Son of man, eat thy bread with quaking, and drink thy water with trembling and with carefulness; and say unto the people of the land, Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the land of Israel, They shall eat their bread with carefulness, and drink their water with astonishment, that her land may be desolate from all that is therein, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein. And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.-EZEKIEL xii. 18-20.
By indulgence of falsity and evil, degenerate men lose the ability to distinguish between goodness and evil, and between truth and falsity; and thus they destroy, in themselves, the capacity for happiness.
BREAD AND WATER.
As a sign to the people, the prophet was to eat his bread with quaking, and to drink water with trembling and with carefulness. Bread, meaning food in general, represents the goodness which we receive from our Lord, into our will, our heart. And water represents the truth, which we receive into our understanding, our intellect. As distinguished from wine, water represents natural truth, i.e., truth as applied to our natural life and truth as seen from the standpoint of the natural mind, which is the natural degree of human life; but wine represents spiritual truth. To eat bread, and to drink water, spiritually, are to receive goodness and truth into our minds.
QUAKING AND TREMBLING.
Quaking, or shaking, comes from fear of danger, and from uncertainty, causing mental commotion. Spiritually, a man eats bread with quaking, when, although he secures that which he regards as good, he is not happy, or at peace, but he is alarmed, uncertain as to things, and in great fear of danger, because, in his own mind, he has adulterated all goodness by mixing it with his own evils.
To drink water with trembling and with carefulness, is to receive that which the man regards as truth, while in a state of doubt and of fear, and of anxiety and of trouble, because the man has falsified all truths, by confusing them with his own false notions.
In the Scriptures, care means anxiety, which involves trouble. For instance, in the parable of the sower, it is said that, in the mind of the worldly man, “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the Word, and he becometh unfruitful.” But, in this case, ” the care of this world” does not mean the proper and necessary care, or attention and work, which must be given to all worldly affairs, but it means. the strain of worldliness, the wearing anxiety of selfish care, which trusts in its own prudence, and not in the Divine Providence.
And thus, the expression used in our text, “they shall eat their bread with carefulness,” means that they shall be full of anxious cares and troubles, arising from their fears and uncertainties. And they shall “drink water with astonishment,” means that degenerate men never understand the Divine Providence, but their minds are confused, and full of apprehension of possible consequences, even from supposed Divine anger.
To indicate that the anxiety pervades the whole mind of the evil man, both Jerusalem and Israel are addressed. In our text; for Judah and Jerusalem represent the life of the will, or heart, with its affections, and Israel represents the life of the understanding, or intellect, with its thoughts.
That the land shall be “desolate,” as to all things therein, means that all the goodness in the church, in the hearts of men, should become dead, ” because of the violence of all them that dwell therein;” i.e., because of the total rejection of all goodness, and the violent opposition to all Divine principles.
“And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste” means that all the doctrines of the church, in which living truths reside, shall be utterly destroyed, in the degenerate man’s mind, because he corrupts and falsifies all such doctrines, by interpreting them according to his own evil motives and false notions.
“And ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” For, when the evil are separated from the good, in judgment, it can be seen that this action is from the Lord. For this fact can be seen in clear spiritual light, by spiritual men, who understand spiritual truth; and it can be seen naturally, by natural-minded men, also, because it is taught in the letter of the Scriptures. But, spiritually, the evil man, in corrupting the life which the Lord sends to him, thereby judges himself, and spiritually kills himself. Spiritually he drives himself out of Eden, i.e., out of everything that is good and plentiful; and he goes out into a hard mental world, where he has to labor hard, mentally, to procure a spiritual living.
Similar conditions are represented in the Book of Lamentations (v. 4), “We have drunk our water for money, and our bread is sold unto us. Our necks are under persecution: we labor, and have no rest,”
All evidence points to the great fact that human life is satisfactory only in a state of regeneration. All unregenerate states involve severe penalties, because, in them, the conditions are necessarily unhappy; not merely from outward circumstances, but also because the man is not in the reception of those qualities of character which make human happiness.
For the whole matter of’ human happiness is one of character, i.e., of regeneration, which is a new and spiritual birth, in loving all good and true principles, and living by such principles, in all the daily life. And, therefore, our Lord of love extends to all men His most gracious invitation to life and to happiness : “Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters: and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live.” (Isaiah lv. 1-3.)
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903