1 “ In the tenth year, in the tenth month, in the twelfth day of the
month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Pharaoh king of
prophesy against him, and
In the tenth year, etc. The precision with which the dates of
several portions of the prophecy against
v. 17; ch. 30:20; 31:1; 32:1, 17, shows that each was called forth
by the political events of the time, and has to be studied in connection with
them. It will be well, therefore, to begin with a brief survey of the relations
which existed at this period between
great defeat of Pharaoh-Necho by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish (B.C.
604), on which Jeremiah (46.) dwells fully, he was succeeded in B.C. 594
by his son Psammetik II. the Psammis of Herodotus 2:160, who invaded
the Pharaoh Hophra of Jeremiah 44:30, the Apries of Herod., 2:161.
The Greek historian tells us that he attacked
Zedekiah and his counselors, following in the steps of Hezekiah (Isaiah
30.) and Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 46.), had courted his alliance against the
Chaldeans. As Ezekiel had prophesied (ch.17:11-18), they found
that they were once more leaning on a broken reed. We have now come to
B.C. 589, when
being relieved by an Egyptian army.
3 “Speak, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against
thee, Pharaoh king of
of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have
made it for myself.” The great dragon. The word is cognate with that used in
Genesis 1:21 for the great “whales,” monsters of the deep. The
“dragon,” probably the
crocodile of the
“leviathan” in Job 41.) had come to be the received prophetic symbol of
of the Delta. My river is mine own. The words probably imply
that Hophra, like his grandfather Necho, in his plan of a canal from the
Nebuchadnezzar as he looked on
of himself as the creator of his own power. The words of Herodotus (2.
169), in which he says that Apries believed himself so firmly established in
his kingdom that there was no god that could cast him out of it, present a
4 “But I will put hooks in thy jaws, and I will cause the fish of thy
rivers to stick unto thy scales, and I will bring thee up out of the
midst of thy rivers, and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy
scales. 5 And I will leave thee thrown into the wilderness, thee and all the
fish of thy rivers: thou shalt fall upon the open fields; thou shalt
not be brought together, nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to
the beasts of the field and to the fowls of the heaven.”
I will put hooks in thy jaws. So Herodotus (2. 70) describes the way in which the
Egyptians caught the crocodile by baiting a large hook with swine’s flesh.
Jomard (‘Description de l’Egypt,’ 1:27) gives a similar account (compare also
Job 41:1-2, though there the capture seems represented as an almost impossible
achievement; probably the process had become more familiar since the date of
that book). The fish that stick to the scales of the crocodile are, of course, in the
interpretation of the parable, either the Egyptian army itself or the nations that
thrown themselves into alliance with
together in the wilderness points to some great overthrow of the
Egyptian army and its auxiliaries, probably to that of the expedition against
would take the wilderness west of the
of the field and the fowls of the heaven (we note the recurrence of the
old Homeric phrase, as in ‘Iliad,’ 1:4, 5) should devour the carcasses of the
slain, the corpses of the fallen and prostrate nation.
6 “And all the inhabitants of
because they have been a
staff of reed to the house of
A staff of reed unto the house of Israel. Ezekiel reproduces
the familiar image of II Kings 18:21; Isaiah 36:6. The proverb had
not ceased to be true, though the rulers were different. Here, again, the
imagery is strictly local. The reeds were as characteristic of the
crocodiles (Exodus 2:3; Job 40:21).
The Doom of
GREAT FOREIGN NATION. The Hebrew prophet did not confine
his attention to the little strip of territory on the eastern shore of the
Sea, which we call the
messenger to the world.
Ø The heathen are concerned with God’s messages. God notices
them and has intentions concerning them. Therefore:
Ø It is the duty of the Church to make God’s truth known to the
heathen. Ezekiel was not a Jonah; he was not called upon to visit
the heathen as a prophet of Jehovah. But his written words might
be read by some of the more inquiring Egyptians. It is well to take
LARGE VIEWS OF GOD’S THOUGHTS, our duties, and the
greater and more famous than the little Ammonite and Moabite countries;
Ø No people can be above the rule of God. The biggest earthly kingdom is
beneath the King of kings.
crocodiles (v. 3). But it is not the less to be called to account by God.
