1 “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying.” As no date is given,
the present oracle, extending to the close of ch.36:15, may be assumed to have
been communicated to and delivered by the prophet in immediate succession to
the foregoing, with which it has also an intimate connection. Having announced
future restoration of
leadership of Jehovah’s servant David, who should feed them like a shepherd
and rule them like a prince (ch.34:13, 23-24), the prophet proceeds to contemplate
existing hindrance to this return in the occupation of
Edomites, who had probably been allowed by the Chaldeans to take
possession of it in payment of services rendered by them against
(vs. 1-15), and to administer to
would ensue (ch.36:1-15).
2 “Son of
man, set thy face against
it,” Set thy face against
between the Dead Sea and the
settlement of Esau and his descendants (Genesis 36:9), is here put for
Although already the prophet has pronounced a threatening doom
judgments of Heaven, on this occasion viewing it as the representative of
all those hostile world-powers which from the first had been opposed to
hindered her return (compare Isaiah 63:1-8).
3 “And say
unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O
am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I
will make thee most desolate.” Behold, O
(compare ch. 5:8; 13:8; and contrast ch.36:9), and I will stretch out mine hand
against thee (compare ch. 6:14; 14:9, 13; 25:7, 13; and Exodus 7:5), and I will
make thee most desolate; literally, a desolation and an astonishment (compare
v. 7). Against the mountains of
the idolatrous remnant that lingered in the land after the Captivity had commenced
began to experience (ch. 33:28-29). The doom, however, connected with the day
inhabitants and whose fields should be cursed with barrenness (ch.25:13;
“I will stretch out mine hand.” Hath God, then, a human hand? The language is
an accommodation to the understanding of man. God has an adaptation of power
more than equivalent to the dexterous strength of the human hand. His almighty
hand can reach to the very extremities of the universe. As by a breath of the lips
He can create, so by a breath can He desolate cities. (“By the word of the Lord
were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
Psalm 33:6; In II Thessalonians 2:8 the Antichrist is consumed “with the
spirit of His (Christ’s) mouth.”)
4 “I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt
know that I am the LORD.” They shall know that I am Jehovah. By this
expressive formula Ezekiel intimates the moral effect which should be produced
upon the nations of the earth, whether by beholding or by experiencing the
Divine judgments (ch. 6:7, 13; 7:4, 9; 11:10, 12; 13:9, 14, 21, 23;
14:8; 15:7, et passim; compare Exodus 6:7; 7:5 17; 29:46; 31:13)
The Desolation of
disappointing passage. We seemed to have done with the weary recital of
successive judgments against the several heathen nations. Passing from
these painful scenes, we had come to the cheerful picture of the restoration
unexpected scene of judgment is the more appalling inasmuch as it is in
startling contrast with the preceding and the succeeding brightness of
suddenly, by an unlucky chance, she came into mind, and then without
delay the thread of joyous prophecy is broken and her doom is ruthlessly
pronounced. At all events, the solitary and peculiar position of the
Ø No impenitent sinners can be always overlooked. There are no
exceptions to the law of retribution. “Whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap,” (Galatians 6:8) is a principle of universal
application. No single soul can by any rare good fortune ultimately
escape from it.
Ø God’s forbearance does not destroy His justice. He may wait long.
But if the soul is finally impenitent, he will surely smite.
Ø The goodness of God does not abolish His wrath against sin. Even
when the mercy is most fully displayed, this wrath is also seen.
was one reason why
treatment. She was not only a near neighbor to
relation. Her people were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob.
Though a foreign nation, her
cousinly relationship with
patriarchs as her ancestors. Like
and Isaac. Might not she, then, expect the blessings of the patriarchs? Esau
had begged for a blessing with bitter tears, and he had received one, but
not the best blessing (Genesis 27:38-40). ( I highly recommend Spurgeon
sermon Sin and Sorrow - sermon # 3473 at www.spurgeongems.org –
CY – 2014) The young man whom Christ loved was “not far from the
The members of Christians families are favored with great religious privileges.
It is much to be able to claim godly ancestors. But these advantages will not
serve as substitutes for personal piety. Nay, they will make the guilt of
godlessness the greater. We may be like
ourselves into the Divine covenant.
“perpetual hatred” (v. 5) — a hatred which perhaps sprang from original
jealousy, still one that had been long cherished. As love is the fulfilling of
the Law, so hatred is the most effectual breaking of it. It is hatred that
brings war and misery on mankind. This is constituted out of the very
venom of hell. It cannot be allowed to remain unchecked. If it is not
abandoned and repented of, its curses must come home to roost, and they
who harbor it must suffer its doom. So long as a man cherishes hatred in
his heart towards a single fellow-creature, he cannot be accepted by God
(I John 4:20).
5 “Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood
of the children of
their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:”
Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred; literally, hatred of
old, or eternal enmity (compare ch.25:15). This was the first of the two
specific grounds upon which
and Jacob (Genesis 25:22, sqq.; and 27:37) downwards. Inspired with
unappeasable wrath (Amos 1:11), during the period of the wandering
(Numbers 20:14-21; Judges 11:17), and in the days of Jehoshaphat
combined with Ammon and
20:10-11; compare Psalm 83:1-8). His relentless antipathy
culminated, according to Ezekiel (compare Obadiah 1:13), in the last days of
encompassed her walls, in the time that her iniquity had an end; or, in the
time of the iniquity of the end (Revised Version); meaning, according to
Keil, “the time of
in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ the time when the capture of the city put
an end to her iniquity; but, with more probability, the time of that iniquity
which brought on her end (compare ch.21:29). Ewald translates, “at the
time of her extremest punishment,” taking avon in the sense of punishment
— a rendering the Revisers have placed in the margin. Then, according to
Obadiah (vs. 11-14), the Edomites had not only stood coolly by, but
malevolently exulted when they beheld
Babylonian warriors; and not only joined with the foreign invaders in the
sacking of the city, but occupied its gates and guarded the roads leading
into the country, so as to prevent the escape of any of the wretched
inhabitants, and even hewed down with the sword such fugitives as they
were not able to save alive and deliver up to captivity. To this Ezekiel
refers when he accuses
sword (compare Psalm 63:11; Jeremiah 18:21).
The End of Iniquity (v. 5)
forever unchecked and unpunished. The sinner has a long leash, but it is
not interminable. God steps in at length and puts a stop to the awful
succession of wicked deeds. Wicked cities and nations have had their
end. So must it be with sinful lives. (“The wicked shall be turned
into hell and all the nations that forget God.” – Psalm 9:17)
destroyer. It is a raging fire which will ultimately fade away into dull ashes
by consuming all the fuel on which it feeds. The sinner is a suicide. His evil
is a slow but sure poison, that eats out the very fiber of his soul. This awful
fate does not come on with a sudden shock so that men can be roused by
its approach. It is like a creeping paralysis, and its insidious advent is least
readily recognized by the very persons in whose experience it is taking
alternative. We are not bound to let the sin run through all its fatal course
to the final silence and desolation. We must end the sin or it will end us;
but the former may be done. The warnings of the fatal consequences of sin
are set before us for the express purpose of urging us to cast off the deadly
thing before it has completed its awful work.
in common with the fundamental moral law in regard to the ending of sin.
No lawgiver could be more stern in the denunciation of sin than the
gracious Savior. He gave it no quarter. From the first He declared Himself
its deadly enemy. He came “to destroy the works of the devil” (I John
3:8). There is no shadow of excuse for the notion that we can find in Christ
a shelter from the rigorous requirements of morality, so that we need not
be so strictly righteous if we are Christians, as we should need to be it we
were not. Christ expects a higher righteousness than that of the Law.
(Matthew 5:20) But when we perceive that our sin is our utter undoing,
we are prepared to welcome Christ as our Savior from this chiefly.
yet arrived. All is now calm and apparently prosperous. We may say that
there is time enough to consider the evil day. But the end may come before
we expect it. Its slow and gradual approach leads to our failing to perceive
how near it may be. Then the nearer it is the more difficult is it for us to
draw back. The descent becomes more steep as it approaches the precipice;
the rapids grow swifter as they near the falls; the poison more effectually
pervades the system as death comes on. The longer we postpone
repentance, the harder it is to repent. But apart from such thoughts of
warning, sin that leads to so awful an issue should be accounted hateful in
itself. Its present vile character is revealed by its end. With such fruit the
plant must be odious.
