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Ezekiel 33-39. Changes and Preparations Necessary for the Blessed Future. Now that the security of Israel for the days to come is guaranteed by the destruction of the foreign nations, the mood of the prophet changes— the old rebellious house” ( Ezekiel 2:5) gives place to “ the children of my people” ( Ezekiel 33:2)— and he passes on to his programme of reconstruction. The turning-point is constituted by the definite announcement of the fall of Jerusalem brought to Babylon by one who had escaped ( Ezekiel 33:21). Ezekiel’ s gloomy threats, so long ignored or disbelieved, have at last been fulfilled; his prophetic reputation is confirmed; and he is now free to utter his message of hope and promise, to prepare his people, and to help them to prepare themselves, for the blessed future, with its restoration and reorganisation of Israel, which he so confidently anticipates. The first and fundamental item on his programme is the
Ezekiel 36:1-Ezra : . The Restoration and Renewal of Israel’ s Land.— This chapter is brilliant with hope and promise. First comes a fine apostrophe ( Ezekiel 36:1-Ezra :), tremulous with emotion ( cf. Ezekiel 36:4), to the mountain land of Israel (contrast ch. 6). Mocked and desolated as it had been by the enemy, and especially by Edom, Yahweh, whose own honour has been involved in these insults to His land, solemnly vows that the enemy shall be overtaken by the doom which they had brought upon Israel ( Ezekiel 36:1-Judges :). His favour, however, would restore Israel’ s mountain land, which, in the near future ( Ezekiel 36:8) would be more fertile, prosperous, and populous than ever before. Never again, as in the days gone by, would she devour her people ( Ezekiel 36:13) by war, or pestilence, or infertility ( Ezekiel 36:8-Ezra :). (For “ to cast it out” in Ezekiel 36:5, read perhaps “ to possess it.” ) At this point the vision of the renewed land glides naturally into a vision of the renewed people, thus preparing the way for ch. 37.
Ezekiel 36:16-Zechariah : . The Cleansing and Renewing of the People.— This is a passage of peculiar interest and importance, carrying us as it does far into the mind and theology of Ezekiel. First, we are reminded that Israel’ s sins— of bloodshed (whether child sacrifice or judicial murder) and idolatry— had obliged Yahweh to drive them into exile. In this way they had “ profaned His holy name among the nations,” who, according to ancient notions, naturally regarded Him as a worthless God, because apparently weak and unable to protect His people. To vindicate His holiness, therefore, and to reassert His reputation, as it were, in the eyes of a world which misunderstands Him and fails to recognise the moral reasons for His temporary rejection of Israel, He decrees and arranges for her restoration to her own land. But the significant thing in Ezekiel is that He is said to do this not out of love for Israel, but for His holy name’ s sake, i.e. to vindicate His character which has been aspersed and misunderstood ( Ezekiel 36:17-Isaiah :).
But for this restoration the people must be worthily prepared: ( a) by the forgiveness of their sins— symbolised by the cleansing water ( Ezekiel 36:25); ( b) by the gift of the new heart or spirit ( i.e. disposition or nature), impressionable, responsive to the Divine appeal, obedient to the Divine demands ( Ezekiel 36:26 f.). Then the whole country will be blessed with fertility; and this marvellous transformation of the situation, this expression of Yahweh’ s unmerited grace, has the double effect of leading Israel to loathe herself for her sins ( Ezekiel 36:31) and the surrounding nations to recognise the sublime power of Yahweh ( Ezekiel 36:35 f.). With the population of the land reduced, and many in exile, so brilliant a prospect seemed remote enough; but to meet this mood of dejection, the prophet promises that in those days men will be as numerous as the sheep that flock into Jerusalem for sacrifice at the sacred festivals.
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 36". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/