"And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say: O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD.
I. THE LAND OF CANAAN IS HONORED BY A DIVINE COMMUNICATION. It is a reasonable conclusion that the main interest God felt in the mountains and hills of Palestine arose from their use as a home and storehouse for his people. Yet it is proper that we should regard God as finding a pleasure in the hills and valleys on account of their native beauty. They were the workmanship of his hand, and there is every reason why he should find pleasure in his creations. The long, past history of their internal structure was open to his eye, and the beauty of their clothing was to him a delight. But why should he dispatch to these unconscious mountains a prophetic messenger? Without doubt, this was intended as a rebuke to the people who had grievously disregarded his messages. It was as if he said indirectly to the nation, "It is vain to speak longer to your stony ears. I turn away in sorrow, and address my message to the unconscious earth. The very mountains will give me better audience than you have done. If I speak to the dew, it will obey. If I speak to the fragrant soil, it will yield its fruit. If I speak to the mountains, they will put on verdure and beauty. But, alas! if I speak to the intelligent sons of Jacob, they turn deaf ears and rebellious wills to my gracious voice! O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord!" By such methods of rebuke God endeavors to bring conviction home to the consciences of the people.
II. THE LAND OF CANAAN WAS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN ISRAEL'S PAST RENOWN. This land had been specially selected by God as the most fitting scene for the training of the Hebrew nation. It was the glory of all lands, the envy of surrounding nations. Compared with the territory north, or east, or south, it was splendidly fertile, while its mountains made it a secure fortress. The diversity of hill and vale gave it peculiar beauty and served to exhilarate the mind. The mountain-peaks drew heavenward men's thoughts. According to the known law, that the physical features of a country mould unconsciously the character of the inhabitants, Canaan had been a benefit to the Jewish tribes. The land was a contrast to the soft, fertile loam of Egypt. The relaxing climate of Lower Egypt, together with the wondrous facility of obtaining large crops, made the people indolent and effeminate - impatient of arduous exertion. In Palestine a totally different condition of things prevailed. For the most part the operations of husbandry were severe. The sides of the hills required to be built in terraces in order to retain the soil. But climate and soil were congenial for almost every kind of fruit. It was a territory in which it was scarcely possible for one to grow rich; it was a territory eminently suitable for the development of hardy and industrious peasants. Especially the land was singularly dependent upon the periodic rainfall. For, devoid of rain and dew, the olives dropped withered and unripe, the vines were blighted, the young corn was shriveled. Hence, in an eminent degree, the people hung in constant dependence on the good will of God. He held in his hand the helm of their prosperity.
III. THE LAND OF CANAAN HAD SHARED IN ISRAEL'S DISCOMFITURE AND SHAME. Frequent invasions on their borders had made their homes and crops insecure, and, without security for obtaining crops, men will not sow their fields. Frequent absence also, to serve on the battle-field, drew away the young men from quiet husbandry. Such losses in such a country soon became serious. A diminution in their produce left them unable and unwilling to pay tribute to their foreign conquerors, and this resulted in fresh invasion. Step by step the land went out of cultivation. The terraces on the hillsides were neglected. The people forget God, and God withdrew the light of his favor. The mountain-slopes, denuded of soil, soon became bald, bleached rocks. The high reputation for fertility which the land had enjoyed was gone. Its excellence and glory departed. Sharon was no longer a fold for flocks. Carmel laid aside her bridal garments of floral beauty. Jackals and foxes and hyenas infested the land. With the degradation of the elect people came the degradation of the elect land.
IV. THE LAND OF CANAAN WAS ABOUT TO SHARE IN ISRAEL'S NEW PROSPERITY.
1. In proportion to the infamy the land had endured was to be the fertility again to be enjoyed. The prosperity should not only rise to the former level; it should greatly surpass it. The infallible promise was made directly to every part and branch of the territory. God had a tender regard for every mountain and valley, for every river and plain; each should be enriched and gladdened by his favoring smile. The shame of the heathen should be outbalanced by corresponding reputation and honor. On condition of the faithfulness of the people this revival of prosperity should be enduring.
2. God speaks in language adapted to the age. By any other mode of speech God could not have been understood; and in such a case he may as well not have spoken. As men were stimulated to great exertions by a sentiment of national jealousy, so, in accommodation to imperfect men, God speaks of himself as stirred to activity by the fire of jealousy. Such jealousy was only another form of considerate love. It had no respect to himself. It was a jealous regard for the good of Israel, a jealous desire to fulfill his ancient promises.
3. These pledges of good were redeemed in the centuries which followed Israel's restoration. The land was reclaimed from the ravages of wild beasts. Cities and villages were rebuilt. Many parts of Canaan became fertile as a garden. Confessedly, we feel a disappointment that the revival of prosperity was not more complete, nor more abiding. But this was due alone to the folly and guilt of the people. In every promise of God there underlies a moral condition. For him to give unmingled blessing to evil-doers would be a fresh evil and an encouragement to sin. The actual fortunes of Canaan, in the later centuries, prove the faithfulness of God and the fickleness of the people. - D.
Whereas the Lord was there.
I. A DESPISED PEOPLE CONSTANTLY TRIUMPHANT BECAUSE "THE LORD WAS THERE." The people of God have always been, in every age, a hated and despised people. This may be seen if you will notice a few facts.
1. The adversaries of God's Israel have often thought in their hearts that they would utterly destroy them. One of the Roman emperors set up a monument, "In the memory of a destroyed superstition called Christianity." But was our holy religion destroyed? Could the dragon prevail against the remnant which kept the commandment of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ? Behold the multitudes who this day bow the knees at the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The Lord being there, immortality, nay, eternity was in the Church. God is eternal, He is in the Church, and His Church is immortal too.
2. The enemies of the Church have frequently shown their scorn of her by the ridicule which they have cast upon her attacks. But as the cake of barley bread fell upon the tent of Midian and smote it that it lay along, even so the Church is more than conqueror. Sydney Smith said, when Carey talked of evangelising India, that a consecrated cobbler was going out to preach the Gospel to educated and enlightened Hindoos, but the consecrated cobbler took his post and digged in India a well of which thousands shall yet drink. That man of God has placed the battering-ram of the Gospel in such a position that ere long the hoary bastions of idolatry will tremble, and the world shall see that the weakness of God is stronger than man.
3. The world's estimation of the Church has frequently been seen in the way in which it will mock at all her teachings. The wise men of this world have always something far superior to anything that the Bible can reveal. Ah! we can well endure their boastings, for the doctrines of grace are the loftiest of all philosophy and the most intellectual of all teachings — because Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is in them; and where God is, there is perfect wisdom; where God is, there is incomprehensible knowledge.
4. Do they not, also, very frequently cast in our teeth our trials? Nebuchadnezzar can cast in but three, he cannot, however, cast out the fourth; where the Church shall be, Christ shall walk the coals with His people, and they shall come out of their trials triumphant, for God is there. Where God is, there is everlasting love; where God abideth, there is immutable affection; and therefore let this be our comfort, God is with thee, Israel, passing through the fire.
5. The world shows its disesteem of us by the way in which it often treats the Christian. It sees him poor and naked and miserable, and therefore pushes him about as though he were a beggar and not one of the blood royal. Little do they know that, however poor the Christian may be, the Lord is there. The very honour and dignity and majesty of Deity itself guards every follower of the Saviour, however much he may be despised among men.
II. THE MAN OPPOSED AND YET A CONQUEROR.
1. The early convictions of a newborn soul are always the subject of Satanic attack. Satan hopes that with the laugh, the jeer, the jest and merriment he will destroy utterly all convictions of sin; little does he dream that "the Lord is there," and where God sends the arrow home, no devil can ever draw it out.
2. Then, as the fend has tried to destroy conviction, he will next shoot his arrows against our faith. Poor, feeble follower of Jesus, he will worry thee. But the faith which God gives to us overcometh the world — yea, and overcometh the old dragon too.
3. Have not you always found that not only your faith but all your good works are the subjects of Satan's attacks? I never yet had a virtue or possessed a grace but what it was sure to be the target for hellish bullets; whether it was hope bright and sparkling, or love warm and fervent, or patience all enduring, or real flaming like coals of fire, the old enemy of everything that is good has tried if he could destroy or mar it. And why is it that anything virtuous or lovely survives in you? There can be no reason given to this, but "God is then."
4. Note how sedulously Satan aims against the perseverance of God's people. They will never hold on their way, saith he. You and I have thought we never should. And yet you have not fallen from grace yet, not yet have you disgraced your character, not yet gone back to your old lusts. How is this? Why, God was in you, and if He had not been there, then indeed had you been a prey unto your adversaries. A Christian is something like an express train. On some of our railroads, you know, there are express trains which do not stop to take water, the water lies in a trench in the middle between the rails, and as the train runs it sucks up its own supply of cold water, and so continues its course without a pause. Our God in grace has forestalled our needs, He prepares supplies for His own people, so that without their stopping to seek the streams of creature confidence, sometimes without the use of means, He is pleased to speed them on their pathway towards heaven, fed by a Divine arrangement of grace. Oh, it is blessed to think that if God be there, everything a Christian can want for his final persevering, for his eternal life, is ready at hand.
5. I have no doubt, beloved, we shall find that when we come to die, our dying confidence will be the object of the enmity of all the powers of hell. Perhaps like John Knox you may have your blackest day at the last, but oh! thanks be unto God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, we have no fear for our dying confidence, for "God is there," even there where the billows are the most tempestuous and the water is most chill; we shall feel the bottom and know that it is good, our feet shall stand upon the rock of ages even in our dying moments.
III. A DESOLATE SOUL NOT DESTROYED, BECAUSE GOD IS THERE. "My purpose is," says Satan, "that be shall dwell forever with me, in misery extreme. I have laid hold upon him," says he, "and he hath made a league with hell. He is mine, he is mine forever." But stop, stop, the Lord was there before the devil. Does the devil purpose? Ah, but God's purpose is older than the devil's purpose. Does the sinner make a covenant? Ay, but then, God's covenant was made before that sinner was born, and what is the devil's purpose compared with God's purpose? You see, God is there before him — "Whereas the Lord was there." "Ah, but," said Satan, "he is mine, I will have him, I will go and take possession, he is mine"; and so he is about to enter the vineyard, and take possession of the vines of sour grapes, when lo! someone meets him on the threshold, and says, "What dost thou here?" "I am come to take possession," saith he. "Take possession!" saith Christ; "I have a claim upon this vineyard, I bought it and paid for it with drops of blood; what dost thou here? Thou sayest, 'I will possess this land,' whereas the Lord was there": and He shows the fiend the print of the nails, and points to His wounded side, and says, "Whatever thy claim may be, Mine is a higher claim; I bought, I paid for, I have the acceptance from the Divine hand, and this vessel of mercy was Mine, Mine long before thou couldst have any claim upon it."
IV. The same, dear friends, is true with regard to THE ENTIRE WORLD. The world cannot be destroyed, because "Jehovah is there." This world once shone, like its sister stars, bright and fair, but a sad shadow of eclipse was thrown upon it — it became swathed in the mists of sin. and though the glory of the Lord hath risen upon it, yet still much of the gloom and the thick darkness continues. Shall that darkness cover all the nation? Shall the light become dim forever? No, no; "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Shall its groans and travails end in nothing? No, no; the day cometh when "The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
( C. H. Spurgeon.).
PlacesEdom, Jerusalem, Mount Seir, Tigris-Euphrates Region
TopicsEar, Hast, Mountains, O, Prophesy, Prophet
Outline1. The land of Israel is comforted, by destruction of the heathen, who spitefully used it
8. and by the blessings of God promised unto it
16. Israel was rejected for their sin
21. and shall be restored without their desert
25. The blessings of Christ's kingdom
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 36:1-7
LibraryJanuary 2. "I Will Cause You to Walk in My Statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27).
"I will cause you to walk in My statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27). The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel's river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current's resistless force. So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life. But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
May 30. "I Will Put My Spirit Within You" (Ez. xxxvi. 27).
August 25. "And I Will Put My Spirit Within You, and Cause You to Walk in My Statutes, and Ye Shall Keep My Judgments and do Them" (Ezek. xxxvi. 27).
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The Covenant Promise of the Spirit
The New Heart
What Self Deserves
The Stony Heart Removed
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God Has Everything to do with Prayer
How those are to be Admonished with whom Everything Succeeds According to their Wish, and those with whom Nothing Does.
Jesus Angry with Hard Hearts
The Everlasting Covenant of the Spirit
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Pastor in Parish (I. ).
Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even as Your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect. Matthew 5:48.
The Person Sanctified.
Evidences Internal and Experimental.
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