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The Mountains of Israel Comforted
v. 1. Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, here representing the entire country, as Mount Seir stood for Idumea in the foregoing section, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, formerly the places of idol worship and as such made prominent in this connection, hear the word of the Lord:
v. 2. Thus saith the Lord God, Because the enemy hath said against you, Edom, as the representative of all God's foes, Aha! even the ancient high places are ours in possession, believing that they would surely be masters of the land if they held the places of worship,
v. 3. therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God, Because they have made you desolate, all the enemies round about having combined to make the Land of Promise a desert waste, and swallowed you up on every side, literally, "panted after you," like a beast trying to reach its prey, snorting and snapping in its eagerness, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, those remaining after their own countries had felt the devastating might of the conquerors, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, to be bandied about in blasphemous jest and slander, and are an infamy of the people, objects of calumny and derision,
v. 4. therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God, who is ever the Defender of His people, Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers, or ravines, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, the ruins scattered throughout the country, and to the cities that are forsaken, as a result of the Chaldean conquest, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about, the inanimate objects throughout the country being representative, with great emphasis, of the former inhabitants and of those who would dwell there in the future;
v. 5. therefore thus saith the Lord God, Surely in the fire of My jealousy, burning with a jealous anger, have I spoken against the residue of the heathen and against all Idumea, which was particularly prominent in its covetous jealousy of Israel, 35:10-15, which have appointed My land into their possession, calmly claiming it for themselves, with the joy of all their heart, with vindictive gladness, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey, emptying it of all its wealth and thereby making it a prey, or tossing it away like a morsel left for the beasts of the desert.
v. 6. Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel and say unto the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers, or ravines, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and In My fury, in the fierce anger caused by His jealousy, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen, that which the heathen poured out upon Israel,
v. 7. therefore thus saith the Lord God, I have lifted up Mine hand, in token of the solemn oath which He was swearing, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame, a perpetual load of disgrace, forever under the curse of Jehovah.
v. 8. But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, like a fruitful tree bringing forth leaves and bearing food in abundance, and yield your fruit to My people of Israel, Isaiah 56:1; for they are at hand to come, that is, this maturing of fruit might be expected very soon.
v. 9. For, behold, I am for you, the Lord still addressing the mountains of Israel, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown, the return of the inhabitants thus being indicated,
v. 10. and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it, that is, the entire spiritual people of the Lord, for the spiritual significance of the entire passage is obvious; and the cities shall be inhabited, after being forsaken for so many years, and the wastes shall be builded, the ruins once more being cleared away and houses erected in their stead,
v. 11. and I will multiply upon you man and beast, the cultivated land thus being strongly populated, and they shall increase and bring fruit, both of them multiplying under the blessing of the Lord; and I will settle you after your old estates, not only in ancient times, but according to the ancient promises, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings, and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Although the description is entirely on the physical plane and the picture is that of Israel's glory, yet the context requires its application to the spiritual blessings of the Messianic period.
v. 12. Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, on the mountains of Israel, even My people Israel, the elect nation of the Lord in the fullest and highest sense of the term; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, whose blessings they should enjoy, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men, namely, on account of the fact that famine, pestilence, and war would be brought on by the apostasy of the inhabitants of the land.
v. 13. Thus saith the Lord God, Because they say unto you, Thou, land, devourest up men and hast bereaved thy nations, literally, "A devourer of men art thou and hast made thy people childless," the land being personified as an unnatural mother and charged with the sins committed in it, with their consequences,
v. 14. therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord God, the explanation in this case being contained in the Hebrew term, which means to cause to stumble and fall.
v. 15. Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, namely, the scorn which other nations heaped upon the Lord's people, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, all the reasons for mockery on the part of the enemies being removed, neither shalt thou cause thy nations, the people inhabiting the land, to fall any more, saith the Lord God. This change is represented as having been brought about entirely by the Lord, and it is impossible to confine its consequences to the children of Israel according to the flesh, for the returned exiles continued under the rule of the heathen and were obliged to bear their scorn and mockery. The fulfillment of this prophecy is therefore properly to he found only in the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.
Israel Restored for the Sake of Jehovah's Name
v. 16. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
v. 17. Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, before the time of the Babylonian captivity, they defiled it by their own way, their behavior, their manner of acting, and by their doings, the sinfulness of their works being brought out even in the terms used; their way was before Me as the uncleanness of a removed woman, the monthly purification of a woman by separation, Leviticus 15. Cf Isaiah 64:5.
v. 18. Wherefore I poured My fury upon them, in most severe punishments, for the blood that they had shed upon the land, in open bloodshed and murder, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it, this shameless idolatry being the second reason why the Lord was obliged to visit his wrath upon Israel.
v. 19. And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries, in the great Babylonian exile; according to their way and according to their doings I judged them, as they had deserved by their manifold transgressions.
