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Abominations in the Temple


In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord G od fell upon me there. 2I looked, and there was a figure that looked like a human being; below what appeared to be its loins it was fire, and above the loins it was like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming amber. 3It stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, to the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. 4And the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I had seen in the valley.

5 Then God said to me, “O mortal, lift up your eyes now in the direction of the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. 6He said to me, “Mortal, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? Yet you will see still greater abominations.”

7 And he brought me to the entrance of the court; I looked, and there was a hole in the wall. 8Then he said to me, “Mortal, dig through the wall”; and when I dug through the wall, there was an entrance. 9He said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10So I went in and looked; there, portrayed on the wall all around, were all kinds of creeping things, and loathsome animals, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11Before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the fragrant cloud of incense was ascending. 12Then he said to me, “Mortal, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of images? For they say, ‘The L ord does not see us, the L ord has forsaken the land.’ ” 13He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they are committing.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the L ord; women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. 15Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O mortal? You will see still greater abominations than these.”

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the L ord; there, at the entrance of the temple of the L ord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the L ord, and their faces toward the east, prostrating themselves to the sun toward the east. 17Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O mortal? Is it not bad enough that the house of Judah commits the abominations done here? Must they fill the land with violence, and provoke my anger still further? See, they are putting the branch to their nose! 18Therefore I will act in wrath; my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; and though they cry in my hearing with a loud voice, I will not listen to them.”

This seems to me a confirmation of the last clause. For he had said, that they sent forth their boughs or east them forth, but yet to their destruction. He now repeats the same thing in other words. Therefore I will also act in, my turn — that is, as they now boldly increase their superstitions, and so continually provoke me, at length I will act, says he. There is a tacit contrast, since God forsooth had ceased for a long time, because there is a certain form of rest when he ceases from his judgments: God seems to rest when he does not take vengeance on man’s wickedness, when he indulges them and passes them by for a time. Since, therefore, he had so suspended his judgments against the Jews, he seemed to cultivate ease in heaven: with this view he says, that he would do it in his anger, and he adds, that his vengeance would be so dreadful that there would be no place for pity. This ought indeed to strike us when God pronounces himself implacable. For what is more formidable than to have God hostile, and to be verily without any hope of pardon? As often as God withdraws his mercy he shows us material for trembling, nor is it wonderful that he threatened the Jews so harshly, because he had proved by all methods that they were desperate in their wickedness. For truly nothing had been omitted towards curing them, unless they had been of an abandoned disposition and of most obstinate manners. Since, therefore, they were such, it is not surprising that God was extremely enraged against them, so that he left them no hope of pardon. But this ought to be referred generally to the whole body of the people: meanwhile it is by no means doubtful, as we shall afterwards see, that God excepts his elect from the ordinary multitude. If any one object, that God always hears prayers, I reply that he never rejects prayers which spring from faith: but here that tumultuous clamor is alluded to which necessity occasions to unbelievers. For although they fly to God as their natural sense impels them, yet they do not this with composed minds, nor even relying upon the promises of God: but because the torture of their minds does not suffer them to rest, so that by a natural impulse they are carried to God and cry to him without any faith or sincere affection. He speaks, therefore, concerning that kind of ejaculation which is described to us in the case of Esau, and hence he says with a loud voice, (Genesis 27:34; Psalm 3:4; Psalm 22:2; and Psalm 32:3, and elsewhere often.) Although the faithful also raise their voice: nay even cry out loudly, as David testifies of himself, yet it is peculiar to the incredulous to utter their clamor with full cheeks though the mind is void of faith, and is even obstinate in its wickedness. Hence they do not open the heart when they thus cry to God. Hence it is not wonderful if God rejects them and is deaf to their complaints. Now it follows —

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