And I said to them: 'Each of you must throw away the abominations before his eyes, and you must not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.'
The continuity of the national life seems to have been as constantly present to the mind of Ezekiel as was the fact of individual responsibility. He distinguished between national and personal character; but both were in his apprehension real. It is certainly remarkable that, in answering as he was directed to do, the application of the elders, he should proceed to epitomize the history of the nation. His aim seems to have been to show that the irreligion and rebellion of which he complained in the epoch of the Captivity had existed throughout the several periods of Israelitish history. In a few brief paragraphs the prophet, in a most graphic way, exhibits the conduct of the chosen people in several successive eras. As was customary and natural, the first period dealt with was that of the momentous deliverance from the bondage of Egypt.
I. REVELATION. God made himself known unto Israel in the land of Egypt. In this revelation were included:
2. Covenant, confirmed by oath.
3. Promise of deliverance from bondage; further promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, the glory of all lands.
II. COMMAND. One great duty Jehovah laid upon his chosen and covenant people - the duty of abandoning the idolatry, whose evil effects they had witnessed among the Egyptians. They could not consistently receive the Divine revelation, and at the same time be guilty of idolatry, which in all its forms was a contradiction of the worship and service of the one living and true God. Idolatry was not only dishonouring to Jehovah; it was a defilement of all who took part in its practices.
III. REBELLION. Notwithstanding the grace displayed in the revelation, notwithstanding the authority accompanying the command, the chosen and favoured nation rebelled. The circumstances of the case, when considered, render this all the more marvellous. Although the superior power of the God of their fathers had been so conspicuously displayed, "they did not forsake the idols of Egypt." Such conduct was both treason and rebellion in one.
IV. THREATENING. The truly human manner in which the prophet, in this and similar places, speaks of the Eternal leads some readers to charge him with anthropomorphism. The language used of a man might imply vindictiveness; and, taken in connection with what follows, might even imply mutability and fickleness. The Divine "fury "and "anger" may not be free from emotion, but such language is mainly intended to convey the impression that the law of righteousness exists, and that it cannot be violated and defied with impunity, either by nations or by individuals.
V. RELENTING AND SALVATION. The ground upon which Jehovah bore with his sinful people is remarkable; it was "for his own Name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen." For this reason he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. Their emancipation was owing, not to any daring of their own, not to any heroism of their leaders, not to any fortunate conjunction of circumstances, but to the interposition of Almighty power. - T.
A land...which is the glory of all lands.
Palestine, as it appears to the modern traveller, is so totally different from the land as it is described in the Bible, that anticipations are disappointed on seeing it. One never sees the brooks, or the fountains, or the milk and honey. A more sterile — save for the plains along the seaboard — a more forbidding country it is scarcely possible to conceive. Is there anything that by any stretch of imagination could justify us in turning to the world with the Bible in our hands and saying, "Here is the glory of all lands"? Has its geographical position given it that prominence? A rugged strip of country, with a confused mass of rugged hills, many of them, especially towards the south, absolutely forbidding, so bare, so barren, so scarred are they that one would think some cancer had eaten into them. And this is the land, no bigger than Wales, half the size of Scotland, with a population not equal to a fourth-rate town in Scotland, that is said to be the glory of all lands. It is not its position, therefore, or anything we can see in its towns. What, then, is it? Its beauty? Why, no one would ever dream of going to the Holy Land for its scenery. No doubt the Lake of Galilee is a pleasant sheet of water, but anyone who has stood on the shores of Loch Lomond would never for a moment dream of comparing them. There is nothing in the scenery. No one who is a mere pleasure seeker, no artist, would ever dream of spending time and strength in such a land. Nor would the mere holiday seeker find anything to justify or anything to repay his visit. Travelling through the land is toilsome and perilous for lack of roads, and even where roads are, they are extremely dangerous. Suppose the scientist goes, there is no attraction for him. The botanist will add nothing particular to his store. Even the boasted Rose of Sharon is but a bastard poppy. A scientist has nothing to gain, nor an archaeologist, nor a student. There are no old libraries, there is no native literature, no great school. And those who go for gaiety have gone to the wrong place. There is no theatre, no music hall. No poet could weave romance round such a land as Palestine. What, then, is the attraction? It is the religious. The Crusaders left home, birth, everything, not to add to territory, not for the mere love of conquest. It was the Cross that was the emblem carried before them, and that accustomed them to all the hardships they endured and the triumphs that they won. So, too, with the modern traveller. There is but one Holy Land, and the one thing that makes it holy is that there the Word was made flesh. It is that that makes the land holy, that makes it the glory of all lands. They can take the obelisks of Egypt, and bring them to Paris and to London, and so in some measure transfer the glory of the past; but there is a glory upon that land that no power can take from it or transfer to another land. The Galilean has triumphed. And if He had not, where would have been the glory of the land? There is nothing to make it in one's mind conceivably associated with grand events; and yet see how they flock to it, how many hearts draw to it, how many hearts throb at the mere mention of it — all because Christ has made it the glory of all lands.
A COUNTRY WAS CHOSEN AND ASSIGNED TO THEM, AND THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST STEP IN THE PROCESS OF PREPARATION FOR THE NATIONAL EXISTENCE. It is very evident that the repeated references to the land in connection with the prophecies and promises of a national existence and mission made the impression upon the mind of the patriarchs that the possession and enjoyment of the country was essentially a condition of nationality. Accordingly the occupation of Canaan became the object of their highest hopes and the goal of their aims in labour and patience (Genesis 50:24-26
). And the land was adapted to furnish all the needful conditions of support and unification of the nation.
1. It was described as a land flowing with milk and honey. It was able to afford not merely subsistence, but the means of wealth ample for the material and appliances of an advanced civilisation.
2. The means of communication were sufficient. For the land was not large, and although broken by ranges of hills, was permeated by valleys and torrent beds dry for a considerable portion of the year, and bordered by the sea, which was the highway of the ancient peoples.
3. The land was separated from the surrounding peoples by the sea and the deserts; passable for purposes of commerce, natural barriers in time of war.
II. AT THE TIME OF FOUNDING OF THE NATION A CODE OF LAWS WAS GIVEN AND PROMULGATED. The principles of government may be gathered by analysis of the statutes and synthesis of the results. There can be no doubt that there was an intention to provide for the greatest good and largest liberty of the individual compatible with association, at least in view of the state of the people in that early age, and in their rise from a servile condition. And in the first instance a popular form of government was contemplated rather than a monarchy. The latter was considered as dependent upon certain contingencies, and if it was foreseen as a necessity it was only because it was to be made a necessity by the people themselves. Provision was made for education and discipline in the knowledge of the law, and in habits of obedience. The first, the best, and the only really effective school of instruction and culture was secured and guarded, namely, the family. The infant child was marked with the sign and seal of his rights and duties in the commonwealth, and the household was ordained as a means of training and practice in obedience to righteous precepts. Besides this domestic education, provision was made for public teachers of the law. These were not merely instructors in specifically religious duties, but in social and civil duties also. It would be impossible to cite all the passages in the history which makes it manifest that the Lawgiver expected obedience to be secured through the moral judgment and sensibility. Indeed, the careful student of his teaching cannot fail to find abundant sources for the impression that he intended to secure his people a distinctively and intense ethical life. His aim was righteousness. The accomplishment of this was necessary in his view to the fulfilment of the mission of the nation in the earth. And, finally, to the moral motives to obedience he added the sanctions of religion. He taught that the law came from God Himself, that obedience to the law was loyalty to God, and disobedience was rebellion against God.
III. PROVISION WAS MADE FOR THE NURTURE OF PATRIOTISM AND FOR THE STRENGTHENING OF THE NATIONAL BOND. The people were attached to the soil by the law of the permanence of the tenure of it in the families and tribes to whom it was assigned after the conquest. The title to each estate was perpetual. And ample provision was made that the life of toil might be lightened and graced by the enjoyments and ceremonies of domestic, social, and national festivals. The seasons of the year of labour were marked by the gathering of the families, and common participation in the fruits of the earth and the more joyful services of religion. Three times each year the heads of families were summoned to the metropolis and the common altar, and in their journeyings to and from the Holy City, and their fellowship within its walls, its dwellings, and its temple courts, they were knit together in personal friendships and united in the common bond of citizenship.
IV. THE NATIONAL SPIRIT WAS ANIMATED AND NOURISHED BY THE CALL TO A MISSION FOR ALL THE PEOPLES ON THE EARTH. At the very beginning it was said to the father of the Hebrew people, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And this was repeated again and again in ampler form by lawgiver, and teacher, and king, and prophet, and it became the matter of the highest reaches of patriotic eloquence and the burden of the loftiest inspirations of national song. The Messianic hope was the very life of the nation in its greatest days, send the anchor of its faith in the darkest days of humiliation and suffering. And by it the fainting national life was revived and reinvigorated after the deliverance from captivity, and sustained in the conflicts of the Maccabean age and the struggle of the Grecian conquest, and the endurance of the Roman domination.
PeopleEzekiel, Israelites, Jacob, Teman
PlacesBabylon, Bamah, Egypt, Negeb
TopicsAbominations, Cast, Defile, Defiled, Detestable, Disgusting, Egypt, Feast, Idols, Images, Unclean, Vile, Yourselves
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 20:1-44
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.
Previous to an examination of the manner of engaging in the exercise of Covenanting, the consideration of God's procedure towards his people while performing the service seems to claim regard. Of the manner in which the great Supreme as God acts, as well as of Himself, our knowledge is limited. Yet though even of the effects on creatures of His doings we know little, we have reason to rejoice that, in His word He has informed us, and in His providence illustrated by that word, he has given us to …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
There are few subjects on which the Lord's own people are more astray than on the subject of giving. They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise; therefore it is no wonder that the majority of Christian enterprises in the world today are handicapped and crippled through the lack of funds. Is our giving to be …
Arthur W. Pink—Tithing
Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
AND PROOF, THAT THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN SABBATH. BY JOHN BUNYAN. 'The Son of man is lord also of the Sabbath day.' London: Printed for Nath, Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1685. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. All our inquiries into divine commands are required to be made personally, solemnly, prayerful. To 'prove all things,' and 'hold fast' and obey 'that which is good,' is a precept, equally binding upon the clown, as it is upon the philosopher. Satisfied from our observations …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
God's procedure when imitable forms a peculiar argument for duty. That is made known for many reasons; among which must stand this,--that it may be observed and followed as an example. That, being perfect, is a safe and necessary pattern to follow. The law of God proclaims what he wills men as well as angels to do. The purposes of God show what he has resolved to have accomplished. The constitutions of his moral subjects intimate that he has provided that his will shall be voluntarily accomplished …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
The first important part of the Old Testament put together as a whole was the Pentateuch, or rather, the five books of Moses and Joshua. This was preceded by smaller documents, which one or more redactors embodied in it. The earliest things committed to writing were probably the ten words proceeding from Moses himself, afterwards enlarged into the ten commandments which exist at present in two recensions (Exod. xx., Deut. v.) It is true that we have the oldest form of the decalogue from the Jehovist …
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible
A Sermon on Isaiah xxvi. By John Knox.
[In the Prospectus of our Publication it was stated, that one discourse, at least, would be given in each number. A strict adherence to this arrangement, however, it is found, would exclude from our pages some of the most talented discourses of our early Divines; and it is therefore deemed expedient to depart from it as occasion may require. The following Sermon will occupy two numbers, and we hope, that from its intrinsic value, its historical interest, and the illustrious name of its author, it …
John Knox—The Pulpit Of The Reformation, Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
The Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
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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