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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 36

Verses 1-38

Destruction and Restoration (36:1-38)

First the prophet deals with the coming end to national shame (vss. 1-15). Because of the humiliation and tragedy of defeat, Israel had become "the talk and evil gossip of the people" (vs. 3). Enemies had gloated over possessing the ancient heights of Jerusalem, and every reason that Israel had to think of herself as distinctive had been blotted out. Speaking to the mountains, the ravines, and the desolate waste of deserted cities, God now promises that his destructive wrath shall be turned against other nations who like Edom rejoiced in the tragedy. Because the surrounding nations had rejoiced in destruction, which gave them opportunity for pillaging and for booty, these nations shall now suffer the same reproach (vss. 5-7).

These same mountains, hills, and ravines which were left desolate and waste by the hordes of Nebuchadnezzar would soon be reoccupied by a restored and renewed Israel. Cities are to be inhabited and waste places rebuilt. Israel will walk in her own promised land again, and her children will not be taken from her. The past habits which had brought disaster will be expunged from society and the people will neither be a reproach nor bear the disgrace of destruction. The cause will be removed and the effect will be taken away (vss. 8-15).

At this juncture Ezekiel begins to deal with the most popular and pressing theological problem which arose out of the destruction of Jerusalem and the experience of the Exile. It was plain to see that Judah’s sin, her abrogation of the Covenant, was the basis for judgment, and rightly so. That she got her just deserts was grudgingly admitted under the guidance of prophetic instruction. But the neighboring nations knew only that these folk who were supposed to be God’s Chosen, upon whom his blessing had been bestowed, had been cast out of Jerusalem. Because of their sin which they committed, these people would be sorely punished by sword and dispersion. In the eyes of the nations the people of Judah and their God had suffered disastrous defeat. Since God’s ultimate purpose through Judah and Israel or through life and history was to reveal his "holy name" (that is, his real Person and true purpose), this misinterpretation thwarted his ultimate concern. In very human terms Ezekiel explains that the Almighty was embarrassed by the false interpretations put on recent events among the nations.

God’s ultimate purpose in the restoration of his Chosen People was the revelation of himself to all people. In the eyes of the nations God’s holy and gracious name will be honored when he , cleanses his people and restores them to their land (vss. 22-25). H. Ezekiel, like Jeremiah before him, understood that a real change in the life of a person or a people had to begin at the motive center of personality; so he predicates the ideal future on a basic change in human nature. "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (vs. 26). Verse 28 re-establishes the terms of the Covenant for a cleansed and renewed people. The land will experience great abundance, and the suffering of famine will no longer be in the land. In this new situation the restored people will remember their past sins and abominations with loathing. This is all done that the name of the Lord (his character and purpose) may be known among the nations of the world, because under such circumstances people who heretofore had doubted the reality of God would change their way of speaking. Witnessing the mercy of the Lord toward an unworthy people, the nations would exclaim, "This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden , . . and ruined cities are now inhabited and fortified" (vs. 35). Such evidence is incontrovertible even when given to pagan nations.

Verses 37 and 38 form a footnote on restoration. There will not be a token restoration; rather, the land will be fully populated. The figure of the "flock" seems to be a repetition of the ideas of chapter 34, where these verses were probably originally found. Editorial rearrangement accounts for their dislocation.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 36". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/ezekiel-36.html.