Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out My wrath upon it through bloodshed, cutting off from it both man and beast,
Ezekiel was especially commissioned to set forth and to impress upon the people the individual, the personal, aspect of religion. In many places, as here, he lays stress upon the accountability of each several man to God. One cannot deliver another from deserved punishment. Each must answer for himself, must reap the reward of his deeds, whether good or evil. A man's piety cannot save his ungodly neighbour when the time of reckoning and judgment arrives. No matter bow good our friends may be, their goodness does not excuse our irreligion. If the city has sinned, the city must suffer. Even if the wisest and the best of men are in it and plead for it, the city cannot be justified or spared for their sake. Men so conspicuous for virtue and piety as Noah, Daniel, and Job have not power to save the land from famine, from the sword, from noisome beasts, from the pestilence, when these are sent as chastisements from the Lord of all.
I. THE VIRTUES FOR WHICH THESE THREE MEN WERE CELEBRATED. Why these, rather than other illustrious instances of human goodness, were selected is a question which cannot be answered with certainty. But the context disposes the student of This passage of prophecy to consider these men as instances of remarkable piety in the midst of surrounding ungodliness. Thus Noah stands in contrast with the self-indulgent and irreligious population of the world immediately before the Flood; as a preacher of righteousness, he protested against the sins and the secularism and unbelief of his time. Daniel also was "faithful among the faithless;" he and a selected few were called upon to witness against the idolatry of their heathen rulers and masters, and against much unfaithfulness on the part of their companions in captivity. Job was a true servant of Jehovah, who was encompassed by idolatries to which he did not yield, and who alone of his own kindred was faithful to his God in all his ways. These three men all saw disasters come upon those with whom they were associated. If they could not deliver their neighbours in the day of judgment, if their virtues and piety availed only for themselves, was it credible that their presence in Jerusalem would save the city and the land from destruction? It is observable that the "righteousness" of these three men is admitted, and with commendation, by the Lord God himself. There may be danger in praising and flattering the good because of their goodness. But there are occasions when it is just and right to acknowledge the moral excellence, the human merit, of men, always with a clear understanding that all goodness is from God, that in his view all human character is imperfect, and that nothing can be claimed from him as a just reward even by the purest and the most useful among mankind.
II. THE FAVOUR WITH WHICH THESE THREE MEN WERE REGARDED. It was an honour to be selected by a good man and a prophet like Ezekiel for special approval and commendation. But it was a higher honour to be mentioned thus by the direction of the Lord God himself. It is not erroneous to attribute to the Eternal a personal interest in the sons of time, a regard of that nature with which one who judges with justice and appreciation esteems the excellent among his fellow beings. On the contrary, Scripture justifies us in taking such a view of our Father God, who is never represented as indifferent and heartless, but rather as looking with satisfaction and favour upon those who delight in his Law and do his will. There have been occasions upon which the intercessory prayers offered by such have been received with favour, and have been graciously answered, to the relic and comfort of those for whom they have been presented.
III. THE POWERLESSNESS OF EVEN SUCH RIGHTEOUS AND BELOVED SERVANTS OF GOD TO DELIVER THE REBELLIOUS FROM PUNISHMENT. It is evidently intended to convey the impression that God was willing to do great things at the intercession of men so gnarl and so favoured as those named; but that he would not for their sake contradict his own declarations, reverse his own laws, and abandon his own moral government. Hence the lesson may be learnt that "every man shall bear his own burden," that in the day of account no man shall deliver his brother. No hope can be vainer than that of those who rely for their salvation upon the merits and influence of their family, their friends, their Church, however dear to God. It is plain that, as religion is a personal matter, as its claims come home to the individual, every hearer of God's Word is bound to use for himself those means by which he may, by God's grace, be delivered from the chain of sin and the doom of death. - T.
Or if I send a pestilence.
Depend upon it, we have need, and as the years roll away we shall have more and more need, to remind ourselves of the unseen Hand which sends us our blessings or withdraws them from us. New appliances of mechanical skill have a tendency to keep God out of our sight. The simple machinery which depended on the wind or the stream for motion did not suffer men so easily to forget their immediate dependence on God. His agency is half obscured when they become independent of the breath of heaven, and of the moisture which cometh down from above. And so there is a constant danger of our lapsing into practical atheism, if we allow ourselves, in the mere contemplation of a natural law apart from its Divine Author; or attend to its results, without adverting to the revealed cause of its operation. It is no disparagement to natural science to declare that, pursued in any but a godly spirit, it sometimes has a tendency to obscure the vision of God: to interpose hard names and technical phrases between Him and ourselves; and practically to keep Him out of our sight. Nay, the very progress of civilisation, the increase of wealth and refinement and luxury — all have the same tendency. The table daily spread without our care helps to keep God out of sight. And the special value of Scripture is seen in the unconditional and most unceremonious way in which it brushes aside this web of words; puts God, the Giver, prominently forward; and vindicates His absolute Sovereignty in creation. When Christ says, "He maketh His sun to rise," — His language is altogether unscientific, to be sure; but He declares a truth which to the devout soul is of paramount importance; namely, that the heavenly bodies are all His creatures; and that, in reality, the phenomena which attend them are but the visible expression of His will. While thoughtful men are investigating the natural history of a calamity which, unless it be stayed, will inevitably press with terrible severity on the poor; — which, if it spreads, may bring contagion to all our doors, — occasion death within our homes and darken every domestic hearth; — "a more excellent way" is revealed to us in Holy Scripture; a method which is within the reach of us all. I allude, of course, to individual acts of repentance, — personal efforts after holiness, — the heartfelt use of private prayer. The special mention of three of God's chiefest saints "Noah, Daniel, and Job," reminds us that we must as individuals seek to turn away God's anger from this Church and nation. What, above all, shall be said of our unconcern for the spiritual wants of the benighted heathen, — of our own countrymen in foreign parts, of our fellow citizens here at home?
TopicsAnimal, Animals, Beast, Blood, Bloodshed, Cut, Cutting, Disease, Fury, Killing, Letting, Loose, Pestilence, Plague, Pour, Poured, Wrath
Outline1. God answers idolaters according to their own heart6. They are exhorted to repent, for fear of judgments, by means of seduced prophets12. God's irrevocable sentence of famine15. of wild beasts17. of the sword19. and of pestilence22. A remnant shall be reserved for example of others
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 14:14-18
1652 numbers, 3-5
LibraryEducation of Jesus.
This aspect of Nature, at once smiling and grand, was the whole education of Jesus. He learned to read and to write, doubtless, according to the Eastern method, which consisted in putting in the hands of the child a book, which he repeated in cadence with his little comrades, until he knew it by heart. It is doubtful, however, if he understood the Hebrew writings in their original tongue. His biographers make him quote them according to the translations in the Aramean tongue; his principles …
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus
"Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. "
From this Commandment we learn that after the excellent works of the first three Commandments there are no better works than to obey and serve all those who are set over us as superiors. For this reason also disobedience is a greater sin than murder, unchastity, theft and dishonesty, and all that these may include. For we can in no better way learn how to distinguish between greater and lesser sins than by noting the order of the Commandments of God, although there are distinctions also within the …
Dr. Martin Luther—A Treatise on Good Works
"All Our Righteousnesses are as Filthy Rags, and we all do Fade as a Leaf, and Our Iniquities, Like the Wind, have Taken us Away. "
Isaiah lxiv. 6, 7.--"All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Not only are the direct breaches of the command uncleanness, and men originally and actually unclean, but even our holy actions, our commanded duties. Take a man's civility, religion, and all his universal inherent righteousness,--all are filthy rags. And here the church confesseth nothing but what God accuseth her of, Isa. lxvi. 8, and chap. i. ver. …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
"And There is None that Calleth Upon Thy Name, that Stirreth up Himself to Take Hold on Thee,"
Isaiah lxiv. 7.--"And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold on thee," &c. They go on in the confession of their sins. Many a man hath soon done with that a general notion of sin is the highest advancement in repentance that many attain to. You may see here sin and judgment mixed in thorough other(315) in their complaint. They do not so fix their eyes upon their desolate estate of captivity, as to forget their provocations. Many a man would spend more affection, …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
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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