For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

6:1.  “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


6:2.  “Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,”


The mountains here are generally understood to refer to the locations of the idolatrous shrines that filled the land, for hilltops were the favored locale for the erection of such altars.


6:3.  “And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.”


The repeated “Lord God” is obviously meant to emphasize the omnipotence of the Speaker; and the rivers and valleys point to the widespread nature of the idolatry: it filled the land.


The message therefore was that the Lord was going to slay them and destroy their high places, i.e., the shrines they had erected for the worship of their idols.


6:4.  “And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.”


God was about to destroy their altars and idols; and as they had prostrated themselves in worship before those idols, so would they lie before them prostrate in death, the Babylonians being His chosen instrument of destruction.


6:5.  “And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.”


The unburied carcases and scattered bones speak of the terrible nature of the judgment about to consume them.  They would die amid the tumult of war rather than peacefully as a result of old age.  As their idolatry had been a stench in the nostrils of God, so now would their rotting carcases be a stench in the midst of their idols.


6:6.  “In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.”


God would desolate (demolish) the pagan altars by destroying the idolaters, for the Babylonians would not only slay the worshipers, but would destroy also their idolatrous shrines.  As noted above, the reference to high places is related to the fact that hill tops were the favored sites of virtually all the heathen altars.  “... your works” refers not only to their idolatry, but also to the workmanship that had been invested in constructing and beautifying the idol shrines.


Relative to “your works,” The Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary makes the following interesting comment, “your works - not gods, as you supposed, but the mere work of men’s hands.”


“... your images” is generally understood to refer to pillars that had been erected in connection with the worship of the sun god. 


6:7.  “And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”


The unburied slain lying in the streets would be the grim reminder that the One they had antagonized by their wickedness was the God of heaven, the Sovereign over all the earth.


6:8.  “Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.”


God, however, would not destroy them utterly, for it is His purpose to bless Israel, so that no matter how many generations would forfeit that blessing by their disobedience, He will yet bring out of the crucible of the terrible Great Tribulation, a repentant believing remnant: the Israel that will inherit those blessings in the Millennium.  Therefore while multitudes would be slain, He would permit some to escape and find refuge amongst the nations, those escapees being they through whom the life of the nation would be preserved.


6:9.  “And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols.: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.”


Captivity amongst the nations would be the means by which some of the survivors would be brought to repentance; and while some take “broken” to refer to God’s heart, the majority of translators favor the view that it is He Who will break the hearts of the idolaters, repentance resulting from their coming to realize the dreadful wickedness of their spiritual harlotry.  Then they will loath themselves for all the wickedness that attended their idolatry; abominations being rendered detestable ways: filthy practices: foul wrong.


It is interesting to note that following the Babylonian captivity, Israel has never again been guilty of idolatry.


6:10.  “And they shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.”


Condign punishment would accomplish what unmerited loving kindness had failed to do: it would teach the rebels that the God they had brazenly defied, is the Almighty Whose word cannot be broken.  His assurance of eternal punishment for unbelievers is as sure as is His promise of eternal bliss for believers.


6:11.  “Thus saith the Lord God; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”


“Smite with thine hand” is also translated clap your hands: clench your fists, these dramatic gestures with hands and feet being to add emphasis to the prophet’s announcement of the terrible judgment that was to fall upon unrepentant Israel on account of her phenomenal wickedness.  Their punishment would be just as singular! God would destroy them by sword, famine, and disease.


6:12.  “He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.”


Disease would destroy those who might have fled to other lands; and of those remaining, some would be slain by the Babylonians prior to the siege of Jerusalem; while those taking refuge in the doomed city would die of hunger during the siege.  There would be no place where the wicked rebels would be able to escape the fury of the Almighty Whose patience they had exhausted.


6:13.  “Then shall ye know that I am the Lord, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savor to all their idols.”


Only when the few survivors looked upon the slain bodies of their fellow idolaters lying in front of the idols and around the altars before which they had prostrated themselves in worship, would they learn what a dreadful thing it is to arouse the wrath of the Almighty.


“... sweet savor” includes incense or anything else offered in worship; and the pervasion of the evil is clearly declared in the diversity of locale of their shrines.


6:14.  “So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


Diblath (Diblah) is unknown, and scholars agree that the place is almost certainly Riblah (Riblath).  Most scholars also agree that “than the wilderness toward Diblath” is more accurately translated, “from the south desert up to Riblah,” i.e., the length and breath of the land would become a wasteland from lack of people to cultivate it.  Only then, too late to benefit them, would the wicked people learn that the One against Whom they had sinned so grievously was the Almighty.  And so is it with billions since Adam until the present: only in hell do the unrepentant dead learn that the One they ignored or defied on earth is that same Almighty God.

[Ezekiel 7]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough