Ezekiel 24

 

 

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 Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.”

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

Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1; II Kings 25:1-12). To the prophet’s vision all that was

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 Israel as represented by them.

 

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

notice:

 

  • The very day, yea, the hour and the moment, when Nebuchadnezzar began

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).

 

  • The communication of this knowledge to Ezekiel. Here on a particular

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

from Jerusalem more than a thousand miles- 500 by air.  It was therefore

impossible for Ezekiel to know by human means that the siege of Jerusalem

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.

 

  • “Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this selfsame day.”

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 Jerusalem, as it was to be on the

anniversary of that day that the King of Babylon would besiege Jerusalem.

Thus it would be seen that the prediction was strikingly fulfilled. This is

one instance of the marking of memorable days.

 

  • THE OCCURRENCE OF MEMORABLE DAYS. In themselves all

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

be permanent.

 

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.

 

  • THE USE OF MEMORABLE DAYS.

 

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 Jerusalem is a solemn

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)

 

  • THE VESSEL. Jerusalem is compared to a seething-pot. The character

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

wails of Jerusalem did not save the doomed city. No earthly shelter

will protect the guilty from the wrath of God.

 

Ø      Fatal imprisonment. The miserable inhabitants of Jerusalem were shut

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.

 

  • THE CONTENTS OF THE VESSEL.

 

Ø      Flesh. The various joints of the butchered animal are flung into the

seething-pot. They represent the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The

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 Judah share the fate of their city; they are

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)

 

  • THE FIRE. The seething-pot is to be put on a fire. Sin is punished by

burning wrath.

 

Ø      Suffering. The symbol of fire certainly suggests pain.  Jesus says

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

(Mark 9:44)

 

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

Jerusalem, who are to be carried into exile. There was to be “no lot cast,”

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 Jerusalem is the

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 Nineveh applied to Jerusalem.

 

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 Jerusalem and its guilty

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)

 

Jerusalem is represented as endeavoring to remove her own evil, but as growing

weary in the fruitless task. The rust cannot be cleansed from the vessel.

 

  • IT ACTS LIKE RUST.

 

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!

 

  • MEN TRY TO REMOVE THE RUST OF SIN.  (Thus trying to “climb

up some other way!”  (John 10:1)  This is the task that the people of Jerusalem

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

commenced.

 

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

Testament economy.

 

  • THE ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE RUST OF SIN IS A WEARY

TASK.

 

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

the best.

 

  • CHRIST HAS ACCOMPLISHED THIS WEARY TASK.

 

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

required:

 

o       the humiliation of Bethlehem,

o       the agony of Gethsemane, and

o       the death of Calvary.

 

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!

(Matthew 11:28-30)

 

 

God True to His Word (v. 14)

 

“I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it.”

 

  • THE SUPPOSITION THAT GOD MAY .NOT BE TRUE TO HIS

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!”

(Ecclesiastes 8:11)

 

Ø      A false idea of Gods 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.

 

  • THE CERTAINTY THAT GOD WILL BE TRUE TO HIS WORD.

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

PENITENT!

 

  • THE CONSEQUENCES OF GOD’S BEING TRUE TO HIS WORD.

 

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)

 

  • A PICTURE OF DOMESTIC LOVE. Ezekiel’s wife is called “the

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.

 

  • A STROKE OF TEARFUL TROUBLE.

 

Ø      The desire of his eyesis 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

of death.”

 

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

tomorrow.

 

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)

 

  • A REQUIREMENT OF UNNATURAL RETICENCE. Ezekiel is not

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

Jerusalem is so huge that even the most terrible grief of sudden

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

mankind?

 

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!”

(Isaiah 53:7).

 

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:

 

 https://archive.org/stream/ezekielandother01macagoog#page/n11/mode/2up

 

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 Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold,

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 Israel, not

the exiles in particular, are addressed. In point of fact, it is as much as to

say, ‘ your countrymen.’  They were soon to be:

 

  • stripped of their temple and its ordinances,
  • their independence and liberty,
  • their homes and country, and many of their fellow-countrymen

would perish by”

 

Ø      famine,

Ø      pestilence, and

Ø      sword.

 

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 Jerusalem, reporting its

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 Israel, but as bearing on the fate of the

surrounding nations. We have, i.e., what is, strictly speaking, a parenthesis

in the prophet’s work.

 

 

 

 

 

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