And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month…
It is evident that Ezekiel held a position of honour and of some kind of moral authority among his fellow captives. Although he was not given to prophesying smooth things, his countrymen still resorted to him, evincing a certain confidence in his mission. On the occasion here described, an application made to the prophet was upon Divine authority rejected - with reason given. So unusual an incident leads to further consideration.
I. MAN'S NEED OF A DIVINE ORACLE. The elders of Israel may be taken as representatives of mankind generally. They approached the prophet in order to inquire of the Lord. And in this they were right.
1. For human ignorance needs Divine enlightenment and teaching.
2. Human uncertainty and perplexity need Divine guidance, wise and authoritative.
3. Human sinfulness, clouding, as it does, the spiritual vision, needs authoritative precept as to the path of duty.
4. Human fear and foreboding need the consolation of Divine kindness and the promise of Divine support.
II. GOD'S WILLINGNESS TO REPLY FULLY AND GRACIOUSLY TO THE APPLICATION OF EARNEST INQUIRERS. if there is one lesson more than another inculcated with frequency and constancy in the pages of Scripture, it is this - that the eternal Father is accessible to his children, that there is no need which they can bring unto him which he is not ready to supply from his infinite fulness and according to his infinite compassion. Revelation itself is a proof of this. The commission given to prophets and apostles was with a view to a suitable and sufficient response to the inquiries of men. The supreme Gift of God, his own Son, is just a provision intended to meet the wants, the deep spiritual cravings, of the human heart; he is "God with us." To question God's willingness to receive those who inquire of him is to cast a doubt upon the genuine: hess of the economies alike of the Law and of the gospel.
III. THE MORAL CONDITIONS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY IN ORDER TO RECEIVING A RESPONSE FROM THE ORACLE OF GOD. Two such conditions may especially be mentioned.
1. Teachableness and humility; the disposition of the little child, without which none can enter the kingdom of heaven; the new birth, which is the entrance upon the new life.
2. Repentance. Whilst living in sin and loving sin men cannot receive the righteousness, the blessing, which the heavenly Father waits to bestow. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God." Sin is as a cloud which hides the sunlight from shining upon the soul; it is like certain conditions of atmosphere, it hinders the sound of God's voice from reaching the spiritual ear. This is the action, not of arbitrary will, but of moral law.
IV. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS TO BE LEARNT BY APPLICANTS.
1. Here, many, in the same position as that occupied by the elders of Israel who came to Ezekiel, may learn the reason of their rejection. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you!"
2. Here all suppliants may learn a lesson of encouragement. It is not in God's ill will that the obstacle to our reception is to be sought; lot there is no ill wilt in him. "Wash you, make you clean!" Draw near with a sense of need, with confessions of unworthiness, with requests based upon the revealed loving kindness of the heavenly Father; draw near in the name of him who has himself shown the vastness of the obstacle of sin, and who has himself removed that obstacle; and be assured of a gracious reception and a free and sufficient response. In Christ, the Eternal addresses the sons of men, saying, "Seek ye my face!" and in Christ the lowly and penitent may approach the throne of grace with the exclamation, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek!" - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.