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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 20

Verses 1-49

Chapter 20

Now it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me ( Ezekiel 20:1 ).

Now this evidently was their custom. We read earlier last week where the elders came to sit before Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord.

And so the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel ( Ezekiel 20:2-3 ),

Now the last time God said, you know, "Why should I be inquired of them? You know, these guys have idols that they've set up in their hearts." And God's still not speaking to them.

Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are you come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you ( Ezekiel 20:3 ).

You've come to get My advice? You've come to get My counsel? I'm not gonna counsel you.

Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers: Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt ( Ezekiel 20:4-5 ),

Now He goes back, "Cause them to know their history. Rehearse their history for them. Go back to when they were in Egypt."

when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am Jehovah your God; In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land which I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands ( Ezekiel 20:5-6 ):

Now you go to Israel today and you see a tremendous work of restoration, they have planted millions of trees all over the land. And as the result of the planting of all of these trees, they have been able to change the climate in Israel. And creating a lot more humidity, and thus a lot more rain. And the land is again becoming a land of streams and a land of greenery as they are getting more and more rains all the time as the result of this reforestation program that they have had. And, of course, they have been able to, through drainage canals and planting of eucalyptus trees and all, been able to take a lot of the marshes, the areas that were just swampy, and they've been able to make them very productive as far as the growing of fruit and all. The Sharon plain that used to be nothing but marshland is now beautiful citrus orchards. The same with the valley of Megiddo that was marshland, is now just so verdant and beautiful and green with all of the agriculture that is there. Of course, by their planting and all and bringing water down to Beersheba there, they're really creating now a whole new look to this land.

Now, when God first brought the children of Israel into the land, it was a land of heavy forest. A land of beautiful streams and forest, a land that flowed with milk and honey. They sort of sneer now, because it is a rocky land. And they make jokes out of the rocks, you know. Like when God was creating the earth He sent two angels out with baskets of rocks to distribute around the world. And one of the angels took and distributed his rocks over half the world, but the other angel was lazy and just dumped all of his rocks on Israel. And it is true, that is a rocky land now, but it wasn't always so.

When the Turks took the land, they deliberately cut down all of the forest to just denude the land. And without the trees and all, the topsoil all washed away and the land became a barren desert, wilderness. But, of course, except in the valleys, they became marshlands because of all of the silt that plugged up the streams and so forth. And so it developed these marshlands, plus the rocky mountains, the barren rocky mountains. Now, the Jews started planting pine trees on these rocky mountains, because the pine tree roots are able to go down in the crevasses and are able to... actually, as they go down and they swell, they begin to crack the rocks and break them up creating new topsoil. And all of the planting was done on a scientific basis. And extremely educational and valuable lessons can be learned agriculturally in going over and studying. They've really done the whole thing from a scientific base. Because eucalyptus trees drink up so much water, they planted eucalyptus trees in these marsh areas so that they would drink up gallons of water every day. And, of course, they drained the marshes and drained the rivers and all, and allowed them to flow on out again to the Mediterranean so that you don't have the marshland. And they are really restoring this land in a marvelous way. It's an exciting thing to see.

But when God first brought them into the land out of Egypt, it was a beautiful verdant land of forest and streams and all throughout the entire land. It was, according to the Word of God, one of the most beautiful places in the world. And as you see where they are restoring it, where the rain has been restored and all, there are some beautiful, beautiful areas. That Sea of Galilee and the areas around the Sea of Galilee. Up at Tel Dan, one of the most beautiful places, the water in the springs and all, it is just lovely, beautiful. The whole countryside is being restored, and as it is, it's again becoming a place of great beauty.

But the land, God said, I spied out this land for them. It was flowing with milk and honey. It was the glory of all of the lands.

Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes ( Ezekiel 20:7 )

That is while they were in Egypt.

don't defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt: for I am Jehovah your God. But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them ( Ezekiel 20:7-11 ).

So God gave the statutes, the judgments, the right way to live.

Moreover I also gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them ( Ezekiel 20:12 ),

Now the sabbath was not a sign to the Gentiles, and there are people today who get on a sabbath day kick and wonder why we don't worship God on the sabbath. We do. I worship God every day. "But why don't you observe the sabbath?" Because I'm not a Jew. It's a sign between God and the Jew. You say, "How can you be so sure?" Because God said so. How sure can you be? Exo 31:12 when God gave the law of the Sabbath, or Exodus 31:17 ,"It is a sign," or sixteen. "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the seventh day He rested and He was refreshed." So it's a sign between God and Israel.

