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most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed; all this came to pass, many of them fled to Egypt, and were lost there.
Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee, or rather, concerning thee, by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD; that is, what the prophet has foretold, what has come to pass, and what he saith upon that 31 occasion. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them for with their mouth they show much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou [art] unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not; they love to altend thy preaching, as they like to attend a concert of music; it 33 is an agreeable entertainment to them. And when this cometh
to pass, (lo, it will come, or, lo! it is come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them; not an orator, or a musician, but a prophet, whom they should have seriously regarded, and all whose words I will confirm.
INISTERS have here repeated and solemn warnings
nounce his wrath against the workers of iniquity; and even to address themselves to particular sinners, saying, O wicked man! though without partiality and private affection; and this under an awful penalty. Allow them therefore to act thus, and blame them not for their faithfulness; though they may hurt your consciences, and displease your lusts. And it is a great encourage ment, that they will deliver their own souls, though sinners will not be reformed.
2. We here see the terms on which sinners stand with the great God. His word gives encouragement to the wicked to repent and return; he has said and sworn that he hath no pleasure in the death of a sinner, and has taken every method, the most gracious and wonderful, to show his reconcileableness. If they perish, the fault is their own. They must justify God, even in their destruction. Here is also a caution to the righteous. If they become carnal, worldly minded, and sensual, their rightcousness will be forgotten. They are in great danger of trusting to it; of thinking that its merit will atone for irregularities; or that they are so strong, that temptations cannot hurt them; and therefore they venture upon them. How many who have made
a fair profession, appeared serious and good, are ruined by pride and conceit? Let him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.
3. The behaviour of these captives to Ezekiel, is too frequently imitated now, and christian ministers perceive and lament it, and are greatly discouraged by it. They seemed to be a good sort of people; were regular in their attendance on public worship; were serious in their deportment; there was no sleeping, laughing, or other indecent behaviour there; they pretended great respect to the prophet, and admired his preaching. But here their hypocrisy appeared, this was their guilt and ruin, that they would not do what he said. So, many now come regularly to public worship, seem pleased with their ministers, and show them respect, but will not do their words, will not break off their sins, nor attempt to mortify their lusts; but continue as sensual, worldly minded, proud, and passionate, as ever. God knows with what principles and ends men attend the preaching of the word; and if this be our character, we shall have very different thoughts of ministers and their preaching ere it be long we shall see that they are not sent and ordained to amuse and entertain us; but to reform our vices, and to regulate our tempers and lives; and God will accomplish their words, and punish all bypocrites and unbelievers. Be ye doers of the word, therefore, and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls.
Contains a charge against the shepherds, and encouragement te the flock.
1 ND the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of
the governors, including the king, princes, rulers, and priests, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Wo [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 should they not seek the welfare of their people? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed ; ye enrich yourselves with the spoil of the wealthy: [but] ye 4 feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up [that which was] broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye 'ruled them; instead of supporting and relieving the distressed, you have used them cruelly, exercising both civil and ecclesias
5 tical tyranny. And they were scattered, because [there is] no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered; they were driven to other 6 countries, and became a prey to their enemies. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek [after them.]
" Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD; surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there [was] no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; seduced them to idolatry, and de9 stroyed them; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of 10 the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am]
against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, I will call them to a strict account, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; this would have been no affliction, but it follows, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them; I will deprive them of all their authority, wealth, and power.
11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold I, [even] I, will 12 both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep [that are] scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day; that is, in the day of public calamity; though the shepherds have neglected their duty, I will 13 take care of the flock, and will deliver and restore them. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all 14 the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a
good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and [in] a 15 fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I
will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, 16 saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost,
and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up [that which was] broken, and will strengthen that which was sick but I will destroy the fat and the strong, those who are proud and oppressive; I will feed them with judgment; will deal with them according to 17 their deserts. And [as for] you, O my flock, thus saith the
Lord God; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats; the rich and great men, 18 who were oppressors, though not governors. [Seemeth it] a
small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? not satisfied with enjoying my blessings yourselves, must you plunder and injure those below 19 you? And [as for] my flock, they eat that which ye have
trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet; they have nothing but your leavings to support themselves and their families with.
20 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold I, [even] I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean 21 cattle. Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder,
and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scat22 tered them abroad; Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and 23 cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, [even] my servant David, that is, Christ the son of David; I will give him the throne of his father David, he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd; He shall 24 preside over my people. And I the LORD will be their God,
and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD 25 have spoken [it.] And I will make with them a covenant of
peace, they shall have peace with me and one another, and enjoy all blessings, and I will cause the evil beasts, all persecutors and oppressors, to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods; and thus be 26 delivered, not only from danger, but from fear. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing; they shall enjoy my ordinances 27 and presence, and all spiritual good. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, their spiritual bondage, and delivered them out of the hand of 28 those that served themselves of them. And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beasts of the land devour them: but they shall dwell safely, and none shall 29 make [them] afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, that is, Christ, the Branch, who shall be famous, not only among the Jews, but all over the world, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more; they shall not be reproached 30 by the heathen as the forsaken of God. Thus, by these blessings and the fulfilment of my promises, shall they know that I the LORD their God [am] with them, and [that] they, [even] the house of Israel, [are] my people, saith the Lord GOD. 31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, [are] men, [and]
I [am] your God, saith the Lord God. These concluding words explain the figure; it refers to men and their governors, to Israel in particular, God's professing people, who were his flock.
hence learn that God will call the greatest of men to account for their iniquities. The shepherds of Israel, who were superior to the flock, tyrannized over them, and had no one to oppose them; but they are here censured and threatened by the supreme Ruler. Their greatness and authority, though it set them above the reach of human justice, could not secure them from his. He is against them, and will require the flock at their hands; will take away their abused power, and punish their injustice. May all the shepherds of our British Israel consider this.
2. See how highly God is displeased with those who are tyrannical, oppressive, and uncharitable, whatever their rank may be; he is not only against the shepherds of Israel, but the rams and he goats of the flock. There are many tyrannical parents, husbands, masters, and landlords, who fall under this sentence; and all who rule others with cruelty and rigour; who enrich themselves by the oppression of their workmen and servants, and the spoil of the poor; who never give of their superfluities to the needy, but, on the contrary, embitter what little they have; men, who live in pomp and ease, but never care for the sufferings of others, and will not supply the poor, nor strengthen the weak, nor heal the sick; men, who in public trusts consult their private interests, more than the public good; all these God will, judge; and they shall have judgment without mercy who have showed no mercy.
3. Let us rejoice that God hath raised up the Lord Jesus Christ, as the shepherd of his flock. He is the good shepherd: he came to redeem the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and gather the gentiles into his fold: and he feeds his flock in good pastures; his word, ordinances, and spirit, are showers of blessings. He delivers them from wild beasts; from sin, satan, and death; he strengthens the weak, heals the diseased, carries the lambs in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young. He is the good shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep; and he will defend his church, though under shepherds should be unfaithful and negligent. Let us then commit ourselves to his care; hear his voice; follow his steps and trust his power and grace then he will feed and guard our souls, and lead us to his heavenly hill. So he has declared; I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any fluck them. out of my hand.