|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
39:23-29 When the Lord shall have mercy on the whole house of Israel, by converting them to Christianity, and when they shall have borne the shame of being cast off for their sins, then the nations shall learn to know, worship, and serve him. Then Israel also shall know the Lord, as revealed in and by Christ. Past events do not answer to these predictions. The pouring out of the Spirit is a pledge that God's favour will continue. He will hide his face no more from those on whom he has poured out his Spirit. When we pray that God would never cast us from his presence, we must as earnestly pray that, in order thereto, he would never take his Holy Spirit from us.
Verse 29. - I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel. Already Jehovah had promised to put his Spirit in his people (Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 37:14); now the fact that he has implemented that promise by a copious effusion of the same he cites as a proof that Israel shall no more forfeit his favor because no more shall she forsake his ways (comp. Isaiah 59:21). The same promise had been previously given by Joel (Joel 2:28), and was afterwards renewed by Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10). The citation of Joel's words by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17) shows that he regarded the remarkable effusion of the Holy Ghost on that memorable occasion as a fulfillment of the premise here recorded by Ezekiel. Yet the promise was not then exhausted. Rather it has often since been implemented, and will doubtless receive its consummation in the New Jerusalem. "No historical Church, Jewish or Gentile," writes Plumptre, "has ever yet realized the picture here sketched by Ezekiel. We ask, as before - Will it ever be realized on earth? or must we look for it only in the heavenly city whose Builder and Maker is God?" NOTE. - In addition to what has been stated at the beginning of this prophecy (Ezekiel 38:1) with reference to the general significance of this invasion by and overthrow of Cog, that it points to some tremendous conflict in the latter days between the powers of the world and the Church of Christ, a few words may be offered in support of the preposition that nevertheless there is no reason to expect that this conflict will take the form of an actual invasion of the land of Israel or of a real fire-and-sword battle with the Church, or that Gog will step upon the field as a veritable flesh-and-blood personality, and his armies find a grave in the manner sketched by the prophet. That the whole delineation is symbolic, and embodies spiritual truths under material emblems, will hardly be doubted by one who impartially weighs the following considerations, which have been admirably brought together by Fairbairn.
1. The designation given to the great assailant of the latter times - Gog, which discovers itself to be an ideal name, if by nothing else by the manner in which it has been formed.
2. The composition of his army, which is drawn from the four quarters of the globe, in fact, from the extremities of the earth, and consists of peoples not only remote from one another, but "the most unlike naturally to act in concert for any particular purpose."
3. The object of his attack - the land of Israel, a territory so small that it is inconceivable a host so great should have been required to capture it, and so poor that had the invaders got all it contained it "could not have served to maintain them for a single day."
4. The fruits of Israel's victory - firewood for seven years out of the enemies' weapons, and seven months of labor in burying their corpses. "It would be but a very moderate allowance, on the literal supposition, to say that a million of men would thus be engaged, and that on an average each would consign two corpses to the tomb in one day; which for the hundred and eighty working days of the seven months would make an aggregate of three hundred and sixty millions of corpses! Then the putrefaction, the pestilential vapors arising from such masses of slain victims, before they were all buried. Who could live at such a time?"
5. The impossibility of harmonizing prophecy on the hypothesis that Ezekiel's picture must receive a literal interpretation, since Isaiah (Isaiah 34.), Joel (Joel 3:12, 14), and Zechariah (Zechariah 14), who all appear to depict the same conflict as Ezekiel portrays, each pitches its scene in a different locality.
6. The gross carnality of the whole picture on the assumption that it must be literally interpreted, which is wholly inconsistent with that spirituality one associates with the Messianic times. "Persons," writes Fairbairn, "who in the face of all these considerations can still cling to the literal view of this prophecy, must be left to themselves; they are incapable of being convinced in the way of argument."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Neither will I hide my face any more from them,.... The Jews, upon their future conversion, will always have the worship of God among them, and his presence with them; he will always take notice of them; they will ever be under his protection and care; he will never remove his Shechinah from them any more, as the Targum: a further proof that this refers to future times; for, after their return from Babylon, God did hide his face, and remove his presence from them, and left them to ruin and destruction by the Romans:
for I have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God; this refers not to the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but to one that is yet to come, when the Jews will be converted in the latter day; after which God will no more depart from them, nor shall they depart from him; see Zechariah 12:10.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. poured out my Spirit upon … Israel—the sure forerunner of their conversion (Joe 2:28; Zec 12:10). The pouring out of His Spirit is a pledge that He will hide His face no more (2Co 1:22; Eph 1:14; Php 1:6).
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