Ezekiel 25

 

 

The section on which we now enter — the great “parenthesis,” as I have

called it, of Ezekiel’s prophetic work — contains messages to the seven

nations that were most closely connected with the fortunes of Israel and

Judah. These were

 

  • Ammon (ch. 25:1-7);
  • Moab (ch.25:8-11);
  • Edom (ch. 25:12-14);
  • Philistia (ch. 25:15-17);
  • Tyre (ch. 26:1-28:19);
  • (Zidon (ch.28:20-24);
  • Egypt (ch.29:1-32:32).

 

A prophet’s work was hardly complete without such a survey of the Divine

order of the world so far as it came within the horizon of his thoughts; and

Ezekiel had before him the example of like groups of prophecies addressed

to the heathen nations with which Israel was brought into contact, in Isaiah

13-23. and Jeremiah 46-51. It was natural that the two contemporary

prophets should be led to address their messages to the same nations, and

so we find Ezekiel’s seven named together with others in Jeremiah 25:15-26,

and five of them (Egypt and Philistia being excepted) in Jeremiah 27:1-4;

while we have fuller and special prophecies for Egypt (Jeremiah 46.); Philistia

(Jeremiah 47.); Moab (Jeremiah 48.); Ammon (Jeremiah 49:1-6); Edom (Jeremiah

49:7-22), with the addition of Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-27); Kedar (Jeremiah

49:28-33); Elam (Jeremiah 49:34-39); Babylon (Jeremiah 50:1). What is remarkable

in Ezekiel is that he has no message for Babylon, which for Isaiah and

Jeremiah was the leading representative of the world-powers considered in

their antagonism to the Divine kingdom. This may, in part, be explained by

supposing that he omitted it in order to keep to his number of seven

nations as the symbol of completeness; but a more probable hypothesis is

that he was led, as Jeremiah had at one time been (Jeremiah 29:1-7), to

see in the Chaldean monarchy the appointed minister of the Divine

judgments on Jerusalem and on the other nations. For his immediate

purpose it was fitter that the exiles for whom he wrote should “seek the

peace” of the people among whom they dwelt rather than that they should

exult in its future downfall. He, like Jeremiah, may have been personally

favored by Nebuchadnezzar and his officials; and Daniel, whom he

mentions with honor (ch. 14:14), and whom he may have known

personally, was the king’s chief minister. There was, we may well believe, a

sufficient reason for this exceptional reticence.

 

The Judgment of the Nations (vs. 1-17)

 

This verse introduces a new series of prophecies, which contain successive

utterances of judgment against foreign nations, extending over the

following chapters to the end of the thirty-second. The whole series is

deserving of consideration, both for the sake of its common character and

in order to note the distinctions of the several parts.

 

  • GOD RULES OVER THE WHOLE EARTH. The prophet has not

ended his mission when he has delivered his message to the Jews. He has a

new oracle to utter. The word of God comes to him again with fresh, full,

distinct declarations, and the whole of these declarations concern foreign

nations. Seven nations are specified. The number is suggestive; the typical

number of completeness, it implies that the nations named are not the only

ones over whom God exercises jurisdiction, but that those nations, being

the nearest to Israel, are selected as prominent specimens. The Hebrew

prophets repeatedly extended their gaze far beyond the hills of Palestine.

The Moabites might regard Jehovah as the tribal God of Israel, in the same

sense in which Chemosh was their God (see the Moabite Stone), and

Jephthah might use language which appeared to recognize this position

(Judges 11:24), but the inspired prophets made no such mistake. They

knew that the one God was Lord over the whole earth. God is now

concerned with the heathen. He is also concerned with the godless at

home. Men may ignore, renounce, or oppose Him, but they cannot elude

His notice or escape from His authority.

 

  • GOD EXERCISES HIS JUDGMENTS AGAINST WICKEDNESS

OVER THE WHOLE EARTH. Those seven nations were called to

account by God, charged with wickedness, and threatened with

destruction. They were heathen nations, but that fact did not exonerate

them from blame or protect them against just punishment. Christ

announced a judgment of all the nations to follow that of Israel

(Matthew 25:32).  Paul spoke to the Athenians of God’s judgment

of all men (Acts 17:30-31), and pointed out to the Romans that the

heathen would be subject to it (Romans 1:18). These and other

expressions show us that those people who had not light and law would

not be judged by the high standard of the more instructed, but that their

own consciences would be the measure of their guilt (Ibid. ch. 2:14-16).

The heathen know sin. Unbelievers cannot deny their own misconduct in

daily life, though they may deny the doctrines of Scripture. As sinners, just

like other men, if not as unbelievers, will they be judged. We cannot escape

the consequences of our sins by repudiating religion.

 

  • GOD VISITS NATIONAL SINS WITH NATIONAL JUDGMENTS.

 

Ø      Each nation is judged as a whole. There is and there will be separate,

individual judgments. Of this Christ spoke (Matthew 25:32). But while

the New Testament is individualistic, the Old Testament is national. It

more frequently takes a nation as a corporate unit. There are national sins,

 

o       sins which are committed by many in the nation, and so become

characteristic of it, as drunkenness among Teutonic nations; and

o       sins committed by the people as a whole through its government.

 

For such sins the nation is punished. America will be punished as a

nation for America’s sins.

 

Ø      Each nation is judged separately. A distinct judgment is pronounced

against each of the seven nations. God is discriminating in His judgment of

communities as well as in His judgment of individuals. All have not sinned

in the same way, therefore all will not be punished on the same scale.

THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH WILL DO RIGHT!  (Genesis 18:25)

In conclusion, note that God, who rules over all the nations, and will judge

them all, HAS SENT HIS ONLY SON TO BE SAVIOUR OF ALL! 

(John 3:16)  The gospel is as broad as the judgment (Romans 5:20).

 

1 “The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, set thy face against the Ammonites, and prophesy against them;

3 And say unto the Ammonites, Hear the word of the Lord GOD;

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou saidst, Aha, against my

sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel,

when it was desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they

went into captivity;” Set thy face against the Ammonites. The main facts that

are essential to a right understanding of the message to this people, not to

speak of their long-standing enmity against Israel for many centuries, are:

 

  • that they formed part of Nebuchadnezzar’s army, as allies or tributaries,

against Jehoiakim (II Kings 24:2);

 

  • that afterwards they, with other neighboring nations, intrigued with

Zedekiah against the Chaldean king (<242703>Jeremiah 27:3), so that it

was an open question whether his first act of vengeance should fall on

Rabbath- Ammon or Jerusalem (ch.21:20). In Ibid. vs. 28-32, written

not long before, Ezekiel had uttered his prediction of the coming judgment.

Here we read that when they saw that Jerusalem had been laid waste, they,

like Edom (Psalm 137:7), exulted in her downfall. Earlier traces of

cruelty and outrage are found in Ibid. ch.83:7; Amos 1:13 — 15;

Zephaniah 2:8-11. We learn from Jeremiah 40:14 that the name of

the Ammonite king at this time was Baalis.

 

4 “Behold, therefore I will deliver thee to the men of the east for a

possession, and they shall set their palaces in thee, and make their

dwellings in thee: they shall eat thy fruit, and they shall drink thy

milk.  5 And I will make Rabbah a stable for camels, and the Ammonites

a couching place for flocks: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”

The men of the east; Hebrew, children of the east. The name is applied in

Genesis 29:1; I Kings 4:30; Job 1:3; Judges 6:3,33; 7:12; 8:10, to the nomadic

tribes, Midianites and others, which roamed to and fro in the wilderness east

of Ammon and Moab, after the manner of the modem Bedouins, with their

sheep and camels, and were looked upon as descendants of Ishmael. Palaces;

better, with the Revised Version, encampments, or tent-villages. The word is

found, in this sense, in Genesis 25:16; Psalm 69:25; Numbers 31:10. This was,

probably, the immediate result of Nebuchadnezzar’s march. Rabbah was left

undefended, and became a stable for the camels of the Midianites and other

tribes (Judges 6:5). The prediction has been slowly fulfilled. Under the Greece-

Egyptian rule the city revived, was named after Ptolemy Philadelphus, and was

flourishing under the Roman Empire. Remains of temples, theatres, houses, are

still found on its site, but its present desolate condition agrees with the picture

drawn here by Ezekiel and in Jeremiah 49:2. The language of Ibid. v.6 implies

captivity and a partial return from it.

 

6 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast clapped thine

hands, and stamped with the feet, and rejoiced in heart with all thy

despite against the land of Israel;  7 Behold, therefore I will stretch out

mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen;

and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish

out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I

am the LORD.”  A spoil to the heathen. The noun for “spoil” is not found

elsewhere, but probably means “food.” The Hebrew Keri, i.e. its marginal

reading, gives the same word as that rendered “spoil” in ch. 25:7.

The meaning is substantially the same whichever word we choose. Ezekiel,

it will be noticed, says nothing about the return of the Ammonites, but

contemplates, as in ch.21:32, entire destruction. The moaning of Rabbah

(“great” or “populous”), the mother-city of Ammon, gives greater

force to the prophecy of desolation.

 

 

 

                                                Malignity (vs. 1-7)

 

The prophet, having been enjoined to silence for a season with regard to

Israel, turns to the several heathen nations by which his countrymen were

encompassed. His mission to them must have been one very painful to

discharge; for he was called upon to rebuke their sins and to denounce

against them the anger of an omniscient and righteous Ruler. Between

Ammon and Israel there was ancient feud. But the day of Ammon’s

judgment was now at hand.

 

·         THE NATURE OF MALIGNITY. The children of Ammon are charged

with malevolence and malignity. They wished harm to their neighbors, the

children of Israel; and, when evil came upon them, they rejoiced in their

neighbors’ calamities. When Judah’s sanctuary was profaned, when the

land was laid waste and desolate, when Judah’s sons were carried captive,

they said, “Aha!” they clapped their hands, they stamped with their feet,

and rejoiced with all the despite of their soul. All these actions were

manifestations of a vile disposition and habit of mind leading to satisfaction

in the ills and adversity befalling others. The reality of such a vice as

malignity cannot be questioned.

 

·         THE BASENESS OF MALIGNITY. There are sins into which men

fall through the pressure of temptation arising from their natural

constitution, and through the circumstances of life providentially permitted.

We recognize in such sins signs of the frailty of human nature, and we

make allowances for the strength of the temptation to which the sinner has

yielded. But the sin of which the Ammonites were guilty was of a different

kind. What were called by Lord Shaftesbury, the author of the

‘Characteristics,’ the “unsocial passions,” are of all the most blamable and

inexcusable. They are those habitual emotions known as malice, envy,

jealousy, malignity. It is wrong to seek our own pleasures overmuch; but it

is worse to seek and to delight in the suffering and the ruin of our fellow

creatures. Inasmuch as we are members of one race, of one body, and

partakers of one nature, we are peculiarly bound to sympathy,

benevolence, and mutual helpfulness. The Christian law is one of great

beauty both in substance and in expression, “Rejoice with them that do

rejoice, weep with them that weep.”  (Romans 12:15)The malignity displayed

by the children of Ammon was not only neglect and violation of the natural law

of sympathy, it was in exact opposition to that law. This is a sin not even now

extinct; traces of its presence may be found even in Christian communities,

though decency may compel those who are guilty of it to conceal it with a

thin disguise. But it is a sin which every conscience must condemn, and in

defense or even extenuation of which no word can be uttered.

 

·         THE EXPLANATION OF MALIGNITY. This habit of mind may

have originated in a state of society in which every man’s hand was against

his neighbor, in which, consequently, suspicion and distrust were prevalent.

In such a state of social life (if it may so be called) the strength of a

neighbor was a source of danger and fear to a people conscious of their

own weakness; and any calamity which diminished a formidable neighbor’s

power to harm would awaken satisfaction and rejoicing, as presaging peace

and the opportunity of progress and prosperity. The emotion may survive

the circumstances in which it arose. But this can be no excuse for the

cherishing of malevolence and malignity in ordinary states of society, in

which it is an unjustifiable expression of the worst tendencies of human

nature.

 

·         THE CONDEMNATION AND PUNISHMENT OF MALIGNITY.

The sentence issued against Ammon is one of awful severity; the sin must

have been inexcusable and even horrible to call for such a punishment as is

here published. They were to be conquered and spoiled; strangers were to

possess their land and enjoy its produce; and as a people they were to be

blotted out from amongst the nations, and to be no more. The displeasure

of the Eternal could not be more powerfully exhibited. And there is every

reason for believing that the same sin is ever regarded with the same

disapproval and meets with a similar retribution. Malignity reached its

deepest depths when the holy Jesus was hated by scribes, Pharisees, and

religious leaders, who found in His goodness the reproach of their sin.

Israel rejected Israel’s noblest Son, nay, the Son of God Himself. And in

rejecting Christ the ancient people of God brought upon themselves the

condemnation which has from that day to this remained upon the scattered

and homeless sons of Abraham. How awful and how instructive are the

            lessons concerning God’s hatred of sin embodied in the history of mankind!

 

 

 

 

The Scoffing Nation (vs. 2-7)

 

The first nation selected for denunciation is the Ammonite, situated on the

east of the Jordan and to the north of Moab, with its further border

towards the Syrian desert. Its scoffing at the sacred things of the Jews, and

its cruel mockery of their calamities, are to be followed by a dreadful

destruction. Scoffing and mockery are dangerous practices for those who

indulge in them.

 

         

                                                                        (map from Wikipedia)

  • THE CRUEL SCOFFING.

 

Ø      An insult to religion. “Thou saidst, Aha! against my sanctuary when it

was profaned” (Ver. 3). No doubt the sanctuary was regarded as a mystical

center of the power of the Jews. When the sacred edifice was overthrown,

the talisman was destroyed, the spell was broken. This was a matter of

delight to an enemy. Thus scoffing is itself a testimony to the power of

religion, though that power may be apprehended in a very ignorant and

superstitious way. But to rejoice in the downfall of religious influence is

TO PROCLAIM ONE’S SELF AN ENEMY OF GOD!.   It is fair,

however, to see that scoffing at religion may be provoked by the misconduct

of its champions.  Much of the scoffing of unbelievers at Christianity is not

inspired by hatred to the gospel, but by disgust at the unworthy conduct of

Christians. The sins of the Jews led to dishonor to their temple. The sins of

Christians invite insults against Christ.

 

Ø      The love of destruction. The Ammonites scoffed “against the land of

Israel when it was desolate.” The northern nation had been already

destroyed and scattered, but the waste and ruined condition of the

deserted land was a delight to the jealous neighbors on the eastern border.

There is a fierce joy in the idea delenda est Carthago (Carthage must be

Destroyed). But this is heathenish and wicked. Sin that works for death

creates a delight in destruction (this is malicious – CY – 2014). The

Christian idea is the opposite to this — not breaking a bruised reed, but

helping on the time when “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be

glad; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1).

 

Ø      A pleasure in cruelty. The Ammonites scoffed at the contemporary

calamity of the southern kingdom — “the house of Judah, when they went

into captivity.” The earlier destruction of Israel is a source of wild, fiendish

joy. “Thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet, and

rejoiced in heart with all thy despite against the land of Israel (v. 6).

There is no more Satanic wickedness than joy springing from the

contemplation of the misery of others.

 

  • THE NATIONAL DOOM. This is to be very similar to that of Israel

and Judah, so that what the Ammonites rejoiced to see in their neighbors

shall come on their own heads, but still with certain variations determined

by their situation and character.

 

Ø      Subjection to others. Ammon had rejoiced over the downfall of her

western neighbors. She in turn shall be overrun by people from the cast.

The destruction was to come from Babylon, but “the men of the east,” i.e.

the Arabs, would follow it, and like vultures pounce on the prey left by the

advancing Chaldean army. Cruelty makes many enemies and no friends.

The scoffer must expect to be scoffed at.

 

Ø      Reduced civilization. Rabbah, the proud capital, will become a pasture

for camels, and the once populous land of Ammon a sheep run. National

punishment lowers a people in the scale of social life.  (Read about

what happened to Babylon!  - Isaiah 14:22-23)

 

Ø      National destruction. The Ammonites are to “perish out of the

countries.” This old-world nation did cease to exist. Though individuals

may remain, the corporate life of the nation is destroyed. As the wages of

individual sin is individual death, so a nation’s sin is punished by national

destruction. The wicked Roman Empire was destroyed. It depends on our

national conduct whether the same fate will come on the United States of

America.

 

8  “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Moab and Seir do say,

Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the heathen;”

Moab and Seir. “Seir” stands elsewhere for Edom, but here

appears as distinguished from it, the latter nation having a distinct message

in v. 12. A possible explanation is found in II Chronicles 20:23,

where we find Moab and Ammon joined together against the inhabitants of

Mount Seir. The Moabites may have retained possession of it, and so

Ezekiel may have coupled the two names together. Their sin also, like that

of Ammon, is that they exulted in the fall of Jerusalem. It was come down

to the level of other cities, no longer exalted above them by the blessing of

Jehovah. The Moabite Stone, found in the ruins of Dibon (‘Records of the

Past,’ 9:165), on which Mesha, King of Moab, narrates his conquests over

neighboring nations, including Israel, testifies to the strength of the

kingdom, and in Isaiah 15. and 16. it is represented as conspicuous for its

pride. They too, like the Ammonites, served in Nebuchadnezzar’s army

(II Kings 24:2).

 

9 “Therefore, behold, I will open the side of Moab from the cities,

from his cities which are on his frontiers, the glory of the country,

Bethjeshimoth, Baalmeon, and Kiriathaim,  I will open the side of Moab;

literally, the shoulder, i.e. the slopes of the mountain of Moab (Joshua 15:8, 10).

For Bethjeshimoth (equivalent to “House of wastes”), see Numbers 33:49;

Joshua 12:3; 13:20. It had been assigned to Reuben, but had been

seized by the Moabites. It has been identified by De Sauley with the ruins

now known as Suaime, on the northeastern border of the Dead Sea. Baalmeon

(Numbers 32:38), more fully Beth-baal-meon (Joshua 13:17), or Beth-moon

(Jeremiah 48:23). The name is found in ruins of some extent, known as the

fortress of Miun or Maein, about three miles south of Heshbon (‘Dict. Bible,’ s.v.).

Kiriathaim. The dual form of the name (equivalent to “Two cities”) implies, perhaps,

the union of an old and new town, or two towns on the opposite sides of a brook

or wady. The name appears in Genesis 14:5; Numbers 32:37; Joshua 13:19;

Jeremiah 48:1,23. It has been identified with El-Teym, about two miles

from Medeba (Burckhardt), and with Kurei-yat, on the south side of Jebel

Attarus. Eusebius (‘Onom.,’ s.v.) describes it as about ten miles from

Medeba, and close to the Baris, but nothing is known as to the last-named

place. The three cities all belonged to the region which Sihon and Og had

conquered from the Moabites before Israel obtained possession of them,

and they were afterwards claimed as belonging to the Israelites by right of

conquest (Judges 11:23), and them may therefore be a touch of irony in

Ezekiel’s language describing them as Moabite cities. Collectively they

were the glory of the country, the region known as the Belka, in which

they were situated, giving the best pasturage, then as now, in Southern

Syria. Havernick quotes a Bedouin proverb, “There is no land like Belka”

(see Tristram’s ‘Land of Moab,’ pp. 275, 303-305, 350). Kirjath and

Baalmeon appear in Mesha’s inscription on the Moabite Stone.

 

10 Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them

in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among

the nations.  11 And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they

shall know that I am the LORD.”  Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites.

The Authorized Version is obscure. What is meant is that the Moabites as well

as the Ammonites were to be given to the nomadic tribes, the “children of

the east,” for a possession. The doom that Ammon was to be no more

remembered (ch. 21:32) was to be carried out to the uttermost,

and the children of the east were to complete what Nebuchadnezzar had

begun. The utter destruction of Ammon was, as it were, uppermost in the

prophet’s thoughts, and that of Moab was but secondary. Historically, the

words received a partial fulfillment in Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests five

years after the destruction of Jerusalem (Josephus,’ Ant.,’ 10:9.7, and M.

yon Niebuhr’s ‘Geseh. Assurs,’ p. 215), but the Ammonites were still an

important people in the time of the Maccabees (I Maccabees 5:6, 30-45)

and Justin Martyr (‘Dial. cum Trypho, p. 272).

 

 

The Skeptical Nation (vs. 8-11)

 

The sister nation of Moab, lying just to the south of Ammon, comes

second in the order of the peoples whose doom is pronounced by the

prophet of Jehovah. It has its characteristic sin, and it will have its

characteristic punishment.

 

  • THE RECKLESS SCEPTICISM. “Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the

house of Judah is like unto all the heathen.” This utterance expressed

unbelief in regard to the peculiar privileges of Judah. The Jews had given

themselves out as the chosen people of God, and their claim was disputed

by Moab.

 

Ø      The skepticism was prompted by jealousy. Moab was vexed at the

pretensions of the Jews. What right had one little nation to arrogate to

itself the favor of Heaven? The same jealousy leads those who are outside

the Christian profession to depreciate the privileges of the Church. But in

the latter case there is far less excuse, because the doors of the Church are

open for all to enter it. There is no exclusiveness in Christianity. Judaism

was narrow, and while men of most heathen nations could only enter the

covenant by becoming Jews, i.e. by renouncing their own nation, an

express provision was made to rigorously exclude Moabites and

Ammonites (Deuteronomy 23:3).

 

Ø      The skepticism was encouraged by the sins of the Jews. Unhappily there

was a sting of truth in the taunt which the Moabites had flung at the

degenerate Jews. As a fact, Judah had become only too like the heathen.

Her separateness was based on a distinction of faith and morals; but alas!

this distinction was fast melting away, and both in the practice of idolatry

and in a departure from the high ethical standard of the Law, the Jews were

assimilating themselves to their pagan neighbors. In the same way, the sins

of Christians sow seeds of skepticism in the world. The Church is too

much like the world, and the consequence is that the world doubts the high

pretensions of the Church.

 

Ø      This skepticism was grounded in error. The view of the Moabites was

superficial. They saw the glaring faults of the Jews, they observed the

external likeness of Judah to heathen people, but they did not look beneath

the surface to certain great spiritual truths. They did not see “the remnant”

of the faithful, in which the prophets detected the germ of the future and

recognized already the true Israel of God. They failed to note that a people

may fall grievously from its mission, and yet may not utterly lose its

vocation. It is the same with the world’s judgment of the Church. In the

darkest ages there has ever been a remnant of true Christians with whom

could be found the sacred deposit of truth and grace. Even when the

Church had sinned greatly, “the root of the matter” may still be in her, so

that after heavy chastisement she may learn to repent and be restored.

Moreover, the real Christian privileges which distinguish the true and

faithful people of God from the world, the privileges of membership in the

kingdom of heaven, fellowship with God, etc., are not perceived by the

worldly, for they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14), and

eye hath not seen… the things which God hath prepared,” etc.

(Ibid. v. 9)

 

  • THE JUST PUNISHMENT. This is assimilated to the guilt. There is to

be nothing distinctive in the punishment of Moab, only a repetition of that

of Ammon. Denying the distinction of the Jews, the Moabites are not to be

distinguished in their doom. Refusing to admit the unique national destiny

of Israel, they themselves are to cease to be remembered among the

nations. Now look at the just irony of history. In course of time, the

skeptical nation melts out of memory, while the people of God grow into a

greater distinction and fulfill a higher destiny than they ever anticipated.

 

 

 

            The Blasphemy and the Punishment of Moab ((vs. 8-11)

 

Although Ezekiel, speaking as the prophet of the Lord, has words of

upbraiding and of threatening for the several nations from whose hostility

Israel suffered, it is not the case that these words are words of

indiscriminate application. On the contrary, they have special reference to

the circumstances of the several peoples and to their peculiar relations

with Israel. In the case of Moab, the prophet urges a peculiar charge,

which is not, indeed, supported by detailed facts, but which he was

nevertheless assured was a just charge and a heinous offence.

 

·         THE PECULIAR OFFENSE. Moab was convicted of saying, “The

house of Judah is like unto all the nations.” The prophet knew, and we

know, that the descendants of Jacob were a separated, chosen, and peculiar

people. And to assert the contrary, as Moab had done, was to cast a slur

upon the revelation of God, upon the vocation with which His people were

called, upon the purpose which Divine wisdom had in view in conferring

upon them special privileges.

 

·         THE MORAL ENORMITY OF THE OFFENSE. It is only when the

character of this sin of Moab is carefully considered, with all that it

involves, that the guilt of Moab appears in its proper blackness.

 

Ø      It involves the classing of the holy and ever-blessed Jehovah with the

idols which were the expression of human injustice, cruelty, caprice, and

lust.

 

Ø      It involves the confusion of the righteous laws of Moses with the

regulations and observances which obtained in heathen communities, some

just and some unjust, and many of them superstitious and impure.

 

Ø      It involves the confusion of the Divine ordinances of sacrifice, of

priesthood, of religious service, of sacred festivals, with the debasing rites

practiced among the unenlightened idolaters.

 

Ø      It involves the classing together of the people consecrated to Jehovah

with those who had abandoned themselves to systems of selfishness,

worldliness, or superstition. All this was just calling darkness light, and

light darkness. It, indeed, reminds us of what our Lord has said regarding

blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. We cannot, therefore, look upon this

offence of the Moabites as something which has no application to

ourselves. The offence of calling evil good and good evil is an offence

which, in various forms, is committed in our own day, and against which,

therefore, men need still to be warned. There are blemishes in the Church

of Christ as it actually exists upon earth; but still it is the Church of Christ,

and it must not, therefore, be confounded with institutions of human origin,

and to speak of it as we might speak of other organizations and institutions

is to sin somewhat after the manner of the sin of Moab in the days of the

Captivity.

 

·         THE PUNISHMENT OF THE OFFENSE. In the case of Moab this

was terrible indeed. The territory was to be laid open to the incursions of

the Eastern foe, the cities were to be taken by a foreign force, judgments

were to be executed upon the people, and, like the Ammonites, they were

to be overtaken by speedy and irremediable ruin. The very thought of such

infliction is enough to make the sinner tremble, to induce him to repent of

his evil words and actions, and to seek, in God’s own way, reconciliation

with the authority which he has despised, Silence, contrition, and true

submission of heart are the true way of peace.

 

 

 

                                    A Forgotten People (v. 10)

 

“That the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations.” We

have the name of this little nation preserved, but even that only reaches us

through its connection with Israel; or if archaeologists can point it out to

us on ancient inscriptions, no history of value, nothing to identify the race,

remains. It is, indeed, a forgotten people. Let us consider how a nation may

bring upon itself this fate of oblivion.

 

·         IT MAY CEASE TO EXIST. Though the Jewish nation was broken up

twenty centuries ago, the Jewish people remain among us to this day as a

numerous, marvelously energetic, and quite distinct section of mankind.

But where are the Ammonites? We do not hear of Ammonite bankers,

Ammonite newspaper editors, or the admission of the Ammonites to

Parliament. Neither in Europe nor in their ancient Syrian plains and uplands

are those long-lost people ever mentioned except as a race of antiquity.

Now, how comes it that a people thus ceases to exist? A nation can only

withstand the shock of invasion, conquest, and deportation to foreign parts

without the loss of separate existence if its members are inspired and bound

together by the possession of one common great idea. It is the Hebrew idea

that retains the Jewish name and race as a separate entity independent of

geographical boundaries and political revolutions. If the English are not to

become an extinct people, they must depend on more than a strong navy

and a well-equipped army; for no one can predict the chances of war. If we

continue distinguished in our mission as a civilizing, Christianizing people,

we can never cease to have our part in the great world’s history. The

Church will ultimately cease to exist if she eliminates all that is distinctive

in Christian truth, and thinks to prosper simply on account of the strength

of her organization and the wealth of her vested interests. But if she retains

her sacred tradition of truth, she can outlive all revolutionary attacks on

her worldly status.

 

·         IT MAY FAIL TO EXERT INFLUENCE. Each nation has its own

peculiar privileges and vocation. However small a people may be, if it truly

appreciates its privileges and honestly fulfils its vocation, it cannot well be

forgotten. Achaia was a small state, yet as long as civilization endures it

can never be forgotten. The Greeks contributed permanent elements to the

world’s civilization; and since Greek thought has passed into universal

culture, it is impossible for Hellas to fall out of the memory of man, unless

man degenerates to barbarism. The memory of Israel is greater than her

present appearance and immediate influence. The Jews gave us the Bible,

and with the Bible the eternal foundation of our faith. Therefore the Jews

can never be forgotten. But what have the Ammonites given to the world?

Contributing nothing, they deservedly sink into oblivion. If the Uniteed

States is to live in history and in the world’s continuous course, she must do

her part and contribute her elements towards the progress of the race. The

Church of the apostolic era was too fruitful ever to be forgotten. The Church

of the twenty-first century will live or be forgotten according as it contributes

to the spread of the kingdom of heaven and the help of man in his higher

thought and life, or fails in this mission and sinks back into ignominious

inactivity, frivolous formalism, and unspiritual self-complacency.

 

12 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against

the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended,

and revenged himself upon them;  13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;

I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and

beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan

shall fall by the sword.” Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of

Judah, etc. The statement receives many illustrations, notably in Psalm 137:7,

and at an earlier date in Amos 1:11; Obadiah 1:11. What had been malicious

exultation (the ἐπιχαιρεκακία – epichairekakia -  which Aristotle describes

as the extremest type of evil) passed in the case of Edom into overt acts of

hostility. The moment of Judah’s weakness was seized on as an

opportunity for gratifying what Ezekiel elsewhere (ch.35:5) calls

the “perpetual hatred” of the people against Israel, for taking vengeance

for the primal wrong which Esau had suffered at the hand of Jacob

(Genesis 27:36). (For other prophecies against Edom, see Numbers 24:18-19;

Isaiah 11:14; Jeremiah 49:7-12; Joel 3:19.) Teman.  The name, which signifies

“South,” was probably applied to a district — twice, here and in Jeremiah 49:7-8,

coupled with Dedan. In Ibid. ch. 49:20-21 the cry of the inhabitants of Teman

is said to have been “heard in the Red Sea,” and this determines its geographical

position, as being, in accordance with its name, the southern region of Edom. In

Job 2:11 we have Eliphaz the Temanite as one of the patriarch’s

friends, and the same name appears as that of a son of Esau (Genesis

36:11). In Jeremiah (loc. cit.) Teman is named as famous for its wisdom.

Dedan is named as a grandson of Cush in Genesis 10:7, and of

Abraham by Keturah in Ibid. ch. 25:3. It has been inferred from this that

there were two branches of the nation, one on the shores of the Persian

Gulf, nomadic and trading, as in the “traveling companies” of Dedanim

(ch.27:15,20; Isaiah 21:13); the other settled in the territory

of the Edomites (‘Dict. Bible’). The latter is that to which Ezekiel refers. A

various punctuation gives, with a better sense, “From Teman even unto

Dedan they shall fall by the sword.”

 

14 And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people

Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and

according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the

Lord GOD.”  By the hand of my people Israel: The words received a

fulfillment in the conquest of Edom by John Hyrcanus, who compelled its

people to receive circumcision (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 13:9. 1). In Amos 9:12

its subjugation is connected with the Messianic prophecy that the

fallen tabernacle of David should be raised up. There is an obvious

emphasis in the repetition of the word vengeance. The law of a Divine

retribution will work out its appointed purpose-vengeance to those who

sought vengeance. They (the Edomites) shall reap as they have sown, and

shall know that the vengeance of Jehovah is more terrible than their own.

 

 

The Revengeful Nation (vs. 12-14)

 

The Edomites are characterized as an especially revengeful people, because

they watched for their opportunity, and, when the Jews were crushed and

prostrate beneath the cruel Chaldean invasion, rushed in to smite their

fallen foe.

 

  • THE WICKED REVENGE.

 

Ø      Vengeance is presumptuous. There is a right recompense for sin, but this

lies with God. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”

(Romans 12:19). He who seizes the weapons of vengeance usurps the

authority of God.

 

Ø      Vengeance is cruel. Divine vengeance is a just punishment. There is no

vindictive pleasure in it. But human vengeance springs from an evil

appetite, that seeks a personal satisfaction in the sufferings of its victim.

Such vengeance is distinctly wicked. Indeed, the self-elected minister of

vengeance is forced into this dilemma — either his vengeance is a delight

to him, or it is not. If it is a delight, the joy is wicked, devilish; if it is no

delight, why does he practice it, for the plea that he is urged by a sense of

public duty is delusive? Directly that becomes the motive, revenge vanishes

and punishment takes its place.

 

Ø      Vengeance is unchristian. It is to be noted that this vengeful spirit was

charged as a great wickedness against the Edomites. They lived in the pre-

Christian days, and they were a heathen nation. Much more, then, is

revenge sinful in a Christian. We have the clearer New Testament light; we

have also the wonderful example of Christ to deter us from revenge. For us

to behave as the Edomites is to merit their doom twice over.

 

Ø      Vengeance is mean-spirited. Apart from all the above-named

considerations, when the question is approached on the lowest ground,

vengeance bears a despicable aspect. The Edomites waited till the

Chaldean power had overthrown Judah; then they rushed in to complete

the destruction. This was behaving like the jackals, who cannot destroy

big game, but who are mad to devour the carrion that the lion has left.

Revenge knows no honorable laws of war. It has the degraded spirit of

The assassin.

 

  • THE NATURAL PUNISHMENT. There is generally a resemblance

between sin and its penalty. The punishment is just the fruit of the sin. Thus

the vengeful conduct of the Edomites brings vengeance on the head of the

vindictive people.

 

Ø      Revenge does not end a quarrel. This is the mistake of it. It is foolish

and short-sighted, for, in return for its own brief, wild delight, it rouses

fresh enmity and provokes retaliation. The too stern treatment of the

French by the Germans left a rankling spirit of vengeance in the breasts of

the defeated people. The vendetta in Corsica keeps up a feud for

generations — each member on one side provoking one in return from the

other side. Shylock speaks of the mutual vengeance of race-hatred, “if a

Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong

a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Revenge.”

 

Ø      Revenge provokes the most bitter punishment. This comes from the

wronged victim. Judah takes vengeance on Edom. Possibly this happens

indirectly through the Chaldean invasion predicted by Jewish prophets, or

Jews may have some direct hand in the work. Vengeance makes enemies.

This form of self-protection is a fatal failure. The true victory over one’s

enemies is by FORGIVENESS,  the heaping coals of fire on his head

(Proverbs 25:21-22).

 

 

 

            The Hostility and the Curse of Edom (vs. 12-14)

 

Often in the course of Old Testament history do we meet with references

to the inhabitants of Edom, and usually they are exhibited as taking an

attitude of hostility towards the chosen people. It is certainly remarkable

that Ezekiel, in his Eastern captivity, should concern himself with these

border states. But it is evident that he was at the time very deeply

impressed with the great principle of national responsibility and national

retribution; and that it was revealed to him that this principle had

application, not to the Jews alone, but to all the nations of the earth. The

Edomites, upon the eastern frontiers of the southern tribes, were often a

source of annoyance to the inhabitants of Judah and their neighbors. They

were regarded as the foes, not of Israel only, but of Israel’s God. And

against them the prophet utters words of reproach and of threatening.

 

·         THE MANIFESTATION OF EDOM’S HOSTILITY AGAINST

JUDAH. The attitude of opposition which Edom assumed had an especial

character; it was designated “vengeance,” “revenge.” This implies a

standing feud, and the bitterness which is bred of repeated acts of enmity

and injustice.

 

·         THE GROUND AND CAUSE OF THIS HOSTILITY. We are not

expressly informed upon this point; but we shall not err in assigning this

enmity to the repugnance entertained by the Edomites to the religion of

Judah, and to the worship and prescribed rites and observances which were

so much in conflict with the idolatrous religion professed and practiced by

the children of Edom.

 

·         THE GUILT OF THIS HOSTILITY. This is apparent both from the

nature of the case itself, and from the retribution which Divine justice

deemed necessary in its chastisement.

 

·         THE PECULIAR FORM OF PUNISHMENT WITH WHICH EDOM

WAS VISITED. This is perhaps the most striking figure in the passage.

Retribution was to be wrought upon Edom “by the hand of my people,

Israel.” The sufferers were the instruments of punishment. The power of

Judah may have seemed scarcely adequate to the task. But it was

appointed by the King of nations that the Edomites should pay the penalty

of sin; and, not only so, but that those whom they had hated and reviled

should be the scourge by which the smiters should be smitten. The hand of

God’s people Israel was God’s own hand, and, when the Edomites felt it,

they knew by bitter experience the righteous vengeance of the Lord.

 

15  “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by

revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to

destroy it for the old hatred;”  The sin of the Philistines is virtually the same as

that of the Edomites. They also had a perpetual hatred. Century after century

they had been, with various fortunes, the enemies of Israel — defeated

(to confine ourselves to more recent history) by Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 17:11)

and Uzziah (Ibid. ch. 26:6), formidable under Jehoram (Ibid. ch.21:16) and Ahaz

(Ibid. ch.28:18), repressed by Hezekiah (Isaiah 14:31), combining with Amalek,

and Ammon, and Tyre, and Assyria against Jerusalem (Psalm 83:7).

 

16 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine

hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy

the remnant of the sea coast.  17 And I will execute great vengeance upon

them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD,

when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.”  The Cherethims. The name

appears, coupled with the Philistines, in Zephaniah 2:5, and has been supposed

to be connected with Crete as the region from which they came, or in which

they afterwards settled. By many writers both names are identified with the

Cherethites and Pelethites, who appear as David’s body-guard in II Samuel

8:18; 15:18, et al., and who are supposed to represent a body of mercenary or

Subject troops formed out of the two nations. Both Ezekiel and Zephaniah

Connect the Cherethims with a paronomasia (a slight change of words),

the verb I will cut off being almost identical in sound with it. (For other

prophecies, see Isaiah 11:14; 14:29-31;  Jeremiah 47.; Joel 3:4; Amos 1:6-8;

Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zechariah 9:4-7.)

 

 

 

 

                                    The Tribunal of Nations (vs. 1-17)

 

The Hebrews in captivity might, with probability, suppose that, since God

had employed other armies to chastise Israel, such nations were without

sin, or else their sins had been condoned by God. Nothing of the sort. God

is no Respecter of nations. Righteousness everywhere is acceptable to Him.

Unrighteousness anywhere is offensive. And touching the degrees of

iniquity, He claims to be Supreme Judge and the wise Punisher. Because He

employs men in His service, He does not allow this to be a criterion of their

acceptance. Internal character, not external service, is the only passport to

heaven. “The just shall live by faith.”  (Romans 1:17)

 

·         THE SUPREME AUTHORITY AMONG NATIONS. Never yet have

the nations of the world combined to elect a common tribunal, before

which international disputes may be heard. We may hope for such in the

future. Yet a Supreme Authority there is — a King of nations!

Undoubtedly, the God of heaven takes note of every national delinquency,

deals with every nation in a method consonant with its present

development, and visits it with reward or punishment according to its

desert. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the

good.” (Proverbs 15:3)  And not individual persons only, but societies and

empires, are weighed every day in the balance of Divine justice. A fierce

light, not only from human eyes, but from the Divine eye, bends upon

every throne.

 

·         THE INDICTMENT. The indictment brought against the neighbors of

Israel was twofold.

 

Ø      Rancorous hatred. The people of Ammon and others were chiefly

incensed against Israel because of their peculiar religion. For a long period,

Israel had maintained a great distinction, in that they scorned idol-deities.

By virtue of their allegiance to the true God they had gained their triumphs

over the degenerate Canaanites. Hence this dislike of Israel was, at its root,

a dislike of Jehovah; and dislike of Jehovah meant dislike of righteousness.

 

Ø      Spiteful revenge. The nations whom God employed to humble Israel had

gone beyond their commission. They had fostered the lowest animal

passions, and had given way to fiercest revenge. So far as a nation wages

war in defense of its rights, it may be approved. Yet if, in the prosecution

of its task, it inflicts needless suffering, or rejoices in mere destruction, that

nation, in its turn, has violated the rights of humanity, and will be punished.

Even if God has given to a nation the clearest command to invade and to

conquer, that command is circled round with the requirements of

righteousness. Personal feeling must be repressed. Public advantage alone

must be promoted. Otherwise that nation so employed becomes a criminal.

 

·         THE SENTENCE.

 

Ø      It is equitable. Edom had dealt vengeance “against the house of Judah.”

Therefore the sentence is, “I will lay my vengeance upon Edom.” The

Philistines had “taken vengeance with a despiteful heart.” Therefore, said

God, “I will execute great vengeance upon them.” Retribution is complete.

The same word that describes the sin describes also the penalty. Every sin

contains in its womb the embryo of chastisement.

 

Ø      The sentence includes desolating war. “They that take the sword, perish

by the sword.” The successful warrior teaches his enemies how to handle

spear and shield. His personal strength does not abide forever, nor yet his

personal influence. His watchful, sleepless foes wait in secret for their

opportunity of revenge. VIOLENCE NATURALLY BEGETS

VIOLENCE!  In return for reckless destruction on others, their lands

were to be desolated — productiveness to cease, cities to be razed, and

their palaces to be occupied by the foe!

 

Ø      Annihilation of empire and name. The justice of God is far more

sweeping than anything that we can conceive. “The Ammonites shall not be

remembered among the nations.” “I will cause thee to perish out of the

countries.” Men find a pleasure in posthumous fame. They love the

anticipation of living again in their children and in their children’s children.

To know in their lifetime that this prospect is cut off is a serious loss of

enjoyment. One great source of pleasure is destroyed. One great inspiration

to effort is extinguished.

 

·         A GRACIOUS RESPITE. The simple fact that Jehovah’s prophet

fore-announced these things was an act of kindness. It gave the people an

occasion and an urgent reason for repentance. This is not after the manner

of men. In human jurisprudence there is no place for repentance. But

God’s agencies are every way superior to man’s. As it was with Nineveh in

Jonah’s day, so might it have been with Moab and Edom and Philistia.

God’s patience and pity are wonderful. Yet, at length, justice strikes the

avenging blow.

 

·         THE FINAL AIM. “They shall know that I am the Lord.” This

conviction of God’s existence and God’s active righteousness will surely

come at length, but in many cases will not come in time to avert the great

catastrophe. Every such national overthrow will be a monument to God’s

power and God’s veracity. “Being dead, these nations yet speak.” The

mounds ransacked today for treasures produce eloquent demonstrations of

the truthfulness of ancient prophecy and of THE CERTAINTY OF

DIVINE RETRIBUTION!  There is a knowledge that saves; there is a

knowledge that does not save.  (II Corinthians 2:16)

 

 

 

The Hating Nation (vs. 15-17)

 

The Philistines are signalized by an ugly preeminence in hatred, and they

are to be punished with an extremity of Divine vengeance.

 

  • THE PRE-EMINENT HATRED. Partly through her own mischief-

making, but largely on account of unwarrantable jealousy, the favored land

of Israel had been troubled with the enmity of most of her neighbors. But

no people had shown such bitter and long-cherished animosity as the little

fishing and farming community on its southwestern border. From the days

of the judges, the Philistines appear as the hereditary enemies of Israel.

Possibly the fact that they were hemmed in between the hill country of

Judah and the sea, and so were cramped for room and had their access to

the east and the west cut off from them, made them jealous of their more

prosperous and expansive neighbors. Be that as it may, hatred

characterizes the relations between the two peoples. Close contact does

not produce friendship if sympathy or its worldly substitute, mutual

interest, be lacking. The most bitter quarrels are those between near

neighbors. Family feuds are proverbially rancorous. Means of

communication will not bring “peace on earth” and “good will towards

men.” Commerce does not abolish war. Railways have not made friends of

France and Germany. Hatred must be conquered by deeper means than

worldly advantage.

 

  • THE DREADFUL DOOM.

 

Ø      It is a Divine vengeance. This must always be fearful; but there are

degrees in the execution of it determined by varieties in the character and

conduct of men. Here it is described as peculiarly heavy — “great

vengeance,” “with furious rebukes.” There is nothing that God prizes so

highly as unselfish love, the queen of all virtues; and accordingly there is

nothing that He so deeply hates as hatred. This is a sin that most surely

provokes the wrath of Heaven.

 

Ø      It is seen in destructions. The Philistines had been named “Cherethims”

— “extirpated” from their old land when they came as exiles across the

Levant and settled on its eastern shore. Now they will deserve that name a

second time, for they must be extirpated outright. This thing has been

accomplished. The Philistines have ceased to exist. A similar doom had

been threatened against the other nations, but with Philistia it was most

impressive, as coming most directly from the hand of God.

 

Ø      It is experienced after long delay. For generations the Philistines had

been the incessant enemies of Judah, a perpetual thorn in her side,

sometimes utilized for purposes of needful castigation, often slumbering in

impotent inactivity, but never truly reconciled to the Jews. Their

punishment was long delayed, but it was not outlived. It is a fearful thing

to suffer from ACCUMULATED PUNISHMENT!   Awful must be the

doom of the aged sinner. YET IT IS NEVER TO LATE TO RETURN!

Even penitent Philistines will be pardoned.

 

 

 

                                    The Old Hatred (vs. 15-17)

 

Between the Israelites, the children of light, and the Philistines, the children

of darkness, there existed for centuries almost uninterrupted hostility. Their

position upon the coast, their powerful cities, their formidable warriors,

their imposing yet debasing religion, concurred to make them mighty. And

the immediate neighborhood of the descendants of Abraham brought the

two peoples into frequent collision. The Philistines were sometimes used as

the means of humiliating the unfaithful and disobedient children of Israel;

and bitterly was the discipline felt when the Philistines rejoiced over them.

For the Philistines on the west, as well as for the Ammonites and Edomites

upon the east, the day of reckoning was at hand.

 

·         THE HATRED OF THE PHILISTINES TOWARDS ISRAEL WAS

ANCIENT, PERENNIAL, AND UNDECAYING. This may be illustrated

from the historical books of the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

·         THIS HATRED HAD ITS POLITICAL ORIGIN IN THE

SETTLEMENT OF THE ISRAELITES IN CANAAN.

 

·         AND ITS RELIGIOUS ORIGIN IN THE CONTRAST BETWEEN

THE PURE WORSHIP OF JEHOVAH AND THE DEGRADING

RELIGION PRACTICED IN PHILISTIA.

 

·         THIS HATRED DISPLAYED ITSELF OFFENSIVELY IN THE

TIME OF ISRAEL’S DEPRESSION AND HUMILIATION.

 

·         THIS HATRED BROUGHT DOWN UPON THE PHILISTINES

THE INDIGNATION AND THE RETRIBUTIVE RECOMPENSE OF

THE MOST HIGH.

 

·         THIS HATRED THUS FURNISHED AN OCCASION FOR THE

VINDICATION BY GOD OF HIS OWN RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT

AND IRRESISTIBLE AUTHORITY.

 

·         APPLICATI ON.

 

Ø      There is such a thing as national morality. Apart from the character and

conduct of individuals, a nation by its collective action proves itself to

possess a certain moral unity.

 

Ø      There is such a thing as national responsibility. The people sin, and the

people suffer; the people repent and call upon God, and the people are

saved.

 

Ø      There is especial scope for the display of national virtues, and for the

right use of national opportunity and probation, in the relations which

subsist between different and sometimes rival communities.

 

Ø      National pride, power, and prosperity are of no avail in God’s sight, if

injustice and malevolence are exhibited by nations in their intercourse and

transactions with each other. “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.”

                  (Psalm 11:7)

 

 

 

 

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                        The Sin and Judgment of the Ammonites (vs. 1-7)

 

“The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy

face against the Ammonites,” etc. For a time the mouth of Ezekiel was

closed in relation to his own countrymen; he was to be to them as a dumb

man, or at least dumb as a prophet (ch. 24:27). But having already

proclaimed the judgment of God upon Israel and Judah by various figures

and with much reiteration, he proceeds to declare that judgment against the

neighboring heathen nations. “Judgment indeed begins at the house of God;

but if the Father of the household does not spare the sons, how soon must

it alight upon the others! This doctrine first of all shines forth from the

connection of this chapter with the preceding chapters. Then, also, we see

here how, with all the special solicitude wherewith God interested himself

in Israel, he still by no means lets the heathen out of his sight, since he must

show himself to be a God also for the heathen.” Of these nations the

prophet first addresses himself to the Ammonites. They were related to the

Israelites, being the descendants of Ben-ammi, the son of Lot by his

younger daughter. Yet they were inveterate enemies to Israel. “They had

joined Eglon, had oppressed Israel in the time of Jephthah, had fought

against Saul, David, Jehoshaphat, and Jotham. They had joined the

Moabites in Nebuchadnezzar’s army, when he besieged Jerusalem in the

reign of Jehoiakim (II Kings 24:2). And they exulted in the miseries of

Israel and Judah. The date of this prophecy is uncertain. Hengstenberg says

that “the date in ch. 24:1 applies to this also. What was predicted

in ch. 24. regarding the immediate future of Judah is here presupposed

as already accomplished; so that the point of view is ideal.” But the

‘Speaker’s Commentary’ supposes “that this prophecy was delivered

immediately after the capture of the city by Nebuchadnezzar.” We have in

the text —

 

·         AN EXHIBITION OF THE SIN OF THE AMMONITES.

 

Ø      Exultation in the miseries of others. “Thou saidst, Aha! against my

sanctuary, when it was profaned; and against the land of Israel, when it was

made desolate; and against the house of Judah, when they went into

captivity.” “They were,” says Greenhill, “the neighbors bordering upon

them; they were their confederates, in league with the King of Egypt, as

the Jews were; they were their half-brethren, descending from Lot; and

upon these accounts should have sympathized with the Jews, wept with

those that wept (Romans 12:15), been sensible of their great adversities

(Hebrews 13:3); but they insulted over them, mocked at them, were

despiteful against them, and added coals to the fire, weight to their

burdens, and more chains to their bonds” (compare Lamentations 1:2). They

rejoiced when Shalmaneser King of Assyria invaded Israel, desolated the

land, and carried the people into captivity (II Kings 17:1-6). Again, they

exulted in the miseries of the people of Judah when they were conquered

and carried into exile in Babylon (ibid. 24:10-16; 25:1-11). They

triumphed in the national ruin and sore calamities of the Jews (compare

ch. 21:28; Lamentations 2:15, 16; Zephaniah 2:8). Such derision

and insultation are directly opposed to the will of God, especially

when, as in this ease, the mockers are themselves also guilty of the sin

which brought down the distresses. When some suffer sore calamities,

God’s will is that others should be thereby stimulated to consider their

ways and repent of their evil doings (compare Luke 13:1-5). Moreover, in

exulting over the fallen and mocking the miserable there is Satanic

malevolence and shocking cruelty. Sometimes saintly men have severely

suffered by reason of such mockery. David smarted under it (Psalm

35:12-16), But the guilt of the Ammonites was darker even than this. They

rejoiced in the desecration of the temple of God. “Thou saidst, Aha!

against my sanctuary, when it was profaned.” They looked upon that as the

overthrow of the religion of the Jews, and probably declared that Jehovah

was unable to defend either his temple or his worshippers. Thus they were

guilty of blasphemy against the Lord God.

 

Ø      Exultation in the miseries of others with cruel animosity. “Thou hast

rejoiced with all the despite of thy soul against the land of Israel” (Ver. 6).

They rejoiced “with the soul, with passion, therefore with the whole heart’s

contempt of which” they were capable. They triumphed with revolting

malignity.

 

Ø      Exultation in the miseries of others with cruel animosity in unrestrained

expression. “Thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with the feet,”

etc. (v. 6). Their bitter rejoicing knew no bounds of moderation or even

of common decency. Such was their grievous and inhuman sin.

 

·         A DECLARATION OF THE PUNISHMENT OF THE

AMMONITES.

 

Ø      Their land should be given to others. “Therefore, behold, I will deliver

thee to the children of the east for a possession, and they shall set their

encampments in thee, and make their dwellings in thee; they shall eat thy

fruit, and they shall drink thy milk.” In the fifth year after the destruction of

Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar made war against the Ammonites, and brought

them under subjection (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 10:9. 7). “After this the land was

subjected to various masters” But at length it fell to the Arabians, who are

spoken of by the prophet as “the children of the east.” This was a common

designation of the wandering tribes of the desert (compare Judges 6:3).

“They encamp now periodically in the land of Ammon. They have

continued to do so for centuries. They, and they only, eat up the fruits of

the land.” Thus the children of Ammon, who had exulted in the

expatriation of Israel and Judah, were despoiled of their own country.

 

Ø      Their metropolis should become a desolation. “And I will make Rabbah

a stable for camels, and the children of Ammon a couching-place for

flocks.” When this judgment was fulfilled we know not. But that it has

been fulfilled is placed beyond dispute by the ruins of what was once a

flourishing city. That city entered upon an era of marked prosperity under

Egyptian rule. It was rebuilt or restored by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and was

called Philadelphia, after his name. It existed for some centuries afterward

with varying fortunes. “As far down as the fourth century (of the Christian

era) it was esteemed one of the most remarkable and strongest cities of the

whole of Coele-Syria.” And now amidst its ruins may be traced the remains

of a magnificent theatre, an ancient castle, temples, mausoleum, and other

buildings. The doom has been fulfilled, and Rabbah, “the populous” (as the

name signifies), is now a desolation and without an inhabitant. Dr. Kitto

brings forward several witnesses to the fulfillment of the word of the Lord

by the prophet in v. 5. “Dr. Keith, in the last edition of his ‘ Evidence

from Prophecy,’ states that Lord Claud Hamilton told him that ‘ while he

was traversing the ruins of the city the number of goats and sheep which

were driven in among them was exceedingly annoying, however

remarkable as fulfilling the prophecies.’ Lord Lindsay found bones and

skulls of camels moldering in the area of the theatre, and in the vaulted

galleries of this immense structure. He says, ‘ The valley stinks with dead

camels, one of which was rolling in the stream; and although we saw none

among the ruins, they were absolutely covered in every direction with their

dung. That morning’s ride would have convinced a skeptic. How says the

prophecy? “I will make Rabbah a stable for camels.” He adds, “We met

sheep and goats by thousands, and camels by hundreds, coming down to

drink, all in beautiful condition.” Mr. George Robinson also testifies, ‘The

space intervening between the river and the western hills is entirely covered

with the remains of private buildings, now only used as stables for camels

and sheep. There is not a single inhabitant remaining: thus realizing the

prophecy respecting this devoted city.’ These testimonials have occurred

since attention has been called to the subject of the literal fulfillment of

local prophecies. We add that of Mr. Buckingham, which is all the more

valuable as being of anterior date. He halted for the night with a tribe of

Arabs which he found encamped among the ruins, in a hollow behind the

top of the theatre. Next morning he writes in his journal, ‘During the night

I was almost entirely prevented from sleeping by the bleating of flocks, the

neighing of mares, and the barking of dogs.’ “Thus literally and minutely

has the prediction of the prophet been accomplished.

 

Ø      Their existence as a people would be terminated. “Therefore, behold, I

have stretched out my hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to

the nations; and I will cut thee off from the peoples, and I will cause thee

to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that

I am the Lord.” These expressions indicate utter and total, destruction. In

this respect the judgment of the Ammonites was more severe than that

pronounced upon Israel. For the latter there was hope and a future; but for

the former the prophetic message closes darkly, even as their history has

closed. As a tribe the Ammonites “disappear wholly at last in the

Arabians.”

 

·         CONCLUSION. “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and

he that is glad at calamity shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 17:5).

“He that maketh others’ calamities the object of his gladness stirs up God

to be the Author of his destruction” (Greenhill).

 

 

 

 

 

                         The Sin and Punishment of the Moabites (vs. 8-11)

 

“Thus saith the Lord God; Because that Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the

house of Judah is like unto all the heathen,” etc. The Moabites were the

descendants of Moab, the son of Lot by his elder daughter. They occupied

the fertile district east of the Dead Sea, and south of the territory of the

Ammonites. The condition of the Moabites may be gathered from Isaiah

15., 16., and Jeremiah 48. The latter prophecy was pronounced about “ten

or twelve years before the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar by which Jerusalem

was destroyed;” so that it may be taken as setting forth their condition in

the time of our prophet. That condition is well stated by Sir George Grove,

in Dr. Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible: ‘“The nation appears in them as

high-spirited, wealthy, populous, and even to a certain extent civilized,

enjoying a wide reputation and popularity. With a metaphor which well

expresses at once the pastoral wealth of the country and its commanding,

almost regal, position, but which cannot be conveyed in a translation,

Moab is depicted as the strong scepter, the beautiful staff, whose fracture

will be bewailed by all about him, and by all who know him. In his cities we

discern a ‘ great multitude’ of people living in ‘glory,’ and in the enjoyment

of great ‘treasure,’ crowding the public squares, the house-tops, and the

ascents and descents of the numerous high places and sanctuaries where

the ‘ priests and princes’ of Chemosh or Baal-peor minister to the anxious

devotees. Outside the towns lie the ‘plentiful fields,’ luxuriant as the

renowned Carmel — the vineyards and gardens of ‘summer fruits;’ the

harvest is being reaped, and the ‘ hay stored in its abundance,’ the

vineyards and the presses are crowded with peasants, gathering and

treading the grapes, the land resounds with the clamor of the vintagers.

These characteristics contrast very favorably with any traits recorded of

Ammon, Edom, Midian, Amalek, the Philistines, or the Canaanite tribes.

And since the descriptions we are considering are adopted by certainly

two, and probably three, prophets — Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the older seer

— extending over a period of nearly two hundred years, we may safely

conclude that they are not merely temporary circumstances, but were the

enduring characteristics of the people. In this case there can be no doubt

that, amongst the pastoral people of Syria, Moab stood next to Israel in all

matters of material wealth and civilization.” Our text presents to our notice:

 

·         A SIN SEEMINGLY SLIGHT, BUT ESSENTIALLY HEINOUS.

Moab and Seir do say, Behold, the house of Judah is like unto all the

heathen.” In these words we have:

 

Ø      A decrial of the superiority of the Jews over their heathen neighbors. In

many respects they were their superiors. God had granted to them the

clearest revelation of his character and will, his temple also, and the

ordinances of his worship. His mighty hand had frequently been stretched

out in glorious deeds on their behalf. He had assured them of many

blessings and of a bright future. Jerusalem “was great among the nations,

and princess among the provinces.” But now that Nebuchadnezzar has

quite vanquished them, taken their famous city, and destroyed their holy

and beautiful temple, the Moabites say, “The house of Judah is like unto all

the nations.” By this they probably meant:

 

o        They are no better in their character. ‘By their idolatries and idolatrous

customs, and by their political treacheries, the Jews had given their enemies

too much occasion to say this. Yet the religion which was prescribed to

them was incomparably superior to those of their heathen neighbors; and

there was at least a small remnant that was faithful to that religion.

 

o        They are no better in their condition. When the Chaldeans came against

them, they were no more able to resist them than any heathen people

would have been. And these things were said by the Moabites, not

sorrowfully, but scornfully. Like the Ammonites, they rejoiced over the

miseries of the people of Israel and Judah (Zephaniah 2:8). Hence the

Prophet Jeremiah cries, “‘Moab shall be in derision. For was not Israel a

derision unto thee? ... for as often as thou speakest of him thou waggest

the head” (Jeremiah 48:26, 27).

 

Ø      A denial of the superiority of the Lord Jehovah over heathen gods. This

aspect of the sin of the Moabites is clearly and forcibly presented by

Hengstenberg: “The guilt consists in the denial of the true Deity of the God

of Israel; for only on this ground could Israel be placed on the same level

with all other nations. The pretence for this denial they take from the

misery of Israel, which they derive, not from their guilt, but from the

feebleness of their God, and discern therein a palpable proof against his

true and full Deity. Their God Jehovah, the absolutely pure Being, the

primeval Ground of all things, the absolutely certain Helper of his people,

is a mere fancy: otherwise must they soar above, and not sink beneath. This

full Deity, against whose historically extant evidence they rashly close their

eyes, they must now discover by their own destruction. The transgression

is seemingly small; but it is that by which the nations perish even to the

present day. As each takes its stand towards God, who is historically

revealed in his Church, so is its destiny measured out.” Thus “Moab

magnified himself against the Lord” (Jeremiah 48:26).

 

·         A PUNISHMENT CORRESPONDING TO THEIR SIN.

 

Ø      The Moabites had rejoiced in the overthrow and exile of the Jews, and

they also should be overthrown and their land possessed by others.

“Therefore, behold, I wilt open the side of Mesh from the cities, from his

cities which are on his frontiers.” He would expose Moab to the assaults of

its enemy. Certain cities are mentioned, and are appropriately described as

“on his frontiers.” They lay to the north of the river Amen, which was the

proper boundary of Moab (Numbers 21:13). Again, these cities are

called “the glory of the country.” The tract in which they were situated,

“belonging to the district called by the Arabians Al Belka, has been at all

times highly valued on account of the excellence of its pastures for cattle.

Among others, Bochart writes, ‘ As the pasturage in Belka is far better

than in the rest of Southern Syria, there has been a continual struggle

among the various Arab tribes as to who should secure it. The Bedouins

are accustomed to say, “Thou canst find no land like Belka” (Havernieh)

(‘Speaker’s Commentary’). Moreover, their country was ultimately to pass

away from them into the possession of “the children of the east,” the

wandering Arab tribes. Like Ammon, the land was ravaged by hostile

armies, and at last was left unoccupied except by the Bedouins.

2. The Moabites had denied the superiority of Jehovah over heathen gods,

and they should be brought by painful experience to know his supremacy.

“And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am

the Lord.” Says Hengstenberg, “Through the judgments under which Moab

falls, it is forced to acknowledge the true Deity of Jehovah, which it did not

willingly accept.” (See our notes on ch. 6:7, 10; 7:4.)

 

·         CONCLUSION.

 

1. Let those who are avowedly followers of Christ take heed that they do

not give occasion to sinners to blaspheme the Name or the cause of God.

Let them show “all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God

our Savior in all things;” “Walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were

called.”

 

2. Let those who are not Christians take heed that they do not bring upon

themselves the anger of the Lord by speaking against his cause or his

people.

 

 

 

 

            The Judgment of Edom; or, the Sin and Punishment of Revenge

                                                            (vs. 12-14)

 

“Thus saith the Lord God; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house

of Judah by taking vengeance,” etc. The Edomites were the descendants of

Esau, who settled in Mount Seir immediately after the death of his father

Isaac. The country in which they dwelt was called Edom, or Idumaea. It

was situated south of the territory of Moab; and “it only embraced the

narrow mountainous tract (about a hundred miles long by twenty broad)

extending along the eastern side of the Arabah, from the northern end of

the gulf of Elath to near the southern end of the Dead Sea.” Of their

religion little is known; but that they were idolaters appears from

II Chronicles 25:14-15, 20, and Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 15:7. 9. Consider:

 

·         THE HEINOUS SIN OF THE EDOMITES. “Thus saith the Lord God;

Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking

vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them.”

Notice:

 

Ø      The sin itself. Revenge is the sin with which the Edomites are here

charged. Distinguish between revenge and vengeance. “Revenge is an act

of passion; vengeance, of justice; injuries are revenged, crimes are

avenged” (Johnson). Vengeance is righteous, calm, majestic; revenge is

wicked, cruel, malignant. The accusation against the Edomites is revenge.

Schroder translates, “Because Edom exercises vindictive revenge upon the

house of Judah.” The hatred of Esau towards his brother Jacob for

fraudulently depriving him of his blessing seems to have run down through

all his generations. And it was increased by what the Edomites afterwards

suffered in conflict with the descendants of Jacob  (compare 1 Samuel 14:47;

1 Kings 11:15-16; II Chronicles 25:11-12); although Hengstenberg

says “that Edom brought upon himself, by his own conduct, what he

formerly, particularly under David, suffered from Judah. For only on this

supposition was the revenge sinful.” Revenge was prohibited by the holy

Law of God as declared in the Old Testament (compare Leviticus 19:18).

And much more so as expressed in the New Testament (compare Matthew

5:44-48; Romans 12:17, 19; Ephesians 4:31).

 

Ø      The manifestation of this sin. Joel, who probably prophesied in the early

years of the reign of King Uzziah, predicts that “Edom shall be a desolate

wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they

have shed innocent blood in their land” (Joel 3:19; see also Amos 1:11-12).

But probably the reference in our text is chiefly to the action of

Edom during the Chaldean invasion of Judaea. “When Nebuchadnezzar

besieged Jerusalem, the Edomites joined him, and took an active part in the

plunder of the city and slaughter of the poor Jews. Their cruelty at that

time seems to be especially referred to in the hundred and thirty-seventh

psalm: “Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem;

who said, Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof!” Their conduct at

that time is described by the Prophet Obadiah (vs. 10-14).