v. 20. And when they entered unto the heathen whither they went, when they were taken away into captivity, they profaned My holy name, by the open manner of sinning which was found ill their midst, when they, namely, the heathen, said to them, These are the people of the Lord and are gone forth out of His land. The sinful behavior of the Jews in tile various lands of their captivity caused the heathen who witnessed this behavior to blaspheme the name of Jehovah as being responsible for the trespasses. Cf Romans 2:24. There is great responsibility resting upon believers everywhere, that they make use of tact and care at all times, lest on their account the enemies of the Lord be made to mock the name of the one true God.
v. 21. But I had pity for Mine holy name, He felt a pitiful concern for his holy name, because it was being so shamefully abused, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen whither they went. He felt that something must he done to restore the regard in which men had held his honor.
v. 22. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, in explaining His divine pity and in announcing the application of His mercy in their case, Thus saith the Lord God, I do not this for your sakes, o house of Israel, but for Mine holy name's sake, whose honor was at stake on account of their sins, which ye have profaned among the heathen whither ye went.
v. 23. And I will sanctify My great name, so that it would once more be kept holy, which was profaned among the heathen, as they heaped reproaches and mockery upon it, which ye have profaned in the midst of them, the Jews themselves being the reason why God felt obliged to vindicate His glory and to manifest himself as holy; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, overcome by the evidence before their eyes, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes, when the Lord proves that He is holy amid righteous and compels the admission of this fact of the part of the heathen,
v. 24. For I will take you from among the heathen and gather you out of all countries and will bring you into your own land, this act of This power and holiness putting an effectual stop to the blasphemy and mockery in which the heathen had been indulging.
v. 25. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, as in the rite prescribed by Jewish Law, Numbers 19:9-18, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you, for their idolatry was a filthy stain upon the whole nation. This is a beautiful description of the forgiveness of sins, of the justification of sinners by the merciful and gracious act. of God.
v. 26. A new heart also will I give you, so that mind and will would be regenerated, and a new spirit will I put within you, so that their entire motives and principles of action would be changed in conformity with God's will, Psalms 51:10; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, the natural enmity against God, and I will give you an heart of flesh, one that will readily receive the impressions of God's Holy Spirit and be guided by His power in all good works.
v. 27. And I will put My Spirit within you, for it is He who is the true power in regeneration, and conversion is in every way an act of the grace of God and not of man's reason and strength, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments and do them. It is clear, then, that not only the work of regeneration, but that of sanctification as well is an act of God performed upon the heart of man, that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has prepared before, that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.
v. 28. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, in the spiritual possessions which were promised to Abraham and his true children ; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God, the relation of Messianic times thus being announced.
v. 29. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses, namely, those which are found even in the regenerated children of God; and I will call for the corn and will increase it and lay no famine upon you, the spiritual blessings of the Gospel being given to the believers in full measure, as Psalms 72 also states.
v. 30. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, that is, of all the trees in God's spiritual garden, and the increase of the field, of everything that grows in the tilled ground of His Church, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen, so that all reason for mockery on the part of the unbelievers would be removed as they saw the riches of God's blessings upon His people.
v. 31. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways and your doings that were not good, for the mercy and grace of God, like His goodness, bring men to an ever greater realization of their unworthiness, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. That is ever the result of conversion, as we see also in the case of the Apostle Paul, 1 Timothy 1:13-15.
v. 32. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you, for it is never anything in man which causes the Lord to extend to him His loving-kindness and tender mercies, to work faith in his heart; be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel! That is ever all that a repentant sinner sees on his side, namely, reasons to be ashamed, to hide his head on account of the disgrace of sins and transgressions. The salvation of a sinner is altogether and alone the work of our gracious Father in heaven, for the sake of Christ, the Redeemer.
v. 33. Thus saith the Lord God, In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities, at the time when the Messianic redemption would be a fact, I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded, the ruins once more repaired. This is evidently a reference to the gathering of the New Testament Church.
v. 34. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by, the wasted lands of the Holy Land being a picture of the Lord's Church as it had been devastated by idolatry and other transgressions of His Law.
v. 35. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the Garden of Eden, a type of the most splendid beauty and glory on earth and a fine picture of the Lord's Church; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced and are inhabited, so that their inhabitants are secure against all attacks of the enemies. Cf Psalms 46.
v. 36. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I, the Lord, build the ruined places, making restitution wherever He chooses, while His punishment strikes down the heathen, and plant that that was desolate, as the history of His Church throughout the ages abundantly illustrates. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it, His determination being brought out with great emphasis.
v. 37. Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this, with regard to the restoration of Israel, of His Church, be enquired of by the house of Israel, hearing their appeal with gracious willingness, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock, known for the rapidity with which they multiply.
v. 38. As the holy flock, literally, "as a flock of holy things," of animals intended for sacrifices on the festival days, Cf 2 Chronicles 35:7, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts, which was always very large, as the ordinances pertaining to the festivals show, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men, so would the Church of God be increased in numbers; and they shall know that I am the Lord, whose glory is established by every act of His merciful power at all times.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany