And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,…
The subject matter of this prophecy is substantially the same as the foregoing. The parable is now put into plainest language. There is an advantage in using the parable method. It awakens attention. It leads men to examine and reflect. There is an excitement in discovering a riddle. Yet God will speak also to men in language plain enough tot the simplest understanding. No lost man is able to cast any blame on our God. We have "line upon line, precept upon precept."
I. THE SCENE OF DIVINE DESTRUCTION. God's righteous anger is directed against the Holy Land, the holy places, the temple itself. Kings and priests alike are doomed. Traditional eminence and renown are impotent as a defence Against just retribution. God is no respecter of persons. Sin is equally detestable in an Israelite as in an Egyptian, and will be punished with equal severity. Oat of regard for a good man, God may employ a different method - more patience, perhaps - in dealing with his son; yet, in the end, there will not be the deviation of a hair's breadth from righteous principle. No man can cloak himself with privilege.
II. GOD'S VENGEANCE IRRESISTIBLE. "I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that their heart may faint." As Samson lifted off the gates of Gaza from their hinges, much more can Samson's Creator pierce with his sword gates of brass and fortresses of iron. Who can withstand his thunderbolts? Who can raise a defence against his lightning? "Every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble." Did the antediluvians stop the rising of the Deluge? Could the families of Egypt protect their firstborn against the angel of destruction? Had the dwellers in Pompeii any power to prevent the overthrow of their city? How vain and impotent are men in league against an avenging God!
III. GOD'S VENGEANCE IS THOROUGH IS ITS ACTION. "I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked." Man's estimate of righteousness and God's estimate differ widely. In a nation every variety of character will be found, and sin will exist in every shade and gradation. In comparison with the blackest characters some will appear righteous who are only less tainted with sin. These are the so called righteous. In the very nature of things God will not and cannot treat alike the righteous and the wicked. The truth, then, set before us here is this - that the whole nation was corrupt, yea, ripe for slaughter. So few were the righteous, as to be left out in this graphic and impressive description. The scourge should sweep through the land, and penetrate every secret place.
IV. GOD'S VENGEANCE, THOUGH APPARENTLY, NOT REALLY, INDISCRIMINATE. Outwardly the same calamity may befall the righteous and the wicked, while the real and inward effect differs widely. The same sentence of death will send the righteous to their heavenly rest, the wicked to their final doom. The sun that hardens clay, melts wax. The storm that sends a leaky ship to the bottom, drives faster home the tight and gallant hark. The scourge that kills the wicked, only chastens the righteous. The furnace that destroys the alloy, refines the silver. To the few righteous this visitation of God "is a trial" (ver. 13). The rod had not been severe enough, therefore the sword came. No ill can befall the righteous. Death is ours. "To die is gain."
V. DIVINE AND HUMAN COOPERATION. This sword, which was sharpened to destroy, was no less God's sword, though it was wielded by the captains of Babylon, The prophet had his part to take. The king and statesmen of Babylon - yea, even the rank and file of the army - had their part to take, with God, in the execution of his just fury. The prophet is directed (ver. 14) "to smite his hands together" - a matter of fact prophecy of the coming event - the sign to summon the great army. And (in ver. 17) God describes himself as about to do the same act: "I will also smite mine hands together." Men are often called to act in God's stead - as God's delegates.
VI. DIVINE ADMONITIONS, THROUGH MEN, MUST BE DELIVERED WITH DEEP EMOTION. "Sigh therefore, son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes." If it be possible, on our part, to impress our fellow, men with the reality and severity of God's judgments, we must do our utmost to arouse earnest repentance, or we incur grave responsibility. God has constituted human nature so that strong emotion in the preacher, seemingly manifested, awakens strong emotion in the hearers. Men everywhere are susceptible of influence from a superior or a holier man. Nothing God allows us to omit which may serve to lead our fellows to repentance. We must make it clear that the events of coming retribution adequately impress our own minds; then, and then only, shall we arouse attention, promote inquiry, and lead to reflection, self-examination, and return to God. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,