As the people cometh - As they are accustomed to come on public days, Sabbaths, etc.
With their mouth they show much love - They respected the prophet, but would not bend themselves to follow his precepts. They loved earthly things, and did not relish those of heaven.
The exhortation to repentance. Ezekiel first addresses the remnant that still linger in their ancient home, and warns them against presumptuous hopes resting on false grounds Ezekiel 33:23-29; then he turns his eyes to those near him, and points out that their apparent attention to his words was illusory.
Those wastes - The places in the holy land devastated by the conqueror.
Abraham - The argument is, Abraham was but one man, and he had the promise of the land, though he did not at once possess it; much more shall we, the descendants of Abraham, being many, retain this promise and possess the land, though for a time we are depressed and subject. Compare Matthew 3:9; John 8:33, John 8:39.
To eat flesh with the blood was forbidden (see the marginal references). It seems to have been connected with the idolatries of Canaan. The prohibition was, on account of its connection with idolatry, continued in the enactment of the Council of Jerusalem Acts 15:29.
Ye stand upon your sword - Ye put your trust in your swords.
God warns the prophet against being misled by the compliance of the people.
Against thee - Rather, about “thee.” “by the walls” Rather, within “the walls.”
As the people cometh - literally, as in the margin, i. e., in crowds. Render it: they shall come “unto thee” like the coming of a people,” and” shall “sit before thee as My people” etc., i. e., they assume the attitude of God‘s people listening to His prophet. Compare Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1.
And when this - But when this.
The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit's working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man's heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form. “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Ezekiel 33:31. The apostle Paul points out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ's second coming. He says, “In the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves; ... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5. COL 411.1
This is the class that in time of peril are found crying, Peace and safety. They lull their hearts into security, and dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up another's deficiency. The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been heralded, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. But character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. No man can receive the Spirit for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit's working. “Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it [the land], as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” Ezekiel 14:20. COL 411.2
It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be too late for the soul's need to be supplied. COL 412.1Read in context »
It was in hours of solitary prayer that Jesus in His earth life received wisdom and power. Let the youth follow His example in finding at dawn and twilight a quiet season for communion with their Father in heaven. And throughout the day let them lift up their hearts to God. At every step of our way He says, “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, ... Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah 41:13. Could our children learn these lessons in the morning of their years, what freshness and power, what joy and sweetness, would be brought into their lives! Ed 259.1
These are lessons that only he who himself has learned can teach. It is because so many parents and teachers profess to believe the word of God while their lives deny its power, that the teaching of Scripture has no greater effect upon the youth. At times the youth are brought to feel the power of the word. They see the preciousness of the love of Christ. They see the beauty of His character, the possibilities of a life given to His service. But in contrast they see the life of those who profess to revere God's precepts. Of how many are the words true that were spoken to the prophet Ezekiel: Ed 259.2
Thy people “speak one to another, everyone to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.” Ezekiel 33:30-32. Ed 259.3Read in context »
There are persons who believe that they are right, when they are wrong. While claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in His name, they are workers of iniquity. “With their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” He who declares God's word is to them “as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear Thy words, but they do them not.” Ezekiel 33:31, 32. MB 146.1
A mere profession of discipleship is of no value. The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” they say, “and you need not keep the law.” But a belief that does not lead to obedience is presumption. The apostle John says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. Let none cherish the idea that special providences or miraculous manifestations are to be the proof of the genuineness of their work or of the ideas they advocate. When persons will speak lightly of the word of God, and set their impressions, feelings, and exercises above the divine standard, we may know that they have no light in them. MB 146.2
Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order. “Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1 John 2:3. MB 146.3Read in context »
Study faithfully the thirty-third chapter of Ezekiel. The work which is being done in medical missionary lines is the very work which Christ commanded His followers to do. Can you not clearly see that those who are engaged in this work are fulfilling the Saviour's commission? Can you not see that it would please your Saviour if you would lay aside all false dignity and learn in His school how to wear His yoke and carry His burdens? TM 416.1
The world needs evidences of sincere Christianity. Professed Christianity may be seen everywhere; but when the power of God's grace is seen in our churches, the members will work the works of Christ. Natural and hereditary traits of character will be transformed. The indwelling of His Spirit will enable them to reveal Christ's likeness, and in proportion to the purity of their piety will be the success of their work. TM 416.2Read in context »