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The presumption of the princes: their sin and judgment. Ezekiel complaining, God sheweth him his purpose in restoring a penitent remnant, and punishing the wicked. The glory of God leaveth the city. Ezekiel is returned to the captivity.
Before Christ 954
Ezekiel 11:1. Five and twenty men— The same who are represented in chap. Eze 8:16 as worshipping the sun. They were princes of the people; that is to say, most probably members of the great Sanhedrim. Compare Jeremiah 26:10.
Ezekiel 11:3. This city is the caldron— When they say, that doth not yet hang over, or threaten us, that our houses should be the caldron, and we the flesh. Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel himself, foretold the destruction of Jerusalem under the metaphor of a seething-pot. See chap. 24: and Jeremiah 1:13.; an idea which these infidels seem here to ridicule.
Ezekiel 11:6-7. Ye have multiplied your slain— Ye have multiplied your soldiers in this city, you have filled the streets thereof; Ezekiel 11:7. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, The soldiers whom ye have placed in the midst of you shall be the flesh, and this city the caldron: But I will cast you forth, &c. as a boiling caldron casts forth the flesh. God adds in the 10th and 11th verses, I will judge you in the borders, that is to say, after I have cast you out of the boiling caldron. This respects Zedekiah more particularly, his sons and relations, upon whom Nebuchadnezzar exercised judgment at Riblah, in the borders of Judaea. See Jeremiah 51:4; Jeremiah 51:47; Jeremiah 51:49. Houbigant and Kennicott.
Ezekiel 11:12. The Lord: For, &c.— The Lord; because ye have not walked, &c.
Ezekiel 11:13. Pelatiah—died— He fell down dead before the prophet, struck with the menaces of the Lord, as with a blast of lightning. Though this passed in vision, it is probable that Pelatiah really died at Jerusalem, while Ezekiel was carried thither in spirit; and though the prophet was in Mesopotamia, it was easy for him to know the fact itself by the frequent commerce which was between Judaea and the provinces beyond the Euphrates. See Calmet.
Ezekiel 11:15-16. Son of man, &c.— Son of man, thy brethren, the men who are captives with thee, and all the house of Israel; all those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem say, They are vanished far from the Lord; the land is given to us in possession. Ezekiel 11:16. Thou shalt say these things concerning them; Thus, &c. Houbigant; who, instead of, As a little sanctuary, reads, A sanctuary in a little time. He would be to them of the captivity what he had formerly been to the whole nation; their refuge and defence.
Ezekiel 11:19. And I will give them one heart— These are the same evangelical promises as we read in the other prophets; particularly Jeremiah 32:39. The insensibility of men with regard to religious matters is often ascribed to the hardness of their hearts. God promises here to give them teachable dispositions, and to take away the veil from their hearts, as St. Paul expresses it, 2Co 3:16 the same temper being indifferently expressed either by blindness or hardness of heart. See Lowth.
Ezekiel 11:21. But as for them, &c.— But whoever turn their hearts to idols and detestable things, I, &c.
Ezekiel 11:23. And the glory of the Lord went up— The Lord did not quit Jerusalem all at once; he left it by little and little. He forsook the temple before he stopped at the threshold of the city; at length he elevated himself upon the mount of Olives, which was to the east, and in view of Jerusalem, as it were to give them time to consider and repent. This was not only a figure of what was to happen at Jerusalem from the Chaldeans, but of the evils which were to attend them after the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. This divine Saviour, after having exhausted his patience in instructing, correcting, and threatening Jerusalem, at length forsook it, and ascended to heaven, from this same mount of Olives in the presence of his apostles and disciples. See Calmet.
Ezekiel 11:24. So the vision—went up from me— The prophet recovered from his ecstasy, and related all that which we have considered from the beginning of the 8th chapter to this place.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The abominations which were done in the temple we have seen; and as great, it seems, prevailed in the courts of justice as in the worship of the sanctuary.
1. Under the Spirit's conduct the prophet is led to the east gate of the Lord's house, where five and twenty of the princes sat, two of whom are mentioned by name; and these, though the same in number as those chap. Eze 8:16 are different; those being priests between the porch and the altar; these judges or princes, sitting in council, or presiding in the courts of judicature, where they were chargeable with great abuses. They were abettors of wickedness: these are the men that devise mischief, or vanity; contrived schemes for the defence of the city, and encouraged the people to rebel in defiance of God's threatenings: and give wicked counsel in this city; advising the persecution of the prophets, and promising their countrymen all success and security in their evil ways; denying the truth of God's warnings, and impiously declaring, It is not near; there was no danger from the Chaldean army; but that they may safely build houses, and dwell in them peaceably; for this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh; ridiculing what the prophet Jeremiah had spoken, chap. Eze 1:13 or intimating, that no enemy would dare approach them, any more than a person would take with his hands the flesh out of a boiling caldron. Note; (1.) The higher men are in office, the more criminal is their unfaithfulness. (2.) Wicked counsellors hurry a deluded people to the precipice of ruin. (3.) They who put far from them the evil day, will find it terribly surprise them ere they are aware. (4.) Mockery at God's word will shortly end in misery.
2. He is commanded, and strengthened by the Spirit of the Lord, to deliver with fidelity God's warnings to these wicked rulers. Prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man: with boldness and zeal; for the greatest are not too high or above divine rebuke: nor can we do a greater act of kindness to sinners who are flattering themselves to their ruin, than to undeceive them, and shew them the guilt and danger of their state. And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; enabling him to open his mouth with undaunted courage, and not to fear the faces of the many or the mighty. He must tell them,
[1.] That God is privy to their devices. However secret their contrivances, or deep laid their schemes, he searcheth the heart, and nothing is hid from his all-seeing eye.
[2.] Ye have multiplied your slain in this city; by many inhuman murders, by the death of innocents, and the prophets of the Lord: and at their door lay all the blood which should be shed during the siege. In a sense that they little suspected, that city should be the caldron, and these dead corpses the flesh, the only inhabitants who should remain in it, buried under the ruins.
[3.] God will carry the survivors into captivity. Far from dwelling as they flattered themselves there, safe as flesh in a caldron, the Lord will drag them forth, and deliver them into the hand of the Chaldeans. Note; Every sinner is a self-deceiver: he cries peace to his soul, but it will shortly be found that there is a lie in his right hand.
[4.] By the sword they shall fall; not merely as warriors fighting during the siege, but as criminals brought to the bar of the king of Babylon, seized and bound: in Riblah, in the border of Israel, shall judgment pass on them, and they miserably perish under the hand of the executioner, Jeremiah 52:9-10.
[5.] God will terribly make himself known to them by the judgments that he executes. They would not acknowledge him as their Lord by obedience to his holy will, but cast off his government, and copied the manners of the heathen around them; therefore in the sufferings that he will inflict, they shall know him to be a jealous God, and prove the truth of his threatenings, the power of his wrath, and the severity of his justice.
3. An alarming providence confirms this awful warning. Pelatiah, the son of Benaiah, one of the five and twenty whom he saw at the gate, dropped down dead as he uttered these words; an earnest of the fulfilment of this fearful prophesy. This seems to have been done in vision here, but no doubt happened at this very time, or when this prophesy was published. Note; God is pleased to make some present monuments of his judgments, when sudden death arrests the daring sinner in the midst of his profaneness and impiety.
4. The prophet, affected by this fearful stroke, deprecates the vengeance that he saw ready to fall on the remnant of Israel. Though he denounced their doom, he did not desire the dreadful day, but wept, and prayed, and intreated, if so be the wrath might yet pass away.
2nd, We have,
1. The insults cast on the poor captives in Babylon by their proud brethren, who still continued in their own land. They said, Get ye far from the Lord; suggesting, that as sinners above the rest they deserved to be cut from the communion of the true Israelites, and to lose all their interest in the inheritance of the Lord, as forfeited; for unto us is this land given in possession. The prophet, therefore, need not be affected for the destruction that he saw coming on those who thus treated his brethren, the men of his kindred, or the men who were captives with him; and these in God's account, though slighted and trampled upon, are all the house of Israel wholly, the good figs, who for their benefit were sent into Babylon; while their revilers were the evil figs, to whom God disowned any relation. Note; They are often the severest censurers of others, whose own conduct will least bear examination.
2. The comfortable words that the prophet is commended to speak to them. God hath the most gracious designs towards them; and when their revilers are ruined, they shall be redeemed and saved.
[1.] Though they want the temple, God will himself by his presence and love be a little sanctuary unto them; and though he has indeed dispersed them in the land of the heathen, where their condition seemed to be desperate; yet there he would visit them, and make them as safe as under the horns of the altar, and happy in communion with him, as if they were in the courts of the Lord's house; or a sanctuary of a few, the little remnant brought into captivity; or, for a little while, during the seventy years' captivity. Note; (1.) Whatever outward means of grace we are excluded from, God can abundantly make them up in divine communications. (2.) The way to the throne of God is in every place alike open; and we may assuredly find him near, whenever in fervent prayer we seek his face.
[2.] God promises to bring them again to their own land, to collect them from their dispersion, and restore them to the possession of their lost inheritance, when the present occupants should utterly be consumed.
[3.] They shall not only be restored to their land, but, what is infinitely better, recovered from their backslidings, and renewed in the spirit of their minds. Their former detestable idolatries shall be wholly rooted out from among them; and the Lord in his rich grace assures them, that he will give them one heart, single in its attachment to him and his worship, and faithfully devoted to his glory; and put a new spirit within them, giving them new affections, new desires, new purposes, new delights, new principles, new ends; that God may be glorified in them and by them. And he will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, the corrupt, hard, impenitent heart that had before been stubborn and obstinate against God's word and warnings; and will give them an heart of flesh; tender, susceptible of the deeper impressions of shame and remorse for former unfaithfulness, and of love to God for his boundless mercies, now seen and felt with the most lively sensibility. Thus they shall be enabled for the practice of that obedience which God enjoins, and in this way enjoy the comfort of that most blessed and endeared relation, God their God, and they his people. And what is here spoken of them is true of all God's faithful people, whose hearts by nature are hard and stupid, but by the powerful energy of his Spirit are softened, and effectually converted to God, the whole man renewed after the image of Jesus, and the love of sin, of every idol, mortified within them. Where such a blessed change is wrought, it is the sure evidence of our relation to God, and a blessed earnest of our return to the heavenly Canaan; while without it to hope for heaven would be the greatest delusion: there must be a meetness for it, ere we can truly expect an entrance into the inheritance among the saints in light.
3. A denunciation of wrath is pronounced on those who still dwelt in Jerusalem, and lived in their abominable idolatries: God will visit them according to their deeds. By famine, pestilence, and the sword, they shall miserably perish. Note; If the heart continue apostate from God, hell must be the sinner's doom.
3rdly, The message being delivered to the prophet,
1. God departs, and abandons the city and temple to destruction. He went up in his cherubic chariot, and stood upon the mountain at the east of the city, supposed to be the mount of Olives; either looking back with grief on those devoted walls, as in the days of his flesh he there wept over Jerusalem; or on that mount which had been the seat of idolatry and corruption, 2Ki 23:13 triumphing in the view of the destruction that he was about to bring on the city. Note; Vengeance is God's strange work: he appears loath to strike; but when his abused patience is at an end, and the measure of the sinner's iniquity is full, God will shew approbation of his torment.
2. The prophet is by the Spirit re-conveyed in vision to Chaldea, and thereupon the divine glory went up from him, and disappeared. He awaked from his ecstacy, and found himself in his own house among the captivity, and probably the elders of Judah still before him. Note; The saints of God, if at times favoured with some extraordinary and ecstatic views of the divine glory, may expect them here below to be of no long continuance; but it is reserved for the faithful as the happiness of the glorious world above, there to enjoy without abatement the full beatific vision of God. In the mean time, it is their privilege here below to enjoy constant peace and constant serene joy.
3. He immediately communicated to those of the captivity all the things that he had seen and heard, as an encouragement to the poor captives to be thankful for their lot; and most probably notice was conveyed also to Jerusalem of the judgments threatened, as a warning, which, if it led them not to return from their sins, might leave them inexcusable in their impenitence.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 11". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany