We have here fair warning given of the destruction of the land of Israel, which was now hastening on apace. God, by the prophet, not only sends notice of it, but will have it inculcated in the same expressions, to show that the thing is certain, that it is near, that the prophet is himself affected with it and desires they should be so too, but finds them deaf, and stupid, and unaffected. When the town is on fire men do no seek for fine words and quaint expressions in which to give an account of it, but cry about the streets, with a loud and lamentable voice, “Fire! fire!” So the prophet here proclaims, An end! an end! it has come, it has come; behold, it has come. He that hath ears to hear let him hear.
I. An end has come, the end has come (Ezek. 7:2), and again (Ezek. 7:3, 6), Now has the end come upon thee—the end which all their wickedness had a tendency to, and which God had often told them it would come to at last, when by his prophets he had asked them, What will you do in the end hereof?--the end which all the foregoing judgments had been working towards, as means to bring it about (their ruin shall now be completed)--or the end, that is, the period of their state, the final destruction of their nation, as the deluge was the end of all flesh, Gen. 6:13. They had flattered themselves with hopes that they should shortly see an end of their troubles. “Yea,” says God, “An end has come, but a miserable one, not the expected end” (which is promised to the pious remnant among them, Jer. 29:11); “it is the end, that end which you have been so often warned of, that last end which Moses wished you to consider (Deut. 32:29), and which, because Jerusalem remembered not, therefore she came down wonderfully,” Lam. 1:9. This end was long in coming, but now it has come. Though the ruin of sinners comes slowly, it comes surely. “It has come; it watches for thee, ready to receive thee.” This perhaps looks further, to the last destruction of that nation by the Romans, which that by the Chaldeans was an earnest of; and still further to the final destruction of the world of the ungodly. The end of all things is at hand; and Jerusalem’s last end was a type of the end of the world, Matt. 24:3. Oh that we could all see that end of time and days very near, and the end of our own time and days much nearer, that we may secure a happy lot at the end of the days! Dan. 12:13. This end comes upon the four corners of the land. The ruin, as it shall be final, so it shall be total; no part of the land shall escape; no, not that which lies most remote. Such will the destruction of the world be; all these things shall be dissolved. Such will the destruction of sinners be; none can avoid it. Oh that the wickedness of the wicked might come to an end, before it bring them to an end!
II. An evil, an only evil, behold, has come, Ezek. 7:5. Sin is an evil, an only evil, an evil that has no good in it; it is the worst of evils. But this is spoken of the evil of trouble; it is an evil, one evil, and that one shall suffice to affect and complete the ruin of the nation; there needs no more to do its business; this one shall make an utter end, affliction needs not rise up a second time, Nah. 1:9. It is an evil without precedent or parallel, an evil that stands alone; you cannot produce such another instance. It is to the impenitent an evil, an only evil; it hardens their hearts and irritates their corruptions, whereas there were those to whom it was sanctified by the grace of God and made a means of much good; they were sent into Babylon for their good, Jer. 24:5. The wicked have the dregs of that cup to drink which to the righteous is full of mixtures of mercy, Ps. 75:8. The same affliction is to us either a half evil or an only evil according as we conduct ourselves under it and make use of it. But when an end, the end, has come upon the wicked world, then an evil, an only evil, comes upon it, and not till then. The sorest of temporal judgments have their allays, but the torments of the damned are an evil, an only evil.
III. The time has come, the set time, for the inflicting of this only evil and the making of this full end; for to all God’s purposes there is a time, a proper time, and that prefixed, in which the purpose shall have its accomplishment; particularly the time of reckoning with wicked people, and rendering to them according to their desserts, is fixed, the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of god; and he sees, whether we see it or no, that his day is coming. This they are here told of again and again (Ezek. 7:10): Behold, the day that has lingered so long has come at last, behold, it has come. The time has come, the day draws near, the day of trouble is near, Ezek. 7:7, 12. Though threatened judgments may be long deferred, yet they shall not be dropped; the time for executing them will come. Though God’s patience may put them off, nothing but man’s sincere repentance and reformation will put them by. The morning has come unto thee (Ezek. 7:7), and again (Ezek. 7:10), The morning has gone forth; the day of trouble dawns, the day of destruction is already begun. The morning discovers that which was hidden; they thought their secret sins would never come to light, but now they will be brought to light. They used to try and execute malefactors in the morning, and such a morning of judgment and execution is now coming upon them, a day of trouble to sinners, the year of their visitation. See how stupid these people were, that, though the day of their destruction was already begun, yet they were not aware of it, but must be thus told of it again and again. The day of trouble, real trouble, is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains, that is, not a mere echo or report of troubles, as they were willing to think it was, nothing but a groundless surmise; as if the men that came against them were but the shadow of the mountains (as Zebul suggested to Gaal, Matt. 9:36) and the intelligence they received were but an empty sound, reverberated from the mountains. No; the trouble is not a fancy, and so you will soon find.
IV. All this comes from God’s wrath, not allayed, as sometimes it has been, with mixtures of mercy. This is the fountain from which all these calamities flow; and this is the wormwood and the gall in the affliction and the misery, which make it bitter indeed (Ezek. 7:3): I will send my anger upon thee. Observe, God is Lord of his anger; it does not break out but when he pleases, nor fasten upon any but as he directs it and gives it commission. The expression rises higher (Ezek. 7:8): Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee in full vials, and accomplish my anger, all the purposes and all the products of it, upon thee. This wrath does not single out here and there one to be made examples, but it is upon all the multitude thereof (Ezek. 7:12, 14); the whole body of the nation has become a vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction. God does sometimes in wrath remember mercy, but now he says, My eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity, Ezek. 7:4, 9. Those shall have judgment without mercy who made light of mercy when it was offered them.
V. All this is the just punishment of their sins, and it is what they have by their own folly brought upon themselves. This is much insisted on here, that they might be brought to justify God in all he had brought upon them. God never sends his anger but in wisdom and justice; and therefore it follows, “I will judge thee according to thy ways, Ezek. 7:3. I will examine what thy ways have been, compare them with the law, and then deal with thee according to the merit of them, and recompense them to thee,” Ezek. 7:4. Note, In the heaviest judgments God inflicts upon sinners he does but recompense their own ways upon them; they are beaten with their own rod. And, when God comes to reckon with a sinful people, he will bring every provocation to account: “will recompense upon thee all thy abominations (Ezek. 7:3); and now thy iniquity shall be found to be hateful (Ps. 36:2) and thy abominations shall be in the midst of thee” (Ezek. 7:4); that is, the secret wickedness shall now be brought to light, and that shall appear to have been in the midst of thee which before was not suspected; and thy sin shall now become an abomination to thyself. So the abomination of iniquity will be when it comes to be an abomination of desolation, Matt. 24:15. Or, Thy abominations (that is, the punishments of them) shall be in the midst of thee; they shall reach to thy heart. See Jer. 4:18. Or therefore God will not spare, nor have pity, because, even when he is recompensing their ways upon them, yet in their distress they trespass yet more; their abominations are still in the midst of them, indulged and harboured in their hearts. It is repeated again (Ezek. 7:8, 9), I will judge thee, I will recompense thee. Two sins are particularly specified as provoking God to bring these judgments upon them—pride and oppression. 1. God will humble them by his judgments, for they have magnified themselves. The rod of affliction has blossomed, but it was pride that budded, Ezek. 7:10. What buds in sin will blossom in some judgment or other. The pride of Judah and Jerusalem appeared among all orders and degrees of men, as buds upon the tree in spring. 2. Their enemies shall deal hardly with them, for they have dealt hardly with one another (Ezek. 7:11): Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness; that is, their injuriousness to one another is protected and patronised by the power of the magistrate. The rod of government had become a rod of wickedness, to such a degree of impudence was violence risen up. I saw the place of judgment, that wickedness was there, Eccl. 3:16; Isa. 5:7. Whatever are the fruits of God’s judgments, it is certain that our sin is the root of them.
