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I. God orders Ezekiel to eat a roll, or a book: which signified, that he was to hearken to the word of the Lord, and write it in his own heart; that he should execute the command he received, to speak to the Jews in Chaldea, and not to fear them, though they should be obstinate in their sins: This vision, which the prophet had already seen, was repeated. II. Ezekiel goes to the Jews that were at Telabib, where God instructs him again in the duties of his office, confirms him in his calling by a vision which he had before shown him: and warns him again of the obstinacy and perverseness of the Jews.
I. The first thing to be observed on this chapter is, that God tells the prophet, he sent him not to strange nations, but to the Jews; and that nevertheless they would not hear him. God is so kind as to prevent men by his grace, and make himself known to them; but they who ought to be most attentive to his voice, and have received the greatest favours from him, are often the most hardened in iniquity. II. It is to be considered, that although God knew the obstinacy of the Jews, he was pleased nevertheless to send Ezekiel to exhort them: by which we see, on one hand, that God warns even those who are most corrupt; and that if they do not make a right use of it, he will punish them with justice; and, on the other hand, that the prospect, or fear of ill success, should not prevent the ministers of the Lord from discharging their duty. III. The promises God made Ezekiel to assist him, ought to fill with confidence all those who walk faithfully in the duties of their calling. IV. Let us above all observe, that when God a second time caused Ezekiel to behold his glory, he most expressly charged him to warn the £,ews from him; telling him, that he appointed him as a watchman over them; that if he warned not the wicked, and even the righteous, who had turned away from their righteousn ess, they should die in their sins, but that he should be accountable for their loss; whereas if he faithfully warned them, he should deliver his own soul. This shows with what zeal those who watch over the souls of men, and are to give an account, ought to discharge their ministry, and to warn sinners, and even good men, if they would not be responsible before God for their souls, should they perish through their fault. This teaches us likewise, that those who are warned, and do not beware, are without excuse.
In this chapter we have a figurative r.nd prophetical description or the siege of Jerusalem, ai id of the famine that would be in that city during the siege.
On this chapter let it be remarked, that God formerly represented, by visions and sensible images, what he thought fit to reveal to the prophets; and that they likewise used to represent, by the same images and extraordinary actions, what was to come to pass. The 390 days, in which Ezekiel lay on his left side, signified, that Jerusalem should be besieged so many days; and these 390 days answered to the 390 years which passed between the time that idolatry was introduced by Jeroboam, and the taking of Jerusalem. The forty days that the prophet lay on his right side, denoted, that from the taking of that city, till the Chaldeans had made an end of burning and plundering it, would be so many days; and the like number of years passed after God had declared, inthe reign of Josiah, that the destruction of that city was irreversibly determined. The mean and uncommon food of the prophet, all that time, signified the great famine that would be in Jerusalem during the siege. The Lord was pleased thus to reveal beforehand to Ezekiel, what was shortly to happen to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that the Jews, especially those who were in Chaldea, might not doubt of the execution of the threatenings which God had denounced against their countrymen.
God commands Ezekiel to shave his head and beard, to burn one part of the hair, to cut another part with a sword, to cast another part to the wind, and to shut up the rest. This was another of the mysterious actions of the prophet, which was to signify, that the Jews who were at Jerusalem should be destroyed, some by pestilence and famine, some by war; that others should be dispersed throughout the world, and that a small number of them should be preserved.
We have, in this chapter, a very express type of the evils that befell the Jews, when the Chaldeans besieged and took Jerusalem. Great numbers of them perished by the pestilence; many were carried off by famine during the siege; others were slain by the enemies; and those who escaped these misfortunes were dispersed and sent into captivity. II. The prophet, when he proposed this emblem of the Jews' destruction, declared that they should be overtaken with these plagues, because they had rejected God's ordinances, and profaned his sanctuary; and especially, because they had imitated, and even exceeded the neighbouring nations in their idolatry. He tells them, that for this reason God would punish them in the sight of those nations; and that as they had exceeded the other nations in wickedness, he would do such things to them as he had never done before, and would execute his judgments upon them with wrath and fury. Thus God punishes men for their rebellion, suiting their punishment to their crimes, and treating those with the greatest severity, who have had the greatest share in his favours, when they ungratefully abuse them.
In this chapter, which is a continuation of the prophecy in the foregoing, Ezekiel prophesies against Judea, and foretells, I. That the cities and places where the Jews had committed their idolatries should be destroyed, and they should perish by war, famine, and pestilence. II. That there should be a remnant of them preserved and restored, after they had been captives in strange countries.
There are three things to be considered in this chapter, I. That the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of all Judea, felt those miseries which Ezekiel had denounced against them, as we learn from the account of what happened during the siege, and at the taking of that city. God thought fit these things should be foretold beforehand, that, as it is observed in this chapter, the Jews, when they came to pass, might confess, that the word of the Lord had not been spoken in vain, and might be encouraged to turn to him. II. Since God thus dealt with the Jews, to punish their sins, and especially their idolatry, we may from hence learn, that he particularly abhors idolatry; and that he severely revenges the infidelity of those who know him, and, notwithstanding that, despise his laws, and profane his worship. III. Amidst these threatenings of the prophet, and all these expressions of God's wrath, we see evident tokens of his goodness, promising to spare the remnant of the Jews, and to restore those that should remember him and be converted; which is an assurance to us, that those whom God is most provoked with, may still become the objects of his love, if they acknowledge and bewail their sins, and make a right use of his chastisements.
Ezekiel continues to describe the ruin of the Jews: He declares that the end, that is, the time of their desolation was come: that God would spare them no longer, and that he would shortly take vengeance of their idolatry and other sins, causing them to perish by the sword, by pestilence, and by famine; driving them out of their own country, sending them into captivity, and giving their land to strangers.
These repeated threatenings of Ezekiel against the Jews that were still at Jerusalem, which were all accomplished, should serve for a warning and example, to teach us, that after God has a long time borne with sinners, he will at last infallibly execute his threatenings. The certainty and severity of God's j udgmen ts app ear in his express and positive declaration, that he would no longer spare the Jews, nor take pity on them. We must not think to rely upon the mercy of God, while we remain in a state of impenitence; since there is a time when the goodness and patience of the Lord are at an end. There is another thing to be taken notice of on this subject, which is, that the prophet here declares, that neither the riches of the Jews, nor any other advantages, could save them from the shame and desolation that threatened them; from whence we may gather, that nothing can screen men from the wrath of God when they persist in their sins.
God carries Ezekiel to Jerusalem in a vision, and there shows him the many abominations committed by the Jews, in worshipping all sorts of idols; and he protests he will pour upon them all his wrath.