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4. FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS AS TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF ISRAEL’S CONDUCT (Chap. 6)
EXEGETICAL NOTES.—The judgment on places of idolatry and the worshippers (Ezekiel 6:1-7). After asserting, in Ezekiel 6:1, his renewed consciousness that he was to speak from the inworking power of the Lord, Ezekiel unfolds the procedure which will be taken. Here he has special reference to the whole country, as in chaps. 4 and 5 the city Jerusalem was chiefly in view.
Ezekiel 6:2. “Son of man, set thy face,” a frequent command given to the prophet, and intended to impress him with a vivid sense of the objects he was to address; “towards the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them.” The Lord has a controversy with the mountains and their prominent physical features, as if they had ears and faculties for understanding. He, as it were, directs His admonitions through them to the men who had disordered those features by setting up forbidden idols and paying open dishonour to His holy name.
Ezekiel 6:3. “And say … Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers”—the last word is used of the beds or channels in which waters run, and should be translated here by gorges or ravines; it thus forms a more exact parallelism “to the valleys.” “They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good” (Hosea 4:13). Cf. Ezekiel 6:13 below. “Behold I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.” The Hebrew word for high places is occasionally employed simply to signify elevated spots, but more commonly refers to them as the shrines for worship habitually carried on. The worship in such places was part of that nature-worship which has prevailed in many regions of the world, and in which Baal, the sun-god, had a prominent share (Numbers 22:41, Joshua 13:17). From what quarter the Israelites were influenced towards Baal-worship is doubtful, but they had yielded to it, and crowned the high places, which lay exposed to the rays of the sun, with figures of some sort. How far that worship was alien to the mind of the living God is illustrated by what the reforming King Josiah did in his zeal for the Lord (2 Kings 23:0), and in what Ezekiel adds.
Ezekiel 6:4. All the apparatus belonging to this idol-worship is doomed to destruction, “your altars shall be desolate,” not fit to be resorted to, “and your images,” in margin, sun-images, but probably figures of some kind representing Baal, the god of the sun, and Astarte, goddess of the moon, “shall be broken, and,” directing the address to the people, “I will cast down your slain before your idols.” This is a reference to Leviticus 26:30, though this special word for idols is found chiefly in Ezekiel. It is probably connected with a root which signifies filth, and is a contemptuous description of them—they are dung, or refuse-gods.
Ezekiel 6:5. “And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their refuse-gods”—the gods they cried to could not defend from death, and, their nothingness having been proved, they would be defiled by the corpses of their unhelped devotees; “and I will scatter your bones round about your altars”—the utmost ignominy would be cast upon idolatry by this utter desecration of its materials for worship.
Ezekiel 6:6. The declaration is made that, beside the destruction in the high places, &c., extreme desolation would be produced wherever population had gathered. The ground of this extension of punishment is indicated in Isaiah’s words, “According to the number of thy cities so are thy gods,” and the end aimed at is to sweep away every trace of idol-service, “that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate.” The Hebrew word in the preceding portion of this verse and translated desolate is different from this one, which more appropriately should be translated be guilty. The altars are regarded as participating in, and so held guilty of the sin which they were used to carry out. A similar sentence was passed by the prophet sent to Jeroboam in the word of the Lord. When the king “stood by the altar to burn incense” the prophet cried, “O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord, Behold … upon thee shall Josiah offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.” The refuse-idols should be done away with and the sun-pillars be hewn down and a complete abrogation ensue of all that had been unfaithfully done. “And your works”—“whatever can be ascribed to men which they have not taken from the mouth of God and the commands of His law”—“may be abolished.”
Ezekiel 6:7. “And the slain”—a word in the singular, as if to show that one mind had animated the mass of the slain in practising idolatry—“shall fall in the midst of you.” There will be survivors to see the slaughtered idolaters, and the eye will affect their heart so that they shall recognise the action of the almighty, righteous One, “and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Thus a ground is laid for the following promise.