VI. There is no escape from these judgments nor fence against them, for they shall be universal and shall bear down all before them, without remedy. 1. Death in its various shapes shall ride triumphantly, both in town and in country, both within the city and without it, Ezek. 7:15. Men shall be safe nowhere; for he that is in the field shall die by the sword (every field shall be to them a field of battle) and he that is in the city, though it be a holy city, yet it shall not be his protection, but famine and pestilence shall devour him. Sin had abounded both in city and country, Iliacos intra muros peccator et extra—Trojans and Greeks offend alike; and therefore among both desolations are made. 2. None of those that are marked for death shall escape: There shall none of them remain. None of those proud oppressors that did violence to their poor neighbours with the rod of wickedness, none of them shall be left, but they shall be all swept away by the desolation that is coming (Ezek. 7:11): None of their multitude, that is, of the rabble, whom they set on to do mischief, and to countenance them in doing it, to cry, “Crucify, crucify,” when they were resolved on the destruction of any, none of them shall remain, nor any of theirs; their families shall all be destroyed, and neither root nor branch left them. This multitude, this mob, divine vengeance will in a particular manner fasten upon; for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof (Ezek. 7:12, 14) and the vision was touching the whole multitude thereof (Ezek. 7:13), the bulk of the common people. The judgments coming shall carry them away by wholesale, and they shall neither secure themselves nor their masters whose creatures and tools they were. God’s judgments, when they come with commission, cannot be overpowered by multitudes. Though hand join in hand, yet shall not the wicked go unpunished. 3. Those that fall shall not be lamented (Ezek. 7:11): There shall be no wailing for them, for there shall be none left to bewail them, but such as are hastening apace after them. And the times shall be so bad that men shall rather congratulate than lament the death of their friends, as reckoning those happy that are taken away from seeing these desolations and sharing in them, Jer. 16:4, 5. 4. They shall not be able to make any resistance. The decree has gone forth, and the vision concerning them shall not return, Ezek. 7:13. God will not reveal it, and they cannot defeat it; and therefore it shall not return re infecta—without having accomplished any thing, but shall accomplish that for which he sends it. God’s word will take place, and then, (1.) Particular persons cannot make their part good against God: No man shall strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life; it will be to no purpose for sinners to set God and his judgments at defiance as they used to do. None ever hardened his heart against God and prospered. Those that strengthen themselves in their wickedness will be found not only to weaken, but to ruin, themselves, Ps. 52:7. (2.) The multitude cannot resist the torrent of these judgments, nor make head against them (Ezek. 7:14): They have blown the trumpet, to call their soldiers together, and to animate and encourage those whom they have got together, and thus they think to make all ready; but all in vain; none enlist themselves, or those that do have not courage to face the enemy. Note, If God be against us, none can be for us to do us any service. 5. They shall have no hope of the return of their prosperity, with which to support themselves in their adversity; they shall have given up all for gone; and therefore, “Let not the buyer rejoice that he is increasing his estate and has become a purchaser; nor let the seller mourn that he is lessening his estate and has become a bankrupt,” Ezek. 7:12. See the vanity of the things of this world, and how worthless they are—that in a time of trouble, when we have most need of them, we may perhaps make least account of them. Those that have sold are the more easy, having the less to lose, and those that have bought have but increased their own cares and fears. Because the fashion of this world passes away, let those that buy be as though they possessed not, because they know not how soon they may be dispossessed, 1 Cor. 7:29-31. It is added (Ezek. 7:13), “The seller shall not return, at the year of jubilee, to that which is sold, according to the law, though he should escape the sword and pestilence, and live till that year comes; for no inheritances shall be enjoyed here till the seventy years be accomplished, and then men shall return to their possessions, shall claim and have their own again.” In the belief of this, Jeremiah, about this time, bought his uncle’s field, yet, according to the charge, the buyer did not rejoice, but complain, Jer. 32:25. 6. God will be glorified in all: “You shall know that I am the Lord (Ezek. 7:4), that I am the Lord that smiteth, Ezek. 7:9. You look at second causes, and think it is Nebuchadnezzar that smites you, but you shall be made to know he is but the staff: it is the hand of the Lord that smiteth you, and who knows the weight of his hand?” Those who would not know it was the Lord that did them goo shall be made to know it is the Lord that smiteth them; for, one way or other, he will be owned.