The Word of Jehovah also came unto me, saying, Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see and see not, who have ears to hear and hear not; for they are a rebellious house. Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day, in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place, in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they are a rebellious house.
And thou shalt bring forth thy stuff by day, in their sight, as stuff for removing; and thou shalt go forth thyself, at evening, in their sight, as when men go forth into exile. Dig thou through the wall, in their sight, and carry out thereby. In their sight shalt thou bear it upon thy shoulder, and carry it forth in the dark; thou shalt cover thy face, that thou see not the land: for I have set thee for a sign unto the house of Israel. And I did so as I was commanded.-EZEKIEL xii. 1-7.
THE degenerate mind opposes the Lord, and falsifies His Divine Word, even in its literal sense; and thus the church of the Lord departs from the degenerate man, because he is no longer an individual church, in which the Lord can dwell, as the acknowledged Father and Ruler.
THE LITERAL MEANING.
The prophets had repeatedly warned the people of Jerusalem of their impending captivity. But the people became more and more careless and heedless, saying that the prophecies referred to a time very far in the future, and not alarming to persons then living. And so they went on in their evils, forgetting that these evils must necessarily produce evil results.
The captive exiles among whom Ezekiel lived, expected soon to return to their beloved Jerusalem. But Ezekiel constantly prophesied to them that their hopes of return were vain, because the people of Jerusalem, themselves, would soon be carried into exile. And Ezekiel illustrated his prophecy by the enacted parable of our text, in which he removed his household goods, after the manner of those who go into captivity and exile.
When about to make a long journey, the ancient Jews, who travelled by caravan, were in the habit of getting ready most of their goods, in the early daytime, and carrying them to the general place of rendezvous for the caravan, so that the beasts of burden could be laden, in good time, and all could be ready to start together, in the twilight. For, in that hot climate, such travel was done in the cool night. But, after each traveller had sent his goods to the general rendezvous, he remained in his house until about time for the caravan to start; and then he took upon his shoulders his few personal belongings, and joined the caravan. These facts account, literally, for the two occasions of Ezekiel putting out his goods.
And the prophet’s manner of leaving his house literally represented the stealthy way in which a captive would seek to evade his captors, and to carry away his immediate belongings, in haste, for his escape, after having set out his bulkiest goods, in daylight, as if preparing for the journey. And Ezekiel prophesied that the princes and people of Jerusalem would thus seek to escape. And Jeremiah recorded a somewhat similar attempt of the king, Zedekiah, to escape the Chaldeans: “Then they fled, and went forth out of the city, by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate between the two walls. And he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah, in the plains of Jericho.” (Jeremiah xxxix. 4, S·)
One who silently digs through the wall, seeks to escape the observation of the enemy. Covering the face was a sign of grief, sorrow, and humiliation.
EYES TO SEE, ETC.
The people of Israel are called a rebellious house, because they would not obey the commandments of the Lord. It is said that they had eyes to see, but saw not, and ears to hear, but heard not. For evil men have the mental capacity to see the truth, and to know it to be true, if they are willing to do so. But they are not willing to see the truth, because they hate the truth, and they love evil and falsity; and so they turn their minds against all spiritual light, in which truth is seen and known.
The trouble with evil men is not mere ignorance, but willful ignorance, which is intentional. If such men see a true principle, they regard it as their personal enemy. They have no desire for it, and no use for it. And so they first persuade themselves that it is not important: and, from this view, they soon persuade themselves that it is not true. And thus, as an old saying runs:
“He that complies against his will,
Is of his own opinion still.”
And, as another old adage says, “None so blind as those who will not see.” “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of Jehovah: who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get you out of the way; turn aside out of the path; cause the holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah xxx. 9-11.) Such men separate faith from daily life. They build their mental houses on the shifting sand of worldly policy, and not on the firm rock of truth.
Jesus often said, after His parables, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” For, spiritually, no one is willing and ready to hear the spiritual truth, until he opens his spiritual ears, intentionally. Genuine spiritual intelligence is from truth inwardly seen, acknowledged, and loved. And it is the same with spiritual hearing. Spiritually, we hear the truth, when we receive into our hearts, and love, the truth which we see and understand. And then the truth is joined with good, and it becomes wisdom. Thus, to see the truth, is to have faith in our intellect; but to hear the truth, is to have faith in our will, our heart.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;” not as an object of external sight, but as the indwelling life of all things, whose good and true principles permeate and vivify everything.
But evil men will not open their spiritual eyes and ears; i.e., they will not use their inherent capacity to see and understand good and true principles. When men are mentally blind, they must be taught that they are blind, or they cannot have any opportunity to repent, and to reform. Spiritual blindness is a state of mental insensibility, which must first be overcome, before the mind can be restored to a right condition.
The stuff, the household goods, are such things as are necessary for house-keeping. And, as the house represents the mind, so the goods in the house represent the necessary things which furnish a man’s mind, the good and true principles of life, on which he lives, spiritually. To remove one’s residence represents the passing of the mind into different conditions. But, in such a change, the mind would carry with it everything essential to its furnishing, for the work of life.
