Ezekiel 14:22
Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth to you, and you shall see their way and their doings: and you shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought on Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought on it.
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(22) Ye shall be comforted concerning the evil.—In this and the following verse it is promised that a remnant shall be brought from Jerusalem; and it is clearly implied that they shall come to Babylonia. There the present exiles shall see them, and thus be comforted. But in what sense comforted? The connection absolutely decides this: “when ye see their ways and their doings, ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it.” That is, when you see the wickedness, of this remnant, you will cease to mourn over the judgment, for you cannot but perceive that it was a righteous act of God. The expression “sons and daughters” is used in Ezekiel 14:22 with reference to the same phrase in Ezekiel 14:16; Ezekiel 14:18; Ezekiel 14:20; and the form “they shall comfort you” in Ezekiel 14:23 is explained by what is said in Ezekiel 14:22, not as meaning “they shall administer comfort,” but “they shall be a cause of comfort” by showing you their exceeding wickedness.

Ezekiel 14:22-23. Yet, behold, therein — In Jerusalem itself, though marked for utter ruin; in Judea, though condemned to suffer unexampled desolations; shall be left a remnant — That shall not be cut off by any of those sore judgments before mentioned, but shall escape and be brought forth into Chaldea, to be your companions in captivity; both sons and daughters — That shall be the seed of a new generation. And ye shall see their ways and their doings — “Ye shall be made sensible of their guilt and reformation.” Their sufferings shall be made instrumental in bringing them to a due sense of the greatness and aggravations of their former iniquities, and you shall hear them make a free and ingenuous confession of them, and an humble profession of repentance for them, with promises of amendment, and you shall see instances of this amendment, and be witnesses of the good their affliction has done them, and how prudently and patiently they carry themselves under it. And ye shall be comforted — “By their confession of their idolatries, by a conviction of my justice, and by the spirit of allegiance to me, which they shall propagate.” — Bishop Newcome. Concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem — Ye shall the less grieve when you are made sensible they were not punished beyond what their sins deserved, and that their sufferings have had a salutary influence on their spirit and conduct. This consideration will compose your minds, and make you give glory to God, and acknowledge his judgments to be righteous, though they touch you very nearly in the destruction of your friends and country. And they shall comfort you when ye see their ways, &c. — When you see them repenting of their sins and reforming their lives, humbling themselves before God, justifying his conduct toward them, and quietly accepting the punishment of their iniquity. And ye shall know that I have not done without cause — Not without a just provocation, and yet not without a gracious design; all that I have done in it — In Jerusalem and among its inhabitants. When afflictions have done their work, and have accomplished that for which they were sent, then will appear the wisdom and goodness of God in sending them, and God will not only be justified, but glorified in them. 14:12-23 National sins bring national judgments. Though sinners escape one judgment, another is waiting for them. When God's professing people rebel against him, they may justly expect all his judgments. The faith, obedience, and prayers of Noah prevailed to the saving of his house, but not of the old world. Job's sacrifice and prayer in behalf of his friends were accepted, and Daniel had prevailed for the saving his companions and the wise men of Babylon. But a people that had filled the measure of their sins, was not to expect to escape for the sake of any righteous men living among them; not even of the most eminent saints, who could be accepted in their own case only through the sufferings and righteousness of Christ. Yet even when God makes the greatest desolations by his judgments, he saves some to be monuments of his mercy. In firm belief that we shall approve the whole of God's dealings with ourselves, and with all mankind, let us silence all rebellious murmurs and objections.Ye shall be comforted ... - By a truer estimate of the dispensations of the Almighty. This visitation will be recognized as inevitable and just. 22. Yet … a remnant—not of righteous persons, but some of the guilty who should "come forth" from the destruction of Jerusalem to Babylon, to lead a life of hopeless exile there. The reference here is to judgment, not mercy, as Eze 14:23 shows.

ye shall see their … doings; and … be comforted—Ye, the exiles at the Chebar, who now murmur at God's judgment about to be inflicted on Jerusalem as harsh, when ye shall see the wicked "ways" and character of the escaped remnant, shall acknowledge that both Jerusalem and its inhabitants deserved their fate; his recognition of the righteousness of the judgment will reconcile you to it, and so ye shall be "comforted" under it [Calvin]. Then would follow mercy to the elect remnant, though that is not referred to here, but in Eze 20:43.

Therein; in Jerusalem itself, and in the land.

A remnant; some that escape, for though none could prevail with God to prevent the emptying the city and the land, and cutting off the most, yet this was not to extend to the utter cutting off and destruction of all.

Brought forth; by the proud, cruel, and barbarous conqueror bringing them in nakedness, chains, and in contempt more grievous than death itself.

Unto you; those naked, hunger-starved, derided captives, through heats and colds, through sands and tedious travels, shall come, though with great regret to you, to Babylon, whose condition they will either envy, or wish it their own.

Ye shall see; see them, and consider and know their way; what it hath brought them, how sinfully evil it was against God in their own land, and how miserably evil it is and must be with them in the enemies’ land.

Ye shall be comforted; not rejoice in your brethren’s misery, but comforted in remembrance of the good hour you resolved to obey God, in yielding up to the Chaldeans; comforted in the sense of your state much better then theirs, and in the vindication of you from the black aspersions the false prophets and their followers cast on you; and finally, comforted, in that your return, at set time promised, shall in its time be as surely made good as you see the threats are made good. God will be as true in his mercies as he hath been in his judgments; this is matter of great affliction and grief, that of comfort and hope. Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant,.... That is, in Jerusalem, on which God's four sore judgments should be sent: though in a sinful land, as before described, where only one judgment was sent, there was no escape, not so much as a son or a daughter were delivered; yet here, where four sore judgments came together, there is a remnant that are saved; and which being wonderful, and beyond all expectation, is introduced with a "behold", not only as a note of attention, but of admiration:

that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters; that is, which should be brought forth out of Jerusalem when taken, and should not be destroyed either by famine, or by noisome beasts, or by the sword, or by the pestilence; and these, many of them, both sons and daughters; some of each sex, that should be the means of propagating a posterity, that should return again, and repeople the land, and continue for many ages, as they have done: this is said with respect to Ezekiel 14:16;

behold, they shall come forth unto you; come out of Jerusalem, and their own land, into Babylon, to the captives already there; with whom Ezekiel now was, and to whom he is speaking:

and ye shall see their way and their doings; their wicked course of life and evil actions; which now being convinced of, and humbled for, they shall ingenuously acknowledge and confess to their brethren in captivity: though some think this is to be understood of wicked and reprobate men, that should be not at all reformed by the judgments of God, but continue in their wicked course; which the godly captives seeing, would conclude from thence their manner of life before, and so the righteous judgment of God upon them; and their being a remnant preserved is thought not to be in a way of mercy, but judgment; who though they escaped each of the four sore judgments, yet had a worse inflicted on them, even captivity:

and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it; that is, they should be satisfied with the justice of God, and be reconciled to the providence of God, in bringing destruction upon Jerusalem; which perhaps before they murmured at, or had hard thoughts of God concerning it; but now hearing the confessions of those that were brought from thence to them, or seeing their wicked lives and conversations, they would now be fully satisfied that God was righteous in all that he had done; and that, instead of being rigorous and severe, he had been kind and merciful.

Yet, behold, in it shall be left a {l} remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth to you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.

(l) Read Geneva Eze 5:3

22. behold, therein shall be left] Rather: and behold, should there be left therein a remnant. After “behold” the verb is hypothetical, as often, e.g. ch. Ezekiel 13:12, Ezekiel 15:4. If some of the wicked in Jerusalem escape it is with a special design, viz. that those spared should reveal their great wickedness to the earlier exiles among whom they shall come, and thus shew how inevitable the destruction of the city was.

that shall be brought forth] The ancient versions read the active (hiph.) participle here: that shall bring forth sons and daughters. In Ezekiel 14:18; Ezekiel 14:20 it is said that the three great saints named should gave neither sons nor daughters; and here some would be spoken of who brought out sons and daughters. It is very doubtful if this pointed antithesis was in the mind of the prophet. His point is that if some in Jerusalem, men and women, escape, notwithstanding the principle that the righteous shall not save the wicked, it is for a special purpose, viz. to shew to the earlier exiles the great wickedness of Jerusalem, and thus comfort them over its fall. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel regard the exiles carried away under Jehoiachin as the flower of the nation (Jeremiah 24), and those left behind as the dregs of the people. Of course it was the persons of rank and influence that were carried captive, while those left behind were the meanest, least educated and probably most idolatrous (Jeremiah 24:8-10; Jeremiah 29:16-20).

their way and their doings] Their evil “way” of life, and their gross idolatries.

comforted concerning the evil] The exiles of the days of Jehoiachin and those of earlier times, whose thoughts were keenly occupied with Jerusalem and its fate (ch. Ezekiel 24:25), shall be comforted for its destruction when they see the way and doings of the new exiles. So corrupt and gross in their iniquities shall these appear to them that they will feel that no other fate than that which has befallen it was possible for Jerusalem; and that “not without cause” has Jehovah overthrown it (Ezekiel 14:22). Cf. on “comforted” ch. Ezekiel 32:31.

In the passage Ezekiel 14:12-23 questions are not raised what “land” it is that Jehovah will bring his plagues of famine, sword and the like upon, nor when he will bring them. The cases supposed are merely illustrations of the principle that the righteous shall not save the wicked. And the application to Jerusalem is what the prophet has in view. See on ch. 18.Verse 22. - The words end with a gleam of hope shining through the judgments. For Ezekiel, as for Isaiah, there is the thought of a "remnant that shall return" (Isaiah 10:20-22). It has been questioned whether "the ways and the doings" which are to bring comfort to men's minds are those of the evil past or of the subsequent repentance. I incline to the view that they include both. Men should see at once the severity and the goodness of Jehovah. His punishments had not been arbitrary nor excessive. They had also been as a discipline leading men to repentance. In each of those facts there was a ground of comfort for men who asked the question, which Abraham asked of old, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). In either aspect men will recognize that God has not done without cause all that he has done. In this way the prophet seeks, as others have done since, to justify the ways of God to man. Ezekiel's word for "remnant" is, it may be noted, not the same as Isaiah's, its primary significance being "these that escape." Ezekiel does not quote the earlier prophet, though his thoughts are in harmony with him.

No prophet is to give any other answer. - Ezekiel 14:9. But if a prophet allow himself to be persuaded, and give a word, I have persuaded this prophet, and will stretch out my hand against him, and cut him off out of my people Israel. Ezekiel 14:10. They shall bear their guilt: as the guilt of the inquirer, so shall the guilt of the prophet be; Ezekiel 14:11. In order that the house of Israel may no more stray from me, and may no more defile itself with all its transgressions; but they may be my people, and I their God is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The prophet who allows himself to be persuaded is not a prophet מלּבּו (Ezekiel 13:2), but one who really thinks that he has a word of God. פּתּה, to persuade, to entice by friendly words (in a good sense, Hosea 2:16); but generally sensu malo, to lead astray, or seduce to that which is unallowable or evil. "If he allow himself to be persuaded:" not necessarily "with the hope of payment from the hypocrites who consult him" (Michaelis). This weakens the thought. It might sometimes be done from unselfish good-nature. And "the word" itself need not have been a divine oracle of his own invention, or a false prophecy. The allusion is simply to a word of a different character from that contained in Ezekiel 14:6-8, which either demands repentance or denounces judgment upon the impenitent: every word, therefore, which could by any possibility confirm the sinner in his security. - By אני יהוה (Ezekiel 14:9) the apodosis is introduced in an emphatic manner, as in Ezekiel 14:4 and Ezekiel 14:7; but פּתּיתי cannot be taken in a future sense ("I will persuade"). It must be a perfect; since the persuading of the prophet would necessarily precede his allowing himself to be persuaded. The Fathers and earlier Lutheran theologians are wrong in their interpretation of פּתּיתי, which they understand in a permissive sense, meaning simply that God allowed it, and did not prevent their being seduced. Still more wrong are Storr and Schmieder, the former of whom regards it as simply declaratory, "I will declare him to have gone astray from the worship of Jehovah;" the latter, "I will show him to be a fool, by punishing him for his disobedience." The words are rather to be understood in accordance with 1 Kings 22:20., where the persuading (pittâh) is done by a lying spirit, which inspires the prophets of Ahab to predict success to the king, in order that he may fall. As Jehovah sent the spirit in that case, and put it into the mouth of the prophets, so is the persuasion in this instance also effected by God: not merely divine permission, but divine ordination and arrangement; though this does not destroy human freedom, but, like all "persuading," presupposes the possibility of not allowing himself to be persuaded. See the discussion of this question in the commentary on 1 Kings 22:20. The remark of Calvin on the verse before us is correct: "it teaches that neither impostures nor frauds take place apart from the will of God" (nisi Deo volente). But this willing on the part of God, or the persuading of the prophets to the utterance of self-willed words, which have not been inspired by God, only takes place in persons who admit evil into themselves, and is designed to tempt them and lead them to decide whether they will endeavour to resist and conquer the sinful inclinations of their hearts, or will allow them to shape themselves into outward deeds, in which case they will become ripe for judgment. It is in this sense that God persuades such a prophet, in order that He may then cut him off out of His people. But this punishment will not fall upon the prophet only. It will reach the seeker or inquirer also, in order if possible to bring Israel back from its wandering astray, and make it into a people of God purified from sin (Ezekiel 14:10 and Ezekiel 14:11). It was to this end that, in the last times of the kingdom of Judah, God allowed false prophecy to prevail so mightily, - namely, that it might accelerate the process of distinguishing between the righteous and the wicked; and then, by means of the judgment which destroyed the wicked, purify His nation and lead it on to the great end of its calling.
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