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THE LORD IS NOT SLACK
‘I am the Lord; I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall be performed; it shall be no more deferred.’
Ezekiel 12:25 (R.V.)
I. In various ways the people of Israel were endeavouring to minimise the effects of Ezekiel’s denunciations of judgment.—They did not deny that he spoke the Word of God, but comforted themselves with the reflection that it was not likely to be fulfilled for some time yet. ‘The vision that he seeth is for many days to come.’ God, on the other hand, said, ‘It shall be no more deferred.’
II. We are all disposed to remove the wonderful working of God to the remote past or the distant future: either that He did miracles or will do them. Heaven touches the earth at this horizon or that, but it is remote from the place where we stand. This is the tendency of our mind, and for this reason we miss the manifestations of God’s grace and power which wait to enrich our lives. Now is the accepted time, now the day of salvation. As Christ is, so are we. There is as much of Divine power and love-throbbing around, and within our easy reach, as ever filled the upper room. That Jesus did miracles at the beginning of the Christian era does not excite surprise, nor yet that He shall do wonderful things at its close; but we are apt to be incredulous that our own days should be days of the Son of Man—the scene and time of His mighty deeds. We have no faith for it, and there is no room for Him to act. Who of us will dare to translate the Bible into living daily experience, and dare to believe that God will do (for those who trust Him) all, and more than all, than He did for those of old; especially by bearing witness to their words, with signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will? Let us not crowd God out by our fussy activities and self-directed energies, but make room for Him to do wondrously, whilst we look on, or co-operate, as He directs.
Whatever God has spoken He will perform. Whether it be of wrath to the sinner, or salvation to the saint, it shall no more be deferred.
‘It had come to be a proverb, since the threatened judgment was so long in coming, that it would not come at all (St. Luke 18:8; 2 Peter 3:3-Numbers :). The long-suffering of God, which is intended to lead to repentance, is thus quoted as against His word. But, in the teeth of the scoffing mockery with which these predictions were received, God would keep to a precise fulfilment of His threatenings. Some dared to affirm that judgment would be so long deferred that it would not come in their time. To these the Prophet says in effect: “The Judge standeth before the door.” Gird yourselves for the fray, and watch as those that await their Lord’s return, which is as certain as the rise of to-morrow’s sun.’
‘THE PROVERB’ AND ‘THE SAYING’
‘The word which I have spoken shall be done.’
There is in many respects a striking resemblance between the condition of Israel when about to enter into captivity under Nebuchadnezzar, and that which will characterise Christendom at the close of the present dispensation. It was a captivity from which they have been suffering ever since, and from which they will never recover till the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
I. The prophecies of the forthcoming judgments uttered by Ezekiel were received by Israel with unbelief and scorn.—The nation’s unbelief had actually passed into a proverb, ‘The days are prolonged and every vision faileth.’ As a matter of fact they were expressed thus, ‘The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.’ It was just saying, ‘Everything is going on just as it always did, and all the things so often foretold have “failed” to come to pass. These judgments, if they ever do come, are “far off”; they will never come in our time if they ever come at all.’ It is this all-pervading unbelief that was necessary to complete the dispensation. This was the ripened point to which the nation must arrive ere these predictions could receive their fulfilment. It was the last drop in the brimming cup of unbelief. But now the moment had come. The vials of wrath so long withheld were to be poured out: ‘I will make this proverb to cease.’ ‘Say unto them’ (in answer to their unbelieving saying), ‘The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision’: ‘I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days … will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.’
II. And in their days it was fulfilled.—With what exactness, and with what an awful outpour of wrath, let the reader peruse the prophecy of Ezekiel and he will see. Let the reader of these lines, whoever he may be, that secretly harbours in his soul the same unbelief of God’s warnings pronounced on Christendom, read its terrible fulfilment in the dispersion and degradation of the Jewish nation up to the present hour. Let him see that the same word of God shall come to pass on Christendom, notwithstanding the gracious longsuffering now going on, and that it is written on the present state of the Jewish nation as with a sunbeam.
III. And for what is the world at this moment waiting in order that God’s prophecies of judgment may be poured out?—Just this one and the same conspicuous mark of unbelief and scorn of coming judgment that characterised Israel. Till this unbelief becomes a ‘proverb’ in men’s mouths, prophecy will not have reached that point when it can be fulfilled. ‘There shall come in the last days scoffers saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.’ And is not this the very unbelief of the present day? We point them to the rapidly thickening signs of the fulfilment of prophecy—the lawlessness pervading every department of society, the earthquakes in divers places, and other signs that the end is near—and what is the reply? ‘Oh, these things always were, and will be to the end. We have had so many predictions of the end, but they have all failed, and things keep going on as they always did’—‘the days are prolonged and every vision faileth.’ ‘Where, in all these things, is the prospect of His coming?’ ‘All these things continue as they were!’ ‘Perhaps there is a day of judgment coming some time, but who knows when it will be, or whether it will ever come at all?’ ‘He prophesieth of many days to come, and the times that are far off.’
Thus we see in our own day how the prophecy is fulfilling, and how near at hand is the moment when the Lord shall again say, ‘The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.’
Rev. F. Whitfield.
‘In the horror of great darkness,
In the starless midnight gloom,
’Mid the shrieking of the tempest,
’Mid the hissing of the foam,
When the sons of men are quailing,
When the strongest faith is failing,
Sailor! cast an anchor,
Wishing for the day!
When the chilly sea-fog curtain
Gathers close with stealthy tread,
While weird voices strangely whisper,
“Breakers, breakers close ahead”;
In the agony of keeping
That stern watch that knows no sleeping,
Sailor! cast an anchor,
Wishing for the day!’
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezekiel 12". Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent