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Ezekiel 14:8

8. And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

8. Et penam ficiem meam in viro illo, 4343     Or, “upon that man.” — Calvin. et ponam illum 4444     Some translate, “I will destroy him,” changing the point from left to right; but the reading, “I will place him,” is better. — Calvin. Calvin’s meaning is, that by altering the point over the Hebrew letter the meaning of the word is changed: in this and in the previous verses, Calvin prefers the reading of our authorized version. in signum et proverbia et excidem eum e medio populi mei: et cognoscetis quod ego Iehovah.

 

Here God adds, that the execution of his wrath would be ready when the prophet had denounced it. For profane men always fabricate for themselves empty treaties, and when God threatens they say that it is only thunder without lightning. Since the prophetic threats moved the reprobate either nothing or but little, so God now shows that he would not only answer what they did not wish to hear, but they should perceive by its effect how truly he had spoken. And this ought to be understood from the last sentence; for when God answers by himself, he neither is nor strikes the air with threatening words, but denounces what he determined to fulfill and accomplish in his own time. For God never answers in himself without joining the effect with the prophecy. But hypocrites are too stupid to acknowledge this, unless a clearer explanation was afforded. This then is the reason why the Prophet brings a message respecting the effect.

He says, I will put my face upon that man: when God speaks openly against us, this is sufficient for our destruction; but he wished to express more in this case, namely, that prophets were the heralds of his wrath, and that hypocrites should be admonished about the penalties which await them, and even now hang over them, since his hand is stretched out against them. He is said to place his face against another who rises against him, or descends to a contest and engages hand to hand. So also God pronounces that he would be an adversary to all the reprobate who thus endeavored to elude him. He says, I will place him for a sign and a proverb. He marks the heaviness of the punishment by these words: for God sometimes chastises the faults of men, but after a common and accustomed manner. But when punishment excites the wonder of all and is like a portent, then God puts forth the sign of his wrath in no common fashion, as they say. The Prophet then means this, and hence at the same time admonishes us how detestable a crime it is to decline from the pure worship of God. For God chastises thefts and lewdness, drunkenness, deceits, and rapines: but not always so rigorously that the punishment is remarkable, and turns the minds of all towards itself. Hence from the greatness of the punishment the atrocity of the crime is made known. He now adds, for proverbs. This phrase is taken from the law, as the prophets who are the interpreters of Moses make use of words from it. (Deuteronomy 28:37.) When any remarkable slaughter occurs it is said to be for a proverb, as all persons usually boast when speaking of any slaughter, that none is equal to it or more horrible. But, משל, meshel, is also used for a disgrace: as if he had said, it should not only be material for remark among the whole people, but their name should be subject to reproach and contempt. At length he adds, I will cut him off from my people. This is most severe of all, for even the hope of pity is taken away. A person may be a wonder for a time: then his calamity may be the subject of vulgar taunts and proverbs: and yet God is still exorable, and may not cut him off from his people. But when any one is cut off from God’s people, his safety is already beyond hope. It is not in vain that this sentence is so often repeated, you shall know that I am Jehovah, says he, since we even formerly saw hypocrites always put a veil before them, since they think they have only to do with the prophets, and thus they despise mortals with security. Hence God here inscribes his name on his word, that they may know that he has spoken, and may experience the effect of his words by his hand. It follows —


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