Ezekiel 14:14 though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.[i] See also Ezekiel 14:12-21.
In this prophecy of Ezekiel the expression “these three men” is used three times, in verses 14, 16 and 18. The three names of the three men – Noah, Daniel, and Job – are mentioned twice. Noah, Daniel, and Job are examples of righteousness. Noah is described as having “found grace in the eyes of the Lord…a just man and perfect in his generations,” and one who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9). By faith he built an ark (Hebrews 11:7). Daniel is a prophet (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) who is “a man greatly beloved” (Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:11), who separated himself to God in the midst of his servitude in Babylon (Daniel 1:3-8). He remained faithful in the face of death (Daniel 6:4-10). Job was a man “perfect and upright…one that feared God, and eschewed evil” and there was “none like him in the earth” (Job 1:1-8; 2:3). His faith sustained him when all he had was lost (Job 1:20-22).
In contrast to the prophecy of Ezekiel in the present situation, these three men had each been the means of delivering others. Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house, and was the means of preservation of human life on the earth (Genesis 6:18; (Hebrews 11:7). Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and was thereby the means of saving his friends, as well as the other wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:5; 16-18; 47-49). Job prayed for his friends, with whom the Lord was displeased, and God accepted his intercession for them (Job 42:7-10) – a living lesson on the mercy of God (James 5:11).
Despite the recognized righteousness of these men – men whose names were connected with deliverance – Ezekiel warns that even such as these three could not delay the judgment on God on these people. Even were there dwelling in Jerusalem well-known righteous men from either past or present – it would be no benefit to them. There would be no stay of the sentence through their intercession (Cf. Jeremiah 15:1). There would be no repeal of punishment for their presence (Cf. Genesis 18:23; Genesis 18:32). Matthew Henry wrote, “But a people that had filled the measure of their sins, was not to expect to escape for the sake of any righteous men living among them; not even of the most eminent saints...” God is longsuffering, but we must not presume upon it (2 Peter 3:9-10). He knows how to separate the righteous from the wicked (2 Peter 2:9), and ultimately the wicked will perish (Psalm 37:38). There is judgment surely coming that will not be restrained (Psalm 7:9).