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3. Warning to Israel
Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.
4And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. 5For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. 7But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. 8Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. 9As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. 10Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. 11And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 12Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. 13I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. 14So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
15Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. 16And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 17Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
22And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. 23Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. 24Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. 25But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: 26And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. 27But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
The Prophet again affirms what we have formerly seen, that God had worked upon his mind by the secret instinct of his own Spirit. Although, therefore, God had exhorted him to fortitude, yet the Prophet shows what he demanded of himself. In short, the Prophet was strong in God, because God implanted his virtue within him. He says, therefore, that he was raised up by the Spirit, which only means that the agitation within him was of no avail, unless through heavenly inspiration; so also he ought to be carried beyond himself for the time, that nothing human should appear within him. But more will be said about this hereafter.
He adds, that he heard a voice of a great rushing, that is, a sonorous voice, and one different from the usual voice of men: for the, Prophet, by the noise or tumult of the voice, could distinguish it from the usual voice of men. Blessed, said it, be the glory of Jehovah from his own place We cannot doubt that this benediction was suitable to the occasion of its utterance: when, therefore, this voice was heard, God wished to refute the clamorous voices of the people who thought themselves injured. For we know that the people were querulous, and murmured because they thought themselves treated with greater harshness than they deserved. Hence the glory of God is opposed to all impious and sacrilegious blasphemies, which the Israelites were in the habit of vomiting forth against God, as if he treated them cruelly. In short, this voice restrained all calumnies, by which the impious then endeavored to overwhelm the glory of God. He says that glory is blessed, because although men dare not utter gross and open reproaches against God, nevertheless they curse his glory as often as they detract from his justice, and accuse him of too much rigor. Hence, in opposition to this, a voice is heard, saying, the glory of God is blessed
By God’s place, I understand the Temple. I confess that in many passages of Scripture heaven is so called; not that God’s essence, which is immense, can be included within any place; for as heaven is called his throne or seat, so also the earth is his footstool, because he fills all things with his immensity. So here, as often in other places, the Temple is called God’s place, because he dwelt there with respect to men. Besides, this is said as well with reference to the exiles as to the rest of the people yet remaining at Jerusalem. For the exiles did not sufficiently consider that they were banished from their country, and dragged into a distant region, through the just vengeance of God. Since, therefore, this captivity did not sufficiently subdue them, the name of God ought to be set before them, that they might know that they were not banished from their country by the cruelty of their enemies, but by the judgment of God. The Prophet, doubtless, regards also those Jews who as yet remained at home: for they boasted that God was seated in the Temple, and so fancied that they should be always safe under his protection. But the Prophet, as we shall afterwards see, denounces on those who remained a punishment similar to that of those who were in captivity. It is then just as if he had said that God remained in his Temple, that he might shine there with conspicuous glory. Now as he wished to humble the ten tribes as well as the other two, so he wished to alleviate the grief of them all, that they should not cease to hope for the promised return. For calamity itself might lead them to despair, and to suppose their salvation impossible: nay, to think that God was as it were dead, and his virtue extinct. To what purpose, then, was the worship of God? to what purpose the splendor and dignity of the Temple, unless that God should protect his own? But they had been deserted by him; here then was matter for despair, unless it had been met: the Prophet now treats this, since on one side he reminds them that God was the just avenger of wickedness, when he suffered the ten tribes to be dragged into exile, yet that he would be their deliverer, because he does not cease to reign in his Temple, although profane men think him conquered, and treat with wanton insolence their own triumphs over him. Now therefore we perceive the sense of the Prophet: for this sentence would be cold if it were merely general; but when it is accommodated to the state of things at the time, we see that the glory of God is not extolled by any vain eulogium, and that the Temple is not mentioned in vain. (Psalm 11:4; Psalm 103:19; Isaiah 66:1.)