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APPROACHING END OF GOD’S FORBEARANCE
Ezekiel 7:5-9. Thus saith the Lord God: An evil, an only evil, behold, income. An end income; the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come. The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come; the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee; and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thee abominations. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways, and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the Lord that smiteth.
EZEKIEL is perhaps the most terrific writer of all the prophets: there is a force and energy in his denunciations which can find no parallel: his repetitions are so frequent, as to present before the view of the reader the very judgments which he predicts. In the chapter before us we are made to see, as it were, the Chaldean army in the very act of desolating the city and temple of Jerusalem, and of carrying into captivity all who should survive the mortality occasioned by pestilence, by famine, by the sword [Note: See the foregoing chapter.]. In fact, the siege commenced within three years of these predictions, and terminated in their most exact accomplishment. It is not our intention to enter into the consideration of this prophecy as it relates to the Jews: we shall rather take occasion from it to observe in general,
That the final execution of God’s judgments is fast approaching—
The period for the execution of them is certainly fixed in the Divine counsels—
[“Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world.” Nothing is left to chance: every thing takes place “according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” We are ready to consider things as depending altogether on those by whose agency, or whose authority, they are done. But men are only instruments in God’s hands: they are his sword, and the staff of his indignation; and they only carry into effect what “his hand and his counsel have determined before to be done.” The elements in like manner all “fulfil his will.” It was at the precise time that he had ordained, that the waters deluged the earth, and that fire and brimstone consumed the cities of the plain. As in the self-same night that had been foretold four hundred and thirty years before, God brought his people out of Egypt; so at the precise period fixed by him were they carried captive to Babylon, and dispersed all over the world at the destruction of their ecclesiastical and civil polity by the Romans. The time also for the day of judgment is fixed, though it is still hid in the bosom of the Father: and “the times,” whether of communities or individuals, are altogether “in his hands.”]
When that period is arrived, they will be executed to the uttermost—
[At present there is mercy mixed with judgment; but in the last day there will be “judgment without mercy.” Wrath now comes on offenders with measured severity; but then without any other measure than their own deserts. Then the cup of God’s indignation will be poured out for them without mixture, and they shall drink it to the very dregs [Note: Revelation 14:10-11.]. Terrible is that name whereby the day of judgment is designated, “The day of the perdition of ungodly men [Note: 2 Peter 3:7.].” This present time may, even in reference to the ungodly, be called “The day of salvation;” because salvation is freely offered to every one of them: but that is “the day of wrath,” against which an accumulated and daily augmenting treasure of wrath is laid up for them, and shall “come upon them to the uttermost.”]
This view of the day of judgment sufficiently shews,
That that time should be much and deeply contemplated—
Let us then contemplate,
Its gradual approach—
[Every day and every hour is bringing it nearer to us. The delay to us indeed may appear long: but it is nothing when compared with eternity: “A thousand years are in God’s sight as one day, and one day as a thousand years.” Profane persons and infidels will ask, as it were, in derision, “Where is the promise of his coming [Note: 2 Peter 3:4.]?” But “their judgment lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not [Note: 2 Peter 2:3.]. Let those who are advanced in life consider this. Their days must of necessity be few; and consequently every hour should appear to them as it does to criminals under sentence of death; even the striking of the clock should remind them, that the hour for their departure is rapidly advancing, and must soon arrive. And young persons too should remember, that they also are liable to be cut off in the midst of their days; and that, even if they live to the age of man, their time will soon have passed away, and appear as a dream in the night. But our text informs us, that “the end watcheth for us:” yea, it may come as a thief in the night.” Who then should not stand on his watch-tower, that he may be prepared for it?]
Its actual arrival—
[The day of judgment, whenever it shall arrive, will find men as much unprepared for it as at this moment. In the days of Noah, persons of every description engaged in their respective occupations with the same confidence as if nothing had been spoken respecting a deluge; “they ate, they drank, they planted, they builded, they married and were given in marriage, till the very day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came: thus will it be also in the day of judgment; persons of every age and condition will be as secure as at any period of their existence, till the trumpet shall sound, and the Judge shall summon them to his tribunal. What a sound will this then be, “An end, the end, is come!” Then will be an end of all that now renders life desirable; an end of all pleasures, whatever be their kind or quality; an end of all means of grace, no opportunity now remaining for prayer and seeking after God: there will be an end of all hope of mercy, the door of heaven being closed, as Noah’s ark was, by the hand of God himself. Then will be “evil, an only evil,” such as will have no mixture of good in it. O what “a morning” will that be, when the voice shall sound, “Awake, ye dead, and come to judgment!” This will not be a mere echo, a delusion, “a sound reverberated from the mountains;” but a fearful reality. Let us for a moment contemplate the state of the antediluvian world, when they saw the face of the earth gradually disappearing, and the loftiest mountains sinking into the waters of the great deep: O what fear, what terror, what distraction would be visible on every side! Thus will millions, in the last day, be “calling upon the rocks to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them from the wrath of the Lamb.” Would to God that men would now endeavour to realize that scene; and that they would “prepare,” whilst yet there is time afforded them, “to meet their God!”]
That time being the commencement of a never-ending eternity, it is obvious,
That we should spend our whole lives in preparation for it—
What is the preparation that becomes us?
We should humble ourselves before God for all our sins—
[When Nineveh was warned that in forty days it should be overthrown, the inhabitants, from the highest to the lowest, repented of their sins in sackcloth and ashes; yes, they, though heathens, and warned only respecting the death of the body, made this improvement of their time. How much more then should we do it, who are warned respecting the death of our souls, and know not that we have forty hours to live! If God will “judge us according to our ways,” and “pour out his fury” upon all in proportion to their sins, methinks we should mourn over our sins day and night, and get them washed away in “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,” even in “the blood of Christ, which cleanseth from all sin.”]
We should get our souls renewed by Divine grace—
[The foolish virgins, as well as the wise, expected the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom: but the foolish were not careful to have oil in their vessels with their lamps: hence, when the cry was made, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!” they had their oil to seek, and were therefore excluded from the marriage-feast [Note: Matthew 25:1-13.]. This shews us what should be now our one concern. If we have not the Spirit of God dwelling in us, in vain will be all our profession, in vain the flame which arises only from our natural spirits: the distinction between us and others will speedily appear, and a corresponding judgment be passed upon us. How long he may delay his coming, or how soon he may arrive, we know not; and therefore we should not lose an hour in seeking that unction of the Holy One, which alone can fit us for the possession and enjoyment of the heavenly bliss.]
We should be watching against every thing that may unfit us for the Divine presence—
[This is the instruction which the Apostles uniformly give us: “The end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer [Note: 1 Peter 4:7.]:” and again, “Let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand [Note: Philippians 4:5.].” There are dangers and temptations all around us: not only do evil things solicit our regard, but things that are most innocent often become a snare to us. Surely then it becomes “those who have wives to be as though they had none, and those who weep to be as though they wept not, and those who rejoice as though they rejoiced not [Note: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.];.” “The fashion of this world is passing rapidly away;” and “then cometh the end.” O! happy they who are prepared for it! Happy they “whose loins are girt, and whose lamps are trimmed, and whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching for him!” “What I say then unto one, I say unto all, Watch.”]
We should be intent on finishing the work which God has given us to do—
[Our Lord cautions us to “work while it is day, for the night is coming, wherein no man can work.” When the end cometh, there is no more scope for exertion, no further opportunity to supply what is defective, or to remedy what is amiss: “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave.” “Whatsoever then our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might” — — —]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Ezekiel 7". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany