Here is, 1. The departure of God’s presence from the city and temple. When the message was committed to the prophet, and he was fully apprized of it, fully instructed how to separate between the precious and the vile, then the cherubim lifted up their wings and the wheels beside them (Ezek. 11:22) as before, Ezek. 10:19. Angels, when they have done their errands in this lower world, are upon the wing to be gone, for they lose no time. We left the glory of the Lord last at the east gate of the temple (Ezek. 10:19), which is here said to be in the midst of the city. Now here we are told that, finding and wondering that there was none to intercede, none to uphold, none to invite its return, it removed next to the mountain which is on the east side of the city (Ezek. 11:23); that was the mount of Olives. On this mountain they had set up their idols, to confront God in his temple, when he dwelt there (1 Kgs. 11:7), and thence it was called the mount of corruption (2 Kgs. 23:13); therefore there God does as it were set up his standard, his tribunal, as it were to confront those who thought to keep possession of the temple for themselves now that God had left it. From that mountain there was a full prospect of the city; thither God removed, to make good what he had said (Deut. 32:20), I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be. It was from this mountain that Christ beheld the city and wept over it, in the foresight of its last destruction by the Romans. The glory of the Lord removed thither, to be as it were yet within call, and ready to return if now at length, in this their day, they would have understood the things that belonged to their peace. Loth to depart bids oft farewell. God, by going away thus slowly, thus gradually, intimated that he left them with reluctance, and would not have gone if they had not perfectly forced him from them. He did now, in effect, say, How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? But, though he bear long, he will not bear always, but will at length forsake those, and cast them off for ever, who have forsaken him and cast him off. 2. The departure of this vision from the prophet. At length it went up from him (Ezek. 11:24); he saw it mount upwards, till it went out of sight, which would be a confirmation to his faith that it was a heavenly vision, that it descended from above, for thitherward it returned. Note, The visions which the saints have of the glory of God will not be constant will they come to heaven. They have glimpses of that glory, which they soon lose again, visions which go up from them, tastes of divine pleasures, but not a continual feast. It was from the mount of Olives that the vision went up, typifying the ascension of Christ to heaven from that very mountain, when those that had seen him manifested in the flesh saw him no more. It was foretold (Zech. 14:4) that his feet should stand upon the mount of Olives, stand last there. 3. The prophet’s return to those of the captivity. The same spirit that had carried him in a trance or ecstasy to Jerusalem brought him back to Chaldea; for there the bounds of his habitation are at present appointed, and that is the place of his service. The Spirit came to him, not to deliver him out of captivity, but (which was equivalent) to support and comfort him in his captivity. 4. The account which he gave to his hearers of all he had seen and heard, Ezek. 11:25. He received that he might give, and he was faithful to him that appointed him; he delivered his message very honestly: he spoke all that, and that only, which God had shown him. He told them of the great wickedness he had seen at Jerusalem, and the ruin that was hastening towards that city, that they might not repent of their surrendering themselves to the king of Babylon as Jeremiah advised them, and blame themselves for it, nor envy those that staid behind, and laughed at them for going when they did, nor wish themselves there again, but be content in their captivity. Who would covet to be in a city so full of sin and so near to ruin? It is better to be in Babylon under the favour of God than in Jerusalem under his wrath and curse. But, though this was delivered immediately to those of the captivity, yet we may suppose that they sent the contents of it to those at Jerusalem, with whom they kept up a correspondence; and well would it have been for Jerusalem if she had taken the warning hereby given.
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