Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man on whom is the mark…
The vision which Ezekiel saw, and which brought vividly before his mind the moral state of his country's metropolis, contained no feature more painful than the representation of the idolatry prevailing in the very precincts of the temple itself. He saw twenty-five men, apparently representing the priesthood, turning their backs towards the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east, and worshipping the rising sun. Upon these, as the most flagrant and inexcusable offenders, the righteous retribution first fell. Those most highly privileged are by that very fact most evidently responsible; and unfaithfulness upon their part deserves and will receive sorer condemnation.
I. THOSE SPECIALLY EMPLOYED IN RELIGIOUS SERVICES ARE SPECIALLY BOUND TO WATCHFULNESS, SENSITIVENESS, AND ACTIVITY IN THE PRESENCE OF MORAL ABOMINATIONS. A profession of religion, much more occupation in the ministrations of religion, imposes a peculiar responsibility; for religion is essentially in antagonism to error, to superstition, and to vice. Yet there have been periods in which ministers even of the true religion have been lax in their own conduct, and have connived at prevailing error. There is an obligation on the part of every one who, by reason of office, employment, and public position, is a representative of Christianity, to aim at the prevalence of Christian principles throughout the community.
II. THOSE WHO, BEING PROFESSEDLY MINISTERS OF RELIGION, ARE YET NEGLIGENT AND INDIFFERENT IN THE PRESENCE OF FLAGRANT SIN, ARE IN A SPECIAL MANNER OBJECTS OF DIVINE DISPLEASURE. It is not only in privilege and blessing that the sanctuary takes precedence. Unfaithfulness there is observed and reprehended as sin of the first magnitude. Retribution begins at the sanctuary. How should they be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord! God is indeed forbearing towards the failings and infirmities of his true servants. But the insincere and hypocritical are the objects of Divine aversion; those of such character who occupy positions of prominence and influence are regarded as abusing their position and as forfeiting all claim to confidence.
III. THE UNFAITHFUL IN THE SANCTUARY ARE THE FIRST TO FEEL THE NATION'S CHASTISEMENT. There is a well known proverb, "Like priest, like people." A corrupt clergy encourages national degeneration. And when such degeneration issues in national calamity and destruction, it is but just that these who have fostered evil principles should be the first to suffer. This has happened again and again in the world's history. Those who should have led the people aright, who should have enjoyed the people's confidence and esteem, have too often been the agents in their deterioration; and when the time of trial has come, they have lust their influence, forfeited the position they abused, and paid for their unfaithfulness with the ruin of their reputation, and even with the loss of their life. The destruction which has involved a nation has begun at the sanctuary. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.
WEB: kill utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but don't come near any man on whom is the mark: and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the old men that were before the house.