|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:14-21 The pious captives in Babylon were insulted by the Jews who continued in Jerusalem; but God made gracious promises to them. It is promised, that God will give them one heart; a heart firmly fixed for God, and not wavering. All who are made holy have a new spirit, a new temper and dispositions; they act from new principles, walk by new rules, and aim at new ends. A new name, or a new face, will not serve without a new spirit. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The carnal heart, like a stone, cannot be made to feel. Men live among the dead and dying, and are neither concerned nor humbled. He will make their hearts tender and fit to receive impressions: this is God's work, it is his gift by promise; and a wonderful and happy change is wrought by it, from death to life. Their practices shall be agreeable to those principles. These two must and will go together. When the sinner feels his need of these blessings, let him present the promises as prayers in the name of Christ, they will be performed.
Verse 16. - Yet will I be unto them as a little sanctuary; better, with the Revised Version, a little while, as marking that the state described was transient and provisional. For a time, Ezekiel and the exiles were to find the presence of Jehovah manifested as in the vision of Chebar (Ezekiel 1:4-28), or felt spiritually, and this would make the spot where they found themselves as fully a holy place as the temple had been. There also they would have a "house of God." But this was not to be their permanent lot. There was to be a restoration to "the land of Israel" (ver. 17; Ezekiel 37:21), to the visible sanctuary, to a second temple no longer desecrated by the pollutions that had defiled the first. As with all such prophecies, the words had "springing and germinant accomplishments." In Ezekiel 40-48, we have Ezekiel's ideal vision of their fulfilment. A literal but incomplete fulfilment is formed in the work of restoration achieved by Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and the hopes then cherished by Haggai and Zechariah. A more complete but less literal fulfilment appears in the Church of Christ as the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), and in the Jerusalem which is above (Galatians 4:26). In the fact that in the seer's vision of that heavenly city there is no temple, but the presence of "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb" Revelation 21:22), we find the crowning development of Ezekiel's thought. Intermediate expansions are found
(1) in the gradual substitution of the synagogue for the temple in the religious life of Israel;
(2) in our Lord's words to the woman of Samaria (John 4:21-24); and
(3) in his promise that where two or three are gathered together in his Name, there he would be in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). The thought that it is the presence of Jehovah that makes the sanctuary, not the sanctuary that secures the presence, Ezekiel may have learnt from the fate of Shiloh (Psalm 78:60).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore say, thus saith the Lord God,.... Since they were so insulted and ill treated by their brethren the Jews:
although I have cast them afar off among the Heathen; both the ten tribes, even all the house of Israel, who were carried into Assyria, and placed in the cities of the Medes, in Halath and Habor, by the river Gozan, 2 Kings 17:6; and those of the Jews in Jeconiah's captivity, among whom were Ezekiel, and his brethren, and his kindred:
and although I have scattered them among the countries; and therefore, what with the distance of the place where they were, and the dispersion of them among the people where they resided, their case might seem to be desperate; and that there was no probability, and scarce any possibility, of their being preserved as a people, and of their restoration to their own land:
yet will I be to them a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come; their dwelling place, as he has been to his people in all generations their protection from all their enemies, in whom, and by whose power, they should be safe; and whose presence they should enjoy, though deprived of public ordinances, of temple worship and service; though they were at a distance from the great sanctuary, the temple, the inhabitants of Jerusalem boasted of, yet the Lord would make up the want of that to them with himself. The Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi (m) interpret this of the synagogues, which were second to the temple, the Israelites had in foreign countries, where they prayed to the Lord, and worshipped him, and enjoyed his presence. It may be rendered, "the sanctuary of a few" (n); they being but few, especially that were truly godly, that were carried captive: or, "a sanctuary for a little while" (o); that is, during seventy years, and then they should be returned, as follows. The Targum is,
"I have given them synagogues, second to my sanctuary, and they are as few in the provinces where they are carried captive.''
(m) Ex T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 29. 1.((n) "ad sanctuarium paucitatis", Calvin; "in sanctuarium paucorum", Cocceius. So Ben Melech says the word is a substantive in some copies. (o) Paulisper, Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Castalio.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Although—anticipating the objection of the priests at Jerusalem, that the exiles were "cast far off." Though this be so, and they are far from the outer temple at Jerusalem, I will be their asylum or sanctuary instead (Ps 90:1; 91:9; Isa 8:14). My shrine is the humble heart: a preparation for gospel catholicity when the local and material temple should give place to the spiritual (Isa 57:15; 66:1; Mal 1:11; Joh 4:21-24; Ac 7:48, 49). The trying discipline of the exile was to chasten the outcasts so as to be meet recipients of God's grace, for which the carnal confidence of the priests disqualified them. The dispersion served the end of spiritualizing and enlarging the views even of the better Jews, so as to be able to worship God everywhere without a material temple; and, at the same time, it diffused some knowledge of God among the greatest Gentile nations, thus providing materials for the gathering in of the Christian Church among the Gentiles; so marvellously did God overrule a present evil for an ultimate good. Still more does all this hold good in the present much longer dispersion which is preparing for a more perfect and universal restoration (Isa 2:2-4; Jer 3:16-18). Their long privation of the temple will prepare them for appreciating the more, but without Jewish narrowness, the temple that is to be (Eze 40:1-44:31).
a little—rather, "for a little season"; No matter how long the captivity may be, the seventy years will be but as a little season, compared with their long subsequent settlement in their land. This holds true only partially in the case of the first restoration; but as in a few centuries they were dispersed again, the full and permanent restoration is yet future (Jer 24:6).
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