Ezekiel 20 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ezekiel 20)

Verse 1

[1] And 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 enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.

The seventh year — Of Zedekiah's reign, two years and five months before Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem.

Came — Yet resolved before-hand what they would do.

Verse 3

[3] Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye come to enquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

Are ye come — Are ye in good earnest?

Verse 4

[4] Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers:

Wilt thou — Wilt thou not convince and reprove them? And denounce my judgments against them? The abominations - What their fathers have done, they approve, and have outdone; by that let them know what to expect.

Verse 5

[5] And 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, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God;

When I chose — When I shewed that I had chosen them. The history of the rebellions of the children of Israel, begins as early, as their beginning. So does the history of man's apostasy from his Maker. No sooner have we read the story of his creation, but we meet with that of his rebellion. So we see here, it was with Israel; a people designed to represent the body of mankind, both in their dealings with God, and in God's dealing with them.

Lifted up my hand — Or stretched out and made bare my arm; that is, magnified my power for their deliverance.

When I lifted up mine hand — Shewed my power in performing my oath, and assuring them of doing what was farther promised.

Verse 6

[6] In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands:

I had espied — God speaks after the manner of men.

Milk and honey — Literally milk and honey in abundance were in the land of Canaan. Proverbially it speaks the plenty and abundance of all the blessings of life.

Verse 7

[7] Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Of his eyes — To which you have looked for help.

Verse 8

[8] 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.

To accomplish — To make an end of them.

Verse 9

[9] 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.

For my name's sake — For the glory of my mercy and faithfulness.

Polluted — Reproached and blasphemed.

Verse 12

[12] Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

A sign — Of their being peculiarly my people.

Verse 13

[13] But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even 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.

In the wilderness — Where they most needed my care and favour; where the preserving their life from destruction by the noxious creatures, and from famine by the barrenness of the wilderness, was a continued miracle.

Verse 15

[15] Yet also 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 lands;

I lifted up my hand — I sware.

Them — So all the murmuring, disobedient, unbelieving generation was excluded, and their children were brought in.

Verse 18

[18] But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:

Walk ye not — Live not as your fathers did.

Verse 20

[20] And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.

Hallow — Remember to keep them holy.

Verse 22

[22] 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 withdrew — God seems to take the posture of one that was just going to smite, yet draws back that he might spare.

Verse 23

[23] 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;

I lifted — I sware.

Verse 25

[25] Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;

Wherefore — Because they rejected my good laws and judgments.

I gave them — Not by enjoining, but by permitting them to make such for themselves.

Not good — That were pernicious to the users.

Verse 26

[26] And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD.

Polluted — I permitted them to pollute themselves.

Might know — Be forced to own, that the Lord is a mighty king in punishing those that would not have him a gracious king in governing them.

Verse 29

[29] Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day.

What — What mean you that you go to the high place? What do you find so inviting there, that you will leave God's altar, where he requires your attendance, to frequent such places as he has forbidden you to worship in? Bamah - That is, the high place.

Verse 31

[31] For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

Shall I be enquired of — Are you fit to ask counsel of me, whom you have so obstinately forsaken and reproached?

Verse 32

[32] And that which cometh 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.

And that — God to convince them, tells them what they think and have purposed.

Shall not be — Shall be quite frustrated.

We will be — Will unite with them in marriages, commerce, and religion too; and then we shall be safe among them.

Verse 34

[34] And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.

The people — Sidonians, Ammonites, Moabites, or whoever they were, to whom the apostate Jews betook themselves, where they thought to lurk, God will bring them thence into Babylonish captivity.

Verse 35

[35] And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.

Bring you — Drive you.

The wilderness — Into the most horrid parts of the world; into the mountainous parts of Media, Hyrcania, Iberia, Caspia, Albania, and Scythia.

Plead with you — Pass sentence, and execute it on you.

Verse 36

[36] Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.

Your fathers — Who died there, and never entered Canaan.

Verse 37

[37] And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:

I will cause — I will bring you out by number, so that you shall either own my scepter, or by a conquered subjection, yield to my sword and power.

Under the rod — Referring to the manner of shepherds in that country, who did tell their sheep in, and out of the fold.

Bring you — The voluntary and obedient into covenant with myself.

Verse 38

[38] And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: 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.

The rebels — The stubborn sinners.

Verse 39

[39] 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.

But pollute — But while ye are such idolaters, forbear to take my name into your lips.

Verse 40

[40] For in mine 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.

Mine holy mountain — Sion, God's holy hill, Psalms 2:6. Holy by designation, and God's own appointing it for his temple and presence.

Of the height — Sion, tho' lower than many other hills, yet was above them all for God's peculiar presence.

In the land — Their own land.

Your offerings — When I have brought you into the land, then I will require your offerings as formerly: you shall see my temple built, Jerusalem filled with inhabitants, and my worship restored.

Verse 41

[41] I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.

Sanctified — Magnified and praised for the good I do to my people.

Verse 43

[43] And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.

Remember — Review your former ways with sorrow: remember, and grieve.

Verse 46

[46] 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;

The south — Look toward Jerusalem, and the land of Canaan.

Drop thy word — Let thy word distil, begin with softer words, before thou shower down with the vehemency of a storm.

The forest — Jerusalem, which was become like a forest.

Verse 47

[47] 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 flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

Every green tree — All that flourish, and all that are poor.

All faces — All persons and orders of men, from one end of the land to the other.

Verse 49

[49] Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables?

Parables — So absolutely, that we cannot understand him.