5. You have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to, stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.
5. Non ascendistis ad rupturas1 neque sepiverunt sepem super domum Israel ad standum in praelio in die Iehovae.
Hence he pursues the same sentiment, but presses the false prophets harder. He has said generally that they were sacrilegious, making a false use of God's name when speaking entirely in their own. He now separates them by another mark from the approved and faithful servants of God, namely, they had not gone up into the breach, nor built up a hedge to protect the house of Israel, that they might stand in the battle in the day of Jehovah. This verse is variously explained: some refer what is here said to prayer; others twist it according to different imaginations, but I restrict it to their teaching.2 Ezekiel not only blames their inner and hidden perfidy, he not only strikes their minds, so as to convince them that they had no desire for piety, and no zeal for God's glory, but he shows that their teaching must be altogether rejected, because they did not propose to themselves the right object. But what is the mark at which all God's servants thought to aim? Surely to consult the public safety; and when they see signs of God's wrath, to meet them, and prevent the urgent calamity. These impostors saw the people not only impious, but rebellious, so that there was no hope of their repentance. On the other hand, they saw God threatening; and although they were blind, yet they could behold the signs of God's reproaching vengeance. Hence it was their duty to go up to the breaches. Hence, also, we understand what the Prophet means by "breaches," namely, as an approach is open to an enemy to storm a city when a breach is made in the wall, so also, when the iniquity of the people overflows like a deluge, a rupture is already made, by means of which God's wrath is able to penetrate immediately, and to lay everything waste till it is reduced to nothing.
As often, then, as we see God offended by the people's wickedness, let us learn that a breach has been made, as if we had been destined to destruction. Hence those who desire to discharge the office of teaching faithfully ought to hasten to the breach, to recall the people from their impiety, and to exhort them to repentance. Thus the wall becomes restored, because God is appeased, and we are able to rest in quietness and security. What follows has the same object -- they have not restored the hedge. For when a people breaks through all rights, and violates God's law, it is just as if they laid themselves bare in every part from the protection of God, as Moses reproves them when speaking of the molten calf: Behold, says he, this day you are naked; that is, because they had hurled themselves into destruction. (Exodus 32:25.) So the Prophet says that these traitors did not run up to restore the hedge when the house of Israel was exposed to robbers, thieves, and wild beasts, because it was no longer protected by the hand of God. What follows has the same object, that they should stand in the battle in the day of the Lord; that is, to oppose themselves to God's vengeance. This relates to prayers, when mention is made of Phinehas, in Psalm 106:30, and also in the same psalm, Psalm 106:23, where it is said of Moses, Unless Moses had stood in the breach to turn away God's wrath. Here also, as I have said, the Prophet looks rather to doctrine. For here he sharply rebukes the folly of false prophets who had promised wonderful things. Now, when God approached in earnest, all their prophecies vanished: he says, therefore, they stood not in the battle in the day of Jehovah; for, if they had diligently exhorted the people to repentance, those sinners had reconciled God to themselves: for we turn aside his judgment beforehand when we turn to him in time, as Paul teaches. (1 Corinthians 11:31.) If, therefore, the people had been thus diligently advised, they had stood in the battle; that is, their teaching would have been a bulwark against the breaking out of God's wrath to destroy them utterly. Now, therefore, we see the meaning of Ezekiel, namely, to show how the fallacies of the false prophets could be perceived, since by their blandishments and flatteries they destroyed the people,. Now it follows --
1 Or, "breaks." -- Calvin.
2 CEeolampadius takes a different view: he says, "principibus et prophetis juxta quadrat: eorum est animam ponere pro ovibus contra pseudoprophets." he then quotes John 10, "Vident lupum venientem et fugiunt." The remainder of his comment on this verse is worthy of perusal.
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