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, 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,
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
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.
1 “Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, cause
Jerusalem to know her abominations, 3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD
was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.” Thy birth and thy nativity, etc.
A prosaic literalism has seen in Ezekiel’s language the assertion of an ethnological fact.
“The Jebusite city,” the prophet is supposed to say,” was never really of pure
Israelite descent. Its people are descended from Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites,
and are tainted, as by a law of heredity, with the vices of their forefathers.”
So taken, the passage would remind us of the scorn with which Dante (ut supra)
speaks of the cruel and base herd of Fiesole, who corrupted the once noble stock
of the inhabitants of
believed that Ezekiel’s words imply the very opposite of this. As Isaiah
(Isaiah 1:10) had spoken of “the rulers of Sodom, and the people of
Gomorrah;” as Deuteronomy 32:32 had spoken of the vine of Israel
becoming as “the vine of
time as not being “the children of Abraham” (John 8:39); so Ezekiel,
using the strongest form of Eastern vituperation, taunts the people of
Jerusalem with acting as if they were descended, not from Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, but from the earlier heathen inhabitants of what was afterwards
nations whom he names. Briefly, the Canaanites represented the dwellers in
the lowland country west of the valley of the
Philistia, Sharon, Esdraelon, and Phoenicia; and their leading
representatives in Ezekiel’s time were the cities of
Amorites were people of the mountains, at first, west of the Jordan, on the
heights over the Dead Sea and as far as
Sihon, on the high tablelands east of the
history much light has been thrown by recent Egyptian and other
discoveries, appear first in the history of the purchase of the cave of
Macphelab, at Kirjath-arba, or Hebron, and that history implies commerce
and culture. Esau’s marriage with the daughters of two Hittite chiefs
implies, perhaps, a recognition of their value as allies (Genesis 26:34).
They are always numbered with the other six nations, whom the Israelites
were to conquer or expel (generally in conjunction with the Canaanites and
Amorites as the three first, though not always in the same order,
Exodus 3:8; 13:5; 33:2; 34:11-16). And this fact obviously determined
Ezekiel’s choice. In the later historical books they appear but seldom. One
Hittite captain, Uriah, occupies a high position in David’s army (II Samjuel 11:3).
The kings of the Hittites trade with Solomon, and give their daughters to him in
marriage (I Kings 10:29). They meet us for the last time as possible allies of the
kings of Judah II Kings 7:6), and in the list of the older nations in Ezra 9:1 and
Nehemiah 9:8. Then they disappear from the page of history till the discovery and
decipherment of Egyptian records in our own time shows them to have been among
the mighty nations that have passed with their rulers into the Hades of departed
Leading Sinners to a Knowledge of Their Sins (v. 2)
“Son of man, cause
of the inhabitants of
David says of the wicked, “They are corrupt, they have done abominable
works” (Psalm 14:1); “Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity.”
(Ibid. ch. 53:1). And Jehovah said to the Jews, “Oh, do not this abominable
thing that I hate!” (Jeremiah 44:4) In its own nature sin “is an evil thing and
a bitter” (Ibid. ch. 2:19). It is a polluting thing, defiling the soul; it is a
degrading thing, dishonoring the soul. It is an infraction of the order of God’s
universe, and is inimical to its true interests. Sin is evil in every respect:
Ø hateful to God,
Ø hurtful to man,
Ø darkening the heavens, and,
Ø burdening the earth.
The inhabitants of
were so oblivious to the fact that the prophet is summoned to bring them to
a knowledge of their abominations. David did not recognize as his own the
foul crimes which he had committed when they were set before him
parabolically. It was not until the Prophet Nathan said unto him, “Thou art
the man!” that he saw himself to be the sinner he really was (II Samuel
12:1-14). The Pharisees in the time of our Lord’s ministry were really great
sinners, but they regarded themselves as the excellent of the earth. We are
quick to behold the mote that is in our brother’s eye, but we take no notice
of the beam that is in our own eye. This failure of sinners to recognize their
own sin may arise:
Ø From the subtlety of sin. Sin approaches the soul in dangerous
disguises. Were the vision of sin seen in a full light, undressed and
unpainted, it were impossible, while it so appeared, that any one
soul could be in love with it, but all would rather flee from it as
hideous and abominable. Wickedness veils itself in the garb of what
is harmless, respectable, or excellent. Avarice hides its hard and
hungry features under the name of economy. Harsh censoriousness
wears the cloak of honest plain speaking.
Ø From the proneness of men to excuse sin in themselves. Until man is
brought to see and feel his sins aright, he is ready to palliate or to
extenuate them. Men are cruelly indulgent to themselves in this
respect. And in some cases pride and self-flattery blind men to
their own offences.
BRING SINNERS TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR SINS. To this
Duty Ezekiel was summoned in our text. And this is incumbent on the
Ministers of Jesus Christ.
Ø For the conversion of the sinners. Without the knowledge of sin,
repentance and conversion are not to be thought of. As a physician,
when he wishes to heal a wound thoroughly, must probe it to the
bottom, so a teacher, when he wishes to convert men thoroughly,
must first seek to bring them to a knowledge of their sins.
Ø For the deliverance of their own souls. (Compare ch.3:17-21; 33:7-9.)
Ø For the vindication of the Law and government of God. Sin is an
outrage of God’s holy Law, and it should be exhibited as such.
Persistence in sin calls down Divine punishment, and the sin should
be set forth unto men, that they will recognize the righteousness of
the punishment. If sin be not properly estimated by men, how shall
the Divine dealings in the punishment of it be justified unto them?
Therefore the ministers of Jesus Christ should endeavor to cause
sinners to know their sins.
Evil Parentage (v. 3)
The Jews boasted of their descent from Ahraham, but Ezekiel told them
that they were children of the Canaanite aborigines of their land, because it
was from those people that they drew their present character.
throne of a great king, but if he has a mean and servile disposition, and
inherits no kingly nature, he is not a true son of his father. Titles and
estates may pass from men of high powers to imbeciles. The good name of
a worthy Christian man may be borne by a worthless descendant. We
cannot entail character. No man can be certain that his children will follow
his example, however good and attractive that may be, and when it is not
followed the true man is not represented by his children. Thus Christ would
not permit his contemporaries to call themselves Abraham’s children
(John 8:39-41). This does not mean that He disputed their genealogical
records. Apart from those prosaic tests of pure blood were the more
serious signs of APOSTASY and DISINHERITANCE. In like manner,
it is possible to lose the status of Divine sonship, although by nature we are
all God’s children. It may even be surmised that Ezekiel had lost the
recollection of the true origin of the Israelites, and had come to regard
them as descendants of the Canaanites.
Amorites and Hittites by natural descent. But though on their entering
inhabitants of the land and form no league with them, they lolled in that
enterprise, leaving many of the original inhabitants in their midst, FROM
WHOM THEY CONTRACTED HABITS OF IDOLATRY! We are all
more or less influenced by our surroundings, and it is therefore of great
importance that we should not choose hurtful companions. But there is a way
of resisting a bad example when we cannot escape from its physical proximity.
To yield to it is a sign of weakness and sin. The result is to make us spiritually
The children of those we follow. The most vital inheritance is that of character.
Though the blood of Abraham flowed in the veins of THE APOSTATE JEWS,
the spirit of Amorites and Hittites had possession of their minds and hearts.
Therefore the chief part of their lives was derived from the adopted
ancestors. A natural Christian parentage is of little account if a spiritual
parentage of sin has been accepted by the degenerate children.
FOR A NEW EVIL PARENTAGE IS AN UNSPEAKABLE
To have to own a father and mother among those effete subject races was
a shame for the proud conquerors of
abandonment of the lofty spirit of the patriarchs and the adoption of the
degraded character of the heathen. It is a shame when the children of
Christian parents sink into the condition of children of this world. They
know better; they have seen worthy examples; they have been trained
under good influences; they have received high privileges. We expect the
sow to wallow in the mire, but when a person of higher origin follows her
example he degrades himself far below the shameful state of the unclean
4 “And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut,
neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all,
nor swaddled at all.” As for thy nativity, etc. We ask, as we interpret the parable,
of what period in the history of Israel Ezekiel speaks. Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob are ignored by him, and he starts from a time of misery and shame. It
is obvious that the only period which corresponds to this is that of the
Goshen. He paints, with a Dantesque minuteness, the picture of a child just
born, abandoned by its mother and neglected by all others from the very
moment of its birth. It lies unwashed and foul to look upon. No woman’s
care does for it the commonest offices of motherhood. For to supple, read,
with the Revised Version, to cleanse. The practice still met with in the East
of rubbing the newborn child with salt may have rested partly on sanitary
grounds (Jerome, in loc. Galen, ‘De San.,’ 1:7), partly on its symbolic
meaning (Numbers 18:19). When this was done, the child was wrapped in
swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7), but these too were wanting in the picture
which Ezekiel draws. The whole scene may have been painted from the life.
Such a birth may well have been witnessed during the march of the exiles,
when the brutality of their Chaldean drivers allowed no halt, and the child
was left to perish of neglect, and the thought may then have flashed across
Ezekiel’s mind that the pity which he felt for the deserted infant was a faint
shadow of that which Jehovah had felt for
5 “None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon
thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, in
the day that thou wast born.” For to the loathing of thy person, read, with the
Revised Version, for that thy person was abhorred.
6 “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said
unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou
wast in thy blood, Live.” For polluted, read, with the Revised Version, weltering,
the primary meaning of the verb being that of stamping or treading, and omit
“when thou wast,” as weakening the condensed force of the original. The
marvel of that unlooked for pity is emphasized by the iteration of the word
of mercy, Live. The commentary of the Chaldee Targum is sufficiently
curious to be quoted: “And the memory of my covenant with your fathers
came into my mind, and I was revealed that I might redeem you, because it
was manifest to me that ye were afflicted in your bondage, and I said unto
you, ‘I will have compassion on you in the blood of circumcision,’ and I
said unto you, ‘I will redeem you by the blood of the Passover.’” The thought
underlying this strange interpretation is that blood might be the means of life
as well as of pollution, and in that thought there is a significance at once
poetical and profound, almost, as it were, anticipating the later thoughts that
the blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin (I John 1:7; Revelation 1:5), that we
make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Ibid. ch.7:14). There is no reason,
however, for believing that such thoughts were present to the prophet’s mind.
7 “I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast
increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments:
thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast
naked and bare.” The tenses should be in the simple historic past: I caused;
thou didst increase and wax great; thou attainedst, and so on (Revised
Version). In the word “multiply” (Exodus 1:7) the figure passes into
historical reality. To excellent ornaments; Hebrew, to ornament of
ornaments. The word is commonly used of jewels, trinkets, and the like
(Ibid. ch.33:4; II Samuel 1:24; Isaiah 49:18). So Vulgate, mundus muliebris.
Here, however, the external adorning comes in vs. 10-11, and instead of the
plural we have the dual. Hitzig is, perhaps, right in taking the phrase to refer
to the beauty of the cheeks, which are themselves the ornaments of the golden
prime of youth. The Septuagint following either a different reading or paraphrasing,
gives, “to cities of cities.” The two clauses that follow point to the most obvious
signs of female puberty. For whereas, read, with the Revised Version, yet, etc., as
describing, not as the Authorized Version seems to do, a state which had
passed away, but one which still continued even when full-grown girlhood
would have demanded clothing.
8 “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, and
covered thy nakedness: yea, I swear unto thee, and entered into a
covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.”
The words point to the time of the love of the espousals of
Jeremiah 2:2, interpreting the parable, when
maturity of a nation’s life, and gave promise, in spite of previous
degradation, of capacities that would render it worthy of the love of the
Divine Bridegroom. I spread my skirt over thee. Garments were often
used as coverlets, and the act described was therefore, as in Ruth 3:9,
the received symbol of a completed marriage (compare Deuteronomy
22:30; 27:20). The historical fact represented by the symbol here was
probably the formal covenant between Jehovah and
24:6-7). It was then that He became her God, and that she became His people.
9 “Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly washed away thy blood
from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.” The “washing” and “anointing”
were part of the customary preparations for the marriage union (Ruth 3:3;
Esther 2:12). The mention of blood receives its explanation, not in the facts of
v.6, but in the ceremonial rules of Leviticus 15:19-24
10 “I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with
badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I
covered thee with silk.” Broidered work; the “raiment of needlework”
Psalm 45:14; Judges 5:30; Exodus 35:35; 38:23. The word meets us again
in ch..27:24, as among the imports of
enough, the Hebrew verb (rakam) has passed through Arabic into the
Spanish recamare, the French recamer, for “embroidering.” Badgers’
skin. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the word is found only in the
Pentateuch (Exodus 26:14; 28:5; Numbers 4:6, 8, 10, et al.). It has
been commonly taken as meaning the skin of some animal — badger,
dolphin, or porpoise, or, as in the Revised Version, seal, which was used
for sandals. All the older versions, however, take it as a word of color, the
Septuagint giving ὑακίνθον – huakinthon - dark red;
and Vulgate, ianthino (“violet”). Possibly the two meanings may coalesce, one
giving the material, the other the tint which met the eye. Fine linen. The byssus
of Egyptian manufacture (Exodus 25:4; 26:1; 39:3, et al.). Silk. The
Hebrew word (here and in v. 13) does not occur elsewhere. The word so
translated in Proverbs 31:22 is that which we find here and elsewhere
for “fine linen.” Silk, in the strict sense of the term, had its birthplace in
China, and there is no evidence that even the commerce of Tyre extended
so far; but the context points to some fine texture of the lawn or muslin
kind, like the Coan vestments of the Greeks. So the Septuagint gives
τριχαπτόν – trichapton -- as though it were made of fine hair; the Vulgate,
subtilia. It is significant that three out of the four articles specified are
prominent (as the references show) in the description of the tabernacle
and the priestly dress, in Exodus chapters 28 and 39. The dress of the
bride symbolized the ritual and cultus of Judaism.
11 “I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy
hands, and a chain on thy neck.” Ornaments. Same word as in v. 7, but here
taken in its more usual sense. (For bracelets, see ch. 23:42; Genesis 24:22, 30;
Numbers 31:50. For chain, Genesis 41:42).
12 “And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a
beautiful crown upon thine head.” A jewel on thy forehead; better, with the
Revised Version, a ring upon thy nose. The word has the same meaning in
Genesis 24:47 (“earring” in the Authorized Version); Isaiah 3:21 (where the
Authorized Version gives “nose jewels”); Proverbs 11:22. Jerome,
however, notes (in loc.) that the Syrian women of his time wore pendants
or lockets that hung from the forehead to the nostrils. The crown, or
diadem (Septuagint, στέφανος καυχήσεως – stepharos kauchaeseos),
the thin circlet of gold confining the hair, completed the catalogue of
ornaments. The Chaldee Targum continues its spiritual interpretation:
“I gave the ark of my covenant to be among you, and the cloud of my
glory overshadowed you, and the angel of my presence led you in the way.”
And, if we assume, as we legitimately may assume, that Ezekiel, above all
others, the prophet of symbolism, did not fill up his picture with details which
were only meant to fill it up, this seems a not unfitting interpretation.
13 “Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was
of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and
honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper
into a kingdom.” Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil. From the
dress of the bride we pass to her luxuries in the way of food. The things
named might, of course, be only chosen as the delicacies for which the land
own time were in demand in the markets of
Cakes of flour and honey were in common use in various forms of Greek
ritual, and are probably referred to in Jeremiah 44:19, but in that of the
Jews (Leviticus 2:11) honey takes its place, side by side with leaven, as
a thing forbidden. Thou didst grow into a kingdom. History crops out
through the parable, and points to the stage which it has now reached, i.e.
that of the magnificence of the kingdom under Solomon.
The Glory of Redemption (vs. 9-13)
Under the similitude of a wretched child cast off by its mother and picked
up by a passer by,
condition and cared for and blessed by Him. This idea may be carried
further as a symbol of the redemption of the Church by Christ.
pity on His people. But the spiritual state of souls in sin is more wretched
own sinfulness, and their wretched plight is the direct consequence
of their own moral corruption.
friendless. No kindred Semitic tribe cared or dared to rescue the nation
of slaves. No being came to save the world before God made bare
GOD. The good Samaritan is a type of our great Father. There is no beauty
in sinful man to attract the attention of God. It is not our claim, but His
pity, that moves God to save the world. The love of Christ, not the worth
of man, brought our redemption. Pity — commiseration for the wretched
— lies at the root of the gospel. GOD IS LOVE and therefore He comes
to the miserable in supreme compassion.
washed away before the soul can be received into the privileges of the
family of God. Even this early process is preceded by God’s adoption of
the wretched castaway, and the cleansing is done by God Himself. It is as
when a miserable child of the street has been taken by a charitable person
into his own home. The child cannot make itself clean. But the first act of
the kind rescuer is to wash it. Christ cleanses from sin with His own blood.
poor wastling is not treated as a workhouse child or put to low drudgery.
She is clothed in purest apparel and decked with rarest ornaments. So the
prodigal is to wear the best robe and to have a ring on his hand (Luke 15:22).
God does not save grudgingly or by halves. He does not content Himself
with plucking the brand from the burning. He gives royally of His best to the
miserable sinners whom He has redeemed. The gospel promises GLORY as
well as GRACE!
RELATION WITH GOD. According to the richly illustrative picture of
Ezekiel, when the poor abandoned infant is grown up, her rescuer makes
her his bride. God is often regarded as the Husband of His people. But here
the picture is not of God marrying any human soul, but of His marrying the
most abandoned. This illustrates His marvelous condescension. At the
same time, it shows the supreme duty of fidelity to God on the part of the
Church that has been rescued from so dire a fate and then raised to so great
14 “And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it
was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee,
saith the Lord GOD.” It was perfect, etc. (compare the phrase, “perfection of
Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15, as applied to
The prophet, in the words, my comeliness — majesty (Revised Version)
— lays stress on the fact that that “perfection” was itself the gift of God.
15 “But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the harlot
because of thy renown, and pouredst out thy fornications on every
one that passed by; his it was.” We enter on the HISTORY OF THE
APOSTASY and the root evil was that THE BRIDE OF JEHOVAH
HAD BEEN UNFAITHFUL to her Lord. She looked on
her glory as her own, and did not recognize that everything in it was the
gift of God (Hosea 2:8). The words obviously point to the policy which
Solomon had initiated, of alliances with the heathen and the consequent
adoption of their worship. This, as from the earliest days of Israel, was the
“whoredom” (Revised Version) of the unfaithful with (Exodus 34:15-16;
Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 31:16-18; Judges 2:17; Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20;
Hosea chapters 1 and 2). And it was, so to speak, a promiscuous whoredom.
Every passer by was admitted to her embraces, every nation that offered its
alliance had its worship recognized and adopted. In the closing words of
extremest scorn, the prophet adds, his
the Messalina of the nations.
Trust in Beauty (v. 15)
It is felt to be a pleasant endowment. The national beauty
could not but please the people. Bodily grace and mental gifts are
naturally valued by those who own them, for undoubtedly in
themselves they are good.
Ø It is flattered with admiration. The beautiful bride is renowned (see
v. 14). This implies that her beauty was much spoken of. Such a fact
could not but be pleasant to one who loved admiration. But the
pleasure of receiving flattery is dangerous and deceptive. The person
admired is likely to attach too much weight to it.
Ø It is seen to be a means of influence. There is power in beauty.
Admiration rules the admirer. The person who is fawned upon
by flattering neighbors seems to exercise a certain power over them.
developed through the kind treatment of her rescuer. The gifts and
providence of God. Christian attainments are all endowments of Divine
grace. To trust these things to the neglect of Him from whom they come,
and even to claim them as original resources, is to lean upon a falsehood.
This must fail.
2. The beauty is fleeting. Nothing is so fragile. When it is most needed it
may be found to have departed. To trust it is to lose it (see ver. 39).
3. The beauty is feeble. Beauty is not strength. A gorgeously clad army
may suffer ignominious defeat in the day of war. Grace and attractiveness
in speech and bearing do not signify strength of character. The most
winning people may be the most helpless when energy and determination
are in requisition.
FROM SELF TO CHRIST.
Ø It must come from the abandonment of self-trust. Even though we are
flattered into believing great things of ourselves, taken at the very best,
human strength and goodness fail before the assaults of sin. We have to
learn that we are “miserable and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17),
and to give up the Pharisee’s boast for the publican’s only plea, “God be
merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) owning that “all our
righteousness is as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Ø The needed security will be found in Christ. He is strong to save. even
though He appears before us in the weakness of human suffering, and
with the shame of His cross. At first we may exclaim, “He hath no form
nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we
should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). But in the end we can believe the
promise, “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty” (Ibid. ch.33:17).
For if we begin by trusting Christ’s saving strength in this world of sin
and need, we shall afterwards behold His beauty and glory in the world
16 “And of thy garments thou didst take, and deckedst thy high places
with divers colors, and playedst the harlot thereupon: the like
things shall not come, neither shall it be so.” (For high places, see note on
ch. 6:6.) The words imply that the shrines upon them were decked with
hangings of many colored tapestry, presenting an appearance like that of a
Persian carpet, as in II Kings 23:7, of the image of the Asherah. Those hangings
were, as in Proverbs 7:16, the ornaments of the adulterous bed. The “high
places” are named first, as the earliest form of idolatry. The like things
shall not come. The words are obscure, and the text probably corrupt. As
they stand, they seem to say that the world would never again witness so
shameful an apostasy. The Vulgate, Sicut non est factum neque futurum
est; extends the comparison to the past. Possibly, though it is a strain upon
the grammar, the words may be rendered, “such things should not come,
should not be.”
17 “Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver,
which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and
didst commit whoredom with them,” Images of men, etc.; Hebrew, as
falling in with the symbolism of the history, “male images.” The words point
to the teraphim, the penates, or household gods, of which we read in Genesis 31:19;
Judges 18:14; I Samuel 19:13; Hosea 3:4-5; and which, like the statues of Baal-peor,
may have exhibited the phallic type of idolatry.
18 “And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou
hast set mine oil and mine incense before them. 19 My meat also which I gave
thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it
before them for a sweet savor: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD.”
Mine oil and mine incense. This, as afterwards in ch. 23:41, was the crowning
aggravation of the guilt. The very gifts of God, designed for his worship, were
prostituted to that of his rivals. The “oil” is that of Exodus 30:23-25, perfumed
and set apart for sacred uses. The act of covering the idol was, as in v. 8, the
symbol of the marriage union. In the sweet savor we have the familiar phrase of
ch.6:13. The scene brought before us is that of a sacrificial feast, in which cakes
of flour, honey, and oil were eaten whilst incense was offered. So we have the
“adored liba” of Virgil, ‘AEneid,’ 7:109, or more fully in Tibullus, ‘Eleg.,’ 1:7,53-54,
the “thuria honores,” the “liba ... dulcia melle.” Thus it was, etc. As in v. 16, the
description seems to rouse an instinctive abhorrence in the prophet’s mind, which
finds utterance in this form: “Yes, it was even so.” The words are, however, taken
by the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Luther as opening the following verse: “And it
came to pass that.”
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
Jeremiah 7:32; 19:5; Micah 6:7; Leviticus 18:21; 20:2 [there would be a great
Population decline in the
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! (
either over the issue of ABORTION! – CY – 2014)
22 “And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms thou hast not
remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare,
and wast polluted in thy blood.” Thou hast not remembered. The words gain
a fuller significance when we recollect those of Ezekiel’s master (Jeremiah 2:2).
The husband remembered “the love of her espousals;” the faithless wife forgot
from what a life of shame and misery she had then been rescued.
23 “And it came to pass after all thy wickedness, (woe, woe unto thee!
saith the LORD GOD”;) Woe unto thee, etc.! The interjectional parenthesis, half
anathema and half lamentation, looks forward rather than backward. Up to
this point Ezekiel had dwelt on the forms of idolatry which were
enters on the later forms of evil which had been adopted from more distant
nations. We pass from the time of Solomon to that of Ahaz and Manasseh.
24 “That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made
thee an high place in every street. 25 Thou hast built thy high place at every
head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened
thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms.”
An eminent place; lofty (Revised Version); but the word strictly points to the form
of a vault, with the added meaning, as in the Septuagint, οἵκημα πορνικόν -
oikaema pornikon - and the Vulgate, lupanar, of its being used for
prostitution. It is, at hast, a curious fact that the Latin fornicari and its
derivatives, take their start from the fornices, the vaults or cells which were
the haunts of the harlots of
forms of sensual evil came to
“Jampridem in Tiberim Syrus defluxit
(Juv., ‘Sat.’, 3:62)
it seems probable that the practice was a survival of the custom to
which Ezekiel refers. As in the Mylitta
Bar., 6:43), and that of Aphrodite at
religious character, and the harlot sat in a small cell, or chapel, inviting the
passers by, and treating her hire as, in part, an offering to the goddess
whom she served. Such chapels of prostitution were to be found naturally
in the “high places”
translated), and in the crossways of intersecting roads. To such a harlot
Ezekiel compares the daughter of
a terrible minuteness, even to the very attitude that invited to sin.
26 “Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy
neighbors, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to
provoke me to anger.” With the Egyptians. The words point to political and
commercial alliances, in themselves a whoredom (Isaiah 23:17; Nahum 3:4),
such as Zedekiah, like some of his predecessors, had trusted in, as well as to
the adoption of Egyptian worship, such as we have seen in ch.8:10, the one
leading naturally to the other. The words, great of flesh, may point, as we
interpret the parable, to the supposed strength of the stout and stalwart
soldiers, the chariots and horses of the Egyptians, but possibly also may be
a euphemism for the mere animal vigor which stimulated passion.
27 “Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have
diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of
them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are
ashamed of thy lewd way.” Have diminished thine ordinary food. The husband
was bound to provide his wife with food and raiment (Exodus 21:10). Here
his first discipline for the unfaithful wife is to place her on a short
allowance. Jehovah, to interpret the parable, had placed Israel under the
discipline of famine and other visitations that involved a loss of wealth and
power. Hosea 2:9-10 supplies a striking parallel. The daughters of the
Philistines. So in v. 57. The
phrase, like “the daughter of
indicates the Philistine cities. These had been, from the days of Samuel to
those of Ahaz (II Chronicles 28:18), among the most persistent enemies
words, were ashamed of thy lewd way, the prophet points, as his master
had done (Jeremiah 2:10-11), to the fact that other nations had at least
been faithful to their inherited religion, while
28 “Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou
wast unsatiable; yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet
couldest not be satisfied.” With the Assyrians. Here also the words include
political alliances like that of Ahaz with Tiglath-Pileser (II Kings 16:7), as well
as the adoption of idolatrous worship. The latter probably followed under
Ahaz as a consequence of the former, and afterwards spread through the
influence of the Assyrian colonists — each nation with its own deities — in
i.e. of the Assyrian Ishtar, may have had this origin. Yet couldest not be satisfied.
One is reminded once more of Juvenal (‘Sat.,’ 6:130).
29 “Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of
the nearest and furthest points of the intercourse of
nations. I incline to take
Zephaniah 1:11, for a like use of the Hebrew word). Chaldea thus
comes in its right place as closing the list of the nations with whom the
harlot city had been unfaithful.
30 “How weak is thine heart, saith the LORD GOD, seeing thou doest
all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman;”
The weakness is that expressed in the Latin impotens libidinis, with no
strength to resist the impulses of desire. The word imperious (perhaps masterful
would be better) is that of one who is subject to no outward control. One is
reminded of Dante on Semimlnis (‘Inf.,’ 5:56). The strange renderings of the
Septuagint (τὶ διαθῶ τὴυ θυγατέρα σου – ti diatho taen thugatera sou –
how weak is your heart) and the Vulgate (in quo mundabo cor tuum) are
difficult to account for, but probably indicate that the present text is corrupt.
A Weak Heart (v. 30)
Ø Coldness of affection. The first ardor of love is forgotten, and has given
place to a Laodicean indifference (Revelation 3:14-22). It cannot be said
that the soul has lost all interest in God. But the old passion has faded
and left only the dull embers of a listless devotion.
Ø Lack of energy. The weak heart beats feebly, and the person who is
afflicted with it does not feel equal to any great exertions. There are
souls in this condition of torpor.
Ø Readiness to give way. The weak heart may be overstrained; its
action may be depressed; or it may be excited to unhealthy
palpitation. The soul that is similarly affected lacks stability.
