
riding upon horses (the prophet repeats with sarcasm the phrase v.12)
in another guise than she had expected.
24 “And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and
wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against
thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set
judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their
judgments.” With chariots, wagons, and wheels, etc. The first word is
only found here, and probably means “armor.” So the Revised Version,
with weapons, chariots, and wagons. They shall judge thee according to
their judgments; sc. shall execute the judgment which God has assigned
to them after their own manner, so their usual cruel treatment of barbarous
25 “And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal
furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears;
and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons
and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.
26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair
jewels.” They shall take away thy nose and thine ears, etc. (For
instances of this or like mutilation, in the case of prisoners of war, see the
case of Zedekiah, Jeremiah 52:11; Herod., 3:69, 154.) Possibly it may
have been known to Ezekiel as a punishment for the adulterer or adulteress
specially appropriate to his parable. Thy residue shall be consumed with fire.
The Hebrew word for “residue” (not that usually so translated) is the same
as that previously translated “remnant.” In the first clause it clearly points to
the men of
is determined by the fact that it follows after the deportation of the sons and
daughters. All that was left — in the parable, of the mutilated trunk of the
adulteress, in the history, of the devastated city, sc. the empty houses —
should be destroyed by fire.
27 “Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy
lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember
Thy whoredom brought from the land of Egypt; i.e. the last
political alliance between
Egyptian cultus that accompanied it, should be made to cease. That would
no longer be in the thoughts of the exiles; their hopes from that quarter
were extinguished forever.
A Severe Judgment and Its Satisfactory Consequences
“Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom
brought from the
idolatry of the people. Two of its clauses make this quite clear. “Thy
whoredom brought from the
eyes unto them.” The form of the idols which Jeroboam set up he derived
had seen at
what is more important for the illumination of our text, which is addressed
the people of
deep-rooted tendency to
idolatry when they came out of
points are presented to our notice.
· A JUDGMENT OF GREAT SEVERITY FOLLOWED BY
SATISFACTORY CONSEQUENCES. God had already visited the
sent famine upon them (1 Kings 17:1; 18:1-2); He had allowed them to
suffer by the invasions of their enemies (II Kings 6:24-29; 10:32-33;
13:3-4, 7). Amos the prophet
forcibly sets forth these visitations of
by reason of their sins (Amos 4:6-11). And as all these judgments failed
to turn them from idolatry, the Lord suffered them to be carried captive
to the people of
into it. God had caused them also to suffer by reason of it (II Kings
18:13-16; 21:1-15; 23:31-35; 24:1-4, 10-16). But these judgments did not
practice broke out vigorously again. And in consequence, the complete
captivity of the people, are declared to be at hand. And the text asserts
that, by means of this severe judgment, the people would be finally and
forever freed from idolatry. And the result has proved the prophetic
assertion true. One effect of the Captivity was the complete eradication of
the tendency of the Jews to idolatry; “so that whereas, before the Captivity,
no nation (all things considered) was more impetuously bent upon idols
and idolatry than they were, after that Captivity no nation was more
vehemently set against idols and idolatry than they were.” The sin of
idolatry is not limited to those who are called heathen. Dr. Thomas Guthrie
says truly, “In a sense all men are idolaters. In the days of old, it is said that
the Bible says, ‘there be gods many and lords many.’ (I Corinthians 8:5)
The Hindu reckons his divinities by thousands and tens of thousands; yet the
world has a larger pantheon — as many gods as it has objects, be they
innocent or guilty, which usurp the place of Jehovah, and dethrone Him in
the creature’s heart. Nor are men less idolaters if drunkards, though they pour
out no libation to Bacchus, the god of wine; nor less idolaters, if impure, that
they burn no incense at the shrine of Venus; nor less idolaters, if lovers of
wealth, that they do not mold their god into an image of Plutus, and, giving a
shrine to what lies hoarded in their coffers, offer it their morning and evening
prayers. He has been an idolater, who, rebelling against
follows the hearse of a coffined god; he made an idol of wife or child; and
now, when the robber of all our homes has stolen these his gods away, and
bears off his plunder to the grave, the feelings of that man’s heart may be
expressed in Micah’s complaint to the Danite robbers, ‘Ye have taken
away my gods which I made, and what have I more? and what is this that
ye say unto me, What aileth thee?’ (Judges 18:24) ‘Let no one deem it
strange if God should visit him for his idolatries. He may do so by forcibly
removing the idol, by depriving the idolater of the riches which he has
worshipped, or by taking to Himself the child or other relative which has
been made an idol. Or He may visit those who sin thus by making the idol
the occasion of sharp sorrow or bitter trial, as when a child has been idolized
by his parents, and grows up to “bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to
the grave.” Blessed will it be if such visitation leads to the turning of the
heart entirely to God.
· A PROPHETIC PREDICTION WHICH WAS REMARKABLY
FULFILLED. “Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee,” etc.
“This prediction is frequently repeated; and the accomplishment of it has
been most wonderful. It might have been expected that a nation, ever
prone to idolatry in a country where the worship of the true God was
established and none else tolerated, would have readily conformed to the
idolatrous usages of the nations among whom they were scattered by the
Captivity, and so have been incorporated with them. Yet neither the
authority, the frowns, the examples, or the favor of their conquerors or
powerful neighbors; nor their own fears, hopes, interests, or predilection
for the sensual, jovial worship of idols, could prevail with them to run into
gross idolatry, during the Captivity or afterwards! Nay, they were
instrumental to the proselyting of numbers of idolaters to the worship of
Jehovah, in the countries where they were dispersed” (Scott). This is
certainly a remarkable fulfillment of prophetic prediction; and it furnishes:
Ø Evidence of the omniscience of God. He clearly and certainly foresaw
what the result of the Captivity would be in this respect. Such
foreknowledge points to THE OMNISCIENCE OF HIM WHO
POSSESSES IT! “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou
understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path
and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou
knowest it altogether (Psalm 139:1-4) This knowledge should prove:
o A restraint to the evildoer. There is no possibility of sinning in
secret (compare Job 34:21-22; Psalm 90:8; Hebrews 4:13).
o An inspiration and consolation to every one who trusts in God.
“Our individual life,” to use the words of Dr. Parker, “is all
understood by Him. That life is but dimly known to ourselves.
We catch glimpses of it here and there, but its scope and meaning
are still unrevealed to us. We are often in the shadow. There are
scattered rays of light, but no steady shining of the sun which
protects us from the mystery of much darkness. It is enough that
God knows our life, and that His wisdom is pledged as our defense.
Tomorrow is coming upon us, and we know not with what messages
and revelations, with what joys and troubles; but God is coming
with it, and in his path is the brightness of all-sufficient wisdom.”
Ø Evidence of the Divine inspiration of the prophet. The influence of past
judgments upon the people could not have led Ezekiel to have predicted
such a result of the Captivity, but one of an opposite character. The
character of the people and the circumstances of their captivity were not
calculated to inspire a declaration like this. It could not have been the
product of mere human genius in an exalted mood, or human foresight
in a condition of intense activity. Such a prediction must have been
communicated to the prophet BY HIM TO WHOM ALL THINGS
· CONCLUSION. “Guard yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21)
28 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the
hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom
thy mind is alienated:” Once again with incisive sarcasm the prophet
reiterates the phrase of v. 17. The punishment should be all the more terrible as
coming from those whom the adulteress had once loved with the love that
had passed into loathing.
29 “And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy
labor, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of
thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy
whoredoms. 30 I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone
a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.”
All thy labor; sc. all the results of labor, all thy wealth.
31 “Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her
cup into thine hand. 32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy
sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision;
it containeth much. 33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow,
with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister
the cup as the symbol of good or evil fortune, see Psalm 23:5; Isaiah 51:17;
Jeremiah 25:15; Matthew 20:22; 26:39.) The cup, in this case, was to be
deep and large as
not with wine” (Isaiah 29:9). And that “cup,” over and above the laughter
and derision, would contain much of unknown calamities, the astonishment
and desolation of v. 33.
A Bad Example (v. 31)
to share the fate of
bad example, and of its fatal consequences.
fell power is exerted.
Ø By the fascination of suggestion. The path is made by the pioneer, and
the follower has only to walk in it. The sight of a predecessor indicates
the road, calls attention to it, suggests the idea of walking in it. The
publications of the details of a horrible crime in the newspaper exerts a
most deleterious influence in this way by filling the minds of people with
thoughts of a kindred character. Hence the common occurrence of an
epidemic of similar crimes.
By the attraction of sympathy.
similar manner. Affection is fatal when it induces us to copy the vices of
those whom we love. Even sisters must part when one chooses an evil
way, if the other would not also choose sin. But it is hard to resist the
charms of affection.
By the delusion of a false excuse.
as an excuse. What others are doing seems to be justified by their action.
(Everybody is doing it! Jesus said, “Wide is the gate, and broad is
the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in
thereat.” - Matthew 7:13 – What if one gets to the precipice and
wants to turn around but can’t because of the pressure of the throng?
CY – 2014) Instead of measuring our conduct by the Law of God,
we are tempted to test it by the corresponding conduct of others.
following the bad example of
the misconduct of her sister could be pleaded as a justification for her own
repetition of it. We cannot be excused in our own sin on the ground that
we are simply treading in the footsteps of predecessors. See how this sin is
Ø Because the evil of the way is known. The foolish follower is not
may ensnare the careless, but those who have minds to think for them-
selves cannot be blind to the wrong character of the example before them.
Ø Because of the freedom of the will. A bad example is a temptation to
evil; but it is not a force compelling men to follow. (“There hath no
temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is
faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are
able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13). Its attraction can only
work through the will, never contrary to it. Therefore one must consent
voluntarily to follow the evil pattern before doing so, and this free consent
destroys the excuse that the example is to blame rather than the man who
Because of one’s own advantages.
sorely tempted by her sister’s example. But then she possessed higher
She had the
resources. Christians are doubly guilty in following the bad example of
godless men. They sin in spite of higher influences which should suffice to
keep them in the right path.
drink of her sister’s cup. Companions in guilt will be COMPANIONS IN
DOOM! It is impossible to walk in the same path as another without going
towards the same goal. Moreover, if higher religious privileges do not keep us
trom following the sinful practices of worldly men, most certainly they will
not protect us from sharing their fate. He who treads the sinner’s flowery path
will drink of the sinner’s bitter cup.
34 “Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the
sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken
it, saith the Lord GOD. 35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because
thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou
also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.” Thou shalt break the shards thereof.
The picture of the desolate adulteress becomes yet more terrible. Like a forlorn
and desperate castaway, she does shameful execution on herself; breaks her
cup, and completes the work of mutilation in its most terrible form. That is the
doom decreed for her, because she had forgotten her true husband and the
love of her espousals. Revised Version gives gnaw the shards thereof,
painting yet more vividly the despair of the outcast.
Forgetting God (v. 35)
KNOWN. We cannot forget what we have never known. The lower
animal, which is incapable of entertaining a thought of God, cannot forget
him. (“The ox knoweth his owner, and ass his master’s crib: but
If I forget much, I must have known much.
Ø Men have a natural knowledge of God. Few races, if any, are without a
trace of religion. The science of comparative religion reveals an underlying
primitive theism beneath the tangled growth of later mythology. Paul
appealed to the natural knowledge of God among the heathen (Acts
17:28; Romans 1:19-20).
Ø They who have seen the Jewish and Christian revelation have a larger
knowledge of God.
the Law, in His providence and miracles, in the prophets. All Christendom
is open to the higher knowledge of God in Christ. Children in Christian
homes and Sunday schools have known God, though they may have
forsaken Him in later days. (Thank God for the wonderful promise
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he
will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 – CY – 2014)
Ø The people of God have the fullest knowledge of God. True Israelites
and Christians know God as He is never known to the outer world. They
have the knowledge of experience, spiritual sympathy, and fellowship
Ø He is invisible. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must
worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). The knowledge of God
is held only by faith. The decay of faith leads to forgetting God. It
requires some spiritual effort to keep our hold on the Unseen.
Ø Earthly interests distract our thoughts. These things are seen, present
and pressing; they crowd about us and force themselves upon us. They
make themselves felt as intensely real. Pleasures of life and cares of life,
fascinating delights and absorbing anxieties, all tend to put out the
thought of God. (“While we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are
seen are temporal; BUT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT
SEEN ARE ETERNAL!” (II Corinthians 4:18)
Ø Sinful inclinations rouse an aversion to the thought of God. He is holy;
He disapproves of sin. It is not pleasant to think of God when we are
choosing the evil way.
our memory by fixing our thoughts upon God. This is not a case of mere
brain failure. There is a moral defect behind it. Apart from all active deeds,
the very forgetting of God is itself wicked on several grounds.
Ø God has never forgotten us. He has provided for our daily needs, while
we have been ignoring the hand from which the provision came. He is our
Father. Gratitude and love should keep the thought of God warm in our
heart. To forget God implies gross unthankfulness and a base lack of
Ø God claims our attention and obedience. He is our Lord. He expects us:
o to listen to His voice,
o to give heed to His commands, and
o to obey His will.
But to forget God is to ignore these duties.
they miss who forsake their true life and forget their Father in heaven.
Seeking liberty, THEY COURT DEATH!
Ø This is the loss of the best blessings of Heaven.
o The light of God’s countenance is DESPISED!
o His guidance, comfort, support, and salvation
o The joy of communion is RENOUNCED!
Ø This incurs A FATAL DOOM! God cannot let us forget Him forever.
If we do not remember His love today, we may encounter His wrath
tomorrow (Psalm 44:20-21).
Ø He reveals Himself in His Word. The revelation of nature is daily
spread before us (Psalm 19:1-6). But when that is despised, God
adds the more clear voice of prophecy. We have the open Bible
to remind us of God. (What is your personal attitude towards
God’s Word? If it is not ideal, I highly recommend Amos 8 - The
Blank Bible by Henry Rogers – this website – CY – 2014).
Ø God comes to us in His Son. As men had forgotten Him, God came
Right down among them, looked at them through a human countenance,
And spoke in a human voice. Christ comes to save us from forgetting
Ø God rouses us by His providence. We are forgetting God while all
goes smoothly. Then His thunders burst over us. They startle and
alarm, but they awaken. Thus God saves us from forgetting Him.
36 “The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge
Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;”
As often, Ezekiel emphasizes by reiteration, begins yet a fresh
discourse with the same words, wilt thou judge, as in ch. 20:4 and
22:2, and enters on another summary of the sins of the two harlot sisters, in
which Moloch-worship (v. 37) and sabbath-breaking (v. 38) were
conspicuous elements. The nature of the guilt is emphasized (vs. 38, 39)
by the fact that the idolatrous ritual was performed on the very day in
which the people sacrificed in the temple; that it found a local habitation
even there (compare ch. 8:17; II Kings 21.; Jeremiah 32:34).
Abominations Declared (v. 36)
Ø They may be committed in secret. Then they are unknown to every
one but the guilty persons and their accomplices.
Ø Their corrupt character may not be admitted. Then they may be done
in open daylight without shame or rebuke. Not only the public, but
even the guilty persons themselves, may not perceive the full evil of
what they are doing.
Ø They may be forgotten. People do not wish to call to mind a
disagreeable past. As the years glide by it slides further and
further into the dim land of forgetfulness. By dint of reiterated
self-flattery the guilty persons almost persuade themselves that
they did not do the evil things of those old bad years, or that
somehow they have left their former selves behind them in that
evil past; or they put the thought of it quite out of their minds.
forget them. The recording angel has written them in his awful book with
ink that never fades. The subtle poison of them lingers in the souls of the
guilty. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Some seeds
take long to germinate. But the seeds of evil deeds have a fatal vitality,
though they be slow to make an appearance. We cannot escape the
consequences of our misdeeds by forgetting them.
TO THE GUILTY ON EARTH. It is no piece of idle vengeance that
Ø It is well for the guilty to know them. There is no chance of repentance
until the heinousness of sin is acknowledged. But that this may be the
case, the abominations must first be revealed to the sinner. There may
be little good in proclaiming his guilt aloud to the world. What is
needed is that it should be brought well home to his own conscience.
Ø It is well that they should be known now. If men wait for the certain
revelation of final judgment, the abominations will be declared in
trumpet tones of denunciation, and burned into the soul in memories
of fire. It is infinitely better to become conscious of them first, that
the awakening knowledge of guilt may perchance lead to contrition
too merciful to permit His children to perish without warning. The Bible
contains awful revelations of human sin. If we take it as a lamp, and turn its
light on our own lives and into our own hearts, it will reveal many an
abomination of wickedness
hitherto calmly ignored. The prophets of
were required to reveal man’s sin quite as much as to make known the
thoughts and will of God. John the Baptist came to prepare for Christ by
declaring to men the abominations of their ways. Christ Himself makes men
feel their sin by His own holy presence. So Peter feared to be near Him
(Luke 5:8). A vision of Christ throws a wholesome light on the hideous
condition of an impenitent soul. This is to lead to repentance and salvation
through Christ. Then the abominations may be blotted out (1 John 1:7).
37 “That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and
with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their
sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour
them. 38 Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my
sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my sabbaths. 39 For
when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same
day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the
midst of mine house.” As often, Ezekiel emphasizes by reiteration, begins yet a
fresh discourse with the same words, wilt thou judge, as in ch.20:4 and
22:2, and enters on another summary of the sins of the two harlot sisters, in
which Moloch-worship (v. 37 – Today it is called abortion) and sabbath-breaking
(v. 38) were conspicuous elements. The nature of the guilt is emphasized (vs. 38-39)
by the fact that the idolatrous ritual was performed on the very day in
which the people sacrificed in the temple; that it found a local habitation
even there (compare ch. 8:17; II Kings 21.; Jeremiah 32:34).
The Exclusiveness of the Worship of the Lord God
“Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in
the same day,” etc. The chief practical suggestions of our text may be
arranged under three heads.
· MEN INSTRUCTED IN THE TRUE RELIGION PRACTISING THE
GREATEST ABOMINATIONS OF HEATHENISM. “They had slain
their children to their idols” (. 39). “They have caused their sons,
whom they bare unto me, to pass through the fire unto them to be
devoured” (v. 37). We have already noticed the offering of children to
Moloch (ch. 16:20-21). And in this age and in this professedly
Christian land people make sacrifices which bear some resemblance to
these in spirit. (Not so now - IN THE UNITED STATES AND AROUND
THE WORLD IT IS DONE IN REALITY! - CY - 2022) How many
respectable and avowedly Christian parents sacrifice their daughters in
marriage to mammon l The man may be unsuitable in age, uncongenial
in temper, immoral in character and conduct; but, if he be rich, he is
welcomed as a suitor. How frequently, too, are the best and the abiding
interests of children — their intellectual, spiritual, and eternal interests —
risked, or even sacrificed, by their parents, in order that they may attain
unto higher social status or gain worldly honors and distinctions! And in
other ways practices which are worthy only of heathen intelligence and
morality are at work amongst us.
· MEN PASSING AT ONCE FROM THE PRACTICE OF THE
ABOMINATIONS OF HEATHENISM INTO THE SANCTUARY AND
SERVICE OF THE LIVING GOD. “When they had slain their children to
their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it;
and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.” The Prophet
Jeremiah complains of a similar sin: “Will ye steal, murder, and commit
adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after
other gods whom ye have not known; and come and stand before me in
this house, which is called by my Name, and say, We are delivered; that ye
may do all these abominations?” (Jeremiah 7:9-10). The sin is not
unknown amongst us in these days. Men are on the racecourse, with its
cruelty, profanity, and gambling, on the weekday, and on Sunday they
enter the sanctuary of God, and take part in its services. There are those
who, during the week, visit scenes of drunkenness and profligacy, and on
the Lord’s day they go to church and unite in the forms of worship. It is an
ill preparation for the sacred engagements of the house of God to spend
the Saturday evening in the public house, worshipping Bacchus. Nor is the
character of the case much altered when persons attend church on Sunday
morning, and spend the remainder of the day in social festivity and
· THAT SUCH CONDUCT IS A PROFANATION BOTH OF THE
SABBATH AND THE SANCTUARY OF GOD. “Moreover this they
have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and
have profaned my sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their
idols,” etc. We may show this by noticing:
Ø That these things should be held in reverence.
o Because they were instituted by God. He ordained the sabbath and
the sanctuary. They rest upon the basis of DIVINE AUTHORITY!.
o Because they were instituted for His glory. Both the sabbath and the
sanctuary are for the worship of the Most High. Both are intended to
promote the best interests of man, to elevate him as a spiritual and
immortal being, and thus to enable him more fully to glorify God.
As man grows:
§ in spiritual purity and power,
§ in righteousness and kindness towards men, and
§ in reverence and devotion towards God,
his life contributes to thehonor of God. The sabbath and the
sanctuary, when properly used, further these ends.
Ø The conduct exhibited and condemned in the text is most irreverent in
relation to these things.
o Because it puts the sanctuary and. the sabbath on the low level of
institutions and customs.
So did the people of
reason than this, that it is socially respectable to do so.
o Because it disparages them in the eyes of observers. If men form
their opinion of religious services and ordinances from such persons
as take part in them on Sunday, and during the rest of the week lead
lives of a character which is in utter opposition to them, they must
conclude that they are shams and unworthy of the regard of true men.
o Because it is insulting to God. Such conduct implies that our outward
and empty forms and ceremonies can please Him, or that He will
accept our attendance upon His worship as a compensation for our
disregard of his will when we are absent from His house. “But the
Lord looketh on the heart,” (I Samuel 16:7) He rejects the worship
which is offered to Him by such persons as hypocritical service and
offensive to Him (compare Psalm 50:7-23; Isaiah 1:11-15).
· CONCLUSION. The worship of God is exclusive.
Ø “Thou shalt have none other gods before me;” (Exodus 20:3)
Ø “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou
serve;” (Luke 4:8)
Ø “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
Let us cultivate decision and thoroughness in His service. How different
from the conduct condemned in the text was:
Ø that of Cyprian. On his way to martyrdom he was told by the
emperor that he would give him time to consider if he had not
better cast a grain of incense into the fire in honor of
the idol-gods than die so ignominiously. Cyprian replied,
“There needs no deliberation in the case.”
Ø John Huss, at the stake, was offered a pardon if he would recant.
His reply was, “I am here, ready to suffer death.”
Ø Thomas Hawkes, in like circumstances, said, “If I had a hundred
bodies, I would suffer them all to be torn in pieces, rather than
Let us seek to be alike true, whole-hearted, and firm
in our allegiance to our Lord.
40 “And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto
whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou
didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with
ornaments, 41 And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared
before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.”
Ye have sent for men to come from far, etc. The words
obviously refer to the embassies which had been sent from time to time by
of the earlier stage of the harlot’s progress is resumed, and we have a
picture almost the counterpart of that in Proverbs 7:10-21. She takes
her bath, paints her eyelashes with kohol, the black pigment still used in the
East, as Jezebel had done (II Kings 9:30). She decks herself with
jewels, and sits on a divan (a sofa-conch, rather than bed), and prepares a
table for a banquet. And on that table are the incense and the oil, symbols
alike of wealth and worship, which Jehovah claims as His, and which she
offers to her lovers (compare ch. 16:13, 19; Hosea 2:5, 8).
42 And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the
men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the
wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful
crowns upon their heads.” A voice of a multitude, etc. The word for “multitude”
is strictly tumult, and Keil and Currey render, The voice of tumult became
still,” sc. the threats of the alien powers whom
time hushed by the tributes thus paid to them. With the men of the
common sort; literally, as in the margin, of the multitude of men. Sabeans
from the wilderness. The Revised Version, with Keil and almost all recent
commentators, follows the margin, drunkards. “Sabeans” rests on a Jewish
rendering of the text, but, as a people, the Sabeans, who dwelt south of
though named in Isaiah 45:14, were too remote to come within the horizon of
the parable. What Ezekiel dwells on is the ever-growing degradation of the
harlot city. Not only the officers of the Chaldeans, but the mixed multitude,
the very drunkards from the wilderness of
embraces. Possibly the word may point to the false gods to whom libations
of wine were offered, but I incline to refer it rather to those who got drunk
at their idol-festivals even in
of the Babylonians, and the prophets, who admired the Rechabites and the
Nazarites (Jeremiah 35.; Amos 2:11), must have looked on
in that sin as a measureless degradation. The bracelets and crowns symbolize
the wealth and prestige which the Chaldean alliance was supposed to bring
The Foreign and the Common (vs. 40, 42)
In v. 40
faithless wife who goes far afield for companions in sin. In v. 42 the
charm of the distant and the foreign is swallowed up in the vulgarity of sin,
which is the same in essence all the world over.
· THE CHARM OF THE FOREIGN. The Jews were especially warned
against foreign alliances, as they meant distrust in God, and as they led to
the introduction of corrupting heathen influences. Nevertheless, the foolish
people gave way to the fatal fascination of foreigners.
Ø There is a charm in novelty. We are tempted to accept alien ideas just
because they strike us with a certain freshness. Thus all sorts of earthly
and practices have been imported into God’s
Church, by men who have been “sent for from far”; i.e. by the influence of
external philosophy and worldly example.
Ø There is an attraction in cosmopolitanism. We have wide and varied
relations with the world, and Christianity claims all the earth as its domain.
But the fatal charm is that of following the example of the various practices
of mankind instead of impressing a Christian influence on the race. This
succumbed to the spirit of the world. There is great danger lest the Church
should follow her example in this respect. Indeed, this has happened already
to a deplorable extent. A pseudo-liberalism claims to be following the
zeit-geist (the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as
shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time) and so to be adapting
Christianity to the world. This means unfaithfulness to Christ. St.
Paul would be all things to all men, but only that he might win all men to
Christ, never so as to surrender Christ to please the world. That is the
part of a Judas.
THE DISILLUSION OF THE COMMON.
wistful glances on the foreigner. But when they had accomplished their
purpose and were indulging in revelry with a multitude of people who had
adorned them with the barbaric magnificence of golden bracelets and
crowns, what did it all amount to but the shame of a low, drunken
debauch? Novelty in sin does not elevate the evil thing, which is essentially
the same, however it may be clothed and decorated. The so-called
refinement of vice is but a veneer on the surface which leaves the
rottenness beneath untouched. Cosmopolitanism does not save from moral
corruption. The whole world is essentially one in its sin. There is a horrible
vulgarity about all wickedness. If we would be saved from this we must in
a sense become a “separate people.” We may and we should still
sympathize with all our fellow-men, send the gospel to every nation and
ourselves learn such lessons as a wide view of mankind may teach us. Yet
for all the higher efforts of life the inspiration must be found in the retired
and secret chamber of prayer.
43 “Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now
commit whoredoms with her, and she with them?” 44 “Yet they went
in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went
they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.”
The whole verse is obscure, and has been very differently rendered.
was worn out with her whoredoms, passed her prime and enfeebled, Will
they (the foreign nations) commit whoredoms (enter into alliances) with
her? sc. What is there to attract now? And yet the habit is inveterate. She
has grown old in her vice, and cannot cease from it.”
said I of her that was old in adulteries, Now will they commit, etc. So, in
the main, Keil. The text is probably corrupt, and resists conjectural
emendation. In any ease the general meaning is clear. The sin is of too
long standing TO BE CURED!
45 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of
adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood;
because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.”
The righteous men are in effect the ministers of God’s wrath.
The doom comes at last on both the sisters, who are murderers as well as
adulteresses. They shall suffer the punishment of stoning which the Law
commanded (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22, 24; John 8:5), and after
that their bodies were to be hacked to pieces. The result of that judgment would
be that all women should learn NOT TO DO AFTER THEIR LEWDNESS!
that somehow, capital punishment is not a deterrent! – CY – 2014) i.e. that
idolatry should cease from being the sin of the cities of
46 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon
them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.
47 And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them
with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters,
and burn up their houses with fire.
48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women
may be taught not to do after your lewdness.
49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall
bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord
Inexcusable Infidelity (vs. 1-49)
What it must have cost the patriotic prophet to write this chapter passes
our power to imagine. The Jew was naturally and pardonably proud of his
country and of its history. No thoughtful Jew could, indeed, be insensible
to imperfections and flaws in the national character, to stains upon the
nation’s annals. But in this passage of his prophecies the dark shading is
relieved by no gleam of light.
Egyptian bondage down to the days of Babylonian captivity. The figurative
language employed is such as could only be justified by facts most
discreditable to the character of the Hebrew people. That there were
exceptions to the rule, Ezekiel was well aware. But the rule was that the
people were, at every stage of their existence, prone to depart from the
God to whom they owed every privilege, every blessing; that they resisted
no temptation to idolatry; that they were incessantly provoking the anger
and just condemnation of the theocratic king. To complete the horror of
the representation, the northern and southern tribes are alike included in
the indictment and in the guilt. Penetrating beneath the faithful but very
repulsive, yet necessary and just, similitude employed by the prophet, to
the moral and spiritual lessons thus conveyed, we may trace the story of
inexcusable infidelity of
exaggeration by one of their own race.
DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH WAS COMMON TO
see that in this respect the northern and southern kingdoms were alike, if
not equally, guilty. In the record we find, notwithstanding certain
remarkable exceptions in the case of Judah, that kings and people
continually forsook their Divine Deliverer and rightful King, and addicted
themselves to the degrading idolatries practiced by the surrounding
· DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH COMMENCED IN THE NATION’S
YOUTH, DURING THE EGYPTIAN BONDAGE. The record of the
wanderings in the wilderness is a sufficient proof of this. The worship of
the golden calf is a well-known instance of the readiness of
back into the Egyptian idolatry, which, it might have been supposed, they
had forever left behind them when they crossed the
the powerlessness of the gods of
DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH WAS REPEATED WHEN
WAS BROUGHT INTO CONTACT WITH THE ASSYRIANS. In the
frank and painful language of the prophet is depicted the fatal readiness of
the Israelites to yield themselves to the seductions of the Oriental
idolatries, and even to go out of their way to court the corruption which
they should have eschewed. Compared with the pure and stately rites
instituted by Divine command, and celebrated in the temple courts of
length of time during which the Hebrews had enjoyed peculiar privileges
increased their culpability in transferring, at this period, the allegiance they
owed to the true God from Him to the contemptible idols of
· DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH ALIENATED HIM FROM THE
PEOPLE WHOM HE HAD CHOSEN. As the soul of a husband is
estranged from the adulteress who has deserted him, so the Lord declared
His soul to be alienated from her whom He had signalized by His favor.
attached herself to the lords many and the gods many of the surrounding
peoples; and such conduct could not but raise a barrier between Jehovah
and the nation that had shown such insensibility to His favor, and such
readiness to yield to the advances of His enemies.
· DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH WAS PUNISHED THROUGH THE
AGENCY OF THE VERY PEOPLE THROUGH WHOSE
INSTIGATION IT WAS COMMITTED. How remarkable the threat, “I
will raise up thy lovers against thee!” By Assyria
corrupted; and by
and yet found no help from the false gods for whose sake they had deserted
· PARTNERS IN DISLOYALTY WERE PARTNERS IN
PUNISHMENT. Alike they sinned, and alike they suffered. They incurred
the same fate, and from the same sword.
the sorrows of the Eastern captivity and the shock of the Eastern armies.
· DISLOYALTY TO JEHOVAH WAS SEVERELY DEALT WITH.
In various figures, each with its own dark shade of significance, the
prophet portrays the impending fate of the guilty, apostate nations. They
were mutilated; they were compelled to drink the cup of astonishment and
desolation; they were consumed with fire and slain with the sword.
· THE AIM OF THUS PUNISHING DISLOYALTY WAS TO
BRING IT TO AN END. “Thus will I cause lewdness [i.e. idolatry] to
cease out of the land, that all women [i.e. nations] may be taught not to do
after your lewdness.”
· JEHOVAH THUS VINDICATES HIS OWN CLAIM TO THE
LOYALTY OF ALL MEN, AVENGING HIMSELF UPON THOSE
WHO WRONG HIM. “Ye shall know that I am the Lord God.” His honor
He will not give unto another. To our reverence and our obedience, to our
devotion and service, our Creator and Redeemer has an indisputable and
indefeasible claim; and this He will assuredly assert and maintain. He will be
honored, both by:
Ø the condemnation of the unfaithful and rebellious, and
Ø by the salvation of the penitent, the submissive, and the loyal.
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