Ezekiel 20:11
And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
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(11) He shall even live in them.—Comp. Deuteronomy 30:15-20. It becomes plain, on a careful perusal of this passage, that what was required was not a mere outward, technical, and perfunctory keeping of certain definite precepts, but a living and loving obedience to God’s will from the heart. The same fundamental principle of life underlies the Old Testament as the New; yet the former is justly regarded, and frequently spoken of in the New Testament, as a covenant of works, because the people were not yet sufficiently educated spiritually to be able to receive the principle of faith, and were therefore placed under a law of many definite precepts, that by keeping these with glad alacrity they might show their readiness and desire to do the Lord’s will. It is in this sense that a man should live by doing the statutes of the law, and not on the ground of his thereby earning for himself salvation. But even thus, they failed miserably under the test.

20:10-26. The history of Israel in the wilderness is referred to in the new Testament as well as in the Old, for warning. God did great things for them. He gave them the law, and revived the ancient keeping of the sabbath day. Sabbaths are privileges; they are signs of our being his people. If we do the duty of the day, we shall find, to our comfort, it is the Lord that makes us holy, that is, truly happy, here; and prepares us to be happy, that is, perfectly holy, hereafter. The Israelites rebelled, and were left to the judgments they brought upon themselves. God sometimes makes sin to be its own punishment, yet he is not the Author of sin: there needs no more to make men miserable, than to give them up to their own evil desires and passions.The "statutes" were given on Mount Sinai, and repeated by Moses before his death (Exodus 20:1 ff; Deuteronomy 4:8).

In them - Or, through them: and in Ezekiel 20:13.

11. which if a man do, he shall … five in them—not "by them," as though they could justify a man, seeing that man cannot render the faultless obedience required (Le 18:5; Ga 3:12). "By them" is the expression indeed in Ro 10:5; but there the design is to show that, if man could obey all God's laws, he would be justified "by them" (Ga 3:21); but he cannot; he therefore needs to have justification by "the Lord our righteousness" (Jer 23:6); then, having thus received life, he "lives," that is, maintains, enjoys, and exercises this life only in so far as he walks "in" the laws of God. So De 30:15, 16. The Israelites, as a nation, had life already freely given to them by God's covenant of promise; the laws of God were designed to be the means of the outward expression of their spiritual life. As the natural life has its healthy manifestation in the full exercise of its powers, so their spiritual being as a nation was to be developed in vigor, or else decay, according as they did, or did not, walk in God's laws. I, who spared them in Egypt, had brought them forth, and owned them as the children of Abraham my friend: God gave his law by Moses, and now Israel’s laws are really of Divine origin, when others did but pretend it. Gave them; appointed and commanded by my authority, and communicated out of my love and kindness to them.

My statutes; the law on Mount Sinai, containing their duty.

Showed them; plainly declared, spake so that they might know.

My judgments; not the terrible executions of his wrath, but judgments here are the rules that God gave them to walk by.

If a man do; if any one, without partiality, whosoever should keep these statutes and judgments with God is no respect of persons.

He shall live: not that any ever did or could by sinless keeping the law attain the eternal blessedness; grace gives that; but it surely points out a future prosperity and flourishing state in this life to all that are careful to keep these statutes and judgments as they can; such should not be cut off, nor brought into captivity, but live and rejoice in their own land.

In them; both in the fruit of them already obeyed, and in the continuance to do them for the future.

And I gave them my statutes,.... The precepts of his law, the law on Mount Sinai, of which there were not the like among other nations; nor were they given unto them, but were a special gift unto Israel, and greatly to be valued, Deuteronomy 4:8;

and showed them judgments: the nature, use, and excellency of the the necessity and advantage of observing them: the same as before, called "statutes", because appointed, fixed, and certain, being of inviolable and lasting obligation; and "judgments", being according to strict justice and equity: these, though they were originally written on man's heart, yet so obliterated by sin that there was need not only of their being afresh written and published, but of their being taught and made known; or of pointing out the use of them, and obligation to them:

which if a man do, he shall live in them; or "by them" (g); in the land of Canaan, enjoying all the blessings of a long and happy life: reference seems to be had to Leviticus 18:5. The Targum adds,

"in eternal life;''

but eternal life is not to be obtained by the works of the law, since no man can perfectly obey or fulfil it, but is the pure gift of the grace of God.

(g) "per ea", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Piscator; "propter ea", Pagninus.

