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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. 13 I 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.

But he now adds, I will fix thy tongue to thy palate — or I will make thy tongue adhere to thy palate — so that thou shalt not be to them a reprover, because they are a rebellious house What God ascribed to the Israelites he now transfers to himself. He had said, They will bind thee with ropes: he now says, I will make thy tongue cleave to thy palate But these two things are easily reconciled, because in truth the Israelites rejected prophecies through their intemperance, and God thus deprived them of this benefit, because he saw they were unworthy of it. But this place shows that it is a sign of God’s vengeance, when all prophecies cease, and opportunity for hearing is taken away. For as God shines upon us by his instruction, and we have thereby a certain pledge of his fatherly grace and favor, so also when instruction is removed, it is just as if God hid his face, nay, even turned his back upon us. We must consider, therefore, what is here said — because the house of Israel was rebellious: hence the Prophet was dumb, and refrained from teaching those impious ones. God therefore desists, when he sees that he is dealing with the stupid and deaf; but. not on the first occasion of their wearying him, because he rather contends with man’s ingratitude, and never ceases, as we see in Jeremiah, to rise in the morning, and to keep watch even while it is yet night; (Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 11:7; Jeremiah 35:14; Psalm 74:9;) he never ceases to call to himself even those who are slow and sluggish, nay, even the utterly rebellious: but at length, when he sees that he does not succeed by long-suffering, he takes away his instruction, as we have said. And therefore the Church complains that it is destitute of Prophets, and places that slaughter among the extreme signs of God’s anger: “We do not see our signs, and Prophets do not appear among us.” In this way they understand that they are alienated from God, and that no consolation remains to them, when God does not give them any taste of his goodness by Prophets. The ungodly indeed wish this, because nothing is more troublesome to them than to hear God continually exclaiming. Hence, as far as they can, they seek hiding-places, and think nothing better for themselves than to be torpid amidst their vices, and to be deaf to every voice of reproach; but yet nothing is more destructive to them, because God offers himself as a physician who cures our diseases, while he exhorts us to wisdom. But when he is silent, he deserts us as if abandoned to de-st, ruction, and hence I said that nothing is more destructive than when no reproach sounds in our ears, but we are sweetly flattered, because in this way Satan deprives us of our senses, and this is his final poisoning, when he so soothes us with his blandishments, that all reproach which may alarm our security altogether ceases. Now it follows: —

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