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In this final section of the prophecies dealing with reprobation, the prophet in a series of messages set forth the righteousness thereof. In the seventh year of the reign of Jehoiachin, that is four years before the fall of Jerusalem, certain elders of Israel went down to Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord.
The prophet was commissioned to declare to them that God would not be inquired of by them, and at the same time he was charged to make known to them the righteousness of the judgment falling on them. This he did, first by reviewing the past history of Israel. Israel had been delivered from Egypt and charged to put away all its abominations. They had rebelled, and had been punished. All this God had wrought for His name's sake, and in the interests of the nations. In the wilderness He gave them His statutes and showed them His judgments. There again they rebelled against Him, and He visited them with punishment. This also He wrought for His name's sake and in the interest of the nations. Their children He spared in the wilderness, and charged them to take warning by the failure of their fathers, urging them to walk in His statutes. Again the children rebelled against Him, and He punished them, and all this He wrought for His name's sake, and in the interests of the nations.
The prophet then passed to an examination of the more recent history. He first described how their fathers, having been brought into the land, had sinned in turning to its idolatries. This sin of the fathers had been repeated by the sons. Therefore the Lord would not be inquired of them. Having thus made clear to the elders that God would not be inquired of, he proceeded to announce the program of Jehovah concerning them. He would establish the fact of His Kingship over them by gathering them to the wilderness. What was meant by the wilderness the prophet then explained as he described their passing under the rod, and the process of purging them of those in their midst who were in rebellion against Him. The result of this wilderness process would be ultimately the restoration of Israel, and the sanctification of Jehovah in them in the sight of all the nations. Israel would have new understanding of Jehovah, and come to know that the perpetual reason for His operation was the glory of His name, and not merely punishing them for their evil ways, that is to say, the punishment of Jehovah was never merely vindictive, but always a process moving toward the realization of His original intention of good to the nations of the earth.
After the delivery of this message to the elders of Israel the prophet was commissioned to set his face toward the south and prophesy against its forest. The burden of the message was announcing that an unquenchable fire, kindled by Jehovah, would utterly destroy it. The parabolic nature of this charge perplexed the prophet, and he complained to Jehovah that the people said of him that he was a speaker of parables.
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Ezekiel 20". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20