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A catalogue of sins in Jerusalem. God will burn them as dross in his furnace. The general corruption of prophets, priests, princes, and people.
Before Christ 592.
Ezekiel 22:2. Wilt thou judge? &c.— Wilt thou not judge, wilt thou not judge? &c.
Ezekiel 22:4. Thou hast caused thy days to draw near— "Thou hast advanced the time of thy punishment, by heaping up the measure of thine iniquities." Instead of Thou art become guilty in thy blood, at the beginning of this verse, Houbigant reads, Thou art become obnoxious to the blood which thou hast shed, &c.
Ezekiel 22:5. Which art infamous, &c.— Infamous of character, mighty in broils. Ezekiel 22:6. Every one were in thee, &c.] Every one to their power have joined with, or helped thee to shed blood.
Ezekiel 22:9. In thee are men that carry tales, &c.— "Who beat false witness against men in capital cases." Houbigant reads, Thy men are perfidious, that they may shed blood. The reader, for the best exposition of this chapter, will refer to the 18th.
Ezekiel 22:12. Greedily gained of— Made a gain of.
Ezekiel 22:13. I have smitten mine hand— That is to say, either as an expression of indignation, or in testimony of my horror at their crimes and cruelties. See chap. Ezekiel 21:14-17.
Ezekiel 22:15-16. And will come thy filthiness, &c.— And I will bring the fame of thy filthiness whither thou hopedst not: Ezekiel 22:16. And thou shalt be profaned, or defiled by it, in the sight of the heathen, who shall know, &c. Houbigant.
Ezekiel 22:18-21. The house of Israel, &c.— The house of Israel is to me become all of them alloy; brass, and tin, and iron, and lead in the midst of the furnace: alloy of silver are they. Ezekiel 22:19. Because ye are all run into alloy, therefore, behold, I will amass you together in the midst of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 22:20. As they amass, &c. so will I amass you in mine anger and in my fury, and will put you in, and melt you. Ezekiel 22:21. Yea, I will amass you together, &c. God's vengeance is often compared to fire; but here it is so in a literal sense, for both city and temple were reduced to ashes.
Ezekiel 22:24-25. Thou art the land, &c.— This land shall not have showers, nor be softened with rain, in the day of indignation. Ezekiel 22:25. Because her prophets in the midst of her are like, &c. Houbigant, after the LXX; who observes, that dryness and sterility, not uncleanness, are the subject of this verse. The false prophets are meant in the 25th verse. See Ezekiel 22:28.
Ezekiel 22:27. To get dishonest gain— For greediness of lucre.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Jerusalem, the bloody city, is here brought to the bar, to be convicted and condemned: and the prophet is constituted of God both her accuser and her judge.
1. Her abominations are many, great, and aggravated; and they are shewn her to evince and manifest the justice of God in her destruction.
[1.] Murder: The blood of innocents was shed in the midst of her, from assassinations, tyrannical abuse of power, or perversion of justice; the guilt of which cried aloud. The princes and magistrates, who should have avenged such crimes, were themselves the first to perpetrate them to the utmost of their power, while tale-bearers sought to incense them by malicious reports and insinuations; and were chargeable with all the mischief which ensued; and perjured wretches or assassins, for money, were ready to swear away the life of the innocent, or murder in secret such as, by malice or revenge, were marked for their bloody knife.
[2.] Idolatry: The sad effects of which were their pollution, and, in consequence, their destruction. And those who ran not to the grosser excesses indulged themselves in eating of the sacrifices on the mountains, and thereby became partakers with the idolaters.
[3.] Disobedience to parents: They set light by father and mother, despised their authority, disobeyed their commands, or mocked at their infirmities; and this is among the most atrocious of crimes.
[4.] Oppression and deceit: They took advantage of the ignorance or necessities of the stranger; vexed with exorbitant demands, or litigious suits, the fatherless and widow, who were unable to defend themselves; extorted usury from their brethren; and with greediness increased their gain to their neighbour's disadvantage.
[5.] The profanation of holy things, and particularly of the sabbaths: They despised God's ordinances; either totally neglected the ceremonial rites and worship of the temple, or performed them in a careless perfunctory manner; and the sabbaths were no more observed than common days; and that generally opens a wide door to all ungodliness.
[6.] Lewdness of all sorts; the most criminal and odious, open and bare-faced, that human nature could be supposed to commit; all of which called aloud for vengeance.
[7.] At the root of all was forgetfulness of God: They left him far above out of their sight; and then there was no wickedness which they feared to commit.
2. The charge being indisputable, the prophet, as judge, pronounces sentence on the criminal. Her day is come, her measure of iniquity is full, she is ripe for vengeance; therefore God hath made her a reproach to the heathen far and near, infamous in their eyes; so vile and abandoned was her conduct; and much vexed with their derision and insults, yet no more than she most justly deserved. With indignation God smites his hand at her dishonest gain and bloody crimes; and his fierce anger how can she sustain, when his terrible word shall receive its accomplishment, and his threatened wrath be poured out upon her? In consequence of which she will be scattered among the heathen, and miserably dispersed in the countries, till her filthiness shall be consumed by the destruction of the ringleaders in iniquity, and the recovery of a remnant brought to repentance in the furnace of affliction. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself rejected of God, and possessing nothing but a miserable being in want and wretchedness; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; when these judgments are inflicted, and God's almighty power, impartial justice, and inviolable truth, are hereby signally displayed. Note; (1.) Though God bears long with sinners, he will not bear always. (2.) Reproach for God is honour and happiness; reproach for sin truly infamous, and the prelude to everlasting shame and contempt. (3.) The stoutest-hearted sinners will tremble in a day of wrath. (4.) They who promise themselves impunity in their sins, in opposition to God's warnings, will find themselves terribly deceived. (5.) Sooner or later the soul will be made to know what a portion it has lost by apostacy from God, and what wages it has earned, even eternal death.
2nd, They who have made themselves refuse and vile, must expect to be treated accordingly.
1. The whole house of Israel is become dross; once they were silver, but now wretchedly degenerated, despicable and useless as the scum of the furnace. Nothing precious remained in them; but like the baser metals they were as brass in impudence, as iron for hardness of heart, as tin for hypocrisy, and as lead for stupidity under all their warnings.
2. God threatens to gather them, as metals into the furnace, into Jerusalem, whither they would fly on the approach of the Chaldeans, silver, brass, iron, lead, and tin together; some gracious souls, represented by silver, being found among the rest, who would be purified by that fire of affliction, which would consume the ungodly as dross. There God will blow upon them as a refiner, in wrath and anger melt them with his judgments, and leave them there under the dire tokens of his displeasure, devoted to famine, pestilence, and the sword during the siege; and made to acknowledge, in the judgments that they felt, the heavy hand of God which was laid upon them. Note; In the day of judgment the sinners of every character will be collected, and cast into the furnace of fire; and they who are once shut up there will remain there to eternity.
3rdly, The various methods of divine providence and grace made no impression on the people of Israel. They were neither cleansed from their filthiness by the judgments that they suffered, nor reformed by the warnings which they received; like the parched ground not rained upon, so were their hearts hard and impenetrable; and while God withheld from them the dew of heaven to water the earth, in his indignation he sent a heavier judgment, withholding the dew of his heavenly influences. All ranks and orders of men among them were advanced to the summit of wickedness.
1. The false prophets, who should, by the office which they pretended to assume, have stood in the gap, and by their prayers and labours sought to avert the impending judgments, instead of that, formed a conspiracy to persecute the true prophets, and flatter the people to their ruin. Like ravening lions they devoured souls, taking away the lives of the innocent, or by their false doctrines murdered immortal souls. They have taken the treasure and precious things of the innocent, destroyed by them; or of the deluded, who paid them well for their lying divinations of peace. They have made her many widows in the midst thereof, by the murders they have committed, or by their encouraging that rebellion in which so many perished. Note; Lying prophets who have deceived sinners to their ruin shall receive the heaviest strokes of vengeance.
2. The priests cordially joined with the false prophets in their wickedness. They violated God's law, perverting it in their explications, and contradicting it in their practice; so that, instead of teaching others, their examples were the greatest encouragement to the wicked. They made no difference between holy and profane, paid no regard to the prescription of God, but lived at large, observing neither distinction of meats nor days; the sabbath to them was but as a common day; they admitted, indiscriminately, any into the courts of the temple, and out of it kept company with the ceremonially unclean, or the abandoned, without a word of rebuke. Thus God was profaned among them, his word abused, his ordinances slighted, his authority despised.
3. The princes, who as ministers of justice should have vindicated the oppressed, and exerted their power in the protection of injured innocence, were themselves like wolves ravening the prey; insidious, arbitrary, lawless, cruel; not only plundering the weak with impunity, and with dishonest gain grinding the faces of the poor, but even imbruing their hands in blood, as their rage, revenge, or covetousness led them; destroying the lives of those who had offended them, or on whose spoils they had fixed their greedy eye. And, shocking to relate! the infamous prophets, to curry favour with these wealthy patrons, flattered them in their wickedness, and daubed them with untempered mortar; probably persuading them that they did God service in persecuting the troublesome prophets, and the pious who remonstrated against their sins; and vindicating their cruel deeds to others as wholesome severities. Note; (1.) The height of station aggravates the enormity of the offence. (2.) The daubing prophets at the elbows of the great, who prostitute the sacred office which they pretend to bear, by mean compliances and infamous countenance given to their sins, shall shortly meet an avenging God.
4. The people naturally followed examples so pernicious; the system of corruption descended; and as each in an inferior station had power, he used it to oppression; and exercised robbery, vexing the poor by extortion, and treating the stranger wrongfully, whose ignorance laid him the more easily open to deceit and imposition.
5. So general and universal was the apostacy, that not a man was found among all these prophets, priests, princes, or people, who attempted to interpose to make up the hedge, or stand in the gap to avert by his prayers, his admonitions, or his labours, the impending wrath, and endeavour to effect the reformation of the land. God sought for such, and sought in vain. Note; (1.) Sin makes the breach at which ruin enters. (2.) When none are found to pray or plead with God for the land, the case is desperate.
6. Because of these things, God's indignation is poured out; the fire kindles, the sinners are consumed together, and their own ways recompensed on their heads. Note; However terrible the end of the ungodly may be, their sufferings shall be no more than their deserts.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Ezekiel 22". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany