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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 14

Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral EpistlesFairbairn's Commentaries

Verses 1-23

CHAPTER 14.

HYPOCRITICAL INQUIRERS AFTER GOD THEIR WICKEDNESS DISCOVERED AND REBUKED.

Ezekiel 14:1 . And there came to me some of the elders of Israel and sat before me.

Ezekiel 14:2 . And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 14:3 . Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and the stumbling-block of their iniquity have they put before their face; should I be at all inquired at for them?

Ezekiel 14:4 . Therefore speak to them, and say to them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and conies to the prophet, I Jehovah will answer him according to it, according to the multitude of his idols. (This last clause is given in the authorized version, as by many others,” I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols,” following the Kri, which has נַאֲנֵיתִי בָא instead of נַעֲנֵיתִי בָה . There is no need, however, for such a change. Reading nil (which ought to be the pointing), we have, as Havernick remarks, a perfectly common Aramaic construction, according to which the subject expressed in the following noun is anticipated by a pronoun going before, so that the latter is not a mere pleonasm, but employed for the purpose of giving increased emphasis to the following substantive:” I the Lord will answer him according to it, according to the multitude of his idols.” The use of the Niphal of עָנָה in the sense of answering, or making answer, is certainly a peculiarity, as elsewhere the common meaning is, to be answered, or to receive answer. Both Ewald and Hävernick have tried to establish new renderings, but without any satisfactory result. The context plainly obliges us to adhere to the general and common import of the verb. Literally, “I the Lord am answered to him, according to it;” or reflectively, as the Niphal is often used, “I the Lord answer myself (or, for myself) to him, according to it.” The same sentiment, with a very slight variation, is repeated in Ezekiel 14:7: “And cometh to the prophet to inquire of him concerning me ( בִּי ), I Jehovah will answer him myself concerning me ( בִּי ).” The בִּי should in each case be alike rendered “concerning me,” and not in the latter case, as in the common version, “by myself.” For the meaning is not, as most commentators, and among others Hävernick, seem to suppose, that God would give an answer directly and personally, as from himself, without the intervention of a prophet; for in the very next verse but one, the case is supposed of a deceived prophet giving to such persons a wrong answer, while the Lord affirms that even such answer would be from him. Such would be, at least, one of the modes of his meeting these hypocritical inquirers. But the Lord would show, by the kind of answer given, however it might be communicated, that he had taken the matter into his own hand, and that he dealt with them not according to their desires and expectations, but to their deserts. He would take them, as it is said in Ezekiel 14:5, in their own heart, or would make them feel that he was cognisant of their great idolatries and perverse ways.)

Ezekiel 14:5 . That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, since they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Ezekiel 14:6 . Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Turn and come back from your idols (literally, from off your idols), and from all your abominations turn away your faces.

Ezekiel 14:7 . For every one of the house of Israel and of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, and separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet to inquire of him concerning me, I Jehovah will answer him myself concerning me.

Ezekiel 14:8 . And I will set myself against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb; and I will cut him off from among my people; and he shall know that I am Jehovah:

Ezekiel 14:9 . And the prophet, if he let himself be enticed (viz. by love of money or any other motive), and speak a word, I Jehovah have enticed that prophet, and will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from among my people Israel.

Ezekiel 14:10 . And they shall bear their iniquity; as the iniquity of him that inquires so is the iniquity of the prophet.

Ezekiel 14:11 . That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, and may no more be polluted with all their transgressions; and that they may be to me a people, and I may be to them a God, saith the Lord Jehovah.

12. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying,

Ezekiel 14:13 . Son of man, if a land sin against me by acting very treacherously, and I stretch out my hand upon it, and break for it the staff of bread, and send against it famine, and cut off from it man and beast:

Ezekiel 14:14 . And there were in the midst of it these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, these three men should deliver (only) their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord Jehovah.

Ezekiel 14:15 . If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, and it becomes a desolation, so that no one passes through because of the beasts:

Ezekiel 14:16 . These three men in the midst of it saith the Lord Jehovah should not deliver either sons or daughters; they alone should be delivered; and the land shall be a desolation.

