Ezekiel 18:25
Yet you say, The way of the LORD is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) The way of the Lord is not equal.—The word means literally, weighed out, balanced. The accusation of the Israelites was still (here and in Ezekiel 18:29) that the Lord was arbitrary and unjust. His statement in reply is that He rewards and punishes according to eternal and immutable principles of right. Every man must reap that which he has sown. (Comp. Romans 2:5-10.)

Ezekiel 18:25-29. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal, &c. — Yet ye allege that I do not act according to the strict rules of justice and equity: but “the declarations I have so often repeated concerning the eternal rewards and punishments allotted to the righteous and the wicked, are sufficient to vindicate the justice of my proceedings against all your objections.” When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, &c. — “It is an opinion that prevails among the Jews, even till this day, that at the day of judgment a considerable number of good actions shall overbalance men’s evil ones. See Ezekiel 33:13. So they thought it a hard case for a man who had been righteous the far greater part of his life, if he did at last commit iniquity, that his former righteousness should avail him nothing. In opposition to this doctrine, God here declares that a righteous man sinning and not repenting, should die in his sins; and that a wicked man, upon his repentance, should save his soul alive.” — Lowth. Again, when the wicked man, &c. — These verses are, as it were, a repetition of what had been said before; or rather, the conclusion of the matter, or the whole of the chapter summed up and brought to a point; namely, that men suffer the divine punishments only on account of their sins; that they cannot enjoy the divine favour while they continue in sin; and that, in order to obtain it, it is indispensably necessary that they should turn from all their transgressions and become new creatures, and that even former righteousness cannot obtain for them, or preserve to them, the favour of God, while they relapse into and continue in subsequent iniquity. In a word, that sin and wickedness are the sole objects of God’s aversion and indignation, and holiness and righteousness of his favour and approbation.18:21-29 The wicked man would be saved, if he turned from his evil ways. The true penitent is a true believer. None of his former transgressions shall be mentioned unto him, but in the righteousness which he has done, as the fruit of faith and the effect of conversion, he shall surely live. The question is not whether the truly righteous ever become apostates. It is certain that many who for a time were thought to be righteous, do so, while ver. 26,27 speaks the fulness of pardoning mercy: when sin is forgiven, it is blotted out, it is remembered no more. In their righteousness they shall live; not for their righteousness, as if that were an atonement for their sins, but in their righteousness, which is one of the blessings purchased by the Mediator. What encouragement a repenting, returning sinner has to hope for pardon and life according to this promise! In verse 28 is the beginning and progress of repentance. True believers watch and pray, and continue to the end, and they are saved. In all our disputes with God, he is in the right, and we are in the wrong.Equal - literally, "weighed out, balanced." Man's ways are arbitrary, God's ways are governed by a self-imposed law, which makes all consistent and harmonious. 25. Their plea for saying, "The way of the Lord is not equal," was that God treated different classes in a different way. But it was really their way that was unequal, since living in sin they expected to be dealt with as if they were righteous. God's way was invariably to deal with different men according to their deserts. Yet ye say; you persist in your hard, unjust, and ungodly sentiments of an inequality in my ways, and are not afraid to speak as much.

The way: it were too much for sinners to charge God with inequality in a single act, but here are some dare censure the way, the whole management of affairs.

Of the Lord: strange frowardness! own him for Lord, yet condemn his government; grant his sovereign authority, and yet arraign the exercise of it!

Is not equal; not right, steady, or consistent with his own declaration and law; so the Hebrew. This prodigiously wicked assertion they build upon a most gross ignorance, and intolerably proud conceit of their own righteousness: We, say they, are righteous, not wicked, yet punished. Unheard-of pride, to condemn God, with whom is no iniquity, and acquit themselves, in whom is all iniquity!

Hear now; consider what I have proposed to clear my justice, hear me and my defence ere you condemn me, weigh well my defence. O house of Israel; both you that are in Jerusalem, and you also that are in Babylon at Telabib.

Is not my way equal? Do you speak what you think, does your judgment thus conclude, when you know, or might know, that this is the general rule I proceed by, The righteousness of the righteous is upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked is upon him? Can there be inequality here? Your ways which you choose, keep, plead for, and obstinately hold to, these are the crooked, unsteady, and unjust ways: for the question is to be resolved into a vehement asseveration. Yet ye say,.... Notwithstanding these plain instances, which show the equity of God in his proceedings, and vindicate his justice in the dispensations of his providence; yet such was the blindness and stupidity of these people, or rather their stubbornness, obstinacy, and impudence, that they still insisted upon it that

the way of the Lord is not equal; just and right; is not even, according to the rules of justice and equity; or is not ordered aright, is not steady, and firm, and consistent with himself, and the declaration of his will; a very bold and blasphemous charge, and yet the Lord condescends to reason with them about it:

hear now, O house of Israel; the ten tribes that were now in captivity; or the Jews that were carried captive with Jeconiah, with those that were still in Jerusalem and Judea; these are called upon to hear the Lord, what he had to say in vindication of himself from this charge, as it was but just and reasonable they should:

is not my way equal? plain and even, constant and uniform, according to the obvious rules of justice and truth? can any instance be given to the contrary? what is to be said to support the charge against me? bring forth your strong reasons if you cart, and prove what is asserted:

are not your ways unequal? it is plain they are; your actions, your course of life, are manifest deviations from my law, and from all the rules of righteousness and goodness; it is you that are in the wrong, and I in the right.

Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not {h} equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

(h) In punishing the father with the children.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. Yet ye say, The way … equal] And ye say. The “way” of the Lord is the principle on which he acts, or his action on it, Isaiah 55:8, cf. ch. Ezekiel 33:17; Ezekiel 33:20. The objection of the people may really have been expressed (cf. Ezekiel 18:19). The prophet’s principle of the freedom of the individual and his independence was a novelty running counter to cherished notions of that age, notions corroborated by much that is seen in history and life. The instance of Korah, whose children perished with him for his sin, the case of Achan, whose transgression was imputed to the whole camp, the history of Jonathan, and no doubt multitudes of instances were familiar to the people where men were treated as bodies and the individuals shared the fate of the mass though personally innocent. To us now the prophet’s principle is self-evident. Still even to us it is only a theoretical principle, and can be maintained against facts only by drawing a distinction, which the people in Israel had not yet learned to draw, between the spiritual relation of the mind to God and the external history of the individual. See end of chapter.Verse 25. - Are not my ways equal? The. primary meaning of the Hebrew adjective is that of something ordered, symmetrically arranged. Men would find in the ways of God precisely that in which their own ways were wanting, and which they denied to him - the workings of a considerate equity, adjusting all things according to their true weight and measure. The righteousness of the father does not protect the wicked, unrighteous son from death. - Ezekiel 18:10. If, however, he begetteth a violent son, who sheddeth blood, and doeth only one of these things, Ezekiel 18:11. But he himself hath not done all this, - if he even eateth upon the mountains, and defileth his neighbour's wife, Ezekiel 18:12. Oppresseth the suffering and poor, committeth robbery, doth not restore a pledge, lifteth up his eyes to idols, committeth abomination, Ezekiel 18:13. Giveth upon usury, and taketh interest: should he live? He shall not live! He hath done all these abominations; he shall be put to death; his blood shall be upon him. - The subject to והוליד, in Ezekiel 18:10, is the righteous man described in the preceding verses. פּריץ, violent, literally, breaking in or through, is rendered more emphatic by the words "shedding blood" (cf. Hosea 4:2). We regard אח in the next clause as simply a dialectically different form of writing and pronouncing, for אך, "only," and he doeth only one of these, the sins previously mentioned (Ezekiel 18:6.). מאחד, with a partitive מן, as in Leviticus 4:2, where it is used in a similar connection; the form מאחד is also met with in Deuteronomy 15:7. The explanation given by the Targum, "and doeth one of these to his brother," is neither warranted by the language nor commended by the sense. עשׂה is never construed with the accusative of the person to whom anything is done; and the limitation of the words to sins against a brother is unsuitable in this connection. The next clause, לא עשׂה...והוּא, which has also been variously rendered, we regard as an adversative circumstantial clause, and agree with Kliefoth in referring it to the begetter (father): "and he (the father) has not committed any of these sins." For it yields no intelligible sense to refer this clause also to the son, since כּל־אלּה cannot possibly refer to different things from the preceding מאלּה, and a man cannot at the same time both do and not do the same thing. The כּי which follows signifies "if," as is frequently the case in the enumeration of particular precepts or cases; compare, for example, Exodus 21:1, Exodus 21:7,Exodus 21:17, etc., where it is construed with the imperfect, because the allusion is to things that may occur. Here, on the contrary, it is followed by the perfect, because the sins enumerated are regarded as committed. The emphatic גּם (even) forms an antithesis to אח מאחד (אך), or rather an epanorthosis of it, inasmuch as כּי גּם resumes and carries out still further the description of the conduct of the wicked son, which was interrupted by the circumstantial clause; and that not only in a different form, but with a gradation in the thought. The thought, for instance, is as follows: the violent son of a righteous father, even if he has committed only one of the sins which the father has not committed, shall die. And if he has committed even the gross sins named, viz., idolatry, adultery, violent oppression of the poor, robbery, etc., should he then continue to live? The ו in וחי introduces the apodosis, which contains a question, that is simply indicated by the tone, and is immediately denied. The antique form חי for חיּה, 3rd pers. perf., is taken from the Pentateuch (cf. Genesis 3:22 and Numbers 21:8). The formulae מות יוּמת and דּמיו בּו dna are also derived from the language of the law (cf. Leviticus 20:9, Leviticus 20:11, Leviticus 20:13, etc.).
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