NOTES ON EZEKIEL

 

 

 

 

3  The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the

son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and

the hand of the LORD was there upon him.” The word of the Lord came

 expressly, etc.; literally, coming, there come the word of the Lord; the iteration

having (as commonly in this combination in Hebrew) the force of emphasis.

The phrase stands, as elsewhere, for the conscious inspiration which made

men feel that Jehovah had indeed spoken unto them, and that they had a

message from Him to deliver.  (While not in the same league with Ezekiel,

I too serve the same Master and received a call when I was 12 years old

to prepare.”  Because of this call I studied the word of God seriously

and while at Cumberland College in 1962 came across in the school library

The Pulpit Commentary the which I have studied extensively and now

am trying to relate it on this web site since it is public domain material!

My parents got me a 23 volume set at Christmas 1963.  For the last 43

years [now 50], through God’s mercy and the help of the Holy Spirit, I have tried

to relate God’s word to the public over WHOP radio and for the last

20 or so years, on local television.  I commit this work unto God – CY –

2014 [as of 2019 we are no longer on local television as Spectrum

unilaterally stopped carrying the church services as well as the Adult

Bible Class.  We still are on WHOP but no longer live.  I tape it

during the week and WHOP picks it up off of the website at

https://www.adultbibleclass.com  as we now are also on You Tube -

CY - 2021)   To give parallel passages would be to copy several pages from a

concordance, but it may not be without interest to note its first

(Genesis 15:1) and last (Malachi 1:1) occurrences in the Old

Testament, and its reappearance in the New Testament (Luke 3:2).

Unto Ezekiel. We note the transition from the first person to the third; but

it does not give sufficient ground for rejecting either v. 1 or vs. 2-3 as

an interpolation. (For the prophet’s name, which appears only here and in

ch.24:24.   The hand of the Lord. Here again we have a phrase of frequent

occurrence, used of Elijah (I Kings 18:46), of Elisha (II Kings 3:15), of Daniel

(Daniel 8:18; 10:10), of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:11), of John (Revelation 1:17). The

hand of the Lord is the natural symbol of His power, and the phrase seems

to be used to add to the consciousness of inspiration, that of A CONSTRAINING

IRRESISTIBLE POWER!  Ezekiel continually uses it (Ch.3:14, 22; 8:1; 33:22;

37:1; 40:1).

 

 

 

            Introduction Respecting the Person and Mission of the Prophet

                                                            (vs. 1-3)

 

·         HIS PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS. A real, though sometimes

undiscoverable, fitness between the instrument and the task, is an invariable

law in the procedure of God.

 

Ø      Mark the significance of his name, “God becomes strength.” Most

probably the name had originated with God, who had, either secretly or

openly, influenced his father Buzi in selecting it. A name, when God-

given, is a revelation of what is unique and special in the man’s nature.

Thus Israel, Nabal, Peter, Jesus.

 

Ø      He was designated from his birth, and by his birth, to special service for

God. Every man’s entrance into life is designed to be an entrance upon

Divine service. The world a capacious temple, and God its central Object.

In Ezekiel’s case there was no diversion of purpose; no casting about for

a definite vocation in life. His education, all through the stages of youth,

was concentrated on this single object — to be Jehovah’s priest. The

noblest types of the Levitical priesthood would be set before him as

his model.

 

Ø      He had reached the maturity of his powers. By a merciful ordinance of

God, in accommodation to human weakness, God had prohibited the

priests from entering upon full service until they had attained the ripe age

of thirty. Then strength would be developed; practical wisdom and

knowledge of human affairs would be acquired; self-mastery might be

attained. Acting on this declaration of the Divine will, John the Baptist

(like Ezekiel, priest and prophet in one), and our Lord Himself, began

not their public ministry until they had reached their thirtieth year. There

are nowhere signs of haste or impatience in the development of

Jehovah’s plans. Premature action is a concomitant of weakness — an

omen of failure.

 

Ø      His moral fitness. Many of the priests in the temple were mere

functionaries — professional automatens (robots). The performance

of the most sacred duties degenerated into mere mechanism. Men saw

not the spiritual import of sacrifice, nor the awful significance of the

temple ritual, and priests too often became “blind leaders of the blind.”

But Ezekiel was alive to the moral greatness of his office. To him had

been revealed the nearness and the holiness of God; the spirituality

of the Law, which carried its sanctions into man’s interior nature;

the dark facts of human sin; the need of atonement and of cleansing.

Hence, as the ordained servant of a holy God, Ezekiel had cultivated

humility, habits of devotion, a principle of childlike faith, candid

truthfulness, conscientious fidelity, and unflinching courage. For

such sublime service, the highest qualities of soul were demanded.

 

Ø      His fertile imagination. Many of the visions described in his prophetic

book are based upon objects and scenes in the temple at Jerusalem.

Commencing here (prior to the Captivity) to exercise his faith in the

unseen; commencing here the practice of looking beneath the surface of

material things, and acquiring a habit of spiritual penetration, he

gradually learned to discover in nature symbols of celestial truths, and

to see God everywhere. Thus he trained his imagination for useful and

distinguished service.

 

·         HIS FIELD OF SERVICE.

 

Ø      The vicissitudes of earthly affairs. While Ezekiel looked forward to the

fulfillment of his peaceful vocation in Jerusalem, lo! war and defeat resulted

in exile and bondage. With the dust of humiliation upon their heads, the

chelsea people were conducted to Chaldea, and residence was allotted to

them on the banks of the Chebar. Nothing is more fluctuating than earthly

fortune. Jerusalem today, Chaldea tomorrow.

 

Ø      No outward circumstance is fatal to our real welfare nor a barrier to

benevolent activity. Now it was to be seen that piety can flourish amid a

dearth of external privileges. The seeds of religious truth shall be carried

into new fields. The special capacity of Ezekiel shall find more fitting,

scope for its exercise than amid the quiet grandeur of Solomon’s temple.

He is a priest in an ampler temple — a priest for the world. The soul is

superior to all imprisonment.

 

Ø      The permanency of spiritual work. The kingcraft of Nebuchadnezzar,

the overthrow of Zedekiah, the honors and decorations of Chaldean

captains, — these things have long since ceased to exert any influence

upon the life of the human race; but Ezekiel is still (and has been for twenty-

six centuries) a teacher of men: his work still proceeds; his name is encircled

with honor. Already king and captive have exchanged places. The first is

last; the last, first.

 

·         HIS INVESTITURE WITH THE PROPHET’S OFFICE. Jeremiah

during Ezekiel’s time, and John afterwards, were, like him, priests and

prophets too. In the case of other prophets, some special visit from God —

some suitable display of his glory — attended their special designation to

office. We have parallel instances in Moses, Samuel, and Isaiah. The vision

was supersensuous, and must be accounted for, partly by external, and

partly by internal, causes.

 

 

Ø      External. “The heavens were opened.” The veil of material limitation

was, for the time, withdrawn. The celestial realm was disclosed. A similar

privilege was accorded to Elisha’s servant, in answer to his master’s

prayer: “And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw:

and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round

about Elisha (II Kings 6:17).  To open the heavens to human view is

to unveil,  in part, the spiritual universe. So, to our Lord on the banks of

Jordan,  the heavens were opened.” A Divine voice proceeded; the

Holy Ghost  was imparted.  Ezekiel, like Moses and Isaiah, “saw visions

of God.”  The heavens were opened for the very purpose that the central

Object  might be seen. To see God; to have undoubted assurance of His

presence,  purity, and aid — this, every true prophet requires. “The word

 of God  came expressly,” or rather verily, to him. The ear confirmed the

vision  of the eye. Not only a spectacle, but an articulate voice. So Hamlet

sought to assure himself of the reality of the spectre, when he demanded

that it should speak. The ear is a more trustworthy witness than the eye.

“Faith comes by hearing.”  (Romans 10:17)

 

Ø      There was, on the part of Ezekiel, internal aptitude. Our organs of sense

have become dull, gross, earthly, by reason of the decline and decay of

THE SOUL’S TRUE LIFE!   As vehicles by which the soul holds

commerce  with the spiritual realm, they are insufficient. Hence the spirit

of a man HAS TO BE QUICKENED BY A SPECIAL ACTIVITY OF

GOD, so that it may,  for the time being, transcend its native capabilities,

its native sphere, in order  to see God’s administration of the universe,

and in order to receive new  communications of His will. This is what

is usually termed a state of ecstasy.  In the creation of the material universe,

a word was sufficient; but so indocile,  intractable, are the elements of

human disposition and will, that the hand  of Jehovah MUST BE

EXERTED!   “The hand of the Lord was upon him.”

 

The “word” and the “hand” here spoken of are metaphorical,

but they are strictly true; i.e. the just idea is, as far as may be by language

and emblem, thus conveyed to our mind. If God reveal Himself to man, it

must be by means of the characteristics of man’s spiritual nature; and such

characteristics are pictured in the expressions here employed by Ezekiel.

The “word” of the Lord means one thing, the “hand” another; yet the

employment of both expressions is necessary in order to convey, with

anything like completeness, the penetration of the prophet’s nature by

Divine truth, the commission of the prophet to undertake Divine service.

 

 

                                    The Hour of Judgment (9:1-7)

 

As among men there are magistrates’ sessions as well as the great assizes,

so also God has seasons for the local administration of justice, as well as

THE FINAL JUDGMENT. In fact, GOD IS ALWAYS UPON HIS

JUDICIAL SEAT,  always meting out justice to the various orders of His

creatures. If He ceased to judge, He would cease to rule.

 

·         MARK THE SUPREMACY OF GOD’S JUDICIAL VOICE. The last

chapter finished with the declaration, “Though they cry in mine ears with a

loud voice, I will not hear them;” this chapter begins with the statement,

He cried in mine ears with a loud voice.”

 

Ø      The season for prayer was exhausted. Examination of Israel’s case had

terminated. The verdict had passed, and nothing now remained but

execution. Prayer on the part of the condemned, at this point, would be

merely a selfish thing. It would bring no good. It would be out of harmony

with God’s plans and with righteous law.

 

Ø      The voice of God subjugates and overpowers all other voices.

 

o        It is a voice of creation: “He spake, and it was done.” (Psalm 33:9)

o        It is a voice of life: “Awake thou that sleepest!” (Ephesians 5:14)

o        It is a voice of judicial destruction: “Depart,  ye cursed, into

everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41)

     

The voice that Ezekiel heard was a loud voice. The prophet could not

question its reality nor mistake its utterance. It overcame the prophet’s

unwillingness to hear judgment pronounced. It drowned all

dissentious voices.

 

·         GOD’S SERVANTS ARE FOUND AMONG ALL ORDERS OF

CREATURES. This earth is not an isolated kingdom; it is a province of

God’s great realm. The persons here summoned to appear for the

execution of Jehovah’s will are, without doubt, angels, though to the

prophet’s vision they seemed in form like men. As we read of angels who

are appointed the guardians of little children, so we learn that certain

angels are ordained guardians of cities and nations. To Daniel the angel

spake of “Michael, your prince”“the great prince that standeth for the

children of thy people.” The history of the Hebrew people is full of

instances in which the angels of God were dispatched either for the rescue

or for the destruction of men. The Most High is unchangeable; and

inasmuch as a destroying angel had executed God’s vengeance on the

idolators of Egypt, so now angels are employed to slay the idolaters in

Israel. Yet there is singular economy in all God’s arrangements. The

number of these officers of justice was six, so that one might issue from

each of the six gates of the city. The ministers of vengeance shall neither be

too many nor too few. Eventually the Chaldean armies should be God’s

agents in the punishment of the Hebrews; still, these would act under the

generalship of the heavenly principalities and powers.

 

·         THE WORK OF JUSTICE PROCEEDS SIDE BY SIDE WITH

THAT OF MERCY. Along with the six officers appointed to destroy was

one differently clad, whose work was to save. His clothing was the attire of

peace — white linen — i.e. the dress of a true priest. Against six

destroyers there was one protector, which denoted how few was the

number of the faithful. They were to have a distinguishing mark in the most

conspicuous place — in their foreheads. The owner of the flock will take

care to put his own sign-manual on his sheep. “The Lord knoweth them

that are His.” (The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,

The Lord knoweth them that are His.  And let every one that nameth

the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  (II Timothy 2:19)  In every

time of trouble He has hidden them in His pavilion— in the secret

of His tabernacle will He hide them.” (Psalm 27:5) 

 

Ø      Noah and his family in the ark;

Ø      Lot and his daughters in Zoar;

Ø       the early Christians sale in Pella when Jerusalem was

destroyed;

 

these are evidences of God’s special care of His chosen. He accounts them

His jewels, and in times of danger holds them in the hollow of His hand.

Not only had they not connived at the idolatry, but their souls were distressed

on account of it. They had besought with tears their brethren to desist from

the evil thing. Their holy zeal shall have a conspicuous reward.

 

·         GOD’S SERVANTS HAVE LIKE DISPOSITIONS WITH

HIMSELF. God had described the emotions and purposes of His mind thus:

“Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity.” And now He requires

His officers to cherish the selfsame sentiments: “Let not your eye spare,

neither have ye pity.” To be a servant of God, and the executioner of His

will, we must be like minded with Himself. Only such does God employ on

work of high importance. Eye and heart must be AS GOD’S!   Following the

tendencies of natural temperament, some servants of God would be too

lenient, some too harsh. In such matters we must be sure that we arc doing

God’s will, not indulging our own. Private spleen, and merely natural bias,

must be completely repressed. Our feeling and temper and will must be

chastened by almighty grace, in order that we may be the servants of God.

His will must find a full response in our will.

 

·         RETRIBUTION IS EQUITABLE AND COMPLETE. There is no

miscarriage of justice in God’s court, and in His retributions there is no

excess. The equity of the destruction is seen in that it begins at the

sanctuary. The ringleaders in rebellion shall be foremost in the punishment.

That sacred place is sacred no longer. GOD HAS WITHDRAWN HIS

PRESENCE, therefore all privilege is extinguished. It had been a sanctuary

for the oppressed, for the unfortunate, for the fugitive in war; but it shall

be  no refuge for rebels defiant against GodNO REFUGE FOR SIN!

Mere sentiment about the traditional sacredness of the place must yield to

sterner virtues — must yield to practical and primitive righteousness.

Better that every sanctuary of religion be defiled with bloodshed, than that

they be nests of immorality, cesspools of vice! If the reality be gone, it is a

common injury to maintain the appearance. And GOD’S RETRIBUTIONS

WILL BE COMPLETE. They will spare none. We may hesitate respecting the

justice of destroying “little children;” yet we can repose confidently on the

bosom of the eternal Father, and say with Abraham,  “Will not the Judge

of all the earth do  right?”  (Genesis 18:25)  To our limited view the

administration of supreme justice may sometimes be veiled in “clouds and

darkness;” but we can afford to wait the fuller disclosures of the truth.

What we know not now, we shall know hereafter.” (John 13:7)

 

 

 

ch 10

 

18 “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the

house, and stood over the cherubims.” Then the glory of the Lord, etc. The

chariot throne was, as it were, ready for its kingly Rider. The “glory”-cloud,

or Shechinah takes its place over them, and THE DEPARTURE BEGINS!

From that hour the temple was, in Ezekiel’s thoughts, to be, till the time of

 restoration contemplated in chapters 40-48., what Shiloh had been, A

GOD DESERTED PLACE!   We arc reminded of the voice which Josephus

tells us was heard before the final destruction of the second temple, exclaiming,

“Let us depart hence,” as the priests were making ready for the Pentecostal feast

 

"Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth

 day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible

phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable,

were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it

of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting,

chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among

the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call

Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple,

as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the

first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they

heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence"

( Josephus - Jewish Wars, VI-V-3).

 

 

Glory Departed (v. 18)

 

In v. 4 Ezekiel says that the glory visited the threshold of the house. Now

he describes its departure and return to the cherubim.

 

  • THE GLORY OF NEW DIVINE REVELATIONS HAS DEPARTED.

The glory that visited the threshold of the temple brought a special

symbolical revelation, and when that revelation had been made the glory

retreated and left the scene in its normal earthly condition. Revelation has

come in epochs separated by periods of assimilation, when the newly

revealed truth has been left to work among man like leaven. God gave the

Law once for all from Sinai. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace

and truth came by Jesus Christ”  (John 1:17).   The gospel was brought

into the world by Christ and His apostles, and left there to spread — not

left without the aid of God’s Spirit and that inward revelation by which an

old truth becomes new in each fresh heart that receives it, but still given as

a completed thing in respect to its facts and substance. We have no more

prophets like Isaiah nor apostles like Paul. But we do not need them, for

CHRIST HAS GIVEN US THE PERFECT TRUTH FOR ALL TIME!

