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Devourers and Endeavourers
It was a beast, and yet it devoured men men that were intended in the Divine purpose and love to be sons of God. It was no ordinary quality of men that this beast learned to devour; the message is delivered to 'the princes of Israel'. 'What is thy mother?' A woman degraded, bestialized. 'A lioness... and she brought up one of her whelps; it became a young lion, and it learned' a word to be specially noted ' to catch the prey; it devoured men.' The whole lamentation is allegorical. Never omit the ideal from your criticism. We may unduly exalt the ideal or parabolical, or we may unduly repress it, and, shutting it out of our purview, we may starve our highest faculties and get nothing out of the Bible but letters, syllables, written and printed in iron and in ink.
I. 'It devoured men.' That is an allegorical lion, a beast that lived long ago, a beast that is dead. There you mistake the whole case. This ravenous lion is not only a lion now, but the beast is alive in every one of us.
There are two classes in the world at this moment Endeavourers and Devourers. There they are, and you can follow which band you please endeavourers, devourers and you cannot belong to the betwixt-and-between party. Perhaps you would not like to belong to the endeavourers, because that name may have to your perverted taste somewhat of cant and infatuation about it, and you want to see how the idea goes on before you join it, and you will join it most lovingly when it does not need you. There are many persons waiting to applaud me as soon as I become a very great man. Then they are my friends, they always were my friends; they had not said much about it perhaps, but they always had a warm side to me, and if ever I became a millionaire twice over and were the prime favourite of the throne, why, of course they knew me.
II. What remark occurs to you when thinking about the devourers? A very commonplace remark, but only commonplace because it is profoundly true The devourer always takes the easy course. That is why I contemn him. God never takes easy courses. Jesus never took an easy course. That is one of the reasons why I from a merely literary point of view delight in the conception of the Jesus of the New Testament. From the very first He would do hard work; He said He would save the world. There are some propositions that glorify themselves by their very boldness. Audacity may be an element and a seal of subdued and holy ambition.
We have in the first instance a devourer of men; in the second instance we have a Saviour of men. Which are we going to follow? which will really do us good? which will talk to us upon the greatest subjects? Let us listen to the conversation of both, and determine by the tone of the conversation which is the devourer and which is the endeavourer or saviour.
Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. III. p. 214.
References. XX. 2. J. Baldwin Brown, The Soul's Exodus and Pilgrimage, Philippians 1:0 and 164. XX. 6. G. Davidson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. 1897, p. 72.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 19". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19