1 “Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the
month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day:
the king of
In the ninth year. We pass from the date of ch.20:1 (B.C. 593) to B.C. 590, and the
very day is identified with that on which the army of Nebuchadnezzar besieged
passing there was as plain as though he saw it with his own eyes. The siege lasted
for about two years. The punishments threatened in Ezekiel 23, had at last come
near. We may probably infer that a considerable interval of silence had followed on
the Aholah and Aholibah discourse. Now the time had come to break that
silence, and it was broken, after the prophet’s manner, by a parable. In the
“rebellious house” we find, as in ch.2:3 and elsewhere, primarily Ezekiel’s
immediate hearers, secondarily the whole house of
The time for the execution of the Divine judgments may seem to me to be long
delayed but ITS ARRIVAL IS CERTAIN! This judgment against Jerusalem had
been spoken of by the prophets for a long time. The people of that city had
refused to believe in its approach; but now it has actually commenced.
“The King of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.” But
the siege were known unto God. Nothing is hidden from Him (compare
II Kings 19:27; Psalm 139:1-4; Matthew 9:4; John 2:24-25; Hebrews 4:13).
day, which is clearly specified and set down in writing, the prophet
announced to his fellow-exiles that Nebuchadnezzar had begun to besiege
Jerusalem. The place on the Chebar where the prophet lived, was distant
impossible for Ezekiel to know by human means that the siege of
had commenced on that day; and when it was afterwards ascertained that
the prediction had exactly corresponded with fact, it would be regarded
as an invincible proof of his Divine mission.
When this prophecy was found to be exactly true, the record of it would
rebuke the people for their unbelief of the prophet, and witness to the
Divine inspiration and authority with which he spake. But to revert to
our main point, the apparent delay of a Divine judgment DOES NOT
AFFECT ITS CERTAINTY. “Because sentence against an evil
work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is
fully set in them to do evil.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11). God’s visitation because
of persistent sin is certain, and it will take place at the precise time appointed
by God. (For us, Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” - Matthew 24:36 – CY –
2014). With what remarkable iteration and emphasis is this awful certainty
expressed in v. 14! “I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and
I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent”
(compare Numbers 23:19; I Samuel 15:29). God’s threatenings of
punishment will as surely be fulfilled as His promises of blessing.
Memorable Days (v. 2)
Ezekiel was to take note of the day on which he received a message
concerning the approaching ruin of
anniversary of that day that the King of
Thus it would be seen that the prediction was strikingly fulfilled. This is
one instance of the marking of memorable days.
days may be equally sacred (Romans 14:5). Nevertheless, a difference
of character, history, and associations will divide our days out into very
various classes, and will mark some for especial interest. There are days
that stand out in history like great promontories along the coast. We must
all have lived through days the memory of which is burnt into our souls.
There are the red-letter days, days of honor and gladness; and there are the
black-letter days of calamity. Note some of the kinds of memorable days.
Ø Days of warning. Such was the day of our text. We cannot afford to
forget such days. They may occur but rarely; yet their influence should
Ø Days of blessing. If we have had times of exceptional prosperity, or
occasions when we have been surprised with new and unexpected good,
surely such happy seasons deserves to be chronicled. It is ungrateful to
leave a blank in our diaries for those days.
Ø Days of sorrow. These, too, may be days of blessing, though of blessing
in disguise. It is not easy to forget such days, nor is it altogether desirable.
The softened memory of past grief has a wholesome, subduing influence
over the soul.
Ø Days of revelation. The day to be noted by Ezekiel was of this
character. We have no prophetic visions. But there may be days when
God has seemed to draw especially near to us. Truth has then been
most clear and faith most strong. The memory of such days is a help
for the darker seasons of doubt and dreary solitude.
Ø To chronicle them. A diary of sentiments is not always a wholesome
production; but a journal of events should be full of instruction. An
almanac marked with anniversary dates is a constant reminder of the
lessons of the past.
Ø To study them. Dates are but sign-posts. They indicate events which
require separate consideration. It is good sometimes to turn aside from the
noisy scenes of the present and walk in the dim cloisters of the sweet, sad
past, communing with bygone days and musing over the deeds of olden
times. Our own rushing, heedless age would be the better for such
meditations among the tombs, not to grow melancholy in the thought of
death, but to learn wisdom in the lessons of the ages.
Ø To avoid their errors. There are bad past days. Antiquity does not
consecrate sin and folly.
Ø To follow their good example. We have the whole roll of the world’s
history from which to select instances of inspiring lives. The Christian
year is sacred to the memory of a holy past, and its anniversaries revive
the lessons of good examples; chiefly it repeatedly reminds us of the
great events in the life of our Lord.
Ø To be prepared for their recurrence. The day of prophecy was
anticipatory of the Day of Judgment. Past days of judgment point to the
future judgment. “Of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, no, not
the angels of heaven, but my Father only!” (Matthew 24:36) The
fulfillment of prophecy in the destruction of
warning of the sure fulfillment of predictions concerning the judgment
on the whole world.
3 And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them,
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour
water into it: 4 Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the
thigh and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones.” Set on a pot, etc. The
words contain an obvious reference to the imagery of ch. 11:3-7. The people had
used that imagery either in the spirit of a false security or in the recklessness of
despair. It is now the prophet’s work to remind them that the interpretation which
he gave to their own comparison had proved to be the true one. The cauldron
is the city, the fire is the invading army, the metal of the cauldron does not
protect them. The pieces, the choice bones, were the princes and chief men
of the people.
5 “Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and
make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein.”
Burn also the bones under it; better, with the Vulgate and
Revised Version, pile the bones. The bones of animals were often used as
fuel. Currey quotes an interesting passage from Livingstone’s ‘Last
Journal,’ 1. p. 347, narrating how, when the supply of ordinary fuel failed,
he made his steamer work with the bones of elephants. See a like practice
among the Scythians (Herod., 4:61).
The Seething-Pot (vs. 1-5)
of the city had certain points of resemblance.
Ø Unity. All the parts are thrown into one vessel. There was a common
life in the one city. All classes shared a common fortune. They who
are united in sin will be united in doom.
Ø Vain protection. The heat of the fire came through the vessel. The
will protect the guilty from the wrath of God.
Fatal imprisonment. The miserable inhabitants of
up to the horrible fate of a besieged city. There is no escape from the
scene of Divine judgment. Indeed, the sufferings of a siege are worse
than those of the open battle-field. They who hold out against God
will be more miserably punished than those who meet Him early.
Ø Flesh. The various joints of the butchered animal are flung into the
seething-pot. They represent the inhabitants of
punishment of sin falls on the persons of the sinners. “The soul that
sinneth, it shall die” (ch. 18:20). There is something humiliating in this
comparison with mere joints of meat. The doomed sinner is in a
degraded condition. His higher spiritual nature has been neglected and
well-nigh lost. He appears as “flesh,” and, having sunk into THE
LOWER LIFE OF FLESH, he must expect to receive the treatment of
flesh. Sowing to the flesh, he reaps corruption (Galatians 6:8).
Ø The choice parts. “The choice bones” are to be thrown into the
seething-pot. The princes of
even selected for exceptional indignity and suffering. No earthly rank
or wealth will save from the just punishment of sin. On the contrary,
if large privileges have been abused, and high duties neglected, the
penalty will be all the heavier. (“And that servant, which knew
his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according
to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12:47)
Ø Suffering. The symbol of fire certainly suggests pain. Jesus says
“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
Ø Destruction. The fire is to go on beyond its wonted task till all the
water is dried up and the contents of the vessel are burnt. This is
the final issue of the penalties of sin. At first they come in suffering.
But if there is no amendment, and the lessons of chastisement are
not taken to heart, the broad road leads to DESTRUCTION!
(Matthew 7:13), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
6 “Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city, to the
pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it!
bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it.” Scum. The word is not found
elsewhere. The Authorized Version follows the Vulgate. The Revised Version
gives “rust.” As the cauldron was of brass (v. 11), this must have been the verdigris
which was eating into the metal, and which even the blazing fire could not
get rid of. The pieces that are to be brought out are the inhabitants of
as was often done with prisoners of war, taking every tenth man
(decimating) of the captives for death or exile (compare II Samuel 8:2).
All alike were doomed (Joel 3:3).
7 “For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a
rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust;
8 That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set
her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered.”
The parable is for a moment interrupted, and
murderess who has shed blood, not where the earth might cover it (Job 16:18;
Isaiah 26:21), but as on the top of a rock visible in the sight of all men.
9 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the bloody city! I will
even make the pile for fire great.” We return to the image of the cauldron, and
once again, as in v. 6 and chps. 22:3 and 23:37, we have the words which Nahum
(3:1) had used of
10 “Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well,
and let the bones be burned.” Spice it well; better, make thick the broth
(Revised Version). The verb is used in Exodus 30:33, 35, of the concoction
of the anointing oil, and the cognate adjective in Job 41:31 for the “boiling”
of the water caused by the crocodile. We are reminded of the “bubble,
bubble” of the witches’ cauldron in ‘Macbeth.’
11 “Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be
hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it,
that the scum of it may be consumed.” Then set it empty upon the coals, etc.
The empty cauldron is, of course, the city bereaved of its inhabitants. The fire
must go on till the rust is consumed. There is, however, in spite of the seemingly
terrible hopelessness of the sentence, a gleam of hope, as there had be in
ch.16:42. When the punishment had done its full work, then Jehovah might
cause His fury to rest (v. 13). Till then He declares, through the prophet, there
will be no mitigation of the punishment. The word has gone forth, and there will
be no change of purpose.
12 “She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not
forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire. 13 In thy filthiness is lewdness:
because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged
from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.
14 I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I
will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent;” according to thy
ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.”
She hath wearied herself with lies, etc.; better, it (keeping to the image of the cauldron)
is worn out with labors; sc. with the pains taken to cleanse it, and yet the rust remains.
The fire must burn, the retributive judgment must continue, till the work is done.
When wickedness has become utterly confirmed, the time for execution of judgment
Has come! Several things in the text indicate the habitualness of the wickedness of
The people. The scum or rust of the cauldron was not cleansed (vs. 6, 12);
so the cauldron shall be put empty upon the fire, that the rust may be burnt
away (v. 11). J.D. Michaelis explains this verse: “When verdigris has
eaten very deeply into it, copper is made red-hot in the fire, and cooled in
water, when the rust falls off in scales. It can be partially dissolved by the
application of vinegar. Only one must not think of a melting away of the
rust by the fire, since in that case the copper would necessarily be melted
along with it. Also through the mere heating the greater part can be
loosened, so that it can be rubbed off.” But here it seems that both the
cauldron and the rust are to be consumed; both
inhabitants are to be destroyed. Nothing will avail to cleanse them but the
fierce fires of stern retribution. Another evidence of the exceeding
wickedness of the people is the application to them of the word translated
“lewdness.” hM;zi means “deliberate wickedness,” wickedness meditated
and planned. For such willful and studied evil-doing there remained but
judgment. All measures of a less extreme kind had been tried in vain; those
were non-exhausted; and as the iniquity appeared to be entwined with the whole
fabric and constitution of SOCIETY, nothing remained but to subject all to the
crucible of A SEVER AND OVERWHELMING CATASTROPHE! This is
represented by keeping the cauldron on the fire till its contents were stewed away,
and the very bones burnt. And as if even this were not enough, as if something
more were necessary to avenge and purge out such scandalous wickedness,
the cauldron itself must be kept hot and burning till the pollution should be
thoroughly consumed out of it. The wicked city must be laid in ruins (compare
Isaiah 4:4)…. In plain terms, the Lord was no longer going to deal with them by
half-measures; their condition called for the greatest degree of severity compatible
with their preservation as a distinct and separate people, and so the indignation
of the Lord was to rest on them TILL A SEPARATION WAS EFFECTED
BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR SIN!
A Weary Task (v. 12)
weary in the fruitless task. The rust cannot be cleansed from the vessel.
Ø It comes from a corroding agent. Temptation bites into the yielding
soul like an acid.
Ø It reveals an inferior character. Brass and iron become rusty under
circumstances which leave gold and silver untarnished. Readiness to
yield to temptation is a sign that there is base metal in the soul.
Ø It corrupts the very substance of the soul. Rust on metal is not like moss
on stone, a mere excrescence and parasite growth. It is formed from the
METAL ITSELF; it is a portion of it disintegrated and mixed with AN
ALIEN BODY! Sin breaks down the fabric of the soul-life, and wears
it away in A SLOW DEATH!
Ø It tarnishes the beauty of the soul. Rust is like ingrained dirt on the
bright surface of the metal. The rusty mirror no longer reflects light.
The sin-stained soul has lost its luster and ceases to reflect THE
LIGHT OF HEAVEN!
(John 10:1) This is the task that
the people of
are supposed to have undertaken.
Ø They turn from their past. The atmosphere which caused the rust is
abandoned. The old days are to be forgotten; a new life is to be
Ø They put their souls under discipline. The attempt is made to burn off
the rust or to scour it away.
Ø They offer compensation. New deeds of goodness are to supersede
and atone for old deeds of sin.
Ø They offer sacrifices of expiation. The history of religion is full of such
sacrifices — sacrifices which constitute a leading element in the Old
Ø New circumstances do not destroy old sins. Though the vessel be taken
out of the damp atmosphere which first corroded it, it does not become
bright. The rust is still on it. We may try to make amends in the future,
but by such means we cannot get rid of the guilt and the consequences
of the past.
Ø Sin has eaten its way so deeply into the soul that no efforts of ours can
remove it. It is not like dust that lies loosely on the surface; it has cut
into our nature like rust. Our feeble self-discipline is ineffectual for
removing SO CLOSE-CLINGING AN EVIL!
Ø No compensation of good works nor expiatory sacrifices will remove
this evil. “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should
take away sin” (Hebrews 10:4). Such sacrifices can be but symbols at
Ø He has made the great atonement with God. HE IS THE ONE
TRUE SACRIFICE FOR SIN! (Hebrews 10:14). Thus the way is
now clear for the soul’s cleansing.
Ø He removes the rust of sin from the soul. As “the Lamb of God that
taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), Christ not only brings
pardon, He produces purity. His mighty arm scours the rust off the soul.
Ø This was a weary task for Christ. Even He found it no easy work. It
the agony of
the death of
Christ toiled, suffered, and grew weary unto death in the
awful task. YET HE PERSEVERED UNTO THE END!
Christ invites us to abandon our useless, weary task and COME
TO HIM FOR CLEANSING! It is especially to those who labor
and are heavy laden with sin that He gives His great invitation!
God True to His Word (v. 14)
“I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it.”
WORD. Certain observations and considerations shelter that supposition.
Ø The changefulness of life. It looks as though things fell out by chance.
We do not discern regular, orderly movements in Divine providence.
Ø The tardy fulfillment of threat and promise. Both are delayed. Then
men lose hold of both, and regard them as inoperative. (“Because
sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore
the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil!”
Ø A false idea of God’s mercy. It is thought that God must be too
kind to execute his awful threatenings of wrath.
Ø Unbelief. This condition of the souls of men is at the root of the error,
and it is only by its existence that other considerations are laid hold
of and made occasions for doubting God’s certain performance of
what He has foretold.
This is based on important considerations.
Ø The constancy of God. He is “the Eternal.” (“For I am the
Lord, I change not!” – Malachi 3:6) Men vary, but GOD
IS CHANGELESS! What He wills today, HE WILLS FOR EVER!
Ø The perfect knowledge of God. We may be forced to change our plans
by reason of the discovery of new facts. A change in our circumstances
may compel a change in our conduct. But God knows all things, and He
has prevision of all future contingencies when He makes His promise.
Of course, He acts in regard to changing events and the alteration of the
characters of men. But these things are all foreknown, and where His
action is concerned with them it is conditioned accordingly from the first.
THERE ARE NO SURPRISES TO GOD!
Ø The power of God. We may fail to keep our word from simple inability.
A man may promise to pay a sum of money by a certain day, and, in the
mean time, unforeseen misfortunes may rob him of the power to redeem
his word. No such chances can happen with the Almighty.
Ø The mercy of God. Archbishop Tillotson pointed out that God was not
so bound to fulfill His threats as to keep His promises of grace, because
men had a claim on the latter, but no one would claim the former.
Nevertheless, it would not be merciful in God to torture us with
warnings of a doom that was not impending. God does remit penalties.
But then, from the first he has promised PARDON TO THE
Ø The vanity of unbelief. It may be with us as it was in the days of Noah
(Matthew 24:37-39). But the judgment will not be the less certain
because we refuse to expect it. (“If we believe not, YET HE
ABIDETH FAITHFUL: HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF!”
(II Timothy 2:13)
Ø The need of A SURE REFUGE. God has threatened judgment
against sin. He will be true to His word. Then we should be prepared
to face the day of wrath. Our only refuge is to “FLEE TO GOD!”
Ø The assurance of true faith. God has given gracious promises of
pardon to His returning children (e.g. Isaiah 1:18). He will certainly
be as true to those promises as to any threatenings of wrath against
the impenitent. (“Whereby are given to us exceeding and
precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the
Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the
world through lust” (II Peter 1:4). THE ETERNAL
CONSTANCY OF GOD is a rock of refuge for His humble,
repentant, trusting children.
15 “Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 16 Son of man, behold,
I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou
mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. 17 Forbear to cry, make no
mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy
shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men.”
Behold, I take away from thee, etc. The next word of the Lord, coming after an
interval, is of an altogether exceptional character, as giving one solitary glimpse into
the personal home life of the prophet. The lesson which the history teaches is, in
substance, the same as that of Jeremiah 16:5. The calamity that falls on the nation
will swallow up all personal sorrow, but it is brought home to Ezekiel, who may
have read those words with wonder, by a new and terrible experience. We are
left to conjecture whether anything in the prophet’s home life furnished a
starting-point for the terrible message that was now borne in upon his soul.
Had his wife been ill before? or, as the words, with a stroke, suggest, did
it fall on him, as a thunderbolt “out of the blue”? I mention, only to reject,
the view that the wife’s death belongs as much to the category of symbolic
visions as the boiling cauldron. To me such a view seems to indicate an
incapacity for entering into a prophet’s life and calling as great as that
which sees nothing but an allegory in the history of Gomer in Hosea 2., 3.
We, who accept the Scripture record as we find it, may believe that Ezekiel
was taught, as the earlier prophet, to interpret his work by his own
personal experience. To Ezekiel himself the loss of one who is thus
described as the desire (or, delight) of his eyes (the word is used of things
in I Kings 20:6, of young warriors in Lamentations 2:4, of sons and
daughters in v. 25), must have been, at first, as the crowning sorrow of
his life; but the feelings of the patriot-prophet were stronger even than
those of the husband, and his personal bereavement seemed as a small thing
compared with the desolation of his country. He was to refrain from all
conventional signs of mourning, from weeping and wailing, from the loud
sighing (for forbear to cry, read, with the Revised Version, sigh, but not
aloud), from the head covered or sprinkled with ashes (Isaiah 61:3),
and from the bare feet (II Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2), from the
covered lips (Leviticus 13:45; Micah 3:7), which were “the
trappings and the garb of woe” in such a case. Eat not the bread of men.
The words point to the custom, more or less common in all nations and at
all times, of a funeral feast, like the parentalia of the Romans. Wine also
was commonly part of such a feast (Jeremiah 16:7). The primary idea
of the custom seems to have been that the mourner’s friends sent the
materials for the feast as a token of their sympathy.
The Desire of Thine Eyes (v. 16)
desire of his eyes.” God has ordained marriage, and the blessedness of the
true union of husband and wife is from Him. It is in itself good and a source
of further blessings. It is not the doctrine of the Bible that monkish celibacy
is more holy than homely wedded love.
Ø The blessedness of wedded love is a solace in trouble. If Ezekiel
had a wife who could be described in the language of our text, it
must have been refreshing for him to turn from the rancor of Jewish
enmity to the sympathy of a true woman. The home is a sacred
refuge from the storms of the world.
Ø Wedded love is a type of Divine love. The Church is the bride of the
Lamb. God loves His people as a true husband loves his wife.
Ø Such a great blessing should be tenderly guarded. Wedded love may be
hurt by want of thought as much as by want of heart. Small kindnesses
constitute much of the happiness of life, and small negligences may
make its cup very bitter. It needs care lest the bloom of love be
ruthlessly brushed aside.
Ø “The desire of his eyes” is taken from Ezekiel. A prophet is not exempt
from the greatest troubles that fall to the lot of men. Divine privileges do
not save us from earthly sorrows. Love cannot hold the beloved forever.
The pair who love much may yet be parted. This awful grief of
Widowhood or widowerhood may invade the happiest home. They who
are never divided in love may yet be thrust asunder by “the dark divorce
Ø This trouble comes by a sudden stroke. Sudden death seems to be best
for the victim, for it spares all the agonies of a protracted illness, and all
the horrors of the act of dying. But to those who are left it comes as an
awful blow! Still, as such events do occur in the most affectionate and
most peaceful households, we should do well to be prepared for them.
(Philip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father, was known for his prayer of
“Lord, help me to be ready to leave this world or be left!” - CY – 2014).
The sweet summer garden of today may be a waste, howling wilderness
Ø The trouble comes from God. Therefore it must be irresistible. On the
other hand, it must be right. We cannot understand why so fearful a
blowshould fall. We can only say, “It is the Lord: let Him do what
seemeth Him good.” (I Samuel 3:18)
to “mourn nor weep.” Inwardly his grief cannot be stayed, for no man can
escape from nature; but all outward signs of grief are to be suppressed.
This is a hard requirement.
Ø Public men must repress private emotion. Here is one of the
penalties of a prominent position. The great duties must be performed as
though nothing had happened. The leader of others must present a
confident face to the foe, though his soul is wrung with despair.
A smiling countenance must mask a breaking heart.
Ø Private sorrow is buried in public calamity. The national disaster of
widowerhood is not to be considered by the side of it. Grief is
generally selfish; but what is one soul’s agony to the misery of
Ø Divine judgments are not to be gainsaid. Ezekiel’s trouble is typical.
Ezekiel’s loss is used as an illustration of the fate of the Jews. This was
unanswerable. The penalty was deserved by the guilty nation. Guilt is
silent. In all sorrow we have no right to reply to God. The psalmist says,
“I was dumb” (Psalm 39:2). Christ went to His cross in silence. “As a
sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth!”
Ø God has consolations for patient sorrow. Though the mourner is silent,
God is not, and His voice whispers peace to all His trusting sons and
daughters in their sorrow.
18 “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife
died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.” So I spake unto the
people in the morning, etc. In yet another way the calling of the prophet superseded
the natural impulses of the man. He knew that his wife’s hours were numbered, yet
the day was spent, not in ministering at her deathbed, but in one last effort to
impress the teachings of the time upon the seared consciences and hardened
hearts of his countrymen and neighbors. I cannot help referring to the poem
‘Ezekiel,’ by B.M., published in 1871, as expressing the meaning of the
history better than any commentary. (I highly recommend this poem to
be found at:
To access, highlight, hit control and then click – CY – 2014)
19 “And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to
us, that thou doest so? 20 Then I answered them, The word of the LORD came
unto me, saying,” We must read between the lines what had passed in that
eventful night of sorrow. The rumor must have spread among the exiles of
Tel-Abib that the prophet had lost the wife whom he loved so tenderly.
They were ready, we may imagine, to offer their consolations and their
sympathy. And, behold, he appears as one on whom no special sorrow had
fallen. But that strange outward hardness had the effect which it was meant
to have. It roused them to ask questions, and it was one of the cases in
which the prudens interrogation (A prudent question is, as it were, one
half of wisdom) which if not in itself the dimidium seientiae, at least prepared
the way for it. The form of their question implies that they had a forecast that
the strange conduct was, in some way, connected with the prophet’s work.
Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us?
21 “Speak unto the house of
I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the
desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons
and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.”
“Your sons and your daughters whom ye have left behind shall fall by the sword.”
Many parents may have been obliged to leave their children with relatives, from
their being of too tender age to accompany them to exile; and these would be slain
by the sword. But it seems to us better to interpret that the sons and the daughters
are not those of individuals, but of the
people as a whole. The house of
the exiles in particular, are addressed. In point of fact, it is as much as to
say, ‘ your countrymen.’ They were soon to be:
would perish by”
Ø pestilence, and
22 “And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat
the bread of men. 23 And your tires shall be upon your heads, and your
shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away
for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another. 24 Thus Ezekiel is unto
you a sign: according to all that he hath done shall ye do: and when this cometh,
ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.” Their consciousness of the sin which
caused their calamities should check the outward exhibitions of sorrow because of
them. In the typical part of the delineation, it was not because the prophet was
insensible to the loss he sustained by the death of his wife that he was to abstain
from the habiliments and usages of mourning; but because there was another
source of grief behind, of which this was but the sign and presage, and in itself
so much greater and more appalling, that his spirit, instead of venting itself in
expressions of sorrow at the immediate and ostensible calamity, was rather
to brood in silent agony and concern over the more distressing evil it
foreshadowed. And in like manner with the people, when all their fond hopes
and visions were finally exploded, when the destruction of their beautiful temple,
and the slaughter of their sons and daughters, CAME HOME TO THEM AS
DREADFUL REALITIES, they could only refrain from bewailing the loss of
what had so deep a hold on their desires and affections, by having come to
discern in this the sign of what was still greatly more dreadful and appalling.
And what might that be but the bloodstained guilt of their iniquities, which had
brought on the catastrophe?… The overwhelming sense should then break in upon
them of the iniquities to which they had clung with such fatal perverseness,
absorbing their spirits, and turning their moanings into a new and higher
direction. The agonies of bereavement would be in a manner lost under the
self-inflicted pains of contrition and remorse (compare ch.7:16). Yet the
description must be understood with certain qualifications, and indeed is to
be viewed as the somewhat ideal delineation of a state of things that should
be found, rather than the exact and literal description of what was actually
to take place… The people should, on the occurrence of such a fearful
catastrophe, have sunk under an overpowering sense of their GUILT and
FOLLY, and, like the prophet, turned the tide of their grief and mourning
rather against the gigantic evil that lay behind, seen only in the chambers of
imagery, than what outwardly appeared; they should have bewailed the
enormous sins that had provoked the righteous displeasure of God, rather
than the present troubles in which that displeasure had taken effect. And
such, undoubtedly, was the case with the better and more enlightened
portion of the people; but many still cleaved to their idols, and would not
receive the instruction given-them, either:
· by the prophet’s parabolical example or
· by the reality of God’s afflicting dispensations.
LET US MARK WELL THE DREAD CONSEQUENCES OF
PERSISNTENCE IN SIN!
25 “Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their
strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they
set their minds, their sons and their daughters,” Their calamities would so
overwhelm them as to leave them no power to think of the ceremonial of mourning.
Their losses and miseries would STUN THEM WITH AMAZEMENT AND ANGUISH
OF SOUL! All the personal feelings of the exiles (and we must not limit this to them
to the exclusion of their fellow-countrymen) shall be absorbed in this destruction of the
last remnant of the kingdom and city. Everyone shall be benumbed with pain, so that
no comfort shall come from any quarter; on the contrary, a desolating feeling of
guilt shall be general — such shall be their knowledge of the Lord.” The desire of
your eyes. There is something exquisitely pathetic in the iteration of the phrase of
v. 17. To the priest Ezekiel himself, to the people whom he addressed, the temple
was as dear as the wife to the husband. It was also “the pride of their power”
(Revised Version), the “pity of their soul” (margin). The former phrase comes
From Leviticus 26:19. When that temple should be profaned, when sons and
daughters should fall by the sword, then they would do as the prophet had
done. They would learn that there is A SORROW TO DEEP FOR
TEARS TO SHOW! The state which the prophet describes is not
one of callousness, or impenitence, or despair. The people shall mourn for
their iniquities;” this will be the beginning of repentance. Leviticus
26:39-40 was obviously in the prophet’s thoughts. We note that v. 24 is
the one solitary passage since ch.1:3 in which Ezekiel names himself. As single
acts and gestures had before (ch. 4:1-12) been a sign of what was coming, so
now the man himself was to be in that hour of bereavement.
26 “That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause
thee to hear it with thine ears? 27 In that day shall thy mouth be opened
to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and
thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.”
Yet another sign was given, not to the people, but to the prophet himself.
For the present there was to be the silence of UNUTTERABLE SORROW
CONTINUING, DAY AFTER DAY, as there had been before (ch.3:26).
Then there should come a messenger from
capture and destruction, and then his mouth should be opened. The
messenger does not come till nearly three years afterwards (ch.33:21); and
we must infer that there was no spoken message during the interval, but that
from ch.25:1 onward we have the written words of the Lord that came to him
from time to time, not as messages to
surrounding nations. We have, i.e., what is, strictly speaking, a parenthesis
in the prophet’s work.
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