Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible
MORE ON THE DOOM OF ISRAEL
Some have called this chapter a dirge; but, "There are four oracles in it: (1) Ezekiel 7:2-4, (2) Ezekiel 7:5-9, (3) Ezekiel 7:10-11, and (4) Ezekiel 7:12-13, followed by an exposition of their common theme (Ezekiel 7:14-27)."
The date of this section of the prophecy as given in 1:1 would leave about seven years before the capture of the city, the blinding of Zedekiah, and the destruction of the temple; but Ezekiel 7:2 here states that. "Now the end has come upon thee (Jerusalem)"; and upon that declaration Beasley-Murray dated this chapter shortly before the fall of the city, supposing that, "The date at the head of a section does not necessarily embrace everything that follows till the next date is given."
THE END IS NEAR
"Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah unto the land of Israel. An end: the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now is the end upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways; and I will bring upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity; but I will bring thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah."
Dummelow has an excellent summary of this whole chapter. "Here is a final message of doom upon the whole land; the judgment is inevitable and close at hand; social relations will be broken up; preparations will be of no avail; wealth misused for idolatry and luxury will become the spoil of the heathen; priests, prophets, king and nobles will be helpless to deliver; the Temple will be profaned, and the remnant shall be overwhelmed with SORROW."
A feature of this prophecy is the repetition. The end has come (Ezekiel 7:2); the day has come (Ezekiel 7:10); the time has come (Ezekiel 7:7); and doom has come (Ezekiel 7:7,12). This repetition was explained by Taylor. "It can be explained only against the background of popular belief in the inviolability of Jerusalem. Its destruction was inconceivable to the Israelite mind. Their view was that, "As long as God is God, God's Temple and God's city would stand.'"
"The end is come ..." (Ezekiel 7:2). "This is a standard announcement of doom as in Genesis 6:13. It serves for the eschatological end-time of Daniel 8:17."
"The four corners of the land ..." (Ezekiel 7:2). "A glance at Isaiah 11:12 shows that the phrase here means `the four corners of the earth.'" Here is far more than the heavenly chastisement of one small nation such as Israel. "This signifies the coming of the end upon the four corners of the earth; this means the end coming upon all mankind. This refers to a world-wide catastrophe, such as we find in the mythological expectations of disaster of ancient oriental nations, and such as Israel associated with the coming of Jehovah the world-judge." The end here is "the day of the Lord," the final day, the one spoken of by Zephaniah, Amos, Jeremiah and Micah. This reference to that great and final Day of Judgment, however, appears here as an overtone accompanying the prophecy of immediate and impending doom for Jerusalem.
All of God's great judgments upon evil nations are, in fact, omens of that ultimate Judgment when the Books shall be opened and the Judgment of the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11ff) shall occur. It was true of the flood, of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, of the fall of Tyre, and of Sidon, of Moab, Ammon, Edom. Gaza, Damascus, Israel (Samaria), and of Judah.
The first two chapters of Amos record eight of those judgments. The fall of Nineveh and Babylon are others; and many of the judgments upon wicked cities in the current dispensation of God's grace may also be considered as prophecies of the ultimate Judgment before Christ seated upon the Throne of Glory (Matthew 25). Certainly, the fall of Jerusalem, Rome, and Berlin must be viewed as further examples of the same truth.
"Amos first mentioned that, `the end is come,' (Amos 8:2); and from him this phrase came to be associated with eschatological times."
"Thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee ..." (Ezekiel 7:4). The meaning here is that, "The people will reap what they have sown, and their sins shall be recognized in their punishment."
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: An evil, an only evil; behold, it cometh. An end is come, the end has come; it awaketh against thee; behold, it cometh. Thy doom is come unto thee, O inhabitant of the land: the time is come, the day is near, a day of tumult, and not of joyful shouting, upon the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my wrath upon thee, and accomplish mine anger against thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways; and I will bring upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will bring upon thee according to thy ways; and all thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I, Jehovah, do smite."
TROUBLE UPON TOP OF TROUBLE FOR SINNERS
Ezekiel 7:8-9 here are almost a verbatim repetition of Ezekiel 7:3-4.
"An evil, an only evil ..." (Ezekiel 7:5). "This means an evil without precedent or parallel."
"It waketh for thee ..." (Ezekiel 7:6). The judgment against Israel is here personified, "as long slumbering, but now awake." The same personification of judgment is also found in 2 Peter 2:3.
A day of tumult, and not a day of joyful shouting upon the mountains. The popular idea of `The Day of the Lord' envisioned it as a time when God would suddenly appear and kill all of the enemies of Israel and turn the whole world over to them. Amos did his best to dispel that false view (Amos 5:18), but the idea persisted until the times of Ezekiel. What the prophet says here is that the day of the Lord will be filled, not with joyful shoutings of the harvesters, but with the screams of terror from the triumph of their enemies. The true picture of that day is given in Revelation 6:14-17.
"I, Jehovah, do smite ..." (Ezekiel 7:9). The Jews knew many hyphenated words for God, such as Jehovah-jireh (God will provide), Jehovah-nissi (The Lord is my banner), etc.; but it must have struck them with peculiar shock here that Ezekiel calls him Jehovah-makkeh (Jehovah will destroy, or smite).
"Behold, the day, behold, it cometh: thy doom is gone forth; the rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded. Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness; none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of their wealth; neither shall there be eminency among them."
AN OMEN OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT
Some have interpreted "the rod of wickedness" here as the avenging power of Babylon; but Cook stated that, "The prophet here has Israel in mind, not Babylon."
"Behold, the day, behold, it cometh" (Ezekiel 7:10). It is truly remarkable how all of the prophets of the Old Testament, in their writings of judgments that would come upon various peoples, always spoke of them as culminating in `a day!' "They saw in all calamities an ever-recurring omen of that day in which earth's story would be judged as a whole. To us, as to them, all sufferings for wickedness are foretokens of that last day when the fire shall try every man's work."
"The time is come, the day draweth nigh: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn; for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold, although they be yet alive: for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, none shall escape; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life."
COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES SHALL CEASE
This stresses the uselessness and futility of all buying and selling. "The whole multitude," the whole nation of Israel is doomed to the triple disasters of sword, pestilence, and famine that will leave only a remnant; and they shall be scattered to the winds.
Some have supposed that the reference to the buyer is made with respect to the approaching year of jubilee; but Cook stated that, "There is no evidence in the times of Ezekiel that the year of jubilee any longer existed as a social institution." What is meant was stated by Jamieson, namely, that neither the buyer nor the seller will any longer have a claim upon any part of the land; all of it will belong to the Chaldeans.
"They have blown the trumpet, and have made all ready; but none goeth forth to battle; for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine are within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, pestilence and famine shall devour him. But those of them that escape shall escape, and shall be on the mountains, like doves of the valleys, all of them moaning, every one in his iniquity. All the hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water. They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all faces, and baldness upon all their heads."
THE COLLAPSE OF JUDAH'S MILITARY POWER
The trumpet would indeed sound; but it would not be for a year of jubilee, but for the onset of devastating war. The people, absolutely powerless because of their guilt and debaucheries would not be able to answer the call to defend the city.
"The three scourges mentioned by Jeremiah, sword, pestilence and famine (Jeremiah 14:18) are here seen as divided between the city and the countryside"; but there can be no doubt whatever that all of them were also operative within the city itself.
"Like doves in the valleys ..." (Ezekiel 7:16). "As doves moan lamentably when driven through fear from their nesting places, so shall the remnant of Israel who escape death moan in the land of their exile."
"All knees ... weak as water ..." (Ezekiel 7:17). "This expression is unique to Ezekiel, and we shall meet it again in 21:7. The thought is paralleled in Isaiah 13:7 and in Jeremiah 6:24." It just means that all of the strength of the once mighty people has been sinned away. They are now powerless before their enemies.
"They shall cast their silver in their streets, and their gold shall be as an unclean thing; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of Jehovah: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels; because it hath been the stumbling-block of their iniquity. As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty; but they made the images of their abominations and their detestable things therein: therefore have I made it unto them as an unclean thing. And I will give it into the hands of strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall profane it. My face will I turn also from them, and they shall profane my secret place; and robbers shall enter into it and profane it."
STORED-UP WEALTH WILL BE UNABLE TO DELIVER THEM
The absolute worthlessness of all earthly valuables in a situation where one is confronted with the judgment of God is dramatically set forth here. Keil pointed out that the passage here "is reminiscent of Zephaniah 1:8," a passage describing the Final Judgment. "Silver and gold, nor any other wealth, can save us in the day of Jehovah's anger."
"Their beautiful ornament ..." (Ezekiel 7:20). "This is a reference to the silver and gold already mentioned." It was a stumblingblock to them, leading them into iniquity. They used the gold to minister to their pride and to make the images of their abominations.
"My secret place (or my precious place, as in NEB) ..." (Ezekiel 7:22). "This is a reference to the Temple."
"Make the chain; for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the nations, and they shall possess their houses: because I will also make the pride of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be profaned. Destruction cometh, and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumor shall be upon rumor; and they shall seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders. The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am Jehovah."
DISMAY AND DESPAIR SHALL COME TO ALL CLASSES
"Make the chain ..." (Ezekiel 7:23). May stated that this clause, "gives little sense"; but to us the message is clear enough. It means get the chains ready, the surviving citizens of Judah are to be deported to Babylon!
"The worst of the nations ..." (Ezekiel 7:24). Canon Cook called this a "designation of the Chaldeans." Watts has this comment on the Chaldeans.
Events of our own generation reveal that invading armies produce outrages on persons, the waste of stores of food, the outbreak of epidemic diseases; and the unearthed Assyrian sculptures prove that all such calamities were still more hideously the product of the Chaldean armies. They spared neither age nor sex; they burned up crops, destroyed stores of grain that they could not carry off, leaving behind an impoverished and depressed population, among whom pestilence and famine would tend to further death.
"They shall seek peace, and there shall be none ..." (Ezekiel 7:25). We think this is probably a reference to the Israelites seeking favorable terms of surrender to Nebuchadnezzar; but he insisted upon the total rain and destruction of the city. Plumptre suggested this as one of the possible meanings of the verse.
"The prophet ... the priest ... and the elders ..." (Ezekiel 7:26). "There is a threefold division of the people religiously in this verse"; and these give the three sources from whom the people should have been able to receive religious guidance and counsel; but the thought here is that every avenue of spiritual help was closed. "A world which has turned its back upon the source from which it derives its life (as Israel had done) is on the very brink of min."
"The people of the land ..." (Ezekiel 7:27) This is an expression often used in the Old Testament for the landed gentry; but Brace tells us that, "Here the phrase is used of the common people as distinguished from the king and the princes, the priests and the prophets, the principal divisions of the `establishment.'" The thought is that all classes of society are depressed and dismayed by the impending disaster.
Friday, September 30th, 2016
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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