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Bible Commentaries
Ezekiel 33

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-20



Verses 1-20:

Verses 1, 2 call upon Ezekiel to speak to his own people, Israel, "the word of the Lord," message from the Lord, advising them that when the Lord should bring the sword upon the land, they should take a person of their own, their own native people and set him to be a watchman, sentinel, or guardian for the land, Isaiah 21:8; Ezekiel 3:11. Heretofore God’s message by Ezekiel had been judgment threatening. Hereafter they are more conciliatory. Heretofore Ezekiel was forbidden to address his own people from ch. 24-27; He had prophesied against the nations. He now turns to charge and comfort Israel and Judah. They were to choose their watchman with caution, laying their hands on no man suddenly, 1 Timothy 5:11.

Verse 3 indicates that the watchman is to be on guard for the enemy, the sword-bearer from the invader. At the sight of the enemy sword-bearer, he was to "sound the trumpet," the call to battle, and warn the people, for the security or protection of their lives and property, Joshua ch. 6.

Verse 4 asserts that the watchman, having faithfully alerted the people of invading danger, has thereby done his duty. If any person disregards his warning and is slain or taken captive, the watchman can not be blamed or held accountable, Leviticus 24:14; Matthew 27:25. The issue is: Do men heed the trumpet, sounded by God’s appointed watchman? If not, they are responsible for their own destruction, Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 20:9; Leviticus 20:11; 2 Samuel 1:16; 1 Kings 18:13; Acts 18:6; Acts 20:26; Proverbs 1:25-29; Proverbs 29:1.

Verse 5 charges that the one who did not take heed, is without excuse, for the loss of all that he has, Romans 2:1; Romans 14:11-12. The one who obeys the trumpet call is said to deliver or be able to have his life saved, preserved or liberated, John 7:17.

Verse 6 warns that if the watchman is unfaithful in his trust, sees the sword-coming danger, and does not sound the trumpet, warning the people, and any person die without the warning, his blood will be required at the hand or life of the watchman who shall be put to death, for having slain the innocent by his silence, Genesis 9:6; Isaiah 56:10. Israel, having failed her national responsibility, is now approached, from the point of personal, witnessing accountability, Romans 14:11-12.

Verse 7 makes the application of the lesson. Israel was set as a guardian to the nations against idolatry, and become subjects of Divine judgment, when she did not protest their idolatry, but condoned it, then embraced it. To warn of such, Ezekiel asserted that the Lord had set him to be a spiritual watchman; His trusteeship, appointment as a sentinel over Israel, was from God, not the people of the land, Ezekiel 3:17; Habakkuk 2:1.

Verse 8 continues God’s charge to Ezekiel, regarding, the message of warning he was to deliver to the wicked of Israel, and his personal accountability to God, Genesis 2:17; Isaiah 3:11; Proverbs 8:36; Proverbs 11:21.

Verse 9 gives the alternative. If Ezekiel warns the wicked, and he does not turn or repent, his blood will be upon his own head, without excuse. But Ezekiel, having sounded out the sentinel message faithfully, delivers himself from any Divine chastening in the matter, Proverbs 29:1; Luke 12:47; Acts 13:46; Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 12:25.

Verse 10 calls upon Ezekiel to inform the people of Israel that if their iniquities remain upon them, they remain in impenitence toward God, though they mourn in self pity, how would they expect to go on living, under the hand of both an holy and just living God, Ezekiel 24:23; Ezekiel 37:11; Isaiah 49:14; Leviticus 26:39; Proverbs 1:25-29.

Verse 11 directs Ezekiel to advise all in Israel that God holds or finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked, the obstinate, impenitent, and unbelieving, but wills that all the wicked, and each wicked one personally repent, turn away from his evil, unbelieving, impenitent course of life and live. He beckons that all turn to Him, asking "why will ye die?" 2 Samuel 14:14; Lamentations 3:33; Hosea 11:8; Daniel 9:13; Hosea 14:1; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:20.

Verse 12 discloses that Divine judgment, even to death, may fall upon a righteous man who turns to willful, impenitent disobedience, even as Annanias and Sapphira, and some at Corinth did, Acts 5:3-11; 1 Corinthians 11:29-32. Yet, when the wicked repented, and turned to God by faith, among all the people of Israel, each could be, and was, pardoned and saved, or delivered from eternal death, 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 55:6-7. The idea is that being saved did not keep a believer from capital punishment, under the law, or wickedness repented of, no longer kept a wicked man from going to heaven.

Verse 13 further explains that when a righteous man (one saved) is assured he shall surely live, live forever, with eternal life, such would not guarantee him immunity from punishment, from the death penalty of the Mosaic law. This is what is also affirmed "the soul (individual) that sinneth, it shall die," each for his own sins, Ezekiel 18:4-5. To trust in one’s own righteousness, and turn to iniquity, will bring just civil punishment upon the law-breaker, even to death, is the idea, Ezekiel 3:10; Ezekiel 18:24; Luke 18:9.

Verses 14, 15 continue a description of God’s judgment and mercies extended, based on man’s personal choice and actions, regarding deeds of right and wrong, under the law of Israel. When one had done wrong, stolen a pledged thing, or robbed a person, if he restored the pledge stolen thing, then walked in upright moral and ethical ways, he was to be pardoned from the death penalty for theft, as provided by the just and holy law, as set forth Exodus 22:5; Ezekiel 20:11; Matthew 19:17; 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Verse 16 asserts that when the thief and robber had made restitution for his wrong, and given evidence of a reformed course of behavior, none of his former sins should be legally held against him, and any occasion of death would be abrogated, Ezekiel 18:22; Leviticus 18:5; Luke 19:8.

Verse 17 declares that some in Israel yet claimed that the ways of the Lord were not equal or impartial. They sat in judgment against God, and pronounced Him to be unjust in His ways; Irony of ironies, Isaiah 55:8-9.

Verses 18,19 restate the principle of capital punishment, to which the righteous are not immune from its penalty of death, when he deliberately turns and commits a capital crime, Genesis 9:6. It further states that the wicked who repents of and turns from his sins shall surely live, referring not to capital crimes, but to salvation from eternal death, Isaiah 55:6-7; John 6:37.

Verse 20 chides the "would be wise" captives of Israel for their setting in judgment, to indict God with unfair administration of His laws of holiness, mercy, and judgment-justice, as in Ezekiel 18:25. See also Job 32:2; Job 34:5; Job 34:10; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:14. See also Genesis 18:25; Deuteronomy 32:2; Deuteronomy 34:4; Psalms 50:6; Romans 2:5-6; Psalms 145:17; Jeremiah 12:1; Zephaniah 3:5.

Verses 21-22


Verses 21, 22:

Verse 21 fixes the time of the report of the destruction of Jerusalem, that was brought to Ezekiel by an escapee from Jerusalem, as the tenth month (January), on the fifth day of the twelfth year of Ezekiel’s captivity in Babylon, Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:5-6.

Verse 22 states that the hand of the Lord had been upon Ezekiel, in the evening, by revelation, before the escapee messenger from Jerusalem arrived at his home in Babylon, bringing the news. He then opened his mouth and remained no longer dumb before his people; as foretold Ezekiel 24:27.

Verses 23-33


Verses 23-32:


Verses 23, 24 recount a new message to Ezekiel as the "son of man," the prophet speaking for the coming heir-redeemer of man, Luke 19:10. He was to focus attention on their claim to be heirs of Abraham and the land of Abraham’s God. Their talk and their walk were not harmonized or synchronized, James 1:22. Those then inhabiting the land of Israel, desolated by war, recounted that Abraham who was but one, with 318 warriors, possessed the land, though he never inherited it, Genesis 14:14-24. But those then occupying the waste land were adamantly claiming it as an inheritance, Isaiah 51:2; Acts 7:5; The Jews boasted similarly in the days of our Lord, and have continued their boast, after near 2,000 years and since the reorganizing of their nation in the land in 1948. Though they were then and are now void of the faith and works of Abraham; See Micah 3:11; Matthew 3:9; John 8:39; Romans 4:4; Romans 5:16.

Verse 25 charges that while they claimed to be heirs of Abraham they breached and defiled the laws of Abraham’s God, as given to them by Moses in particular. They ate blood (unbled animals) that were slain as food. And consumed blood offered to idol gods; Thus they engaged in the rites of idolatry, Exodus 20:1-5; Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 19:26; Ezekiel 18:6; Ezekiel 22:6.

Verse 26 further charged that their trust (dependence) was upon the sword, not the Lord. Having embraced idolatry they also turned to the licentious and promiscuous practice of adultery among them, defying the Law of their God, Exodus 20:14; Exodus 20:17.

Verse 27 calls upon Ezekiel to prophesy judgment that was to befall them in their own self-defiled land. On the open fields they were to be slain, while running from the sword, devoured by the carnivorous beasts and vultures of the earth; And even those who fled into caves were to die of the vermin and pestilence that followed the war. Their sins had found them out, without excuse, Numbers 32:23; De ch. 28, 29; Romans 2:1-2. See also Jer ch. 40-44; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6.

Verse 28 declares that the Lord would desolate the land, to cause her pomp to cease, 2 Chronicles 36:21; Isaiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 44:2; Jeremiah 44:6; Jeremiah 44:22. The mountains were to be made so desolate of civilization that none should pass through them for fear of pestilence and wild beasts and ravaging robbers.

Verse 29 concludes that then (at that time) they would recognize that the Lord was God, a keeper of His word, to judge men who willfully and hypocritically defied His laws, committed moral and spiritual abominations before Him in their own promised land, Exodus 20:1-5; Numbers 32:23.

Verse 30 recounts the Lord’s telling Jeremiah that his own people, there in Babylonian captivity at Chebar, from where He was writing and speaking these prophecies, were coming to hear his messages, then going about publicly in the city and in privacy in their homes criticizing both him and the message from the Lord, Ezekiel 20:40; They came to hear, not to correct the evil in their lives, but as curiosity seekers, and as tid-bit-stink-toters, and gossip ­agencies, 2 Timothy 4:3; Isaiah 29:13; Jer ch. 42, 43; Mark 7:6-7.

Verse 31 continues a Divine revelation to Ezekiel of how his own people of the Chebar area were coming before him as pupils or disciples come to sit before a teacher, on a lower seat or level below the teacher, according to Jewish custom, Deuteronomy 33:3; 2 Kings 4:38; Luke 10:39; Acts 22:3. They feigned interest in his prophetic words but would not follow his instructions. They were like seed that fell on stony places, Matthew 13:20-21; and like the self-deceived and mirror gazer described in James 1:22-24. They were mouth­babblers of love, but practiced covetousness,.after the carnal lusts of heathen idolatry, loving and serving the creature rather than the creator, Matthew 13:22; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 5:10.

Verse 32 explains that the Lord was to Israel like a "toy" to which feigned or "play-love" and devotion were vowed. They paid eloquent, formal devotion toward God, but their hearts were far from Him, Mark 7:6-7. Their voices were pleasant in play-lovers songs, as they even praised Him with musical instruments, but, hearing His words, they did not obey them, Matthew 7:21-22; Matthew 12:50; James 1:22; Luke 6:46; Luke 11:28.

Verse 33 concludes that when this comes to pass, for "lo, it cometh" or is come, vs. 21, 22 - they shall know, experimentally, to their regret, and at eternal cost, that the Lord is God, the one, true, living, caring, judging God; Even as He was set forth in the preamble of the Law, Exodus 20:1-5; Matthew 7:21; Romans 14:11-12.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/ezekiel-33.html. 1985.
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