Ezekiel 11:21
But as for them whose heart walks after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way on their own heads, said the Lord GOD.
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(21) I will recompense their way.—In striking contrast to the mercy granted to the repentant, is set forth here, as in Revelation 21:8, the Divine wrath upon the impenitent. It has never been promised that all men shall be brought to a true sense of their relations to God, for human responsibility, and consequently power of choice, is not removed; but God’s grace is never in vain, and if it does not lead to blessing through its acceptance, must result in greater condemnation through its rejection. (Comp. 2Corinthians 2:16.)

The heart of their detestable things, is a figurative expression. Idols in themselves are inanimate things, but the heart of the people was so given to the spirit of idolatry and alienation from God, that the abstract, as usual with this prophet, is represented in this concrete, figurative form.

Ezekiel 11:21. But as for them — Whoever they be, and some there will be in the best times, who will refuse to own God for their God, and truly to love and obey him. Whose heart walketh after their detestable things — Whose judgment and choice, or whose will and affections, go after their idols and iniquities, their lusts and vices. I will recompense their way upon their own heads — Their state shall differ as much as their practice does, from that of the people of God: I will treat them according to their ways.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.Compare Revelation 21. The identity of thought and language in Ezekiel, predicting the new kingdom of Israel, and in John, foretelling the kingdom of heaven, forces upon us the conclusion that the prophecy of Ezekiel has an ultimate reference to that climax which John plainly indicates.

Ezekiel 11:19

One heart - So long as the Israelites were distracted by the service of many gods, such unity was impossible; but now, when they shall have taken away the "abominations" from the land, they shall be united in heart to serve the true God.

Stony heart ... heart of flesh - The heart unnaturally hardened, and the heart reawakened to feelings proper to man.

21. whose heart … after … heart of … detestable things—The repetition of "heart" is emphatic, signifying that the heart of those who so obstinately clung to idols, impelled itself to fresh superstitions in one continuous tenor [Calvin]. Perhaps it is implied that they and their idols are much alike in character (Ps 115:8). The heart walks astray first, the feet follow.

recompense … way upon … heads—They have abandoned Me, so will I abandon them; they profaned My temple, so will I profane it by the Chaldeans (Eze 9:10).

For all those promises, and in the best times, some there will be who will refuse to own God and obey him, whose state shall as much differ as their practices did from the people of God.

As for them, whoever they be.

Heart, soul and affections, whose choice and love,

walketh after; either secretly adhereth to or provideth for the service of idols, called here detestable things, as Ezekiel 11:18, Ezekiel 5:11; and to express the obstinacy of this idolatry, it is called a

heart walking after a heart: idolatry is a bewitching sin, and steals away the heart and the promoters of idolatry propose the plausiblest arguments, as if idols had hearts and affections toward their worshippers to do them good; the expression in the Hebrew is somewhat unusual and harsh to our ear, but this I take to be the meaning.

Their abominations; their idols, and idol worship, and dependencies.

Recompense; pay them in their own coin: they forsake me, I will forsake them; they profane my name and temple, I will give them up as common to be profaned by the Chaldeans. Their way tends to this, and shall end in this, and nothing more just.

Upon their heads, i.e. on each man, and in such manner as shall destroy the contumacious. Or, on those that are as heads of the people and ringleaders in obstinacy of sinning, such as the twenty-five, Ezekiel 11:1, and who shall be examples of my speedy and irresistible vengeance, as Pelatiah was. But as for them,.... Who remained in Jerusalem, and were not carried captive, but continued in their, own land, and worshipped idols, the same as in Ezekiel 11:15;

whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations; not images of gold and silver, which cannot be said to have a heart; but devils and evil spirits worshipped in them, who are well pleased and delighted with the worship given them; so that the hearts of the devils worshipped, and the hearts of the idolatrous worshippers, were alike and agreed; wherefore their hearts were very different from those before mentioned; so far from having one heart, that their hearts were double and divided, partly after God, and partly after their idols; and so far from walking in the statutes of the Lord, that they were walking after the will of their idols, and in the worship of them; which were abominable and detestable to God, and all good men. The Targum is,

"and after the worship of their idols, and of their abominations, their heart wanders.''

I will recompense their ways upon their own heads, saith the Lord God, that is, punish them according to their deserts, by the sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity.

But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.
21. But those who cleave to their abominations shall receive the recompense of their ways—there is no peace saith the Lord to the wicked (Isaiah 48:22).

The language “whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things” is without parallel or meaning; elsewhere it is: whose heart walketh after their idols (ch. Ezekiel 20:16, Ezekiel 33:31, after their covetousness). A different class of persons is referred to from those spoken of in Ezekiel 11:17-20, either the population in Jerusalem or more naturally those in general who follow idols. The text requires some amendment: but as for those whose heart goeth after their detestable things … their way will I recompense.

Ezekiel 11:22-25. The manifestation of Jehovah rises from over the city and moves eastward to the Mount of Olives. The city is abandoned by Jehovah (Hosea 5:15). The prophet does not pursue the movement further. The glory passes out by the eastern gate, by which also it returns into the new temple (ch. Ezekiel 43:1-4). The prophet is carried back by the spirit to the captivity; to which he narrates all he had seen.Verse 21. - But as for them, etc. We note the peculiar phraseology. The heart of the people walks not simply after their detestable things, but after the heart of those things. There is, as it were, a central unity in the evil to which they unite themselves, just as the heart of man turns to the heart of God when the two are in their ideal relation to each other. For those who did this, whether in Jerusalem or among the exiles, there was the prospect of a righteous retribution. The words close the message which Ezekiel heard in the courts of the temple in his visions, but which he was to deliver (ver. 25) to them of the Captivity. And the Spirit of Jehovah fell upon me, and said to me: Say, Thus saith Jehovah, So ye say, O house of Israel, and what riseth up in your spirit, that I know. Ezekiel 11:6. Ye have increased your slain in this city, and filled its streets with slain. Ezekiel 11:7. Therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Your slain, whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and it is the pot; but men will lead you out of it. Ezekiel 11:8. The sword you fear; but the sword shall I bring upon you, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 11:9. I shall lead you out of it and give you into the hand of foreigners, and shall execute judgments upon you. Ezekiel 11:10. By the sword shall ye fall: on the frontier of Israel shall I judge you; and ye shall learn that I am Jehovah. Ezekiel 11:11. It shall not be as a pot to you, so that you should be flesh therein: on the frontier of Israel shall I judge. Ezekiel 11:12. And ye shall learn that I am Jehovah, in whose statutes ye have not walked, and my judgments ye have not done, but have acted according to the judgments of the heathen who are round about you. - For תּפּל עלי , compare Ezekiel 8:1. Instead of the "hand" (Ezekiel 8:1), the Spirit of Jehovah is mentioned here; because what follows is simply a divine inspiration, and there is no action connected with it. The words of God are directed against the "house of Israel,' whose words and thoughts are discerned by God, because the twenty-five men are the leaders and counsellors of the nation. מעלות, thoughts, suggestions of the mind, may be explained from the phrase עלה על לב, to come into the mind. Their actions furnish the proof of the evil suggestions of their heart. They have filled the city with slain; not "turned the streets of the city into a battle-field," however, by bringing about the capture of Jerusalem in the time of Jeconiah, as Hitzig would explain it. The words are to be understood in a much more general sense, as signifying murder, in both the coarser and the more refined signification of the word.

(Note: Calvin has given the correct explanation, thus: "He does not mean that men had been openly assassinated in the streets of Jerusalem; but under this form of speech he embraces all kinds of injustice. For we know that all who oppressed the poor, deprived men of their possessions, or shed innocent blood, were regarded as murderers in the sight of God.")

מלּאתים is a copyist's error for מלּאתם. Those who have been murdered by you are the flesh in the caldron (Ezekiel 11:7). Ezekiel gives them back their own words, as words which contain an undoubted truth, but in a different sense from that in which they have used them. By their bloodshed they have made the city into a pot in which the flesh of the slain is pickled. Only in this sense is Jerusalem a pot for them; not a pot to protect the flesh from burning while cooking, but a pot into which the flesh of the slaughtered is thrown. Yet even in this sense will Jerusalem not serve as a pot to these worthless counsellors (Ezekiel 11:11). They will lead you out of the city (הוציא, in Ezekiel 11:7, is the 3rd pers. sing. with an indefinite subject). The sword which ye fear, and from which this city is to protect you, will come upon you, and cut you down - not in Jerusalem, but on the frontier of Israel. על־גּבוּל, in Ezekiel 11:10, cannot be taken in the sense of "away over the frontier," as Kliefoth proposes; if only because of the synonym אל־גּבוּל in Ezekiel 11:11. This threat was literally fulfilled in the bloody scenes at Riblah (Jeremiah 52:24-27). It is not therefore a vaticinium ex eventu, but contains the general thought, that the wicked who boasted of security in Jerusalem or in the land of Israel as a whole, but were to be led out of the land, and judged outside. This threat intensifies the punishment, as Calvin has already shown.

(Note: "He threatens a double punishment; first, that God will cast them out of Jerusalem, in which they delight, and where they say that they will still make their abode for a long time to come, so that exile may be the first punishment. He then adds, secondly, that He will not be content with exile, but will send a severer punishment, after they have been cast out, and both home and land have spued them out as a stench which they could not bear. I will judge you at the frontier of Israel, i.e., outside the holy land, so that when one curse shall have become manifest in exile, a severer and more formidable punishment shall still await you.")

In Ezekiel 11:11 the negation (לא) of the first clause is to be supplied in the second, as, for example, in Deuteronomy 33:6. For Ezekiel 11:12, compare the remarks on Ezekiel 5:7. The truth and the power of this word are demonstrated at once by what is related in the following verse.

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