Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD'S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.
In trying to understand the great promise of the text, note—
I. The idea of asylum and protection. "I will be as a little sanctuary." "I will be the shield and protector and sure refuge of trusting souls." Is not this what every awakened soul needs and seeks? Some safe, sure refuge from all that threatens, afflicts, alarms; from the thunders, loud or deep, of broken law; from the accusations of conscience, from the troubles of life, from the terrors of death—asylum from them all? A true and real relief in all soul-trouble—in anything that agitates a man's deepest consciousness; in anything that touches the health, and so the safety of the soul, can be found only in one way—by moving Godwards, and entering, although it may be at first with fear and trembling, into the built and open sanctuary of His presence.
II. A sanctuary means, also, at least in the nomenclature of the Scriptures, a place of purification, where we may wash and be clean; and may so avail ourselves of the helps to goodness which are provided, that the rest of our time may be pure and holy. Our very words tell us this. "Sanctity;" "sanctification"—a sanctuary is not equal to its name if it does not promote these. Safety is a poor, even a mean, thing, if it be indeed conceivable, without purity.
III. A further idea in the word sanctuary is the idea of nourishment. A hospice for the entertainment of strangers, or any hospitable house, is never without bread. And will not God feed His refugees? Will He be a little sanctuary in which they may die? On His table there is bread enough and to spare.
IV. This is a text (1) for all our changes of place, for our journeys, for our absences. It is a text to take round the world with us if we are going. "I will be to them as a little sanctuary—" where?—"in the countries where they shall come." (2) In all states. For all times and for all troubles and for all needs, there is a present, gracious God, with all His grace also present, to heal, to help, to love unto the end.
A. Raleigh, The Little Sanctuary, p. 1.
References: Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 11:20.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 156. Ezekiel 11:21.—G. Gilfillan, The Dundee Pulpit, p. 161. Ezekiel 12:6.—J. M. Whiton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxx., p. 166. Ezekiel 12:27.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx., No. 1164. Ezekiel 13:7.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xi., p. 143. Ezekiel 13:10.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 158. Ezekiel 13:10, Ezekiel 13:11.—C. J. Thompson, Penny Pulpit, No. 675; J. Baines, Sermons, p. 201. Ezekiel 13:10-12.—Spurgeon, Ibid., vol. xiv., No. 816.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:
Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.
Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.
And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.
Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.
Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.
And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:
And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.
And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?
Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.
Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.
And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.
And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.
Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.
Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.
Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.