Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.Spiritual Experiences At Home
I. In the house Ezekiel has spiritual experiences akin to those he had elsewhere.
Ezekiel could not have felt the hand of the Lord upon him in his house had he not beheld by faith God's gaze fixed in faithful love upon that privileged house. If we are to have rich spiritual experiences at home we must realize the love of God as centred on that home.
Ezekiel also felt the sacredness of home. When home is seen to be a sacred place there need be no limit to our expectation of spiritual blessings there.
Ezekiel knew his responsibility for his home life. A home is a trust and must be given account for at last.
The Prophet was in a state of preparedness to receive blessing at home. Read his history and this will be at once apparent; They who have Ezekiel's preparedness have also his spiritual felicity.
II. In his house Ezekiel saw the Divine Being. 'The hand of the Lord' is his power in exercise.
First the Prophet felt the touch of power, then he saw God. Do not presume to despair of His coming to your house, for spiritual despair is spiritual presumption. God is ready to visit your home. Be you ready to receive Him there.
III. God's influence was upon Ezekiel when visitors were in the house.
Ezekiel showed that God's influence rested upon him by the spirit he manifested amid his friends. He was the Lord's servant: as abroad so at home. If God's hand be upon us in our house, those who visit us will perceive it by the spirit we shed forth.
And yet more by our conduct. Can we doubt that Ezekiel's deportment and his actions would show his friends that God's influence crowned him in his home.
IV. Sudden blessing came upon Ezekiel in his house.
Observe how he says, 'the hand of the Lord fell there upon me'. Often spiritual blessings are sudden. Seldom can we foresee God's visitations and benedictions.
Ezekiel had a sudden enduement of Divine power. His personality was in no degree superseded, but it was enhanced.
Ezekiel had a sudden sense of Divine support. The touch of God revived and strengthened him.
V. Ezekiel was qualified for his ministry by spiritual blessing received in his house.
God's hand fell upon the Prophet in his house that he might be the more equipped for the work he had to do among men. The word of the Lord was to be proclaimed. Righteous judgments were to be executed. Without strength received in private such public ministry could never be discharged.
VI. Ezekiel kept a record of the spiritual experiences he realized in his house.
What he experienced is historified for the generations. Spiritual experiences in their homes have been a feature of the diaries of good men in all the Christian years.
—Dinsdale T. Young, Messages for Home and Life, p. 263.
Reference.—VIII. 3, 4.—R. G. Colquhoun, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx. 1906, p. 292.
Leigh Hunt, in describing the keen eyes of Wordsworth, calls them 'fires half-burning, half-smouldering, with a sort of acrid fixture of regard. One might imagine Ezekiel or Isaiah to have had such eyes.'
Orchan at once turned Nicæa into a Moslem city, as his father had done with the Black Castle on the Thymbres. In Nicæa was still seen and still used for Christian worship the memorable church in which the 318 bishops had met to settle the faith of Christendom for the ages to come. The Church of the Council was turned by Orchan into a mosque; for the mosaic images on its walls was substituted the symbol of Islam.
—Dean Church, Miscellaneous Essays, p. 312.
Compare Carlyle's words in a letter to his mother, from Marburg: 'The Landgrafs high old castle, where we loitered a couple of hours, is now a correction-house filled with criminals and soldiers. The chamber of conference between Luther, Zwingli, etc., is used for keeping hay.
References.—VIII. 8, 9.—S. Baring-Gould, Sermon-Sketches, p. 61. VIII. 10-12.—G. Matheson, Endeavours After the Christian Life (2nd Series), p. 8.
In his Reform Speech at Glasgow, in 1858, John Bright observed: 'I have often compared in my own mind, the people of England with the people of ancient Egypt, and the Foreign Office of this country with the temples of the Egyptians. We are told by those who pass up and down the Nile, that on its banks are grand temples with stately statues and massive and lofty columns—statues each one of which would have appeared almost to have exhausted a quarry in its production. You have, further, vast chambers, and gloomy passages; and some innermost recess, some holy of holies, in which, when you arrive at it, you find some loathsome reptile which a nation reverenced and revered and bowed itself down to worship. In our Foreign Office we have no massive columns: we have no statues; but we have a mystery as profound; and in the innermost recesses of it we find some miserable intrigue, in defence of which your fleets are traversing every ocean, your armies are perishing in every clime, and the precious blood of our country's children is squandered as though it had no price.'
There is truth with those who say we want more faith and devout obedience; but if the temple of our life be denied the light of Thought, then, though every man stands, saint-like, with his censer in his hand, he will just repeat 'what the elders of Israel did in the dark'—send up his foolish cloud of incense before 'creeping things and abominable beasts'.
Keep the imagination sane—that is one of the truest conditions of communion with heaven.
References.—VIII. 12.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Ezekiel, etc., p. 1. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. 1896, p. 34. W. Redfern, The Gospel of Redemption, p. 65.
Ezekiel 8:13-14Thammuz came next behind, Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured The Syrian damsels to lament his fate In amorous ditties all a summer's day, While smooth Adonis, from his native rock Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale Infected Sion's daughters with like heat, Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led, His eye surveyed the dark idolatries Of alienated Judah.
—Milton, Paradise Lost (book i.).
In the second part of Past and Present, after expounding the silent reverence of man for the God he cannot know or name, Carlyle breaks out: 'Thou if thou know not this, what are all rituals, liturgies, mythologies, mass-chantings, turnings of the rotatory calabash? They are as nothing; in a good many respects they are as less. Divorced from this, getting half-divorced from this, they are a thing to fill one with a kind of horror; with a sacred inexpressible pity and fear. The most tragical thing a human eye can look on. It was said to the Prophet, "Behold, I will show thee worse things than these; women weeping to Thammuz". That was the acme of the Prophet's vision—then as now.'
There was a man once—a poet. He went wandering through the streets of the city, and he met a disciple. 'Come out with me,' said the poet, 'for a walk in the sand-dunes,' and they went. But ere they had progressed many stages, said the disciple: 'There is nothing here but sand'. 'To what did I invite you?' asked the poet. 'To a walk in the sand-dunes.' 'Then do not complain,' said the poet. 'Yet even so your words are untrue. There is Heaven above. Do you not see it? The fault is not Heaven's. Nor the sands.'
The decisive sign of the elevation of a nation's life is to be sought among those who lead or ought to lead. The test of the health of a people is to be found in the utterances of those who are its spokesmen, and in the action of those whom it accepts or chooses to be its chiefs. We have to look to the magnitude of the issues and the height of the interests which engage its foremost spirits. What are the best men in a country striving for?
Religion, whatever destinies may be in store for it, is at least for the present hardly any longer an organic power. It is not that supreme, penetrating, controlling, decisive part of a man's life, which it has been and will be again.
—John Morley, Compromise, p. 36.
If the gods of this lower world will sit on their glittering thrones, indolent as Epicurus' gods, with the living Chaos of Ignorance and Hunger weltering uncared for at their feet, and smooth parasites preaching Peace, peace, when there is no peace, then the dark Chaos, it would seem, will rise.
—Carlyle, French Revolution, vol. III. book vii. chap. vii.
References.—XIII. 10.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Holy-Tide Teaching, p. 84. XIII. 10, 11.—J. Baines, Sermons, p. 201. C. J. Thompson, Penny Pulpit, vol. xiv. No. 675, p. 66. XIII. 10-12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv. No. 816. XIII. 18.—J. Baldwin Brown, The Soul's Exodus and Pilgrimage, p. 58. J. Thomson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. 1895, p. 164.
Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.