Atlanta Bible Students
The Book of Ezekiel

Chapter 14
Go To Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Upon first examination it appears that, while the paragraphs are broken into vss. 1-5; 6-11; 12-20 and 21-23, there are basically two sections, i.e., verses 1-11 and 12-23.
First Vision of Chapter 14
Cleansing the Spiritual House of Israel

[1] Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. [2] And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [3] Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? [4] Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that comes according to the multitude of his idols; [5] That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Verses 1-3  Expanded Bible Comments

Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. [2] And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [3] Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them?
QuestionAnswer
Who are "the elders of Israel?" The religious leaders of the nominal church.
What did these "elders of Israel" do? They came and sat before "me."
In this verse who is "me?" - Please support your answer. The son of man, Pastor Russell. – Compare verse 3.
What does it mean that "these men have set up their idols in their heart?" "Have set up" is Strong's H5927
Strong's H5927
עָלָה
âlâh
aw-law'
A primitive root; to ascend, intransitively (be high) or active (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literally and figuratively: - arise (up). (cause to) ascend up, at once, break [the day] (up), bring (up), (cause to) burn, carry up, cast up, + shew, climb (up), (cause to, make to) come (up), cut off, dawn, depart, exalt, excel, fall, fetch up, get up, (make to) go (away, up), grow (over), increase, lay, leap, levy, lift (self) up, light, [make] up, X mention, mount up, offer, make to pay, + perfect, prefer, put (on), raise, recover, restore, (make to) rise (up), scale, set (up), shoot forth (up), (begin to) spring (up), stir up, take away (up), work.
The idea is that these have set up their idols (their false gods) in their hearts. Please note that the word is עָלָהâlâ (Allah.) – "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exo. 20:3
What is meant by "the stumblingblock of their iniquity?" Tracing the word stumblingblock (H4383) we find it is nearly always associated with vanity, pride. Their iniquity is the turning aside from the worship of the one True God to the worship of false gods. The making the truth of God into a lie. Worshiping the idols of Christendom instead of God and His Son.
Why did the LORD say "should I be inquired of at all by them?" This sounds like the Lord is saying: "They had their chances but have rejected me. They have nothing left. I have withdrawn my Spirit entirely from them. Do they really think I will listen to them now?"
Do we associate this with any particular event? Yes. Consider the following quote from "WHERE ELSE BUT PITTSBURGH!"
"Convinced that he had the divine mission, Charles Taze Russell did a strange thing, a very strange thing for a young man of 26 with no formal theological education. He invited all the ministers of Pittsburgh and Allegheny to a meeting, explained his beliefs, and urged them to unite with him on that basis of faith. The fact that they accepted his invitation shows how high young Russell stood in the community, .. they politely declined his invitation."
This was in the year 1878.

Verses 4-5  Expanded Bible Comments

Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that comes according to the multitude of his idols; [5] That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.
QuestionAnswer
Why does this verse begin with "Therefore?" It indicates the law of cause and effect is working. Because they set up their creed idols and caused those would-be followers of Christ to be stumbled, etc., therefore they are going to reap what they have sown.
"Speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD;" What does this tell us? That God is instructing the "son of man"
1) To speak to these "elders of (nominal spiritual) Israel." Do not be silent.
2) Give them the following message and be sure to point out that this message is coming from God, not from Pastor Russell.
"Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face.." Is this the same group as spoken about in verse 3? Not exactly. Verse 3 is speaking specifically of "The elders of the house of Israel." This verse is speaking of "Every man of the house of Israel."
So what's the difference?
The difference is that "the elders" (teachers) are the truly responsible ones. This is why the message from God was given to them by Pastor Russell.
The people were then duped by the message being delivered to them by these "elders."
What is meant by ".. and comes to the prophet?" We believe that "the prophet" here would be our returned Lord Jesus (Acts 3:22-23,) who is being represented by Br. Russell. Not the man C. T. Russell, but "the son of man," "the man clothed in linen with the writer's inkhorn," "the seventh messenger," "the faithful and wise servant." This is who these are coming to with their inquiries.
Do these receive answers? Yes absolutely.
From whom do they receive their answers? From the LORD God.
In what manner do they get their answers? What does this tell us? "According to the multitude of his idols."
This seems to say that the more closely held are the false doctrines and practices of the nominal church, the less they are in a condition to receive the real Truth.
What is the purpose for them receiving their answers in the manner described in this verse? Because all who come to Jesus must first humble themselves enough to really want the Truth. Therefore they must be willing to drop their false ideas as soon as they perceive that they are indeed false and at odds with the Truth of God's Holy Word.
What is the condition of "the house of Israel?" "They are all estranged from me through their idols."
Considering their condition, why would the Lord hear them at all? To test their hearts and see if any are of a heart to know Him. This appears to be another way of saying "come out of her my people." The system as a whole was cast off in 1878. Here He seems to be allowing for those who are within that system to still seek after God. Acts 17:27

[6] Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. [7] For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: [8] And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and you will know that I am the LORD. [9] And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. [10] And they will bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet will be even as the punishment of him that seeks unto him; [11] That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, says the Lord GOD.

Verse 6  Expanded Bible Comments

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
QuestionAnswer
Why does this verse begin with "therefore?" As the result of what has just taken place, i.e., the law of cause and effect works. Present Truth had just been laid out before the leaders of the churches with an invitation to spread the true gospel, along with the money to do so, and they rejected the offer.
To whom is this message directed? "The house of [nominal Spiritual] Israel."
Who is to deliver the message? The "son of man."
From whom does this message originate? "The Lord GOD."
What is the message? "Repent and turn yourselves from your idols."
What are the idols of Christendom? The worship of images, doctrines, etc., which turn away from the worship of the one true God.
From what are they to "turn away their faces?" From all their abominations. The abomination which makes desolate (the mass) as well as all those false doctrines which make void the sacrifice of Christ.

Verses 7-8  Expanded Bible Comments

For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from me, and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: [8] And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and you will know that I am the LORD.
QuestionAnswer
Who or what is pictured by "the house of Israel?" The nominal Gospel Church. Remember that at this time (the time of our Lord's return, circa 1874) the nominal church contained both the true and the imitation wheat.
Who is pictured by "every one of the house of Israel?" We suggest that these are the same as the "earth dwellers" of Revelation, i.e., they go along with Christendom to the degree that they are willing participants with her doctrines and practices.
Who is pictured by "the stranger that sojourns in Israel?" This would seem to be those who are considered a part of the nominal church systems but not necessarily willingly.
What are the four things that these two classes do? 1). Separate themselves from God.
2). Sets up his idols in his heart.
3). Puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face.
4). Comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning God.
In response, what will God do? 1). I the LORD will answer him by myself.
2). I will set my face against that man.
3). I will make him a sign and a proverb.
4). I will cut him off from the midst of my people.
According to verse 8 does the above description apply to every one who "comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me?" No. It applies only to each of those who set up idols and put up stumblingblocks of iniquity.
What is to be the result of all this? You will know that I am the LORD.
How would one know if they are inquiring of a true or of a false prophet? Deut. 18:20-22

Begin Here August 1, 2017

Verse 9  Expanded Bible Comments

And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
QuestionAnswer
Who was "the prophet" that could be deceived? While this may apply to any nominal "Christian" teacher at that time, we suggest this may also have reference to Matt. 24:48-51.
What does the LORD say he will do to the deceived prophet? "I will.. destroy him from the midst of my people Israel."
How could it be that the LORD is the one who deceived the prophet? These questions should be answered together. The LORD would not have deceived the prophet if the prophet's heart had been true. However, since it was not, the LORD sent "them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." 2 Thess. 2:10-12
If the LORD deceived the prophet, why would he "destroy him from the midst of my people Israel?" Since it was the LORD deceived the prophet, how could this be just?
Does this mean that "the prophet" will be killed? It indicates that he will be destroyed as a prophet from among "my people Israel," i.e., from among God's true people, the New Creation. As the saints come out of Babylon they are rejoicing in the Present Truth and are rejecting the confusion of Babylon. To these saints the idea of listening any more to these false teachers becomes unthinkable. To them "the prophet" has indeed been destroyed – as a prophet.

Verse 10  Expanded Bible Comments

And they will bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet will be even as the punishment of him that seeks unto him;
QuestionAnswer
Who is "they?" "They" appears to refer to both the prophet and to "him that seeks unto him [the prophet]"
What is "their iniquity?" They separated themselves from God. They set up idols to worship rather than the worship of God. They put these as stumblingblocks to keep them from God. They sought "prophets" who would tell them what they wanted to hear, so they would not have to consider that the true worship of God involves sacrifice and obedience to Him, as well as the loss of reputation in the world.
What is the difference between punishment received by "the prophets" and by "him that seeks unto him?" There is no difference in the manner of their punishment.

Verse 11  Expanded Bible Comments

That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, says the Lord GOD.
QuestionAnswer
Who is "the house of Israel?" "My people [of Spiritual] Israel."
What is the purpose of verses 9 and 10? "That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me."
What does that mean? It indicates that the Lord's people have obeyed the command to "come out of her my people."
Are the Lord's people to become polluted again? No. Present Truth has now been opened up. We have full access to it. The false doctrines of the nominal church will be kept away from the Lord's true saints. Not that they will not be exposed to them, but they will not fall into those old traps again because they "know the joyful sound," the sound of the voice of Present Truth, and "with the voice together shall they sing" "the song of Moses and the Lamb."

Second Vision of Chapter 14
Cleansing the Land of Israel

[12] The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, [13] Son of man, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: [14] Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD. [15] If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: [16] Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only will be delivered, but the land will be desolate. [17] Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: [18] Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only will be delivered themselves. [19] Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: [20] Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither son nor daughter; they will but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Verse 12  Expanded Bible Comments

The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
QuestionAnswer
What is this verse telling us? That this is a new vision.

Verse 13  Expanded Bible Comments

Son of man, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
QuestionAnswer
Is the "Son of man" being told to deliver another message? No. He is being told what is going to take place.
How can the land sin against God? In order to answer that question we must first ask the question "What is pictured by the land?"
Strong's H776
אֶרֶץ
'erets
eh'-rets
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): - X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.
See R498.
"By trespassing grievously," – why not just by trespassing? Why trespassing grievously? This shows us that the LORD is indeed a merciful and patient God. It also shows us just how far Christendom had to go in order to incur His wrath.
What is God's response to the sin of the land? Land or earth (Strong's H776) – R498. See the next three questions.
What does it mean to "break the staff of bread thereof?" In this verse Staff is Strong's H4294
Strong's H4294
מַטָּה מַטֶּה
maṭṭeh maṭṭâh
mat-teh', mat-taw'
From H5186; a branch (as extending); figuratively a tribe; also a rod, whether for chastising (figuratively correction), ruling (a sceptre), throwing (a lance), or walking (a staff; figuratively a support of life, for example bread): - rod, staff, tribe.
In going through the 251 times this word is used in the Old Testament, by far the most common usage is "tribe" or "tribes." This indicates the support of one's tribe. The LORD is here telling Christendom that He is going to break from them the support for their Bible interpretations, teachings.
How does "I will.. send famine upon it" differ from breaking the staff of bread from it? The famine is because the people who have been eating the "bread" from Christendom (i.e., eating their false interpretations of the Bible) are not getting any life sustaining nourishment from that source.
What is meant by "I.. will cut off man and beast from it?" Christendom ("Christ's Kingdom - falsely so-called,) is made up of the union of the church nominal and the state. This verse has reference primarily to the religious element. From the nominal church God separates man (those who are in the condition of justification - tentative or vitalized) and beast (the civil power or beastly governments.)

Verse 14  Expanded Bible Comments

Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD.
QuestionAnswer
What was so special about Noah, Daniel and Job?
As leaders and examples would not these three men deliver more than their own souls from the religious element of Christendom? Normally we might think so except that the LORD is specific here: "they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness."
Do we have an example of what this verse is saying elsewhere in Scripture? Gen. 18:17-32

Verse 15  Expanded Bible Comments

If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts:
QuestionAnswer
What are "noisome beasts?" This phrase is usually translated: "Evil beasts." Lev. 26:3,6 As Christendom had been united with the state, i.e., with beasts, we suggest this may have reference to forms of government not willing to make union with the churches, and especially not willing to be the junior partner is such an arrangement.
What does it mean for "evil beasts to pass through the land?" Refer to the answer to the previous question.
What does it mean to "spoil" the land? To take a spoil, as in "the spoils of war."
What would be the result of spoiling the land (Christendom?) It becomes desolate. Jer. 51:36-37. This is just what happened to Jerusalem at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. – 2 Chron. 36:21
What does it mean that "no man may pass through?" No one may pass through the remains of Christendom (religious element) to get to God any more.

Verse 16  Expanded Bible Comments

Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only will be delivered, but the land will be desolate.
QuestionAnswer

Verses 17-18  Expanded Bible Comments

Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: [18] Though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only will be delivered themselves.
QuestionAnswer

Verse 19  Expanded Bible Comments

Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
QuestionAnswer

Verse 20  Expanded Bible Comments

Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they will deliver neither son nor daughter; they will but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.
QuestionAnswer

[21] For thus says the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? [22] Yet, behold, therein will be left a remnant that will be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they will come forth unto you, and you will see their way and their doings: and you will be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it. [23] And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings: and you will know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, says the Lord GOD.

Verse 21  Expanded Bible Comments

For thus says the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast?
QuestionAnswer

Verse 22  Expanded Bible Comments

Yet, behold, therein will be left a remnant that will be brought forth, both sons and daughters: behold, they will come forth unto you, and you will see their way and their doings: and you will be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, even concerning all that I have brought upon it.
QuestionAnswer

Verse 23  Expanded Bible Comments

And they will comfort you, when you see their ways and their doings: and you will know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, says the Lord GOD.
QuestionAnswer