CREATION’S MATERIALS INSTRUCTING MEN (Ezekiel 6:1-7)
It is common enough for men of all countries, when under the influence of strong emotions, to appeal to inanimate objects as if they were animated. It is a natural form of speech, proceeding from the formative hand. “He that formed the ear shall He not hear?” There is a likeness of the Creator in the creature; and when the impulse of feeling moves us to speak to sun or stars, to mountains or glens, as if they could comprehend our meaning, we are imitating Him who made all things and knows to what uses He can put them all. In His Word prophets and poets apostrophise created objects as witnesses of the Lord’s doings. Thus Ezekiel does, and here we may consider—
I. There is a life in created objects. “Prophesy against the mountains.” This susceptibility in creation was signified to Ezekiel in his “visions of God:” this is signified by Apostle Paul in the words, “All things have been created for Christ, and in Him all things consist”—have their continuance and order. Each has its post and its purpose in the administration of God; and because it helps to accomplish His far-reaching will, it may be truly regarded as having a portion in that life with which He fills all things. All things may not be called living, but they are sustained by that life which is present everywhere. They suffer in man’s bondage to corruption—“The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.” They are abashed and silent when ordered to be so by the Son of Man—“He rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.” Not as a freak of fancy, but as a suggestive and awful fact, we may look at the materials of nature and find tokens of the living God, observant of us and interested in us and our ways. In view of mountains and hills, girded by ravines and valleys, we may exclaim, “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me!”
II. There is a perversion of created objects. Men who look at and act upon nature colour it and swathe it with their own thoughts and aims. Advantages of position, capabilities for the application of human strength and skill to material things, are turned into means of doing that which pleases men and displeases the Lord. Mountains and valleys, heaps of stones and carved pillars, are thus associated with man in man’s sins. They are placed under a sentence of condemnation, and marked with signs of disorder and destruction. What though they have no consciousness of good and evil, what though they have no power of action against the will of man, they are made into his instruments for evil, and must be broken when he is broken. For God does not abandon His claim over them. Every creature of His is good, only the dark shadow has fallen on them; their glory is tarnished; their tribute to the Maker’s praise is obstructed; their pollution is as “a smoke in His nose,” and He “will make them desolate.” But man is the cause of all the evil. It is his procedure with the forms of things which depraves them; the mountain is occupied with the worship of the created sun, the shade of trees becomes the haunt for immoralities under the sanction of the gods. Thus are the creatures perverted. In olden times, altars were polluted, oblations were vain, incense was an abomination; in modern times, our buildings for public worship, with their decorations, our church music, with its display or its listlessness, may be perverted so as to be a condemnation of the worshippers. What need is there to serve the Lord in the beauty, not of any outward appearance, but of holiness!
III. There are tokens of doom on created objects.
1. In their desolation. “I will bring a sword upon you [mountains], and will destroy your high places.” The ruins and the dreariness of spots, in which people were accustomed to serve their gods, suggest to inspecting eyes that the supremacy and sanctity of the Most High had been invaded there, and the invasion had been repelled with unsparing vehemence. Judgments were executed upon them, not because they could be held guilty, but because they had been the scenes of human wrong-doing. We are taught the needed lesson that sin is to be abhorred, not only because it defiles the sinner, but also because it draws the trail of the serpent over all he uses in his sin. “Every prospect” does not “please” where “man is vile.”
2. In the human sufferings they are made witnesses of. “I will lay the dead carcases … before their idols.” The very places to which they would flee for shelter will be turned into shambles; the reed they leaned on shall pierce their hand. So deserted would the districts become that the bodies would lie unburied, be made into ghastly skeletons, be bleached and crumble into pieces; their “bones would be scattered round about their altars.” The fields of battle, the shores of surging seas, the ruins of earthquakes, with more or less distinct utterance, declare in Reason’s ear, We are witnesses of the pains and death inflicted on a world over whose physical features the dishonour done to God has been imprinted, and we tell back to hearing ears that that God is holy in all His ways, cannot look upon sin, and will make good His title to supreme power and righteousness.”
EXEGETICAL NOTES.—Ezekiel 6:8-10. A gleam of comfort. Ezekiel has told how bitter ruin and slaughter should teach the children of Israel that “God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth,” and now he will tell that that same truth would be learned in another way. Some of those who have survived and been taken into captivity shall be moved, by the hard conditions of their lives, to acknowledge that they have done very wickedly, and that God has done righteously.
Ezekiel 6:8. “Yet will I leave a remnant that ye may,” or, in that ye shall, “have some,” because they have been preserved so as to “escape the sword among the nations,” and who will be found amongst their fellow-countrymen “scattered through the countries.”
Ezekiel 6:9. In the privations and sorrows of exile, like the prodigal son in feeding on husks, they would come to themselves, and recall what they had been and done. “They that escape of you shall remember me.” The thought of God Himself would be brought distinctly into their hearts, and that would alter their convictions as to their bygone life. They would perceive that against Him, Him only, they had sinned; “because I am broken with their whorish heart.” The “Speaker’s Commentary,” in agreement with others, proposes to translate thus: Because I have broken their whorish heart, which hath departed from Me, and their eyes, &c. Hengstenberg, with others also, says, “The word properly means, ‘I was broken:’ this stands for, ‘I have broken for myself;’ ” a translation which is equivalent to the former. Both signify that it was not what their whorish heart did to Him, but what He did to it, that is set forth. We cannot acquiesce in this opinion. The remnant, who remembered the Lord, perceived also that by various methods He had shown how grieved and provoked and wounded He was by the people turning away from His worship—that He was broken by their unfaithfulness. The expression is peculiar—is it more so than others in reference to the Lord? “I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock,” &c. (Proverbs 1:26). “Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?” (Jeremiah 15:18). “Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves” (Amos 2:13). This pain to God was occasioned, not by the inward only, but also by the outward proceedings of Israel, “with their eyes, which go a whoring after their refuse-idols: and,” in consequence of this remembrance of “the Lord and the words of His holiness,” “they shall loathe themselves,” will look into the face of their past conduct with deepest aversion, “because of all the evils,” &c.
Ezekiel 6:10 should be read, “And they shall know that I the Lord have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.” The words do not assert that the remnant should know He was the living God, but that He was true to all His warnings about the evil things which had come to pass among “a disobedient and gainsaying people.” “By the correspondence of utterance and event, they know that He who spoke by the son of man is Jehovah—is God in the fullest sense.”
CONDITIONS OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE (Ezekiel 6:8-10)
Among those indicated by the verses are—
I. A specialising action of the Lord. “I will leave a remnant.” Out of the idolatrous people; out of their broken-down trust in their land, their Temple, their covenant with God; out of their ranks as they were living amidst heathenism, what hope could there be that one even would receive a new life in his spirit? For men it might be impossible, but not for God. It is His spontaneous action. They would not have sought Him. They would have continued in sin and sorrow unless a power external to themselves had moved upon them. “Except the Lord of hosts had left us a very small remnant,” &c. “We love Him because He first loved us.” It is an action superior to circumstances. Sins may be still prevailing, judgments in course of execution, the moral atmosphere of the places in which the sinners live apparently repulsive to spiritual health, yet the Lord is able to work there upon whom He will. He can make His mercy as well as His fury rest where all circumstances seem unfavourable. He can deliver a soul in Babylon as well as in Zion. It is a mysterious action. We may try to conjure up suppositions about reasons why God does not at once do all the evil which He threatens, or why He bestows on some that which He does not bestow on others; but a duly reverent heart will rather repeat the words of Jesus, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” For not in ourselves can we discover fitness. The acknowledgment of every sin-conscious soul must be, “I shall perish if He does not save me.” It is a comforting action. It tells that greater is He that is for us than all that can be against us; that He is able to redeem souls from death; that however low His cause may have fallen, as if it were even destroyed, its preservation is with Him. He will not let it disappear. He will revive it in many or in few.
II. The pressure of tribulations. They did not serve the Lord when they were in their native land, when the Temple and its ordinances were accessible, when early and late prophets were addressing them in the Word of the Lord; but they do so when they are scattered among the nations, when they have seen death mowing down numbers of their friends, when they are in heaviness because of the loss of so much which they had formerly possessed. The gods they had trusted in had utterly failed to protect them, and they were made to feel that their own folly and wickedness had brought all the evil to pass, and they judged themselves, their lusts, their corruptions, their unfaithfulness to the Lord. “When He slew them, then they sought Him.” Tribulations we may have, but Christ can give His peace. We may not have relief from them, and yet be taught of God. Cast into beds of affliction, surrounded by those who regard not the Lord, deprived of the means of grace, we may find spiritual blessings which a state of worldly comfort had not brought to us. “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,” and reconciliation to God makes up for all trouble in earthly things.
III. A consciousness of God. “They shall remember me.” They will recall His doings, and see how utterly He is different from the creatures they had worshipped; how they had been fed by His bounty; how they had heard His words; how patiently He had borne with their offences; how just He is in punishing; how good in preserving them from famine, pestilence, and the sword; how full of gracious love in acting upon their long-shut hearts. They set the Lord Himself before their faces. We may desire to be at peace with an armed man who is stronger than we, and yet not care to live with him; but let penitence kindle at the remembrance of the strong Lord, and we do not want to think about His pardon only, we want to live and walk in His presence. “Because I am broken with their whorish hearts,” &c. They learn truly of God, not because they were under the stripes of His wrath, and said as Cain, “My punishment is greater than I can bear,” but because they had produced disappointment and pain to Him. In His light they see light. The thought that His heart was broken breaks theirs. They are humbled before His wonderful pity. His goodness leads them to repentance.
IV. A deep sense of personal unworthiness. “They shall loathe themselves for the evils,” &c. We find in this—
1. That their hearts were affected. The effect of a consciousness of God was, as it was with Job, to make them abhor themselves and repent in dust and ashes. No more palliation of their idolatry, no attempting to lessen the blamableness of their conduct, could be entertained. From the depths of their souls they heaved sighs and groans of shame. It was sorrow according to God, and it wrought revenge, &c.
2. That they understood the controversy of God against them. They did not loathe themselves because of their banishment, their poverty, their bereavements, the contempt of the heathen, but because they had done evil. They had left Him, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out broken cisterns that could hold no water; they had treated their Lord unkindly, and wounded Him by offending against His majesty and grace. They saw that He had brought them into grievous sufferings; but it was when they saw that they had in sin disobeyed their God that they took right views of themselves and justified Him. Ah! we shall not escape condemnation because we have never worshipped an idol, never perpetrated any open transgression. Worldliness of temper, unkindness to a brother, formality in the worship of God, are bitter and abominable things before the Heart-searcher, and which He rebukes sternly. For such evils He will not need to condemn us; we shall condemn ourselves.
3. That they made not one reserve. “The evils committed in all their abominations.” They would not defend any course they had taken. Sins in any place or with any person, sins in business or religion, sins in secret or in the railway, sins meant to be done or not looked on as sins, will form part of our confession of the unworthy conduct for which we loathe ourselves.
Look on your ways, look into your hearts, let the light of Christ shine on them, and shall ye not be ashamed and confounded for all ye have done? No door of hope for men can be opened other than that which brings us to God. With Him we should be blessed with spiritual blessings, and we should act as heralds to make known His coming to save and reign. “When I am weak, then am I strong.”
THE POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD (Ezekiel 6:10)
I. Before men are afflicted and humbled for their sin, they refuse and slight the Word of God. Let prophets preach powerfully, and lay God’s judgments before the evildoers; they do not pay heed, but they shall know that their hearts were stout against God and His truth.
II. A heart under affliction, loathing itself for its sins, will give due honour to the Word of God. “Then shall they know.” Blows beget brains, and ingratitude and abuse of the threatenings and promises which the Lord had made known will be acknowledged. The truest penitent doth most abhor himself, and the more of that self-abhorrence, the more complacency in the faithfulness of God in His word and His infinite love in Christ.
III. The Lord will not let His Word be unaccomplished. “I have not said in vain that I would do this. A word is in vain when it is not fulfilled, inefficaciously fulfilled, or unseasonably fulfilled; but none of these befall the Word of the Lord. It shall accomplish that which He pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto He sent it.”—Greenhill (abridged).
EXEGETICAL NOTES.—Ezekiel 6:11-14. The doom assured. The break in the dark threatening clouds is but for a moment. The time is not yet for the prophet to unfold the bright sunshine of rich mercy. He has pointed to a blessing among penitent exiles, but calamities are nearer than that is, and once more he recurs to the sombre and painful scene which must be the precursor of blessings. It is, with a few additional touches of colour, a repetition of former words.
