1. And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth, day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me.
1. Et fuit anno septimo, quinto mense, decimo mensis venerunt viri e senioribus Israel ad consulendum Jehovam: et sederunt coram facie mea.1
Here he does not narrate a vision but an event which really happened. It is a simple historical narrative, that some of the elders of Israel were chosen to interrogate him. We know this to be customary, and when God separates His people from the profane nations, he opposes his prophets to the soothsayers and magi, augurs and astrologers. For he says that the Gentiles inquire what concerns them in various ways, and so interrogate their deities; but that he prescribes to the chosen people but one method: I will raise for them a prophet from the midst of their brethren, says Moses, (Deuteronomy 18:18;) that is, they need not wander about, like the wretched gentiles, destitute of counsel, first to their soothsayers, then to magi, and then to astrologers: there is no end to them' but I will meet them, says he, by my prophets, who shall always exist among the people. In this sense Ezekiel says that the elders of Israel came to consult God. The verb,
Now the Clause which I have noticed contains some useful instruction, -- the elders of Israel came to consult God and sat before the Prophet. We see, then, as far as concerns outward forms, that they followed what God had commanded in his law; lest you should say, Who shall ascend above the clouds? who shall descend into the abyss? who shall cross the sea? The word is ever there, in thy heart and in thy mouth. (Deuteronomy 30:12-14; Romans 10:6-8.) Since therefore God in some way brought himself forward whenever he instructed his servants by the spirit of prophecy, so when the elders of Israel came to the Prophet, they are said to come to God himself, because God was unwilling to utter his own oracles either from heaven or by means of angels, but he appointed his servant by whom he would speak, and suggested what he should say. Hence we gather that our faith is not rightly founded unless when we listen to God alone, who only deserves and claims us as listeners. But at the same time, we must remark that faith was joined with humility and modesty. Hence if any one desires to ascend to the clouds to inquire what God will answer, he departs far from him, although he pretends to approach him. Hence this moderation is to be observed, that our faith may acquiesce in the authority of the one God, and not be carried hither and thither by the will of men; and yet it should not object to here God speak through his servants, but calmly submit itself to the prophets. It now follows --
1 Or, "before me." -- Calvin.
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