And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell on my face, and cried, and said…
And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, etc. This intercession helps us to understand why the Lord showed to Ezekiel the secret abominations of the people, and called upon him to consider them (Ezekiel 8:7-12). In dealing with that vision, we suggested that he was called upon to consider it in order that he might be qualified to estimate correctly the righteousness of God's treatment of the wicked. To know the extent and enormity of their sins was necessary to enable him to acquiesce in the Divine judgments with which they were about to be visited. That necessity is made manifest by the fact that, now that the prophet beholds the execution of those judgments, he cries to God to abate their severity, and has to be reminded again of the many and heinous sins of the house of Israel and Judah. Consider -
I. THE AFFECTING INTERCESSION OF THE PROPHET. (Ver. 8.) In vision the work of slaughter in the temple is finished, and the angels of judgment have gone forth to slay in the city, leaving Ezekiel alone "in the court of the priests of the temple;" then he "fell upon his face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?" This intercession:
1. Arose from deep feeling. "I fell upon my face, and cried." Falling upon the face in prayer is indicative of great humiliation and grief, as may be seen from several examples (cf. Numbers 14:5; Numbers 16:4, 22; Numbers 20:6; Joshua 7:6). And our Lord, when his "soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death .... fell on his face, and prayed." So the soul of Ezekiel was intensely stirred as he beheld in vision the terrible slaughter of the sinful people. It may be a prophet's stern task to denounce the awful judgments of the Most High; but he will be deeply moved because of those judgments. The miseries of even the most guilty sinners will affect his heart with grief; and this feeling will lead him to intercede with God on behalf of the sinful and suffering people. Deep feeling prompts to earnest prayer.
2. Presented an earnest appeal. "Ah, Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?" But had it not been shown unto Ezekiel that certain persons were to have a mark set upon their foreheads, and were to be spared in the general slaughter? "That his question is not hindered by his having heard of the pious being spared shows either his fear in this respect, that in Jerusalem there will he nothing at all to be spared, or that the sparing in comparison with the destruction does not at all come into consideration" (Schroder). Almost every word in this appeal is weighty. "Ah, Lord Jehovah! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel?" Thou who didst enter into covenant with them, and didst say, "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me;" wilt thou fail in thy promises, and break thy covenant? "Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel?" Thou didst say, "If his children forsake my Law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes; nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail;" and wilt thou now destroy them? Will it not suffice for thee to visit them with the sharp rod and with the searching stripes of thy chastisement? "Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel? They have slain all that were in and about the temple, and have gone forth to stay in the city, and thou didst say unto me, Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword" (Ezekiel 6:8); and wilt thou make an utter end, leaving no remnant, but slaying all? Thus earnestly and powerfully does the prophet appeal to the Lord on behalf of he doomed people.
II. THE CONDESCENDING ANSWER OF GOD TO THE PROPHET. (Vers. 9, 10.) The Lord graciously responds to the intercession of his servant; and in this response we have:
1. A declaration of the great wickedness of the people. (Ver. 9.)
(1) Here are some forms of their wickedness. "The land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness;" or, as in the margin, "wresting of judgment." Cruelty and injustice abounded. They had "filled the land with violence" (Ezekiel 8:17).
(2) Here is the root of their wickedness: "They say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not." (We have noticed these words in Ezekiel 8:12.) They were practically atheistic, denying the Divine interest in and observation of human life. "The source of all transgression," says Michaelis, "is the denial of the providence of God."
2. A declaration of his determination to fully execute his judgments. "And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity." (See our notes on these words in Ezekiel 7:4.)
3. A declaration of the retributory character of his judgments. "I will recompense their way upon their head." This relation of judgment and sin is more fully stated in Ezekiel 7:3, 4 (see our notes there). The Prophet Obadiah also declares this truth: "As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head."
CONCLUSION. The answer of the Lord to the intercession of the prophet sheds encouraging light upon his treatment of our wavers to him. We learn that we have liberty of approach to him. We may talk with him of his judgments; and he will not resent it as if it were presumptuous on our part. We may rather rest assured that he will graciously respond to our appeals. He will reply even to our "wild and wandering cries" to him. But he will not always grant our requests either for ourselves or for others. He loves us too much and too wisely so to do. - W.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
WEB: It happened, while they were smiting, and I was left, that I fell on my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord Yahweh! will you destroy all the residue of Israel in your pouring out of your wrath on Jerusalem?