And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
11. gave them … statutes] Reference is to the Sinaitic legislation. The fact of the legislation is, confirmed by the prophet, but his language “statutes and judgments” does not enable us to form an opinion how extensive it was, nor what particulars it embraced besides the law of the sabbath (Ezekiel 20:12), and of course the law that Jehovah was God alone of Israel, because he uses the phrase “statutes and judgments” very generally, for example of the conduct and principles of the people in the wilderness themselves (Ezekiel 20:18).

shall even live in them] Or, shall live by them. Obedience to them will issue in “life,” the word being used in its natural sense, Deuteronomy 4:40, “thou shalt keep his statutes … that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the land,” Deuteronomy 5:16 (fifth commandment). The precepts of Jehovah given to the people were such that obedience to them would ensure prosperity and life, while disobedience would cause calamity and death, and this not only in the mere government of them by their God, but because the statutes were in themselves “good,” cf. Ezekiel 20:25; Amos 5:14; Hosea 8:3; Micah 3:2; Micah 6:8.

11–17. The people delivered from Egypt and brought into the wilderness. There also Jehovah wrought for his name’s sake.

Verse 11. - I gave them my statutes, etc. Ezekiel recognizes, almost in the very language of Deuteronomy 30:16-20, as fully as the writers of Psalm 19. and 119. recognized, the excellence of the Law. A man who kept that Law in its fulness would have life in its fullest and highest sense. He was beginning, however, to recognize, as Jeremiah had (lone (Jeremiah 31:31), the powerlessness of the Law to give that life without the aid of something higher. The "new covenant" was already dawning on the mind of the scholar as on that of the master. Ezekiel 20:11Behaviour of Israel in the Desert

Ezekiel 20:10. And I led them out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the desert; Ezekiel 20:11. And gave them my statutes, and my rights I made known to them, which man is to do that he may live through them. Ezekiel 20:12. I also gave them my Sabbaths, that they might be for a sign between me and them, that they might now that I Jehovah sanctify them. Ezekiel 20:13. But the house of Israel was rebellious against me in the desert: they did not walk in my statutes, and my rights they rejected, which man is to do, that he may live through them, and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned: Then I thought to pour out my wrath upon them in the desert to destroy them. Ezekiel 20:14. But I did it for my name's sake, that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations, before whose eyes I had led them out. Ezekiel 20:15. I also lifted my hand to them in the desert, not to bring them into the land which I had given (them), which floweth with milk and honey; it is an ornament of all lands, Ezekiel 20:16. Because they rejected my rights, did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths, for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20:17. But my eye looked with pity upon them, so that I did not destroy them, and make an end of them in the desert. - God gave laws at Sinai to the people whom He had brought out of Egypt, through which they were to be sanctified as His own people, that they might live before God. On Ezekiel 20:11 compare Deuteronomy 30:16 and Deuteronomy 30:19. Ezekiel 20:12 is taken almost word for word from Exodus 31:13, where God concludes the directions for His worship by urging upon the people in the most solemn manner the observance of His Sabbaths, and thereby pronounces the keeping of the Sabbath the kernel of all divine worship. And as in that passage we are to understand by the Sabbaths the actual weekly Sabbaths, and not the institutions of worship as a whole, so here we must retain the literal signification of the word. It is only of the Sabbath recurring every week, and not of all the fasts, that it could be said it was a sign between Jehovah and Israel. It was a sign, not as a token, that they who observed it were Israelites, as Hitzig supposes, but to know (that they might know) that Jehovah was sanctifying them, namely, by the Sabbath rest - as a refreshing and elevation of the mind, in which Israel was to have a foretaste of that blessed resting from all works to which the people of God was ultimately to attain (see the comm. on Exodus 20:11). It is from this deeper signification of the Sabbath that the prominence given to the Sabbaths here is to be explained, and not from the outward circumstance that in exile, when the sacrificial worship was necessarily suspended, the keeping of the Sabbath as the only bond which united the Israelites, so far as the worship of God was concerned (Hitzig). Historical examples of the rebellion of Israel against the commandments of God in the desert are given in ex. EZechariah 32:1-6 and Numbers 25:1-3; and of the desecration of the Sabbath, in ex. EZechariah 16:27 and Numbers 15:32. For the threat referred to in Ezekiel 20:13, compare Exodus 32:10; Numbers 14:11-12. - Ezekiel 20:15 and Ezekiel 20:16 are not a repetition of Ezekiel 20:13 (Hitzig); nor do they introduce a limitation of Ezekiel 20:14 (Kliefoth). They simply relate what else God did to put bounds to the rebellion after He had revoked the decree to cut Israel off, at the intercession of Moses (Numbers 14:11-19). He lifted His hand to the oath (Numbers 14:21.), that the generation which had come out of Egypt should not come into the land of Canaan, but should die in the wilderness. Therewith He looked with pity upon the people, so that He did not make an end of them by following up the threat with a promise that the children should enter the land. עשׂה כלה, as in Ezekiel 11:13.

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