As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did as you and your daughters have done.
I. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ANOTHER'S FALL. In the case of Israel it might have been seen in a parent's disaster and doom. For their idolatries, and the vices bred of idolatry, the Amorites and Hittites were swept out of the land; yea, swept out by the sword of Israel. They had seen the judgments which God had brought upon idolatry. It was a fact indissolubly linked with their own history. For them to fall into the same sin is inexplicable; it is the climax of depravity.
II. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF PRIVILEGE. The Hebrews had seen the result of idolatry in the sister kingdom of Samaria. The calves erected at Dan and Bethel had not availed to save Israel from defeat and ruin. They in Judaea had greater privilege. The visible presence of Jehovah was in their holy of holies. They had the priesthood and the daily sacrifice and the smoking altar of incense in their midst. If some kind of excuse could be framed on behalf of Israel's lapse, no such excuse could be framed for Judah. They knew the better course, yet they chose the worse.
III. SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF REPEATED WARNING. The disaster which fell upon Samaria and upon Sodom was in the nature of warning to them. It was the clearest warning, written in largest characters. Beside these matter of fact warnings, they were rebuked by a succession of messengers from God. The sin which was great prior to Samaria's fall was greater still after that fall. To continue in sin after repeated warning is to contract fresh sin. Contumely and insubordination are now added. Warning despised is itself a sin.
IV. THE MEASURE OF SIN IS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF ITS INJURIOUS INFLUENCE ON OTHERS. The inhabitants of Jerusalem had encouraged others to commit idolatry. Other peoples were cloaking themselves under Israel's name. All sin (like some diseases) is terribly contagious. The Jews were inducing others to say, "Well, if these sticklers for an invisible God betake themselves to idols, there must be a reason. Their Jehovah must have failed them. After all, idolatry must be at least permissible." "Thou hast justified thy sisters in all thine abomination."
V. THE DOOM OF SIN MAY BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S CONSISTENT JUSTICE. "When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate... then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate." God has not one tribunal for the Jews and another for the Canaanites. Out of one statute book all shall be alike judged. Human conduct in every land and in every age shall be measured by one standard rule. As God has dealt with transgressors in former ages, so assuredly will he deal with transgressors in times to come. Other things may change, but God and law and righteousness never. - D.
Pride, fulness of head, and abundance of idleness.1. We must be on our guard against the suggestions of pride and self-complacency, by endeavouring to form as humble an estimate as possible of our own powers and works. We cannot better the world but by bettering ourselves. We cannot put down the pride of the generation in which we live, but we can mortify our own.
2. In regard of that danger which arises to the soul from living in plenty and abundance, we can regulate ourselves in our use of meats and drinks and personal indulgence, practising at certain times a holy moderation and abstinence, that we be not overcome of such delights. And as a safeguard to ourselves in this matter, let us remember the poor. It may be said that in our nation no sooner is a case of real suffering made public than contributions flow in on all sides; and yet do our public prints reveal, almost daily, abuses of the very law by which we provide for poor and indigent persons, which ought to bring to our remembrance more keenly than it does that cumulative sin of Sodom and her daughters, "Neither did she strengthen the hands of the poor and needy."
3. In regard of the disposition to abundance of idleness, which is increasing, I believe, daily, to which all the incidents of our national prosperity minister, and which must in the end issue in the disturbance of our tranquillity, it is not that you here can do anything to stem that torrent of self-indulgence which is flowing in upon us, especially in the lowest orders, whose tastes are the coarsest, and whose wills through ignorance are the most perverse; but you can resist the tendency to it in yourselves; you can endure this hardness at least, of girding up your loins to do the work which God has appointed for you in the world, as men who believe that it is their duty, required of them by the laws of true religion and sound morality.
(T. L. Claughton, M. A.)
(R. A. Bertram.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( Manton.)It is in our prosperity that we are tested. Men are not fully discovered to themselves till they are tried by fulness of success. Praise finds out the leak of pride, wealth reveals the flaw of selfishness, and learning discovers the leak of unbelief. David's besetting sin was little seen in the tracks of the wild goats, but it became conspicuous upon the terraces of his palace. Success is the crucible of character. Hence the prosperity which some welcome as an unmixed favour may far more rightly be regarded as an intense form of test illustrations and meditations.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)I. THE SINFULNESS AND DANGER OF PRIDE.
1. Pride is, as far as we know, the first sin that ever was committed. It seems to have been the leading transgression in the defection of fallen angels.
4. Pride is a destructive sin. It is a presage of the ruin of those in whom it reigns (Proverbs 16:18). It produces shame (Proverbs 11:2). Sodom (Genesis 19:24, 25). Haughty Pharaoh and his hosts (Exodus 14. 27, 28). Haman (Esther 7:10). Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:32, 33). Herod (Acts 12:23).
II. SOME REMEDIES AGAINST IT.
1. Endeavour to acquire the knowledge of your own meanness and sinfulness, and of the holiness and majesty of God; for by comparing yourselves with Him you will sink into nothing in your own esteem.
2. Be persuaded of the excellency of humility, the grace opposite to pride, and "be clothed with it" (1 Peter 5:5).
3. Consider well the examples of humility set before you in the sacred Scriptures. Abraham, Jacob, David, Agur, Paul, and many others; yea, the holy angels fall down before the throne in lowest adoration; but, above all, the example of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5).
4. Understand that all your natural and acquired abilities are the gifts of God. Talents intrusted to your care and management (1 Corinthians 4:7).
(Pulpit Assistant.)I. IDLERS ARE GENERALLY CARELESS. It is said that a stitch in time saves nine. But the idler seldom takes the stitch in time. He is careless in his habits, careless over his soul, and careless about everything. An idle man thinks any way of doing a thing will do if it gets done. He has not sufficient interest to take pains with his work. Whatever you do for Christ, do it well; because God sees your work. He not only looks on the work of stupendous magnitude which is being done by an angel; but He also sees you at your post of deacon and helper and teacher and visitor.
II. IDLERS ARE OFTEN SINFUL. Experience proves this. An English proverb tells us that, "An idle brain is the devil's workshop," — and it is confirmed by an old Latin proverb, which says, "Evil thoughts intrude in an unemployed mind as naturally as worms generate in a stagnant pond." Let me show how idle Christians become sinful. You join a church, but that is all you do for Christ; you never speak a word to the perishing, never visit the sick. Your soul is an empty spiritual house, which the devil uses as a purified workshop where he invents sinful thoughts and wicked actions.
III. IDLERS ARE ALWAYS MISERABLE. Another old English proverb tells us that, "The used key is always bright." But the key which hangs on the nail soon becomes rusted. And your soul will soon rust unless you employ it in good work. Do not allow yourself to be even for only half an hour without finding something useful to do.
IV. IDLERS SOON TIRE OF WORK. Some people only pray when they are compelled by misfortune. They soon tire of what is to them the task of prayer. An idle prayer gets nothing; it is like a rusted sword.
V. IDLERS ALWAYS MEAN WELL.
VI. IDLERS ARE OFTEN OF A KINDLY DISPOSITION. They are too lazy to be angry. But they are always ready to do a good turn, if it does not last too long. Christians belong to a life-saving institution. What would you think of the lifeboat men if they sat smoking their pipes the shore when there was a wreck crowded with human beings at the entrance of the harbour? Christians, there are human wrecks about! Come to the rescue!
1. If we look up to the great Creator, as to the source of all perfections, and contemplate His wisdom and His goodness in His works, we shall find that no living example of Idleness or inactivity is ordained by His Providence. All seem "working together," and gradually fulfilling some wise and beneficent purpose, which He has appointed. While the face of nature presents us with this general scene of action, shall man remain, in contradiction to the will of heaven, in the rest and sloth of Idleness? Nothing could degrade him more in that scale of being in which he was intended to hold so distinguished a rank. There are active duties allotted to every human being; and the fulfilling of them with cheerfulness and diligence should form no inconsiderable portion of our happiness. While some are assiduously providing for their own household, by following their respective avocations, others may be engaged in laudable attempts to extend the boundaries of science, and to increase the comforts of social life; — while many are anxiously employed in protecting the helplessness of infancy, and in forming the manners of childhood, a few, whom fortune has placed above these humble duties, might fill the offices of state with advantage; and, by their industry, their virtues, and their wisdom, greatly contribute to the general welfare.
2. In a state of indolence are engendered many evils and many sorrows. Among the lower classes of the community Idleness is productive of misery and guilt in every varied form. The ties of every duty, indeed, will be but slightly felt by him who gives himself up to Idleness. His predominant vice gradually undermines his principles, and spreads licentiousness through his character. If a man of this description have a family, all bred up under the contagious influence of his vices, it is impossible to tell how far and wide the stream of corruption will spread. So much is Idleness to be dreaded in its consequences when it infects the poor. If we consider those of middle life, who might be said to possess the object of Agur's prayer, and to have "neither poverty nor riches," we shall perceive the same vice diffusing its miseries. Under the pleasing delusion of comfort and of ease we may observe some quitting the active scenes of life, which habit had rendered familiar, and almost natural, in pursuit of happiness in retirement. But it is not every mind that is formed or prepared for the enjoyment of solitude. A languid discontent and a peevish neglect of ordinary comforts soon lead to sensuality and excess of every kind. Self-indulgence is the last idol of the heart; and the short remnant of life is often divided between the feebleness or pain of disease and the stupors of intoxication. To those who may not be in danger of gross and sensual vices, Idleness still brings with it distresses that ought to be dreaded. If temptation from the body should be resisted, it seldom fails to fasten on the mind. The human frame is so constituted as to require frequent alternations of action and of rest. The animal functions cannot be properly performed without them; and how these affect the mind is well known. It may be remarked, however, that even excess of labour is not so injurious as excess of ease. Idleness, indeed, completely disqualifies us for every rational enjoyment. One chief pleasure in human life is the blessing of repose after fatigue; or the relaxation of amusements, either solitary or social, after labour. But these, to the idle, are like food to one whose appetite is already cloyed.
3. Let me earnestly exhort you, therefore, to guard against a vice, whose pernicious influence is so extensive, and whose consequences ought to be so much dreaded. Whatever be your situation, reason and religion will point out to you some scheme of duties appropriated to it, which it should be at once your interest and pleasure to fulfil. Life abounds also with such frequent opportunities of doing good, or improving time, that no part of the small portion which remains should be squandered away in trifles; for, next to the vice of Idleness, is that of employing time amiss. It is fortunate, indeed, for the generality, that many of the active duties are forced on them by necessity: for those who have it in their power to do what they please, always do the least; and soon find the ardour of voluntary pursuits gradually subside, till it is wholly lost in a passion for pleasure, or the love of ease.
(J. Hewlett, B. D.)
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