Searchlights from the Word by G. Campbell Morgan: Ezekiel

Helpful outline sermon suggestion from every chapter from the Book of Ezekiel

Gene Exod Levi Numb Deut Josh Judg Ruth 1Sam 2Sam 1Kin 2Kin 1Chr 2Chr Ezra Nehe Esth Job_ Psal Prov Eccl Song Isai Jere Lame Ezek Dani Hose Joel Amos Obad Jona Mica Nahu Haba Zeph Hagg Zech Mala Matt Mark Luke John Acts Roma 1Cor 2Cor Gala Ephe Phil Colo 1The 2The 1Tim 2Tim Titu Phle Hebr Jame 1Pet 2Pet 1Joh 2Joh 3Joh Jude Reve

The Book of Ezekiel - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.

Chapter 1

I saw visions of God.
Ezekiel 1:1

Ezekiel is pre-eminently the prophet of hope. He was the contemporary of Jeremiah, but a much younger man. Probably Jeremiah was exercising his ministry when Ezekiel was born. His work lay among the exiles in Babylon. In the first three chapters we have the account of his preparation for that work. Then his messages fall into two clearly defined sections; the first dealing with the Reprobation of the nation, and the second fore-telling its ultimate Restoration. He saw clearly the righteousness of the reprobation; but he saw with equal clearness that the original purpose of God for His people would be gloriously realized. In the words emphasized we have the secret of this clear outlook in each case. This man's call to prophetic ministry began with visions of God. These preceded the voice which commissioned him. The symbolism of that vision of God is very wonderful, and is to be carefully pondered. That is not possible in a brief note. The arresting fact at the outset of our reading is that to a man in exile, and at a time when the national outlook was of the darkest, God granted these unveilings of Himself in mystic and marvellous imagery. The inspiration of all well-founded hope in days of darkness and desolation, is a clear vision of God. The reading of this chapter may have the effect of making us think, that if such visions were granted to us, we could have such confidence and hope. Let us think again. All that was suggested to Ezekiel by the fire, the living ones, the wheels, the spirit of life, has been more clearly revealed to us in the Son of His love. To have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus is to see the righteousness of all His judgments, and to be sure of the final victory of His love. In the Revelation we see again these symbols of Ezekiel gathered round a Throne in the midst of which is the Lamb, as it had been slain.

Chapter 2

And He said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak with thee.
Ezekiel 2:1

After the vision come the voice; and the first command of the voice was that the man who, prostrated by the glory of the vision, lay upon his face, should stand upon his feet, and hear the words of Jehovah. Let us consider this carefully. First came the vision, and therefore, whatever was to be said would come to this man with the authority of all that was revealed in that vision. There is no doubt that through all his ministry, whether Ezekiel listened to the voice, or spoke the messages entrusted to him, he did so in the consciousness of the glory of Jehovah as he had seen it in those visions. But when that vision had been seen, and the soul had responded in the act of worship which expressed itself in prostration, there was something more to be done. That prostrate soul was called to a new attitude, for which it bad been prepared by a vision and the prostration. It was that of standing erect before God in order that face to face he might receive the word of God. In order to the delivery of His message God requires more than the worship which at its highest consists of the cessation of activity. He needs a man erect, in the attitude of alertness and attention, ready for action. Remember this was not a call to stand erect to utter the word of Jehovah, but to hear it. And yet more carefully observe what follows: "The Spirit entered into me ... and set me upon my feet." This is the Divine energy, enabling a man to come to the height of his manhood, and so to find readiness to hear the word of Jehovah. Those of us who are called to prophetic ministry might with profit have these words engraved before our eyes in the places of preparation for our work. Here are words to hang on study walls.

Chapter 3

And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them.
Ezekiel 3:4

This is the last stage in the preparation of the prophet. Mark the sequence - visions of God; prostration in worship; standing erect to hear; going to speak the words of God. The work for Ezekiel was not going to be easy, and this was made clear to him. He was going to a people who would not hearken, as was the case with Jeremiah. But his equipment was sufficient, and his responsibility .was not that of producing obedience, but that of uttering the words of Jehovah. But that was, and is ever, a grave responsibility, how grave is revealed in the central paragraph of this chapter (verses 7-21). A phrase which our fathers often used, is not heard today frequently, about the work of the prophet. I refer to the phrase "blood-guiltiness." Yet that phrase finds its warrant in this paragraph. There is such a thing. If the wicked die in wickedness for lack of the prophetic word, the prophet is guilty of his blood. If the righteous man fall into sin because the prophet fails to warn him of his peril, the prophet is held responsible for his perishing. If the wicked or the righteous sin and die, in spite of the prophet's warning, then is the prophet not guilty. Verily to a prophet silence may be sin; to withhold the word of Jehovah from fear or for favour, is to be involved in the wickedness of the evil-doers. All this gives the most solemn pause to those responsible for speaking the words of God to men. Nevertheless the whole teaching of this wonderful story of Ezekiel's preparation reveals the perfection of the provision which God ever makes for those whom He sends to the holy service.

Chapter 4

Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile ...
Ezekiel 4:1

Here we have a clear instance of the mistakes made by those who divided these Holy Writings into chapters. In this chapter three signs are given, whereas in the sequence there were four. The fourth is found in the first four verses of chapter five. We have emphasized these opening words because they show that the prophet was in communion with God, and listening to His word. These signs were given him, and through him to the people, by Divine command. As these signs are pondered, their spiritual and moral significance is patent. The first set forth the actual fact of the siege of Jerusalem. The second emphasized the sin which had brought about this punishment, and, the consequent inevitability of that punishment. The third illustrated the methods of punishment, and again laid stress upon the pollution of the people. The fourth illustrated the thoroughness of the retribution overtaking the nation, and at the same time insisted upon the discriminative justice of God in punishment. These were the signs which opened the ministry of Ezekiel, and introduced the first part of his prophetic message, that which was concerned with the reprobation of the people. It may be well to glance at the movement in its entirety. First the prophet dealt with these judgments which were the result of reprobation (chapters 4-14); then he showed the reason of the reprobation (chapters 15-19); and finally argued for the righteousness of it (chapters 20-24). All these lines start from these four signs, which in their unity suggest all these facts. In these prophetic writings we have an arresting revelation of how carefully God interprets Himself, and indicates His ways, for those called to be His messengers.

Chapter 5

... Because ye are turbulent more than the nations that are round about you ...
Ezekiel 5:7

Terrible indeed are the descriptions which this chapter contains of the judgments to fall upon Jerusalem and the people of God; and here is the reason of those judgments: "Because ye are turbulent more than the nations that are round about you." The force of these words lies in their revelation of the complete subversion of the Divine order and intention. This city was intended to be a city of peace, resulting from righteousness; and the people a people of quiet strength, because of their relationship with God; and all this in the interest of the surrounding nations, that they might have a revelation of the perfection of the ways of God through His people. Instead of that, the city had become more polluted than surrounding cities; and its people more turbulent than those of other nations. Thus the name of God was blasphemed. The history of the Hebrew nation is a witness to great truths, an illustration of abiding principles. Let us be careful, not only to understand these things in their application to Israel, but also to apply them to ourselves. We are called to be salt, to be light. If our light do not shine before men, that they, seeing our good works, glorify our Father, our failure is complete. For salt that has lost its savour, our Lord had only words of uttermost contempt: "It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men cast it out." Let us not count on the privilege of relationship as a safeguard against reprobation, if we fail to fulfil the responsibilities of that relationship. That is what Israel did, and for the doing of which the judgments of God overtook her.

Chapter 6

I have been broken with their whorish heart.
Ezekiel 6:9

The King James version rendered this "I am broken," while the English and American Revisions have translated in the same way "I have been broken." This is a change of tense only, and undoubtedly is justified. But there is no change in the verb. In each case the verb is passive and not active. I emphasize this because some expositors have felt the difficulty, and have changed this to the active form, saying that it should read, "I have broken their whorish heart." Such changes are always unjustifiable and pernicious. In this case, so to change the verb is to miss one of the supreme notes of this word of Jehovah to His people. The paragraph is one dealing with a remnant which through the processes of terrible judgment will be restored. Leaving the verb in its passive form, we have a revelation at once arresting and graphic, of the effect the unfaithfulness of His people has upon Jehovah. The strongest figure possible is used to portray the Divine suffering. God is represented as broken. The suggestion is daring indeed, but the most daring and superlative of human words and figures of speech are needed to convey to the human mind the sufferings of the Eternal Love when those upon whom it is set, turn from Him in lewd or whorish practices. The amazing truth is most vividly brought out in the prophecy of Hosea, a man who was brought into an understanding of the suffering of God, by his own domestic tragedy. That is the force of these words. The same great unveiling of the Divine heart is created by this sentence in the course of Ezekiel's denunciation of sin and description of judgment.

Chapter 7

... Thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel, An end.
Ezekiel 7:2

This chapter consists of a denunciation of the Kingdom of Judah, a prediction of the dissolution of the State. The words here "An end" are exclamatory. That is the message in its entirety - "An end!" The time of patience was over, there was to be no more waiting. This denunciation has two movements; the first in short, sharp sentences, broken with emotion declares the Divine decision; the second in more measured manner describes the break up of the nation. Thus the prophet told the exiles in Babylon, what Jeremiah was telling them in Jerusalem, that the opportunity for recovery was past, that the nation had overstepped the boundaries of the forbearance and waiting of God. The end was come. The consideration is full of solemnities. We are often amazed at the patience of God. Sometimes it makes us impatient. We cry, How long, O Lord, how long? as those who would hasten the action of Divine punishment. We have no need to fret our souls in such wise. There is a limit to the patience of God. It is set at the point where man's rebellion has so calloused him that there is no hope of his repentance. Then there is an end. When it comes, it is thorough, complete, final. Follow the prophetic message through and see how •complete the end is when God says "An end!" It falls upon the land; upon the people; upon persons and property. A study of human history will yield many illustrations of this, outside the Hebrew race. God waits long for nations, and gives them opportunities of return to righteousness. If they persist in unrighteousness the hour comes when He says "An end!" And that is the end.

Chapter 8

... Is it a light thing to the house of Judah, that they commit the abominations which they commit here?
Ezekiel 8:17

In this question, Jehovah appealed to the prophet in such wise as to bring his consciousness, his reason, into agreement with the terrors of the determined end. Elders from Judah had come to see him in his own house, most probably to gain his view of the affairs at Jerusalem. While they were there the hand of the Lord Jehovah fell upon him. That is to say he was, either in a trance, or in open vision, given to see things. His first vision was again a vision of God as fire. Then he was carried in spirit to Jerusalem, and caused to look. In the Temple precincts he saw an image set up, which he called the image of jealousy, because it provoked the Lord to jealousy. Again he looked, and saw the elders practising the rites of abominable idolatries within the court. Again he looked, and saw the women engaged in the evil practices of the women of the surrounding idolatrous peoples. Finally he saw men, between the porch and the altar, and their backs to the altar, worshipping the sun. We are not to suppose that these things were going on in Jerusalem literally. One phrase explains the situation, the one which says: "Every man in his chambers of imagery." This makes the condition all the more terrible. While the external rites of the Temple of Jehovah were being observed, these very observances were made a cloak for the thoughts, desires, activities of the heart. This is the most hopeless stage and state of pollution. Such, indeed, is not a light thing. When men come to this pass, a true and righteous God can do none other than make an end.

Chapter 9

Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
Ezekiel 9:4

The hand of Jehovah was still upon the prophet. Having seen the abominations of the people, and having been called into agreement with the righteousness of the fury of Jehovah, he saw the first process of that judgment in the slaughter of the dwellers in the polluted city. But the terror of the vision was further vindicated as righteous, by the discrimination of the activity of wrath. The man with the ink-horn setting a mark upon those who sighed and cried was the instrument of this discrimination. Those so marked were to be spared: In the most corrupt conditions God has never been without a remnant of loyal souls. They dwell among abominations, but have no share in them. They live in perpetual grief, they vex their righteous souls from day to day, they sigh and cry for the abominations. When the whirlwind of the Divine fury sweeps out from the Divine presence to make an end of the appalling corruption, it does not touch them. They are marked by the man with the ink-horn, and are exempt from the blast of the Divine wrath. Thus the question which Abraham asked has persistent answer. God does not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Dr. Davidson has pointed out something in connection with this oracle which for us today is full of suggestiveness. He says that the word "mark" (set a mark) is the Hebrew word Tav, which is the last letter of the alphabet, and the old form of it was a cross. Those today who sigh and cry amid prevailing abominations are surely those marked with a cross.

Chapter 10

Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim.
Ezekiel 10:6

The prophet was still seeing in vision the judgment determined against the city and the nation, because of the idolatrous abominations of which they were guilty. He had seen those abominations and had observed the discriminative nature of the activity of God in wrath, and he watched the mission of the man with the ink-horn. He now saw the process of the judgment. This chapter gives the account of a preliminary vision. Its bearing on the whole is that of its revelation of the source of destructive fire which was to fall upon the city. It is largely a symbolical vision of God, of the Throne, of those manifestations of wheels, and faces, and energy, which spoke of the authority, power, and majesty of God. The vision harmonizes with that described as having been granted to him by Chebar. It is highly pictorial and mystical, yet makes upon us the impression which undoubtedly it was intended to make, that namely of the awe-inspiring might, wisdom, and majesty of God. It was the God thus revealed Who had declared that "an end" had come; and the destructive fire was to proceed from Himself. This fact is full of dread solemnity, and at the same time of great comfort. The fire from God is the fire of perfect knowledge, and perfect holiness. No refuge of lies can constitute a hiding-place from its burning; it will make no terms with corruption. Fire that proceeds from Him will be absolutely just in its activity. It will harm nothing save that which is evil. The wrath of God is terrible, but it is never passion overleaping the boundaries of righteous action. It is always restrained by the strictest justice.

Chapter 11

... Yet will I be to them a sanctuary for a little while in the countries where they are come.
Ezekiel 11:16

In this chapter we have the account of the last phase of the vision given to Ezekiel while the elders were in his house. Notice the last two verses of this chapter. This phase was a revelation of the mingling of mercy with judgment. The words we have emphasized occur in the midst of the answer of Jehovah to a question of the prophet. That question is found in verse thirteen: "Ah, Lord Jehovah, wilt Thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?" The question was inspired by the sudden death of Pelatiah, one of the leaders of the evil courses of Jerusalem (see verse t). This sudden activity of Divine judgment brought home to the prophet most powerfully the terribleness of the Divine wrath, and for the moment it seemed to him, as though Israel would be completely destroyed, even the remnant. Hence his question. The answer of Jehovah was immediate, and unequivocal. The fiery judgment upon Jerusalem did not mean the destruction of Israel, nor the abandonment of God's purposes for His people. For the time being, the exiles constituted the nation in the purpose of God; and for the period of their absence from their land and the earthly temple, He would be their Sanctuary. Herein is revealed the grace of God. When His people are passing through discipline and chastisement, for the sake of their correction and purification, as was the case with those exiles, He is the place of their refuge and Safety. How constantly the people of God have found it so. Cut off - and that often through their own wrongdoing - from all the means of His grace, He has Himself been to them all they have needed of refuge and strength in their times of trouble.

Chapter 12

What is this proverb?
Ezekiel 12:22

This was the question of Jehovah; and it challenged a popular mental attitude, which had expressed itself in a proverb which ran thus, "The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth." The mental attitude was that of disbelief of what the prophet had uttered as to the coming of judgment, and of the conviction that visions were vain, that is empty. God gave His servant another proverb to contradict this one, and it ran, "The days are at hand, and the fulfilment of every vision." They also had another saying which represented another attitude of mind. It ran, "The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of times that are far off" (verse 27). This was the view of those who did believe in prophecy, but comforted themselves by the assurance that there would be no immediate fulfilment. That view was contradicted by the declaration that there would be no further postponement. The heart of man, set upon evil courses, constantly adopts one of these two expedients to comfort itself. Either it mocks at the prophetic word, or says that fulfilment is postponed. Concerning how many sayings of men which express their views Jehovah may ask this question, "What is this proverb?" Many such sayings, which appear to be warranted by the outlook in existing circumstances, are entirely false and pernicious.

Chapter 13

When one buildeth up a wall, behold, they daub it with untempered mortar.
Ezekiel 13:10

In this oracle the prophet of Jehovah denounced the false prophets and prophetesses who were misleading the people. The words we have quoted constitute a striking figure of speech. The word rendered "wall" is an unusual one. It describes a very weak structure, rather than a strong one. The phrase, "un-tempered mortar," is the translation of one word, which Dr. Davidson strikingly renders "whitewash." There is no doubt that this brings us nearer to the idea, which is not that of a cement holding together the material of which the wall is built, but rather that of a covering, or veneer with which the structure is hidden. This helps us to see the forcefulness of the figure, "One buildeth up a weak wall." That is a reference to the politicians or others who were devising means of preventing the coming of the Divine judgment. Then the work of the false prophets is described: "They daub it with whitewash," thus at once hiding its weakness, and giving it the appearance of strength. That is the essence of false prophesying. Men, who have no Divine message, but pose as though they had, seek to find favour with those to whom they speak, and so agree with them in their desires and policies. The unutterable wrong of this is at once patent. It gives a false sense of security to those who are in rebellion against God, in that it assures them that they are acting in accordance with the will of God. When the pernicious effects of such action are considered, it becomes doubtful if any sin of which man is capable, is so reprehensible and deadly as this. It is noticeable how constantly the Biblical revelation deals with this evil in no uncertain way. The Hebrew prophets denounced it in the most definite way; and our Lord with words of superlative significance warned us against it.

Chapter 14

Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God. - Ezek. 14:14

These words occur in a message which Ezekiel delivered to a company of elders who came to him. Evidently they came to inquire about the state of affairs in Jerusalem; and the whole message would lead us to suppose that they were suggesting that the predicted doom might be averted by the fact that there were good people in the city. The reply of the prophet, received directly from Jehovah, was twofold. First it dealt with these men and denounced them. They were dishonest. While inquiring of Jehovah, they were secretly disloyal; "they had taken their idols into their hearts." Seeking to know the mind of Jehovah in the case of such men was hypocrisy. Here was, however, a message for them, and it foretold their destruction. Then the prophet answered their suggestion, the whole answer is focussed in these words. Righteous men in an utterly polluted city cannot save the city, they can only save their own souls. The answer finds its superlative note in the mention of Noah, Daniel, and Job. It is very remarkable how evil men believe in goodness, and in hours of danger hope that its influence will protect them. I was once told by a multi-millionaire, who was completely materialized, and had become boastfully cynical concerning Christianity, that perhaps the piety of his wife would secure him entry into heaven. If that remark was also cynical, it was by so much the more terrible. In any case, the thought is false; and the hope, if hope it be, is groundless. No man, even by his righteousness, can deliver his fellow-man from the penalty of his wrongdoing. Our Lord does not redeem by His righteousness, but by His death. "Without shedding of blood is no remission."

Chapter 15

What is the vine tree more than any tree, the vine branch which is among the trees of the forest?
Ezekiel 15:2

With this chapter the note of the prophet somewhat changes. Not yet had he reached the great theme of restoration. He had much more to say concerning reprobation. So far his messages had been mainly concerned with the results of the Divine Reprobation of the nation in the actual calamities overtaking the city and the people. Now he commenced a series of messages dealing with the reason of that Reprobation, as it was found in the pollution of the people. This first message is most arresting. The prophet employed the familiar figure of the vine as setting forth the Divine ideal for Israel. (Consult Psa. 80, Isa. 5, Isa. 27, Jer. 2, Hosea 10, Matt. 21 and John 15.) He makes no allusion to that which is always the chief idea in the use of that figure, its fruit. He only thinks of it as wood. The reason is self-evident. The nation was barren of fruit, it had utterly and completely failed to bring forth the intended fruit. It was wood only. Then let it be compared to other nations in that way. The comparison is graphic in its revelation. As wood, the vine is useless. No man will employ it in work, not even a pin to hang a vessel on. What solemn pause these words must give to those who are branches in the True Vine. The only value of the Church is that it bears fruit. As wood for making works of other kinds it is useless. There can be no failure in Him Who is the True Vine; but if a branch in Him beareth not fruit, it is taken away, cast forth, and burned in the fire. Such is the teaching of our Lord.

Chapter 16

Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.
Ezekiel 16:2

The message of Ezekiel, recorded in this chapter, was given in obedience to this command. The purpose was still that of setting forth the reason of her Reprobation. The chapter is one of the most powerful. The allegory is that of a child born, but from birth neglected; this child, taken and cared for, and nourished to beautiful womanhood; this woman taken in marriage by the one who had found and reared her; this wife, playing the harlot, and worse, for she did not sell herself for hire, but paid her lovers; this unfaithful wife visited with poetic punishment; and at last this abandoned woman restored. Thus the abominations of Israel are seen, for this was the history of the nation. But the truth brought out is that of the heinousness of the sin, in view of the goodness and grace of Jehovah. As Israel is represented by the foundling, cared for, married, and beloved, Jehovah is represented by the Benefactor, who becomes Lover and Husband. It is a most arresting fact that God, through His prophets, and through His apostles, employs this figure of marital relationship as setting forth His relation to His people as He desires it, and feels it. In earthly inter-relationships, the marriage relation-ship is the highest in sanctity, because it is the highest in the experience of Love. By this figure, then, God sets forth for us what His heart feels for us, and what He desires from us in return. His love is of the strongest and tenderest, and He looks for a return of that love in uttermost loyalty. Here, then, was the deepest fact in the pollution of Israel. The prophet, called to make her know her abominations, did so by setting her conduct in the light of His love. While the discourse revealed the reason for Reprobation, it ended with the Divine purpose of Restoration. Such is the unfailing grace of the Divine heart.

Chapter 17

Son of man, put forth a riddle.
Ezekiel 17:2

In the allegory of the foundling in the previous chapter Ezekiel was dealing with the spiritual and moral malady of Israel. In this message he was concerned with her political folly and wickedness. The riddle of the two eagles and the vine is explained. The nation had looked to compromise with Babylon, and protection from Egypt, as means of restoring national being and fruitfulness. This had been her political sin. The prophetic message demonstrated the futility of such wickedness. The vine was still Jehovah's, and the eagles were also within His power. The things they did were all within His power, and under His government. Therefore the transplanting of the vine was of no avail. His east wind found it, wherever it was placed, and it withered in spite of all its attempts to maintain its life by these false means. Thus the political iniquity, resulting from the spiritual abomination, was visited with the Divine judgment. The reprobation of God could not be annulled by the policies which forgot Him. Here also the last note is one declaring the coming restoration, but clearly showing that it will be brought about, not by human policy, when the policy is conceived in rebellion, but by the action of His Own power, and in answer to the inspiration of His never failing grace. This chapter is full of light for statesmen and politicians if they will but consider its teaching. The one fact which abides is that of the Divine sovereignty. God is governing, and there is no escape from Him. Eagles, and vines, are under His control. Happy are they who frame their policies by consulting Him, and order their ways in His fear.

Chapter 18

Behold, all souls are Mine.
Ezekiel 18:4

This is a tremendous chapter, and is of the utmost value in our modern life. It consists of the prophet's discussion, under Divine command, of a false outlook on life which had found expression in a proverb: "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." Its present importance is created by the fact that men are still using this proverb, and so using it as to show that they think the saying is true. As a matter of fact, no saying more false was ever coined. It is based upon a one-sided philosophy of heredity. Evil, whether as a moral malady, or personal suffering, is accounted for by the sins of the fathers. The proverb is at once an attempt to escape from responsibility for sin; and a protest against punishment. The false and pernicious conception is inclusively answered in these words of the prophet, which he uttered as the spokesman of God; "All souls are Mine." The rest of the message consists in the illustration and application of this saying. The great truth revealed is that every individual has a relationship with God available, which is mightier than all the facts resulting from physical relationships. It may be true that in my physical being I have inherited tendencies to some forms of evil from my father; but in the fact of my essential relation to God there are forces available to me more and mightier than all these tendencies. Therefore if I die, it is not because of the sin of my father, but because I fail to avail myself of my resources in God; and if I live, it is because I have availed myself of these resources. Neither righteousness nor evil is hereditary. The former results from right relationship with God, and the latter from failure to realize that relationship. All souls are His, and that means that every soul is made for first-hand personal dealing with Him.

Chapter 19

This is a lamentation; and shall be for a lamentation.
Ezekiel 19:14

Thus ends Ezekiel's elegy on kingship. Let us very carefully note that this phrase "elegy on kingship" correctly defines the song or message. Expositors agree in the view that the first young lion was Jehoahaz, the second Jehoiakim, and the final reference was to Zedekiah; and there is no doubt that they are right. But observe that the prophet mentioned none of these by name. He was not thinking of them as men, but as princes, or kings. Observe, further, that he did not speak of Judah but of Israel; he was thinking of "the princes - that is the kings - of Israel." Whereas the Northern kingdom of Israel had passed into slavery and only the Southern kingdom of Judah remained, and it was about to pass, that was for the moment the nation of Israel, and its last kings were the last of the long succession resulting from the clamour of Israel for "a king like the nations." In taking these, as illustrations, he referred to those who passed into the hands of Egypt, and Babylon, omitting Jehoiakim, who died in peace. Just glance at the page and note the nations mentioned: Israel, Egypt, Babylon. Now the song becomes clear. The nation of Israel is the Mother. That in itself implicates the relation of Jehovah as Father. That Mother couches among lions; and brings forth young lions, the kings. With what result? Their stature was exalted, and they were seen; but she was plucked up, cast down, her fruit was dried up, and her strong rods - these same kings - were destroyed. At last she is planted in the wilderness, with no "strong rod to be a sceptre to rule." That is the story of the monarchy in Israel. The nation produced kings, who became conspicuous, but thus she destroyed herself, for they destroyed her.

Chapter 20

I wrought for My Name's sake. - Ezek. 20:9

This and the next four chapters contain the messages constituting the last movement in Ezekiel's dealing with the Reprobation of the nation. In the first of these movements (4-14), he had dealt with the Fact of this Reprobation; in the second 15-19), he had dealt with the Reason of it, as found in the pollution of the people; now he argued for the Righteousness of it. This first message was called for by the coming of certain of the elders of Israel. The word of Jehovah to His servant declared that He would not be inquired of by them; but the prophet was charged to judge them. This judgment is expressed in this message. It has three movements; first, a review of the past (5-26); second, an examination of the present (27-32); and, finally, a foretelling of the future (33-44) The whole argument is a vindication of the righteousness and inevitability of their reprobation, in view of the nature of their sin. The purpose of Jehovah in dealing with them is revealed in the words we have emphasized: "I wrought for My Name's sake." Note the recurrence of the idea (verses 14, 22, 44) as it illumines the message. For His Name's sake He had delivered them from Egypt, had disciplined them in the wilderness, had showed mercy to their children, and was now dealing with them in judgment. The deepest note in their sin was not that of the actual deeds of evil, but that by such deeds they were blaspheming the Name; which they had been created to extol and glorify. This fact was the vindication of the righteousness of Reprobation. To have permitted that people to remain a nation among the nations, would have been to perpetuate a misrepresentation of God among those nations. The principle is of abiding application to all those who receive from God privileges and blessings in order to the revelation of Himself to others.

Chapter 21

I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; this also shall be no more, until He come Whose right it is; and I will give it Him.
Ezekiel 21:27

This prophetic message begins in the previous chapter at verse 45, where in the Hebrew Bible the chapter begins. Its whole theme is that of the activity of the wrath of Him Whose name has been blasphemed by the sin and failure of the people. The central movement in the message is that of the Song of the Sword (verses 8-17). The first paragraphs led up to that, and those after depend upon it. The vision of that glittering, furbished, active sword is indeed a terrible one. But it is the Sword of Jehovah. Observe how that fact is kept in mind. The king of Babylon is seen halting at the parting of the ways, endeavouring to decide by divination whether he shall proceed against Ammon or Judah. The arrow directs him to Jerusalem. This was by the act of God. In the end of the chapter, Ammon is portrayed as drawing a sword, but by the will of God she is to put it in the sheath. The whole message is full of force as it reveals to us the prophetic vision of Jehovah enthroned over all the doings of men. Israel, Babylon, Ammon are all made to contribute to the accomplishment of His purpose. The method and meaning of this Divine activity is revealed in these words we have emphasized. God "overturns, overturns, over-turns" nations, and dynasties, and civilizations. They appear, they disappear, and all by His power. And all until He come, Whose right it is. The reference was patently Messianic. The prophet saw God overturning false nations, dynasties, civilizations, in order at last to establish His own Kingdom under His appointed King. His operation did not cease when He came in lowliness for human redemption. It is still proceeding, and will do so until He appear again, and establish the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Chapter 22

I sought for a man among them, that should make up the fence, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.
Ezekiel 22:30

In this message the prophet set forth the utter evil of the city, as vindicating the righteousness of its reprobation. Depicting the sins of the city, he described the fiery process of the judgment. The outlook was, indeed, of the darkest. Priests, princes, prophets, people, were involved; all acre utterly corrupt. In these particular words, the utter hopelessness of the situation, so far as any chance of recovery, as from within the national life, was revealed. The man needed was one who would interpose himself against the prevailing tide of iniquity, and hold it back. Such men have appeared in dark hours of human history; they have been men of clear vision, of pure life, of strong character; they have been able to halt a nation in its downward way, add turn it back into the paths of obedience. But at this time, God sought for such a man; but none was to be found. In all the national life there was not a man, either priest, or prince, or prophet, or son of the people, with enough spiritual discernment or moral passion, to enable him to turn the thoughts and actions of the nation back toward God. In such an hour the methods of patience and mercy are useless; it is only by the fiery furnace that the dross can be destroyed, and the corrupted silver be recovered. Thus the reprobation of Israel was vindicated, not only on account of its pollution, but in order to its ultimate restoration, for there was no force in her which could lead her back to the God from Whom she had departed.

Chapter 23

And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem Oholibah.
Ezekiel 23:4

Thus at the beginning of this message, the prophet gave the key to its application. Samaria and Jerusalem were the capitals respectively of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. These capital cities were the centres of government - the places of the politicians. This particular message was concerned, not so much with the sins of the people in their evil practices, as with their national policies. The whole history is passed in review. Samaria had sought alliances with Assyria and Egypt; and Jerusalem with Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. These policies had been the direct result of turning away from God, and constituted attempts to secure national safety by intrigues with these nations. The nature of that sin is set forth in this graphic chapter. It was a sin of infidelity, and of harlotry. This was so because of the peculiar relation of the Israelitish people to Jehovah. They were His creation; He had made them in a peculiar way to be a people for Himself. He had delivered them from bondage, and given them a place and a power. They needed no defence other than Himself, and they owed everything to Him. Egypt might with propriety make alliance with Assyria; or Babylon with either. They were, to use a very suggestive modern phrase, "world-powers." But Israel was separated from the nations by her relationship to God; and for her to follow policies of alliance with these powers, was to be guilty of national harlotry. The principle involved is of application to the Church as "the holy nation" today. Whenever she seeks enrichment or strength or stablishing, by alliance with the world, she is unfaithful to her God, and is guilty of the sin of spiritual adultery. Such was the meaning of James when he wrote: "Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God."

Chapter 24

In the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month.
Ezekiel 24:1

Some dates fasten themselves upon the mind without any effort. This was such a date. The historic recorder, and the writer of the appendix to Jeremiah's prophecy, give this date with the same accuracy. (See 2 Kings 25:1 and Jeremiah 52:4.) It was the day when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar encompassed and invested the city of Jerusalem. It was the beginning of the end. For Ezekiel it was a date doubly significant, for on that very day at eventide, the desire of his eyes, his wife, suddenly died. The high dignity and solemn responsibility of the prophetic office is seen in his action. In the presence of the national calamity he refrained from all manifestation of private sorrow. Indeed, he went further, and under Divine command, made his abstention a sign to those to whom he ministered. In a graphic figure, that of the caldron, he described the judgment about to fall upon the city; and he commanded the people not to mourn for it. The reason for such a command was the very thing he had been enforcing, that namely of the righteousness of that Divine judgment. They were not to mourn nor weep. This was perhaps the darkest day for Ezekiel in all his ministry, and the most difficult. There is a gleam of light in the word of Jehovah to him, which in commanding him thus to abstain from outward expressions of grief, yet said: "Sigh, but not aloud." In that we see the understanding heart of God. He knew the sorrow of His servant's soul, both personal and public, and did not rebuke it. In days when public testimony demands that we rise superior to private sorrows, it is good to know that He understands the difficulty, and does not forbid the sigh.

Chapter 25

Ye shall know that I am Lord.
Ezekiel 25:5

The messages of Ezekiel now turned to the theme of Restoration; and that theme was introduced by prophecies concerning the nations which had been the enemies of Israel. These prophecies occupy chapters 25 to 32. Seven nations are dealt with: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Zidon, and Egypt. A glance at the map will show that the prophet's outlook passed over the enemies of Israel as they encompassed her. He first dealt with those on the East, passing from North to South-Ammon, Moab, Edom; then with those in the West, passing from South to North-Philistia, Tyre, Zidon, then to the South-Egypt. In order to the restoration of Israel to the Divinely-appointed land, all these must be dealt with and removed. These "burdens" declared that this was what God would do. Such action was necessary. In this chapter we have the first four of these messages, those concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia. The words we have emphasized are arresting in the fact of their repetition through these oracles concerning the nations. They are employed in every one of them. Concerning Ammon, 25:5 and 7; concerning Moab, 25:11; concerning Edom, 25:14; concerning Philistia, 25:17; concerning Tyre, 26:6; concerning Zidon, 28:22, 23 and 24; concerning Israel (parenthetically), 28:26; concerning Egypt, 29:6, 9, 16; concerning Israel (parenthetically), 29:21; concerning Ethiopia (parenthetically), 30:8; concerning Egypt, 30:19, 25, 26 and 32:15. That is a Bible-reading, but it is worth while. Here is the one purpose of Jehovah in His dealings with all nations. Those who fail to find Him in the light, of His revelation of Himself by law or in the natural order, He brings to know Him through judgment.

Chapter 26

Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Tyre.
Ezekiel 26:3

The prophet's message concerning Tyre occupies nearly three chapters in our arrangement, 26-28:24. This is an arresting fact. Tyre's strength and influence were commercial rather than military, and it is interesting and suggestive that in this connection we find the most graphic and illuminating portrayal of Satan to be found in the whole Bible. To that we come presently (chapter 28). This message of Ezekiel is dated so as to help us to understand the situation. Jerusalem had fallen, and the news had reached the prophet and Tyre. In Tyre that 'news caused great jubilation, and for one reason, which is clearly stated in her own words: "Aha, she is broken; the gate of the peoples; she is turned unto me; I shall be replenished, now that she is laid waste" (verse 2). All this is perfectly plain. The kingdom of Judah lay across the great routes by which the people from Egypt and the South-lands travelled north to Tyre. Undoubtedly this had put some restriction on the commercial enterprise of Tyre. When Jerusalem fell to Babylon, the only thing that interested Tyre was that an obstacle to her commercial activities was removed. What a revelation of the sordid condition of soul which was hers! It was this exultation which called forth the prophetic word containing the declaration of Jehovah: "Behold I am against thee, O Tyre." It is for ever so. God is against any nation whose life has become so materialized by commercial prosperity that she can rejoice over the calamities of other nations, because such calamities increase her opportunities of barter and amassing of wealth. Any nation today which gauges her attitude towards other nations by What their rise or fall may contribute to her wealth has God against her.

Chapter 27

A lamentation for Tyre.
Ezekiel 27:2

That is the true title of this chapter. The prophecy was a dirge, an elegy. It is a description of the city that said "I am perfect in beauty," in the complete desolation to which she is brought because of her self-centred pride. This is a case where the word "lamentation" does not suggest sorrow, but merely description of tragedy. Merely from the standpoint of literature this chapter is incomparable in its descriptive force, both as to the prosperity of the city, and as to the complete and unregretted catastrophe which overwhelmed her. Because of her position by the sea the prophet employed the figure of a ship as personifying the life of the city. She is first described in the splendour of her outfit (verses 1-11); then in the wonder of her cargoes (verses 12-25); and finally in her wreckage, and the consternation produced thereby among other seafaring men (verses 26-36). The whole theme is that of commercialism, and may thus be set out; her commercial supremacy, 1-7; her commercial enterprises, 8-25; her commercial ruin, 26-36. It is impossible to read this message of the prophet without a twofold consciousness resulting. The first is that of the lure of material advantage which results from successful commercial enterprise. The other is that such lure, yielded to until it destroys all other inspiration of life, leads to the uttermost ruin. The Bible and history make one cause in their revelation of the peril of material prosperity. There is nothing more calculated to destroy a people. And yet how slow man is to learn the lesson.

Chapter 28

A lamentation for the king of Tyre.
Ezekiel 28:12

This chapter contains the end of the burden concerning Tyre, and the burden concerning Zidon. The end of the burden of Tyre consists of a message to its prince, and a lamentation for its king. While closely related, these must not be confused. That is too often done. One expositor says: "The prophet appears to use the terms king and prince indifferently." If that be true generally, and I think it is very doubtful, it certainly is not so here; and to fail to discover the difference is to miss the point of this burden. The prince of Tyre was the reigning prince at the time but the king of Tyre was the awful and sinister power behind the throne, the personality who is ever the inspirer of such pride of heart, and deification of self as that of which the prince was guilty. Ezekiel in clearest vision saw this being, and saw the whole truth concerning him; and as we saw in a previous note, here we have the most graphic and illuminating portrayal of Satan to be found in the whole Bible. His original power .and greatness, wisdom and beauty, and exalted position are all set forth. Then the secret of his fall is declared without explanation: "Unrighteousness was found in thee." No details are given. Perhaps here we have the sentence which takes us further back than any other on the mysterious subject, of the genesis of evil in the universe. We must leave it there. Finally, God's dealing with this fallen one is described. He is cast out from his exalted position. Out of the midst of his own being the fire proceeds which ultimately destroys him. So is he cast out and cast down. The revelation of the diabolical inspiration behind L.11 human pride is clear; its wisdom, seductive beauty, and tremendous power are patent. But God is seen as still governing, and casting down this king of evil kings, involving them in the ruin of the one to whom they have yielded themselves.

Chapter 29

I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself.
Ezekiel 29:3

We now come to the last of Ezekiel's prophecies concerning the nations, and it has to do with Egypt. It occupies four chapters (29-32); and consists of seven oracles, all of them dated but one. The reader must observe these dates, for that enables him to realize the situation. All of them - except one - were uttered in connection with the fall of Jerusalem; four of them in the year preceding it, two of them during the year after it; while the exception to which I have referred, was delivered fifteen years later, 'though incorporated here. As we have realized in reading this prophecy and that of Jeremiah, the political peril had been that created by the looking of these people toward Egypt. This accounted for the length and definiteness of these messages. In this chapter we have the prophet's message concerning Pharaoh, as representing the power of Egypt (verses 1-11). Here also is inserted the prophecy uttered more than fifteen years later concerning the conquest of Egypt by Babylon. In these words the central sin of Pharaoh and of Egypt is laid bare. The Nile was in every way the secret of the wealth and power of that land and people. Here Pharaoh is represented, not as worshipping the River, but as claiming to possess it, and to have created it. It is a graphic method of again drawing attention to the fact that all forgetfulness of God amounts at last to self-deification. That is the sin of every king and of every people who fail to recognize God, and to deal with Him.

Chapter 30

I will hold up the arms of the king of Babylon, and the arms of Pharaoh shall fall down.
Ezekiel 30:25

In this chapter we 'have two of the Egypt prophecies. The first (verses 1-19) is undated. It was most probably delivered in close connection with the first (chapter 29:1-16). It is concerned with the coming judgment of God upon the helpers of Egypt, and upon Egypt itself. The fourth message (20-26) was delivered about four months before the fall of the city. Many were still looking to Egypt in hope of help from her. Indeed; as we saw in reading Jeremiah (chapter 37), Pharaoh had made a movement with his hosts out of Egypt, and this had caused the Chaldeans temporarily to abandon the siege of Jerusalem. That action of Pharaoh had met with defeat. Most probably this was what Ezekiel had in mind when he said that the word of Jehovah to him said: "I have broken the arm of Pharaoh, king of Egypt." He now declared that Jehovah would break both his arms, so that he would be unable to bear the sword. In the words we have emphasized, the whole situation was declared. These apparently mighty monarchs of Egypt and Babylon were both in the hands of Jehovah. Their apparent successes and failures resulted from His action. They were completely in His power. The uplifted arms of the one, were uplifted by God; and the broken, helpless arms of 'the other were so 'by the act of God. Ezekiel was a prophet in the truest sense. He interpreted current events in the light of eternal and unchanging facts. The false prophet ever attempts to interpret a situation by considering current events. As we have constantly said, all this is very modern in its values.

Chapter 31

To whom art thou thus like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden?
Ezekiel 31:18

This chapter contains the fifth of the oracles concerning Egypt. It was spoken about two months before the _fall of Jerusalem, and was the last before that event. It foretold the downfall of Pharaoh and the State of Egypt. The word Assyrian in verse 3 is surely wrong. As Dr. Davidson has pointed out, the word is "Asshur," and is the name of a tree, so that it should read, "Behold a great tree of a cedar." The language is poetic and full of force. Pharaoh and his multitude are portrayed as a tree towering over the tops of the other trees, so that fowls and beasts took refuge in its branches, and beneath its boughs. This tree is brought down, nations depart from under its shadow. The proud king is seen passing to Sheol, the underworld of the dead, and commotion is caused there by his coming, and the other fallen ones find satisfaction in that he too is brought low. This question, asked at the close, can have but one answer. In his greatness Pharaoh was like that awful and mighty one, described as king of Tyre. The question is a flash of light, bringing to mind once more, what had been so forcefully declared in the Burden concerning Tyre, that behind these great and mighty tyrants of earth, there was always the same sinister and awful personality. Their pride of place and power was of his inspiring, and indeed was his method of opposing himself to the will and purpose of God. It was no use; it is no use; it never will be! God has cast Satan out of the mountain; and every successive representative of his revolt will be cast down and cast out. Thus have we seen it in history. Thus shall we see it still, until the last tyrant, the Man of Sin himself, will be destroyed by the brightness of the coming of the Lord.

Chapter 32

I will spread out My net over thee with a company of many peoples.
Ezekiel 32:3

In this chapter we have the sixth and seventh of the Egypt messages. Each is dated. They were delivered about a year and seven months after the fall of the city. In the seventh no month is given, but we may presume that it was the same month as the sixth, and so about two weeks later. The sixth foretold the down-fall of Pharaoh; and the seventh that of his people. He and they are seen removed from earthly power and place, to the dark underworld, where they are impotent. The conception of that underworld is suggestive and terrible. The kings and nations are gathered there, but they are represented as at the end of activity. They do not deed. They are broken. They are conscious, for they speak to Pharaoh when he arrives, and they are ashamed, and filled with shame. The great purpose of the message was that of showing how the defeat and discomfiture of mighty people should speak to men so as to amaze them and fill them with fear. The figure of these particular words is a forceful one. The kings of the nations, and the nations, are seen in the turbulent waters, and troubling those waters; but over and around them all, are the meshes of the net of God. At His will they are drawn forth from the waters and cast to die and rot upon the land. Thus the Kingdom of God, that is the rule over human affairs, is a dragnet swaying to the tides. When He will, He is able to draw that net in, and separate between the good and the bad. See Matthew 13:47-48, where the application is to Kingdom processes in this age, but the principle has ever had application.

Chapter 33

I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me.
Ezekiel 33:7

Having delivered his messages concerning the doom of the nations opposed to Israel, as necessary to her restoration, Ezekiel turned to the nation itself. There is only one date in the series of prophecies on that subject, which begin here and end with chapter 39. That date is found in the twenty-first verse of this chapter, and in all probability the series was given at that time. The date of the arrival of the fugitive was about six weeks before the final messages concerning Egypt's doom (compare 32:1 and 33:21). There is some confusion about these dates, which need not concern us, as the progress of the prophecy is natural. The situation was that Israel, both as to the Northern and Southern sections of the one nation, was in captivity. Ezekiel was among the captives in Babylonia. Jeremiah was with the remnant, probably now in Egypt. The desolation was complete. Now Ezekiel came to these messages of hope. This first one was concerned wholly with the function of the prophet, and that function is inclusively defined in. these words. He Ig a watchman, having one function, and a twofold responsibility. First he is to listen; then he is to speak. He must hear the word of Jehovah; and then proclaim it. If he do this, he has no further responsibility. If he fail, he is accountable to God for the calamities overtaking the people he failed to warn. The full message makes very clear the moral intention of prophetic ministry. He is to speak to men in order that the righteous may be prevented from turning away from righteousness; and that the wicked may be persuaded to turn from wickedness, in order, in each case, that they may live. The will of God is life for His people; that is ensured by righteousness; the prophet calls men to that righteousness.

Chapter 34

Behold, I Myself, even I, will search for My sheep, and will seek them out.
Ezekiel 34:11

Having defined the function of the prophet as that of bringing men to rectitude, by uttering the word of Jehovah, Ezekiel turned to the idea of the corporate, or national life of the people. This message was concerned with the royal house, that is, with the kings of the nation, the shepherds of the people. The shepherd is ever the type of the king, rather than of the priest or prophet. The failure of kingship is set forth in the first part of this message (verses 1-10); and as we read it, if we carefully consider all that these kings of Israel did not do, we shall know what they ought to have done, and thus understand the kingly office according to the Divine ideal. The description of failure was the prelude to the prophet's declaration that what their kings had failed to do for the people, Jehovah would Himself do, and that by setting up one Shepherd over them, even David, the name being employed idealistically, and in reference to Messiah. As we read this chapter, our minds inevitably travel on to the New Testament, and that paragraph at the close of the ninth chapter of Matthew, in which the writer describes for us Christ's vision of the multitudes, the compassion of His heart, and His consequent sending out of the Twelve. In Him we see the fulfilment of this old-time prophecy. In Him, Jehovah, Himself, even He came to search for the sheep, and to establish the true Kingdom. Again we read the first part of the message, and find in it a perfect description of His work. Not yet is it completed; but it will be; for Israel, and for the "other sheep," not of that fold; whom also He will bring, so that there shall be one flock, one Shepherd.

Chapter 35

Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it, whereas the Lord was there.
Ezekiel 35:10

Ezekiel now uttered a message descriptive of the new order to be established under the true Shepherd. The first part of this message however was of the nature of a parenthetical turning aside to deal with Edom. Edom is represented as having a perpetual enmity against Israel, as rejoicing in her calamities; and in these words the inspiration of that rejoicing is unveiled. It was that of cupidity, lust for territory. In the troubles of Israel and Judah, Edom had seen the opportunity of enriching herself, by gaining possession of the land. In their calculations the politicians of Edom had made the mistake which politicians have so often made, that of leaving out a supreme quantity. They had looked at the desirable territory, and had seen it held only by a weak and broken people. They had failed to see, or had ignored the fact, or had counted it as of no moment, that "the Lord was there." Yet this was the supreme fact, the only one which mattered. Edom as descended from Esau, as was Israel from Jacob, was not ignorant of the Divine election of Israel. But here the very spirit of Esau was manifested, that of ignoring, or deliberately setting aside, Divine purposes for the sake of material advantage. If Edom forget that the Lord is there, that forgetfulness does not change the fact. That land was, and is, sacred to the carrying out of a Divine purpose, for the world, and through Israel; and God has never abandoned it. He is still there; and whosoever may covet it cannot hold it, for He will dispossess them.

Chapter 36

... The nations shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
Ezekiel 36:23

Having uttered his message concerning Edom, the people coveting the land of Israel, the prophet foretold the restoration of the land, and the people to the fulfilment of the Divine purpose. The first movement of the message was an oracle concerning the land itself, but considered as the dwelling-place of Israel. Then followed a wonderful prediction as to the way of restoration. The land would be restored by the salvation of the people. That salvation would consist in moral and spiritual renewal. First, they would be cleansed from their pollutions; then changed in nature; and then energized by the Spirit of God within them. Very impressive is the prophet's insistence upon the fact that this is to be done, not for the sake of Israel, but for the sake of the Name of God. In such regeneration and restoration Israel would find blessing; but the purpose of blessing is always the honour of the Name of God, and the interpretation of that honour to the nations. Yet what higher honour could any nation have than that intended for Israel, that, namely, of sanctifying God in them, that is, of setting Him apart so that He may be seen and understood? Israel has never yet fulfilled that function. But she will do so; and the geographical base of her national life will be that very land, still kept within the purpose and power of God for her. For the present age the Church - whose ultimate vocation is in the ages to come - is the holy nation, whose office it is to show forth the excellencies of Him Who has called her out of darkness into His marvellous light. Let her also remember that her gifts and calling are not for her sake, but for the honour of the Name; that, being sanctified in her, God may make Himself known to the nations.

Chapter 37

Behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.
Ezekiel 37:11

The whole of this great message of Ezekiel may be said to be the Divine answer to these words, which were the words of Israel. They were the words of despondency, born of the realization of the desolation produced by the Divine Reprobation. It was an accurate description. Considered as a nation, Israel was indeed but a skeleton, and worse - her bones were scattered; there was no hope as within herself: she was clean cut off. To prepare him for his message, Jehovah gave the prophet a vision of a valley filled with dry bones, and asked him the question: "Can these bones live?" The prophet's answer was characteristic of his loyalty and faith: "O Lord Jehovah, Thou knowest!" Then he saw the secret of hope. By prophecy - the Word of God; and the four winds - the Spirit of God; that valley of, dead bones became a valley peopled with living men, the hosts of Jehovah. Then another sign was given him, that of the two sticks, showing that God would yet gather together and bind into one the two nations, which through their own sin existed as two, and establish them as one nation under one Shepherd King. The teaching has wider application than to Israel. It is the story of humanity. Through sin the whole earth has become a valley of dry bones. There is no hope for humanity in man. But these dry bones can live. By the Word, and the Spirit of God, men can be reborn; and at last healed of their separations, and united under one King. The valley is yet the place of dead bones; but the word of Jehovah is being uttered; and the Spirit of God is breathing over the dead; and the processes of Divine recovery and restoration are proceeding. When the King comes, the work will be cut short in righteousness.

Chapter 38

Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog.
Ezekiel 38:2

This and the next chapter contain two messages of Ezekiel, but they are concerned with the same matter. That matter is an arresting one. While his theme now was that of the Restoration of Israel, at this time he was borne along to see visions of events beyond that restoration. Let this be clearly noted. The invasion of Gog and his allies was an invasion not of a land desolated, but of the land in which the people of God were seen dwelling in peace and prosperity. Notice also that none of these enemies are the old ones with which we are familiar as hostile to Israel. It is a new confederacy and antagonism. Here the prophet saw the final manifestation of antagonism to Jehovah and His people. He saw it gathering itself in terrific force, the mightiest alliance that had ever acted against Israel. But still the prophet saw God reigning. It was He Who brought forth Gog with his armies; that is, He compelled the incipient antagonism to express itself. For us there can be no doubt that here Ezekiel had a vision of that which even yet is more than a thousand years ahead. John, in the Apocalypse, refers to it, and definitely places it beyond the period of the thousand years (Rev. 20:7-8). Whatever men may think as to the speedy elimination of evil from human affairs, the Bible has no such teaching. The process is, by the measurement of human lives and calendars, a long one; but God is never defeated. He watches its working, and curbs and restrains it within limits, and compels it to the fullest expression, in order to its complete and final defeat.

Chapter 39

Behold, it cometh, and it shall be done, saith the Lord God; this is the day whereof I have spoken.
Ezekiel 39:8

In this message the prophet took up and completed the subject of this final antagonism to the people and purpose of God. Its burden is that if there be such antagonism, it is equally true that God is antagonistic to it; and that not passively, but actively. He will compel it to its last and mightiest manifestation in order that it may be completely and for ever destroyed. The words we have stressed emphasize the Divine determination to complete the destruction of evil. Again John in brief sentences makes the same affirmation (Rev. 20:9, 10). The most arresting thing in this burden of Ezekiel is its account of how, after the defeat of this mighty alliance by the intervention and fire of God, the people of God give themselves to the complete cleansing of their land from the last dead remains of the pollution. With the greatest diligence they bury the dead hosts, persevering until not a bone is left above the ground to pollute it. And not the dead bodies alone, but all the vast quantities of the implements of war are to be for fuel and burning, the final destruction of the things wherein man trusted in his opposition to the will of God. Again we say that, judged by the measurements of human lives and calendars, the process is a long one, but the end is certain: "Behold, it cometh; and it shall be done." Be it ours within the span of our lives to count it the highest of all honours that we by faith and patience are permitted to have some part with God in the work which brings the glorious end. It is a great thing to be a "partaker - in the tribulation, and kingdom, and patience which are in Jesus."

Chapter 40

Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
Ezekiel 40:4

We now come to the final section of this book of Ezekiel. These visions were given to the prophet some twelve years after the latest of those already considered, except the brief one concerning the over-coming of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar (29:17-20), which was incorporated with the burdens of the nations. These last messages were descriptive, rather than didactic, although their purpose was moral, in that the prophet was commanded to declare them to the house of Israel "that they may be ashamed of their iniquities" (see 43:10). The prophet, in the visions of God, was brought to the land of Israel, and there he was given a portrayal of the final order, when the people of God are spiritually, morally, and physically restored. In reading these messages, we find ourselves in an entirely new order. Difficulty has been created in the minds of many by the merging of things which are distinctly and definitely material, with those which have all the elements of heavenly conditions and spiritual experiences. Yet this is of the essence of the revelation. The earth separated from heaven, or heaven separated from earth, is not the original order. It resulted from human sin. When that has been dealt with, the inter-relation between heaven and earth will be that of natural intercommunication, not as now, merely by faith, but actually, positively, definitely, by sight and by sense. The first phase of the vision of the restored order presented the Temple as at the centre of the life of the people. In this chapter we have the description of the courts round about the Temple proper, and of the porch leading to the house itself.

Chapter 41

It was made with cherubim and palm trees; and a palm tree was between cherub and cherub, and every cherub had two faces.
Ezekiel 41:18

In this chapter we have the prophet's description of the Temple itself; first its general structure and then its ornamentation. The dimensions as to the actual sanctuary were those of the Tabernacle. Moreover, its general form was the same, as the distinction was maintained between the Holy Place (verses 1 and 2) and the Holy of Holies (verses 3 and 4). The buildings round about constituted an addition. Within, he saw the ornamentation, the symbols of beauty, and of suggestiveness. These were alternating cherubim and palm trees. The cherubim constitute a part or the visions of God, granted to Ezekiel at the beginning of his ministry. Here he saw two of the faces only, those of the man and the lion. The palm trees were the symbol of national or racial life in its full realization and glory. Thus into each palm tree the eyes of a man and the eyes of a lion were ever looking. God in His fullest expression in man, and in His sovereignty, typified by the lion, is watching with complacency and satisfaction the full realization of His purposes as typified by the palm tree. These symbols were seen upon the wall of the Temple, and upon the folding doors admitting thereto. Thus at the centre of the new order of life was the Temple; and in its very heart these symbols of the condition of life as realized in that order. Life in full fruition, watched over by God in love and in authority.

Chapter 42

It had a wall round about ... to make a separation between them which was holy, and that which was common.
Ezekiel 42:20

This chapter is devoted to the description of the buildings surrounding the Temple proper, or the Sanctuary, but all within the sacred precincts. These buildings were for the use of the priests while engaged in the sacred service of the Temple. Finally the measurement of the great wall surrounding the whole Temple area is given; and concerning that wall these words were written. Thus in the vision of the final order, a distinction is maintained between that which is holy and that which is common. Perhaps the word "common" employed by our revisers is better than the "profane" of the King James Version; but that is because of our more modern use of this word "profane" which associates with it the idea of evil. A similar difficulty however is created by the word "common," which we now use as meaning in some sense inferior, or less worthy. Neither of these ideas is present in the distinction between the holy and the profane, in the text. It is rather a distinction between the exercise of man in relation with God, and his exercises - neither evil nor unworthy - in relation with his fellow man. This is a distinction. It is the difference between worship and social intercourse. The first is the highest activity of which man is capable, and can only be rendered to God; and is at last the only relation which man can bear to God. The second is a blessed and glorious activity, the realization of the joy of the family of the One Father, of the happiness of the subjects of the One King. This sense of distinction is to be maintained in the final order; how carefully therefore we should observe it now. This vision of the final earthly Temple has much to say to us today as to the reverence and sanctity of true worship.

Chapter 43

Thou, son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities.
Ezekiel 43:10

Having completed the description of the new Temple, the prophet told how he saw Jehovah return to His House. As in the days when Moses completed the Tabernacle, and Solomon the Temple, the glory of Jehovah came and filled the House. It was that manifestation of the Presence, which had constituted the real value of Tabernacle and Temple; and so it will be in the new Temple. All the beauty of the structure in each case was but a symbol and harmonic setting for this essential wonder. Ezekiel had seen this glory depart (10:19 and 11:22, 23), and now he saw it return. In these particular words we find the value of the messages which the prophet was now delivering. The vision of the glory of the House was given in order to produce shame in the hearts of the people for those evil ways which had robbed them of their glory. This is a very suggestive word, and it is impossible not to see its application to the Church of God. So far as the fulfilment of her function of revealing the glory of God to the world in her corporate capacity is concerned, few will deny her comparative failure. The recognition of it is the inspiration of many modern movements toward unity. Perhaps nothing would be more valuable than a renewed vision of God's ideal of the Church, as that is revealed in the New Testament. That vision would be of the spiritual unity which has never been destroyed; nor can be; but which we have largely hidden from the world, and even lost sight of ourselves, through our differences and diversions, in non-essential things.

Chapter 44

As for the Prince, He shall sit therein as Prince to eat bread before the Lord. Ezek. - 44:3

In this chapter and the two following, the Temple is still in view, and all its ordinances are declared. It is noticeable, however, that the Temple is considered as at the centre of the city, and so of the national life. Within its boundary, the Prince of the people is found, surrounded by the priests. This place of the Prince is arresting. Ezekiel had seen the glory of Jehovah entering by the east gate. That gate was now closed, and none was permitted to enter thereby. But within the courts, right in that gateway, the Prince is to find His place; there He is to eat bread before Jehovah. Notice, He is not called the King. In this restored order, there is only One King for this people, the One Whom they had rejected from being King. Through the discipline of reprobation, He restores them to Himself; they constitute a Theocracy. Their visible ruler is a Prince, and He sits in the gate through which Jehovah enters, and there eats bread before Him, in fellowship with Him, and in His rule representing Him. In so far as all this is a vision of the ultimate earthly order, we know who the Prince will be; and in this suggestive portrayal of His place in the Temple, we have one phase of application of that consummation which Paul saw, when he wrote of the time when the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all. In so far as the picture represents any stage short of the ultimate order, it reveals the place of the Prince or. Ruler, at all times, as that of complete submission to the one authority of Jehovah.

Chapter 45

All the people of the land shall give unto this oblation for the Prince in Israel. And it shall be the Prince's part to give the burnt offerings ...
Ezekiel 45:16, 17

Here in the setting out of the new order of the land, provision is made first for the area for priests and Levites in close association with the Temple. The territory of the Prince is also appointed. To Him the people are to pay their dues, of their flocks and of the soil; and out of these He is to provide all that is necessary for those ceremonial offerings, which perpetually set forth the truth concerning the relationship of the people to Jehovah as it is based upon redemption. Thus a change is seen from the old order. In that, every person was responsible for bringing offerings to the priests. Now all these are brought to the Prince, and He provides what is necessary. Thus, in some senses the Prince is more than Ruler; He is exercising the supreme function of the Priest in receiving from the people and providing the offerings of atonement. Peter charged the men of Israel with having "killed the Prince of life," and declared that the heaven had received Him "until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouths of His holy prophets" (Acts 3:15, 21); and on another occasion said: "Him did God exalt with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins" (Acts 5:31). To His people Israel, He will indeed be a Prince and a Saviour, ruling over them in fellowship with God, and that on the basis of that perfect redemption which He has provided, through which their restoration must come.

Chapter 46

And the Prince ... shall worship at the threshold of the gate.
Ezekiel 46:2

Still the description of the new order continues, and is now concerned with the arrangements for the observance of the Sabbath, and the offerings of the Sabbath and the new moon. The whole outlook is earthly; that is to say, that the order described is that of life in this world. Men are still employed in their earthly vocations, and so the Sabbath is observed. In this day of restoration, the ceremonial offerings are observed, with this difference, that until Christ came they were prophetic and anticipatory, whereas now they are memorial. That the sacrifices are symbolic rather than actual I think there can be no doubt. That which is most arresting throughout, is the presence of the Prince. Whereas He has His place in the gateway of the Divine return to His people, and eats His bread before Jehovah, He is identified with the people in their worship. In this worship He is first alone, at the threshold of the gate; then He is with the people; whether it be the company of those who pass from the north to the south, or that which passes from South to north. He goes in the midst of them. When we think of all this as finding fulfilment in Christ, we need to remember that it is in representative capacity only, as completely one with His people, that He can be thought of as a worshipper; and that is the ultimate of grace. John in the Apocalypse never refers to Him as worshipping, save only as He, in unity with His people, is identified with the worship of the four living creatures. But these are worshippers of God and the Lamb. Thus, the highest symbolism fails to interpret finally the mysteries of grace. The one truth which is clear is that of the complete identification of the Prince and Saviour with those over whom He rules as Redeemer.

Chapter 47

Everything shall live whithersoever the river cometh.
Ezekiel 47:9

The glory and beauty of this great message has been fully recognized by the people of God, and constant and most justifiable use has been made of it in interpretations of the fullness and fertility of life in the Pentecostal baptism and in-dwelling. It is a message constantly referred to in consideration of the words of Jesus on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles when He said: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37, 38). Considering it in its relation to Ezekiel's visions, we observe its place. The new order is established; the Temple is built, and its services are arranged; the city is established around it; the land is apportioned in relation to it; Jehovah has returned to dwell among His people; His will is administered by a Prince upon the basis of redemption. All is completed. Now the river of life flows forth from that House, and so from that Divine Presence; it comes by the way of the altar; it proceeds to the Arabah, the wilderness; it flows into the Dead Sea; and in its progress there is life - "Everything shall live whithersoever the river cometh." That is the life of restoration. For that which is desolate because reprobate, there is no other way of recovery, of restoration. But there is this way, because of the character and nature of God. The end is not yet. The wilderness is still barren; the sea is dead; but the river is flowing out from the Sanctuary by the way of the altar; and the "seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" are assured, because He will "send the Christ - even Jesus" - for the "restoration of all things."

Chapter 48

The Lord is there.
Ezekiel 48:35

That is the final word of this great prophet of hope, Jehovah-Shammah. It is one of the great Jehovah titles and interpretations, and here Ezekiel employs it as giving the name of the city of God. There, in exile from Jerusalem, that city dear to his heart, in the possession of aliens, its walls broken down, the Temple destroyed, its glory dead, this man had received visions of God. These visions had interpreted for him the corruption of his people, and the infinite depth of the grace of God. He had seen Jehovah leave His people, and their consequent reprobation and desolation. He had argued for the righteousness of that reprobation. But he had seen more. He had been brought to understand that through reprobation, God was working for restoration. He had seen the processes of that restoration, and the glory of it, in the re-established and ennobled order. In his last message he had described the new division of the land among the tribes of Jehovah, each territory running from east to west; and the whole, including all the land promised to the fathers. At the centre of everything was the Sanctuary, surrounded by the territory of Prince, Priests, Levites, and The City. The City with its twelve gates is the final vision. The prophet beheld it, and its complete glory being seen, he named it "Jehovah is there." The name tells of complete satisfaction; that of God, and that of man. God is seen at rest among His people, His original purpose realized. Man is seen at rest in God, his true destiny reached. To John in Patmos, also came the vision of the city of God, and the final glory of it was the same: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His peoples; and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God."