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    Here God threatens those hypocrites who pretended to worship him, while they loved and practiced 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.


    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.

    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?

    Verse 4. "According to the multitude of his idols" - I will treat him as an idolater, as a flagrant idolater.

    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, 1 Kings xxii. 10, &c.

    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.

    Verse 10. "The punishment of the prophet" - They are both equally guilty; both have left the Lord, and both shall be equally punished.

    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.

    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, Dan. i. 1. After this Jeholakim reigned eight years, 2 Kings iii. 36. And this prophecy, as appears from chap. viii. 1, was uttered in the sixth year of Jehoiachin's captivity, who succeeded Jehoiakim, and reigned only three months, 2 Kings xxiv. 6, 8. 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.

    Verse 21. "My four sore judgments" - SWORD, war. FAMINE, occasioned by drought. PESTILENE, 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.

    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.

    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.


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