|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
36:25-38 Water is an emblem of the cleansing our polluted souls from sin. But no water can do more than take away the filth of the flesh. Water seems in general the sacramental sign of the sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost; yet this is always connected with the atoning blood of Christ. When the latter is applied by faith to the conscience, to cleanse it from evil works, the former is always applied to the powers of the soul, to purify it from the pollution of sin. All that have an interest in the new covenant, have a new heart and a new spirit, in order to their walking in newness of life. God would give a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, complying with his holy will. Renewing grace works as great a change in the soul, as the turning a dead stone into living flesh. God will put his Spirit within, as a Teacher, Guide, and Sanctifier. The promise of God's grace to fit us for our duty, should quicken our constant care and endeavour to do our duty. These are promises to be pleaded by, and will be fulfilled to, all true believers in every age.
Verse 25. - Then (literally, and) I will sprinkle clean water upon you. The second step in the sanctification of Jehovah's Name, and one absolutely necessary to render the preceding either permanent or valuable, was the moral renovation of the people; and in this the first stage was the forgiveness of the people's sins. The image under which this is set forth, "sprinkling with clean water," would naturally present itself to a priest-prophet such as Ezekiel. Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Hengstenberg, and others suppose the allusion to be to the water of purification prepared by mixing running water with the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19:17-19), and in the account given of this rite the verb for "sprinkle" is that used by Ezekiel, viz. זָרַק. Havernick prefers the rite performed in the consecration of the Levites (Numbers 8:7, 21). Smend, who holds the priest-code had no existence in Ezekiel's day, traces the image to Zechariah 13:1 or Psalm 51:2, though he also cites Numbers 8:19. Hitzig, Kliefoth, and Currey think of the lustrations of the Law in general; and perhaps this best explains the prophet's language, since the element sprinkled is not "blood" or "water mixed with ashes," but "clean water," "the best known means of purification" (Schroder). As to whether legal or moral cleansing were intended by the prophet, possibly Ezekiel drew no sharp distinction between the two, such as the New Testament draws between justification and sanctification; if he did, then the figure in the text must be taken as alluding rather to the former than to the latter - rather to the forgiveness of Israel's sin than to the regeneration of Israel's heart, which is next referred to.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you,.... Not baptismal water, as Jerom; an ordinance indeed of the Gospel, and to which the Jews will submit when converted; and which is performed by water, but not by sprinkling, nor does it cleanse from sin; and is administered by men, and is not an operation of God, as this is: rather the regenerating grace of the Spirit; though this does not purify from all sin, and besides is intended in the next verse: it seems best to understand it of the blood of Christ, the blood of sprinkling, and of justification from sin, and pardon of it by it; so Kimchi and Jarchi interpret of purification by atonement; and the Targum is,
"I will forgive your sins, as one is cleansed by the water of sprinkling, and the ashes of a heifer, which is for a sin offering:''
and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you; the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin; by it men are justified from all things, and are made perfectly pure and spotless in the sight of God; they are cleansed from original sin, the pollution of their nature; from all actual sins and transgressions, which are very defiling; from sins of heart, lip, and life; even from such as are idols, set up in the heart, and served.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. The external restoration must be preceded by an internal one. The change in their condition must not be superficial, but must be based on a radical renewal of the heart. Then the heathen, understanding from the regenerated lives of God's people how holy God is, would perceive Israel's past troubles to have been only the necessary vindications of His righteousness. Thus God's name would be "sanctified" before the heathen, and God's people be prepared for outward blessings.
sprinkle … water—phraseology taken from the law; namely, the water mixed with the ashes of a heifer sprinkled with a hyssop on the unclean (Nu 19:9-18); the thing signified being the cleansing blood of Christ sprinkled on the conscience and heart (Heb 9:13, 14; 10:22; compare Jer 33:8; Eph 5:26).
from all your idols—Literal idolatry has ceased among the Jews ever since the captivity; so far, the prophecy has been already fulfilled; but "cleansing from all their idols," for example, covetousness, prejudices against Jesus of Nazareth, is yet future.
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