No people can be too strong to be overthrown. Even great
fall. The strongest have their weak places. Mighty citadels may be
shaken by earthquakes. All man’s grandest works and most imposing
institutions are frail, and may be broken up by the rod of the Unseen.
AGAINST THE DANGERS OF FUTURITY. After
seems to be about the most ancient empire in the world. In the region of its
influence and among its neighbors
any of its rivals had made an appearance on the world’s stage. Its known
history goes back to four thousand years before Christ. For tens of
centuries this hoary old empire of the Pharaohs held on its course amidst
the rising and falling of many ambitious but short-lived neighbors. Yet
stood the shock of war and change. But at last her hour of reckoning drew
near. Then her
long past afforded her no shelter.
future on her past history. The Church of the coming age cannot stand
strong and safe on no better foundation than the glory of saints and martyrs
in earlier ages.
immigration, immorality and terrorism should be such a threat? Things
we would not have to worry about had we not cast God behind our backs!
My wife got an e-main today saying that the Pledge of Allegiance is on
Pepsi cans, minus two words “under God,” – CY – 2014)
Babylonian and Persian
astronomical science arose by the
were schools of literature, philosophy, and physical science on the banks of
this website – CY – 2014).
It was a help in the training of
deliverer (Moses) that he was educated in the greatest center of light of his
age (Acts 7:22). Yet the great
intelligence of ancient
its sons from gross MORAL CORRUPTION and no worldly wisdom was
able to provide against THE DESCENDING ARM OF JUDGMENT.
Culture will not dispense with THE NEED OF CONSCIENCE!
University honors are not passports to heaven (as many will find out!
CY – 2014). Knowledge and thought will not shield the sinful against
the wrath of future judgment.
7 When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and
rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou
brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.” The image of the reed
is continued and the effect of trusting to its support is described in detail.
The Staff of Reed (vs. 6-7)
The figure is a very striking and effective one, however it may have been
distasteful to the house of
circumstances in which
it madness on the part of the remnant at
act in this manner. In quietness and confidence lay their safety, in returning
and rest, and ye would not, as Isaiah most powerfully and urgently represented
to the people (Isaiah 30:15);
— not in the horsemen and the chariots of
sought her alliance may not be perfectly clear to us; but the fact is so, and
of this the events are sufficient evidence. It was a vain confidence which
the Jews placed in the great and ancient world-power on the banks of the
found it “a staff of reed.” (Without
God, I wonder who
turning to in her frustration in the 21st Century? – CY – 2014)
staff, when leaned upon, bend and break. Those who applied for help
received hurt instead of aid; the reed broke and pierced the hand that
grasped it and trusted in its support.
then, irresistible power.
TRUSTED AND OF THOSE WHO PLACED CONFIDENCE IN
i.e. the consequences of their policy were trouble, fear, and misery to both.
Both incurred the hostility of the power which they in vain leagued with
each other to resist.
AND EXPERIENCE HERE DESCRIBED. There is a proneness among
all nations to be guided in their alliances, aims, and efforts by
considerations of worldly policy and expediency. Too seldom do they ask
themselves — What is right? What is in accordance with the eternal
Reason and Righteousness which rule the world? What, in a word, is the
course which God approves and enjoins? The proceedings undertaken at
the instigation of worldly expediency, and in violation of Divine law, may
meet with apparent and temporary success. But THE LORD REIGNETH
and sooner or later action which He disapproves shall issue in
DISAPPOINTMENT and DISASTER.
8 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword
upon thee, and cut
off man and beast out of thee. 9 And the
LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.”
Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee. The words are probably addressed to
the nation personified rather than to the king. The sentence of doom is now
pronounced, no longer figuratively. And the special guilt for which it was
inflicted, a guilt which the nation shared with its ruler, is emphatically repeated
in v. 9.
The Pride of Creation (v. 9)
In the insanity of his pride, Pharaoh is supposed even to claim the mighty
of his people depended, as a creation of his own imperial power. Such a
foolish boast illustrates in an extreme form the common mistake of
claiming to create what has in fact been received as a gift of God.
This is seen with many kinds of success.
Ø National greatness. The proud nation glories in having built up its own
greatness. The mighty monarch regards himself as the maker of his empire.
Ø Private fortune. One who has risen from the ranks regards himself as a
self-made man. His success he attributes to his own ability and energy;
and his ability and energy he regards as springing from himself.
Ø Skilful inventions. Man does indeed seem to create with his brain. We
say that Homer created the ‘Iliad;’ Phidias, the Elgin Marbles; Watt, the
steam-engine; Stephenson, the locomotive. The thought that constituted
or shaped these great works of genius was bred in the brains of the men
who originated them.
Ø Personal character. Men commonly regard themselves as the architects
of their own characters. If there is growth in wisdom or strength, the
strong temptation is to think that this growth is due to their own thought
and effort. But:
pride springs from a delusion. Certainly it did with Pharaoh. He make the
depended on the ministry of the mighty river. Floods gathered from melting
snows on distant African mountains far beyond the territory or even the
knowledge of the Pharaohs, swelled its waters so that they overflowed
their banks and spread fertility on the narrow strips of river-side called
conspicuous ways. All great things, all new things, all things that exist,
come from God. They spring from God, and they depend on Him.
(“without Him was not anything made that was made” (John3), “and by
Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:17)
Ø In nature. God is the Creator and Preserver of nature. He not only
made the stone that the sculptor chisels; He made the laws of matter
and the fundamental principles of art along which the sculptor must
work. (Thus the great blasphemy of the likes of Robert Maplethorpe –
CY – 2014) National greatness largely depends on geographical and
other physical conditions of Divine creation.
Ø In providence. God is still in the world, ruling it according to His own
thought for His own great purposes. He overrules the government of
kings. In private life He helps one on to prosperity, and sends another
needful adversity through those turns of events, those conjunctions of
circumstances, which the wisest cannot foresee and which the ablest
Ø In grace. For the higher good of life spiritual attainments are necessary.
Without these attainments Fra Angelico could not have painted his
beautiful angels, Milton could not have written his grand epics, Luther
could not have wrought his Titanic revolution. God’s inward grace
makes souls and characters good and great.
positively wicked. It robs God of His rightful honor. It is distinctly
ungrateful. Indeed, it is atheistic; and practical atheism of this character is
far worse morally than the intellectual atheism that denies the being of God
as a proposition in academic discussions. Such a sinful pride destroys a
man’s sense of:
Ø his dependence,
Ø his remembrance of obligations,
Ø his consciousness of responsibility,
Ø his own littleness which is necessary for humility as well as that
feeling of God’s greatness and goodness which is at the root of
10 “Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I
will make the
etc. The Authorized Version is misleading, as Syene was itself on the border
even to the border of
is mentioned in the ‘Itinerarium’ of Antoninus (p. 171, edit. Wafael), and was
about twelve miles from Pelusium, and thus represented the northern extremity
southern, being the last
fortified town in
Latter fortress. So taken, the phrase corresponded to the familiar “from
11 No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass
through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.”
Neither shall it be inhabited forty years. It need hardly be
said that history reveals no such period of devastation. Nor, indeed, would
anything but the most prosaic literalism justify us in looking for it. We are
dealing with the language of a poet-prophet, which is naturally that of
hyperbole, and so the “forty years” stand, as, perhaps, elsewhere
(Judges 3:11; 5:31, etc.), for a period of undefined duration, and the
picture of a land on which no man or beast sets foot for that of a time of
desolation, and consequent cessation of all the customary traffic along the
of Nebuchadnezzar. It is implied in vs. 17-21, which carry us to a date
seventeen years later than that of the verse with which we are now dealing;
and also in Jeremiah 43:10-12. Josephus (‘Contra Apion,’ 1:20) speaks
Nebuchadnezzar as having invaded
followed on the deposition of Hophra, was one of general prosperity as
regards commerce and culture, but
world-powers after the time of Nebuchadnezzar and fell easily into the
hands of the Persians under Cambyses. It is noticeable that Ezekiel does
not, like Isaiah (19:18-25; I recommend Isaiah 19 Dispensational Teaching
of the Great Pyramid – this website – CY – 2014), connect the future of
12 And I will make the
countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are
laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the
Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the
countries.” I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations. As before,
records are silent as to any such dispersion. All that we can say is that such
a deportation was uniformly the sequel of the conquests of an Oriental
king, as in the case of the captivities of
the Persians by Darius; that if we find reason to believe that
we may assume, with little risk of doubt, that it was followed by what
13 “Yet thus saith the Lord GOD; At the end of forty years will I gather
the Egyptians from the people whither they were scattered:”
At the end of forty years. The restoration described may
probably be connected with the policy of the Persian kings. There may
have been a parallel, as regards
under Cyrus and his successors, though it has not left its mark on history.
14 “And I will bring again the captivity of
to return into the
and they shall be there a base kingdom.” Into the land of Pathros.
(For the land of their habitation, read, with the Revised Version, the land
of their birth.) (For Pathros, see Genesis 10:13-14; I Chronicles 1:12; Isaiah 11:11;
Jeremiah 44:1.) Its position is somewhat doubtful, but the balance of evidence
is in favor of placing it in the Thebaid of Upper Egypt, which Herodotus (2. 4,
15) describes as the original seat of the Egyptian monarchy. Its name may
connected with the Pathyrite name in which
‘Hist. Nat.,’ 5:9). The Septuagint gives the form Pathures, and is followed by
the Vulgate, with a slight change, Phathures.
15 “It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself
any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they
shall no more rule over the nations.” It shall be the basest of the kingdoms.
The words describe vividly
the condition of
after its conquest by Cambyses. With the Ptolemies it rose again to something
like eminence, but that, it must be remembered, was an alien dynasty. The
city, took the place of
16 “And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of
which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look
after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.”
It shall be no more the confidence of the house of
Throughout the history of the two kingdoms of
case of Hoshea (II Kings 17:4), Hezekiah (Isaiah 30:2-3; 36:4, 6),
and Jehoiakim (II Kings 23:35), their temptation had been to place its
“confidence” in the “chariots and horses” of
temptation should not recur again.
iniquity of Israel to the remembrance of the Judge, acting, as it were,
as a Satan, first tempting and then accusing. There should be no more
God’s Frown, a Chill of Death (vs. 8-16)
Men have very erroneous ideas of God when they think lightly of making
Him their foe. They have a vague idea that He is as impotent as one of their
idols (“…. Thou thoughest that I was altogether such a one as thyself:
but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” (Psalm 50:21).
Did they but know the magnitude of His power, and His complete supremacy
over human affairs, they would feel that his frown was BLACKEST
DEATH. The fruits of God’s hostility are:
true to say that God takes part in every war. In many cases both
combatants are to blame, and God cannot take sides with either. But, in
every case in which one of the combatants is impelled to fight for an
unrighteous cause, clearly God will aid the other side. Not always then. For
although a combatant may have a righteous cause to defend, he may defend
it in a vindictive spirit and with unhallowed weapons. It is well to note that
God does fight with His trusty servants against evildoers. He does employ
the sword of men in His cause; and when He is behind the sword, “it will
cut off man and beast.”
and waste.” Nothing is easier with God than to make waste the land of
territory becomes a desert. To Him it must be a grievous pain to make the
fair face of nature desolate. He who delights in beauty, and caused the
“sons of God to shout for joy” (Job 38:7) when earth was first robed in
leafy vesture, must be pained when the verdure of forests and cornfields
is blasted. Yet His desire for human good, and for the development of
righteousness in the earth, is stronger far. This gives Him a deeper joy;
and, in order to promote moral loveliness, it is sometimes worth while
to sacrifice the fair face of nature.
mine… therefore I am against thy rivers.” This is language which men
everywhere can understand. This is argument which leaves deep impression
in the human breast. If men despise and treat with contempt God’s
messages sent in the form of human speech, God will speak to them in
language they will not contemn. The strict equity of God’s dealings has
often been written in LARGEST CAPITALS. The prohibited thing has
become a scourge. The quails lusted after became disease in the intestines.
haste to vindicate His rights, because at any moment He can cast a bombshell
of alarm in His enemies’ camp. If men must needs trifle, let them trifle with
Satan — NEVER WITH GOD!
DISPERSION. “I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations I will bring
again the captivity of
a heavy calamity. The poor, no less than the rich, have tender attachment
to their homes. The tendrils of strong affection twine round the cottage in
which one is born. To be compelled to turn away from the familiar scenes
— to be compelled by a foreign conqueror — is galling to every sentiment,
is like a fire in one’s bones. Such enforced separation means loss, hardship,
uncertainty, dishonor. Defeat in war is affliction sore enough; banishment is
tenfold worse. How insane on the part of men to provoke God into such
necessity of CHASTISEMENT!
DEGRADATION. “It shall be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shall it
exalt itself any more above the nations.” To have a friend who is cultured
and refined is to have an elevating power at our side, lifting us up to a
better life. God is wise; and to have God as a Friend is to gain wisdom
steadily. God is pure; and to have God’s friendship is to become pure also.
God is love; and he who is much in God’s society becomes lovely and
loving. ALL GOOD FLOWS FROM GO AS ITS FOUNT; and to cut
off one’s self willfully from that fount is to sink into IGNORANCE and
MISERY! (The plight to which
2014). The friends of God must rise; the foes of God must deteriorate.
Today this prophecy is signally
fulfilled. For centuries past
the tool and the slave of other empires. She has been ground to the dust by
the oppressor, nor is there at present any prospect that she will rise again.
The word of the Lord by Ezekiel, although then improbable, has been
Light Out of Darkness (vs. 13-16)
The case of
revival. The destruction of one city occupying a rock upon the seashore
the extinction of
widespread and prolific race; it might be humiliated, but could not easily be
politically annihilated. The fortunes of the land of the Pharaohs were
gloomy in the immediate future; but the remoter prospect was not without
relief and even brightness.
was instructed to foretell, first
We are not told, and we do not know how large was the section of the
army or of the inhabitants of the country affected by these predictions. The
fact only concerns us, and we recognize that in the midst of judgment the
Lord remembered mercy, that banishment was not perpetual, and that the
national, life was appointed for revival.
GRACIOUSLY VOUCHSAFED. Lest
the prophet was directed to utter an assurance that the nation, though
spared utter humiliation and extinction, should nevertheless never resume
its former greatness. Two points are expressly mentioned.
rank among the nations which it had been entitled to hold aforetime. Its
power should be crippled, and its splendor should be dimmed.
Ø It should no more bear rule over other nations. Such had in former times
been subject to its authority, as dependents, subjects, and tributaries.
PROVIDENTIAL ACTION OF GOD TOWARDS
are very explicitly stated by Ezekiel.
warnings from Jehovah, she had been wont to do in times past.
was a truth with
opportunity of learning the wisdom, the authority, the compassion,
of Jehovah. Yet lessons may be learned in adversity which
discipline; but some impression was doubtless made. It was not for
that the smitten nation might bow beneath the rod, and
acknowledge THE JUSTICE OF THE KING OF MEN!
17 “And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first
month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came
unto me, saying,” In the seven and twentieth, etc. The section that follows has
the interest of being, as far as the dates recorded enable us to determine,
the latest of Ezekiel’s prophecies, and brings us to B.C. 572. It was
manifestly inserted at a later date, seventeen years after those which
precede and follow it, either by the prophet, as he collected and revised his
writings, or by some later editor, as a proof that his earlier predictions had
already received, or were on the point of receiving, their fulfillment. The
fact that the special word of the Lord came on the first day of the year is
not without significance. Then, as now, the beginning of a new year was a
time for men generally to look before and after, for a prophet to ask
himself what new stage in the order of the Divine government the year was
likely to produce.
18 “Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king
serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and
every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for
Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:”
Nebuchadnezzar, etc. The words carry us to the close of the
thirteen years’ siege of
enable us to refer the commencement of that siege to the fourteenth year of
Jehoiachin’s captivity, circa. B.C. 586, two years after the destruction of
Josephus (‘Contra Apion,’ 1:21),
who gives the names of the kings of
from Ithobal to Hirom, in the fourteenth year of whose reign Cyrus became
seventeenth, year of Nebuchadnezzar as the date of the beginning of the
siege. Here the point dwelt on is not the success of the siege, but its
comparative failure. The labors and sufferings of the besiegers had been
immense. Jerome (in loc.) states (not, however, giving his authority) that
these labors consisted mainly in the attempt to fill up the strait between the
island-city and the mainland with masses of stone and rubbish. These were
carried on the heads and shoulders of the troops, and the natural result was
that the former lost their hair and the latter their skin, and the whole army
was in a miserable plight. And after all, the king had no wages for his
labors. The city indeed, was taken, but the inhabitants made their escape by
sea, with their chief possessions, and the hopes of spoil were disappointed.
19 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will give the land of
multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the
wages for his
army. 20 I have given him the
wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the
Lord GOD.” Behold I give the land of Egypt, etc. For this
disappointment, Ezekiel, writing, so to speak, the postscript which he
incorporates with his earlier oracles, promises compensation.
had said seventeen years before, should be conquered, and its cities
plundered, and so there should be wages enough for the whole thirteen
years of fruitless labor in the siege of
(v. 20), they, though they knew it not, had been working out the will of
the Supreme. They also had been servants of Jehovah, as Jeremiah 25:9
had described Nebuchadnezzar himself.
The King of Kings (vs. 17-20)
By the very remarkable events here foretold, viewed in the light of the very
remarkable interpretation which Ezekiel was inspired to add, we are taught
some lessons of wider application and deeper interest than those which
appear upon the surface of the prophet’s writings.
Ø the hearts of kings,
Ø he power of armies, and
Ø the fortunes of nations, are in His hand.
Ø He has and directs His own instruments of work,
kings and nations being at His service.
Ø He has His own resources from which to provide wages
and rewards for those whom He employs as His ministers
of righteousness and retribution.
Ø In the submission of the rebellious.
Ø In the chastisement of the proud.
Ø In the recovery of the erring but penitent.
Nebuchadnezzar’s Wages (vs. 17-20)
Nebuchadnezzar was used as God’s servant in the work of destroying
receive his wages in the possession of the fertile and wealthy
This curious rendering of history in the light of Hebrew prophecy and
poetry is suggestive.
is referred to as a common laborer whose wages must be provided for. The
pomp and ceremony of royalty are nothing in the sight of Heaven.
Religion, like death, is a great leveler.
called upon to work out Divine decrees. But it was not pretended that he
did this of set purpose or with any disinterested motives. His aims and ends
were selfish, his views and ideas dark and heathenish. Yet he was a useful
into a means of doing God’s will.
shall lose by entering His service. At first there may be no advantage, and
the service is found to be disappointing.
must be thrown in. The beginning of the service seems to be unprofitable;
the end of it will certainly be amply rewarded. The laborer is not paid hour
by hour. He must wait for his wages. God’s laborers often seem to be kept
long waiting. But they will surely see their payday, and then receive their
dues with interest.
BETTER THAN WAGES. The servant needs, earns, and has a right to
expect and enjoy, his wages. But he has a gross and selfish mind if he has
no other interest in his work than the prospect of making a living out of it.
Every man’s work should be valued by him on its own account as a
contribution to the good of society. Especially is this true of spiritual work.
In that there is a prospect of rewards for which even Christ looked forward
(Hebrews 12:2). Therefore it is not wrong to expect rewards; every
lawful stimulus that can be had is needed to encourage our service. But he
is no true Christian who only serves his Lord for the sake of what he can
get. Nebuchadnezzar the heathen, not Paul the Christian, is his model.
king as he was, had degraded himself to the level of a common hireling in
the sight of Heaven by carrying out his great expeditions in a mean and
mercenary spirit. But the lowliest Christians rise to the rank of “kings and
priests” (Revelation 1:6) when they give the royal service that seeks for
no selfishness. This condition does not contradict that previously
mentioned, in which a reward is expected. All depends on its quality. It is
the working for self-seeking ends that degrades Christian work. Christ’s
reward was unselfish — to “see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied”
(Isaiah 53:11). The true Christian should learn to say
“And I will ask for no reward,
Except to serve thee still.”
21 “In that day will I cause the horn of the house of
and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them;
and they shall know
that I am the LORD.” The horn of the house of
The “horn” is, as always (I Samuel 2:1; Psalm 92:10; 112:9; 132:17), the symbol
of power. Jeremiah’s use of it (Lamentations 2:3) may well have been present to
Ezekiel’s thoughts. That horn had been cut off, but it should begin to
sprout again, and the prophet himself should resume his work as the
teacher of his people, which had apparently been suspended for many years
after the closing vision of the restoration of the temple and of
words justify the conclusion that Ezekiel resumed his labors after B.C. 572.
Was he watching the growth of Saiathiel or Zerubbabel?
Speech, Silence, and Prophecy (v.21)
“I will give thee the opening, of the mouth.” We may be led up to the
proper subject of the text by reference to:
communicating with one another; that they are supplied with some method
of making known and passing on is unquestionable. But whatever their
means may be, they fall very short of the great gift of speech which it is our
priceless advantage to possess. So common and so familiar has it become,
that we little heed its value or the goodness of God in bestowing it. But
when we dwell in thought upon all the difference it has made to human life,
and the extent to which it has enriched us, we may well bless God with
fervent feeling that he has given to our race “the opening of the mouth” in
speech and in song. How has it multiplied our power:
Ø to instruct and enlighten,
Ø to warn and save,
Ø to comfort and to heal,
Ø to cheer and to gladden,
Ø to pray and to praise and to exhort,
Ø to prepare for all the duty and the burden of life,
Ø to make ready for the brighter scenes and ampler spheres
And as this is so:
Ø how carefully should we guard, how earnestly pray, how seriously
admonish, against its abuse!
Ø how studious should we be to make the best and wisest use of this
INESTIMABLE GIFT OF GOD
of the mouth,” so also is there much virtue in keeping it closed when “only
silence suiteth best.” To spare the stinging but severe retort that rises to the
lips; to delay the accusation until more knowledge has been gained; to bear
without rebuke the sound that tries our nerves, but is the delight of others;
to refuse to pass on the unproved default; to refrain from the
commonplaces of comfort in presence of some fresh, acute, overwhelming
sorrow; to wait our time and our turn until others have spoken who
should, precede us, or until we have earned the right to speak; to “be
dumb, to open not our mouth” under the chastening hand of God, and to
retire into the sanctuary of the inner chamber that we may think and
understand; — this is a true “grace,” which they who seek the best in
human character and life will not fail to desire and to pursue.
rose and wrought than the Hebrew prophets. They were “men that spoke
for God” as their name indicates they should have been. And they “opened
their mouth” fearlessly, faithfully, even heroically. They were to be found
in the front when there was unpalatable truth to be spoken, uninviting duty
to be done, serious danger to be dared. They did not shrink from speaking
the straightforward truth to the people, the army, the sovereign. The Lord
“before whom they stood,” and in whose near presence they felt that they
were safe, gave them the wisdom to speak and the courage to act. He
“gave them the opening of the mouth;” and hence these strong, brave,
searching, sometimes scathing, sometimes cheering words, which we still
read in our homes and in our sanctuaries, which still help to form our
character and to shape our life. Their true successors are found in those
Christian ministers, and in those who do not call themselves by that name,
who “speak for God,” and who do speak for Him because, like their
Ø are enriched by Him with knowledge and insight — understanding of
His will and insight into the nature and character of their fellowmen;
Ø are endowed by Him with the power of utterance — such utterance as:
o constrains attention and
o secures reflection and emotion.
Paul asked prayers from the Ephesians “that utterance may be
given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known
the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
Ø are impressed, if not oppressed, with an inextinguishable impulse to
speak what they have learned of God (Jeremiah 20:9; Psalm 39:3;
Acts 4:20; I Corinthians 9:16).
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