Yet we cannot but feel that there was a wonder and a beauty in those old

days when the glory of the growing revelation was flashing out upon an

astonished world.

 

  • THE GLORY OF HIGHEST RAPTURE WILL DEPART. There are

times when heaven is opened and we see the angels of God ascending and

descending upon the Son of man. Then we would fain build our tabernacles

and retain the rare delight. But it is not to be. These angel visits are few

and far between. Jacob wakes from his dream to the chill loneliness of the

desolate hills of Bethel. The disciples who have witnessed the

Transfiguration must descend from Hermon to the troubles of the plain,

and exchange the society of Moses and Elijah for that of a raving lunatic. It

is rare for the soul to be in a condition to enjoy the greatest bliss. But it is

not necessary that this condition should remain; indeed, it is better to be in

quieter moods for the homely tasks of life. Therefore we must still tread

this lower earth, though we may have some fine glimpses of the heavenly

splendor. The spray that is flung off from the great ocean of celestial bliss

may occasionally reach us in drops of gold. Yet our vocation is to WALK

BY FAITH!   Meanwhile the departure of this glory does not mean the

departure of God; He is with us in the dullest days. Nor does it mean our

fall and shame; it may be best for the faithful servant to work in quiet

without the full revelation of the Divine presence. We need ceaseless grace;

we can wait for eternal glory.

 

  • THE GLORY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE MAY DEPART. There is

a glory which should be on us and abiding with us. All Christians are

called to be saints.” Few of us may behold the celestial splendor, but all

of us should wear the aureole of purity. When we have washed our robes

and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, the new glory of pardon

and cleansing should abide. But, alas! even this glory too soon departs; the

cleansed garments are again dragged through the mire, and the Christian,

though renewed by Christ, dares not regard himself as a “saint.” When he

falls into a great sin the glory has indeed departed. If the fresh fervor of

youth fades, and a commonplace character is all that remains, must it not

be said that the glory has departed, though the faith and fidelity may remain?

 

 

 

 

 

 

            The Withdrawal of the Presence of God from a Guilty People

                                    (vs. 4, 18-19; and ch. 11:22-23)

 

“Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over tile

threshold of the house,” etc. These verses, which are all essentially related

to one subject, suggest the following observations.

 

·         THAT GOD NEVER WITHDRAWS HIS GRACIOUS PRESENCE

FROM A PERSON OR A NATION UNTIL THEY HAVE QUITE

FORSAKEN HIM. The chosen people :

 

Ø      had despised His laws;

Ø      had turned aside from His worship for the most debasing idolatries;

Ø      had filled the land with their violence;

Ø      had denied His observation of their lives, and his interest therein;

Ø      had persecuted His prophets who called them to repentance.

Ø      had abandoned Him provokingly and persistently;

 

and now He is about to take from them HIS GRACIOUS PRESENCE!

 

That presence He never withdraws from any individual or from any

community until he has been rejected — driven away, as it were, by

heinous and continued sin. In proof of this we may refer to the following

and other portions of the sacred Scriptures: 1 Samuel 15:23, 26; 28:15-18;

1 Chronicles 28:9; II Chronicles 15:2; Psalm 78:56-64; Jeremiah 7:8-16.

 

·         THAT GOD WITHDRAWS HIS GRACIOUS PRESENCE FROM A

PERSON OR A NATION VERY GRADUALLY. We have an intimation

of His leaving the temple in ch. 9:3, where the glory of God departs

from the holy of holies to the threshold of the house, by which is meant,

says Schroder, “the outermost point, where the exit was from the court of

the people into the city.” In v. 4 the prophet beholds the same movement

repeated. Then in vs. 18-19 the Lord’s complete abandonment of the

temple is symbolically exhibited. And in ch. 11:22-23 the symbol

of the gracious presence departs from the city, and makes a temporary

sojourn on the Mount of Olives before forsaking the land. THUS STEP

BY STEP THE SYMBOL OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD GOES

AWAY FROM THEM. It is as though he forsook them with great reluctance.

By His servant Hosea he expresses the same truth: “How shall I give thee up,

Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?” etc. (Hosea 11:8). It seemed, too,

as though He would be entreated by them not to depart from their midst, and

moved away so gradually in order that they might so entreat Him. (Like

Abraham entreated for Sodom - (Genesis 18 - CY - 2021) And if God

withdraws Himself, or withholds His gracious influences from any one, He

does so, as it were, with measured steps and slow. Men are not left to

themselves and their own devices hastily. God waits long to be gracious

unto man. He does not depart from any one until he has received great and

protracted provocation. He is “the God of patience;” and “He delighteth

in mercy.”

 

·         THAT WHEN GOD WITHDRAWS HIS GRACIOUS PRESENCE

FROM A PERSON OR NATION THEY ARE BEREFT (deprived) OF HIS

PROTECTION. Shortly after Ezekiel had seen the glory of God pass away

from the holy of holies to the threshold of the house (ch. 9:3), the

destroying angels began their work of slaughter in the temple. (This

event is lost on people - I had never seen this before - CY - December 4, 2021)

And before the complete destruction of the city, the glory of God departed from

it to the Mount of Olives. When the Lord had quite withdrawn His gracious

presence they were at the mercy of their enemies, and troubles came upon

them fast and furiously. “When the sun is in apogee, says Greenhill, “gone

from us, we have short days and long nights, little light but much darkness;

and when God departs, you have much night, and little day left, your

comforts fade suddenly, and miseries come upon you swiftly.” What a

tragical example of this we have in the case of King Saul! When God had

departed from him, and answered him no more, neither by prophets nor

by dreams, he was sore distressed, and the terrible end was close at hand

(1 Samuel 28:15-20; 31.). “This is to be forsaken indeed, when God

prepares to forsake us. Lo! then more than ever darkness comes over all

the powers of man’s spirit and over his life, and even trusted, loved

countenances of friends go into shadow.

 

Ø      Good thoughts grow ever fewer,

Ø      impulses to prayer ever more rare;

Ø      admonitions of conscience cease;

Ø      the holy of holies in the man becomes empty down to the four walls

and the usual pious furniture” (Schroder).

 

·         CONCLUSION. “Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one

of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away (I have been talking a lot

lately about an apostasy that comes before the man of sin - the antichrist

is revealed - CY - 2021) from the living God: but exhort one another day

by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by

the deceitfulness (and deceit and deception also - CY - 2021) of sin.” 

(Hebrews 3:12-13) And let  us pray, “Cast me not away from thy presence;

and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”  (Psalm 51:11)

 

 

 

                        The Word of the Lord Discredited and Vindicated

                                                            (ch. 12:21-28)

 

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, what is that

proverb that ye have in the land of Israel?” etc.

 

·         THE WORD OF THE LORD DISCREDITED.

 

Ø      It was discredited in various degrees.

 

o        By some it was entirely disbelieved. “Son of man, what is that proverb

that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and

every vision faileth?” The reference in this proverb is to the predictions

of the Divine judgments against Jerusalem and its inhabitants, which

had been made by Jeremiah long ago. And the proverb is a jeering

expression, indicating the opinion that these predictions had totally

failed. These skeptics argued within themselves and amongst themselves,

that because the fulfillment of the threatened judgment was delayed,

the threatening itself was untrue. “The experience of God’s

forbearance  had destroyed their apprehension of his truthfulness.”

This sinful misinterpretation of the Divine dealings is not confined to

that generation or to that people. We discover the same presumptuous

unbelief in Psalm 50:21, “These things hast thou done; and I kept

silence,” etc.; in Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence against an

evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of

men is fully set in them to do evil.” and in II Peter 3:3-5, “There shall

come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And

saying, Where is the promise of His coming?  for since the fathers

fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of

the creation.  For this they are willingly ignorant.... . What an

abuse is this of the patience of the Lord God! What a base perversion

of His forbearance and grace (compare Romans 2:4-11; II Peter 3:9)!

 

o        By others the word of the Lord was discredited by indefinitely

postponing its fulfillment. “Son of man, behold, the house of Israel

 say, The vision that he seeth is for many days, and he prophesieth

of the times that are far off.” These persons argued that, because the

fulfillment of the threatenings of Jeremiah had been delayed so long,

that fulfillment was yet far off. They concluded that the prophetic

visions would not be realized in their time, and therefore they need

not be troubled by them.

 

Ø      It was discredited in open expression. “Behold, the house of Israel say,

The vision that he sooth is for many days,” etc. (v. 27). In the case of

those who entirely discredited the word of the Lord by the prophet, the

terms in which they expressed their disbelief had become proverbial.

“What is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel?” etc. (v. 22).

This sentiment, common among the people, “had been expressed in

a pointed sentence,… and straightway became popular as a watchword,

which was taken up on every occasion against the true prophet.” Their

disbelief of the message of the Lord by His prophet, and their derision

of that prophet, were not veiled, but openly paraded by the people.

As Greenhill says, “This wicked speech was become a proverb; it

passed  through the mouths of all sorts, young, old, great small,

learned,  ignorant; it was in the city and country, a proverb in

the land of  Israel.” DISBELIEF HAD GROWN DARING AND

DEFIANT!

 

Ø      This discredit was plausibly encouraged. False prophets, by means of

vain visions and flattering divinations, had fostered disbelief of the stern

announcements of Jeremiah, the true prophet of Jehovah (v. 24). These

men had prophesied smooth things to the credulous house of Israel

credulous, that is, of such announcements as harmonized with their

inclinations. So Ahab believed the smooth-speaking false prophets to his

own death, while he hated and imprisoned the faithful Micaiah, the

prophet of the Lord Jehovah (1 Kings 22.). (Any who are incredulous

of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will like Zedekiah the son of

Chenaanah, know the truth “...in that day when thou shalt go into an

inner chamber to hide thyself” a la the example of Revelation 6:12-17 -

CY - 2021)  And the false prophets of Jeremiah’s age encouraged the

presumptuous security of the people until that security was shattered

by disaster and ruin.

 

 12:18

 

·         THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THESE TREMBLING

FOREBODINGS. The siege which Ezekiel foretold came to pass; the

people, in the famine which ensued, ate their bread with carefulness, and

drank their water with astonishment; the cities were laid waste, and the

land became a desolation. All the predictions of the Lord’s prophet were

verified. The false security of the people was proved to be false and

baseless; their hope of immunity from judgment was frustrated. The

righteous judgment of God was vindicated, and that in a most awful

manner.

 

·         THE ULTIMATE ISSUE OF THESE TREMBLING

FOREBODINGS. The fear of the prophet, the calamity and terror which

overtook the people, had a moral, a religious end, which in large measure

was secured. The authority of the God of Israel was asserted. The vanity of

rebellion against Him was demonstrative. The attention of all concerned was

directed to THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUE RELIGION AS THE

FOUNDATION ALIKE OF NATIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL WELL BEING! 

“Ye shall know  that I am the Lord.”

 

·         TO KNOW GOD — THIS IS THE FINAL ISSUE. It is instructive to

observe how that this is the frequent refrain: “They shall know that I am

the Lord.” (I have counted 62 times from a concordance that this phrase

is used in this context in Ezekiel - see  Ezekiel – Study of God’s Use of  the Word Know -

# 223 - this website - Y - 2021)  This was a lesson which the Hebrews

would not learn in days of prosperity; therefore they were led into the deep

shades of adversity to acquire it. The discipline, though severe, was

successful. Experience is an excellent school, though a costly one. It cured

them of their foolish belief in idols, and wrought in them the conviction

that the unseen Jehovah alone was God. Yet in many persons this

knowledge was only intellectual. It did not command their affection,

nor draw after it spontaneous service. The knowledge of God which

becomes to us salvation, is an experimental knowledge. It is knowledge of

God as our God — our reconciled Father. We know Him with personal

intimacy. We admit Hhim to the inmost chamber of our hearts. He becomes

Emmanuel, i.e. God with us — God in us. We grow up into His likeness,

We imitate His qualities. We yield to Him our will and

            heart and life.

 

Glean profusely ch. 12

 

·         THE DEPLORABLE MORAL CONDITION OF REBELLIOUS

            SINNERS. “Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house,”

etc.

 

Ø      A condition of sad moral obtuseness. Which have eyes to see, and see

not; they have ears to hear, and hear not” (compare Deuteronomy 29:4;

Isaiah 6:9-10). The will of God was made known unto them, and they

had the mental and moral faculties which are necessary for its

apprehension, yet they did not apprehend it; they misapprehended or

disregarded it. “When men see, hear, and do not profit by their seeing or

hearing, then they neither see nor hear in Scripture sense.” In this respect

how great is the moral insensibility, not only of the openly profane, but of

many who attend the public means of grace! They unite in forms of public

worship without any spiritual improvement; they hear the ministry of

redemptive truth without any saving impression. They “have eyes to see,

and see not; they have cars to hear, and hear not.”

 

Ø      Moral obtuseness arising from persistent wickedness. “For they are a

rebellious house.” Their moral insensibility was a consequence of their

habitual sin. “The cause is all from themselves; the darkness of the

understanding is owing to the stubbornness of the will.”

 

o       The practice  of sin blunts the spiritual susceptibilities,

o        tends to destroy the capacity for receiving religious impressions

or perceiving spiritual truth;

 

and when fully developed IT ENDS IN MORAL INSENSIBILITY,

and makes a man “past feeling.”  (Ephesians 2:19)

 

·         THE PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE OF THE DIVINE EFFORTS

FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE WICKED. “Therefore, thou son of

man, prepare thee stuff for removing,” etc. (v. 3). Many means had been

tried to lead them to repentance, but without a satisfactory result. Still,

God does not yet abandon them, but directs that other means shall be tried,

saying, “It may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.”

The truth must “be set before their eyes,” says Hengstenberg, “in rough,

palpable, overpowering reality, if it is to find entrance to their minds, and

succeed in emancipating them from those dreams of the future which are

preventing their repentance....The greater the weakness of their eyes, the

more conspicuous must he the exhibition of the truth.” God is unwilling to

abandon the wicked to their sin and doom. He has long patience with them,

sends to them messenger after messenger, and employs means after means,

both various and oft-repeated, in order to lead them to turn from sin to

            Himself. (“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His

            messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had

            compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place:  But they mocked

the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets,

until the wrath oI the Lord arose against His people, till there was no

remedy.  (II Chronicles 36:15-16)  In illustration and confirmation of this,

see here ch. 33:11; Jeremiah 44:4; Hosea 11:8-9; Nehemiah 9:26-31;

Matthew 21:33-44. And in the incident before us, he not only addresses to

them this stirring parable to arrest their attention and awaken their consideration,

but he also instructs the prophet to make known to them the interpretation of

it, that even the most indifferent and the most insensible might be made

acquainted with the truths communicated.

 

 

             

                        A Parabolic Appeal to a Rebellious People (vs. 1-16)

 

“The word of the Lord also came unto me, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the

midst of a rebellious house,” etc. “Now begin the amplifications,” says Hengstenberg,

the marginal notes, so to speak, on the great text in ch. 8-11., which extend to ch. 19,

and these terminate in a song, corresponding to the song in the first group in ch. 7.

The approaching catastrophe of Jerusalem forms the central point throughout.

The prophet is inexhaustible in the announcement of this, as the false

patriotism was inexhaustible in its announcements of salvation.” We are

not certain whether this parable of Ezekiel’s removing was really acted by

him or only visional. But we incline to the opinion that it was internal and

visional, for the following reasons:

 

1. This communication (vs. 1-16) refers chiefly to the king and the

people in Jerusalem, while the prophet dwelt at Tel-Abib. So that so far as

the people principally interested in it are concerned, it would be as

impressive to them if it took place in the region of the prophet’s soul as if it

were outwardly enacted in a country far away from them.

 

2. The prophet is represented as dwelling in the midst of the people to

whom this communication chiefly applies, and as doing these things in their

sight; but seeing that he actually dwelt at Tel-Abib on the Chebar, we think

that his dwelling and acting spoken of in this chapter must have been

visional.

 

3. If it had been an actual and external occurrence it would not, at least in

one respect, have well answered the end designed. That end was to set

forth the truth that the king and the people in Jerusalem should be carried

into captivity. But inasmuch as Ezekiel was already in exile, if he actually

went forth thus from his Babylonian residence, the action would more fitly

symbolize the return of the exiles to their own land than the carrying of

others into exile. Such a return many of the exiles were hoping for and

expecting speedily; and the prophet was not likely to be told to do anything

that would encourage the vain expectation. Jeremiah had already written to

them, exhorting them to build houses and settle peacefully in the land of

their captivity, because they should not return to their own land until

seventy years of exile were accomplished. For these reasons we incline to

the opinion that the doings of vs. 3-7 were not external and actual, but

internal and visional; but, as we have said above, we are not certain of this.

Of this we feel assured, that, if they were visional, they were impressed

upon the mind of Ezekiel with all the vividness of actual transactions. But,

happily, this question does not affect the permanent and universal teachings

of the incident. Notice:

 

·         THE DEPLORABLE MORAL CONDITION OF REBELLIOUS

            SINNERS. “Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house,”

etc.

 

Ø      A condition of sad moral obtuseness. Which have eyes to see, and see

not; they have ears to hear, and hear not” (compare Deuteronomy 29:4;

Isaiah 6:9-10). The will of God was made known unto them, and they

had the mental and moral faculties which are necessary for its

apprehension, yet they did not apprehend it; they misapprehended or

disregarded it. “When men see, hear, and do not profit by their seeing or

hearing, then they neither see nor hear in Scripture sense.” In this respect

how great is the moral insensibility, not only of the openly profane, but of

many who attend the public means of grace! They unite in forms of public

worship without any spiritual improvement; they hear the ministry of

redemptive truth without any saving impression. They “have eyes to see,

and see not; they have cars to hear, and hear not.”

 

Ø      Moral obtuseness arising from persistent wickedness. “For they are a

rebellious house.” Their moral insensibility was a consequence of their

habitual sin. “The cause is all from themselves; the darkness of the

understanding is owing to the stubbornness of the will.”

 

o       The practice  of sin blunts the spiritual susceptibilities,

o        tends to destroy the capacity for receiving religious impressions

or perceiving spiritual truth;

 

and when fully developed IT ENDS IN MORAL INSENSIBILITY,

and makes a man “past feeling.”  (Ephesians 2:19)

 

·         THE PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE OF THE DIVINE EFFORTS

FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE WICKED. “Therefore, thou son of

man, prepare thee stuff for removing,” etc. (v. 3). Many means had been

tried to lead them to repentance, but without a satisfactory result. Still,

God does not yet abandon them, but directs that other means shall be tried,

saying, “It may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.”

The truth must “be set before their eyes,” says Hengstenberg, “in rough,

palpable, overpowering reality, if it is to find entrance to their minds, and

succeed in emancipating them from those dreams of the future which are

preventing their repentance....The greater the weakness of their eyes, the

more conspicuous must he the exhibition of the truth.” God is unwilling to

abandon the wicked to their sin and doom. He has long patience with them,

sends to them messenger after messenger, and employs means after means,

both various and oft-repeated, in order to lead them to turn from sin to

            Himself. (“And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by His

            messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had

            compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place:  But they mocked

the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets,

until the wrath oI the Lord arose against His people, till there was no

remedy.  (II Chronicles 36:15-16)  In illustration and confirmation of this,

see here ch. 33:11; Jeremiah 44:4; Hosea 11:8-9; Nehemiah 9:26-31;

Matthew 21:33-44. And in the incident before us, he not only addresses to

them this stirring parable to arrest their attention and awaken their consideration,

but he also instructs the prophet to make known to them the interpretation of

it, that even the most indifferent and the most insensible might be made

acquainted with the truths communicated.

 

·         THE EXTRAORDINARY DIVINE APPEAL TO THE

INCONSIDERATE AND REBELLIOUS PEOPLE. This parable

(vs. 3- 7) was the Lord’s appeal to the insensible and rebellions people. It

does not require any exposition from us, as the inspired interpretation is

here given (vs. 8-16), and this also is interpreted by its remarkable fulfillment

in history. But we may mark the several stages of the mournful history here

predicted, the fulfillment of which is recorded in II Kings 25.; Jeremiah

39:1-10; 52:1-30.

 

Ø      Here is a picture of the king and people of Jerusalem going into

captivity. (vs. 3-4, 10-11.) “The stuff for removing,” or “baggage of the

emigrant(vs. 3-4), “is the equipment made by one who enters on a

journey never to return.” And “as they that go forth into captivity,” or

like the removals of the emigrant” (v. 4), signifies, according to

Hengstenberg, “in the costume and with the maimer of emigrants; ‘with a

bag on the shoulder and a staff in the hand;’ ‘sad and with drooping

head.’” Thus Ezekiel was to typify the departure of prince and people into

exile.

 

Ø      Here is a picture of going into captivity by sorrowful and stealthy

flight. (vs. 5-7, 12.) He is to go forth in the twilight so as to elude the

vigilance of the enemies, and with his face covered so as not to see the

beloved land which he is leaving. And all the accounts of the flight agree

that it was made in fright and furtively under cover of night.

(Just imagine what they were going through, all so unnecessary because

they could have and should have obeyed!  CY - 2021)

 

Ø      Here is a veiled announcement of the kings deprivation of sight and an

explicit declaration of his destination as an exile. (v. 13.) According to

Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 10. 7:2), Ezekiel sent an account of this prophecy to

Jerusalem to strengthen the influence of Jeremiah with the king, who was

personally considerably disposed to heed the counsel of that prophet. But

the king compared the announcements of the two prophets, and finding

that while Jeremiah said he should be carried in bonds to Babylon, Ezekiel

said he should not see it, he disbelieved both of them. And yet the event

showed that both of them were true. The king was carried as a prisoner to

Babylon, but he did not see it, for Nebuchadnezzar had put out his eyes at

Riblah in the land of Hamath.

 

Ø      Here is a declaration that the king should be left without defense or

helper. “I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him,

and all his bands” (v. 14). And the sacred historian tells us that when the

army of the Chaldeans overtook the fleeing king “in the plains of Jericho,

all his army were scattered from him.”  *****

 

Ø      Here is the intention expressed to spare a small remnant for the

acknowledgment of the supremacy of Jehovah and the confession of

their sins. (vs. 15-16.) Only “a few men,” or “men of number,” should be

left, i.e. so few that they might be easily counted; and they should be spared

in order that they might acknowledge the many aggravated and

persistent sins of the people, which had led to these stern judgments,

and so vindicate the justice of God in the infliction of them. And by these

judgments they would become convinced that Jehovah is the living and the

true God. “They shall know that I am the Lord.” These words, which

recur as a refrain” in these prophecies, we have already considered

(in Ezekiel 6:7, 10).  (A wasted life - so useless to have happened -

how do we miss the mark - why so anti-God?  I do not have the words

to convey my feelings!  CY - 2021)

 

·         CONCLUSION. Learn:

 

1. The peril of disregarding the Word of the Lord. Such conduct, persisted

    in, leads to spiritual blindness and deafness.

2. The obligation of the good to put forth persistent efforts for the

    conversion of the wicked.

3. The importance of employing various means for the conversion of the

    wicked.

 

 

ch. 13:10-16

 

They were involving a nation in

disaster. We know not where the mischief of evil deeds will end.

 

 

ch. 16

 

The section on which we now enter, with its companion picture in ch. 23.,

forms the most terrible, one might almost say the most repellent, part of

Ezekiel’s prophetic utterances. We have, as it were, his story of the harlot’s

progress, his biography of the Messalina of the nations. We shudder as we

read it, just as we shudder in reading the sixth satire of Juvenal. The

prophet speaks, like the satirist, of things which we have learnt, mainly

under the teaching of Christian purity, to veil in a reticent reserve, with a

Lucretian and Dante-like vividness. The nearest parallel, indeed, which

literature presents to it is found in the ‘Epistola ad Florentinos’ of the latter

poet. We need to remember, as we read it, that his standard was not ours,

that those for whom he wrote had done or witnessed the things which he

describes, that there was in them no nerve of pudicity to shock. (Surely in

our day, we also have reached this shameful level, based on our television

material, movie and theater plots, our language and our perverted mores!

CY – 2014)  He did not write virginibus puerisque (for girls and boys - when

I think of sex education for small children of today - then this is an example

of how we are worse than Israel - CY - 2021), but for men to whom the

whole imagery was a familiar thing. It is obvious, however, that the interpreter

lives under other conditions than the prophet, and cannot always follow him in

the minuteness of his descriptions.  The thought that underlies Ezekiel’s parable,

that Israel was the bride of Jehovah, and that her sin was that of the adulterous

wife, was sufficiently familiar. Isaiah 1:21) speaks of the “faithful city that had

become a harlot.” Jeremiah 2:2 had represented Jehovah as remembering

the kindness of her youth, the love of her espousals.” What

is characteristic of Ezekiel’s treatment of that image is that he does not

recognize any period in which Israel had been as a faithful wife. But even

here he had a forerunner in Hosea, who, in order that his own life might be

itself a parable, was ordered to take to himself “a wife of whoredom,” one,

i.e., whose character was tainted before her marriage (Hosea 1:2).

Ezekiel would seem to have dwelt upon that thought, and to have

expanded it into the terrible history that follows.

 

 

 

 

 

20 “Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou

hast born unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured.

Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,  21 That thou hast slain  my children,

and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?”

The next stage of idolatry is that of Moloch worship, which never wholly ceased

as long as the monarchy of Judah lasted (II Kings 16:3; Psalm 106:37; Isaiah 57:5;

Jeremiah 7:32; 19:5; Micah 6:7; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2 [there would be a great

Population decline in the USA if this was practiced! – CY – 2014]). It will be

noticed that the words, “the fire,” are in italics, i.e. are not in the Hebrew,

the verb “to pass through” having acquired so technical a meaning that it

was enough without that addition.  This, as the closing words indicate, was

the crowning point. As though idolatry in itself was a small matter, it was

intensified by INFANTICIDE!  (America and the world will not escape

either over the issue of ABORTION! CY – 2014)

 

 

 

53 “When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and

her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then

will I bring again the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:” 

(I can only imagine what type of people, who lived in other ages, with

whom the guilty will share eternal separation from God! – CY – 2014)

 

 

            Sin Seen in the Light of Comparison (ch. 16:44-59)

 

If men are so encased in worldliness that they cannot see their sin in the

light of God’s perfect righteousness, they may yet discover some features

of their sin in the light of others’ conduct, in the light of others’ doom. God

has employed manifold methods for convincing men of sin.

 

·         SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ANOTHER’S FALL. In the

case of Israel it might have been seen in a parent’s disaster and doom. For

their idolatries, and the vices bred of idolatry, the Amorites and Hittites

were swept out of the land; yea, swept out by the sword of Israel. They

had seen the judgments which God had brought upon idolatry. It was a fact

indissolubly linked with their own history. For them to fall into the same sin

is inexplicable; it is the climax of depravity.

 

·         SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF PRIVILEGE. The Hebrews

had seen the result of idolatry in the sister kingdom of Samaria. The calves

erected at Dan and Bethel had not availed to save Israel from defeat and

ruin. They in Judaea had greater privilege. The visible presence of Jehovah

was in their holy of holies. They had the priesthood and the daily sacrifice

and the smoking altar of incense in their midst. If some kind of excuse

could be framed on behalf of Israel’s lapse, no such excuse could be framed

for Judah. They knew the better course, YET THEY CHOSE THE WORSE!

 

·         SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF REPEATED WARNING.

The disaster which fell upon Samaria and upon Sodom was in the nature of

warning to them. It was the clearest warning, WRITTEN IN LARGEST

CHARACTERS.  Beside these matter of fact warnings, they were rebuked

by a succession of messengers from God. The sin which was great prior to

Samaria’s fall was greater still after that fall. To continue in sin after repeated

warning is to contract fresh sin. Contumely and insubordination are now

added. Warning despised IS ITSELF A SIN.

 

·         THE MEASURE OF SIN IS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ITS

INJURIOUS INFLUENCE ON OTHERS. The inhabitants of Jerusalem

had encouraged others to commit idolatry. Other peoples were cloaking

themselves under Israel’s name. All sin (like some diseases) IS TERRIBLY

CONTAGIOUS!  The Jews were inducing others to say, “Well, if these

sticklers for an invisible God betake themselves to idols, there must be a

reason. Their Jehovah must have failed them. After all, idolatry must be at

least permissible.” “Thou hast justified thy sisters in all thine abomination.”

 

·         THE DOOM OF SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S

CONSISTENT JUSTICE. “When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters,

shall return to their former estate… then thou and thy daughters shall

return to your former estate.” God has not one tribunal for the Jews and

another for the Canaanites. Out of one statute book all shall be alike

judged. Human conduct in every land and in every age shall be measured

by ONE STANDARD RULE! As God has dealt with transgressors in

FORMER AGES, so ASSUREDLY will He deal WITH TRANSGRESSORS

IN TIMES TO COME! Other things may change, BUT GOD LAW AND

RIGHTEOUSNESS NEVER!

 

 

Picture of Human Depravity and Destitution

                                                               and

                                        Divine Condescension and Favor.

                                                         (16:1-15)

 

“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause

Jerusalem to know her abominations,” etc. “We have here,” says

Hengstenberg, “one of the grandest prophecies of Ezekiel. The prophet

surveys in the Spirit of God the whole of the development of Israel, the

past and the future.” In this development we have the following stages:

 

                        *The condition in which the Lord found His people;

                        * the condition to which He raised them;

                        * their shameful departures from Him;

                        * His severe judgments upon them; and

                        * their restoration to His favor.

 

Each of these developments of Israelitish history may be viewed as an emblem

of man’s moral condition or relations with God, or of God’s dealings with man.

It seems to us that it would be unwise to attempt to deal with the chapter as a

whole in one homily. We shall therefore consider its chief paragraphs separately.

In the section before us we have two graphic pictures.

 

·         A PICTURE OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY AND DESTITUTION, OR

OF THE CONDITION IN WHICH THE LORD FOUND HIS PEOPLE.

 

Ø      Their depraved moral parentage. Thus saith the Lord God unto

Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the laud of Canaan; thy father

was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.” The people of Israel are here

designated “Canaanites,” to indicate their degraded moral character and

condition. “The Amorites and the Hittites are two chief Canaanitish tribes,

that elsewhere so often represent the whole of the Canaanites; the Amorites

already, in Genesis 15:16, where they specially represent the

Canaanitish people in their sinfulness.” Moral character and conduct are

often viewed as indicative of moral parentage. “When men live according

to the courses, natures, manners of others, they are styled their sons, or

children.” Thus the Jews are called “sons of the sorceress,” etc. (Isaiah

57:3). The Jews in the time of our Lord’s ministry upon earth claimed to be

“Abraham’s seed They said unto him, Abraham is our father.” But Jesus

said unto them, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:33-44). And

St. Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, called Elymas the sorcerer a “child of

the devil” (Acts 13:10). The tendency to sin which characterizes human

nature indicates sinful parentage. (The psalmist says, “In sin did my

mother conceive me.”  Psalm 51:5 - CY - 2021)  The doctrine of original sin

has often  been stated in a very objectionable manner. But there is a basis of

fact underlying that doctrine. It is certain that human beings manifest in early

life a proclivity to sin. The modern scientific teaching as to inherited

tendencies conducts to the conclusion that we inherit a depraved moral

nature.

 

Ø      Their destitute moral condition. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou

wast born thy navel was not cut,” etc. (vs. 4-5). These verses point to

the condition of Israel in Egypt, where the family grew into a nation, or the

nation may have said to have been born. There was nothing there to foster

the moral life and health of the young nation. Nay, more, their physical

condition was one of cruel oppression and bitter persecution (cf.

Exodus 1:7-22). They were abhorred, afflicted, and brutally ill treated.

But the verses illustrate man’s spiritual condition apart from the grace of

God and the provisions of that grace. (The New Testament parallel is

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the

commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,

having no hope, and without God in the world.”  Ephesians 2:12 - CY -

2021)    Man is morally unclean as an unwashed infant, morally neglected

as an uncared for infant, left to live or die, no one taking an interest

in its condition, and being completely incapable of self-help. Is not that a

picture of man’s spiritual state apart from the grace of God? We inherit a

sinful nature. We cannot convert or sanctify ourselves, or even do anything

with a view to such results WITHOUT DIVINE INFLUENCE!  We cannot

repent except as we are summoned and strengthened to do so from heaven.

(Jesus said, No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me

draw him.”  John 6:44 - CY - 2021)  And man cannot save us if he would;

for EVERY MAN IS A SINNER, AND NEEDS SALVATION HIMSELF!

 Neither can angels save us. Their utmost wisdom, love, and might ARE

INADEQUATE TO THE DIFFICULT TASK.  GOD ALONE has pity

enough  and power enough for this work. If He leaves us we must perish.

If we are to be saved HE MUST BEGIN AND CARRY ON THIS

GRACIOUS WORK!  And we rejoice to know that He does not leave

any people to perish without witness of Himself, or without some gracious

influences from Him (compare Acts 14:17; Romans 1:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:4).

 

·         A PICTURE OF DIVINE CONDESCENSION AND FAVOR, OR

THE CONDITION TO WHICH THE LORD RAISED HIS PEOPLE.

(Vs. 6-14.) Here, as Fairbaian observes, “everything is fragrant with the

matchless grace and loving kindness of God.”  (“Which is better than

life.”  Psal m 63:3 - CY - 2021)

 

Ø      God graciously regarded them in their outcast condition. “I passed by

thee, and saw thee polluted [Revised Version, ‘weltering,’] in thine own

blood.” He looked compassionately upon the Israelites in their afflictions

and sorrow in Egypt. “The Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my

people which are in Egypt,” etc. (Exodus 3:7-10). He saw our race ruined

by sin, and of His own free and unmerited grace He had pity upon us.

We had no claim upon His compassion or assistance. By our sin we had

forfeited every title to His favor. We had no grace or beauty to commend

us to His regard. We were rather, as in the picture drawn by the prophet

(vs. 3-6), fitted to awaken repulsion. Yet God looked upon us in mercy;

and He did so of His own good pleasure. “Herein is love, not that we loved

God, but that He loved us” (I John 4;10), “God commendeth his own love

toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

 (Romans 5:8)

 

Ø      God conferred life upon them. “I said unto thee in thy blood, Live!” He

saw the Israelites in Egypt as it were naked, abhorred, and perishing, and

He designed them for life, and caused them to live, notwithstanding the

cruelty, of their oppressors. And it is God of His grace, through Christ

Jesus and by His Word and Spirit, who quickens dead souls into life.

“God being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even

when we were dead through our trespasses, quickened us together with

Christ, (Ephesians 2:4-10; compare Colossians 2:13; John 3:5-8).

 

Ø      He blessed them with growth and increase. I caused thee to multiply as

the bud of the field,” etc. The explanation of this verse is in Exodus 1:7, 12.

The great increase of the children of Israel excited the fears of the

Egyptian monarch, and led him to oppress them; “but the more they

afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” Their growth was of

God, and accorded with his great purposes concerning them. Spiritual

growth in the individual is the product of Divine influences. God quickens

and sustains and increases the life of the soul. Hence St. Paul prays “that He

would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be

strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man,” etc. (Ephesians

3:16-19). The increase of the Church also is of Him. “The Lord added to

them day by day those that were being saved” (Acts 2:47). “I planted,

Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

 

Ø      He took them into union with Himself. “Now when I passed by thee, and

looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my

skirt over thee,” etc. (v. 8). The child is represented as having now

arrived at womanhood. The casting of the skirt over her is an action

indicative of taking her under one’s protection with a view to betrothal

(compare Ruth 3:9). And keeping up the figure, the espousals are indicated by

the words, “Yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee,…

and thou becamest mine.” This covenant was entered into at Mount Sinai

(compare Exodus 19:3-8; 34:27). “What grace when the Holy and Almighty

One condescends to enter into covenant with so sinful and miserable a

people!” And still God graciously enters into covenant with all who heartily

believe on His Son Jesus Christ (compare Hebrews 8:6-13). In this covenant

we give ourselves to Him as loyal subjects and servants; and in addition to

many other blessings, He gives Himself to us as the crowning blessing of the

covenant.  (Like when He told Abram - I am thy Shield and Exceeding Great

Reward.”  Genesis 15:1 - CY - 2021)  And if we are in this covenant, we may

without presumption address Him as our Father and our God (compare

John 20:17). “The Lord is my Portion, saith my soul; therefore will I wait

in Him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

 

Ø      He sumptuously clothed and adorned them. “Then washed I thee with

water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood from thee,” etc. (vs. 9-14).

The washing and anointing (v. 9) are suggested by the custom in the

East of purifying the bride for her royal husband (compare Esther 2:12).

Israel is represented as having been thoroughly cleansed and anointed as

the bride of the Lord.  (Someday we will be the Bride of Christ at the

Marriage Supper of the Lamb - Revelation 19:9 -  CY - 2021)  Then the

prophet speaks of the dress and jewelry of the bride.

 

o        The clothing and adorning were glorious. “I clothed thee also with

broidered work,” etc. The reference is to the condition of the people daring

the reigns of David and Solomon, before the kingdom was divided, when

they were at the height of prosperity and power. God clothes His people

with “the beauty of holiness.” They have “the ornament of a meek and

quiet spirit.” “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in

my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,” etc.

(Isaiah 61:10; and compare Luke 15:22).

 

o        The clothing and adorning were admired. “Thy renown went forth

among the nations for thy beauty.” The renown of the Israelites and their

king is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 17:8, 21. When men are clothed with

the beauties of moral excellence they awaken the admiration of the world.

Men respect genuine religion when they see it embodied in human lives.

 

o        The clothing and adorning were of God.It was perfect through my

comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.” The

prosperity, power, and glory of Israel came from Him. And Christians

have not a righteousness of their own, but that which is through faith

in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Romans 3:22)

He arrays them in glories like His own. “Let the beauty of the Lord

our God be upon us.” (Psalm 90:17)  Spiritual, unfading, and eternal

are the garments and glories in which God invests his people.

 

 

 

                        A Picture of Flagrant Apostasy from God (16:15-34)

 

“But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot because

of thy renown,” etc. The prophet now passes from what God had done for

His people Israel to set forth how they had requited (repaid) Him. He had shown

how, under His fostering care, the outcast child had grown into a beautiful

maiden, whom He had espoused and arrayed in robes and ornaments of

beauty, until she had become renowned amongst the nations. Now He

exhibits the apostasy of the people under the figure of the gross

unfaithfulness of this wife to her husband, with whom she had entered into

solemn covenant, and to whom she owed everything good and valuable

that she possessed. Idolatry is frequently set forth in the Scriptures under

the similitude of fornication or adultery (compare Jeremiah 3:20). The chief

point of the comparison is perhaps this, that, as the marriage covenant is an

endearing and sacred one, and the violation of it is therefore a heinous sin,

so the covenant between God and His people is intimate and holy, and to

violate it is to incur THE DARKEST GUILT!  The wife is under the most solemn

obligations not to turn aside from her husband to another man, or to allow

any one to rival him in her affections. And those who have entered into

covenant with God ought not to allow any person or thing to compete with

Him for the supreme place in their hearts. We can only view this

representation of the people’s apostasy “generally,” as Fairbairn observes,

and with respect to its leading features; as from the very nature of the

image it is impossible to be minute, without at the same time falling into

indelicacy.”  (in other words x-rated - but if any generation could handle

it, with the attitude of Hollywood, freedom of expression, and modern

television, we should be able “to handle it.”  CY - 2021)

 

·         THE BASE BEGINNINGS OF THIS APOSTASY.

 

Ø      Forgetfulness of the past. “In all thine abominations and thy whoredoms

thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked

and bare, and wast polltuted in thy blood.” The Israelites forgot the

helpless and afflicted condition in which the Lord found them in Egypt, and

how He had championed their cause, delivered them from their oppressors,

and raised them into an independent, prosperous, and powerful nation. Had

they remembered these things, the recollection would have bound them to

Him by the tender and tenacious ties of gratitude.

 

“They remembered not the multitude of thy mercies.

They soon forgot His works.

They forgot God their Saviour,

Which had done great things in Egypt.

                        (Psalm 106:7, 13, 21)

 

A lively recollection of what God has done for us, and of how much we

owe to Him, will prove a powerful preventive to our departing from Him.

