The Destruction of the Ammonites. B. C. 592.
28 And thou, son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites, and concerning their reproach even say thou, The sword, the sword is drawn: for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering: 29 Whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee, to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked, whose day is come, when their iniquity shall have an end. 30 Shall I cause it to return into his sheath? I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity. 31 And I will pour out mine indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of brutish men, and skilful to destroy. 32 Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire thy blood shall be in the midst of the land thou shalt be no more remembered: for I the LORD have spoken it.
The prediction of the destruction of the Ammonites, which was effected by Nebuchadnezzar about five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, seems to come in here upon occasion of the king of Babylon's diverting his design against Rabbath, when he turned it upon Jerusalem. Upon this the Ammonites grew very insolent, and triumphed over Jerusalem but the prophet must let them know that forbearance is no acquittance the reprieve is not a pardon their day also is at hand their turn comes next, and it will be but a poor satisfaction to them that they are to be devoured last, to be last executed.
I. The sin of the Ammonites is here intimated it is their reproach, Ezekiel 21:28. 1. The reproach they put upon themselves when they hearkened to their false prophets (for such it seems there were among them as well as among the Jews), who pretended to foretel their perpetual safety in the midst of the desolations that were made of the countries round about them: "They see vanity unto thee and divine a lie, Ezekiel 21:29. They flatter thee with promises of peace, and thou art such a fool as to suffer thyself to be imposed upon by them and to encourage them therein by giving credit to them." Note, Those that feed themselves with a self-conceit in the day of their prosperity prepare matter for a self-reproach in the day of their calamity. 2. The reproach they put upon the Israel of God, when they triumphed in their afflictions, and thereby added affliction to them, which was very barbarous and inhuman. Their divines, by puffing them up with a conceit that they were a better people than Israel, being spared when they were cut off, and with a confidence that their prosperity should always continue, made them so very haughty and insolent that they did even tread on the necks of the Israelites that were slain, slain by the wicked Chaldeans, who had commission to execute God's judgments upon them when their iniquity had an end, that is, when the measure of it was full. We shall meet with this again, Ezekiel 25:3, &c. Note, Those are ripening apace for misery who trample upon the people of God in their distress, whereas they ought to tremble when judgment begins at the house of God.
II. The utter destruction of the Ammonites is threatened. For the reproach cast on the church by her neighbours will be returned into their own bosom, Psalms 79:12. Let us see how terrible the threatening is and the destruction will be. 1. It shall come from the wrath of God, who resents the indignities and injuries done to his people as done to himself (Ezekiel 21:31): I will pour out my indignation as a shower of fire and brimstone upon thee. The least drop of divine indignation and wrath will create tribulation and anguish enough to the soul of man that does evil what then would a full stream of that indignation and wrath do? "I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath that is, I will blow up the fire of my wrath against thee it shall burn with the utmost vehemence." Thou shalt be for fuel to this fire, Ezekiel 21:32. Note, Wicked men make themselves fuel to the fire of God's wrath they are consumed by it, and it is inflamed by them. 2. It shall be effected by the sword of war to them he must cry, as before to Israel, because they had triumphed in Israel's overthrow: The sword, the sword is drawn compare v. 9,10) it is drawn to consume because of the glittering, because it is brandished and glitters, and is fit to be made use of. God's executions will answer his preparations. This sword, when it is drawn, shall not return into its sheath (Ezekiel 21:30) till it has done the work for which it was drawn. When the sword is drawn it does not return till God causes it to return, and he is in one mind and who can turn him? Who can change his purpose? 3. The persons employed in it are brutish men, and skilful to destroy. Men of such a bad character as this, who have the wit of men to do the work of wild beasts--human reason, which makes them skilful, but no human compassion, which makes them skilful only to destroy--though they are the scandal of mankind, yet sometimes are made use of to serve God's purposes. God delivers the Ammonites into the hands of such, and justly, for they themselves were brutish, and delighted in the destruction of God's Israel. We have reason to pray, as Paul desired to be prayed for, that we may be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men (2 Thessalonians 3:2), men that seem made for doing mischief. 4. The place where they should thus be reckoned with: "I will judge thee where thou wast created, where thou wast first formed into a people, and where thou hast been settled ever since, and therefore where thou seemest to have taken root the land of thy nativity shall be the land of thy destruction." Note, God can bring ruin upon us even where we are most secure, and turn us out of that land which we thought we had a title to not to be disputed and a possession of not to be disturbed. Thy blood shall be shed not only in thy borders, but in the midst of thy land. Lastly, I shall be an irreparable ruin: "Though thou mayest think to recover thyself, it is in vain to think of it thou shalt be no more remembered with any respect," Psalms 9:6. Justly is their name blotted out who would have Israel's name for ever lost.