So I am with Paul, I am the type of man that Paul described, "One man considers one day above another," that's not me. "But another considers every day alike," that's me. I'm sort of boring to be around, because as far as I'm concerned, every day is alike. Anniversary, birthday? So what, you know. Every day is alike. You know people set days and, "Oh it's a special day." Just another day. As far as I'm concerned, they're all the Lord's day.

But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they did not walk in my statutes, they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he would live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness to consume them ( Ezekiel 20:13 ).

God said to Moses, "Stand back. I'm gonna wipe them out."

But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out ( Ezekiel 20:14 ).

Now they were, they didn't obey Me in Egypt, they didn't obey Me in the wilderness.

Yet I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all the lands ( Ezekiel 20:15 );

Glorious land.

Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but they polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness ( Ezekiel 20:16-18 )

So He cast the fathers out; they failed. "So I spoke then to their children in the wilderness."

Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am Jehovah your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am Jehovah your God. Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries ( Ezekiel 20:18-23 );

God spoke to them through Moses and said, "Look, God is gonna scatter you throughout all the nations. He's gonna disperse you among the nations." It's in the song that Moses taught them so that when they were scattered that they would be singing the song and they'd remember God warned them of this. "If you turn from God and all, then God will turn you over into the hands of your enemies and you'll be dispersed among the nations. You'll become a curse and a byword on the lips of all the people."

Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good ( Ezekiel 20:24-25 )

He said, "All right," verse Ezekiel 20:39 :

Go, serve every one his idols ( Ezekiel 20:39 ),

In other words, God says, "All right, that's it. Do it." So He gave them statutes that were not good. You know, just, He saw that they were bent in that direction, "All right, if that's what you want to do, do it." It's terrible when God gives up on a person and just turns him over to his own desires, to his own destruction.

And I polluted them in their own gifts, and caused them to pass through the fire all that open the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD. Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, thus saith Jehovah God; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me. For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, [when I finally brought them in here,] then they saw every high hill, and all of the thick trees [the forest], and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: which there also they made their sweet savor, and poured out their drink offerings ( Ezekiel 20:26-28 ).

So I brought them finally into the land and they saw the beauty, the hills and all, and they began to worship on every one of these hills, these false gods.

Then I said to them, What is the high place whereunto you go? And the name thereof is called Bamah to this day ( Ezekiel 20:29 ).

Which means high place.

Wherefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith Jehovah God; Are you polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredoms after their abominations? For when you offer your gifts, when you make your sons to pass through the fire, you pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith Jehovah God, I will not be inquired of by you ( Ezekiel 20:30-31 ).

So here they are sitting before the prophet Ezekiel, saying, "Inquire of the Lord for us." And God says, "Hey, Ezekiel, just tell them the history. And then say, 'Should I be inquired of by you?' No way."

And that which comes into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, saith Jehovah God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein you have scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith Jehovah God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: and I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD ( Ezekiel 20:32-38 ).

So God says, "I will come again in that day." And, of course, this day is in the future, but God is gonna cause them to pass under the rod to enter into the covenant. There will be those that God will deal with that He will bring into the land, and He will bless, and He will favor. But He's gonna rule, they will have to make that commitment unto God.

As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. For in my holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. I will accept you with your sweet savor, when I bring you out from the people ( Ezekiel 20:39-41 ),

This is when Christ returns and the gathering together again of the people into the land and God will then accept them as His people.

And he will be sanctified in you before the heathen. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up my hand to give it to your fathers. And there shall you remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all of the evils that you have committed ( Ezekiel 20:41-43 ).

It said that in Zechariah prophesies, "and when they see Christ, they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn and wail over Him as a mother wails over her only son who has been killed" ( Zechariah 12:10 ). Oh, when they realize what they have done, what they have missed in the rejection of their Messiah. Weeping, but it will be a glorious thing because it will be the weeping of repentance and it will be their restoration in their life and their glory.

And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming fire shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables? ( Ezekiel 20:44-49 )

"They're already saying, Lord, 'He's speaking in parables,' and now I tell them this and they're going to just give me a bad time." But, of course, God is here speaking this parable of the forest of the south field in which he is prophesying the fact that Jerusalem is to be burned and this is the end. And, of course, this is the final prophecy. After this prophecy, Jerusalem, the news came of Jerusalem's destruction. And so we... this is the last prophecy before the news of the destruction of Jerusalem arrived to Babylon. And now beginning with chapter 21, we get into a new set of prophecies, after now that Jerusalem has fallen and those in Babylon have realized it's so.

May the Lord be with you and bless you and strengthen you for this week. May the anointing of God's Holy Spirit rest upon your life. And through His beauty may your life shine forth. May God cause fullness of His Spirit to rest upon you. And may your life be a strong testimony and a witness to those around of the grace and the love of our Lord. In Jesus' name. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.