24. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken, and have done it.
24. Et cognoscent omnes arbores agri, quod ego Iehovah, qui humilio arborem excelsam, et extollo in sublime arborem humilem: arefacio arborem viridem, et fructuosam reddo arborem aridam: ego Iehovah loquutus sum, et feci.1
In this verse the Prophet signifies that God's work would be memorable. For when he says that all trees should feel themselves in God's hand and power, to raise what was fallen, and to cast down and to prostrate what was elevated, he doubtless expresses no common action. By trees he means all the kings of the earth, and all possessed of any dignity. For he follows up his own metaphor: as he called the kingdom of Christ a tree or cedar which grew from a small twig, so he now speaks metaphorically of kings when he says, that all should take notice; for they shall know that Jehovah brings down the high tree. Ezekiel may here seem to be inconsistent with himself, as I have already noticed, because God said that he would take from a lofty cedar a little twig, which he wished to plant: but he now says that God would raise what was low and abject. But we have dissipated this absurdity, because, from the beginning Christ was in the glory of his Father, and thus, as Micah says, his beginning was from eternity. (Micah 5:2.) This excellency of Christ, therefore, is noticed, because, from the time when God erected David's throne, he at the same time gave a visible sign of the more excellent kingdom which was then secretly hoped for. For this reason Christ was taken from his lofty place, and since he not only put on the form of a slave, but emptied himself even unto death, (Philippians 2:7,) it is not surprising that the Prophet should say, like a tree cast down. Although, as I have remarked, this sentence is not to be restricted to the person of Christ, but thought to be adapted to his kingdom; that is, to his manner and way of governing: since we know, and it has been lately stated, that the gospel is like a scepter, by which Christ subdues all people, and rules them for himself. Now if we reflect on what the preaching of the gospel was, we shall see, as in a glass, the Prophet's meaning here, that the low tree was elevated, since no one would have thought, that from such slender beginnings the increase which God afterwards bestowed on it could arise. It follows, then, that the height was wonderful, since it could not be comprehended by the human senses.
Meanwhile he adds, I am he who humbles the lofty tree, which is not only understood of the Jews, but, in my judgment, embraces all the empires and principalities of the world. God, therefore, humbles lofty trees, because, whatever opposes itself to Christ's kingdom, must necessarily fall; and this is described more at length in Daniel. (Daniel 4.) For although all the empires of the world are founded in Christ, and sustained by his virtue, yet, since earthly kings rise up and desire to lay Christ prostrate, their pride is the reason why Christ's empire causes their ruin. This contrast, then, must be noticed, that God sets up low trees, or takes them away, and casts down lofty ones, since we are here taught to hope better of the reign of Christ than we can estimate by our senses; since, if we cast our eyes round us, many things meet us which diminish and weaken our hope. For what is the outward appearance of Christ's kingdom? In truth we shall feel nothing but despair if we judge of Christ's kingdom by the present state of affairs. But when we see how the gospel creeps along the ground, this passage should come to our minds, that God will raise up the tree that is abject and contemptible. At the same time, let us learn, that the changes which happen and are perceived in the world are to be imputed to the pride of those who are blinded by their own boasting; for kings, as we have said, forget that they are men, and so rebel against God: hence they must of necessity fall. If this is not fulfilled immediately, let us learn patiently to await the effect of this prophecy. Whatever happens, God has so established the kingdom of Christ alone, that it shall last as long as the sun and moon, but the other empires of the world shall vanish away with their own splendor, and their loftiness shall fall although at present they overtop the clouds. I, says Jehovah, have spoken, and I will do it. God here recalls the minds of the faithful to his power, because, from the time the people were dispersed -- I speak of the final overthrow of the city and temple -- there was no hope of restoration. Since, then, it was difficult to persuade men of what God now pronounces, he brings pointedly forward his own prowess, in order that men, by holding in check their carnal senses, should raise themselves above the world, and wait for the inestimable prowess of God which does not yet appear to them. It now follows --
1 Or, "I will do it." -- Calvin.
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