Ezekiel 11:1
Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the LORD that faces east. And there at the entrance of the gate were twenty-five men. Among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, who were leaders of the people.
A Vision of PriesthoodsUrijah R. Thomas.Ezekiel 11:1-12
Evil in High PlacesJ. Parker, D. D.Ezekiel 11:1-12
The Presumptuous Security of Sinners Exhibited and CondemnedW. Jones Ezekiel 11:1-13
The Summary Punishment of Official GuiltJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 11:1-13

As a rule, God is extremely patient towards human rebellion. He reproves and remonstrates and warns long before the executioner appears. Yet sometimes he departs from this course, by a summary act of vengeance. The penalty that follows some crimes is swift and sudden. The Chaldean nobles who laid an impious snare for Daniel were soon overtaken with judgment. When Herod accepted the profane flattery of his courtiers, he was soon consumed with inward disease. Ananias and Sapphira had scarcely completed their falsehood when the sword of the executioner fell upon them. At times God starts out of his secret place, and suddenly vindicates his outraged majesty.

I. MARK THE FLAGRANCY OF SIN IN PRIESTS AND PEOPLE. In all probability these twenty-five men were the heads, or princes, over the twenty-four courses of the priests, while Jaazaniah and Pelatiah may have held a yet higher rank in the temple. It may be that Pelatiah was high priest or ruler of the temple. Certain it is that they were "princes of the people."

1. Their position was one of vast influence. Their opinions would be accepted as the opinions of the people. Their example would be widely imitated. To a large extent, they would influence the life and conduct of the population. As they had the privilege of access to God, and possessed the means of knowing his will, the people would, as a matter of course, look to them for guidance. Profanity or infidelity among the chief priests would speedily infect the Hebrew flock. Hence, for others' sakes, it behoved them to be prudent, devout, and circumspect.

2. Thy had turned Divine warning into ridicule. This seems the only satisfactory way of explaining their boast, "We dwell securely." "This city is the cauldron, and we are the flesh." Jeremiah, who still dwelt in Jerusalem, had seen, in a vision from God, "a seething pot, and its mouth was towards the north." The heads of the priestly order had parodied this, had treated it as an image of self- security, instead of as an omen of danger. As if they had said, "Be it so! This city, with its bastions and gates, impregnable as brass or iron, is a cauldron, and as the flesh is safe in the cauldrons, equally so are we!" They laughed at every intimation of danger. In the teeth of a hundred warnings, in the teeth of a score of defeats and overthrows, they persisted in a conviction of safety. Like fools of other nations, they "made a mock at sin."

3. This senseless hardihood led to aggravated crime. One sin soon breeds a thousand others. They, who had the administration of justice, abused their office, and ruled with a sword of terror. Either by excessive lenity, in not repressing crime; or else by excessive tyranny, human life was held cheaply in the city. Death was a common occurrence, and excited no horror. Civic strifes abounded. The number of the slain increased, and these princes were responsible for the foul deed. They were the persons who "had filled the streets with the slain." The stains of human blood were upon their skirts.

4. The exact measure of their sin was known. Not an item in their evil deeds was unknown nor unregistered. They had tried to conceal their misdeeds, had endeavoured to minimize their offences, were attempting to persuade themselves that Jehovah did not trouble about such matters. But imagine their surprise and confusion when every iota of offence, ay, and every secret evil thought, was fully laid out in the bill of attainder. The amount and degree of each man's guilt is allotted with scrupulous exactness.

II. OBSERVE THE PROPHET'S COMMISSION. Ezekiel was employed by God to convey the last remonstrance to these princes.

1. ,Elevation of mind is needed to fit men for reproving sin. "The Spirit lifted me up." We live, for the most part, on such a low level of spiritual feeling, that we must be "lifted up" in order to see the real wickedness of sin, in order successfully to remonstrate with sinners. Nothing can really "lift us up" to a nobler life but the power of the Holy Ghost.

2. Knowledge is given to men for use. No sooner was it revealed to the prophet who were the ringleaders in the nation's sin, than at once the Spirit said to him, "Prophesy against them, O son of man." Here is work for man which the cherubim cannot do. It is the prerogative of man that he can gain access to the understanding, the judgment, the reason, the feeling, of his fellow man. Therefore God uses men to convey his messages of grace and admonition to guilty men. All the knowledge of Divine things which we have is given us for the advantage of all. "No man liveth unto himself."

3. Divine command and Divine strength are given at one and the same time. When the voice said to Ezekiel, "Speak!" "the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him." Duty and ability always go together. God has Never given to man a command which he was unable to obey. When God said to Moses, "Go forward!" God knew that the sea would divide at the fitting time. When Jesus said to the man with a withered band, "Stretch it forth!" he knew that along with the effort would be imparted new strength. Some duties may appear formidable to a man who forgets the promised cooperation of Divine grace. But whenever a spirit of faith possesses a man, he can say, like Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." In a very terse prayer did an ancient Father in the Church express this truth, "Give: and then commuted what thou wilt."

4. The plainest reproof is the greatest kindness to men. Every accusation of God is laid by the prophet before these guilty men. It is a false friendship that conceals any part of the truth from our fellows, especially from relatives and kindred. Smooth words are not always the coin of affection. We read of one "whose words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords." Very wisely did David say, "Let the righteous reprove me; it shall be a kindness." It needs an abundance of wisdom, and a deep well spring of love, to speak the whole truth to an erring friend, if we would win him back to paths of virtue and piety. The centrifugal force of duty is often greater than the centripetal force of kindness. Had Eli been more firm and faithful with his sons, he might have saved the ark of God - ay, the whole nation - from disaster. We must "speak the whole truth in love."

III. SEE THE ATTENDANT ENERGY OF GOD. "It came to pass when I prophesied, that Pelatiah died."

1. How foolish is carnal security. Walls that seem made of brass or granite are weaker than paste-board, unless they have God behind them. Foundations built by men are built on nothingness. Belshazzar conceived himself secure because the enormous walls of Babylon were about him; yet "in the selfsame night was Belshazzar slain." God's weapons of offence can penetrate easily all the poor defences of men.

2. Man's opportunity is brief. It is an act of mercy that God allows any opportunity for escape. Such favour is seldom ever shown by an earthly king. Yet sin so blinds men that they imagine the reprieve wilt last forever.]t does not accord with God's wise and gracious plans to announce when the reprieve shall absolutely close. Often it closes when least expected. The day of salvation is the passing moment - the fleeting now.

3. The retribution of God is sometimes summary. Men often persuade themselves that some change of circumstance, some lengthened illness, will precede the final stroke. They lean upon a broken reed, an empty shadow. "God seeth not as man seeth." He had seen that Pelatiah had reached a climax of sin, had received this special messenger with haughty scorn, was hardening his heart under this new reproof of Ezekiel. Hence to lengthen out his day of grace was waste of mercy, was to encourage others in sin. Therefore it was better that the scene of trial should suddenly close. The Lord smote him that he died. "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

IV. MARK THE BENEVOLENT SOLICITUDE OF GOD'S SERVANT. The sudden death of Pelatiah corroborated the truth (,f Ezekiel's message, and vindicated his claim to be Jehovah's servant; nevertheless, in this Ezekiel rejoiced not. He was more concerned for his Master's glory than for his own, more anxious about Israel's well being than his own advantage. He could consent to be set aside, exiled, slain, so long as Israel's rower and fame could be restored. Such generosity of nature is the best qualification for a true servant of God. They who are most like God are the most fitted to do God's work. Moses and Paul were eminent examples of this self-disinterestedness; best of all, Jesus the Son of God. - D.

Prophesy against them.
The spirit told Ezekiel that the princes were the men that devised mischief and gave wicked counsels to the city. How often have we seen this prostitution of great mental power and great official authority through the service of evil! Imagine the picture of five-and-twenty men, the princes of Israel, all given over to the conception of evil policies and the execution of selfish designs! We shall miss the whole purpose of Divine revelation if we suppose that evil is local, or that it is confined to the ignorant and the poor. Evil is universal: it is in the thrones of the nations, as well as in the hovels and huts of poverty; the king has wandered as far from the standard of righteousness as has the meanest subject of his crown. Education when not sanctified is simply an instrument of evil. Great social station, when it is divorced from the action of a healthy conscience, only gives a man leverage, by the working of which he can do infinite social mischief. Moral security, therefore, is not in circumstances, but in character. When princes are right and just, wise and patriotic, it does not follow that the people will follow their example, or reproduce their excellences; but when the princes are of a contrary mind it is easy to imagine how their great influence may contribute vastly to the spread of wrong thinking and mischievous action. Religious apostasy means social anarchy. When the princes ceased to pray they ceased to regard human nature as of any value: slaughter became a pastime; heaps of slain men were passed by as mere commonplaces, and the whole city became as but a cauldron in which the flesh of men might be boiled. But God Himself says He will make this use of the city; He will make it a cauldron, and they who supposed it was a place of security shall find what uses providence can make of human arrangements. The Lord says that He is proceeding on account of the sins of the people, saying, "I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them." The empire of the mind is supposed to be the exclusive property of the individual: what brother can take out of his brother's heart all the thoughts that live there? What man can read the mind of his dearest friend, and be as familiar with that friend's motives as he is with that friend's conduct? The mind can shut out the closest observer, yet the one observer that it cannot exclude is the living God. The things that come into the mind determine the real character of the mind of man, Conduct is but a short measure by which to estimate a man's character.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. THE DESTRUCTION OF A CORRUPT PRIESTHOOD. The evil of the priesthood of that city and day is seen in this vision to consist in —

1. Their unhallowed designs and influence. The inventions of the genius of evil are, as they were then, often manifold and deep.

2. Their contempt of sacred things. They actually play about "the cauldron" that Jeremiah had seen in a vision of retribution. Familiarity with sacred things is perilous to men who lose true sacredness of living, for they are tempted to use their wit to cover their shallowness, with regard to themes wherein they should "stand in awe and sin not."

3. Their false security. Their assertion about the Chaldean invasion, "It is not near," illustrates the presumptuousness that ever marks mere professors of piety.

4. Their conformity to evil associations. Whereas the one consecrating cry of all true priesthoods is, "Be ye separate," the histories of all corrupt priesthoods reveal a conformity to the world with which they have to do, that may well be charged against them in the words heard in the vision, "Ye have done after the manner of the heathen."

5. Their liability to terrible retribution. The death of Pelatiah, at the very time when Ezekiel was pronouncing the doom of this priesthood, is an emblem of retribution history records, and prophecy predicts on all the false.


1. Open to Divine illumination. As Ezekiel was "lifted up" by the Spirit, and afterwards had that Spirit "fall upon him" — indicating, surely, special contact with the Divine; so there is the promise to every regenerate man "that he shall see heavens opened."

2. Sensitive to impressions from human life. To be Divinely enlightened does not indicate that there will be any functionalism, any stoicism in the man.

3. A wide conscious brotherliness. The cry to the exile, "thy brethren, thy brethren," indicated that not alone in the twenty-five who had fallen, but in the scattered throngs that would be gathered again, he recognised a brotherhood. So our Master has taught us, "all ye are brethren."

4. Commissioned to proclaim inspiring promises. The priestly prophet was to utter as surely as was Isaiah, and every God-sent messenger, a "comfort ye."


I. Divinely collected. God knew where the scattered were, and would gather them again. The eye of God resting alike on all classes and castes, churches and countries, discovers the genuine men. He has been a "sanctuary for a little time" to them in the midst of uncongenial pursuits, hostile circumstances, adverse experiences; but from every such Babylon of evil He will gather them for His sacred work.

2. Divinely regenerated. No words could more forcibly express a complete moral and spiritual reformation than "the words in which the eternal Spirit of Goodness declares, "I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh."

3. Divinely adopted. "They shall be My people," etc.

(Urijah R. Thomas.)

Azur, Azzur, Benaiah, Ezekiel, Jaazaniah, Pelatiah
Chaldea, Chebar, Jerusalem
Azur, Azzur, Behold, Benaiah, Benai'ah, Bringeth, Door, Doorway, East, East-gate, Eastward, Entrance, Faced, Faces, Facing, Gate, Gateway, Heads, Jaazaniah, Ja-azani'ah, Leaders, Lift, Lifted, Lifting, Looks, Lord's, Midst, Moreover, Opening, Pelatiah, Pelati'ah, Princes, Rulers, Spirit, Twenty, Twenty-five, Wind
1. The presumption of the princes
4. Their sin and judgment
13. Ezekiel complaining, God shows him his purpose in saving a remnant
22. The glory of God leaves the city
24. Ezekiel is returned to the captivity

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ezekiel 11:1

     1305   God, activity of

Ezekiel 11:1-12

     4478   meat

A Little Sanctuary
The Lord hears the unkind speeches of the prosperous when they speak bitterly of those who are plunged in adversity. Read the context--"Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the Lord: unto us is this land given in possession." This unbrotherly language moved the Lord to send the prophet Ezekiel with good and profitable words to the children of the captivity.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 34: 1888

A Mystery! Saints Sorrowing and Jesus Glad!
Jesus is talking of the death of His friend, let us listen to His words; perhaps we may find the key to His actions in the words of His lips. How surprising! He does not say, "I regret that I have tarried so long." He does not say, "I ought to have hastened, but even now it is not too late." Hear, and marvel! Wonder of wonders, He says, "I am glad that I was not there." Glad! the word is out of place? Lazarus, by this time, stinketh in his tomb,and here is the Saviour glad! Martha and Mary are weeping
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 10: 1864

The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
"The Holy Spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified."--John vii. 39. We have come to the most difficult part in the discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit, viz., the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the tenth day after the ascension. In the treatment of this subject it is not our aim to create a new interest in the celebration of Pentecost. We consider this almost impossible. Man's nature is too unspiritual for this. But we shall reverently endeavor to give a clearer insight
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

Covenanting Enforced by the Grant of Covenant Signs and Seals.
To declare emphatically that the people of God are a covenant people, various signs were in sovereignty vouchsafed. The lights in the firmament of heaven were appointed to be for signs, affording direction to the mariner, the husbandman, and others. Miracles wrought on memorable occasions, were constituted signs or tokens of God's universal government. The gracious grant of covenant signs was made in order to proclaim the truth of the existence of God's covenant with his people, to urge the performance
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

An Appendix to the Beatitudes
His commandments are not grievous 1 John 5:3 You have seen what Christ calls for poverty of spirit, pureness of heart, meekness, mercifulness, cheerfulness in suffering persecution, etc. Now that none may hesitate or be troubled at these commands of Christ, I thought good (as a closure to the former discourse) to take off the surmises and prejudices in men's spirits by this sweet, mollifying Scripture, His commandments are not grievous.' The censuring world objects against religion that it is difficult
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Blasphemous Accusations of the Jews.
(Galilee.) ^A Matt. XII. 22-37; ^B Mark III. 19-30; ^C Luke XI. 14-23. ^b 19 And he cometh into a house. [Whose house is not stated.] 20 And the multitude cometh together again [as on a previous occasion--Mark ii. 1], so that they could not so much as eat bread. [They could not sit down to a regular meal. A wonderful picture of the intense importunity of people and the corresponding eagerness of Jesus, who was as willing to do as they were to have done.] 21 And when his friends heard it, they went
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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