"Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and tell them that this is what the Lord GOD says: Have you come to inquire of Me? As surely as I live, I will not be consulted by you, declares the Lord GOD.
I. MAN'S NEED OF A DIVINE ORACLE. The elders of Israel may be taken as representatives of mankind generally. They approached the prophet in order to inquire of the Lord. And in this they were right.
1. For human ignorance needs Divine enlightenment and teaching.
2. Human uncertainty and perplexity need Divine guidance, wise and authoritative.
3. Human sinfulness, clouding, as it does, the spiritual vision, needs authoritative precept as to the path of duty.
4. Human fear and foreboding need the consolation of Divine kindness and the promise of Divine support.
II. GOD'S WILLINGNESS TO REPLY FULLY AND GRACIOUSLY TO THE APPLICATION OF EARNEST INQUIRERS. if there is one lesson more than another inculcated with frequency and constancy in the pages of Scripture, it is this - that the eternal Father is accessible to his children, that there is no need which they can bring unto him which he is not ready to supply from his infinite fulness and according to his infinite compassion. Revelation itself is a proof of this. The commission given to prophets and apostles was with a view to a suitable and sufficient response to the inquiries of men. The supreme Gift of God, his own Son, is just a provision intended to meet the wants, the deep spiritual cravings, of the human heart; he is "God with us." To question God's willingness to receive those who inquire of him is to cast a doubt upon the genuine: hess of the economies alike of the Law and of the gospel.
III. THE MORAL CONDITIONS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RECEIVING A RESPONSE FROM THE ORACLE OF GOD. Two such conditions may especially be mentioned.
1. Teachableness and humility; the disposition of the little child, without which none can enter the kingdom of heaven; the new birth, which is the entrance upon the new life.
2. Repentance. Whilst living in sin and loving sin men cannot receive the righteousness, the blessing, which the heavenly Father waits to bestow. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God." Sin is as a cloud which hides the sunlight from shining upon the soul; it is like certain conditions of atmosphere, it hinders the sound of God's voice from reaching the spiritual ear. This is the action, not of arbitrary will, but of moral law.
IV. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS TO BE LEARNT BY APPLICANTS.
1. Here, many, in the same position as that occupied by the elders of Israel who came to Ezekiel, may learn the reason of their rejection. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you!"
2. Here all suppliants may learn a lesson of encouragement. It is not in God's ill will that the obstacle to our reception is to be sought; lot there is no ill wilt in him. "Wash you, make you clean!" Draw near with a sense of need, with confessions of unworthiness, with requests based upon the revealed loving kindness of the heavenly Father; draw near in the name of him who has himself shown the vastness of the obstacle of sin, and who has himself removed that obstacle; and be assured of a gracious reception and a free and sufficient response. In Christ, the Eternal addresses the sons of men, saying, "Seek ye my face!" and in Christ the lowly and penitent may approach the throne of grace with the exclamation, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek!" - T.
I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.
1. It has been supposed by some that the statutes and judgments here alluded to were those of the Mosaic Law, and that in describing them as statutes not good, the Almighty designed to express their deficiency, as contrasted with the Gospel system, in future times to be made known. A short consideration, however, of the context will show that this theory is unsound, and at the same time explain the real meaning of the text. God having first promulgated to the Israelites laws of life, upon their indifference to these gave them laws of death; and the general principle here involved is, that the punishment of transgressing or refusing holy laws is to have unholy laws assigned us. If we will reject truth we shall be caused to take falsehood for our guide. If a man have truth proposed for his acceptance, and reject it; if he turn away through carelessness, or shut his heart through perverseness of will to the truth as it is in Jesus, what we should most fear for such an one is not famine, or pestilence, or sword. There is a more terrible vial still than these in the treasury of God. Of those who having ears hear not, the punishment would appear to be, that eventually the capacity of understanding shall be taken from them. We cannot, of course, in any particular case pronounce whether the curse of invincible ignorance has been poured out, and the veil drawn finally over the heart; but we urge it upon yea as strong ground for never playing with your convictions, or shutting your souls against the voice of instruction.
2. But now we can imagine that many and great objections present themselves to your minds in connection with the foregoing doctrine. Is this, you ask, agreeable to the goodness and justice of the Deity? Can it be reconciled with His attributes, that He should thus, at any period of human life, take away the power of belief, and Himself blind the soul and make dull the heart? Now let us pause for a moment upon the nature of God's punishment, so far as we may discover it. We may trace one grand principle pervading and colouring all the visitations of Divine vengeance; the principle is this, that the punishment should in its quality bear a resemblance to the sin. Adam and Eve, presuming to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, were debarred access to the tree of life. Jacob, deceiving his father Isaac, was in his turn deceived by his own sons. And it is not difficult to perceive why this should be. The punishment of sin is to preach against sin. How much more striking this preaching becomes when the penalty inflicted is of a sort to call to remembrance the precise iniquity of which it is the penalty. Now, if this be correct, the particular judgment spoken of in the text is just what we might expect would overtake those who will not when they may amend their opinions and embrace the truth. If the sin be to resist truth, what should the penalty be but the being incapacitated from embracing truth?
PeopleEzekiel, Israelites, Jacob, Teman
PlacesBabylon, Bamah, Egypt, Negeb
TopicsAffirmation, Declares, Directions, Elders, Enquire, Enquired, Hast, Inquire, Inquired, Responsible, Says, Seek, Sought, Sovereign, Speak, Surely, Thus
Outline1. God refuses to be consulted by the elders of Israel
4. He shows the story of their rebellions in Egypt
19. in the desert
27. and in the land
33. He promises to gather them by the Gospel
45. Under the name of a forest he shows the destruction of Jerusalem
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 20:1-3
LibraryTen Reasons Demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be Moral.
1. Because all the reasons of this commandment are moral and perpetual; and God has bound us to the obedience of this commandment with more forcible reasons than to any of the rest--First, because he foresaw that irreligious men would either more carelessly neglect, or more boldly break this commandment than any other; secondly, because that in the practice of this commandment the keeping of all the other consists; which makes God so often complain that all his worship is neglected or overthrown, …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Manner of Covenanting.
Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
A Sermon on Isaiah xxvi. By John Knox.
The Covenant of Works
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