Ezekiel 17:9
Say you, Thus said the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Of her spring.—Our translators probably intended by this word, as they evidently did in Psalm 65:10, “her springing forth,” her growth; but it would be’ better now to substitute the word growth,

Pluck it up by the roots.—The word here is a different one from the “pull up “in the earlier part of the verse, and has rather the sense of raise up from the roots.” The whole clause would be better translated, “not even with great power and many people is it to be raised up from its roots again.” The meaning is explained in Ezekiel 17:17, that the strength of Pharaoh would be utterly insufficient to restore the people whom God had blighted.

Ezekiel 17:9-10. Say — Tell them what shall be the issue of all this, and tell it to them in my name. Shall it prosper? — Can it be that such breach of faith and such ingratitude should prosper? No, it cannot be: God will never suffer it. Zedekiah, besides the obligation of an oath, was bound to the king of Babylon by the ties of gratitude, as he owed all he possessed to him. Shall he not pull up the roots thereof? — Shall not Nebuchadnezzar, in return for this perfidiousness, destroy him and his kingdom? see 2 Kings 25:7. And cut off the fruit thereof — Put his children and those of his nobles to the sword? It shall wither in all the leaves of her spring — It shall wholly wither: not only the old branch shall wither, but its young shoots also: and all the promising hopes they had shall vanish: even without great power or many people — God shall be on the side of the Chaldeans, and he does not need great power or many people to effect his purpose. He can as easily overturn a sinful king and kingdom as a man can root up a tree that cumbers the ground. The king of Babylon, therefore, God being with him, shall easily subdue the land of Judah, and shall not need a large human force to assist him. Yea, shall it not utterly wither when the east wind toucheth it? — Here the prophet compares the Chaldean army, which should come against Judea, to a parching wind that blasts the fruits of the earth, withers the leaves of the trees, and makes every thing look naked and bare.17:1-10 Mighty conquerors are aptly likened to birds or beasts of prey, but their destructive passions are overruled to forward God's designs. Those who depart from God, only vary their crimes by changing one carnal confidence for another, and never will prosper.Her spring - Rather, her growth.

Even without ... - Translate; and not with great power or with much people is it to be raised up from its roots again.

9. Shall it prosper?—Could it be that gratuitous treason should prosper? God will not allow it. "It," that is, the vine.

he … pull up—that is, the first eagle, or Nebuchadnezzar.

in all … leaves of her spring—that is, all its springing (sprouting) leaves.

without great power or many—It shall not need all the forces of Babylon to destroy it; a small division of the army will suffice because God will deliver it into Nebuchadnezzar's hand (Jer 37:10).

Say thou; tell them what will be the issue of all this, and tell it to them in my name.

Shall it prosper? this vine, shall Zedekiah aud his people thrive by this? it is a question that must be resolved negatively, and with vehemency.

Shall he, Nebuchadnezzar, not pull up, utterly overthrow this kingdom which he had set up, destroy the king thereof?

Cut off the fruit; put to the sword and slay the children of Zedekiah and of the nobles.

Wither; never be in possibility of springing, so much is threatened by the withering of the branches.

All the leaves of her spring; all the promising hope they had shall vanish as the hope of a tree vanisheth, when all its buds and leaves wither in its spring.

Without great power; the king of Babylon shall do this easily, and never need to employ all his power and people to do this, utterly to root up this vine. Say thou, thus saith the Lord God,.... Tell Zedekiah and his people, in the name of the Lord, what will be the issue of his ingratitude and treachery to the king of Babylon, and his vain confidence in the king of Egypt:

shall it prosper? the vine, the kingdom of Judah, and Zedekiah the king of it; can it be thought that prosperity will attend such conduct as this? was is it ever known that persons guilty of such vices ever succeeded?

shall he not pull up the roots thereof; the first eagle, Nebuchadnezzar, being provoked by the rebellion of the king of Judah and his people; will he not come against them, and utterly destroy them, and root them up from being a people and a nation?

and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? the sons of the king, and of the nobles, and people of the land; so that the kingdom shall be ruined, and no hope left of its ever being restored again; which is the case of a vine when withered:

it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring; whereas it had been a springtime with this vine, under the influence of the king of Babylon, its leaves were green and flourishing; but now should wither, not as leaves do in autumn, which is to be expected, but in spring, which must be fatal; signifying, that in the midst of their prosperity, and when there was the greatest hope and expectation of a continuance and increase of it, utter ruin should come upon them:

even without great power or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof; signifying with what ease the king of Babylon would take Jerusalem, and the land of Judea, its king and its princes, and utterly destroy them; he would have no need of a large army, or to employ all his forces, a few, were sufficient to do it; even as it does not require many hands to pluck up, a vine by the roots, a single person is equal to it.

Say thou, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Shall it prosper? shall {h} he not pull up its roots, and cut off its fruit, that it may wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power or many people to pluck it up by its roots.

(h) Shall not Nebuchadnezzar destroy it?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Threat of punishment because of his treachery. The vine shall be pulled up and utterly withered—Zedekiah’s monarchy shall be taken away before the king of Babylon.

shall he not pull up] The subject is most naturally the king of Babylon, who planted it; the words might be used in the sense of the pass.: shall it not be pulled up?

it shall wither … her spring] As R.V., all her fresh springing leaves shall wither.

even without great power] It will be a light thing for the king of Babylon to pluck up this vine by the roots. Both the words and construction are peculiar; cf. Ezekiel 17:17.Verse 9. - The prophet, like his contemporary Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:7), like his predecessor Isaiah (Isaiah 30:1-7), is against this policy of an Egyptian alliance. The question which he asks, as the prophet of Jehovah, implies an answer in the negative. The doom of failure was written on all such projects. The he of the next question is not Nebuchadnezzar, but indefinite, like the French on. For leaves of her spring, read, with the Revised Version, fresh springing leaves; or, the leaves of her sprouting. The Authorized Version and the Revised Version of the last clause seems to assert that Nebuchadnezzar would have an easy victory. It would not take great power or much people to pluck up such a vine from its roots. I adopt, with Keil and Hitzig, the rendering, not with great power or much people will men be able to raise it up from its roots; i.e. no forces of Egypt or other allies should be able to restore Judah from its ruins. Its fall was, for the time, irretrievable (comp. ver. 17). But this disgrace will not be the conclusion. Because of the covenant which the Lord concluded with Israel, Jerusalem will not continue in misery, but will attain to the glory promised to the people of God; - and that in such a way that all boasting will be excluded, and Judah, with the deepest shame, will attain to a knowledge of the true compassion of God. - Yet, in order that all false confidence in the gracious promises of God may be prevented, and the sinful nation be thoroughly humbled, this last section of our word of God announces the restoration of Sodom and Samaria as well as that of Jerusalem, so that all boasting on the part of Israel is precluded. - Ezekiel 16:53. And I will turn their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, and the captivity of thy captivity in the midst of them: Ezekiel 16:54. That thou mayest bear thy shame, and be ashamed of all that thou hast done, in comforting them. Ezekiel 16:55. And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, will return to their first estate; and Samaria and her daughters will return to their first estate; and thou and thy daughters will return to your first estate. Ezekiel 16:56. And Sodom thy sister was not a discourse in thy mouth in the day of thy haughtinesses, Ezekiel 16:57. Before thy wickedness was disclosed, as at the time of the disgrace of the daughters of Aram and all its surroundings, the daughters of the Philistines, who despised thee round about. Ezekiel 16:58. Thy wrong-doing and all thy abominations, thou bearest them, is the saying of Jehovah. Ezekiel 16:59. For thus saith the Lord Jehovah, And I do with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised oath to break covenant. Ezekiel 16:60. And I shall remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and shall establish an everlasting covenant with thee. Ezekiel 16:61. And thou wilt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou receivest thy sisters, those greater than thou to those smaller than thou; and I give them to thee for daughters, although they are not of thy covenant. Ezekiel 16:62. And I will establish my covenant with thee; and thou wilt perceive that I am Jehovah; Ezekiel 16:63. That thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and there may no longer remain to thee an opening of the mouth because of thy disgrace, when I forgive thee all that thou hast done, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. - The promise commences with an announcement of the restoration, not of Jerusalem, but of Sodom and Samaria. The two kingdoms, or peoples, upon which judgment first fell, shall also be the first to receive mercy; and it will not be till after then that Jerusalem, with the other cities of Judah, will also be restored to favour, in order that she may bear her disgrace, and be ashamed of her sins (Ezekiel 16:54); that is to say, not because Sodom and Samaria have borne their punishment for a longer time, but to the deeper shaming, the more complete humiliation of Jerusalem. שׁוּב שׁבוּת, to turn the captivity, not "to bring back the captives" (see the comm. on Deuteronomy 30:3), is here used in a figurative sense for restitutio in statum integritatis, according to the explanation given of the expression in Ezekiel 16:55. No carrying away, or captivity, took place in the case of Sodom. The form שׁבית, which the Chetib has adopted several times here, has just the same meaning as שׁבוּת. שׁבית שׁביתיך does not mean the captives of thy captivity, since the same word cannot be used first as a concrete and then as an abstract noun; nor does the combination serve to give greater emphasis, in the sense of a superlative - viz. "the captivity of thy captivities, equivalent to thy severest or most fearful captivity," - as Stark and Hvernick suppose. The genitive must be taken as explanatory, as already proposed by Hengstenberg and Kliefoth: "captivity, which is thy captivity;" and the pleonastic mode of expression is chosen to give greater prominence to the thought, "thine own captivity," than would have been given to it by a suffix attached to the simple noun. בּתוכהנה, in their midst, does not imply, that just as Judah was situated now in the very midst between Sodom and Samaria, so its captives would return home occupying the centre between those two (Hitzig); the reference is rather to fellowship in captivity, to the fact that Jerusalem would share the same fate, and endure the same punishment, as Samaria and Sodom (Hengst., Klief.). The concluding words of Ezekiel 16:54, "in that thou comfortest them," do not refer to the sins already committed by Israel (as Kliefoth, who adopts the rendering, "didst comfort them," imagines), but to the bearing of such disgrace as makes Jerusalem ashamed of its sins. By bearing disgrace, i.e., by its endurance of well-merited and disgraceful punishment, Jerusalem consoles her sisters Samaria and Sodom; and that not merely by fellowship in misfortune, - solamen miseris etc. , (Calvin, Hitzig, etc.), - but by the fact that from the punishment endured by Jerusalem, both Samaria and Sodom can discern the righteousness of the ways of God, and find therein a foundation for their hope, that the righteous God will bring to an end the merited punishment as soon as its object has been attained (see the comm. on Ezekiel 14:22-23). The turning of the captivity, according to Ezekiel 16:55, will consist in the fact that Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem return לקדמתן, to their original state. קדמה does not mean the former or earlier state, but the original state, as in Isaiah 23:7. Kliefoth is wrong, however, in explaining this as meaning: "as they were, when they came in Adam from the creative hand of God." The original state is the status integritatis, not as a state of sinlessness or original righteousness and holiness, - for neither Jerusalem on the one hand, nor Samaria and Sodom on the other, had ever been in such a state as this, - but as an original state of glory, in which they were before they had fallen and sunk into ungodly ways.

But how could a restoration of Sodom and her daughters (Gomorrah, etc.) be predicted, when the destruction of these cities was accompanied by the sweeping away of all their inhabitants from off the face of the earth? Many of the commentators have attempted to remove the difficulty by assuming that Sodom here stands for the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descendants of Lot, who escaped from Sodom. But the untenableness of such an explanation is obvious, from the simple fact that the Ammonites and Moabites were no more Sodomites than Lot himself. And the view expressed by Origen and Jerome, and lately revived by Hvernick, that Sodom is a typical name denoting heathenism generally, is also unsatisfactory. The way in which Sodom is classed with Samaria and Jerusalem, and the special reference to the judgment that fell upon Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49, Ezekiel 16:50), point undeniably to the real Sodom. The heathen world comes into consideration only so far as this, that the pardon of a heathen city, so deeply degraded as Sodom, carries with it the assurance that mercy will be extended to all heathen nations. We must therefore take the words as referring to the literal Sodom. Yet we certainly cannot for a moment think of any earthly restoration of Sodom. For even if we could conceive of a restoration of the cities that were destroyed by fire, and sunk into the depths of the Dead Sea, it is impossible to form any conception of an earthly and corporeal restoration of the inhabitants of those cities, who ere destroyed at the same time; and in this connection it is chiefly to them that the words refer. This does not by any means prove that the thing itself is impossible, but simply that the realization of the prophecy must be sought for beyond the present order of things, in one that extends into the life everlasting.

As Ezekiel 16:55 elucidates the contents of Ezekiel 16:53, so the thought of Ezekiel 16:54 is explained and still further expanded in Ezekiel 16:56 and Ezekiel 16:57. The meaning of Ezekiel 16:56 is a subject of dispute; but so much is indisputable, that the attempt to Kliefoth to explain Ezekiel 16:56 and Ezekiel 16:57 as referring to the future, and signifying that in the coming day of its glory Israel will no longer carry Sodom as a legend in its mouth as it does now, does violence to the grammar, and is quite a mistake. It is no more allowable to take ולא היתה as a future, in the sense of "and will not be," than to render כּמו עת חרפּת redner ot naht " (Ezekiel 16:57), "it will be like the time of scorn." Moreover, the application of בּיום גּאוניך to the day of future glory is precluded by the fact that in Ezekiel 16:49 the word גּאון is used to denote the pride which was the chief sin of Sodom; and the reference to this verse very naturally suggests itself. The meaning of Ezekiel 16:56 depends upon the rendering to be given to לשׁמוּעה. The explanation given by Rosenmller and Maurer, after Jerome, - viz. non erat in auditione, i.e., non audiebatur, thou didst not think at all of Sodom, didst not take its name into thy mouth, - is by no means satisfactory. שׁמוּעה means proclamation, discourse, and also report. If we adopt the last, we must take the sentence as interrogatory (לוא for הלוא), as Hengstenberg and Hitzig have done. Although this is certainly admissible, there are no clear indexes here to warrant our assumption of an interrogation, which is only hinted at by the tone. We therefore prefer the meaning "discourse:" thy sister Sodom was not a discourse in thy mouth in the day of thy haughtinesses, that thou didst talk of the fate of Sodom and lay it to heart when thou wast in prosperity. The plural גּאוניך is more emphatic than the singular. The day of the haughtinesses is defined in Ezekiel 16:57 as the period before the wickedness of Judah had been disclosed. This was effected by means of the judgment, which burst upon Jerusalem on the part of Babylon. Through this judgment Jerusalem is said to have been covered with disgrace, as at the time when the daughters of Aram, i.e., the cities of Syria, and those of the Philistines (Aram on the east, and the Philistines on the west, Isaiah 9; 11), scorned and maltreated it round about. This refers primarily to the times of Ahaz, when the Syrians and Philistines pressed hard upon Judah (2 Kings 15:37; 2 Kings 16:6; and 2 Chronicles 28:18-19). It must not be restricted to this, however; but was repeated in the reign of Jehoiachin, when Jehovah sent troops of the Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, Ammonites, and Moabites against him, to destroy Judah (2 Kings 24:2). It is true, the Philistines are not mentioned here; but from the threat in Ezekiel 25:15, we may infer that they also attempted at the same time to bring disgrace upon Judah. שׁאט equals שׁוּט, according to Aramaean usage, to treat contemptuously, or with repudiation (cf. Ezekiel 28:24, Ezekiel 28:26). Jerusalem will have to atone for this pride, and to bear its wrong-doing and its abominations (Ezekiel 16:58). For zimmâh, see the comm. on Ezekiel 16:43. The perfect נשׂאתים indicates that the certainty of the punishment is just as great as if it had already commenced. The reason assigned for this thought in Ezekiel 16:59 forms a transition to the further expansion of the promise in Ezekiel 16:60. ועשׂית (Ezekiel 16:59) has been correctly pointed by the Masoretes as the 1st person. The ו is copulative, and shows that what follows forms the concluding summary of all that precedes. אותך for אתּך, as in Ezekiel 16:60, etc., to deal with any one. The construction of עשׂה, with an accusative of the person, to treat any one, cannot be sustained either from Ezekiel 17:17 and Ezekiel 23:25, or from Jeremiah 33:9; and Gesenius is wrong in assuming that we meet with it in Isaiah 42:16.

Despising the oath (אלה) points back to Deuteronomy 29:11-12, where the renewal of the covenant concluded at Sinai is described as an entrance into the covenant and oath which the Lord then made with His people. - But even if Israel has faithlessly broken the covenant, and must bear the consequence punishment, the unfaithfulness of man can never alter the faithfulness of God. This is the link of connection between the resumption and further expansion of the promise in Ezekiel 16:60 and the closing words of Ezekiel 16:59. The remembrance of His covenant ins mentioned in Leviticus 26:42 and Leviticus 26:45 as the only motive that will induce God to restore Israel to favour again, when the humiliation effected by the endurance of punishment has brought it to a confession of its sins. The covenant which God concluded with Israel in the day of its youth, i.e., when He led it out of Egypt, He will establish as an everlasting covenant. Consequently it is not an entirely new covenant, but simply the perfecting of the old one for everlasting duration. For the fact itself, compare Isaiah 55:3, where the making of the everlasting covenant is described as granting the stedfast mercies of David, i.e., as the fulfilment of the promise given to David (2 Samuel 7). This promise is called by David himself an everlasting covenant which God had made with him (2 Samuel 23:5). And the assurance of its everlasting duration was to be found in the fact that this covenant did not rest upon the fulfilment of the law, but simply upon the forgiving grace of God (compare Ezekiel 16:63 with Jeremiah 31:31-34). - The bestowal of this grace will put Israel in remembrance of its ways, and fill it with shame. In this sense, וזכרתּ (and thou shalt remember), in Ezekiel 16:61, is placed side by side with זכרתּי (I will remember) in Ezekiel 16:60. This shame will seize upon Israel when the establishment of an everlasting covenant is followed by the greater and smaller nations being associated with it in glory, and incorporated into it as children, though they are not of its covenant. The greater and smaller sisters are the greater and smaller nations, as members of the universal family of man, who are to be exalted to the glory of one large family of God. The restoration, which is promised in Ezekiel 16:53 and Ezekiel 16:55 to Sodom and Samaria alone, is expanded here into a prophecy of the reception of all the greater and smaller nations into fellowship in the glory of the people of God. We may see from this that Sodom and Samaria represent the heathen nations generally, as standing outside the Old Testament dispensation: Sodom representing those that were sunk in the deepest moral degradation, and Samaria those that had fallen from the state of grace. The attitude in which these nations stand towards Israel in the everlasting covenant of grace, is defined as the relation of daughters to a mother. If, therefore, Israel, which has been thrust out among the heathen on account of its deep fall, is not to return to its first estate till after the return of Sodom, which has been destroyed, and Samaria, which has been condemned, the election of Israel before all the nations of the earth to be the first-born son of Jehovah will continue unchanged, and Israel will form the stem of the new kingdom of God, into which the heathen nations will be incorporated. The words, "and not of thy covenant," have been taken by most of the commentators in the sense of, "not because thou hast kept the covenant;" but this is certainly incorrect. For even if "thy covenant" really formed an antithesis to "my covenant" (Ezekiel 16:60 and Ezekiel 16:62), "thy covenant" could not possibly signify the fulfilment of thy covenant obligations. The words belong to bânōth (daughters), who are thereby designated as extra-testamental - i.e., as not included in the covenant which God made with Israel, and consequently as having no claim by virtue of that covenant to participate in the glory of the everlasting covenant which is hereafter to be established. - When this covenant has been established, Israel will know that God is Jehovah, the unchangeably true (for the meaning of the name Jehovah, see the commentary on Genesis 2:4); that it may call to mind, sc. both its sinful abominations and the compassionate grace of God, and be so filled with shame and penitence that it will no more venture to open its mouth, either for the purpose of finding excuses for its previous fall, or to murmur against God and His judgments, - namely, when the Lord forgives all its sins by establishing the everlasting covenant, the kernel and essence of which consists in the forgiveness of sins (cf. Jeremiah 31:34). Thus will the experience of forgiving grace complete what judgment has already begun, viz., the transformation of proud and haughty sinners into meek and humble children of God, for whom the kingdom has been prepared from the beginning.

This thought brings the entire prophecy to a close, - a prophecy which embraces the whole of the world's history and the New Testament, the parallel to which is contained in the apostle's words, "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all" (Romans 11:32). - As the punishment threatened to the adulteress, i.e., to the nation of Israel that had despised its God and King, had been fulfilled upon Jerusalem and the Jews, and is in process of fulfilment still, so has the promise also been already fulfilled, so far as its commencement is concerned, though the complete and ultimate fulfilment is only to be expected in time to come. The turning of the captivity, both of Jerusalem and her daughters, and of Samaria and her daughters, commenced with the establishment of the everlasting covenant, i.e., of the covenant made through Christ, and with the reception of the believing portion of Israel in Judaea, Samaria, and Galilee (Acts 8:5., Acts 8:25, Acts 9:31). And the turning of the captivity of Sodom commenced with the spread of the gospel among the heathen, and their entrance into the kingdom of Christ, inasmuch as Sodom with her daughters represents the morally degraded heathen world. Their reception into the kingdom of heaven, founded by Christ on earth, forms the commencement of the return of the forgiven to their first estate on the "restitution of all things," i.e., the restoration of all moral relations to their original normal constitution (compare Acts 3:21 and Meyer's comm. thereon with Matthew 17:11), which will attain its perfection in the παλιγγενεσία, the general restoration of the world to its original glory (compare Matthew 19:28 with Romans 8:18. and 2 Peter 3:13). The prophecy before us in Ezekiel 16:55 clearly points to this final goal. It is true that one might understand the return of Jerusalem and Samaria to their original state, which is predicted here as simply relating to the pardon of the covenant nation, whose apostasy had led to the rejection of both its parts; and this pardon might be sought in its reception into the kingdom of Christ and its restoration as the people of God. In that case the complete fulfilment of our prophecy would take place during the present aeon in the spread of the gospel among all nations, and the conversion of that portion of Israel which still remained hardened after the entrance of the full number of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. But this limitation would be out of harmony with the equality of position assigned to Sodom and her daughters on the one hand, and Samaria and Jerusalem on the other. Though Sodom is not merely a type of the heathen world, the restoration of Sodom and her daughters cannot consist in the reception of the descendants of the cities on which the judgment fell into the kingdom of God or the Christian Church, since the peculiar manner in which those cities were destroyed prevented the possibility of any of the inhabitants remaining alive whose descendants could be converted to Christ and blessed in Him during the present period of the world. On the other hand, the opinion expressed by C. a Lapide, that the restoration of Sodom is to be referred and restricted to the conversion of the descendants of the inhabitants of Zoar, which was spared for Lot's sake, when the other cities of the plain were destroyed, is too much at variance with the words of the passage to allow of our accepting such a solution as this. The turning of the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, i.e., the forgiveness of the inhabitants of Sodom and the other cities of the plain, points beyond the present aeon, and the realization can only take place on the great day of the resurrection of the dead in the persons of the former inhabitants of Sodom and the neighbouring cities. And in the same way the restoration of Samaria and Jerusalem will not be completely fulfilled till after the perfecting of the kingdom of Christ in glory at the last day.

Consequently the prophecy before us goes beyond Romans 11:25., inasmuch as it presents, not to the covenant nation only, but, in Samaria and Sodom, to all the larger and smaller heathen nations also, the prospect of being eventually received into the everlasting kingdom of God; although, in accordance with the main purpose of this prophetic word, namely, to bring the pride of Israel completely down, this is simply hinted at, and no precise intimation is given of the manner in which the predicted apokatastasis will occur. But notwithstanding this indefiniteness, we must not explain away the fact itself by arbitrary expositions, since it is placed beyond all possible doubt by other passages of Scriptures. The words of our Lord in Matthew 10:15 and Matthew 11:24, to the effect that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum and every other city that shall have rejected the preaching of the gospel, teach most indisputably that the way of mercy stands open still even for Sodom itself, and that the judgment which has fallen upon it does not carry with it the final decision with regard to its inhabitants. For Sodom did not put away the perfect revelation of mercy and salvation. If the mighty works which were done in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, it would have stood to the present day (Matthew 11:23). And from this it clearly follows that all the judgments which fell before the time of Christ, instead of carrying with them the final decision, and involving eternal damnation, leave the possibility of eventual pardon open still. The last judgment, which is decisive for eternity, does not take place till after the full revelation of grace and truth in Christ. Not only will the gospel be preached to all nations before the end comes (Matthew 24:14), but even to the dead; to the spirits in prison, who did not believe at the time of Noah, it has been already preached, at the time when Christ went to them in spirit, in order that, although judged according to man's way in the flesh, they might live according to God's way in the spirit (1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:6). What the apostle teaches in the first of these passages concerning the unbelievers before the flood, and affirms in the second concerning the dead in general, is equally applicable according to our prophecy to the Sodomites who were judged after man's way in the flesh, and indeed generally to all heathen nations who either lived before Christ or departed from this earthly life without having heard the gospel preached. - It is according to these distinct utterances of the New Testament that the prophecy before us respecting the apokatastasis of Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem is to be interpreted; and this is not to be confounded with the heretical doctrine of the restoration, i.e., the ultimate salvation of all the ungodly, and even of the devil himself. If the preaching of the gospel precedes the last judgment, the final sentence in the judgment will be regulated by the attitude assumed towards the gospel by both the living and the dead. All souls that obstinately reject it and harden themselves in unbelief, will be given up to everlasting damnation. The reason why the conversion of Sodom and Samaria is not expressly mentioned, is to be found in the general tendency of the promise, in which the simple fact is announced without the intermediate circumstances, for the purpose of humbling Jerusalem. The conversion of Jerusalem also is not definitely stated to be the condition of pardon, but this is assumed as well known from the words of Leviticus 26, and is simply implied in the repeated assertion that Jerusalem will be seized with the deepest shame on account of the pardon which she receives.

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