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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.

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After a silence, God shows by what commands he wishes to instruct his servant, namely, by such as would exasperate the people, as we have formerly seen. His embassy therefore was hateful, since the Prophet begins with this insult — “If ye wish to hear, hear; but if not, I am not concerned.” Those who are sent as ambassadors are usually ordered to try whether they can conciliate, by courteous and friendly discourse, those with whom they have to deal. But God here follows a method completely the contrary. For what is the meaning of these words, He who hears, let him hear: he who desists, let him, desist? namely, that the Israelites may understand that the Prophet was sent to them, not because there was any hope of their becoming wise again, since they had borne witness by experiments sufficiently numerous that they were altogether desperate: but the Lord sends the Prophet, that he may strike and wound them further, and at length inflict a deadly blow. Now, therefore, we see that confirmed which the Prophet previously brought forward, that the office of teaching was enjoined upon him, not because his labor would be useful and fruitful with reference to the common people, but that he might inflame the Israelites to madness, if they were unwilling to grow wise again, that he might break them if they would not bend, and if they rejected him, that he should accuse them before God, who would be their judge, and in the meanwhile the course of Prophetic teaching would be free, however pertinaciously they might resist it. Now we understand the intention of the Prophet. Hence also we collect what I have lately touched upon: that God deals with the reprobate in various ways. Sometimes he makes it doubtful whether they be curable, and destines Prophets for them, who should exhort them to repentance. But when he sees them in their ingratitude burying all the light, then he deprives them of all doctrine; afterwards it shines forth again: at length other and denser darkness succeeds: therefore let us hasten, as long as the doctrine of salvation shines upon us, lest God darken all our minds and senses, and deprive us of that singular benefit, when the image of his paternal favor is engraven on us, as we have said. Let us go on —




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