Here God threatens those hypocrites who pretended to worship him, while they loved and practised idolatry, 1-11. He declares his irreversible purpose of punishing so guilty a nation, in behalf of which no intercession of the people of God shall be of any avail. The gross idolaters of Jerusalem and Judah shall be visited with God's four sore judgments, famine, 12-14; wild beasts, 15, 16; the sword, 17, 18; and pestilence, 19-21. A remnant shall be delivered from the wrath coming upon the whole land, 22, 23.
NOTES ON CHAP. XIV
Verse 1. Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me] These probably came to tempt him, or get him to say something that would embroil him with the government. They were bad men, as we shall see in the third verse.
3Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?
3 Verse 3. These men have set up their idols in their heart] Not only in their houses; in the streets; but they had them in their hearts. These were stumbling-blocks of iniquity; they fell over them, and broke the neck of their souls. And should God be inquired of by such miscreants as these?
4Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;
4 Verse 4. According to the multitude of his idols] I will treat him as an idolater, as a flagrant idolater.
7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
7 Verse 7. And cometh to a prophet] Generally supposed to mean a false prophet.
I the Lord will answer him by myself] I shall discover to him, by my own true prophet, what shall be the fruit of his ways. So, while their false prophets were assuring them of peace and prosperity, God's prophets were predicting the calamities that afterwards fell upon them. Yet they believed the false prophets in preference to the true. Ahab, about to engage with the Syrians, who had possession of Ramoth-Gilead, asked Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord, concerning the event; who told him he should lose the battle. He then inquired of Zedekiah, a false prophet, who promised him a glorious victory. Ahab believed the latter, marched against the enemy, was routed, and slain in the battle, , &c.
9And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
9 Verse 9. I the Lord have deceived that prophet] That is, he ran before he was sent; he willingly became the servant of Satan's illusions; and I suffered this to take place, because he and his followers refused to consult and serve me. I have often had occasion to remark that it is common in the Hebrew language to state a thing as done by the Lord which he only suffers or permits to be done; for so absolute and universal is the government of God, that the smallest occurrence cannot take place without his will or permission.
13Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
13 Verse 13. By trespassing grievously] Having been frequently warned, and having refused to leave their sin, and so filled up the measure of their iniquity.
14Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD.
14 Verse 14. Though-Noah, Daniel, and Job] The intercession even of the holiest of men shall not avert my judgments. Noah, though a righteous man, could not by his intercession preserve the old world from being drowned. Job, though a righteous man, could not preserve his children from being killed by the fall of their house. Daniel, though a righteous man, could not prevent the captivity of his country. Daniel must have been contemporary with Ezekiel. He was taken captive in the third year of Jehoiakim, . After this Jeholakim reigned eight years, . And this prophecy, as appears from , was uttered in the sixth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, who succeeded Jehoiakim, and reigned only three months, . Therefore at this time Daniel had been fourteen years in captivity. See Newcome. Even at this time he had gained much public celebrity. From this account we may infer that Job was as real a person as Noah or Daniel; and of their identity no man has pretended to doubt. When God, as above, has determined to punish a nation, no intercession shall avail. Personal holiness alone can prevent these evils; but the holiness of any man can only avail for himself.
21For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?d
21 Verse 21. My four sore judgments] SWORD, war. FAMINE, occasioned by drought. PESTILENCE, epidemic diseases which sweep off a great part of the inhabitants of a land. The NOISOME BEAST, the multiplication of wild beasts in consequence of the general destruction of the inhabitants.
22 ¶ Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.
22 Verse 22. Behold, they shall come forth unto you] Though there shall be great desolations in the land of Judea, yet a remnant shall be left that shall come here also as captives; and their account of the abominations of the people shall prove to you with what propriety I have acted in abandoning them to such general destruction. This speech is addressed to those who were already in captivity; i.e., those who had been led to Babylon with their king Jeconiah.
23And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord GOD.
23 Verse 23. Ye shall know that I have not done without cause] There is no part of the conduct of God towards man that is not dictated by the purest principles of justice, equity, and truth. He does nothing but what is right; and whatever is right to be done, that ought to be done. In God's justice there is no severity; in God's mercy there is no caprice. He alone doth all things well; for he is the Fountain of justice and mercy.