Ezekiel 6:11. “Smite with thine hand and stamp with thy foot.” These gestures do not signify derision of the unhelping refuse—idols or their worshippers; or pain at the sufferings or revulsion at the iniquities of the people. A sharp, almost unconscious, clapping of the hand and stamping with the foot is occasionally seen when a thing has turned out badly, and all hope of accomplishing anything by it is at an end. This is the idea which has been wrapped up in similar gestures, on the part of God or man, which are recorded in the Scriptures (chaps. Ezekiel 21:14; Ezekiel 21:17, Ezekiel 22:13, Ezekiel 25:6; Numbers 24:10; Job 27:23). The gestures are consequent on the belief that the last scene of the observed proceedings is played out. To his gestures the prophet adds the exclamation, “Ah!” and affirms its reference “to all the evil abominations of the house of Israel; for,” because of the evils, “they shall fall by the sword,” &c. The three great means of punishment formerly threatened to the city (chap. Ezekiel 4:2; Ezekiel 4:12) shall be applied to the country also.
Ezekiel 6:12. “He that is far off,” out of the range of the invading Chaldeans, “shall die of the pestilence, and he that remaineth, and he that is besieged,” or rather he that is preserved—as in Isaiah 49:6, “To restore the preserved of Israel”—from pestilence and sword, “shall die by the famine,” &c.
Ezekiel 6:13. (comp. Ezekiel 6:3; Ezekiel 6:5; Ezekiel 6:7). A fuller characterisation of the localities in which the people had reared idol-shrines is here given, and shows that “the land was full of idols,” and that there should be an utter desecration of each “place where they did offer sweet savour to all their refuse-idols.” They were as eager to gratify, if they could, the inanimate idols as true worshippers were to offer what would be acceptable to the holy God; as Noah when he presented burnt-offerings for the first time on the renovated land (Genesis 8:21).
Ezekiel 6:14. “And I will stretch out my hand against them;” they had placed idols all over the country, and He, too, would exert His power so as to “make the land desolate utterly, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath;” an obscure reference, but probably applicable to the Moabitish double city of Diblathaim (Numbers 33:46), which lay westward from the Arabian desert. A name, closely allied to this, is found on the lately discovered Moabitish stone as the name of some place. The thought is expressed that this desolation would be “in all their habitations.” No dwelling-house would exist where the sense of wasteness and loneliness should not be felt. This verse is ended, as Ezekiel 6:13 had been begun, with a declaration that by such inflictions there would be impressed on the people a knowledge of the Eternal, Holy One.
SOME CONCLUSIONS AS TO SIN (Ezekiel 6:11-14)
I. That its results will be a manifest wonder and pain to servants of the Lord. They will not merely “muse” upon the evils which are presented to them; they will at times give way to external expression of feeling. They will clap with their hands, &c.; rivers of water will run down their eyes; they could wish themselves accursed from Christ. Nowhere should there be such intense interest in watching the development of individual and national procedure as among those who believe in God who is light and love.
II. That all sins are considered in the judgments of the Lord. “All the evil abominations.” And with reason. An inner or outward evil is a violation of law, and exerts a certain influence in contrariety to the will of God. Each is taken into His estimate of what He must do when He visits for transgressions.
III. That various forms of penalty against sin shall be inflicted. Through disease, violence, hunger, or some other method, every sinner shall become an object on which holy wrath will fall in greater or less heaviness. What if we do not understand the meaning of the manifold variety of griefs, pains, hardships, which beset men on their way to death, is our ignorance a measure by which to judge of the knowledge and justice of the Lord, or not rather a ground for making us dumb, not opening our mouth, because He has done it? Multiform sufferings betoken multiform sins.
