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Miller’s Works, vol. 1. Views of the Prophecies and Prophetic Chronology

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    II. I SHALL SHOW THAT PEOPLE AT THE PRESENT DAY ARE MAKING THE SAME EXCUSES AND PLEAS AS THEN

    1. The Jews said “the vision was for many days to come.” You will readily see why they put off the vision for many days. It was that they might have more time to accomplish their own wicked purposes, to execute their own avaricious plans. They were engaged, in Ezekiel’s days, in idolatry to an alarming degree. The people were embracing some of the most dangerous errors that ever crept into the Jewish church. It had become very fashionable to be prophets, or teachers. Whether this was because such persons received great salaries, or because their trade was called honorable, or because it was an easy life, and they were too indolent to get a living by labor, we may not be able exactly to tell. But some things we can tell: Ezekiel has recorded them. They are compared to foxes. Ezekiel 13:4: “O Israel, thy prophets are like foxes in the deserts.” They were cunning, sly, and deceitful. They were too indolent to study the word of God, and bring out things new and old; therefore they prophesied out of their own hearts, or stole, perhaps, the writings of others, as the Lord accuses them in the 2nd and 3rd verses. In the 5th verse, “Ye have not gone up into the gap, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel.” When trials came into the church and breaches were made in her walls, they fled and left the people of God in affliction, and did not, by their instruction, prepare them “to stand in the battle, in the day of the Lord.” They preached or prophesied that which was not in the word of God. See chapter 13:6-8. They prophesied that which suited the carnal ear, always ready to cry peace, even where the Lord had not spoken peace. See verse 10. Read Ezekiel 13:19 to the end. They conspired together, like a roaring lion ravening for the prey. They devoured souls, and hunted for treasures and precious things; they caused many to mourn among the people of God. They violated the law of God, and polluted holy things, by making no difference between the clean and unclean. They shed blood and destroyed souls to get dishonest gain. They daubed with untempered mortar, and formed creeds and ceremonies which God had not commanded. They fed themselves on the fat of the land, and clothed themselves with the finest wool; but the flock they did not feed. The diseased they did not strengthen, neither healed that which was sick. They bound not up the broken in heart, nor brought back the wandering. They sought not for those which were lost; but with force and cruelty they ruled over them. See Ezekiel 22:25 to 29, and 34:1 to 6, inclusive.MWV1 124.2

    The prophet Isaiah, in describing the same characters, says, “His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand. They all look to their own way, every one for his gain from his quarter.” Isaiah 56:10 and 11.MWV1 125.1

    If any man, pretending to be a preacher of the gospel, at this day, should preach to us in as plain and forcible a manner as Ezekiel did to the prophets of his time, should we be apt to apply the word so preached to ourselves? No. Perhaps we should say,-he is prophesying of many days yet to come, or of times that are afar off.MWV1 126.1

    2. The people in that day were guilty, as God by Ezekiel charges them, of setting up idols in their hearts, and putting the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face. See Ezekiel 14:3.MWV1 126.2

    The idols which they set up in their hearts were these very prophets which Ezekiel had before described; for, instead of searching the word of God for their faith and practice, they set up their false prophets as their lawgivers, and their construction of the word as their best rule. These were their stumbling-blocks which the children of Israel stumbled over into iniquity, and instead of going to God to inquire of him concerning their principles and duty, they go to these false prophets to inquire; and God says he will suffer them to be deluded, and prophet and people will be caught in a net together of their own making.MWV1 126.3

    3. They had rebelled against the Lord, and were stiff-hearted; they kept not his statutes, and despised his judgments; they regarded not his commands, and kept not the holy Sabbath. They changed the ordinances of his house, and committed whoredom by their communion with idols. They defiled the sanctuary of God, by admitting the profane and unclean within the sacred place. They set up altars in every high place, and did not humble themselves before God. They were proud and haughty of spirit, and regarded not the wants of the poor and needy. They had much respect for those of high birth, while the low and base-born were treated with total neglect. For the proverb, “Because the fathers have eaten sour grapes, the children’s teeth are set on edge,” had been much used in Israel at that day.MWV1 126.4

    4. They had got to themselves itching ears, being more pleased with the musical voice of their teachers than with the truth. They looked more for an orator than they did for a true prophet. Ezekiel 33:30-32. Yes. The Lord says to Ezekiel, “The children of thy people still are talking against thee, by the walls and in the doors of their houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth of 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.” These are some of the abominations of the children of Israel, and for these things Ezekiel was sent to them, and was commanded to denounce sore and heavy judgments upon them, to wit, pestilence, famine, war, and captivity. And what was the effect? Why, all the effect it had was to make them say, “The vision he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.” They dare not deny the vision itself, for this would have been too barefaced, or perhaps Ezekiel had given them too much evidence of his being a true prophet. Yet they could avoid the conclusion, the evil consequences, as they vainly thought, or could excuse themselves from repenting then, for he prophesied of times that are afar off, say they; and perhaps some of them might have fixed on 2428 years afterward for these judgments to be poured out upon the world, which would bring it down to the very day in which we live. I shall now show,MWV1 127.1

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