Ezekiel 14:17 . Or should I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, pass through the land, and cut off from it man and beast:

Ezekiel 14:18 . And these three men were in the midst of it saith the Lord Jehovah they should not deliver either sons or daughters; but themselves alone should be delivered.

Ezekiel 14:19 . Or should I send a pestilence upon that land, and pour out my wrath upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:

Ezekiel 14:20 . And Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the midst of it, As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, neither son nor daughter should they deliver by their righteousness; they should but deliver their own souls.

Ezekiel 14:21 . For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, How much more (The “how much more when” here, which we retain as it is in the English Bible, expresses rather the thought indicated than the exact force of the original אַף כִּי . The prophet had announced what would take place on each of the supposed cases separately; and he comes now to say, Surely shall it be so now, when I send, etc. The particles are strongly affirmative, and intimate the much greater necessity that existed for what was now to be declared.) when I send my four severe judgments sword, and famine, and noisome beasts, and pestilence against Jerusalem, to cut off from it man and beast!

Ezekiel 14:22 . And behold there shall be left in it a remnant, that shall be brought forth, sons and daughters; they shall come forth to you, and ye shall see their way and their doings, and shall be comforted concerning the evil which I shall have brought upon Jerusalem, in all that I shall have brought upon it.

Ezekiel 14:23 . And they shall comfort you; for not without cause do I perform all that I do perform against it, saith the Lord Jehovah.

THIS chapter opens with a statement that “certain of the elders of Israel came to the prophet and sat before him.” By these elders we are certainly to understand persons holding that dignity among the exiles of Chebar, and not, as some have erroneously supposed, deputies from the people still resident in Judah and Jerusalem. For what purpose they came whether to ask counsel from the prophet regarding some point of difficulty that had occurred to themselves, or to hear what he might be prompted by the Spirit to communicate of seasonable instruction we are not expressly told. But that they came in the character of inquirers may be almost certainly inferred from Ezekiel 14:3, where the Lord at once proceeds, through his servant, to repudiate the idea of his being inquired at by persons of such a character, persons who had “set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face.” After this it is scarcely possible to doubt that they came in the character of inquirers; though what might be the precise object of their inquiry is nowhere indicated in what follows, unless we can suppose (what is in the highest degree probable) that the message of the prophet was so framed as in some part to meet the proposed subject of inquiry, and thus incidentally to discover what the subject itself really was. This supposition is confirmed by the fact, which strikes us the moment we glance over the contents of the chapter, that it falls into two parts, the first (Ezekiel 14:3-11) referring to the preliminary point respecting the character of the inquirers, and the remaining portion addressing itself to a subject entirely distinct, God’s method of dealing with a land and people when they have reached a state of hope less corruption and depravity. It is more than probable, therefore, that while God refused to give any formal answer to such inquirers as those who now sat before the prophet, he yet, in this latter portion of the message, gave a substantial deliverance on the question about which their anxiety had been raised.

The previous communications of the prophet had disclosed an amazing degree of wickedness prevailing generally among the people of Judah, and extending even to those who should have set themselves vigorously to check and reform it, the priestly and prophetical orders. It was not to be denied, however, with all the truth there might be in such representations, that there still were some noble expectations. Among the prophets there was, at least, the faithful and unflinching Jeremiah; and there were others, beyond doubt, of a kindred spirit, both in the priesthood and among the laity. How naturally, then, in such a case might the thought arise, that possibly after all, the existence of this faithful remnant would tell favourably upon the procedure of God, and throw a kind of shield over the land of Judah for its preservation! It is even conceivable, that the thought might assume in the minds of some a more decided form, and that they might be tempted to ask, how, with such an admixture of righteousness in the midst of them, God could justly proceed to pour down his exterminating judgments on the land! Such cogitations and inquiries were by no means unnatural at the time, especially when it is known how loath the people were as well that portion of them which was already in exile, as those who still dwelt in Jerusalem to think of the nation going to ruin. And if these were the points respecting which the elders on this occasion came to confer with the prophet, the message delivered in the latter division of the chapter might certainly be regarded as forming a most direct and explicit deliverance upon their intended inquiries.

1. But there was a strong reason for the prophet addressing himself, in the first instance, to the preliminary point connected with the character of the inquiries, on account, more especially, of the close relation that subsisted between such an exhibition of character in them, and the false spirit of prophecy which had already been so severely condemned. However they might wish, by coming to the Lord’s true prophet, to be regarded as of a different spirit from the false prophets and their deluded followers mentioned in the preceding chapter, they were in reality of one spirit with them, and, under another form, pursuing the same infatuated course. Therefore, when the word of the Lord came describing them as persons who were each setting up their idol in their heart, and putting the stumbling-block of iniquity before their face, their hypocrisy was at once unmasked, and they were themselves identified with the corrupt idolaters and incorrigible backsliders in Judea. “You,” the prophet virtually said to them, discerning through the Spirit the real state and purposes of their heart, “you also are living in idolatry, and differ only in outward semblance from those who are openly worshipping false gods; you have not yet returned in truth to the living God, but are each bent on the love and pursuit of things which are utterly opposed to his mind and will. And that you may be encouraged in these, not that you may learn with childlike docility what God would have you to do, is the object that lies nearest to your heart. In such a state, what presumption is it not in you to expect any friendly communications from God?”

The expression of “setting up their idols in their heart” (lit. making their idols to go up upon their heart), as Calvin justly remarks, implies a silent comparison between God and idols. For, as God erects the seat of his empire in our hearts, when we set up idols there we of necessity endeavour to subvert the throne of God, and to render his supremacy of no account. So also in the other expression, “putting the stumbling-block of iniquity before their face,” a contrast is implied between the law of God and the perverse inclinations of their own hearts. What should have been set before their eyes for their constant observance was the law of God, respecting which the exhortation had been given, “Let it not depart from thine eyes; then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thou shalt not stumble” (Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 3:23). But displacing this unerring rule of Divine counsel and direction, and adopting in its stead the course dictated by their own selfish and corrupt passions, they were as surely running into mischief as if they had deliberately placed a stumbling- block in their path. So that, in both respects, they were warring with the mind of God being at once idolatrous at heart and perverse in their ways.

For such persons to come and inquire of God, at the mouth of his servant, was plainly but a mockery of God; it was professing to have a desire to know God’s will, and a heart ready to fall in with its requirements, while in reality their mind was made up to a plan and purpose of its own, which set at nought the Divine authority. No wonder, then, that the Lord should at once have repelled the thought of his being inquired at by such persons; since, to use the words of Jerome, “he does not deserve to hear the truth who seeks for it in a fraudulent manner, but ought to be taken in his own heart.” Seeing, however, in these elders types of a class unhappily very numerous among the Jews, both in Judea and in exile, the prophet proceeded to inform them how, if they persisted in their course, they might expect to be dealt with. They should certainly find an answer to their inquiries, and that answer in a sense also from the Lord; but one, at the same time, after their own heart’s lusts, not in conformity with the truth of things “that I may take,” it is added,” the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.”

Yet, that this was not what the Lord properly wished that the giving of such an answer, and the ruinous consequences it was sure to entail, was a judgment which the Lord would fain avert, if he righteously could, he again charged the prophet to say to the house of Israel, “Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Turn, and come back from your idols, and turn away your faces from your abominations.” He wished them distinctly to understand that if they really sought to be on terms of friendship with God, and to obtain answers of peace to their inquiries, there was one thing essential to be done: they must thoroughly reform their ways, and abandon the polluted objects on which they had set their hearts. On this condition alone could they expect to be graciously dealt with by God; and if they refused to comply with the terms, they might indeed go to a prophet, and receive an answer to their inquiries, but it must be with a sure reversion of evil; their own measure would be meted back to them. They should, in that case, be dealing deceitfully toward God, and the prophet in turn would deal deceitfully toward them. Both subjects of a common delusion, they should also at last become the victims of a common ruin. “And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity; the iniquity of the prophet shall be even as the iniquity of him that inquires at him; that the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, and may no more be polluted with all their transgressions; but that they may be to me a people, and I may be to them a God, saith the Lord Jehovah.”

The point chiefly to be noticed in this deliverance of the mind of God is the connection between the self-deceived people and the deceiving prophet; regarding whom it is said, in peculiarly strong language, “I the Lord have enticed (or deceived) that prophet.” It is an example in the highest sphere of the lex talionis. If the people were sincere in their desire to know the mind of God, for the purpose of obeying his will, the path was plain. They had but to forsake their idolatries, and the Lord was ready to meet them with direction and blessing. But if, on the other hand, they were bent on playing the hypocrite, professing to inquire concerning him while their hearts in reality were cleaving to corruption, punishment was sure to overtake them, and that too, in the first instance, after the form of their own iniquity. God would chastise their sin with a corresponding sin; and as they had rejected the safe direction of the true light, he would send the pernicious delusion of a false one. Prophets would be given them, who should re-echo the deceitfulness that already wrought in their own bosom, so that their iniquity should prove their ruin.

The people themselves had no reason to complain of such a procedure, for they had from the first been distinctly forewarned of it by Moses. At the beginning of the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy, the supposition is made of a false prophet arising, who, by dreams and visions, should attempt to lead away the people from the true worship and service of Jehovah. In that event they were expressly discharged from hearkening to his words nay, were commanded to put him at once to death; and were instructed to regard such occurrences as among the means of trial which the Lord appointed for the purpose of proving and purifying them. “For the Lord your God proveth you,” it is said, “to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.” The very appearance of such characters, then, was a judicial act on the part of God. It implied that he detected the existence of sin among the people, and required, for the ends of his righteous government, to apply a touchstone, by which to effect a separation between the precious and the vile. Not as of itself, but as a form of chastisement under the hand of God, did the false spirit of prophecy arise a sure indication that the day of visitation had begun. So, too, it had happened in the case of Saul, when an evil spirit was sent to trouble him, in the room of that blessed Spirit whose guidance he had rejected; a messenger of Satan, indeed, but one that should not have been suffered to appear unless there had been a call for judgment! It was the Lord’s instrument of correction for indulged sin.

The most notable and striking example of this sort in ancient history, and one to which the prophet here evidently refers, is that recorded in 1 Kings 22:19, etc., where the prophet Micaiah says to Ahab: “Hear thou, therefore, the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him, on his right hand and on his left. And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth; and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also; go forth and do so.” Here, it is plain, the spirit of falsehood, entering into and working in the false prophets, appears to come elsewhere than from God; but not less plain, also, that the giving up of Ahab and his people to the influence of such a spirit was of God, an act of judgment, standing midway between the sins of a past life and the approaching doom of a fearful retribution. It was God who, in righteousness, fixed the doom, and who also appointed this particular mode of carrying it into execution. Yet the power by the immediate instrumentality of which it was to be effected was no magical one, such as might fascinate and control the minds of Ahab and his people, independently of their own free will. On the contrary, it was their voluntary adherence to the spirit of delusion, and their obstinate surrender to its influence, which led God to abandon them to this new and more fatal subjection to its power. And hence, both in the case of Ahab, and here again in the representation by Ezekiel, the yielding to that spirit, whether in the way of persuading or of being persuaded, is treated as a crime, drawing after it its appropriate punishment: the Lord stretches out his hand, and punishes both the prophet and him that inquires at him.

The facts and statements now referred to clearly imply something more on the part of God than that bare permission, by which many commentators, both in earlier and later times, have sought to explain his entire connection in such cases with evil. “I have deceived that prophet,” that is, says Dr. Adam Clarke, “He ran before he was sent; he willingly became the servant of Satan’s illusions; and I suffered this to take place, because he and his followers refused to consult and serve me.” So also Maurer, who explains the statement thus: “I will suffer him to be deceived; I will not hinder him from being so; I will surrender him to his fate.” True, no doubt, so far as it goes, but a portion of the truth still remains to be told. There is not merely a negative, but also a positive relation on God’s part to sin, inasmuch as he controls and directs its operations, so that they may fit suitably into his Divine plan, and may develope themselves in such forms and ways as are demanded by the order and rectitude of his administration. Should a spirit of delusion, for example, break out in any particular place or time, it is certainly in itself to be regarded as an emanation from the prince of darkness; but that it should appear in the precise form it does, at such a time, or with such results, must be ascribed to the directing agency and overruling providence of God. So the apostle evidently teaches, when, speaking of what, in Christian times, should correspond to the false prophesying of an earlier period, he says: “And for this cause” viz. because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12). “God punishes sin with sin. Therefore upon the lost, who in their guilt would not cherish a love of the truth in their hearts, he sends forth a powerful delusion, that they might believe a lie. The force of the expressions must not be weakened, so as to describe anything less than a judicial hardening. The ‘strong delusion,’ as to its ultimate ground, points to Antichrist himself, who, in ‘the working of Satan,’ sets forward his deceit; but the ‘sending’ indicates the coming of Antichrist to be of God. The Lord does not make Antichrist, so far as he is evil, but he certainly does make him, in so far as he manifests himself in this particular shape and form, under these circumstances and relations.” (Olshausen on 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12.)

II. But we pass on to the second part of the chapter, which, as before noticed, speaks to a case entirely different, and one that probably coincided with the inquiry proposed by the elders. It has respect to the question, what effect the existence of a few righteous persons among the Jewish people might be expected to have at such a time on the purposes of God? The Lord had already told Jeremiah that the guilt of the people was too great to be pardoned on account of his intercession, and that even if Moses and Samuel, to whom the Lord had listened on former occasions of grievous backsliding and apostasy (Exodus 32:0; Numbers 14:0; 1 Samuel 7:0.), were now present to plead in their behalf, it would be altogether in vain (Jeremiah 14:2, Jeremiah 15:1). It was in immediate connection with the forms of evil, which are so prominently exhibited in this portion of Ezekiel’s writings, viz. the prevalence of the spirit of false prophecy, and the readiness of the people to listen to its lying divinations, which called forth in Jeremiah that strong declaration of the utter inefficacy of prayer to meet and remedy such a case as this. And as in regard to the subject itself Ezekiel treads in the footsteps of Jeremiah, so also, in the judgment pronounced upon it, he merely supplements the representation previously given by Jeremiah, by bringing another moral element into play, and declaring also its incompetence to prevent or rectify the evil in such a time of apostasy and rebuke. The two most powerful and honoured intercessors, Moses and Samuel, could not do it by their intercession. Jeremiah had said. No, responds Ezekiel from the banks of the Chebar; nor could three of the most righteous men that have ever lived, either in past or present times, do it by their righteousness. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were all at this moment in the land, they could not stay the judgment of God from proceeding.

Many frivolous reasons have been assigned, especially by the Fathers, why these three men in particular should have been singled out for such distinguished honour on this occasion. But the real reasons are not far to seek. For these three individuals were all eminently distinguished for their personal righteousness, and, on account of this, were saved from overwhelming calamities which destroyed others. Yet not without some striking diversities of circumstance, evidently in the eye of the prophet. Noah was saved amid the wreck and desolation of a world, and had the members of his family, but these alone, given to him. Daniel was saved from the unreasonable fury of the king of Babylon, and prevailed also to shield from destruction a few companions of kindred spirit, though inferior standing to himself (Daniel 2:0.). But Job was stript even of his family and household, not a son nor a daughter left to him; and of the three, therefore, was the most striking monument of the simple righteousness of God preserving the good and punishing the bad. On this account, probably, his name comes last in order, since, in his case, the principle under consideration found its most stringent application. In all these cases, God had signally stamped their righteousness with his approbation; yet if the whole three should now stand before him, they could not alter his determination to inflict the sore judgments which were impending over the king and people of Judah; the cup of iniquity was full; the stroke of vengeance must come down; and the utmost that the righteousness of such men could do, would be to deliver their own souls only a Job’s escape could be given to them, without either son or daughter. (Exception has been taken very unreasonably against the mention of Daniel along with Noah and Job, and an argument raised out of it against the authenticity of Daniel’s history. But at the time Ezekiel now wrote, Daniel had been at least fourteen years in Babylon, and the circumstances which first spread abroad his fame so much those recorded in the two first chapters of his book are understood to have occurred very shortly after his going to Babylon. There was, therefore, ample time for his extraordinary worth to be generally known and familiarly referred to; the more so, as the Jews would naturally, in their present low condition, think with pride of one who had acquired so much glory for their nation at the very seat of empire, and would probably even be disposed to count unduly upon the benefits to be derived from his virtues and influence. See Hengstenberg’s Beitr. i. pp. 70-72.)

The manner of the prophet in unfolding this sentiment is highly rhetorical. He first puts the case in the form of a general supposition, the case of a land sinning grievously, and liable to one of the grievous judgments threatened in the law against hardened transgressors (Leviticus 26:22, Leviticus 26:33); he repeats successively the four different kinds of Divine judgment, as ready to be executed, and in respect to each affirms the impossibility of the three righteous men arresting the course of justice, or prevailing to deliver more than their own souls. Then, at Ezekiel 14:21, concentrating the whole of the supposed cases, with their corresponding judgment, as in one mass of condemnation and woe upon Jerusalem, he proceeds: “How much more when I send my four severe judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!” As much as to say, “This land has now reached such a state of utter abandonment and hopeless depravity, that it deserves to have not one merely, but the whole of my sore judgments let loose upon it in combined fury; and if those righteous men could not save a land, when one only was due, how foolish to think that they could save such a land as this!”

And even this does not reveal the whole of the severity that was to be exercised upon Jerusalem; for the two concluding verses, while they point to a remnant escaping the flood of judgments, point at the same time to the necessity of still further severity being made to follow them. It is a word of threatening, not of promise, as the great majority of commentators suppose, and our translators also appear to have understood it. “And, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings; and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I shall have brought upon Jerusalem, in all that I shall have brought upon it. And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings; and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord Jehovah.” The word is formally addressed to the people already in exile, who are regarded as viewing the destruction about to be executed on Jerusalem with astonishment, and some degree of dissatisfaction. The prophet tells such there would certainly be a remnant not, however, in the proper sense, as if they were themselves deserving persons, or spared for blessing for the sake of the pious among them, but a remnant still so wedded to sin, and so manifestly deserving of severe chastisement, that every one would recognise the justice of God’s dealings toward them. “Ye shall see,” to use the language of Calvin, who here caught the real meaning of the prophet, “the men to be so wicked, that ye shall be forced to confess the city was deserving of destruction, and the men themselves worthy of death. And instead of murmuring and fretting against God, ye shall be satisfied, it could not have been otherwise ordered, their wickedness was of so desperate a nature; so that, with soothed and tranquil minds, ye shall henceforth proclaim my righteousness, and cease any more to utter the complaints which now disturb your minds.”

This, we have no doubt, is the correct view of the passage, for it has respect simply to God’s justice in visiting them with such severity; and there is not a word dropped, either of their being brought to repentance when in exile, or of God’s extending mercy to them when there. It is the severe aspect of the Divine procedure that is exhibited throughout. Doubtless the view given is to be understood with certain limitations; there was mercy, to some extent, to be found mingling with the judgment, as there would also be some grains of wheat concealed among the heaps of chaff that were to be driven forth into Chaldea. Other prophecies speak also of these; but the word here has to do only with the work of judgment on account of sin. Yet, even in regard to that, it challenges the concurring judgment and approval of all who should be at pains to acquaint themselves with the entire circumstances. For God must ever be justified when he is judged with knowledge and impartiality. Dissatisfaction with his ways, or quarrelling with his purposes, springs up only where ignorance and sinful prejudice exist. And when all things shall at last be made manifest, there is not an act in his administration, however stern and severe, which shall not call forth the response from every intelligent bosom: He hath done all things well; his ways are righteousness and truth.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 14". "Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral Epistles". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fbn/ezekiel-14.html.
 
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