 

Ø      Confidence in themselves and their possessions. “Thou didst trust in

thine own beauty.” The things which God had enabled them to acquire —

position, prosperity, power — they had abused by making them occasions

of sin. They reposed in them the trust which they should have reposed in

God alone. How often have men abused their prosperity in a similar

manner! A man by the blessing of God succeeds in his business

undertakings, and then attributes all his success to his tact, perseverance,

and energy, and places his supreme confidence in those powers or in

himself. How vain is such confidence (compare Proverbs 28:26; Jeremiah

9:23)! And another, who has prospered in his worldly affairs, places his

trust in his riches. This also is vain (compare Psalm 49:6-7; 52:7;

1 Timothy 6:17). “He who has a high opinion of himself has no desire for

grace; and the more he trusts in himself, the more quickly will he squander

gifts and blessings. Self-exaltation leads from GRACE  just as

self-knowledge leads to grace” (Schroder).

 

Ø      Perversion of the position which they had attained through the favour

of God. “And playedst the harlot because of thy renown.” The eminence

which they had attained by means of His blessing they turned into an

occasion of exalting themselves against Him. “God made this people above

all nations,” says Greenhill, “in praise, in name, in honor, that they might

be a holy people unto Him (Deuteronomy 26:19); their renown should

have encouraged them to holiness, but it was an incentive unto looseness.

Solomon had great renown abroad in the nations (1 Kings 4:31); that

drew the princes to bestow their daughters upon him (ibid. ch. 11:3); he

had seven hundred wives, princesses; his name made way for unlawful

marriages, and they made way for unlawful gods.” Their prosperity and

fame they thus perverted in the saddest and a most  sinful manner.

 

·         THE DREAD PROGRESS OF THIS APOSTASY. The apostasy itself

consisted of the worship of idols, or the giving unto idols the homage

which was due to God alone, and the formation of forbidden political

alliances, or reposing in nations the confidence which should have been

placed alone in God. The beginning of the apostasy seems to have been in

the latter part of the reign of Solomon, when his heathen “wives turned

away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4-8). It entered upon

another stage when the ten tribes under Jeroboam began to worship the

true God by means of the images of the calves which were set up at Dan

and Bethel. Afterwards the people began to adopt the vile idols of their

heathen neighbors. But in the paragraph before us the chief stages of this

apostasy are:

 

Ø      The manufacture and worship of idols. (vs. 16-18.)

 

Ø      The building of chambers for their idolatrous practices. (vs. 24-25.)

Not content with the high places, or natural heights, set apart for worship,

they erected these vaulted chambers in the thoroughfares of the city. “The

natural heights,” says Hengstenberg, “are too far from the people

hungering after idols. They wish to plant idolatry in the city thoroughfare,

and so build for themselves artificial heights. We must distinguish

between the thought and its clothing. The thought is that the objects of

idolatry became the prime impulse of the popular life, by which is to be

understood much less religious than political adultery, though both went

hand in hand.”

 

Ø      The sacrifice of their children to Moloch. (vs. 20-21.) From

ch. 20:26 it appears that they offered their firstborn to this

revolting heathen deity. The god was supposed to be present in the fire,

and the children who were made to pass through it were devoured by it.

Aben Ezra says that “to cause to pass through” is the same as “to burn.”

And the Jews did this notwithstanding the most solemn and stern

warnings against it. “The offender who devoted his offspring to Moloch

was to be put to death by stoning; and in case the people of the land

refused to inflict upon him this judgment, Jehovah would himself

execute it, and cut him off from among his people (Leviticus 18:21;

20:2-5).” But they had become guilty even of this atrocity. The Lord

calls these children whom they so cruelly sacrificed, HIS

CHILDREN!   “Thou hast slain my children.” They were His

because He is “the Father of spirits.” His also because they were

born under the covenant, and bore in themselves the mark of the

covenant. So these people had gone from bad to worse until their

sins were now calling loudly for vengeance. There is no standing

still in sin. When man has departed from God, unless means be used

and efforts be made to return unto Him, He will depart ever to a

greater distance; the breach between them will grow wider until it

becomes a  great and awful gulf. Beware of the first faint alienation

of the heart from Him. Stop the very beginnings of departure from Him.

Keep close to Him in true and tender affection, and loyal and

loving service.

 

·         THE SORE AGGRAVATIONS OF THIS APOSTASY.

 

Ø      Their extreme readiness to depart from God. (vs. 25-34.) The nations

did not seek after them, but they after the nations. They were eager to

adopt their idols, and to enter into political alliances with them. “The

treacherous and wanton dealing was all on Israel’s part,” says Fairbairn;

she conceded everything to them, they yielded back nothing in return to

her — her wickedness was gratuitous and unrequited folly. A solemn

and pregnant truth, which the Church of God should never forget. She

loses all, and the world gains all, when she foolishly stoops to impair

the testimony of God, or adjust the claims and services of religion to

the tastes and practices of the carnal mind. A nominal advance or

apparent reconciliation may possibly be made by the manoeuver; but

it can be no more than nominal and apparent; the interests that really

profit by such a policy are those of the flesh and the world. It is only

when the Church is faithful to her testimony — when she stands in

the truth of Christ, and in that truth shines forth ‘bright as the sun,

clear as the moon,’ that she is found also, in her conflict with evil,

‘ terrible as an army with banners.’

 

Ø      Their abuse of His gifts in departing from Him. (vs. 17-19.) “My gold

and my silver… mine oil and mine incense… my meat also I gave thee,”

these things He charges them with having applied to idolatrous uses.

The ‘Speaker’s Commentary’ points out an illustration of this in its

notes on v. 33: “The picture is heightened by the contrast between

one who as a prostitute receives hire for her shame, and one who as

a wife is so utterly abandoned as to bestow her husband’s goods to

purchase her own dishonor. The conduct of Ahaz in purchasing aid

from the King of Assyria with the silver and gold that was found in

the house of the Lord (II Kings 16:8) is an excellent illustration,

and may perhaps be referred to in this very passage.” And very often

still men abuse the gifts of God to His dishonor, as in the employment

of their abilities for base or unworthy purposes, the use of riches for

vain or sinful objects, etc.

 

Ø      Their resolute persistence in departing from Him. Nothing stopped them

in their apostasy; or, if checked for a time, it was speedily resumed again.

The bestowment of many and precious favors upon them did not bind

them to the Lord. They actually made these (as we have seen) an occasion

of apostasy. Nor did the infliction of chastisement effectually restrain their

great and persistent unfaithfulness. Such chastisement is spoken of in

v. 27. The blessings which God had promised to His people on

condition of their fidelity to the covenant, and which in former

times had been so abundantly bestowed (compare vs. 9-14), He

diminished as a punishment for their sins. By their religious and political

unfaithfulness they had been great losers “in land, and people, and

influence, and splendor;” but still they were bent upon backsliding from

Him. Neither mercies nor judgments, rewards nor punishments, availed

to secure their fidelity to the Lord their God. “My people are bent to

backsliding from me.” Their hearts were “fully set in them to do evil.”

            (Ecclesiastes 8:11)

 

 

 

**************************

 

 

A preface for ch. 18

 

 

Sinful men always attempt self-justification.  These murmurers in Chaldea

felt the severity of their chastisement, but did not feel the gravity of their sin.

They imagined that it must have been their fathers’ sins which were being

avenged in them. This state of mind has always been a characteristic of the sinner.

The sinner thinks his punishment is excess of his sin and like Cain, complains

“My punishment is greater than I can bear  (Genesis 4:13).  Now, a part of

the penalty of sin is the blinding of the mind, the perversion of the judging

faculty. The man fastens his attention on his suffering, thus losing sight of his

secret sin.

 

 

Repentance at any stage of human probation is possible.   It is recognized,

throughout the Bible, that a man may turn from evil ways. If, at any point

short of death, a man is disposed to turn from a vicious course, all the

resources of God’s skill and power are on his side. There is no hindrance

to a man’s reformation and restoration SAVE HIS OWN UNWILLINGNESS!

 Incessantly, God is inviting such repentance.

 

Repentance leads to complete and perfect righteousness.   Repentance is not

merely a negation; it is a positive good. It is the first link in a golden chain

that shall bind the soul in sweet allegiance to God. It is the first drop in a

precious shower of blessing. It is the foundation-stone of a new character.

It is the seed of a magnificent harvest. From true repentance every virtue,

every excellence, every noble quality, shall spring. Give it time, and it shall

bear upon its branches all the figures and fruits of goodness. It is the first

 ray of heaven struggling to find entrance into man’s heart.