He cried also in my ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near…
As among men there are magistrates' sessions as well as the great assizes, so also God has seasons for the local administration of justice, as well as the final judgment. In fact, God is always upon his judicial seat, always meting out justice to the various orders of his creatures. If he ceased to judge, he would cease to rule.
I. MARK THE SUPREMACY OF GOD'S JUDICIAL VOICE. The last chapter finished with the declaration, "Though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them;" this chapter begins with the statement, "He cried in mine ears with a loud voice."
1. The season for prayer was exhausted. Examination of Israel's case had terminated. The verdict had passed, and nothing now remained but execution. Prayer on the part of the condemned, at this point, would be merely a selfish thing. It would bring no good. It would be out of harmony with God's plans and with righteous law.
2. The voice of God subjugates and overpowers all other voices. It is a voice of creation: "He spake, and it was done." It is a voice of life: "Awake thou that sleepest!" It is a voice of judicial destruction: "Depart, ye cursed, into outer darkness!" The voice that Ezekiel heard was a loud voice. The prophet could not question its reality nor mistake its utterance. It overcame the prophet's unwillingness to hear judgment pronounced. It drowned all dissentient voices. Nothing was heard save this. "The voice of the Lord shaketh the mountains."
II. GOD'S SERVANTS ARE FOUND AMONG ALL ORDERS OF CREATURES. This earth is not an isolated kingdom; it is a province of God's great realm. The persons hers summoned to appear for the execution of Jehovah's will are, without doubt, angels, though to the prophet's vision they seemed in form like men. As we read of angels who are appointed the guardians of little children, so we learn that certain angels are ordained guardians of cities and nations. To Daniel the angel spake of "Michael, your prince" - "the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people." The history of the Hebrew people is full of instances in which the angels of God were despatched either for the rescue or for the destruction of men. The Most High is unchangeable; and inasmuch as a destroying angel had executed God's vengeance on the idolators of Egypt, so now angels are employed to slay the idolaters in Israel. Yet there is singular economy in all God's arrangements. The number of these officers of justice was six, so that one might issue from each of the six gates of the city. The ministers of vengeance shall neither be too many nor too few. Eventually the Chaldean armies should he God's agents in the punishment of the Hebrews; still, these would act under the generalship of the heavenly principalities and powers.
III. THE WORK OF JUSTICE PROCEEDS SIDE BY SIDE WITH THAT OF MERCY. Along with the six officers appointed to destroy was one differently clad, whose work was to save. His clothing was the attire of peace - white linen - i.e. the dress of a true priest. Against six destroyers there was one protector, which denoted how few was the number of the faithful. They were to have a distinguishing mark in the most conspicuous place - in their foreheads. The owner of the flock will take care to put his own sign-manual on his sheep. "The Lord knoweth them that are his." In every time of trouble "he has hidden them in his pavilion - in the secret of his tabernacle will he hide them." Noah and his family in the ark; Lot and his daughters in Zoar; the early Christians sale in Pella when Jerusalem was destroyed; - these are evidences of God's special care of his chosen. He accounts them his jewels, and in times of danger holds them in the hollow of his hand. Not only had they not connived at the idolatry, but their souls were distressed on account of it. They had besought with tears their brethren to desist from the evil thing. Their holy zeal shall have a conspicuous reward.
IV. GOD'S SERVANTS HAVE LIKE DISPOSITIONS WITH HIMSELF. God had described the emotions and purposes of his mind thus: "Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity." And now he requires his officers to cherish the selfsame sentiments: "Lot not your eye spare, neither have ye pity." To be a servant of God, and the executioner of his will, we must be like minded with himself. Only such does God employ on work of high importance. Eye and heart must be as God's. Following the tendencies of natural temperament, some servants of God would be too lenient, some too harsh. In such matters we must be sure that we arc doing God's will, not indulging our own. Private spleen, and merely natural bias, must be completely repressed. Our feeling and temper and will must be chastened by almighty grace, in order that we may be the servants of God. His will must find a full response in our will.
V. RETRIBUTION IS EQUITABLE AND COMPLETE. There is no miscarriage of justice in God's court, and in his retributions there is no excess. The equity of the destruction is seen in that it begins at the sanctuary. The ringleaders in rebellion shall be foremost in the punishment. That sacred place is sacred no longer. God has withdrawn his presence; therefore all privilege is extinguished. It had been a sanctuary for the oppressed, for the unfortunate, for the fugitive in war; but it shall be no refuge for rebels defiant against God - no refuge for sin. Mere sentiment about the traditional sacredness of the place must yield to sterner virtues - must yield to practical and primitive righteousness. Better that every sanctuary of religion be defiled with bloodshed, than that they be nests of immorality, cesspools of vice! If the reality be gone, it is a common injury to maintain the appearance. And God's retributions will be complete. They will spare none. We may hesitate respecting the justice of destroying "little children;" yet we can repose confidently on the bosom of the eternal Father, and say, "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" To our limited view the administration of supreme justice may sometimes be veiled in "clouds and darkness;" but we can afford to wait the fuller disclosures of the truth. "What we know not now, we shall know hereafter." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.