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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Ezekiel 9

 

 

Verse 4

MARKED MEN!

‘And the Lord said unto him: Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst therof.’

Ezekiel 9:4

‘What makes a people great and keeps them so,’ says Milton somewhere, ‘is the presence of a religious life amongst them.’ And so the records of these prophets are better guides for ascertaining the causes of national decay than the so-called philosophers who do not bring the spiritual element into account at all.

I. The duty of sorrow over the sins of our city.—I need not go over the things that call upon us for sorrow, you know them all better than I do. But there is one predominant tendency in all our large cities, and that is the engrossment in temporalities, the almost exclusive attention paid to material objects, to the loss of all high and holy aims. The wealth, the prosperity, the greatness of England rest on a stratum, of which we don’t think, and which may at some future time give way, and the whole fabric will fall to pieces. All this deserves the sorrow of every Christian man; sorrow, I say, not contempt, not hatred.

II. The fatal issues of negligence to the neglected city.—I am not going to indulge in exaggerated statements about decline and downfall. Every form of human society not founded upon God carries in itself the seeds of certain destruction. Friends, churches, countries, nations, it equally applies to them all. There are nations on the earth now who in past time cast off the worship and fear of God, but they are dead to all intents and purposes, and the cause is not difficult to find. The story of Babel built without the sanction of the Almighty, and tumbling to pieces like the burnt brick they made use of, is the clue to all who have shared the same fate ever since. The greatness of England does not come from the wisdom of her statesmen or the valour of her soldiers, from the extent of her commerce, or the force of her armaments which whiten every sea with their sails, but from the Christian principles found permeating the mass of the people, and in proportion as this is the case will England stand up high above other nations.

III. The fatal issues of negligence to the negligent church.—The victims of the cities’ sins are not so much responsible as those who, having the Gospel, refuse to impart it. Let the evil fall upon those who ought to have been the salt of the city, but failed in their duty. Negligence will speedily go into the death of a church. The church having ‘nothing but leaves’ is very near being blasted with eternal fruitlessness. Negligence is the cause of disease. There is nothing like good hard work for strengthening the instincts of the Christian life. If you would know the power of the Gospel in your own soul, speak it somewhere, to some people, it matters not whom. Do not let us think that a church is a body that meets for mutual delectation; let us be aggressive; living ourselves, let us seek to impart the life to others. If we are negligent, the blessings we keep exclusively to ourselves will fly away.

Illustration

‘The same rule that applies to plague or pestilence holds good with regard to moral evil; if men neglect sanitary improvements, and the regulations of health, the malady comes, and the rich man is taught that he has to do with it, by having the disease wafted over the wall from the poor man’s house. If you think you have nothing to do with the “dangerous” classes, as they are sometimes called, they will prove, in time, and perhaps in a very fatal manner, that you have to do with them. And, after all, they are very little responsible for the state they find themselves in. You and I, if brought up amid the same circumstances of poverty, vice, and squalid ignorance, would we not have been like them, that herd away down there? Change coats, and we would be like them, and they would be like us. Left to the education of the world, the flesh, and the devil, no wonder at the workings out of these three pernicious agents.’

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Ezekiel 9:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/ezekiel-9.html. 1876.

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