EXEKIEL CHAPTER 22.
Jerusalem Ripe for the Judgment.
THE WEIGHT OF JERUSALEM’S GUILT. — V. 1. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 2. Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge, the bloody city? so called on account of the murders committed in her and the sacrifices of children to Molech. Yea, thou shalt show her all her abominations, so that she was bound to acknowledge them, even if she was lacking in repentance. V. 3. Then say thou, Thus saith the Lord God, who excels in the might of His sovereignty, The city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, in bloody sacrifices to idols, in judicial murders, and in civil war, that her time may come, namely, the time of her punishment, and maketh idols against herself, literally, “over herself,” that is, throughout her boundaries, to defile herself, the burden and debt of idolatry bringing defilement. V. 4. Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed, which placed the stamp of murder upon the entire city, and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made, the one growing forth out of the other, the defilement out of the abomination; and thou, by such transgressions, hast caused thy days to draw near, the time when sentence would be executed upon her, and art come even unto thy years, the measure of her guilt being full; therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen and a mocking to all countries, namely, by the overthrow of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah. V. 5. Those that be near and those that be far from thee, the neighboring nations as well as those at a distance, shall mock thee, which art infamous and much vexed, literally, “polluted in name and full of confusion,” an object of derision and loathing. V. 6. Behold, the princes of Israel, every one, were in thee to their power, literally, “every one according to his arm,” that is, to the best of his ability, to shed blood, this being their object and the end of their desire. V. 7. In thee have they set light by father and mother, a transgression which was most sharply reproved and punished at that time; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger, treating him with injustice and deceit; in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow, although both, as helpless and depending upon others for support and protection, should have had special consideration. V. 8. Thou hast despised Mine holy things, treating matters of which the Lord thought highly, which He had set apart to be revered properly, with contempt, and hast profaned My Sabbaths, by refusing to hallow them according to Old Testament regulations. Cp. Ex. 22, 20 ff.; Lev. 19, 13; Dent. 24, 14 ff. V. 9. In thee are men that carry tales to shed blood, slanderers, whose object is to bring harm upon others, preferably death; and in thee they eat upon the mountains, some of her inhabitants having become guilty of partaking of meals consecrated to idols; in the midst of thee they commit lewdness, immorality of every kind and description. V. 10. In thee have they discovered their fathers’ nakedness, in sins of incest, Lev. 18 and 19; in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution, forcing a woman at the time of her uncleanness, Lev. 18, 19. V. 11. And one hath committed abomination with his neighbor’s wife, in base adultery, and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law, another instance of revolting immorality; and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father’s daughter, his step-sister, who was within the prohibited degrees, Lev. 18, 9. V. 12. In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood, accepting bribes to commit murder; thou hast taken usury and increase, the enriching of men at the cost of their neighbors being the usual thing, a form of graft in which the great majority indulged, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbors by extortion, overreaching them in business dealings and at all other times, and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord God. There was evidence indeed of this fact, for men sound in faith and love toward God cannot become guilty of such terrible trespasses. V. 13. Behold, therefore I have smitten Mine hand, striking them both together in dismay and horror at such manifestations of wickedness, at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee, the guilt of the shedding of blood which rested upon the whole city and country. V. 14. Can thine heart endure, be steadfast, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? when God’s sentence of punishment would go into effect. It is a last warning against false security. I, the Lord, have spoken it and will do it, there being no doubt either as to His determination or to His ability to perform His sentence of punishment. V. 15. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, cp. chap. 12, 15; 20, 23, and disperse thee in the countries, in captivity and exile, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee, namely, by the purging power of this sentence of punishment. V. 16. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, literally, “thou shalt be profaned in thyself before the eyes of time heathen,” all of them being witnesses of the shameful plight and degradation of Judah on account of her sins, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord. The shame and disgrace which are heaped upon the sinner in the eyes of the witnesses of his downfall should at least be one point which he ought to keep in mind to deter him from further sinning.
THE CORRUPTION OF JUDAH INVITING DESTRUCTION. — V. 17. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 18. Son of man, the house of Israel is to Me become dross, the refuse of the purer metals, thrown out as unfit for fine use; all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead in the midst of the furnace, all the baser metals, unfit for the divine Refiner’s purpose; they are even the dross of silver, full of impurity. V. 19. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Because ye are all become dross, impure with idolatry and other wickedness, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem, heaped together like quartz in a furnace. V. 20. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin into the midst of the furnace, the baser metals being mixed with the precious and the object being to separate them, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it, the process resulting in an almost pure extraction of the nobler metal, so will I gather you in Mine anger and in My fury, in carrying out the contemplated judgment upon Jerusalem and Judah, and I will leave you there and melt you. Note that the process of refining is not used in the figure, the smelting as such being a picture of the avenging wrath of God. V. 21. Yea, I will gather you and blow upon you in the fire of My wrath, as silver alloyed with baser metals is submitted to a blast of air in the so-called cupeling process, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. V. 22. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof, Judah experiencing this operation during the last siege of the city; and ye shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury upon you. Having thus set forth the punishment upon Jerusalem, the Lord proceeds to show the corruptness of all classes of people in Judah. V. 23. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, v. 24. Son of man, say unto her, namely, to Jerusalem and Judah, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, namely, from the weeds, briars, and thorns with which it is overgrown, or upon which the sun does not shine in due season, nor rained upon in the day of indignation, that is, from which the Lord withholds fruitfulness on account of its wickedness. V. 25. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, self-appointed teachers and leaders as these false prophets were, like a roaring lion ravening the prey they have devoured souls, the fierceness and cruelty of their actions being in evidence throughout; they have taken the treasure and precious things, property and jewels in possession of the people; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof, for pious men were put to death by them. V. 26. Her priests, who held the office of keepers and protectors of the Law, have violated My Law, since they did the very things from which they were supposed to keep the people by their warnings, and have profaned Mine holy things, by not observing them with the proper respect, cp. Zeph. 3, 4; they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, Lev. 10, 10. 11, that is, they calmly disregarded the ordinances of the Lord concerning these distinctions, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, by neglecting the law of the Sabbath, and I am profaned among them, for all these acts detracted from the Lord’s glory. V. 27. Her princes in the midst thereof, the leaders and chief protectors of the people, are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain, the civil rulers thus siding with the church powers in performing deeds of wickedness. V. 28. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, cp. chap. 13, 10, by flattering the people with false assurances of peace and safety, seeing vanity, unfounded promises of good, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken. V. 29. The people of the land, following the bad example of their leaders, have used oppression, practicing extortion and violence in every form, and exercised robbery, either open or hidden, and have vexed the poor and needy, cp. chap. 18, 7. 12. 18; yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully, in spite of the earnest warnings of the Lord concerning this practice, Ex. 22, 20. 21; Deut. 24, 17. V. 30. And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, building up a wall against these various acts of wickedness, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, to close up the breach and make intercession for Judah, that I should not destroy it; but I found none, the moral degeneration was such as to leave even the few righteous without the power to do anything. V. 31. Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them, as explained above; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath, in melting them in the furnace of His punishment; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God, punishing them in exact agreement with their wicked deeds. It is this fact, that they themselves have brought the evil fate upon them, which will cause many wicked the greatest torment in the last great punishment.