Ø Yielding to evil influences. If the heart were true to God, temptation
would be harmless. It is the feeble soul that first falls. When a little fear
depresses us, and a little worldly joy distracts from the love of God, the
heart cannot be strong in its affection. The stout heart will stand out
bravely against the agonies of martyrdom. Thus with the Christian, sin
is always a sign of weakness in the first instance.
Ø Failure in service. Apparent failure may indicate no weakness in God’s
true servant. The best seed sown by the best sower will fail of fruitfulness
if it fall by the wayside or on stony ground. Real failure is in ourselves —
it is the giving up of earnest, faithful endeavor. This only comes from a
weakness of love. When the heart beats strong and true to God, the
service of the life does not flag.
Ø Inability to repent. The true servant of God is sometimes found in sin.
But he grieves over it, and seeks forgiveness with tears of anguish.
When he despairs of recovery or will not exert himself to repent,
he proves that his love is cold and his heart feeble.
love God with all our heart, and with a warmth and decision of character
that nothing can shake, for we are embraced by his infinite love. The strong
heart of God has cared for us in trouble and redeemed us in sin, and we can
only measure his love by the preciousness of the gift of his Son. In view of
the great love of Christ, proved to us by his death and Passion, any love
short of the warmest and strongest sinews ingratitude on our part. Note,
further, that weakness of heart is sinful on certain definite grounds.
Ø God expects love in the heart, not merely obedience in the life.
Ø God is not satisfied with measured devotion; He seeks a
Ø Sin in the heart leads to sin in the life; for “out of it are the issues of
life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Ø It provokes the wrath of God. It is an insult to the wonderful love of
God that we should receive it with a half-hearted response. Christ says to
all Laodiceans, “I would thou wert either cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15).
In some respects weak-hearted devotion is worse than ardent enmity;
for it confesses an obligation it does not satisfy.
Ø It leads to death. The weak heart will become the heart of stone
(ch.11:19). This degeneracy cannot stay in its present stage. When
love to Christ cools, it is on its way to EXTINCTION!
31 “In that thou buildest thine eminent place in the head of every way,
and makest thine high place in every street; and hast not been as an
harlot, in that thou scornest hire; 32 But as a wife that committeth adultery,
which taketh strangers instead of her husband! 33 They give gifts to all whores:
but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come
unto thee on every side for thy whoredom. 34 And the contrary is in thee from
other women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit
whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee,
therefore thou art contrary.” In that, etc. It is better to take the words as beginning
a fresh sentence: “when thou didst build,” etc. The historical survey of the harlot’s
progress is brought to a close, and the prophet points with bitter scorn to
what aggravated its degradation. Other nations, like Tyre and Zidon, had
risen to prosperity and eminence through their intercourse with foreigners.
To Judah it had brought only subjection and the payment of tribute. She
had given gifts to all her lovers, instead of receiving from them the rewards
of her shame. She was as the adulterous wife who forsakes her husband,
and gives what belonged to him to strangers. The conduct of Ahaz in
gives an apt illustration of what the prophet means (compare Hosea 12:1; Isaiah 30:6).
The Shameful Sin of Apostasy (v. 32)
Apostasy is repeatedly compared to adultery by the Old Testament prophets, but the
comparison is nowhere so full and powerful and even appalling as in this long chapter
of Ezekiel, which consists in an
elaborate indictment of
A mealy mouthed modern fastidiousness resents this style of describing sin as though
to name it were more shameful than to commit it, for the fact of apostasy from God
is by no means excluded when the old name for it is condemned as too coarse for
polite society. It may be well for us to brace up our nerves to endure the strong
words on the sin of unfaithfulness to God which the inspired messengers of Jehovah
felt themselves impelled to utter. In what respects, then, may apostasy be compared
to THAT SHAMEFUL THING, ADULTERY!
AND HIS PEOPLE. That relation has been described with graphic pictures
in the preceding verses. God had
miserable castaway child, reared her in kindness, and then adorned her
with splendor and taken her home to Himself as his bride. In like manner,
all God’s people have been first found by Him, and then brought into the
closest bonds of union with Himself. Such a union with God is like
marriage, because it implies
Ø close fellowship;
Ø a sacred and indissoluble tie.
are not at liberty to leave Him whenever they choose.
Ø Love should bind them. There is no such thing as innocent
“free love”under any circumstances; for love always implies
obligations. Its bonds may be soft and silken, but they are strong
and sacred. God’s love to us, accepted by us, carries with it a duty
of GRATITUDE and LOYALTY!
Ø The pledges of faith must ever bind God’s people to the duty of
cleaving to Him (Deuteronomy 10:20). When we accept the
blessings of the gospel we enter into a covenant relation like
that of marriage vows.
people do not forsake Him from weariness or without motive. But some
fatal fascination lures the heart of the foolish wife from her true husband.
In the case of
Canaanites, with its coarse, cruel, lustful charms. Anything that draws us
from God by counter attractions is an “idol of the heart.” Money, pleasure,
power, success, may thus deceive and destroy. Yet a prior condition of
unfaithfulness is the failing of love to God. “How weak is thine heart!”
standing side by side with murder, as a horror of great wickedness. SO
according to the Hebrew prophets, IS UNFAITHFULNESS TO GOD!
As we are not free to forsake Him who has purchased us at the great cost
of His own Son, and to whom we are doubly bound by the ties of our own
vows, to “change our mind” in this matter and fling up our religion is not a
light affair of private convenience. (“For pass over the isles of Chittim,
and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there
be such a thing. Hath a nation changed her gods, which are yet no gods?
But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.”
(Jeremiah 2:10-11). In the sight of God it is adultery.
so shameful as that of adultery, and none brings in its train such heartrending
Ø It is shameful to be unfaithful to God; for it outrages the deepest
instincts of the soul and violates the secret sanctuary of life.
Ø It is certainly a source of bitter sorrow, if not now, YET
HEREAFTER, for it means BANISHMENT from
THE HOME OF HEAVEN, with the pangs of remorse to
gnaw like a worm, long after the short pleasures of sin have sunk
35 “Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the LORD:” From the task of painting
the guilt of Judah the prophet proceeds to that of denouncing its punishment.
36 “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out,
and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy
lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood
of thy children, which thou didst give unto them;” Thy filthiness; literally,
thy brass; probably as alluding to the tribute referred to in the previous verses,
“brass” being taken as used scornfully for money generally. Possibly, however,
as in Jeremiah 6:28, the word stands for the symbol of shame and vileness
(compare our brazen faced), and so justifies the rendering of the Authorized Version
And Revised Version. Thy nakedness discovered; i.e. interpreting the parable,
the intercourse of
that were moot open to attack (Genesis 42:9). By the blood of thy
children. The words may refer specially to the Moloch sacrifices of v. 21,
but may also include the lavish waste of life as well as treasure which
had been the consequence of the foreign alliances. The harlot city is
indicated as being also a murderess.
37 “Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast
taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that
thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee,
and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all
thy nakedness.” I will gather all thy lovers, etc. Interpreting the parable, the
“lovers” are the nations with which
religion she had adopted. In that confederacy of Moabites, Ammonites,
Syrians, Philistines, Edomites and Chaldeans there should be small
difference between those whom she had loved and those whom she had
hated. All alike would exult in her shame and her fall (compare Psalm
137:7; II Kings 24:2).
38 “And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed
blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.”
The bloodshed may refer, as in v. 36, to the Moloch sacrifices, or may include
also other crimes, assassinations and judicial murders (Jeremiah 2:34). Strictly
speaking, the punishment of the adulteress was death by stoning (Leviticus 20:2,10;
Deuteronomy 21:21; 22:21; John 8:5). Did Ezekiel think of the stones cast against
The city from the catapult engines of the Chahleans as a literal counterpart of
that punishment? In the last clause read, with the Revised Version, I will
bring upon thee the blood of fury and jealousy; sc. the death which was
inflicted by the indignation of Jehovah as the Husband
39 “And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw
down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places:
they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy fair
jewels, and leave thee naked and bare.” (For eminent place and high place,
see notes on v. 24.) These the Chaldean conqueror treated as local sanctuaries,
and laid them waste. The clothes and the jewels are, of course, all outward tokens
of stateliness and prosperity. The (or a) holy city, the perfection of beauty,
should be as “some forlorn and desperate castaway” (compare Lamentations
1:1-10 for a companion picture).
40 “They shall also bring up a company against thee, and they shall
stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords.”
The punishment of stoning was, as a rule, inflicted by the
“congregation” (Numbers 15:36), or by the men of the city
(Leviticus 20:2). Other forms of punishement for impurity were those
of the sword and burning, as in Leviticus 20:14; 21:9. The thrusting
through (better, hewing; the word is not found elsewhere) probably points
to mutilation after death, as in the case of Agog (I Samuel 15:33:
compare Judges 19:29; Daniel 2:5; 3:29). in this case the “congregation” or
“company” is the army of the Chaldeans, and each form of punishment has
its counterpart in the various agencies which they employed for the punishment
of the city.
41 “And they shall burn thine houses with fire, and execute judgments
upon thee in the sight of many women: and I will cause thee to
cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any
more.” They shall burn thine houses with fire, etc. (compare II Kings 25:9
and Jeremiah 52:13, for the fulfillment of the prediction). The women stand for
the “cities” which looked on, with awe or exultation, at the destruction of the guilty.
Possibly, however, the words may include a literal sense, as in Lamentations 2:10.
42 “So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall
depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry.”
So will I make my fury, etc.; read, with the Revised Version,
will satisfy. The words are not primarily words of comfort. They speak of
the satisfaction of the jealous husband’s righteous anger, and therefore of a
completed punishment. And yet that thought was, as the sequel shows
(vs. 53, 60-63), the beginning of hope for the future, as the prophet
thought of his people. For here the forms of punishment were not final The
when wrath had done its work of retribution, it might become corrective
and purgatorial. The injured husband, in the bold anthropomorphic
language of the parable, would be no more angry. The Lord God of
would remember His covenant, and forgive.
How God’s Anger Ceases (v. 42)
irascible person is provoked to wrath by slight causes; but inasmuch as his
anger springs chiefly from his own fiery disposition, the cooling of passion
allays the rage of wrath, even though circumstances remain unchanged. But
God is “slow to anger” (Psalm 103:8); He is not wrathful by nature,
because IN ESSENCE, HE IS LOVE! But the anger which is slow to begin
is the more deep and terrible, as it does not arise without adequate reason.
Further, a weak person may tire of his anger, even though the cause of it
remains unchanged. An explosion of wrath exhausts him. He has not the
energy for sustained anger. The fire simply burns out. But this cannot be
the case with the great, the unexhaustible nature of God. God is ever the
same, always true, just, active. Therefore so long as the cause for anger is
unchanged, the anger too must remain. “God is angry with the wicked
every day” (Psalm 7:11). As long as men continue in sin, so long must
God abide in wrath. An eternity of sin must, be accompanied by an
eternity of Divine anger.
This appears to be the terrible goal of the text. Gracious as it reads in
word, the purport of it is most fearful. It stands between passages of
denunciation and condemnation; it cannot describe a kindly cessation of
wrath. The anger of God will burn till it has nothing further to consume.
Then His fury will rest. Thus it
swept away, consumed off the land. Only a “remnant” was spared, a mere
stump of the old tree, from which new growths could sprout. We see no
more of God’s anger against a man when he has been killed. If nothing
were interposed for the saving of his soul, the natural consequence of sin
run out to its extremity would be DESTRUCTION! Then God would cease
to be angry with the sinner, for the plain reason that there would be no sinner
left against whom His wrath would be called forth.
another way by which the anger of God may be allayed. He is not desirous
to see His children destroyed, for He is merciful and gracious. When sin is
pardoned, God’s fury towards the sinner rests and His jealousy departs.
But this pardon does not depend only on the will of God, or He would
forgive all His children.
Ø It is dependent on repentance. So long as the soul persists in
impenitence, God’s anger cannot cease to burn. It is not simply a
question of the amount and guilt of the sin which first provoked
God’s wrath. The continued impenitence is virtually a prolongation
of the guilt. But when the sinner truly repents, God’s anger abates.
Ø It is also dependent on CHRIST’S ATONEMENT! We are able
to read the words of Ezekiel with a more hopeful meaning than that
which the prophet seems to have put upon them, because “we have
an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is
the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the
sins of the whole world” (I John 2:1-2). We read that “the mercy of
the Lord eudureth forever,” but never that the anger of the Lord
endureth forever. On the contrary, “He will not always chide, neither
will He keep His anger forever” (Psalm 103:9). Still, God only ceases
to be angry either because sin destroys the sinner or because God
destroys the sin.
43 “Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast
fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy
way upon thine head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this
lewdness above all thine abominations.” Because thou hast not remembered
(compare Jeremiah 2:2). There is, so to speak, a certain dawn of tenderness in the
new form of reproach, as compared with the sternness of what had gone before,
and this in itself implies the pity which is the ground of hope. Fretted. Ezra
(Ezra 5:12) uses the same word, there rendered “provoke.” Had
Ezekiel’s use of it stamped it as the right word for confession? Thou shalt
not commit, etc. The Vulgate follows a reading which gives, “I have not
done according to thy lewdness,” etc.; i.e. the guilt had deserved a greater
punishment. The Revised Version margin gives, “Hast then not
committed,” etc.? The word for “lewdness” (“lewd way” in v. 27) is
specially characteristic of Ezekiel, who uses it eleven times. Elsewhere it is
translated “wickedness” (Leviticus 18:17, et al.), “lewdness” in Judges 20:6;
Jeremiah 13:27. It conveys always the sense of a guilt that revolts and shocks us.
Remembering the Days of Youth (v. 43)
unbecoming. Memory is a marvelous possession at which the materialist
stumbles, for it involves that mystery, personal identity. We can not merely
recall the scenes of bygone years, but, what is more wonderful, we can
detect the connecting link of personality that runs through those scenes.
Each one of us can say, “I was there in that dreamlike past.” Now, while all
memory thus recalls the personal past, the memory of our early days does
this with peculiar vividness. As time runs out while intermediate scenes are
but faintly impressed on the mind and tend to fade off rapidly, the early
days remain stamped upon the memory with indelible portraiture. Thus the
old man looking across the near past with growing forgetfulness, is able to
call up the most vivid recollections of his childhood, as one may look
across a valley that lies wrapped in mist, and see the mountains in the far
distance rising beyond it sharp and clear. Whatever else we forget, it is
most unnatural not to remember the days of our youth. (Thus we should,
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth while the evil
days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have
no pleasure in them.” - Ecclesiastes 12:1 – At 70 years of age, I am
very thankful to have that memory! – CY – 2014)
“Sweet memory, wafted by thy gentle gale,
Oft up the stream of time I turn my sail
To view the fairy haunts of long lost hours,
Blest with far greener shades, far fresher flowers.”
use in simply lamenting lost happy days, especially as we are likely to view
them in the delusive glamour of a fond affection. There can be little good in
exclaiming, with Coleridge —
“When I was young!
When I was young! Ah, woeful when!”
But there is a wise and helpful use of the memories of youth.
In thankfulness. It was the sin and shame of
her Deliverer, not remembering those days of her youth when He
had found her forlorn and destitute, and had saved her from
destruction. She forgot the deliverance from
6:12). We have had many mercies from our youth up. It
is right to remember them with thankfulness.
In warning. Remembering
encounter with the new captivity. It is well to remember the sad scenes
of youth. Some of these may be burnt into the memory beyond hope of
forgetfulness. “If cutting off this hand,” said a great speaker, holding out
his right hand, “would blot out all memories of my misspent youth, I
would gladly lose it.” But He who orders our lives knows that even these
terrible memories may be converted into helpful warnings for the future.
Certainly it would be far better if we had not done the deeds which
created such memories and necessitated such warnings. (I certainly
remember them in my life and I too pray “Remember not the sins
of my youth” – CY – 2014)
humble her. Proud in her later prosperity, she scorned to remember the
pit from which she was digged (Isaiah 51:1). People who have risen in
society do not like to be reminded of their lowly youth. Yet the humility
that comes from knowing how feeble we once were is wholesome.
In encouragement. When in the most abject wretchedness
saved by God. That was a glorious fact to be ever treasured up in the
memories of youth. The recollection of such a deliverance should
cheer with hope of similar mercy IN FUTURE TIMES OF NEED!
44 “Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against
thee, saying, As is the mother, so is her daughter.” Every one that speaketh
proverbs, etc. As in 18:2, we have an example of the tendency of the Eastern
mind to condense the experience of life into the form of proverbial sayings. Here
the proverb expresses what we call the doctrine of heredity. We say, in such cases,
“Like father, like son;” but the feeling of the East recognized, especially in
the case of daughters, that the mother’s influence was predominant.
45 “Thou art thy mother’s daughter, that loatheth her husband and her
children; and thou art the sister of thy sisters, which loathed their
husbands and their children: your mother was an Hittite, and your
father an Amorite.” Ezekiel returns to the thought of the spiritual parentage
something like an anticipation of Paul’s thought that Jehovah was the
God of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews (Romans 3:29). The Hittites
guilty of unfaithfulness to their husbands. Their idolatry was therefore, like
hers, an act of apostasy. Jehovah was their husband also, their children
were his children (v. 21). He claimed them as His own, had entered with
them also into a relation which, though less close than
as that of the husband to the wife. The thought expands, as we shall see, in
the sequel of the chapter.
Judicial Verdict (vs. 35-45)
It is a great kindness done by any one if he disclose to us the real nature of
our sin. Light from any quarter should be welcomed. To demonstrate to the
Hebrews that their idolatry was the worst form of adultery was an act of
condescension on the part of God. By their own state law they knew that
this sin incurred the penalty of death. With all the circumstance of judicial
solemnity, the Supreme Judge summons the attention of the culprit: “O
harlot, hear the word of the Lord!”
Ø Conjugal infidelity. The covenant made between Jehovah and Israel —
the covenant more sacred than between bridegroom and bride —
had been wantonly broken. Of this proof was furnished in abundance.
It was openly displayed. Shameless publicity marked the dead.
Ø Murder of children. The children created by God, and on whom He had
set peculiar affection, were cruelly sacrificed unto the insatiable idols. It
was murder of the worst sort — murder of innocent and helpless victims.
No language of man could exaggerate or over color the crime. (Yet
Abortion on Demand repeats the
same scenario that
played out 2500 years ago!!! – CY – 2014)
break wedlock and that shed blood are judged.”
Ø The criminal is condemned to public shame. She had openly boasted of
her sin; she shall be openly exposed. She shall be made a spectacle to the
world. Care shall be taken to bring her companions and paramours to the
sight. The most secret intrigue shall be set in the clear light of day.
Friends and foes alike shall WITNESS THIS DISGRACE!
Ø Forfeiture of all possessions. “They shall take thy fair jewels.” All the
instruments of sin shall be sequestered. The illicit gains of iniquity soon
turn to loss. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
Ø Summary death. “They shall stone thee with stones.” This was the
penalty assigned to adultery in the Jewish code. This was the penalty
for an individual culprit. But for a community, the punishment
ordained was the sword. Therefore it is added, “They shall thrust
thee through with their swords.” In God’s world neither adultery
nor idolatry shall long be tolerated.
Ø It was an equitable recompense. “I will recompense thy way upon thy
head.” The entire punishment proceeded in the most natural way; ay, it
proceeded in the way of nature. No strange portent appeared in heaven
or earth. To the carnal eye no hand nor sword of God was manifest;
YET FULL EXECUTION OF THE SENTENCE WAS DONE!
As at the creation every plant had the latent power to propagate itself,
equally every sin carries in itself suitable and adequate punishment.
DEATH IS ONLY RIPE SIN!
Ø It was a satisfaction to eternal righteousness. “I will be quiet, and will
be no more angry.” The righteousness of God is a force of tremendous
energy, and can only be quieted by adequate repentance or adequate
retribution. As the sea cannot be calm while a tempest of wind sweeps
over its surface, no more can the justice of God be complacent while
sin is rampant. But when sin is atoned for, there is profoundest peace —
AN ETERNAL CALM!
46 “And thine elder sister is
at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right
the assignment of the respective ages of the two sisters.
as the oldest representative of evil, would have seemed to claim precedence.
Judah. The left and right hands indicate respectively a position to the north
and south of
may note, the temple did (ch. 8:16). The comparison with Samaria
is developed more fully in ch. 23. The daughters are, as elsewhere, the
cities dependent on
47 “Yet hast thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their
abominations: but, as if that were a very little thing, thou wast
corrupted more than they in all thy ways.” 48 As I live, saith the
Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters,
as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.”
The words in italics indicate, as usual, a difficulty. A better
construction gives, Thou hast not… done after a small measure only. So
the Vulgate, Neque secundum scelera earum fecisti pauxillum minus. The
Septuagint connects the words with the clause that follows: “Thou wast all but
(παρὰ μικρὸν – para micron – a very little thing) corrupted more than they.”
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister
bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me:
therefore I took them away as I saw good.” It is noticeable that what we
commonly speak of as the specific sin of the cities of the plain is not mentioned
here. The prophet fixes on the point which made
city, the graver evil being just hinted at in the word abominations, and as the
outcome of the evil tendencies. So in like manner the special sin of
Samaria, the worship of the calves, is not named, but taken for granted.
(For fullness of bread, see Proverbs 30:9: Hosea 13:6; Deuteronomy 8:12.)
Prosperity and luxury in her case, as in that of other wealthy cities,
hardened the hearts of men against the poor and needy. There was probably
a sufficient reason for the omission which has been pointed out. It was wiser
to dwell on the sins which were common to the two cities rather than on the
vice which, though it existed in
prevalent there. As I saw good; better, according to what I saw. The word
“good” is not in the Hebrew, and the words apparently refer to Genesis 18:21.
multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified
thy sisters in all thine abominations which thou hast done.
52 Thou also, which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for
thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they
are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and
bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters.”
Thou hast justified, etc. The word has a
touch of sarcasm.
as compared with
confluence of all the worst idolatries. The words find something like an echo
in our Lord’s teaching Matthew 10:15; 11:24. And, as is common m such cases,
“she had judged,” i.e. had passed sentence of condemnation on those who were
more righteous than herself. The Revised Version changes both meaning and
punctuation: Bear thine own shame, in that thou hast given judgment for thy
sisters; through thy sins that thou hast committed more abominable than they,
they are more righteous than thou; but the Authorized Version seems preferable.
It may be questioned whether the word for judged is ever used of an acquittal.
The point of the sentence is that Judah condemned those who were less
guilty than herself (compare Romans 2:17-23).
53 “When I
shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of
her daughters, and the captivity of
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)
When I shall bring again; better, with the Revised Version,
both here and in v. 55, and I will turn again. The Authorized Version
reads like a sentence of hopeless and perpetual condemnation, as per
impossible. When Sodom and Samaria should be pardoned, then, and not
till then, should there be hope for
shows that what is meant is a promise of restoration, not
but also for her less guilty sisters. Ezekiel sees a far off hope for his own
nation, and he cannot limit the mercy of God in bringing them also, as she
was to be brought, to repentance. For them also punishment was a means
to an end beyond itself, corrective, and not merely retributive. The
language of Isaiah (Isaiah 19:23-25) as to
striking parallel, and may have been in Ezekiel’s thoughts.
The Salvation of
That the notoriously wicked cities of the plain should come under the
saving grace of God would seem to be one of the greatest paradoxes of
redemption, and the more so as those cities had been utterly destroyed and
the very sites of them obliterated. A reference to such an event opens up to
us a marvelous vista in the deep possibilities of the future.
REDEMPTION. There is even some comfort to us in the sight of the great
wickedness of the Jews, or rather in what is based upon it. We read of
repealed promises of restoration
been exceptionally virtuous, or but mildly culpable in comparison with the
rest of the world, it might well have been surmised that the salvation which
was possible for
wickedness. But if the “
world’s wicked people, if
the salvation which touches the one class of sinners may extend to the
other. God is no respecter of persons. He has no favoritism. Redemption
is as wide as sin.
SINNERS. His redemption is universal in two respects.
Ø In extent. As the Lamb of God, He came to take away the sin of the
world (John 1:29), not the sins of a certain nation, or those of one
section of society. He commanded that “repentance and remission
of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations” (Luke
24:47). If the gospel is to be offered to all, it must be that the salvation
is effective for all. Nothing less could satisfy the heart of Jesus, and
“He shall see of the travail of Hs soul, and shall be satisfied”
Ø In intensity. Not only are sinners of all nations and of all sections of
society included in the redeeming love of Christ; sinners of blackest
guilt are also within its merciful and mighty embrace.
uttermost all that come unto God by Him” (Hebrews 7:25).
To doubt that the worst can be saved is either to malign His love
or to insult His power.
SINNERS. It is not sufficient that He has died for the sins of the whole
world, nor that He is willing to
save all —
very worst. For only they are effectually saved WHO PERSONALLY
HAVE PARTAKEN OF THE GRACE OF CHRIST!
Ø It must be offered to all. Herein lies the duty of universal missionary
agency. The gospel should be preached to the most remote nations,
to the most degraded savages, to the most abandoned sinners. It is not
for us to say that any are beyond its saving grace. But how of the
heathen dead? how of
contemporary sinners. Yet the truth of the text will be most completely
satisfied if we deem it possible that Christ’s preaching to the spirits in
prison extended to the men of
Ø It needs to be taken by all. Christ died to redeem all, even the worst
sinners, yet none share in His redemption save through penitence
54 “That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be
confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort
unto them.” Even in that restoration, however, there should be a further
element of humiliation.
to those who should see her placed lower than themselves, content, at last,
to lake the lowest place, humbling herself that she might be (v. 61)
former estate, and
former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your
former estate.” Read and for when, as in v. 53.
thy pride,” Thy sister Sodom, etc. The words are obscure. The most
tenable interpretation may be expressed by a paraphrase. The name of
Sodom was not in the lips of Judah in the days of her prosperity. It was too
vile for utterance, except as a byword of reproach. Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9-10)
had in vain reminded her that she had made herself like them. Her fate
could never be like theirs. Now, in the day of the discovery (the
uncovering, or laying bare) of her wickedness (v. 57), she had learnt the
57 “Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of thy
reproach of the daughters of
the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.”
For thy reproach, read, with the Revised Version, the
reproach. The words point primarily to the disasters, not of Judah, but to
those that fell on the cities of
Chaldean invasions. (For the grouping of the two nations as enemies of
and II Chronicles 28:18-19.)
58 “Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the
LORD.” Thou hast borne, etc. Judah, i.e., had received the full
measure of its punishments. The righteousness of God had been adequately
vindicated. And so, if the punishment led to repentances, there was room
for pardon (compare for the thought, Isaiah 40:2).
59 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou
hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.
60 Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of
thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.”
I will even deal with thee, etc. The law of retribution is
stated in all its fullness. Falling back upon the idea of the espousals of Israel
in the covenant made at Sinai (Leviticus 26:42, 45; Deuteronomy 29:11-12),
Ezekiel presses home on
that covenant. She must suffer as though it no longer existed. She must
“dree her weird” and “accept her punishment” (Leviticus 26:41). And
then Jehovah would show that He had not really been unmindful of His part
in it. He had remained faithful in spite of her unfaithfulness. And so in the
day of her repentance He will not only renew it, but will give it a higher and
more permanent character. The “new covenant” of which Ezekiel’s master
had spoken (Jeremiah 31:31) should not be as the old, decaying and
vanishing away, but should be EVERLASTING!
Inexcusable Infidelity (vs. 15-59)
Universal consent accounts that woman vile who, married to a kind and
honorable husband, in order to gratify her own unchastened desires,
commits adultery with her neighbors and acquaintances, and expends her
husband’s substance in rewarding her numerous and profligate admirers.
The guilt of
adequately set forth under the similitude of guilt so flagrant and abominable
as that described in this most appalling chapter. Passing away from the
figure to the reality, we have to trace the unfaithfulness
who had saved her from death, distinguished her by favor, and exalted her
AS HER OWN WHAT WAS REALLY THE GIFT AND GRACE OF
GOD. What a lesson is there in the striking expression, “Thou didst trust in
thine own beauty”! — thine own, as if for that beauty thou hadst to thank
thyself; as if it were aught else than the gift of Divine bounty and the token
of Divine favor! We are far less likely to abuse our position and our
possessions if we do but remember that they are not ours, save by God’s
kindness, and that we are not our own, “that we are bought by a price.”
(I Corinthians 6:20)
GRACE AND COMPASSION. Very touching is that expression in v.22,
“Thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth.” Here is the radical
error. It is pride and self-confidence that leads men astray. They who are
forgetful of God are in danger
of being unfaithful to Him.
“I sit a queen!” And saying so, she fell. It is a too common experience. The
Christian may learn to cultivate the spirit of complete dependence upon
God; for the consciousness that he owes all to God will help to bind him to
loyal allegiance and constant service.
IDOLATRY OF SURROUNDING NATIONS. In
neighborhood the deities of the several peoples to the east, north, and
openly practiced. With spiritual wantonness the citizens of the great and
glorious city admitted and embraced every form of idolatry, and that even
within sight, if not within the
precincts, of the very
PRACTICES WHICH ARE CONNECTED WITH IDOLATRY. Cruel
and lustful rites, it is well known, were associated with heathen worship. In
vs. 20 and 21 reference is made to the practice, connected with the
worship of Moloch, of causing sons and daughters to pass through the fire.
(Sex was associated with Moloch worship and sex is the “choice freedom
of expression held to by proponents of the heresy of “PRO-CHOICE”
of the abortion industry in the last half-century! – CY – 2014). This
was but one of the abominable and reprehensible practices encouraged
by heathen priests. When these practices are compared with the
observances of the Law of Moses, who can avoid the conclusion that,
whereas the former were the invention of sinful men, the latter bear marks
of appointment by a pure and merciful God? Once let men abandon the true
religion, and “go after false gods,” and none can tell into what excesses of
iniquity they may be led.
Indeed, had not the abominations
language of this chapter would not have been justified. The abuse of the
best is ever the worst. The greater the height from which the fall, the
severer is the hurt received. The Lord was aggrieved by the lengths to
which the disobedient proceeded, THE RIOT OF INIQUITY into
which they ran.
DIVINE DISPLEASURE, INDIGNATION, AND WRATH. The
has been defied, and just authority has been set at naught. It is not
possible that infidelity so flagrant can be overlooked. Severe and righteous
is the resolution of the almighty King, “I WILL JUDGE THEE;” “I will
even deal with
thee as thou hast done” (v. 59).
Not only has
to reckon with justice that cannot be perverted (men and women may
pervert God’s commandments and they have but GOD WILL NOT
PERVERT JUDGMENT – CY – 2014) and with wisdom that cannot
be eluded; it has to reckon with power that cannot be resisted. When
God arises to judgment and calls the nations before Him, a righteous
sentence is pronounced, to which all must submit, and which NONE
CAN QUESTION OR APPEAL!
WERE MADE INSTRUMENTS IN
The lovers are called in to minister punishment to the adulteress; the
surrounding nations, especially the Assyrians and Chaldeans and the
Egyptians, were made instrumental in chastising the people that had
permitted themselves to be deluded and seduced by their vile idolatries.
(“my people love to have it so” –
great in proportion to her privileges, and her affliction was as her sin.
And there was an awful appropriateness in the employment of the
heathen people to chastise those who should have witnessed against
their follies instead of being partakers of their sins. (Deuteronomy 32:21-22)
The Everlasting Covenant (v. 60)
God’s relations with His people are repeatedly described as determined by
covenants. Adam, Noah, Abraham, and the nation of
covenants with God, and Christ established a new covenant.
Ø It originates in God. The covenant is not an agreement made by two
parties who meet on equal terms. It cannot be compared to the bond
which seals a bargain after mutual concessions. It is rather an institution
of God which man accepts. We cannot determine or in any way modify
the conditions of God’s covenant. As the Giver of blessing and the Lord
of service, God offers us His settled covenant.
Ø It must be accepted by man. The covenant relation has two sides. When
we desire to share its privileges we must ourselves enter into it. We must
freely accept it. (“Ye must be born again” – John 3:7)
Ø It involves mutual obligations.
ü God graciously undertakes to do certain things for man, even
condescending to bind Himself with promises.
ü We are bound to loyal obedience, and the seal of the covenant
ratifies those obligations. Thus it gives man a right to
“covenant mercies,” and God a right to “covenant service.”
ancient days. The sinful people had violated the conditions of the covenant,
and so, while excluding themselves from its privileges, they had brought its
penalties down upon their heads (v. 59). God might therefore only
remember His covenant in order to carry out its penal clauses. But He is
seen to remember it on its gracious side. This could not be because He held
Himself bound to its promises, for the Jews had forfeited all rights in those
promises. Therefore God’s remembrance of the covenant is His merciful
calling to mind of previous happy relations. God is not ready to forsake His
people with whom He made a covenant in the olden times. It may be the
same with the individual souls. There are men who followed God in their
childhood, perhaps learning to love Him from a mother’s teaching, and
entering into solemn promises to live for Him in the hopeful days of youth.
They may have forgotten those fair times of the long-deal past. But God
remembers them, and in His wonderful, enduring love He delights to revive
them, and therefore He calls his erring children back to the forsaken paths.
Ø Its necessity.
ü On account of the failure of the former covenant. The old
covenant being broken and having proved ineffectual, a
new one must be instituted.
ü On account of the new needs of new times. The new wine
must not be put into the old bottles. The Jewish Law which
Ø Its origin. It is based on the old covenant. God remembers that old
covenant in granting a new one. The New Testament rests on the
foundation of the Old Testament. Christ came to fulfill the Law by
establishing the gospel (Matthew 5:17). The same Divine grace, which
in its dawn shone through the earlier dispensation, in its noon glorifies
the later one.
Ø Its stability. It is to be an EVERLASTING COVENANT! The old
covenant was local, temporary, and fragile on the human side, though
firm as adamant on God’s side. The new covenant must have other
characteristics to make it more enduring.
ü It is an inward, spiritual principle (Jeremiah 31:33).
ü It is sealed by the blood of Christ (I Corinthians 11:25),
is bound to the cross by His sacrifice and our love.
61 “Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou
shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will
give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
62 And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou shalt know
that I am the LORD:” Then thou shalt remember thy ways, etc. THE
PARDON WHICH GOD GIVES is not, as men sometimes dream, a water
of Lethe, blotting out the memory of the evil past. Ezekiel represents that
memory as quickened to a new intensity in the very hour of restoration. The
shame which it brings with it is necessary as the safeguard of the new
blessedness. Thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger. It is significant that, as
in the Revised Version, both the adjectives are now in the plural. What was
immediately connected with them, so also for other nations of the heathen
world. They too should be admitted into fellowship, not now as sisters, but
as daughters, acknowledging, i.e., her superiority. The limitation which
follows, not by thy covenant, asserts, as it were, the restored prerogative
the covenant of
faith of Abraham as well as his children according to the flesh, are in a
closer relation to Him than others who share in what have been called (the
phrase, perhaps, taking its origin from these very words) the “uncovenanted
mercies” of God.
A Picture of Renewed Favor (vs. 60-62)
This passage points to the gospel covenant and its spiritual blessings. This new
covenant is more fully described by Jeremiah (31:31-34); and is directly applied
to the Christian covenant in the Hebrews 8:8-12.
ORIGINATED WITH HIMSELF. “Nevertheless I will remember my
covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee
an everlasting covenant.” Notwithstanding their breach of the covenant,
and their countless and enormous sins, God will return to them in blessing.
And He will do so of His own unmerited and unsought grace. When Jesus
Christ came into our world He came without any solicitation from man.
“He came unto His own possessions, and his own people received Him not.”
(John 1:12). “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The contrast between
God and the Jews in respect to the covenants shows that the existence of
the new one was entirely owing to His grace.
Ø They forgot Him and the covenant into which they entered with Him.
But He says, “I will remember my covenant with thee in the days
of thy youth.” He does not forget the engagements into which He
enters, or the promises which He makes. “If we are faithless,
He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” (II Timothy
Ø They outrageously broke the covenant. “Thou hast despised the
oath in breaking the covenant” (v. 59). But the Lord says, “I will
establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” Clearly this was not
of their merit, but of His mercy. “By grace have ye been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
not of works, that no man should glory.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
WITHIN THEM PENITENT RECOLLECTIONS. “Then shalt thou
remember thy ways, and be ashamed.” This remembrance is not mere
recollection, but recollection and reflection upon the things remembered.
Moved by the grace of God, the Jews would recall to mind their sinful
ways, and consider them, and take to themselves shame because of them.
Like the psalmist —
“I thought on my ways,
And turned my feet unto thy testimonies,” (Psalm 119:59)
Like the prodigal also: “When he came to himself he said, How many hired
servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare!” etc. (Luke
15:17-12). There is no real repentance without this remembrance and
consideration of our ways; again, there is no real repentance except when
such remembrance and consideration lead to shame and self-reproach.
Now. according to our text, it is the grace of God which produces this
desirable condition of mind and heart. “Law and terrors do but harden.”
“The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
Unmerited kindness is like coals of fire melting the hearts of sinners. When
the mercy of God is realized by man it leads to LOATHING OF SIN and
SINCERE SORROW because we have been guilty thereof, and lowly love
BESTOWMENT OF RICH BLESSINGS. The blessings mentioned and
referred to in the text are those of the new covenant which God would
make with man. “I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant And I
will establish my covenant with thee” (vs. 60, 62; and compare Jeremiah
Ø These blessings are spiritual. The knowledge of God is one of them.
“And thou shalt know that I am the Lord.” We have frequently read of
their knowing Him as a consequence of His judgments. Now we come to
their knowing Him as a result of His grace. This knowledge is more true
and tender, more intimate and influential, than that. This is a saving
acquaintance with Him. “This is life eternal, that they should know
thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even
Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). The forgiveness of sin is another of the
blessings mentioned in the text. “When I am pacified towards thee
for all that thou hast done” (v. 63), should be, as in the Revised Version,
“When I have forgiven thee all that thou hast done.” “I will forgive their
iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
As the covenant springs from pure mercy and faithfulness, so in its
inmost essence it consists in forgiveness of sins. What a blessing this is!
But the chief blessing of the covenant is not expressly mentioned by
Ezekiel. GOD GIVES HIMSELF AS THE CROWNING BLESSING
OF THE COVENANT. “I will be their God, and they shall be my
people” (Jeremiah 31:33). (As to Abram, God said “I AM THY
SHIELD, AND THY EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD.”
(Genesis 15:1) Having Him for our Portion, we have all good in Him.
Ø These blessings are universal. “Thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder
and thy younger.” By
these sisters probably
meant (v.. 46). But they must be taken, in connection with Jerusalem, as
representing the world wide extent of the blessings of the new covenant.
The gospel is not for one nation or people, BUT FOR HUMANITY!
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15);
“He died for all” (II Corinthians 5:15); “Who gave Himself
a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2:6); “The living God is the Saviour of
all men, specially of them that believe” (Ibid. ch. 4:10). And our Lord
sent forth His servants into all the world to preach the gospel to the
whole creation. Judah is said to receive these sisters, and they are said
to be given to her for daughters, because through her they should attain
to the inheritance of blessing. “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22);
“Of whom is Christ as concerning the flesh” (Romans 9:5). The first
Christians were Jews. The apostles who offered the blessings of the
new covenant unto the Gentiles, and received those of them who
believed into the Church, were Jews.
Ø These blessings are perpetual. “I will establish unto thee an everlasting
covenant.” The first covenant was said to be “everlasting” (Genesis
17:7); and it was so in the sense that it led the way to and was fulfilled in
this one. And THIS COVENANT SHALL NEVER BE ABOLISHED!
With all its wealth of blessings it abides perpetually. God, the
Supreme Blessing of it, is the soul’s unchangeable and eternal Portion.
“God is the Rock of my heart and my Portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
Ø Sincere repentance for sin. “That thou mayest remember, and be
confounded.” The repentance which consists in abhorrence of sin,
and grief because we have sinned against so gracious a God and
Father, and in love to Him and to all goodness, is not decreased by
the reception of His forgiveness and favor, but rather increased.
The more we know of God and the more we enjoy of His grace,
the more base and wicked will sin appear unto us. Sanctified
knowledge will produce sanctified shame, sorrow, and tears.
When we apprehend God to have taken us into covenant
with Him, to be our God, to have done great things for us, to have
promised great things to us, and to have been very good to us, then
the remembrance of our wretched ways causes a holy shame and
a holy sorrow!
Ø Devout submission to His will. “And never open thy mouth any
more” in murmuring, or complaint, or rebellion against Him. It is
the silence of trustful acquiescence in His will. “I was dumb,
I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it” (Psalm 39:9).
Thus Divine grace received into the heart produces
gracious results in the lives of THOSE WHO RECEIVE IT!
63 “That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open
thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified
toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.”
That thou mayest remember. The words paint vividly the
attitude of the penitent adulteress, humble, contrite, silent, ashamed
(Hosea 3:3-5), and yet with a sense that she is pardoned, and that the
husband against whom she has sinned is at last pacified. Revised Version,
when I have forgiven thee. The Hebrew verb so rendered is that which
expresses the fullest idea of forgiveness, and which marked both the “day”
and the “sacrifice” of atonement (Numbers 8:12; Leviticus 23:27, et
al.). This, according to the received etymology, was represented in the
ἱλαστήριον – hilastaerion - mercy seat, of the ark of the covenant
(cophereth, as from caphar). So the prophet closes with the words of an
eternal hope what had at first seemed to lead up to nothing but eternal
condemnation. How far the prophet expected a literal fulfillment in the
the ideal picture of
the purification of the waters of the
ch. 47:8 suggests that it entered into his vision of the future. For us, at least,
it is enough to pass from the temporal to the eternal, from the historical to
the spiritual, and to see in his words the noblest utterance of MERCY
PREVAILING OVER JUDGMENT — a theodikea, a “vindication of
the ways of God to man,” like that of Romans 11:33-36.
Reconciliation (vs. 60-63)
It is not possible to conceive a more sudden and extraordinary change than
that which occurs in passing from the fifty-ninth to the sixtieth verse of this
chapter. From an exposure of the vilest treachery and threats of condign
and awful punishment, the Lord, speaking by the mouth of His prophet,
passes to promises of the most gracious and tender character. It is a
wonderful revelation of the Divine heart. As the moral Governor, the
Administrator of the affairs of nations, the Lord protests against His
people’s defection, and denounces upon them the just punishment of their
sins. But He does not forget that they are His people. He foresees that the
discipline through which they are to pass will not be lost upon them, that
their heart will be wrung by contrition, and that their life will witness to
their repentance. He promises that He will be pacified towards them, and
that reconciliation shall take the place of rebellion and of punishment.
WRATH. The King pities his subjects even when they are in insurrection
against him. It is their own interests that they are jeopardizing, their own
sentence of condemnation that they are writing. The Lord of all, whilst He
is displeased with the ingratitude and disobedience of His subjects, still
retains His own character; there is no vindictiveness in His government;
He ever delights in mercy.
REPENTANCE AND SHAME. While God remembers His covenant,
confusion. The poignant appeal has not been made in vain. The mirror has
been held up before the face of the sinful and abandoned, and the guilty
heart has been conscious of its sin. Conduct, which has been the outcome
of unrestrained passion or of an unreflecting yielding to external influence,
is now seen in its true light. Deliberate wickedness is deliberately regretted
and deliberately loathed. “To us belong shame and confusion of face.”
covenant dates back from the time of
youth; her infidelity has indeed cancelled it; but God, in His grace, is willing
to overlook and forgive all that is past, and to renew the sweet and happy
relations of other times. It is a miracle of mercy. God’s ways are not as our
ways. Human magnanimity, in its noblest exercise, falls short of this action
of the holy God. Here is a revelation of the Divine character which may
well bring comfort and hope to the sinner who has forsaken and defied his
God, but who sees and repents his folly and his guilt. In the light of the
gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the language is infinitely
encouraging. There is a covenant of grace into which the righteous God
the giving is on God’s side, and all the receiving is on ours.
PACIFICATION. The false prophets had proclaimed a false peace; a true
peace comes only from Him who is the God alike of righteousness and of
mercy. When He declares, in the language of the text, “I am pacified toward
thee,” then it is well. When he giveth peace, who can give trouble? The
transgressions of other days are forgotten; the estrangement of other days
has given place to concord and harmony. Reverence and love are offered
by those who were once in rebellion. And favor and everlasting love are
revealed by Him who but lately uttered words of reproach, and inflicted
chastisement and punishment. It is the happy experience of the justified and
accepted believer in Christ which breaks forth into the joyful exclamation,
“Therefore, being justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD
THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST! (Romans 5:1)
Confounded by Memory (v. 63)
Ø Memory of sin. We desire to forget our sin; but even if no recording
angel wrote it down in the books of Divine judgment, the tooth of
conscience would bite the memory of it into the very fiber of our hearts.
We may succeed in drowning the hideous recollection for a time, but it
seems to be proved that the forgotten past may be revived, and that all
our life may be brought to mind in an awful flash of recollection, as in
the experience of drowning men, or as we all find in the unexpected
reminders of old associations suddenly encountered. When our
hideous old sins thus glare upon our startled gaze, surely we must
Ø Memory of mercy. We may not note the favors of providence with
which we are daily visited, and we may be accepting them with
ingratitude and even abusing them with disobedience. But some
day the goodness of God in our past will rise up in memory and
accuse our ill reception of it.
Ø Memory of opportunity. When the day of service is past and the night
wherein no man can work has fallen upon us, it will be useless to plead
our lack of opportunity for following God.
ü Many a warning voice,
ü many an appealing invitation,
ü many an open door,
ü many a day of grace,
will confront our guilty souls.
Ø Memory of the lost. If we have not been true or kind to those near to us,
we shall remember the wrong, when, alas! it is too late to make amends,
and the recollection will be confounding.
Ø It will be a punishment. Many consequences of sin may be met with a
brazen face, but not this. We may even cherish the memory of our evil
past with a bad affectionateness, but when it meets us to confound us,
all our bravado will be killed, and nothing will remain but SHAME
and ANGUISH and REMORSE. To be confounded means to have
our career arrested, to be put to confusion, to be cast down in dismay,
to make shipwreck of life. When we fully face the memory of our
evil past, impenitent and unpardoned, no less a result can follow.
This sin is its own chastisement. The serpent of evil inflicts a deadly
wound with its own fangs. There is no necessity for heavenly
thunderbolts to dash the sinner to destruction. No demon
tormentors need be summoned from Tartarus to torture his guilty
soul. His own memory will strike him, his own thoughts will burn and
tear and rack his miserable conscience. (What a wonderful condition
to have our sins forgiven and to experience the state “once purged
should have no more conscience of sins.” - Hebrews 10:2 – CY –
Ø This punishment will be just. It will be the direct consequence of sin.
There can be no pretence that the accusation is false. No man can set up
the plea of an alibi against the charges of his own memory. Here is a
witness who cannot be upset by the most rigorous cross-examination, nor
discredited by the bitterest opprobrium. Accused by his own memory, the
sinner cannot but be speechless. There is no conceivable escape when the
court of justice is a man’s own breast and when witnesses, judge, jury, and
executioner are all found in his own thoughts.
“To be left alone
And face to face with my own crime, had been
These terrible thoughts are not written to drive us mad, but to urge us to amendment.
When there is no door of escape from the awful chamber of self-judgment the great
necessity is to seek A NEW HEART AND A DIVINE PARDON that we may
never be “confounded by memory.”
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