 

Ø      The aggravations of their sin. They were kinsfolk of Israel and Judah. In

joining Nebuchadnezzar against Judah, they were uniting with a foreigner

against those who had descended from the same ancestor as themselves.

Moreover, in former times the Israelites had made distinctions in their

favor. When they marched to the conquest of Canaan, they were

commanded not to contend with the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:4-5);

and they observed that command. The Lord also commanded them not to

hate the Edomites (ibid. ch. 23:7). Yet the Edomites hated the Jews, and

rejoiced in revenging themselves upon them.

 

·         THE RIGHTEOUS RETRIBUTION OF THE SIN OF THE

EDOMITES. “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I will also stretch out

mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it,” etc. (Vers.

13, 14).

 

Ø      The judgment inflicted. Two chief elements of it are mentioned by the

prophet — slaughter by the sword, and the laying waste of the land. It is

also intimated that the judgment should, pass over the whole land. “And I

will make it desolate from Teman; even unto Dedan shall they fall by the

sword.” Or, as some would punctuate, “From Teman even unto Dedan

they shall fall by the sword.” Teman was a district in the south of Edom,

and Dedan was in the north; so that “from Teman unto Dedan” signifies

over the entire country. Not in one event alone may we trace the fulfillment

of this prediction, but in several. In the time of the Maccabees, Judas the

Maccabee slew more than forty thousand Edomites (1 Maccabees 5:3;

II Maccabees 10:15-23). About thirty years afterwards, John Hyrcanus turned

his forces against Edom, completely subdued the country, and compelled the

people to submit to circumcision and to conform to the Jewish religion, or to

suffer expatriation. And they were so desirous of remaining in the country

of their forefathers, that they yielded to his conditions, and, as Josephus

says, “they were hereafter no other than Jews” (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 13:9. 1).

So complete was their incorporation with the Jews “that the name of

Idumaea appears no more in history as a separate kingdom.” As Schroder

remarks, “The vengeance of God could not in a more marked retribution

manifest itself upon Edom than by the extirpation of his nationality, and

that precisely in the form of an absorption by Israel.” The desolation of the

land was at length accomplished by the Mohammedans. “In the seventh

century,” says Dr. J. L. Porter, “the Mohammedan conquest gave a deathblow

to the commerce and prosperity of Edom. Under the withering

influence of Mohammedan rule, the great cities fell to ruin, and the country

became a desert. The followers of the false prophet were here, as

elsewhere, the instruments, in God’s hands, for the execution of his

judgments.” And so “the Edom of prophecy — Edom considered as the

enemy of God and the rival of Israel — has perished for ever: all, in that

respect, is an untrodden wilderness, a hopeless ruin; and therein the

veracity of God’s Word finds its verification.”

 

Ø      The instruments for the infliction of the judgment. “I will lay my

vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel,” etc.; “And the

house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the

house of Esau for stubble,” etc. (Obadiah 1:18). The prophecy points

to Judas the Maccabee and his army, and yet more to John Hyreanus, who

completely subjugated the country of Edom, and annihilated the nationality

of the Edomites.

 

Ø      The retributory character of the judgment. “Because that Edom hath

dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly

offended, and revenged himself upon them; therefore thus saith the Lord

God... I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people

Israel, and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord God.” The

Edomites inflicted vindictive revenge upon the Jews; and for so doing they

must suffer the vengeance of the Lord Jehovah. “Revenge for revenge.”

“The Lord is a God of recompenses; he shall surely requite” (Jeremiah

51:56).

 

·         CONCLUSION. Our subject addresses to us:

 

1. Warning against estrangement or lack of love amongst relatives. When

kinsfolk or former friends become hostile to each other, they are much

more embittered than strangers in a similar condition. “A brother offended

is harder to be won than a strong city: and such contentions are like the

bars of a castle” (Proverbs 18:19); “Love one another with a pure heart

fervently.”

 

2. Warning against encouraging any feeling of revenge. Such feelings turn

the heart which entertains them into a hell; and the entertainment of them

awakens the stern displeasure of the Most High. Our Lord says,” Love

your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you,” etc. (Matthew

5:44-45). And St. Paul writes, “Bender to no man evil for evil... Avenge

not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto wrath,” etc. (Romans

12:17, 19-21).

 

 

 

 

            The Heinous Sin and Severe Punishment of the Philistines

                                                (vs. 15-17)

 

“Thus saith the Lord God; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge,”

etc. This paragraph treating of the Philistines is similar in its prominent

features to those which dealt with the Ammonites, Moabites, and

Edomites, especially the last. In each case there is a setting forth of the sin

and an announcement of the punishment. And there is a close resemblance

between the Edomites and the Philistines, both in their sin and in their

punishment. With this similarity of essential character in the paragraphs of

this chapter, it is not easy to suggest variety of homiletical treatment for

each paragraph. In our text we have:

 

·         A BRIEF STATEMENT OF A LONG COURSE OF HEINOUS SIN.

“The Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with

despite of soul to destroy it with perpetual enmity.” Mark the gradations of

their sin as they are indicated in the text.

 

Ø      The sin of the Philistines was hatred against the Jews. They were a

powerful people, occupying territory to the south-west of Judah, and were

unvarying in their hostility to the Israelites. Their sin was the very opposite

of that love which God commands as the supreme duty of man to his

fellow-man: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18).

And in Christian ethics their sin is equivalent to murder:

“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15).

 

Ø      Their hatred was intense and scornful, it was no superficial emotion.

They took “vengeance with despite of soul.” They were hearty and

passionate and zealous in their enmity to the Jews.

 

Ø      Their hatred was hardened.  “The old hatred,” or “perpetual enmity.” A

glance at their history shows this. In the time of the judges “they vexed and

oppressed the children of Israel” (Judges 10:7, 8). Near the close of the

career of Eli they defeated Israel in battle with great slaughter, and seized

the ark of God (1 Samuel 4:10, 11). They were conquered by the

Israelites under Samuel, and were kept in check all his days (1 Samuel

7:7-14). But in the days of Saul they again became troublesome, and

brought Israel in a measure into subjection to them (ibid. ch. 13:19,

20). In the battle in which Saul and his sons were slain, they inflicted a

disastrous defeat upon Israel (1 Samuel 31.). They were vanquished by

David. But in after-times they caused much trouble and damage to Judah

(II Chronicles 21:16, 17; 28:18). And they showed their old animosity

by acts of hostility at the time when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem.

Their hatred was ancient and persistent.

 

Ø      Their hatred was habitually active. “The Philistines have dealt by

revenge, and have taken vengeance.” Their enmity existed not simply as an

emotion, but found vigorous expression. And it expressed itself, not simply

in hostile and bitter words, but in malignant deeds, in revengeful actions.

And these deeds were not occasional, but habitual. They “dealt by

revenge,” as if it had been their trade or occupation. “A perpetually

enduring war,” says Schroder, “is the standing feature of the relation, while

fixed hostility was the root of it.”

 

Ø      This hatred was destructive in its design. “Have taken vengeance with

despite of soul to destroy it with perpetual enmity.” The aim of the hostile

Philistines was to bring the Jewish nation to an utter end. This was their

steadfast purpose. One aspect of hatred is very conspicuous in this brief

delineation, and it is as admonitory as it is conspicuous, viz. its tendency to

continuance and growth. If animosity be not resisted, if it be not combated

by the presentation of prayer to God and by the cultivation and expression

of kindness towards men, especially towards the object of our aversion, it

will increase in depth and intensity. Hence it is of the utmost importance to

check the beginnings of hatred. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,

and clamor, and railing be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye

kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also

in Christ forgave you.”

 

·         A STARTLING ANNOUNCEMENT OF SEVERE PUNISHMENT

FOR PROTRACTED AND HEINOUS SINS. “Therefore thus saith the

Lord God; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines,” etc.

(vs. 16, 17). We see here:

 

Ø      Punishment of great severity. “I will execute great vengeance upon them

with furious rebukes.” Who can conceive the dread severity of the great

vengeance of the Almighty with furious rebukes? They who had dealt by

revenge and taken vengeance on Israel should suffer the great vengeance

of the God of Israel. After the destruction of Jerusalem, when

Nebuchadnezzar turned his mighty forces against Egypt, “the result was

specially disastrous to the Philistines: Gaza was taken by the Egyptians,

and the population of the whole plain was reduced to a mere ‘remnant’ by

the invading armies.”

 

Ø      Punishment ending in destruction. “I will cut off the Cherethites, and

destroy the remnant of the sea coast.” The name “Cherethites” is given “to

the whole of the Philistines, for the sake of the paronomasia.” The name

signifies “cut off,” or “extirpated,” and it was to find its fulfillment in their

doom. “The destruction of the remnant points to this,” says Hengstenberg,

“that they shall be destroyed to the last man, as in fact the Philistines have

utterly disappeared. It is the great privilege of the people of God, that how

heavy soever the judgments of God may be upon them, never will it be said

of them, ‘I will destroy the remnant.’ “They who had made it their object

to destroy the Jewish nation should themselves be destroyed by the

Almighty. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.”

 

Ø      Punishment from the hand of God.Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I

will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines,” etc. The Chaldeans and

others were but as weapons in the hands of the supreme Sovereign and

righteous Judge of all.

 

“The Lord sitteth as King for ever:

He hath prepared His throne for judgment.

And He shall judge the world in righteousness,

He shall minister judgment to the peoples in uprightness.”

 

And if men will not be brought to know Him by the sweet influences of His

grace, then by the stern severities of His vengeance they shall know that

HE IS THE LORD!