Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, April 13th, 2024
the Second Week after Easter
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 18

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This chapter is a beautiful commendation of divine justice, and no less a condemnation of human folly.

Verses 1-4

It should seem by the scope of reasoning the Lord is pleased to adopt in this chapter, that the proverb here used was an indirect reflection upon God. It was probably the scoffer's comment upon the second Commandment. But so great was the general delinquency of the times, that both Father and Son were involved in it; and, therefore, as all had sinned and come short of God's glory, all were justly exposed to the displeasure of God. And in justifying divine proceedings, the Lord lays claim to His undoubted right, as sovereign creator of all men: all souls are mine. They are so by original creation, and by the mercies of redemption; therefore it must be right for God, as it is for man, to do what he will with his own. This point being settled, the Lord, in the following verses, advances to an illustration of the doctrine.

Verses 5-20

I include all these verses under one view in reading, the better to gather also into one view the just and unalterable reasoning of the Lord upon them. Here are three cases stated, in a father, and a son, and the son's son, to show and illustrate the truth by. One is supposed to be a just man, who makes a conscience of his ways; and another is supposed to be the reverse of all this, and abounding in iniquity; while the third, like the first, is enabled to take warning from the awful example of his father, and follows the steps of his grandfather. Now, from these very opposite characters, the Lord draws the just conclusion, that the soul keeping his statutes should live, and the sinner, breaking and despising them, should die. All which proves the equal dealings of the Lord. Here the Reader, in order to a clear apprehension of the doctrine, and especially on gospel principles, will consider, that the Lord is all along speaking on the presumption that men lived up to the observance of the divine law, and were judged by it. This kind of reasoning is frequently made use of by the sacred writers, in order the more fully to make way for, and to prove the absolute necessity of the Gospel. The Lord sends His people, as it were, to judge themselves by a covenant of works, in order to show the blessedness of grace. For (saith the Apostle Paul) if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise, by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Galatians 3:21-22 . Such is the reasoning on those cases, if considered with an eye to the divine law in a covenant of works, in which the Lord's equity and just judgment is most plainly proved and illustrated. But if we consider the doctrine yet closer on gospel principles, (and which, I humbly conceive, is the way in which it should be forever considered,) in this case the sum and substance of the whole passage will be found from every instance, both of father and children, to be among the highest confirmations of the necessity and absolute expediency of the Gospel of Christ. The just persons here spoken of, both in the case of father and son, are justified souls in Christ; and this appears from what is said, the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him. What righteousness but that of Christ? This indeed is truly upon the justified soul; for Christ was made sin for his people, though he knew no sin, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 . Hence He is called, the Lord our righteousness. Jeremiah 23:6 . And he is said to be made of God, both wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30 . And hence the Lord himself saith, This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 . Hence this scripture, the righteousness of the righteous, meaning Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 , and the wickedness of the wicked, meaning the awful ungodliness inwrought in the heart by the wicked one at the fall, and never done away in Christ by His holy spirit and regeneration, shall be upon each respectively. Read, in this point of view, the whole passage is pure gospel from beginning to end.

Verses 21-22

Here the Lord puts the case of a soul recovered by grace out of the snare of the devil, and the Lord's pleasure in that recovery, and very blessed it is. Lord! I would say, grant that this saving work of Thine almighty love may be daily carrying on in the Church!

Verses 23-29

When the Lord puts the question, Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not that he should return from his ways and live? We cannot suppose that the sense is, the Lord hath no pleasure in securing the honour and glory of His holy name, by the destruction of sin and evil. This cannot be the case, for all the parts of scripture prove the reverse. But the sense is, that while sinners, whose hearts are savingly turned by grace to the Lord, are his glory and delight, the incorrigible and unreclaimed, when punished, are fearful monuments of his justice. So, in like manner, when it is said, when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them, for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. This cannot be said of a righteous man in Christ; and, strictly and properly speaking, there can be none righteous but in Christ; and from this righteousness he cannot turn, neither can it he lost, for the Lord hath said, My salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Isaiah 51:6 . Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end. Isaiah 45:17 . But the sense is, when the moral man and one that counteth himself righteous, turneth from it, as that he will sooner or later, and lose all his vain confidence and proud boasting, when such an one falls into trespasses, he hath no resource in Christ, no hope of salvation in his blood and righteousness; and therefore dies in his iniquity, unwashed, unregenerated, unrenewed in the spirit of his mind. This point is more plainly shown in the parallel passage, Ezekiel 33:13 where the Lord denotes this self-righteousness a trusting to it; so that, by comparing both together, the reader may be able, under divine teaching, to discern the poor, imperfect, law-righteousness of men, which never did, nor ever will save a soul, and that rich and all-perfect gospel righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, which becomes the believer's most complete and justifying robe of salvation before the Lord Jehovah, in grace here, and glory forever. Isaiah 45:24-25 .

Verses 30-32

Here, in conclusion, is a most striking and just appeal from the Lord, followed up with the strongest assurance of mercy. But here again, as before, the expression concerning the Lord's pleasure in the death of the sinner must be accepted agreeably to the general tenor of God's revealed word. The glory of God is concerned in the destruction of sin; and, finally, he will root out all things that offend. Matthew 13:41-42 . And when he doth it, the glory and pleasure of Jehovah is in it. Proverbs 16:4 .

Verse 32


READER! let us both pause over this solemn chapter, and ponder well the contents of it, looking up to God the Holy Ghost, with an humble eye of supplication, that He will be our teacher. Here we learn most awfully the sure end of sin. Here also we learn in what must consist the righteousness and everlasting safety of the re deemed.

Precious Lord Jesus! how increasingly precious is thy righteousness in this point to every truly awakened heart, convinced by the Holy Ghost of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Truly, O Lord, there is, there can be no righteousness but Thine to be depended upon or trusted in. All our righteousness is as filthy rags, in which there is no confidence. From every fancied goodness of ours, for it is but fancied, not real, we should all apostatize, and die in our iniquity. Truly, Lord, in Thee alone is salvation found. Lord! turn poor sinners to behold Thee and Thy loveliness, and to seek Thy face in Thy strength, that their souls may be saved in the great day of the Lord!

Dearest Lord Jesus! help both Writer and Reader to praise Thee, in the consciousness that Thy salvation is forever, and Thy righteousness that which cannot be abolished. Thy people, kept by Thee, upheld by Thee, and justified by Thee, and in Thy righteousness, cannot turn away. If, dear Lord, the righteousness was their own, and wrought out in their own strength, then indeed both themselves and their merit might and would be lost, and as it came, so it would go. But founded in Thee, and in the power of Thy might, they are strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Help then, O Lord, both Writer and Reader, to be forever looking unto Thee for righteousness and strength. Let it be the constant language and experience of both our souls to say, as one of old did, and to rest in the same blessed assurance, I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. My mouth shall show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day, for I know not the numbers thereof.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/ezekiel-18.html. 1828.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile