25. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them:
26. And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house.
Now God explains the reason why he wishes the Prophet to cease for a time, and to remain at home as if dumb. They have placed, said he, ropes upon thee with which they may bind thee. The opinion of those who take the passage metaphorically is not unsuitable, as if it had been said, the perverseness of the people hinders Ezekiel in the discharge of his duty, just as if he had been bound with ropes.
To make this clearer, we may call to mind what Paul says to the Corinthians, (2 Corinthians 6:11,) namely, that he was held in bondage, because his teaching could not find access to them, nor penetrate to their souls. "Our mouth," says he, "is open towards you, O Corinthians! Our heart is enlarged towards you:" that is, as far as lieth in me, I am prepared faithfully to spend my labors upon you: but your bowels are straitened. Since therefore men, by their own depravity, hinder the course of doctrine, by reducing the servants of God to straits, it is quite consistent to represent the malice of those who are not teachable to be like ropes by which faithful teachers are bound, so that they cannot proceed freely in the course of their duty. If any one, however, prefers taking what is here said strictly and literally, the sentence must thus be understood, that the Israelites were not as yet prepared for instruction, because if the Prophet shall utter God's commands immediately, they would be like the furious who would lay hands upon him and bind him with ropes. This sense also is very appropriate, and hence we may choose freely between them. But as to the general purport, God's intention is by no means obscure, namely, that the Prophet ought not to take it ill, if he be for a time apparently useless without obtaining either hearers or fit disciples. We see then that this is said for the Prophet's comfort, that he should not murmur or take it ill that God wishes him 'to remain shut up at home; because the fit time had not yet come, as if it had been said -- "If you hasten now, you will approach furious men who will by and bye rush against you and bind you with ropes. Because, therefore, you see them not yet prepared for learning, wait a while until I prepare their ears for you, that they may attend to you; or at least, that they may be rendered the more excuseless, I will send thee; and meanwhile, although they are as yet perverse, yet they cannot rise violently against thee, but whether they will or not, they shall be compelled to hear the commands which proceed from my mouth." And he afterwards confirms this at length, as we shall see.
But he now adds, I will fix thy tongue to thy palate -- or I will make thy tongue adhere to thy palate -- so that thou shalt not be to them a reprover, because they are a rebellious house. What God ascribed to the Israelites he now transfers to himself. He had said, They will bind thee with ropes: he now says, I will make thy tongue cleave to thy palate. But these two things are easily reconciled, because in truth the Israelites rejected prophecies through their intemperance, and God thus deprived them of this benefit, because he saw they were unworthy of it. But this place shows that it is a sign of God's vengeance, when all prophecies cease, and opportunity for hearing is taken away. For as God shines upon us by his instruction, and we have thereby a certain pledge of his fatherly grace and favor, so also when instruction is removed, it is just as if God hid his face, nay, even turned his back upon us. We must consider, therefore, what is here said -- because the house of Israel was rebellious: hence the Prophet was dumb, and refrained from teaching those impious ones. God therefore desists, when he sees that he is dealing with the stupid and deaf; but. not on the first occasion of their wearying him, because he rather contends with man's ingratitude, and never ceases, as we see in Jeremiah, to rise in the morning, and to keep watch even while it is yet night; (Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 11:7; Jeremiah 35:14; Psalm 74:9;) he never ceases to call to himself even those who are slow and sluggish, nay, even the utterly rebellious: but at length, when he sees that he does not succeed by long-suffering, he takes away his instruction, as we have said. And therefore the Church complains that it is destitute of Prophets, and places that slaughter among the extreme signs of God's anger: "We do not see our signs, and Prophets do not appear among us." In this way they understand that they are alienated from God, and that no consolation remains to them, when God does not give them any taste of his goodness by Prophets. The ungodly indeed wish this, because nothing is more troublesome to them than to hear God continually exclaiming. Hence, as far as they can, they seek hiding-places, and think nothing better for themselves than to be torpid amidst their vices, and to be deaf to every voice of reproach; but yet nothing is more destructive to them, because God offers himself as a physician who cures our diseases, while he exhorts us to wisdom. But when he is silent, he deserts us as if abandoned to de-st, ruction, and hence I said that nothing is more destructive than when no reproach sounds in our ears, but we are sweetly flattered, because in this way Satan deprives us of our senses, and this is his final poisoning, when he so soothes us with his blandishments, that all reproach which may alarm our security altogether ceases. Now it follows: --
2 That is, "with which they bind thee." -- Calvin.
3 "One who reproves;" -- " Qui les repreuve;" -- Fr. "vel Corripientem." -- Calvin.
4 Or, "of bitterness." -- Calvin.
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