But, in the case of our text, the prophet was representatively portraying the conditions of the Jews, in their rebellious evils. As the prophet officially represented the Divine Word, so the things in his house represented the good and true principles in the Divine Word. And to carry these out of the house, represented that such was the state of mind with the Jews, that they rejected, and drove out of their minds, all the goodness and the truth from the Lord’s Word, and kept nothing more than the mere formalities and ceremonials of the letter of the Scriptures. When the letter of the Word was falsified in men’s minds, by corrupting its meaning, the Lord’s goodness and truth took up their belongings and departed from such evil minds.
And that this was done “in the sight” of these men, means that such men could, if they would, see their evil ways, from the laws of life revealed in the letter of the Word.
And that this removal was made in the evening, means that such men were in states of falsity, and without the spiritual light which the reception of truth would have given to them. But their attention was called to their own mental conditions, by the constant warning of the letter of the Word, which they possessed, but despised, as far as any practical good principles were concerned.
The prophet removed his goods as one going into captivity and exile, to show that the removal was not merely temporary, or unimportant, but for a long time, and in hard circumstances, Spiritually, a man is free, when he is in the love of goodness, and in the understanding of truth, and in obedience to the Divine laws for human life. But, to the extent in which he is in the love of evil, and in the belief of falsity, and in the life of sin, he is in spiritual captivity, held in bondage by evil; and he is in all the spiritual suffering which must accompany such spiritual captivity: for, always, “the sinner is a slave to his sin.”
And thus, every man who departs from the good and true principles which the Lord teaches him, leaves his home and his freedom, and falls into spiritual captivity, and into miserable exile, in a foreign land; a condition of evil, of falsity, of sin, of sorrow, and of slavery, which can never produce a spiritual home for a human soul.
The digging out of the house represents examining, investigating, to see what is in the things. And when the Divine principles of goodness and truth can no longer dwell in the perverted doctrine of a church, (either in the church as an aggregate of men, or the individual church of each man’s mind,) then such principles dig their way out of such uncongenial surroundings; i.e., the intelligent mind which observes these things, can clearly see, by examination, that the Lord’s principles cannot dwell in human impurities and evils. And any man who will candidly compare men’s perverted ideas and corrupt ways with the law of the Lord, can easily see, from the letter of the Word, that such things are opposites, and that, spiritually, they cannot dwell together.
Covering the face of the prophet, as he passed out of his house, so that he might “not see the ground,” represents that, in the Jewish Church, there was not left any perception of goodness, even in the laws of life, in the letter of the Divine Word.
That the prophet should carry out his goods in the dark, represents the general condition of mental darkness, or falsity, in the people.
It is declared that the prophet was thus a sign to the people, because he represented their mental doings. And so the removal of all his goods from the house, was a prophetic declaration that there was nothing left remaining in the Jewish Church which was capable of retaining any truth or goodness, because, spiritually, everything was destroyed by falsities and evils.
And it is to be feared that the conditions in some minds, even in the Christian churches, in these days, are drawing perilously near to similar states, when the character and life of our Lord are entirely misrepresented; and men depend, for spiritual salvation, not upon a radical change in their own actual character, from evil to good, but merely upon the physical blood of Christ, and a ” justification by faith, alone;” and this, in spite of our Lord’s own positive statements, ” Because I live, ye shall live, also,” and “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Salvation does not come to men by having Christ’s righteousness imputed to evil men, but by having the righteousness of our Lord imparted to men, so that they are regenerated, born again, into a new character; and sustained in that new character, by our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is, Himself, the one only God of heaven and of earth.
A prophet, said to “bear the iniquities of the people,” did not, thereby, take away such iniquities; nor did he render such iniquities harmless; but he merely represented the spiritual conditions of the people.
And, to regard him in any sacrificial relation to the people, is to misunderstand the nature and use of his representative office.
And so, when it is said of Jesus, that God laid on Him the iniquity of men, it does not mean that the physical suffering of Christ took away the iniquities of evil men, or that it rendered them harmless, by appeasing the wrath of an angry God; but it means that the human nature of Christ bore the evils of men representatively, as one incident in the preparation of the assumed humanity to become the Divine Humanity, in which God, the God of love, was in Christ, reconciling an angry world unto a good God.
In His assumed humanity Jesus bore the combined assaults of all the hells; and thus He met the hells, and conquered them, and redeemed men from their infernal power. This redemption was made for all men; but it did not render harmless the evils of men, individually: but every man needed. to be regenerated, by means of instruction, repentance, and reformation, in order to be saved from his own evil conditions of character.
When we see that God is one, in essence and in person, and that the one and only God is the Lord, Jesus Christ, we can comprehend the nature and mission of Jesus Christ, as “God manifest” to men, to save them by actual regeneration, a birth into new character, in which you are brought into heaven, when “the kingdom of God is within you.” Jesus, Himself, declared, “He who hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.”
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903