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Ezekiel 5:5-6

5. Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.

5. Sic dicit Dominator Iehoyah, Haec est Hierusalem, in medio gentium, posui eam, et in circuitu ejus terras.

6. And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.

6. Et mutavit judicia mea ad impietatem 111111     Or, “she has transgressed my judgments or been rebellious. מרה, mereh, properly signifies was rebellious against my judgments.” — Calvin. prae cunctis gentibus: et statuta mea 112112     Or, “was rebellious against my statutes.” — Calvin prae terris quae in circuitu ejus: judicia mea spreverunt et in statutis meis non ambulaverunt.

 

Now God shows the reason why he determined to act so severely and harshly towards that holy city which he had selected as the royal residence. For the greater the benefits with which he had adorned the city, by so much the baser and grosser was their ingratitude. God recounts, therefore, his benefits towards Jerusalem, and that for the sake of reproving it. For if the Jews had embraced the blessing of God, doubtless he would have enriched them more and more with his gifts: but when he saw that they rejected his favors, he was the more angry with their indignity. For contempt of God’s benefits is a kind of profanation and sacrilege. Now, therefore, we understand the intention of the Holy Spirit when he says, that Jerusalem was placed as it were on a lofty platform, that its dignity might be conspicuous on all sides. This is not said in praise of Jerusalem, but rather to its greatest disgrace, because whatever the Lord had conferred upon it ought to be taken into account, since they had so unworthily corrupted themselves and had polluted God’s glory as it were on purpose. As to its being said, that Jerusalem was in the midst of the nations,(Psalm 74:12,) I do not take this so precisely as Jerome and most others. For they fancy that Jerusalem was the center of the earth, and he twists other places also into this sense: where God is said to have worked salvation to the midst of the earth, he explains it the very middle, as they say. But that is in my judgment puerile, because the Prophet simply means that Jerusalem was placed in the most celebrated part of the world: it had on all sides the most noble nations and very rich, as is well known, and was not far distant from the Mediterranean Sea: on one side it was opposite to Asia Minor: then it had Egypt for a neighbor, and Babylon on the north. This is the genuine sense of the Prophet, that Jerusalem was endued with remarkable nobility among other nations, as if God had placed it in the highest rank. There is no city which has not nations and lands round it, but God here names lands and nations par excellence, not any whatsoever, but those only which excelled in fruitfulness, in opulence, and all advantages. And the demonstrative pronoun is emphatic when he says, This is Jerusalem: for he extols the city with magnificent praises, that its ingratitude may appear the greater — hence it was placed in the midst of the nations and of countries round about it: because it was surrounded by many opulent regions, and there the grace of God was chiefly displayed, as if it were the most beautiful part of a theater, which attracted all eyes towards it, and moved all minds to admiration.

He now adds, My judgments are changed concerning the word מרה, mereh, I said that it signifies sometimes to change, but oftener to transgress or to reject, and there the sense suits very well, because the Jews were rebellious against the judgments of God even to impiety. But he enlarges upon their wickedness when he says, my statutes have been despised since they so addicted themselves to impiety. For if there had been any pretext of virtue, their fault might have been extenuated, but when they cast themselves into gross impiety, and thus despise God’s commandments, this is inexcusable. Let us learn from this passage, that unless we use God’s blessings with purity the charge of ingratitude will always lie against us: for whatever God bestows upon us, he sanctifies as well to our salvation as to the glory of his name. We are then sacrilegious when we corrupt those things which were destined for his glory; then are we utterly perverse when we convert to our destruction what God has appointed for our salvation. Now we must consider the ingratitude of Jerusalem as flagrant, because they rejected the commandments of God. When therefore God deposits among us the treasure of celestial doctrine, we must diligently take care that we do not turn aside to impiety, because there is no excuse for error when once we have been taught what is right, and that from the mouth of God himself. Then he declares the same sentiment in other words, and says, beyond all nations and all lands which were round about; by which sentence he signifies that the Jews; were worse than all the rest, because knowingly and willingly they had shaken off God’s yoke. Other nations had not conducted themselves better, for we know that the worship of God was then everywhere vitiated: but the impiety of the elect people was fouler, for they turned light into darkness, while the Gentiles wandered in darkness for they were blind, but the conduct of this people was different whom God had familiarly instructed. Since therefore the teaching of the law was conspicuous among the Jews, the Prophet deservedly says, that they were impious beyond all nations and countries Then he explains how they had either changed the judgment of God, or were themselves rebellious, because they had despised, says he, my judgments, and had not walked in my statutes First, he says, they had not fallen through ignorance but through pride and contempt; for when the will of God is made known to us, there is no place for ignorance. We do not sin lightly therefore, but our minds are necessarily infected with pride and contempt of God. Now he adds, that they did not walk in his precepts, by which words he signifies that the contempt just mentioned appeared openly, because in truth the fruit showed itself in their whole life. It follows —


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