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The Prophet is still going on with his commission of preaching to the people. In this chapter he prophesieth against Jerusalem, under the image of a sword.
It should seem that this was but a continuation of the preceding chapter, where the Lord had commanded the Prophet to set his face toward the south, and prophecy. For, as the Prophet complained that the people would only deride him, and say it was but a parable, the Lord bids him to show that it would be a dreadful reality, in which the very loins of the hearer would tremble and be loosened, like a woman in travail. So awful would be the visitation, that the sword of the Lord would slay both the righteous and the wicked. And though the eternal safety of all His redeemed ones in Christ could not be affected by this visitation, yet in temporal things the inhabitants of Jerusalem would all partake alike in the dreadful slaughter, like mariners in the same vessel, which, if it founders at sea, all the crew are drowned. And the Prophet is commanded to tell the reason, Behold I am against thee, saith the Lord; as if the Lord had said, You are groaning because the King of Babylon is against you, but what will ye do when the Lord of Hosts is against you? Reader! pause and consider the awfulness of such a state! The Apostle saith, If God be for us, who can be against us? But we may add, if the Lord be against us, of what avail is it who is for us? Romans 8:31 .
This seems to be another sermon to the same amount as the former. The Lord directs His servant to continue his alarming message, and again and again to cry concerning the sword of the Lord's slaughter. And the Prophet himself is to be a sign also to the people, and to cry and howl, and to smite upon his thigh. The ministers of the Lord are expected, in times of national calamity, to take interest in all the Lord's judgments; to weep between the porch and the altar; and to look to the Great Intercessor to spare His heritage. Joel 2:17 .
Perhaps by the two ways is intended the double attack which the king of Babylon made on Jerusalem and the chief city of the Ammonites; but concerning which, as this scripture represents, he stood undetermined for a while which to destroy first. But what the Prophet is commissioned more particularly to declare thereby is, that had not sin been found in the Lord's people, no weapon of the King of Babylon could have prospered. Reader! think how more than ordinarily offensive is sin in the people of God.
Here the Lord speaks personally to the King of Israel, and a very awful address it is. But, what I beg the Reader more immediately to observe is, the promise of One coming, whose right the crown and diadem of Israel is, and of the royal dignity being lost until His coming. And who could this point to but Christ? Thrice the Lord declares the overturning of his people in this verse, as if to show what a degraded state the children of Israel should be reduced to before Christ's coming.
The prophecy here is of Ammon, whom the King of Babylon also subdued as well as Jerusalem. The Lord hath been pleased to intersperse the history of Israel, here and there, with the account of other nations, by way of manifesting the sovereignty of His government, and to prove Himself to be King of Nations as well as King of Saints.
READER! the perusal of this chapter will be rendered very profitable, both to your heart and mine, if, under the teaching of God the Holy Ghost, we gather from it the instructions evidently intended from it to the people of God; namely, how blessed it is to have the Lord for our God; and when outward afflictions abound, inward consolations abound also in Jesus. When a child of God is under trouble, still, be the trouble what it may, while he hath a gracious covenant God to fly to, and the righteousness and blood-shedding of Jesus to trust in, all is well. But to have the Lord coming forth as our enemy, when the world presses hard upon us, it is that which aggravates the sorrow, and renders the load unbearable indeed. Saul, King of Israel, felt this to the full when he cried out, The Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me. Here was the bitterness of the affliction. The war of the Philistines had been nothing, for Saul had constantly subdued them when the Lord went with him to battle; but every sword, every arrow of the angry Philistine, became doubly dreadful when the Lord was seen in the appointment. Reader! let you and I learn from it the blessedness of having Jesus always with us and for us. To Him let us go, and in Him always confide. When He undertakes our cause, victory is sure; yea, we are made more than conquerors through His grace helping us.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany