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The prophet Ezekiel had been carried into captivity with the king Jehoiakim, at least, he was one of those made captive at that time, and he habitually dates his prophecies from that period; an important thing to remark that we may understand the revelations made to him. For himself, there is no more question either of dates of kings, of Judah or of Israel. The people of God are in captivity among the Gentiles. Israel is looked at as a whole; the interests of the whole nation are before him. At the same time, the capture of Jerusalem under Zedekiah had not yet taken place, which occasions the revelation of his iniquity, the measure of which was filled up by his rebellion. For Nebuchadnezzar attached value to the oath made in the name of the Lord. He counted upon the respect due to that name, and Zedekiah had m respected it.-Thus the first twenty-three chapters contain testimonies from God against Israel in general, and against Jerusalem in particular. After that, the surrounding nations are judged; and then, beginning with chap. 33, the prophet resumes the subject of Israel announcing their restoration as well as their judgment Finally, from chap. 40 to the end, we have the description of the temple, and of the division of the land.
In chapter 1 we find a date which refers to the year of Josiah's passover, but with what intent I do not know. It has been thought that the thirty years relate to jubilee. On this point I cannot speak with confidence. But other circumstances are very important. The throne of God is not seen in Jerusalem, but unconnected with this city and outside it. God judges the city itself from this throne. The prophecy commences with the description of the throne. We have the attributes of God the supporters of His throne, under the likeness of the four categories of created beings on earth, the four being united in one, at least, the four heads of these categories. These symbols are nearly the same as those used by the pagan inventors of idolatry to represent their gods. Formal idolatry began with a figurative personification of the attributes of God. These attributes became their gods, men being impelled to worship them by demons, who governed them by this means, so that it was these demons whom men worshipped-a worship that soon degenerated so far, that they set up gods wherever there was anything to desire or to fear, or that answered to the lusts which inspired these desires or these fears. Sentiments which the demon cultivated also, in order to appropriate to himself the worship due to God alone. Now, these attributes belonged to the only God, the Creator, and the head of all creation; but whatever their power and glory might be in action, they were but the supporters of the throne on which the God of Truth is seated. Whatever instruments He may employ, it is the mighty energy of God that manifests itself. Intelligence, strength, stability and swiftness in judgment, and, withal, the movement of the whole course of earthly events, depended on the Throne. Majesty, government, and providence, united to form the throne of His glory. But all the instruments of His glory were below the firmament; He whom they glorified was above. It is He whom the heathen knew not. This throne of the supreme and sovereign Lord God is seen in Chaldea-in the place where the prophet then was-among the Gentiles.. But it is no longer seen at Jerusalem in connection with the land, consequently, the voice of God speaks to Ezekiel as to a "son of man"; a title that suited the testimony of a God who spoke outside of His people, as being no longer in their midst, but, on the contrary, was judging them from the throne of His sovereignty. It is Christ's own title, looked at as rejected and outside of Israel, although He never ceases to think of the blessing of the people in grace. This puts the prophet in connection with the position of Christ Himself. He would not allow them to call Him the Christ (Luke 9), for the Son of Man was to suffer. In testimony and example, as to his prophetic relation, the same thing happens in Ezekiel's case. God is rejected, His prophet takes this place, with the throne, to judge the whole nation, and especially Jerusalem, announcing at the same time (to, faith) their re-establishment in grace. He is sent from the Lord to a rebellious people, to say, The Lord has spoken, whether they would hear or not. The judgment would make it known that a prophet had been among them. His first testimony is composed of lamentations, and mourning and woe; nevertheless, the communication of the word of God is always full of sweetness, looked at as a revelation from Him, and as taking place between God and man.
Some important principles in the relations of God with Israel are developed in chap. 3. But we have yet to notice a feature that characterizes the book of Ezekiel, comparing it with that of Jeremiah. The latter addresses himself immediately to his contemporaries, that is to say, to the people of God, in a testimony which, making its way through the bruised and wounded heart of the prophet, exhibits the marvelous patience of God, who up to the last moment invites His people to repentance. It is not thus with Ezekiel. He announces that which necessitates the judgment. He is sent, indeed, to Israel, but to Israel in a hardened condition. His mouth is shut as to the people; he is not to rebuke them. He may communicate to them certain declarations of, the Lord at a suitable time, when the Lord opens his mouth to make them understand that there is a prophet among them; but he does not address himself directly and morally to the people, as being still the object of God's dealings. The Lord reveals to him the iniquities that oblige Him to cast off His people, and no longer to act towards them on principles of government established by Himself, as with a people whom He acknowledged. It is, on God's part, a setting forth of Israel's conduct as the occasion of the rupture of their relations with Him. At the same time, certain new principles of conduct are revealed. I speak of part of the prophecy which relates to Israel; for there are also sundry judgments upon the Gentiles, and a description of the future state of the land, as well as of the temple-a state which the prophet was to communicate to Israel in case they should repent.
Chapter 3. The Lord testifies that Israel is even more hardened than any of the heathen nations. The people are " impudent and hard-hearted." It needed that Ezekiel should have his forehead made as hard as adamant to speak the word to them which he had to declare, saying, " Whether they will hear or whether they will forbear." The prophet is carried away by the power of the Spirit into the midst of the captives at Tel-abib. Although the house of Israel was hardened, God distinguished a remnant • and in this manner. The prophet was to warn individuals: it was to this work he was appointed. If his word was received, he who hearkened should be spared. Ezekiel should be responsible for the fulfillment of this duty, but each one should bear the consequences of his own conduct, after he had heard the word. Thus the people are no longer judged as a whole, as was the case when all depended on the public conduct of the nation or of the king. Israel had revolted, but still, he that hearkened to the word should live. God was acting in accordance with His long-suffering grace. The prophet again sees the glory of the Lord by himself, and the Spirit announces to him that he is not to go out among the people, but that he shall be a prisoner in his house, and that God will make his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth; for they were a rebellious people, and as a people, the warning was not to be given them. God, when he pleased, would open the mouth of the prophet, and he should speak peremptorily to the people, declaring the word of the Lord. Let him hear that would-the Lord would no longer plead in love, as He had done.
Chapter 4. Besides the general judgment that God pronounced upon the condition of Israel, Jerusalem- on whom lay all the iniquity of the people, now come to its height-appears before God whom she had despised. The prophet in representing the siege of Jerusalem, was also to point out the years of iniquity that had led to this judgment. For Israel in general 390. For Judah 40. It is certain that these dates do not refer to the duration of the kingdom of Israel apart from Judah, nor to that of Judah, because the kingdom of Israel only lasted about 264 years, while that of Judah continued about 134 years after the fall of Samaria. It would appear that the period mentioned is reckoned from the separation of the ten tribes under Rehoboam, counting the years of Israel, because from that moment Israel has a separate existence; while Judah was everything during the reign of Solomon which lasted 40 years. After his reign, Judah would be comprised in the general name of Israel, according to Ezekiel's usual habit; although on certain occasions, he distinguishes them, on account of the position of Zedekiah, and of God's future dealings. The reason for using this name of Israel for the whole, is plain enough, namely, that the captivity had placed the whole nation in the same condition, and under one common judgment. The nation was set aside, and a gentile kingdom established. Judah is sometimes distinguished, because there was still a remnant at Jerusalem, judged indeed yet more severely than the mass, but which nevertheless existed, and which will have distinct circumstances in their history until the last days. The same thing happens in the New Testament. In the language of the apostles, the twelve tribes are blended. Nevertheless, as a matter of history, the Jews-that is to say, those of Judah-are always distinct. In the main, Ezekiel prophesied under the same circumstances. Hence, in part, as we have said, his title of " son of man," given also to Daniel, as well as that of " man greatly beloved." The man of power was Nebuchadnezzar. But he who represented the race before God, was an Ezekiel, as the man of desire was a Daniel, a man beloved of God. With respect to the date, it is certain that the 390 years are almost exactly the time of Israel's duration from the death of Solomon to the destruction of the temple. Some persons have wished to reckon the 40 years of Judah from Josiah's Passover down to the same period, supposing that the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar took place four or five years after the captivity of Zedekiah; but this was not the case-it was a month later in the same year. Jehoiakim was carried into captivity in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1212And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. (2 Kings 24:12)). Zedekiah reigned eleven years (Jer. 52:1212Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzar-adan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, (Jeremiah 52:12)). In the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzar-adan burnt the house of the Lord, and reading from verse 6, we see that it was a month after, in the same year. In taking the 40 years of Judah to be the reign of Solomon, it would be saying that Israel had done nothing but sin ever since the establishment of the kingdom, for it was only in the days of Solomon that there was a peaceful reign. David founded the kingdom. The responsibility of his family began with Solomon-2 Sam. 7.
Jerusalem is taken and its population almost entirely destroyed. The dispersed remnant are pursued by the sword, and a portion only of this remnant is spared. There, would be some even of this portion cast into the fire.* And this fire should reach to the whole house of Israel. That is to say, the judgment that should fall upon the remnant who do not perish in the city, should represent the position of all Israel. It is thus that the prophet is constantly led to speak of the whole nation. For as long as there was a remnant at Jerusalem, the nation had a place on the earth. But when the iniquitous rebellion of Zedekiah had led to the destruction of Jerusalem, this was no longer the case. But this judgment of Jerusalem contains very important elements for the understanding of all this part of the history of the people and of the dealings of God. " This is Jerusalem, saith the Lord God, I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries round about her." And instead of being a testimony in the midst of the nations, so that the house of the Lord should have attracted them, or at least have placed them under responsibility by a true testimony to God who dwelt there; instead of this, her inhabitants had even gone beyond the idolatrous nations in wickedness. Therefore God would execute judgments upon her in the sight of all the nations. A just retribution for her sins. She should also be laid waste and made a reproach among the nations round about her; and (chap. 6), the judgment should not be confined to Jerusalem, it should be executed on all the high places, on all the mountains of Israel. Every city should be desolate, all their idols destroyed, and the people scattered. They should know that the Lord had not threatened them in vain with His judgments. The fire should reach those that were afar off as well as those that were in the land; and the land should be laid waste, and the worshippers of idols slain around their infamous gods. Nevertheless, God would remember mercy in the midst of judgment; He would spare a little remnant of those who were scattered, and those who should escape should loathe themselves for the abominations they had committed. Thus Jerusalem had been judged as well as the mountains of Israel which were but too notorious for their idols and their high places.
(* It is thus that I understand this passage. We should imagine, from our translation, that it was some of the hairs that were cast into the fire. But in the Hebrew the pronoun is in the singular, and it is masculine as well as feminine.)
Finally (chap. 7), the whole land of Israel is under the sentence of God, " the four corners of the land." Those who escape the general judgment mourn alone upon the mountains, having forsaken all in despair-having no power for resistance. The worst of the heathen should possess the land. And the ornament of the majesty of the Lord, which He had -established in glory, having been profaned by their abominations, should be given up into the hands of strangers to be profaned by them. The secret place of his Holiness should be polluted. Mischief should come upon mischief, and there should be no remedy. The Lord would judge the people according to their deserts.
Solemn judgment was thus pronounced on the whole nation. All is desolate, and with respect to the relations of Israel with God-whether on the part of the people themselves, or by means of the house of David which was responsible to maintain these relations-all was finally lost. Grace may act; but the people and the house of David had totally failed. The name of God had been blasphemed through His people, instead of being glorified. The execution of judgment is now the only testimony rendered Him. The judgment is complete, it has fallen on the four corners of the land, and Israel is no longer a nation.
The seventh chapter closes this first prophecy, which is one of vast importance, as declaring the judgment fully executed upon the people of God on earth.
Chapter 8 begins a new prophecy which comprises several distinct revelations, and extends to the close of chapter 19. From the eighth to the end of the eleventh is connected. Judah still existed at Jerusalem, although many of them had already been carried into captivity with Jehoiakim. It was not till five years later that the temple was destroyed. It is the state of things, at Jerusalem which is judged in these chapters. The elders of Judah presented themselves before the prophet, and the Lord took this opportunity to show him all the enormities that would bring down judgment on the people. In the prophecy of the preceding year, God, by the mouth of the prophet, had threatened Israel with the giving up of His sanctuary to the profane (7:20-22). Here the Lord exhibits in detail the causes of this judgment. If we compare the history of Jeremiah, and the outward profession that was made, the pretension that the law should not perish from the priest, we shall understand the excessive iniquity of the Jews and their hypocrisy.
The glory of the Lord visits the temple. He takes His place on the side that looked towards the city, and, after having shown the prophet the heinous sins committed there, He gives command to execute the deserved" vengeance, and to spare the remnant who mourned over all these abominations. That which declares morally the state of heart of the wicked, and which made them give loose to their iniquity, is that the absence of the Lord's intervention on account of their sins, had so acted on their unbelief as to make them say, " The Lord hath forsaken the earth and the Lord seeth not." This was obduracy of heart.
In chapter 10, the whole city is given up to be consumed. The glory of the Lord presides over the judgment, and commands it. He stands upon the threshold of His house, which He fills with his glory in judgment, as He had formerly done in blessing. The throne of the Lord was apart.
In chapter 11 God judges the leaders of iniquity, who comforted themselves in the thought that the city was impregnable.* they should be brought out from the midst thereof and be judged in the border of Israel. One of these wicked men dies in the presence of the prophet, which brings out the sorrow of his heart and his intercession for Israel. In reply, God distinguishes those in Jerusalem from the captives. As to the latter, God had been a sanctuary to them wherever they were. He would restore them and give them back the land. He would purify them and give them, a new heart. They should be His people, and He would be their God. But as for those who walked after their abominations, their ways should be visited upon them in judgment. The remnant are always distinguished, and individual conduct is the condition of blessing, excepting in establishing the faithful as the people of God at the end.
(* Jeremiah's exhortations will be remembered, to submit themselves to Nebuchadnezzar, and even to quite the city and go forth unto him.)
The glory of the Lord then forsakes the city, and stands upon the Mount of Olives, from which Jesus ascended, and to which he will again descend for Israel's glory. This part of the prophecy ends here.
Chapter 12 announces the flight and the capture of Zedekiah. Chapter 13. Judges the prophets who deceived the people in Jerusalem by their pretended visions. In chapter 14 the elders of Israel come and sit before the prophet. Here God sets distinctly before Israel the new principles on which He would govern them. These elders had put their abominations before their eyes. God Himself will judge them according to their transgressions. As a nation they were all alike. The Lord could only say to them, "Repent ye." The prophets and the people should be punished together. Even if the most excellent of the earth should be found in a land which the Lord judged, they would not hinder the execution of the judgment, they would only save their own lives by their righteousness. Now God was bringing all His judgments upon Jerusalem; nevertheless, a remnant should be spared, and the proofs they would give of their abominations would comfort the prophet with respect to the judgments. In fact, the judgment of God who gives His people up to their enemies, is a burden to the heart of one who loves the people. But when the manner in which the name of God has been dishonored is seen, the necessity of the judgment is understood.
Chapter 15 shows that the vine-utterly useless if it bore no fruit-was fit only for fuel, and to be consumed. Thus should it be with the inhabitants of Jerusalem. A striking picture of this destruction, and of the condition of Jerusalem, which was worth nothing more.
In reading chapter 16 it must be remembered that Jerusalem is the subject, and not Israel. Moreover, it is no question of redemption, but of God's dealings. He has caused to live, He has cleansed, ornamented and anointed, that which was in misery and devoid of beauty. But Jerusalem has used all that the Lord had given her in the service of her idols, and also to purchase the succor and the favor of the Egyptians and the Assyrians. She has had no idea of independence and of standing alone, leaning on the Lord. She should be judged as an adulterous woman. The Lord would bring against her those whom she had sought. Nevertheless, filled with pride, she would hear nothing of Samaria or of Sodom, names which the Lord now uses to humble her. She was even more worthless than those whom she must own for her sisters, in spite of her pride. Jerusalem being thus justly condemned and humbled, God will yet act in full grace towards her, and will re-establish her, remembering His love and His covenant. She will never be restored on the former ground, any more than Samaria or Sodom; and the grace that will be exercised towards her, shall suffice to -bring them back also, namely, the sovereign grace of redemption and pardon, which is by no means the covenant of Jerusalem under the law. With Jerusalem the Lord will also establish a special covenant, and her two sisters shall be given her for daughters. Her mouth shall be shut at the thought of all the grace of God who shall have pardoned her. The fifty-fifth verse is absolute and perpetual. The promise in ver. 60 is on entirely new ground.
Chapter 17 presents the judgment of Zedekiah for despising the oath that Nebuchadnezzar made him take in the name of the Lord. Israel not having been able to stand in integrity before God, the Lord had committed the kingdom to the head of the Gentiles, whom He had raised up. This was His determinate purpose; but He had disposed the heart of Nebuchadnezzar to respect the name of the Lord, and Judah might still have remained the center of religious blessing, and the lamp of David might still, have given light there, although the royalty had been subjected to the head of the Gentiles, until the time should come for the result of the judgment and dealings of God. The covenant between Nebuchadnezzar and Zedekiah was made on this ground, and the name of the Lord was brought in to confirm it. It was not the Gentile who broke the covenant. Zedekiah added to his other sins that of rendering impossible the existence of a people and a kingdom that belonged to God. The name of the Lord was more despised and trampled under foot by him than by the Gentile king. He intrigues with Egypt to escape from the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, whom God Himself, in judgment, had set up as supreme. This filled up the measure of iniquity, and brought on the final judgment. But it left room for the sovereignty of God, who would bring down the high tree and exalt the low tree, who would dry up the green tree and make the dry tree to flourish. His grace would take the little forgotten branch of the house of David and raise it up in Israel upon the mountain of His power, where he would cause it to become a goodly cedar, bearing fruit, and sheltering all that would seek the protection of its shadow. All the powers of the earth should know the word and the works of the Lord.
Chapter 18 contains an important principle of the dealings of God, unfolded at that period. God would judge the individual according to his own conduct: the wicked nation was judged as such. Neither was it, in fact, judged for the iniquity of the fathers. The present iniquities of the people made the judgment which their fathers had merited, suitable to their own actions. But now with respect to His land of Israel, the principle of government laid down in Ex. 34:77Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7), was set aside, and souls belonging individually to the Lord would individually bear the judgment of their own sins. God would pardon the repenting sinner, for He has no pleasure in the sinner's death. The government of Israel on earth is still the subject. Every one shall be judged according to his ways.
Chapter 19 describes the captivity of Jehoiakim, afterward that of Jeconiah, and finally the complete decay of the house of David.
Chapter 20 begins a new prophecy, which, with its subdivisions, continues to the end of 23. It will have been remarked that the general divisions are made by years. The twentieth chapter is important. The preceding chapters had spoken of the sin of Jerusalem. Here the Spirit retraces the sin and especially the idolatry of Israel, that is to say, of the people, as a people, from the time of their sojourn in Egypt. For His own name's sake God had brought them up from thence and given them His statutes and His sabbaths, in token of the covenant between God and the people. But Israel had rebelled against God in the wilderness, and even then He had thought to destroy them. But He had spared them, warning at the same time their children also, who nevertheless followed their fathers' ways. Still, for His name's sake, God withdrew His hand, on account of the heathen in whose sight He had brought the people up from. Egypt. But in the wilderness He had already warned them that He would scatter them among the nations (Lev. 26, Deut. 32) and as they had polluted the sabbaths of the Lord and gone after the idols of their fathers, they should be polluted in their own gifts, and be slaves to the idols they had loved, that they might be made desolate by the Lord. For having been brought into the promised land, they had forsaken the Lord for the high places. He would no longer be inquired of by them, but would rule over them with fury and with an out-stretched arm. He had already in the wilderness threatened the people with dispersion among the heathen; and now having brought them into the land for the glory of His great name, Israel had only dishonored Him. He therefore executes the judgment with which He had threatened them. Israel, always ready to forsake the Lord, would have profited by this to become like the heathen. But God comes in at the end. He keeps the people separate in spite of themselves, and He will gather them out from among the nations and bring them into the wilderness, as when He led them out of Egypt, and there He will cut off the rebels, sparing a remnant, who alone shall enter the land. For it is there that the Lord shall be worshipped by His people, when He shall have gathered them out from all the countries where they have been scattered, and the Lord Himself shall be sanctified in Israel before the heathen. Israel shall know that He is the Lord, when He shall have accomplished all these things according to His promises. They shall loathe themselves, and shall understand that the Lord has wrought for the glory of His name, and not according to their wicked ways. We find some principles here that are important to notice. The people are judged in view of their conduct, from the time of their departure from Egypt; their idolatrous spirit was manifested even in Egypt itself (Amos 5, Acts 7:25, 2625For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? (Acts 7:25‑26)). The Lord had indeed spared the people for the glory of His name, but the sin was still there. Israel as a nation is therefore scattered, and then placed anew under the rod of the covenant, and God distinguishes the remnant, and acts for the sure accomplishment in sovereign grace of that which the people were incapable of, as placed under their own responsibility. Israel as a whole, as a nation, is distinguished from Judah which continues in a particular position. With regard to the nation, as such, the rebels are cut off and do not enter the land. In the land two-thirds are cut off at the end (Zech. 13:8, 98And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. (Zechariah 13:8‑9)). But in this latter case, it is the Jews who were guilty of the rejection and death of Jesus who are judged. Here it is the dealings of God with the nation-guilty from the time of Egypt; there it is the chastisement of the enemies and murderers of Christ. Grace is shown in both cases to the remnant.
From verse 45, it is another prophecy, which contains the application of the threats in the preceding prophecy, to the circumstances through which it will be fulfilled, by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar as unfolded in chap. 21. The Lord had unsheathed and sharpened his sword to return it no more to its sheath; it was prepared for the slaughter. The prophet sees Nebuchadnezzar at the head of the two roads to Jerusalem and to Ammon. Jerusalem would treat that which he was doing as a false, divination, but she would be overtaken by the judgment of the Lord. Their conduct had brought their whole sinful course to mind, and the profane Zedekiah who had filled up the iniquity by despising the oath which he had taken in the Lord's name, should come to his end when the iniquity was judged for he had filled up its measure. Moreover, it was now a definitive judgment, and not a chastisement which would allow the unsheathed sword to return to its scabbard. The Lord overturned everything until He should come, to whom in right it all belonged, and to whom the kingdom should be given; that is to say, until Christ. Ammon likewise should be destroyed.
The more these prophecies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah are considered, the more striking do they appear. First of all in establishing the very important fact with respect to the government of the world, namely, that the throne of God has been removed from the earth, and the government of the world entrusted to man, under the form of an empire among the Gentiles. In the second place, the veil is also withdrawn as to the government of God in Israel. This test, to which man has been subjected, in order to see if he were capable of being blessed, has only proved the entire vanity of his nature, his rebellion, the folly of his will, so that he is radically evil. Even from Egypt, it was a spirit of rebellion, idolatry, and unbelief, which preferred anything in the world, an idol,
Or the Assyrian, to the Lord the true God. Constant in their sin, neither deliverance nor judgment, neither blessing nor experience of their folly, changed the heart of the people or the propensity of their nature. The idolatry that began in Egypt, and their contempt of the word of the Lord, were not altered by their enjoyment of the promises, but characterized this people until their rejection of the Lord. But on God's part we see a patience that never belies itself, the most tender care, the most touching appeals, everything that could tend to bring their hearts back to the Lord. Interventions in grace, to lift them out of their misery, and bless them -when in a state of faithfulness produced by this grace-through the means of such or such a king. Rising up early to send them prophets, until there was no more remedy! But they gave themselves up to evil; and, as shown by Ezekiel and Stephen, the Spirit of God returns to the first manifestations of their heart, of which all that followed was but the proof and the expression. And the judgment is executed on account of that which the people have been from the beginning.
After the full manifestation of that which the people were, God changes His plan of government, and reserves for sovereign grace the re-establishment of Israel according to His promises which He would fulfill by His means who could maintain blessing by His power, and govern the people in peace.
Chapter 22 recapitulates the sin of Jerusalem, of her prophets, her priests, and her princes. The eye of God sought for some one to stand in the gap before and found none. His indignation should consume them. What force the prophecies give to those words of the Lord, " How often would I have gathered thy children, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not."
In chapter 23 the Lord justifies Himself for judging Jerusalem, by the iniquity and unfaithfulness of her walk. Her whoredom with the Gentiles brought her early course to mind. The same conduct showed the same nature. She has ended as she began, because at heart she was the same. Samaria's lot should be hers.
The latter is called a tent or tabernacle, and Jerusalem " My tabernacle in her."
In chapter 24 definitive judgment is pronounced against Jerusalem, who was not even ashamed of her sins. The day that Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem, the wife of the prophet dies, and although she was the dearest object of his affections, Ezekiel was not to mourn. Under the figure of his wife's death, he is instructed to refrain his heart before the judgment of the Lord. Once executed, the judgment should be as it were openly addressed to the remnant. Jerusalem should be set as a caldron on the fire to melt and consume the whole. God had purged her, but she was not purged, and now He causes His fury to rest upon her.
Chapter 25 has an especial character. The nations that surrounded and that were within the territory of Israel, rejoiced at the destruction of Jerusalem and of the sanctuary. Therefore God would execute judgment upon them. Ammon, Moab, Edom, and the Philistines, are the objects of this prophecy. The testimony of God against Edom is yet more developed in Obadiah. Thus should these nations know, that although Jerusalem had not been a faithful witness, the Lord alone is God. Chapters 24 and 25 go together. Chapter 25 anticipates (although the date is similar) the events which gave rise to the manifestations of hatred that are the occasion of the judgment pronounced. But this spirit had shown itself from the commencement of the desolations of Judah and Jerusalem. Their introduction here is easily to be understood, for these nations were to share the same fate, and are included in this judgment, because they are all upon Israel's territory. Another remarkable element, found also in other prophecies on Edom, and giving a wider meaning to the one we are considering, is that it declares the judgment which shall fall on Edom in the end, shall be executed by the hand of Israel. Compare Obadiah, 17, 18, with the 14th verse of this chapter.
Although in a certain sense upon Israel's territory, Tire has another character, and is the subject of a separate prophecy (chapters 26-28), because it represents the world and its riches, in contrast with Israel as the people of God; and rejoices-not like the others from personal hatred, but because (having opposite interests) the destruction of that which restrained it, gave free course to its natural selfishness. It is worthy of remark in these prophecies, how God lays open all the thoughts of man with respect to His people and that which they have been towards Him. In chapter 27 Tire is judged for its to the people and the city of God. It is overthrown as a wordly system, and all that formed its glory disappears before the breath of the Lord. In chapter 28 it is the prince and the king of Tire that are judged for their pride. Verses 1-11, set before us the prince of this world's glory as a man, exalting himself and seeking to present himself as a God, having acquired riches and glory by his wisdom. Verses 11-19, while continuing to speak of Tire, go, I think, much farther, and disclose, though darkly, the fall and the ways of Satan, become through our sin the Prince and God of this world. The prince of Tire represents Tire and the spirit of Tire. This is much more personal. I do not doubt that, historically, it is Tire itself; verses 16-19 prove it. But, I repeat, the mind of the Spirit goes much farther. The world and its kings are presented as the garden of the Lord, on account of the advantages they enjoy. (The outward government of God is in question, which till then had recognized the different nations around Israel.) This however applies more especially to Tire, which was situated in the territory of Israel, in Emmanuel's land, and which in the person of Hiram had been allied with Solomon, and had even helped to build the temple. Its guilt was proportionate. It is the world in relation with God; and if the Prince of Tire represents this state of things as being the world, and a world that has been highly exalted in its capabilities by this position -an exaltation of which it boasts in deifying itself-the king represents the position itself in which, under this aspect, the world has been placed, and the forsaking of which gives it the character of apostasy. It is this character which gives occasion for the declaration of the enemy's apostasy, contained in these verses. He had been where the plants of God flourished,* he had been covered with precious stones, that is to say, with all the variety of beauty and perfection, in which the light of God is reflected and transformed, when manifested in, and with respect to, creation. Here the varied reflection of these perfections had been in the creature-a creature was the means of their manifestation. It was not light, properly so called. (God is light-Christ is the light here below, and so far as He lives in us, we are light in Him.) It was the effect of light, acting in the creature, like a sun-beam in a prism. It is a development of His beauty which is not its essential perfection, but which proceeds from it.
(* We may see, chap. 31:8, 9, 16, that this is a description of the kings of the earth, at least before Nebuchadnezzar, who first substituted one sole dominion given by God, for the many kings of the nations, recognized by God as the result of Babel, and in the center of which His people were placed, to make the government of God known through their means.
The special relation of Tire with Israel, added something to the position of the merchant city, and gave room also for the use made here of the history of its king as a type or figure of the prince of this world.)
These are the features of the king of Tire's character, or that of the enemy of God, the prince of this world. He is the anointed cherub-he is covered with precious stones-he has been in Eden the paradise of God, upon the mountain of God—he walked in the midst of the stones of fire-he was perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him. He is cast out of the mountain of God on account of his iniquities; his heart was lifted up because of his beauty, and he corrupted himself. We find that which as to the creature is the most exalted; he acts in the judicial government of God according to the intelligence of God. (This is the character of the anointed cherub); lie is clothed with the moral beauty that reflects the character of God as light.* He is recognized among the plants of God, in which God displayed His wisdom and His power in creation, according to His good pleasure, as Creator. He had been there also where the authority of God was exercised-on the mountain of God. He walked where the moral perfections of God were displayed in their glory, a glory before which evil could not stand-" the stones of fire." His ways had been perfect. But all these advantages were the occasion of his fall, and characterized it. For the privileges we enjoy always characterize our fall. Whence have we fallen? is the question; for it is the having failed there, when we possessed it, that degrades our condition. Moreover, it is not an outward temptation, as in man's case; a circumstance which did not take away his guilt, but which modified its character. " Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty." He exalted himself against God, and he was cast out as profane from the mountain of God. His independent spirit in security was humbled when he was cast to the ground; his nakedness is manifested to all. His folly shall in the end be apparent to all.
(* Observe that this takes place in the creature. In the case of Aaron, the type of Christ as priest, it exists in the absolute perfection of grace which presents us to God according to His perfection in the light. It is afterward seen in the glory as the foundation of the city.)
The judgment of Zidon is added. And then, all hope having been taken from Israel, when the judgment of the nation is accomplished, God gathers them and causes them to dwell in their land in peace forever.
Chapters 29-32 contain the judgment of Egypt. Egypt sought, in the self-will of man, to take the place which God had in fact given to Nebuchadnezzar. All must submit. The mighty empire of Asshur had already fallen. Pharaoh, whatever his pretensions and his ambition might be, was no better. We see this judgment of the Assyrian, the chief of all the nations as to his power, in chap. 31:10, 11; where the " mighty one of the heathen" is distinctly brought out, falling before this decree of God. Pharaoh would be consoled by seeing all the great ones of the earth overthrown like himself. Already fallen like the uncircumcised, i.e., like people who were not owned of God, nor consequently upheld by Him, all must give place to this new power in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. That which characterized Egypt was the pride of nature, which would follow its own will and owned no God (chap. 29:9). Such a principle shall no longer be the confidence of God's people (ver. 16). Egypt should have her place, but should no longer rule. The judgment of Egypt should be the occasion of Israel's blessing. This reaches to the end. In the destruction of the Assyrian, God had shown that He would not allow a nation to exalt itself in this manner. The will of man in Pharaoh did not alter his judgment. In Nebuchadnezzar, as we have seen, a new principle was introduced by God himself into the world.
Observe, that in chapter 32:27, Meshech and Tubal are distinguished from the rest of the nations. This prophecy concerning Egypt has particular importance. It is composed of three distinct prophecies. The first (chap. 29 and 30) is subdivided; the second chap. 31; the third chap. 32. But this last extends to the end of chapter 39, and embraces several subjects in connection with the fate of Israel in the last days. Observe that chap. 29:17-21, is a prophecy of a very different date, introduced here on account of its relation to that which precedes it in the same chapter. Chapter 30:20-26, is also a distinct prophecy as to its date.
Until the twenty-fifth chapter, we principally found moral arguments with respect to the state of Israel; from thence to the end of chap. 32 it is rather the execution of the judgment. But the prophecy that announces it is remarkable in more than one respect. Nebuchadnezzar is looked at as executing the judgment of God, whose servant he is for the purpose of executing judgment on Jerusalem, now become pre-eminently the seat of iniquity, although the sanctuary of God. At the same time He sets His land free by these very judgments, from all the nations that wrongfully possessed it. He brings to naught the haughty power of man in which Israel had trusted, i.e. Egypt, which shall never rise again as a ruling nation. But it was the day of all nations. The result of these judgments, whether on rebellious Jerusalem or on the nations, should be at the same time the re-establishment of Israel according to the promise, and by the power of God in grace. The snares which had led them into evil were taken away. See chap. 27:24-26; 24:16-21. Thus, although these events have had their historical accomplishment by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the ways of God in view of the re-establishment of Israel have been manifested, as far as regards the judgments to be executed. Judgments through which all the nations, as well as Israel, which was their center, disappear from the scene, as nations. The Spirit, while recounting the execution of the judgments that were to fall on Asshur, Elam, and Meshech, gives details of those that had invaded the land or been snares to Israel. So that the prophetic recital of these very judgments, contains in itself the assured hope, granted to Israel by the efficacious grace of the Lord. I cannot doubt that all this prophecy of judgment relates -in a perspective brought nigh by the energy of the Spirit-to the events of the last days which will be the complete fulfillment of these purposes and intentions of God.
In chap. 30:3, we see that it is universal.*
(* It will be remembered that with Nebuchadnezzar God set aside the order he had previously established in the world revealed in Deut. 32, namely, of nations and peoples arranged around Israel as a center. He owns Israel no longer as His people. This order then falls of itself, 'and Babel of old, the place of dispersion, becomes the center of one absorbing empire. In connection with the fact that Israel is no longer owned as a people being judged as such, God addresses Himself to individual conscience in the midst of the nation. But this was the judgment of the nations, and the call of a remnant. And this is why the prophecy reaches in its full bearing to the final judgment of the earth. God consequently Himself delivers and saves His people, judging between sheep and sheep, and executing wrath against all them who have trodden them underfoot. The judgment of the one absorbing empire does not form part of the prophecies of Ezekiel (this is found in Daniel), save so far as every oppressor and evil shepherd is judged (34). The connection of this empire with Israel in the last days will not be immediate. It will politically favor the Jews who do not own the Lord. What I here notice forms the key of the prophecy. Ezekiel speaks from the midst of Israel captive, and does not occupy himself with Judah, owned by itself in the land under the power of the Gentiles.)
I have already quoted the passages which show that for Israel it is the deliverance from their former snares. The pretensions of man are overthrown (chap. 29:3-9). The spirit of dominion (chap. 31:10-14). The nothingness of the glory of man is shown at the end of chap. 31, and of each judgment in chap. 32. We have already seen that the fate of Meshech is mentioned separately, perhaps in view of that which will happen to it in the last days, and which is announced further on (chap. 39:5).
It is important to remark one point in this series of prophecies, which commences with the judgment of Jerusalem, the center of the former system of nations. They are executed with the object of making them all know the Lord: only in Israel's case there is besides this, the understanding and the special verification o prophecy. See chap. 24:24-27, Israel; 25:5, 7-11, Ammon and Moab; 17 especial vengeance on the Philistines; 26, Tire; 28:22, Zidon; 29:21, Egypt; as also 30:26, and 32:15. With respect to Edom, (chap. 25:14), it is only said that Edom shall know the vengeance of the Lord by means of Israel; a further proof that in certain respects this prophecy extends to the last days. It is, then, in general, the manifestation of the Lord's power, so as to make Him known to all by the judgments which He executed; already partially realized in the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar, but fully accomplished by-and-by in favor of Israel. It will be remarked that in the twelfth verse of chap. 35 when Edom is again judged, it is only said, " Thou shalt know that I the Lord have heard all thy blasphemies." But in verses 4 and 9, it is said of Edom, " Thou shalt know," or, " Ye shall know that I am the Lord." So that this knowledge of the Lord is the result of the judgment itself, for when all the earth shall rejoice, Edom shall be made desolate. It will be through judgment that all the nations shall know that the Lord is God. But when the judgment has been executed, and all the earth shall rejoice in blessing, Edom will only have the judgment. Compare Obadiah. Edom undergoes judgment by means of the mighty among the nations, but Israel himself shall strike the final blow. We may see the two means of making the Lord known, in the case of Israel (chap. 24:24-27; 27:26, 27; 36:11). In the other cases it is by judgment.
We have yet to observe that in the case of Tire, commercial glory, and in the case of Egypt, governmental pride founded on power, are absolutely judged, cast down, and destroyed without remedy (chap. 26:21; 27:36; 31:18.) Compare chap. 32:32. This has been literally fulfilled with respect to the continental Tire, and the Egypt of the Pharaohs. We have seen a total destruction of Edom announced by the Lord. That which characterized Edom was its implacable hatred to the people of God.
In chap. 33, in view of these judgments, which put His people on entirely new ground (for they were judged as Lo-ammi, with the nations, and this is why the prophecy can look on to the last days, although the judgments had been but partial), in view then of these judgments, God establishes an entirely new principle, namely, individual conduct as the ground of the dealings of God, in contrast with the consequences of national sin (ver. 10, 11). Thus the door was still fully open to individual repentance, the repentance being founded on a testimony that applied individually, whatever the national judgment might be. The end to which the judgment applies is in contrast with the effect to be produced by it, and that in order to confirm the principle. Faith would not be shown now by reckoning on the promises to Israel, or on the intervention of God in behalf of His people as in possession of His promises, for the people were judged; and the very thing that would have been faith, had it been the time of the promises, and that hereafter also will be faith, is but hardness of heart in the time of judgment (ver. 24). Compare Isa. 51:22Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. (Isaiah 51:2) (a passage often entirely misapplied). The little remnant may trust in a God who had called out one man alone and had multiplied him; but such a thought, when God was cutting off the multitude of the people because of their iniquities, would only cause the judgment to be more keenly felt. In this way (and not by a blessing which presumption would snatch from God), they should know that the Lord was God.
The end of Jeremiah has given us an account of the fulfillment of Ezekiel's words; but all these judgments give room for the intervention of God in behalf of His people, by means of sovereign grace accomplished in the Messiah. Still the evil lay in the shepherds, that is, in the kings and princes of Israel, who were not true shepherds; indeed there were none true, and the flock, diseased, scattered and afflicted, and ill-treated, were a prey to their enemies. The shepherds devoured them, and neither protected nor cared for them. But the Lord now points it out in order to say that He himself would seek out His poor sheep, and would judge between sheep and sheep, and would deliver them from the mouth of those that devoured them,* and that He would feed them upon the mountains of Israel, and in fat pastures. He would raise up the true and only shepherd, David, i.e., the well-beloved Messiah. The Lord should be their God, and his servant David their prince. The covenant of peace should be re-established; full and secure blessing should be the abiding portion of the people of God, the house of Israel. There should be no more famine in their land, and the nations should no more devour them. Observe here the way in which the Lord Himself delivers His sheep, without calling Himself their shepherd, and then raises up a plant of renown, the true David, as their shepherd.
(* The thirty-third chap. having stated the great principles of God's dealings in the last days, namely, individual condition before God, chap. 34 exhibits the conduct of their leaders. The Lord judges the latter as having misled and oppressed His people. He discerns Himself "between cattle and cattle." Then, in chap. 35 Edom is judged. Compare Isa. 34 Here, in genera], it is the effect, relating to all Israel (" these two countries"). In chap. 36 the moral renewing of all Israel, that they may judge their ways; in chap. 37, the restoration of the people, as quickened by God in national resurrection: and at last (chap. 38 and 39), the judgment of the enemies of the people thus restored in peace: or rather, of the enemy, i.e. Gog. All these things are connected with the relations between the Lord and His people. Although He gives David as king, yet the Messiah is not named as having had relations with the people; for in fact, this was only true of Judah. It is a general picture of the last days, in their great results and their events: everything having tits place in reference to all Israel, without giving a history of details.)
In chap. 35 God decides the controversy between Edom and Israel, and condemns mount Seir to perpetual desolation, because of the inveterate hatred of that people to Israel; and instead of delivering up Israel to Edom in the day that He chastises His people, it is Edom that shall bear the punishment of this hatred, when the whole earth shall rejoice. When God chastises His people, the world thinks to possess everything, whereas that chastisement is but the precursor of the world's judgment.
Chapter 36 continues the same subject with reference to the blessing of Israel. The nations insulted Israel as a land whose ancient high places were their prey, and -as the spies had said-a land: that devoured its inhabitants. God takes occasion from, this to show that He favors His people, and the Lord declares that He will restore peace and prosperity to the land and take away their reproach. Israel had defiled the land, and profaned the name of the Lord, and the Lord had scattered them among the heathen. And even in this His name would be profaned through their vileness, because the heathen
would say, " These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land." But the Lord would intervene, and sanctify His great name before the heathen, by bringing His people back from among them, and cleansing them from all their filthiness; taking away the hardness of their hearts, giving them His Spirit, causing them to walk in His statutes, planting them in the land which He had given to their fathers, owning them as His people, and being Himself their God. The reproach that the land devoured its inhabitants would then be evidently without foundation. God would multiply earthly blessings to His people. The Lord's work should be evident to all men.
It is principally to this passage (although not exclusively) that the Lord Jesus alludes in John 3, telling Nicodemus that He had spoken of earthly things, and that, as a master of Israel, he ought to have understood that this renewing of heart was necessary to the blessing of Israel in the earth. The truth of this, with regard to a Jew, ought not to surprise him, since it was a work of sovereignty in whosoever should be born of God; and if Nicodemus did not understand the declarations of the prophets, with respect to the necessity of regeneration for Israel's enjoyment of earthly things, how could he understand if Jesus spoke to him of heavenly things, for which the death of the Son of Man was absolutely necessary.
We may remark, that this prophet speaks of the dealings of God with respect to Israel as a nation responsible to the Lord, and never says anything of the first coming of Christ, or of Israel's responsibility with regard to Him. This took place under the dominion of the Gentiles. Here Nebuchadnezzar is but a rod in the hand of the Lord, and the times of the Gentiles are not considered. This is the reason why we find the judgment of the nations by Nebuchadnezzar connected with the events of the last days. The rejection of Christ by the Jews is therefore not mentioned here. It is Israel before the Lord. This remark is important, in order to understand Ezekiel (see preceding note).
Chapter 37 reveals the definitive blessing of the people as a fact, without entering into any details of the events that terminate in this blessing. The dry bones of Israel, of the nation as a whole, are gathered together by the power of God. God accomplishes this work by His Spirit; but by His Spirit acting in power on His people to produce certain effects, rather than in giving spiritual life; although it is not to be doubted that those who are blessed among the Jews will be spiritually quickened. The result of this intervention of God is that the dispersed of Israel, hitherto divided into two people, are gathered together in the earth, re-united under of t: Head, as one nation. It is the resurrection of the nation, which was really dead and buried. But God opens their graves, and places them again in their land, restored to life, as a nation. The fact of their division before this operation of God, is recognized. But the result of the operation is Israel in their unity as a people. One king should reign over them. This, under God's hand, is the result of all their iniquity, and of the devices of the enemies who had carried them into captivity. David (i.e. Christ) should be their king. They should be thoroughly cleansed by God Himself. They should walk in His statutes and His judgments, and dwell forever in their land. The sanctuary of God should be in their midst for evermore; His tabernacle, His dwelling-place, should be among them, He their God and they His people. The heathen should know that the Lord sanctified Israel, when His sanctuary should be there forever. It is the full national blessing of Israel from the Lord Jehovah.
Chapter 40. Gog, not fearing the Lord, seeks to take possession of the land. He has no thought that the Lord is there. His pride blinds him. It is very important to remark that Ezekiel speaks neither of the first nor the second coming of Christ, nor of the circumstances of the Jews in connection with the empire of the Gentiles. The latter only appear as instruments performing the will of God. The prophet brings the Lord and Israel into the scene. He presents Christ indeed, but as being there already, and in the character of David. The Lord raises up for them a plant of renown. His coming is not the question. The judgments of the Lord upon the earth make Him known to the nations and to Israel. To the latter, His blessings also. The nations learn through these that Israel went into captivity because of their sins, and not because their God was like the idols of the heathen. But in all the ways of God thus presented, not only is the coming of Christ not mentioned, but it has even no place. It belongs to another series of thoughts and revelations of the Spirit of God, another order of events. It is well also to observe that the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth chapters, and the two following ones taken together, are not consecutive, but each of the two first by itself, and the two last, taken together as a whole, treat of distinct subjects, each subject is complete, and presenting the introduction of Israel's blessing in connection with the subject treated, and closing with the assurance that it will be final and perpetual. The subject of all these prophecies is the land and the blessings of God upon the land of Israel. This land which belonged to the Lord, He would not have defiled. He drives out Israel from it in judgment, and when He has cleansed the people, He makes the nations, as well as Israel, understand His ways in this respect. He acts in full grace towards His people. He makes it known that they are His people, that He will be sanctified, and that He is sanctified in their midst.
I think then that Gog is the end of all the dealings of God with respect to Israel, and that God brings up this haughty power, in order to manifest on earth by a final judgment, His dealings with Israel and with the Gentiles, and to plant His blessing, His sanctuary, and His glory in the midst of Israel, none of the people being henceforth left in exile afar from their land.
Besides the numerous verses in which it is said "And they shall know that I am the Lord," the following passages may be referred to, which will show the leading thought in those declarations and judgments of God, namely, the manifestation of His government on the earth; a government making manifest the true character of God, and securing its demonstration in the world, in spite of the unfaithfulness of His people; and that, in grace as well as in holiness, 36:19-23, 36; 39:7, 23, 24, 28. With respect to Israel, 34:30; to the enemy, 25:12, 37:28.
That which I have just said of Gog, supposes that all the events which relate to the coming of the Son of Man, are omitted in the writings of this prophet-which I believe to be the case. The book treats only of the governmental ways of God on the earth, of the Lord in Israel. The power designated by "Gog," is that of the north, outside of the territory of the beasts in Dan. 1 doubt not that the right translation would be "Prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal," as many learned men have remarked. Cush and Phut were on the Euphrates, as well as on the Nile, Persia is known. Togarmah is the north-west of Asia Minor. The audaciousness of this king causes the wrath of the Lord to break forth.
I will add, in order to facilitate the establishment of the connection of this with other passages, that I doubt not Jesus will reign in the character of David, before assuming that of Solomon. He suffered as David driven away by the jealousy of Saul. The remnant will pass through this in principle. This is the key to the book of Psalms. He will reign as David, Israel being blessed and accepted, but all their enemies not yet destroyed. And finally he will reign as Solomon, that is to say, as Prince of Peace. Many passages, such as Mic. 5, several chapters in Zechariah, Jer. 51:20, 2120Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms; 21And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider; (Jeremiah 51:20‑21). Ez. 25:14, speak of this time, in which Israel already reconciled and acknowledged and in peace within, shall be the instruments for executing the Lord's judgments without. Compare Isa. 11:10-1410And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. 14But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west; they shall spoil them of the east together: they shall lay their hand upon Edom and Moab; and the children of Ammon shall obey them. (Isaiah 11:10‑14).
All then that relates to the destruction of the empires which are the subject of Daniel's prophecies, has no place in the prophecies of Ezekiel; nor that which takes place in order to put Israel again in relation with God; nor the consequences to the Jews of their rejection of Christ. These subjects will be found elsewhere, as in Daniel, Zechariah, and more generally in Isaiah. Here, God makes Himself known in Israel. Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, falls upon the mountains of Israel, and the Lord makes Himself known in the eyes of many nations, 38:21-23. The judgment shall reach the land of Gog, and the isles (39:6). The name of the Lord shall be known in Israel, and the heathen shall know that the Lord, the Holy One, is in Israel (ver. 7). And the glory of the Lord, being thus manifested in the midst of the nations, Israel from this day forth shall know that it is the Lord Himself who is their God, and the nations shall know that it was the iniquity of Israel that brought judgment upon them, and not that the Lord had failed either in power or in the stability of His counsels (ver. 22, 24). In a word, the Lord and His government should be fully known in Israel and by means of this people in the world, and from that time God would no more hide His face from them, His Spirit should be poured out upon His people. The verses 25-29 recapitulate the dealings of God towards them for the establishment of His government, and to make Himself known among them.
The remaining part of the prophecy is the establishment of His sanctuary in the midst of His people. The reader will perceive that we find in these last chapters a revelation of the same kind as that given to Moses for the tabernacle, and to David for the temple, only that in this case the details are preserved in the writings given to the people by inspiration, as a testimony for the time to come and to conscience in all times. God takes an interest in His people. He will re-establish His sanctuary among men. Meantime, the testimony of this has been given to the people to bring them under the responsibility which this good-will of God towards them involved. For the prophet was commanded to tell the house of Israel all that he had seen; and he did so. When the dimensions of the different parts of the house have been given, the glory of the Lord fills the house, in the vision, as happened historically at the dedication of the tabernacle and of the temple.
Chapter 43:7, proclaims that the house, which is the throne and the footstool of the Lord, should no more be defiled by profane things. The prophet was then to declare that if Israel renounced their unfaithfulness, the Lord would return to dwell there. Thus the people are placed at all times under this responsibility. The prophet was to skew the house to Israel that they might repent, and if they repented he was to explain it to them in detail. And it is this which takes place at the end. The ordinances of the house were to be shown them if they humbled themselves; and in view of this, the prophet announces all that was to be done for the cleansing and the consecration of the altar, in order that the regular service might be performed.
Chapter 44 makes known the fact that the Lord is returned to His house, and the memorial of His having done so is preserved, in that the door by which He entered is to remain forever shut. The prince alone (for God will raise up a prince in Israel), is to enter through it-to sit before the Lord. We have seen that this prophet always contemplates Israel on their own ground, as an earthly people in relation with the throne of God on the earth. Compare Zech. 12.7,8, 10. Finally, God maintains the holiness of His house against all strangers, and even against the Levites who had forsaken it. The family of Zadok is established in the priesthood, and directions are given to keep it from all profanation.
Chapter 45. The portion of the priests in the land is assigned them-close to that of the sanctuary. The portion of the Levites was to adjoin that of the priests, and then came the possession of the city and its suburbs. That which remained of the breadth of the land was for the prince and for the inheritance of his children, in order that the people should no longer be oppressed. All the rest of the land was for the people. Provision is also made for the daily offerings, and for those of the Sabbath. The other appointed offerings were to be made by the prince.
Some details require one or two remarks. The cleansing of the sanctuary commences the year. It is no longer an atonement at the end of seven months to take away the defilements that have been accumulating. The year opens with an already accomplished cleansing. Afterward, in order that all may have communion with the sufferings of the Paschal Lamb, an offering is made on the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and every one that is simple (ver. 20). During the feast, they offered seven bullocks instead of two. The character of worship will be perfect. The sense of Christ's acceptance as the burnt-offering will be perfect in that day. The feast of Pentecost is omitted-a circumstance of great significance, for this feast characterizes our present position. Not that the Spirit will not be given in the world to come, when Christ shall establish his kingdom. But this gift is not that which characterizes that period as it does the present time. We have observed that the prophet sees everything in a Jewish point of view. Thus the remembrance of redemption, and the enjoyment of rest, celebrated at the feast of the Tabernacles, will characterize the position of the Jews before God. The two feasts are celebrated in the recognition of the full value of the burnt offering presented to God. Another circumstance which distinguishes the worship of this millennial day, is that the two feasts which are types of that period are marked out in the worship, the Sabbath and the new moon-restand re-establishment! Israel appearing anew in the world. The inner gate on the side of the east was open on that day, and the prince worshipped at the very threshold of the gate, and the people before the gate. The other days it was shut. They stood thus before the Lord, in the consciousness of the rest which God had given to Israel and of His grace in again manifesting His people in the light. Nevertheless, it still remains true that neither the people nor the prince entered within. Those who are the most blessed on the earth in that day of blessing will never have that access into the Lord's presence which we have by the Spirit, through the vail. Pentecost belongs to, and links itself with, the rending of the vail; and gives us to walk in all liberty in the light, as God Himself is in the light, having entered into the holy place by the new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh.
The prince entered by the outer-door on the side of the east, and he went out by the same door. In the solemn feasts, the people went in by the north gate and came out by the south gate, and the prince in their midst. When he went in alone, as a voluntary worshipper, he entered and retired again by the eastern gate. These ordinances, while giving remarkable honor to the prince, in connection with the glory of God who gave him his place among the people, equally secured that which follows (ver. 16-18), of the brotherly and benevolent relations between him and the people of God, and took away all opportunity of oppression.
The two last chapters do not require any lengthened remarks. The waters that issue from the sanctuary represent the life-giving power that proceeds from the throne of God, flowing through His temple, and healing the Dead Sea, the abiding token of judgment. The waters abound in fish, the trees that grow beside them are filled with fruit, the marshes alone remain under the curse, they are " given to salt." The blessing of that day is real and abundant, but not complete. The land is divided between the tribes in a new manner, by straight lines drawn from east to west. The portion for the sanctuary and for the city, or the 25,000 square reeds are situated next to the seventh tribe, beginning from the north. The name of the city thenceforth shall be, "The Lord is there." Compare, for the waters that flow from the temple, Joel 3:1818And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim. (Joel 3:18); Zech. 14:88And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (Zechariah 14:8); passages that refer to the same period.
It appears that the two places pointed out to the fishermen as a boundary, were the two extremities of the Dead Sea. (We may compare Gen. 14:88And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; (Genesis 14:8); 2 Chron. 20 and Isa. 15:88For the cry is gone round about the borders of Moab; the howling thereof unto Eglaim, and the howling thereof unto Beer-elim. (Isaiah 15:8)). The main features in the whole passage are the re-establishment of Israel, but on new grounds, and blessing, analogous to that of paradise (an image borrowed from this prophecy in the Apocalypse);* but, after all, with the reserve that this blessing did not absolutely remove all evil, as will be the case in the eternal ages.
(* When I say "borrowed," it is not that the Spirit of God has not given us an original image in the Apocalypse. One has but to read it to be convinced of the contrary. But Old Testament imagery is constantly employed in the descriptions there given; only in such a manner as to apply it to heavenly things: a circumstance that makes it much easier to understand the book, by helping us to enter into its real character, through its analogy with the Old Testament.)
There is a powerful and abiding source of blessing which greatly surmounts the evil, and almost effaces it; nevertheless, it is not entirely taken away. Still the name of the city, of the seat of power, that which characterizes it, is "The Lord is there!" The Lord, that great King, the Creator of all things, and the Head of His people Israel.
The question of old was, Which is thy God? Now it is the question, Is the Holy Ghost really among you 7