IV. That the punishment has a correspondence to the sin. It was declared to the Israelites, Acknowledge the supremacy of idols, and your carcases will defile the places in which you have worshipped. It is declared to those who may never have kissed their hands to any images, Indulge your appetites in an illegitimate way, and your bodies will be infected by the virus of the lust which is specially gratified; be insincere or dishonest or proud, and your souls will be cowed and stagger before the flashes of truth; be a professing worshipper of God whose heart has not taken the way to the Father by Christ, and to you the perfect peace which He gives shall be altogether a stranger True, it is rarely possible for men to say why one person should be laid under a different kind of affliction from that which another bears; but could we see the invisible links which bind the sin and its own penalty, should we not learn the true source of many sufferings which are now wholly inexplicable? The Lord’s judgments are a great deep, but in that deep uniform forces are ever at work.
V. That God alone deals with sin. Germs of disease, invading bands of men, unpropitious seasons, irreverence and neglect of the means of grace apparently occasion pains, bereavements, struggles for life, a God who does no mighty work; but the apparent factors are His methods of acting. Behind the laws of nature and the forces which operate through social man, and which are operating in punishing wrong-doing, a spiritual mind will perceive the Lord’s hand. Judgment and mercy come from Him. Understanding this, Jesus Christ, “bearing our sins in His own body on the tree,” will be accepted and adored as the Son of God who came to destroy the works of the devil.
THE JUDICIARY ADMINISTRATION OF GOD (Ezekiel 6:1-14)
God connected Himself with Israel in a manner He never had done with any nation before, nor would with any other again. In their case the actual experience of suffering on account of sin must have a certain singularity in it, so that it is possible to trace the execution of His judgments upon them. Still there is no caprice in His dealings; whensoever Israel’s guilt is incurred, there will infallibly be a renewal of Israel’s doom. The gospel has brought no suspension of God’s justice, and only after it had been sent and put from them did the wrath fall upon the Jews to the uttermost, as it will upon similar transgressors. The reasonableness of the severity exercised may be perceived by glancing at the guilt and the punishment.
1. The peculiar calling of Israel. They were placed in a region that afforded obvious and varied facilities for exerting a beneficial and commanding influence on the mind of ancient heathendom. They were to take advantage of this position so as to make known the character and extend the worship of Jehovah. Thus Moses declared, “All the people of the earth should see that the Lord had established them to be a holy people to Himself and called them by His name.” They were settled on a high vantage-ground for acting the part of the world’s benefactors. This calling of Israel in respect to the nations now rests upon the Christian Church; only owing to dispensational changes the impulse is communicated individually, not nationally. Besides, the Jewish religion was predominantly of a symbolical character, and outward prosperity had to play an essential part in its propagation. Now the great element of power lies in the truth itself and in its influence exhibited by the lives of God’s people. With differences as to method of working, the obligation remains substantially the same. The possession of the world is Christ’s by right, and He commits it to His people to make good the title. Happy if they do so; but if not, heavy must be their condemnation.
2. The condemnation of Israel. They did not extend the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, but adopted the corrupt worships of surrounding nations, and did worse than they. In the face of all remonstrances and warnings they fell in with Gentile superstitions. They did so because of their prevailing carnality and corruption of heart, which the nature-religions of heathenism did nothing to check, but rather fostered. In those religions every god had its representation in a visible idol, but the gods themselves were such as the natural heart desires—gods “whose attributes were pride, revenge, and lust;” while in Judaism there was, in the bosom of every service, a spiritual and holy God as the sole object of veneration, and conformity to His will the one great end to be aimed at. With the loss of a spirit of piety they became unfit for the duties of a pure service and ashamed of its sanctity, and accepted from their neighbours a more palatable religion. The same perversity lives in the Christian Church, and in every country in Christendom Israel’s folly is perpetually repeating itself. What is Popery but an accommodation of the pure spirit of the gospel to the grovelling tendencies of the flesh? And in Protestant lands the thoughts and maxims of the world are mixed up with those of the gospel, so that a compound is formed which the natural man does not quarrel with or blush for. Hence the spiritual languor, the worldly mindedness, the numberless forms of vanity and pollution, which are so commonly seen going hand in hand with a religious profession, and which rob the Church of her power to conquer and bless the world. Nor can she fulfil her destiny or be safe from the rod of chastisement and rebuke till the foul admixtures are purged out, and in reliance on the Divine Word, and in unswerving adherence to righteousness and truth, she goes forth to resist and put down whatever is opposed to the will of Heaven.—Fairbairn (abridged).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ezekiel 6". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19