6 “Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood,
and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall
pursue thee.” I will prepare thee unto blood. This peculiar expression was probably
selected because of the suggestion of the name
term dam (“blood”) and designed to intimate that
eventually be verified in
guiltiness invariably pursues a murderer, cries for vengeance, and delivers him up to
punishment so should blood follow in the steps of
hated blood meaning that
this rendering, diversity of sentiment prevails. Some explain “blood” as an allusion
the blood relationship of Esau and
to be the blood he had shed. Even — better, therefore (Revised Version) — blood
shall pursue thee. A parallel to this expression is supplied by Deuteronomy 28:22,
45. According to the first or commonly accepted exposition of the
preceding clause, the sense is that
great law of retribution, and reap as she had sown — blood for blood;
according to the second, the allusion is to the fact that what
most dreaded, the shedding of his own blood, would be that which should
ultimately overtake him (compare ch.11:8; Job 3:25).
There will be exact retribution. “Sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall
pursue thee.” No human judge has ever been able to mete out such exact
penalties as God does. A combination of perfect qualities is needed, and
this perfect combination no one possesses save Jehovah. It is always a real
alleviation if the victim can feel that he has not deserved so much severity;
and it is the very core of anguish to realize that the suffering is absolutely
just. Conscience itself becomes the executioner of God.
crime. Lasting enmity was to be visited with lasting desolation (vs. 5, 9).
The desolation was to be final. No prospect, not the most distant, could
be entertained of relief. The stroke was to be, not disciplinary, but utterly
penal. It was to be a perpetual desolation. The race was to suffer
extirpation from the district. The edict was confirmed by an oath. “As I live,
saith the Lord God,” this shall be done. This form of speech by God is a
further accommodation to men. As an affirmation makes a deeper impression
upon the minds of men when accompanied by an oath, by a solemn appeal to
the presence of God, so God condescends to speak to men in such manner as
shall most powerfully affect them. From God the simplest form of words is
enough. “He is not a man, that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19) A word from
Him creates or destroys. But He speaks by way of oath, in order to arrest our
thoughts and to convince our judgment.
Lex Talionis (vs. 5-6)
Ezekiel returns to his prophecy regarding the inhabitants
These neighbors of the Israelites were animated by hostility to God’s
people which was of a peculiarly bitter character. The prophet’s mind was
deeply affected and sorely pained by the language and the actions of these
threats of adversity and even destruction about to overtake these bitter and
blasphemous foes of
SEIR WERE THREATENED.
Ø The Author of this retribution was none other than the Lord God
Himself. He ruleth among the nations; “let not the rebellious exalt
themselves.” (Psalm 66:7) His justice is unquestionable and His
power is irresistible. “He is terrible in His doings towards the children
of men.” (Ibid. v. 5)
Ø The nature of it. It is foretold that the cities shall be laid waste, and that
the land shall be desolate, that the blood of the inhabitants
shall be shed. “I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue
Ø The law of it. Observe that the judgment and penalty here foretold is not
simply retributive; it is of the nature of retaliation. The lea talionis
prescribed “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” etc. The punishment
matched the offense. Such a correspondence is noticeable between Seir’s
and in recompense their blood should be shed. This is not to be regarded
as private, personal revenge, which is forbidden to man, and could never
be practiced by a holy God. It is a public measure, a judicial act, a
proceeding warranted by justice, and intended to produce a deep and
wholesome impression upon all who should witness it. It certainly
marks the heinousness of sin in the view of the righteous Ruler, and it
exemplifies the inevitable and universal action of the retributive
government of the God of nations.
7 “Thus I
that passeth out and
him that returneth.” Thus will I make
desolate; literally, desolation and a desolation (hm;m;v]W hM;m}v]); or, as in the
Revised Version, an astonishment and a desolation; changing hm"m}v] into
hM;v"m], for which, however, there is no sufficient warrant. And I will out off…
him that passeth out (or, through) and him that returneth. No more
should traders or travelers pass through the
return from it (compare ch. 33:28; Zechariah 7:14; 9:8, 10).
8 “And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in
thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with
the sword.” And I will fill his mountains with his slain; literally, pierced
through; hence mortally
from an exterminating war, which should fill its hills, valleys, and rivers,
or rather, water-courses, with slaughtered men (compare ch.31:12;
32:5). The physical features of
often been attested by travelers. “Idumea embraces a section of a broad
mountain range, extending in breadth from the valley of the Arabah to the
desert plateau of Arabia. The ravines which intersect these sandstone
mountains are very remarkable. Take them as a whole, there is nothing like
them in the world, especially those near
little terraces along the mountain-sides, and the broad downs upon their
summits, are covered with rich soil, in which trees, shrubs, and flowers
grow luxuriantly” (Porter, in Kitto’s ‘Cyclopaedia,’ art. “Idumea”).
9 “I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not
return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” Thy cities shall not return,
as in ch. 16:55 (Authorized Version after the Keri); or, shall not be inhabited, as in
ch. 26:20; 29:11; 36:33 (Septuagint and Revised Version, both of which
follow the Chethib)..
10 “Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries
shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was
there:” Because thou hast said. The second ground of
punishment lay in this, that she had presumptuously as well as confidently
exclaimed, not concerning Idumea and Judah, as Jerome conjectured, but
inhabitants, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine,
and we will possess it; “it” meaning either the region over which the two
countries extended, or,
compare Psalm 83:4-12). And what constituted the gravamen of
offense was that she had so spoken, whereas (or, though) the Lord was there.
It is not necessary, with the Septuagint and Kliefoth, to read “is there,” to guard
against the supposition that Ezekiel designed to suggest that, though Jehovah had
formerly been in the land, He was there no longer. But, in point of fact, Jehovah
had for a time withdrawn His visible presence from the temple and the city (see
ch.10:18; 11:22-23), though He had by no means renounced His
right to the land; and
if Jehovah had departed from
could appropriate to himself what really belonged to Jehovah, viz. the territory
Humanity shows great folly in ignoring God’s presence. “Whereas the Lord was
there.” In every age worldly men concoct their plans as if no God ruled
over the affairs of men. Ambitious rulers parcel out a neighbor’s territory,
totally unmindful that God is in possession. “The earth is the Lord’s,”
(Psalm 24:1) and His eye is never absent from His property. The weakest
child of man may always summon God to his side — his Helper and Friend.
Boasting against God (v. 13)
further, and boasted against God. This is a sign:
o either of heathenish darkness that does not know God,
o or of willful rebellion that proudly rises up against Him,
o or of both.
Ø In thought. Man looks very big when God is left out of sight. The hill is
a grand sight to one who has not seen an Alp. The worship of humanity
proceeds on the assumption of the non-existence of Divinity. If, indeed,
there be no God, man may be the loftiest existence; in that case, he may
stand on the very topmost pinnacle of being.
Ø In practice. The same condition will be reflected in practical life when
a man ignores the influence of God on his affairs. He feels himself the
master of the situation. By science and art he can subdue nature. His
powers and opportunities have given him a free hand among his fellow
men. Why, then, should he not dream great dreams and imagine himself
to be a very monarch of life? The glorying of irreligion in a successful
man seems to be perfectly natural, nay, inevitable.
heathenish ignorance she supposes herself to be stronger than the God of
customary for contending powers, when going to war, to keep their
courage up by boasting of their own strength and despising that of their
enemy. The same is seen in man’s great warfare against God.
Ø In intelligence. People act as though they supposed they could outwit
God. Though they do not draw out the thought into a clear argument —
when it would certainly break down in a great fallacy — they tacitly
assume that they are clever enough to elude the consequences of their
sins. Other people may blunder into ruin, but they will steer their craft
so deftly that, though it runs down the rapids, it will not go over the falls.
Ø In will. The stubborn rebellion of man’s will asserts itself in opposition
to the wise, holy, strong will of God. Men think in their strong-headed sin
that they can force their way against the will of God. Because for the time
being they have a free hand, they imagine that it will always be so. Now, it
certainly does appear that man could assert his self-will in wildest
opposition to God. The mistake is in judging of the future issue by
be a God, He must be supreme. He may be too magnanimous to hurl His
rebellious creature to sudden destruction. He may even regard the sinful
boasting with compassion on account of its helpless folly. But He certainly
will not let it ultimately triumph. Boasting is not victory. Boasting does not
create strength. It is only “with the mouth” — a mere matter of empty
sound. But facts are not changed by words. All the oratory of boasting that
was ever practiced will not dissolve one of the hard, stern realities of life.
GOD IS STILL GOD though men ignore His presence and resist His will.
Therefore to boast against God is fatal to the boaster. He is like one who
dashes his head against a wall. He only destroys himself by his vain
pretence. Our safety lies in humility, contrition, and submission to our God
11 “Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine
anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred
against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged
thee. 12 And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all
thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against
the mountains of
They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.” God identifies Himself
with humanity; and no wrong to humanity shall go unpunished. He will champion
the interests of the oppressed everywhere. He carefully notes every act of injustice.
“I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains
understanding. Yet “He that formed the ear, shall He not hear?” (Psalm
94:9) The secrets of imperial councils are all seen and heard by Jehovah.
Ultimately, and in the best time, he baffles all wicked designs.
13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your
words against me: I have heard them.” I will make myself known among them —
wickedness should be requited by his being made to suffer the indignities he designed
corrected when Jehovah should rise up in judgment against him. Those judgments
should in the first instance be a revelation to
therefrom that they had not been utterly abandoned by Jehovah (v. 11; compare ch.20:5);
in the second instance should open
silent listener to all the blasphemies she had uttered against the mountains of
(v. 12), and had reckoned these as blasphemies uttered against Himself (v. 13).
The Supreme Mistake (vs. 10-13)
The two striking and significant sentences in this passage: “And Jehovah was there”
(v. 10); “I have heard” (v. 13). They bring out:
princes, its statesmen, its warriors, of whom it was proud, on whose
sagacity and prowess it was leaning. But however astute her ministers may
have been, they made one great and fatal mistake — they left out of the
account one factor, the presence of which made all the difference to the
issue. Under their false guidance
warlike than itself. And
mine, and we will inherit it” (v. 10). “And Jehovah was there,” interjects
the prophet, with burning indignation.
stretch out its hand and take it “And Jehovah was there” — that One in
whose presence all
dust of the balance (Isaiah 40:15), was nothing and less than nothing and
vanity; that Holy One who
cruelty; that Mighty One at the breath of whose mouth all its proud soldiery
would go down as saplings before the storm! What senseless infatuation!
what infinite presumption! to remember
meadows and well-cultivated fields, and to forget that “Jehovah was there!
to resolve to go up and possess its pleasant places, and occupy its strong
cities, and plant its flag on
and it was making “scornful speeches against the mountains of
saying, A desolation, to us they are given for fire” (v. 12), and was thus
“magnifying itself against” the Lord. But what depth of meaning, and what
vigor of action, and what certainty of doom lies in those simple words of
Jehovah, “I have heard!” Those disdainful words of theirs have entered the
Divine ear, and they will move that mighty hand to its work of
righteousness and judgment.
ruinous an error as when we leave out of our account THE PRESENCE
AND HANDIWORK OF GOD! We are never so utterly and so perilously
in the wrong as when we lay our plans and make our speeches, forgetful that
God is near us, overruling all we do, and hearing every word we speak.
(“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow…..For that ye
ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” -
James 4:14-15) We make this supreme mistake:
Ø When we think we can sin without His banning. If we lay our schemes to
injure our brethren, or if we design to enrich or indulge ourselves in any
forbidden way, without smarting for our sin, we shall find, sooner or later,
that “Jehovah is there,” with His penalty in His hand.
Ø When we think we can succeed without His blessing. To succeed without
the favoring presence of God and the co-operation of His gracious power
is as hopelessly impossible as it is to sin without encountering His Divine
displeasure and rebuke. If we prosper in our toil, if we find joy and
gladness in our life, it will be only because “Jehovah is there;” because
He makes our land to yield its increase, because He fills our soul with
the blessedness that abides.
Ø When we think we can be wise WITHOUT HIS TEACHING! Neither
workman in the field of nature nor student in the realm of truth can
leave out of his account THE PRESENCE AND THE AID OF THE
DIVINE! There is nothing sadder than the sight of men seeking and
straining after the wisdom that they want for life and for death and
for eternity, trying to find their way by the light of the sparks of their
own intelligence; this will they have of God — “that they will lie
down in sorrow” (Isaiah 50:10-11; contrast the redeemed of
the Lord who shall “come with singing unto
joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy;
and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Ibid. ch. 51:11). But
blessed are they who take into their account the fact that “Jehovah
is there,” that God is speaking to us in His Word, by that Son who
was and is the Eternal Word of God! For they who are wise in His
wisdom shall enter the kingdom of truth, the
and they shall rise up in everlasting life and joy. “Thou wilt
show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy,
at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore!” (Psalm
16:11) “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness!” (Ibid.
14 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will
make thee desolate.” By “the
whole earth,” is meant “the
In this case the sense is that, as the whole
with joy, so should it in the future be made completely desolate. That Jehovah was
preparing for the whole earth of redeemed humanity a glorious future of joy, so
participation in that joy.
thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of
because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be
shall know that I am the LORD.” As thou didst rejoice. yki is here a particle of
comparison; and the import of the passage is that precisely as
over the downfall and desolation of
Greek term, the Revised Version properly substitutes the usual word
Edom. Note: That the prediction here uttered concerning Edom received
literal fulfillment, the following extract relative to the present state of the
country will show: “Idumea, once so rich in flocks, so strong in its
fortresses and rock-hewn cities, so extensive in its commercial relations, so
renowned for the architectural splendor of its palaces, is now a deserted
and desolate wilderness. Its whole population is contained in some three or
four miserable villages. No merchant would now dare to enter its borders;
its highways are untrodden, its cities are all in ruins” (J.L. Porter, in Kitto’s
‘Cyclopaedia,’ art. “Idumea”).
The conviction of God’s jurisdiction often comes too late. Men ignore
God’s presence and God’s interference in human affairs, until events force
upon them the fact that they are fighting, not simply against their fellows,
nor contending against adverse circumstance, but are verily fighting against
God. IN TIME, out of THE CHAOS OF ATHEISTIC THOUGHTS,
there looms the form and features of THE LIVING GOD! But the knowledge
COMES TOO LATE! They only know
FOE, whereas they might have known HIM AS A GRACIOUS FRIEND!
Rejoicing Over the Ruin of Others (v. 15)
would say that such a joy must be impossible. Regarding the world from
the high ground of ideal speculation, one would suppose that sympathy for
the suffering must spring forth as a natural instinct, or that, if the feelings
were callous and selfishness hardened the heart, still there would be no
room for joy under such circumstances. But the facts of history and
observation show that
experience. People do rejoice in the sufferings of others:
Ø In national life. The downfall of rival nations is accepted by their
more fortunate neighbors with delight.
Ø In amusement. The old, fierce delights of the amphitheatre, which
delicate ladies shared with bloodthirsty warriors, were just the joys of
cruelty, pleasures got directly out of the sufferings of fellow-creatures.
The Emperor Domitian is said to have taken a keen interest in watching
the contortions of agony on the face of a dying gladiator. A similar spirit
lurks in the present-day popular taste for amusements that involve great
risk of life. A Christian spirit should discourage such amusements as
feeding on cruelty.
Ø In private life. Some People seem to take a spiteful pleasure in the
disgrace and ruin of their neighbors. Is not this pleasure at the root
of much idle gossip and fascinating scandal?
cause pleasure to his brother, when by the influence of sympathy it should
produce an opposite effect? The causes of this gross perversion of the
appetite for pleasure are various.
pleasure of cruelty is m seeing a foe humiliated. There may be natural
elements in this feeling:
o a reaction from the tension of fear; and
o a satisfaction of the desire for self-protection.
Still, the joy is evil and hateful, for it exceeds self-regarding
considerations, and it excludes pity; it denies the duty of loving
afterwards rejoiced in her rival’s downfall. This, again, is a sort
of reaction from the pain of envy. It is the more powerful if the
successful rival has shown scorn for her less fortunate neighbor.
Now, the scorn is reversed.
Ø A sense of contrast. Sitting at ease, the spectator compares his
comforts with the agonies before him, and as all feeling arises
from contrasted states, the sharpness of this contrast heightens
the relish of a man’s present comfort. This is brutally selfish.
Ø Malignity. There does seem to be a direct pleasure in seeing others
suffer. This is the glee of devils. It may be shared by diabolical men.
God will certainly punish cruelty as a great sin, because it is the direct
opposite of man’s first duty, which is to love all beings. The evil joy will
work mischief in the heart of the man who cherishes it. It is a venom that
will rankle in the breast that engenders it We need love and sympathy for
our own soul’s health. The pleasures of cruelty cut a man off from the
bonds of fellowship, even with these who are not themselves its victims,
because they destroy the elements on which the spirit of brotherhood lives.
Thus a cruel person is inwardly lonely. Selfishness makes the heart
desolate. The exclusion of love is the exclusion of the greatest joy of
human fellowship. In seeking his own pleasure the man who admits evil
passions of revenge or spite into his breast darkens his life with the gloom
of spiritual solitude. On the other hand, the deepest joy is found in
sacrificing one’s self in order to save one’s brother. “Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
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