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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Ezekiel 35

 

 

Verses 1-15

Ezekiel 35:2. Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir; that is, Idumea. Genesis 36:9. “The Nabatheans having driven the Edomites out of their ancient habitation during the Babylonian captivity, they settled themselves in the south of Judea, where they were afterwards conquered by Hyrcanus, obliged to embrace judaism, and were incorporated with the jews.” Prideaux. Thus Esau’s remnant, being circumcised, became joint heirs of Christ with the seed of Jacob.

Ezekiel 35:14. When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate. Cyrus restored many nations, besides the jews, but Edom remained desolate, or was inhabited by strangers. Thus the Lord prepared blood for Esau’s race, and blood pursued them. Thus also the Lord loved Jacob, and hated Esau, because Esau hated not blood, as in the sixth verse. Thus the elder literally served the younger in his posterity, when his mountains were laid waste for the dragons of the wilderness, by successive invasions. It is allowed that God does more for one man and for one nation, than for another; and that he preferred Jacob to Esau by his sovereign pleasure; but what impartial man can view Esau’s diminished race, now circumcised and incorporated with the jews by Hyrcanus, who was both highpriest and prince, and coolly affirm that God has predestinated any man to eternal death? See Reflections on Jeremiah 49.

Ezekiel 36:8-12. But ye, oh mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches. Agriculture revived under the government of Zerubbabel, and the mountains once more became verdant; yet this was only a faint figure of the real glory which shall follow in the days of the Messiah. Rabbi Abarbanel understands the prophecy in this sense, as appears in Ezekiel 34:31.

Ezekiel 36:23. I will sanctify my great name (JEHOVAH) which ye have profaned. This relates chiefly to worship; and it is apparent that since the Babylonish captivity, the Hebrew nation have neither bowed the knee nor raised the hand to idols.

The heathen shall know that I am the Lord. On this subject Origen says, “The miserable jews acknowledge that this is a prophecy of the presence of Christ; but of whose person they are stupidly ignorant, though they see his words accomplished. When, before his advent, did the land of Britain agree in the worship of one God? When did the land of Mauritania, (literally the land of the blacks) when did the whole globe at once agree in this?

Whereas now, on account of the church’s spread to the uttermost boundaries of the world, the whole earth rejoices to invoke the God of Israel.” Origen, hom. 4. apud Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 36:24-28. I will take you from among the heathen—and will bring you into your own land. This was done under the auspices of Cyrus, and with a strong and mighty hand. Yet as Abarbanel notices, the promises respecting peace still remain to be fulfilled.

On these verses, I heard good Mr. Simeon of Cambridge preach in behalf of the jews. He observed that christians have generally cut off the head and feet of the passage, and taken only the trunk: they have overlooked the gathering of the jews to their own land in the latter day. But with all due deference it may be observed, that though it is highly probable that the jews will be gathered to Jerusalem, and in considerable numbers, and that they will have a temple and sacrifices; yet we cannot assent that the earthly Zion, devoid of navigation, shall ever become the mother-city of the world. We cannot give up St. Paul, that the true Zion is the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem, built above the mountains, and with living stones. Isaiah 2, 28, 60-66. Micah 4.

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you. Ceremonial uncleannesses under the law, for which the altar provided no sacrifice, and are therefore called “dead works,” were removed by the burning of a heifer without the camp, and mixing its ashes with running water, which was sprinkled upon the unclean, to take away their ceremonial defilement. Numbers 19. Hebrews 9:13-14. In like manner the Lord will take away the moral pollution of his people in the latter day, by sprinkling clean water upon them, and opening a fountain to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. See on Jeremiah 31.

Ezekiel 36:37. I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel. These blessings, the subjects of daily prayer, may be comprised under three heads. The land of their fathers given back, the presence of Jehovah as their God, and salvation from all the impurities of their dispersion. In that day Christ will have but one fold of jews and gentiles, the original promises being given to “all the families, the tribes and nations of the earth.”

REFLECTIONS.

Here we see a radiant sun rising on Israel with refulgent beams. The promises, like clouds of refreshing rain, scatter their blessings on every age. They were, in one form or other, continually repeated, and in all the glowing powers of oriental language. But however justified the prophets might be in the use of hyperbole and metaphor, they could not lie, and write what was absolutely false: yet this would obviously be the case with their unqualified promises of peace and prosperity to the country, and of the conversion of the gentile world, if their predictions were restricted to the weak but rising times of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. And if the waste places were rebuilt, why then, whole Palestina, dost thou lie very much in ruins to this day? Consequently the gracious cloud of covenant blessings only scattered its drops on jewish ages, and gave showers to the primitive church, reserving its fulness or the residue of the Spirit for the mountain of holiness in the glory of the latter day.

Temporal mercies we see are promised to the mountains of Israel, after having lain waste for seventy years, from the first captivity. God promises them a flourishing culture, an encreased population, the rebuilding of their ruins and wastes, and innumerable flocks to adorn their fields. Yea, smiling health should accompany their toils, for the land should devour men no more.

Spiritual blessings should also be comprised in their temporal ones, just as the kernel is enclosed in the shell. God would cleanse them from all the impurities they had contracted among the heathen by idols, by marriages, and by customs, as he had cleansed their fathers at Horeb. He would give them a new or regenerate heart; he would give them a new spirit, a renewed mind and will. He would cause them to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments. This purification Nehemiah and others effectuated in a small degree.

Hence christian holiness, and all the blessings of the new covenant are here principally implied, St. Paul has illustrated the correspondent prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33, in accordance with this sentiment. Hebrews 8:9-10. The jews all looked for the bringing in of a better hope. They had a laver in which they washed; but David says, I will wash mine hands in innocency. They had the blood of sprinkling; but a better fountain was expected to be opened for sin and for uncleanness. They had circumcision, but true circumcision is that of the heart. They had the law written on tables of stone; but the Messiah, who says, thy law is within me, here promises to write it on the heart.

When the church is thus sanctified, God promises the fulness of exterior blessings: Ezekiel 36:29. “I will call for the corn.” This land which was desolate, shall become as the garden of Eden. In the millennium the fertility of the earth shall correspond with the immensity of its population, with the righteousness of the people, and with all the spiritual glory with which the earth shall be filled. See the general reflections at the end of Isaiah.

For all these blessings, whether of sanctification or of millennial glory, God will be enquired of in prayer; for the duty and the promise are everywhere connected in the sacred writings. And it is very remarkable, that when St. Paul mentions holiness of heart at large, it is generally with the most fervent supplications for its attainment. Thus for the Ephesians he bowed his knee, that they might be rooted and grounded in love, and be filled with all the fulness of God. Likewise, for the Thessalonians, he prayed that the very God of peace would sanctify them wholly. This is still the only way for men to attain purity of heart, and the mind of Christ. Let us henceforth ask them with a fervour becoming their worth, and suitable to our wants; and let us pray the Lord to hasten his kingdom, that his way may be known upon earth, and his saving health among all nations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Ezekiel 35:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/ezekiel-35.html. 1835.

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Friday, January 17th, 2020
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