Ezekiel 20:33
As I live, said the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:
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(33) With a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm.—As the delineations of this whole passage are founded upon the exodus from Egypt (comp. Hosea 2:14-15), so this particular expression is the standing form in the Pentateuch for the series of mighty acts by which the Lord effected that deliverance (see Exodus 6:1; Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:19, &c). In Exodus 6:6 it is connected with “great judgments”; here and in the next verse, on the contrary, with “fury poured out.” Then the Almighty power was manifested for deliverance, but now it shall be for discipline; He “will rule over” and purify them with the same resistless energy which He formerly put forth to save them from their enemies.

Ezekiel 20:33-36. Surely with a mighty hand, &c. — I will no longer try to reclaim you by the gentle methods of patience and forbearance, but will govern you, as masters do bad servants, by stripes and corrections; and by this means cure you of your inclinations to the heathen customs and idolatries. And I will bring you out from the people — With whom you now live mixed, and whose manners and customs you follow. The Moabites, Ammonites, and other neighbouring nations, seem to be intended, into whose countries many of the Jews were carried captive, or went as voluntary exiles, before the general captivity by the Chaldeans. God here declares he will bring them thence, and carry them to Babylon. And I will bring you into the wilderness — Between Judea and Babylon, through which ye shall pass into captivity. Or, as some think, the barren lands in which the Babylonians planted these captives are meant. “The wilderness of the people,” says Michaelis, “is the desert in the neighbourhood of the Chaldeans, and of other nations. And there will I plead with you face to face — Convince you of your sins, execute judgments on you, and thereby most plainly manifest my justice to you. “I will punish you in the face of the world, and fill you with conviction that my punishments are just.” — Bishop Newcome. Like as I pleaded with your fathers — Punished them for their sins; in the wilderness of the land of Egypt — That is, the wilderness bordering upon Egypt. As I there set the crimes of your fathers before their eyes, so that they were not able to deny their guilt, nor to say any thing against the justice of the punishment inflicted on them, so will I deal with you.20:33-44 The wicked Israelites, notwithstanding they follow the sinful ways of other nations, shall not mingle with them in their prosperity, but shall be separated from them for destruction. There is no shaking off God's dominion; and those who will not yield to the power of his grace, shall sink under the power of his wrath. But not one of God's jewels shall be lost in the lumber of this world. He will bring the jews to the land of Israel again; and will give them true repentance. They will be overcome with his kindness: the more we know of God's holiness, the more we see the hateful nature of sin. Those who remain unaffected amidst means of grace, and would live without Christ, like the world around them, may be sure it is the way to destruction.The expressions "a mighty hand, stretched out arm" carry back the thoughts to Egyptian bondage Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15; but then it was for deliverance, now for judgment "with fury poured out."33. Here begins the second division of the prophecy. Lest the covenant people should abandon their distinctive hopes and amalgamate with the surrounding heathen, He tells them that, as the wilderness journey from Egypt was made subservient to discipline and also to the taking from among them the rebellious, so a severe discipline (such as the Jews are now for long actually undergoing) should be administered to them during the next exodus for the same purpose (Eze 20:38), and so to prepare them for the restored possession of their land (Ho 2:14, 15). This was only partially fulfilled before, and at the return from Babylon: its full and final accomplishment is future.

with a mighty hand, … will I rule over you—I will assert My right over you in spite of your resistance (Eze 20:32), as a master would in the case of his slave, and I will not let you be wrested from Me, because of My regard to My covenant.

As I live: see Ezekiel 20:3.

A mighty hand; so mighty, that you shall never wrest yourselves out of it: you think to revolt, and get out of my hand, but you shall hereby discover your own folly, malice, and weakness.

A stretched out arm, which reacheth every where, whence you can never flee, which shall be most visible.

With fury; in hot, but just indignation.

Poured out; as an inundation from a mighty river, or like a violent storm poured from the clouds, or as a full vessel emptied all at once.

Rule over you; retain my right over you, and exercise it on you, us on combined rebels, since you will refuse my rule, as over-loyal subjects. If you will not be my free subjects, you shall be lettered slaves; the chains of affliction, the restraints of providence crossing you, the execution of my menaces, shall be too sharp and thick a hedge for you to break through; I will make every place where you are a prison for strength to confine you, and I will make it a prison for the sorrows and hardships you shall there endure, and all this in my fury. As I live, saith the Lord God,.... The form of an oath; the Lord swears by his own life, used more than once before; it supposes something of moment, and the certain performance of it:

surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm; from which none can escape, and which none can withstand:

and with fury poured out: like floods of water, in a violent hasty shower of rain; it denotes the abundance of divine wrath, and the sudden and sure execution of it:

will I rule over you; not in a gentle and merciful way, but with great rigour and severity; though they had contrived to withdraw themselves from under his domination and government, by joining with the Gentiles, and conforming to their laws and customs, and complying with their religious rites and idolatrous practices; yet they should not be able to accomplish their designs; they should be so far from being free men, as they promised themselves, that whereas they did not choose to be his voluntary and faithful subjects, he would keep a watchful eye and a strict hand over them as rebels, and rule them with a rod of iron, as well as with a sceptre of righteousness; and would be King over them, and they should be subject to his authority, whether they would or not.

As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:
33. This resolution of the people to sink themselves among the heathen shall not stand; Jehovah will assert his sovereignty over them, amidst terrible manifestations of his power and anger.

rule over you] be or, become king over you. The mighty hand (Exodus 13:9; Deuteronomy 5:15) and the stretched out arm (Exodus 6:6; Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 11:2, &c.), were turned at the exodus against their enemies, here partly at least they are directed upon the disobedient people themselves (Ezekiel 20:35).The Generation that Grew Up in the Desert

Ezekiel 20:18. And I spake to their sons in the desert, Walk not in the statutes of your fathers, and keep not their rights, and do not defile yourselves with their idols. Ezekiel 20:19. I am Jehovah your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my rights, and do them, Ezekiel 20:20. And sanctify my Sabbaths, that they may be for a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am Jehovah your God. Ezekiel 20:21. But the sons were rebellious against me; they walked not in my statutes, and did not keep my rights, to do them, which man should do that he may live through them; they profaned my Sabbaths. Then I thought to pour out my wrath upon them, to accomplish my anger upon them in the desert. Ezekiel 20:22. But I turned back my hand and did it for my name's sake, that it might not be profaned before the eyes of the nations, before whose eyes I had them out. Ezekiel 20:23. I also lifted my hand to them in the desert, to scatter them among the nations, and to disperse them in the lands; Ezekiel 20:24. Because they did not my rights, and despised my statutes, profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after the idols of their fathers. Ezekiel 20:25. And I also gave them statutes, which were not good, and rights, through which they did not live; Ezekiel 20:26. And defiled them in their sacrificial gifts, in that they caused all that openeth the womb to pass through, that I might fill them with horror, that they might know that I am Jehovah. - The sons acted like their fathers in the wilderness. Historical proofs of this are furnished by the accounts of the Sabbath-breaker (Numbers 15:32.), of the rebellion of the company of Korah, and of the murmuring of the whole congregation against Moses and Aaron after the destruction of Korah's company (Numbers 16 and Numbers 17:1-13). In the last two cases God threatened that He would destroy the whole congregation (cf. Numbers 16:21 and Numbers 17:9-10); and on both occasions the Lord drew back His hand at the intercession of Moses, and his actual intervention (Numbers 16:22 and Numbers 17:11.), and did not destroy the whole nation for His name's sake. The statements in Ezekiel 20:21 and Ezekiel 20:22 rest upon these facts. The words of Ezekiel 20:23 concerning the oath of God, that He would scatter the transgressors among the heathen, are also founded upon the Pentateuch, and not upon an independent tradition, or any special revelation from God. Dispersion among the heathen is threatened in Leviticus 26:33 and Deuteronomy 28:64, and there is no force in Kliefoth's argument that "these threats do not refer to the generation in the wilderness, but to a later age." For in both chapters the blessings and curses of the law are set before the people who were then in the desert; and there is not a single word to intimate that either blessing or curse would only be fulfilled upon the generations of later times.

On the contrary, when Moses addressed to the people assembled before him his last discourse concerning the renewal of the covenant (Deuteronomy 29 and 30), he called upon them to enter into the covenant, "which Jehovah maketh with thee this day" (Deuteronomy 29:12), and to keep all the words of this covenant and do them. It is upon this same discourse, in which Moses calls the threatenings of the law אלה, an oath (Deuteronomy 29:13), that "the lifting of the hand of God to swear," mentioned in Ezekiel 20:23 of this chapter, is also founded. Moreover, it is not stated in this verse that God lifted His hand to scatter among the heathen the generation which had grown up in the wilderness, and to disperse them in the lands before their entrance into the land promised to the fathers; but simply that He had lifted His hand in the wilderness to threaten the people with dispersion among the heathen, without in any way defining the period of dispersion. In the blessings and threatenings of the law contained in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30, the nation is regarded as a united whole; so that no distinction is made between the successive generations, for the purpose of announcing this particular blessing or punishment to either one or the other. And Ezekiel acts in precisely the same way. It is true that he distinguishes the generation which came out of Egypt and was sentenced by God to die in the wilderness from the sons, i.e., the generation which grew up in the wilderness; but the latter, or the sons of those who had fallen, the generation which was brought into the land of Canaan, he regards as one with all the successive generations, and embraces the whole under the common name of "fathers" to the generation living in his day ("your fathers" Ezekiel 20:27), as we may clearly see from the turn given to the sentence which describes the apostasy of those who came into the land of Canaan ('עוד זאת ). In thus embracing the generation which grew up in the wilderness and was led into Canaan, along with the generations which followed and lived in Canaan, Ezekiel adheres very closely to the view prevailing in the Pentateuch, where the nation in all its successive generations is regarded as one united whole. The threat of dispersion among the heathen, which the Lord uttered in the wilderness to the sons of those who were not to see the land, is also not mentioned by Ezekiel as one which God designed to execute upon the people who were wandering in the desert at the time. For if he had understood it in this sense, he would have mentioned its non-fulfilment also, and would have added a 'ואעשׂ למען שׁמי וגו, as he has done in the case of the previous threats (cf. Ezekiel 20:22, Ezekiel 20:14, and Ezekiel 20:9). But we do not find this either in Ezekiel 20:24 or Ezekiel 20:26. The omission of this turn clearly shows that Ezekiel 20:23 does not refer to a punishment which God designed to inflict, but did not execute for His name's sake; but that the dispersion among the heathen, with which the transgressors of His commandments were threatened by God when in the wilderness, is simply mentioned as a proof that even in the wilderness the people, whom God had determined to lead into Canaan, were threatened with that very punishment which had now actually commenced, because rebellious Israel had obstinately resisted the commandments and rights of its God.

These remarks are equally applicable to Ezekiel 20:25 and Ezekiel 20:26. These verses are not to be restricted to the generation which was born in the wilderness and gathered to its fathers not long after its entrance into Canaan, but refer to their descendants also, that is to say, to the fathers of our prophet's contemporaries, who were born and had died in Canaan. God gave them statutes which were not good, and rights which did not bring them life. It is perfectly self-evident that we are not to understand by these statutes and rights, which were not good, either the Mosaic commandments of the ceremonial law, as some of the Fathers and earlier Protestant commentators supposed, or the threatenings contained in the law; so that this needs no elaborate proof. The ceremonial commandments given by God were good, and had the promise attached to them, that obedience to them would give life; whilst the threats of punishment contained in the law are never called חקּים and משׁפּטים. Those statutes only are called "not good" the fulfilment of which did not bring life or blessings and salvation. The second clause serves as an explanation of the first. The examples quoted in Ezekiel 20:26 show what the words really mean. The defiling in their sacrificial gifts (Ezekiel 20:26), for example, consisted in their causing that which opened the womb to pass through, i.e., in the sacrifice of the first-born. העביר כּל־פּטר points back to Exodus 13:12; only ליהוה, which occurs in that passage, is omitted, because the allusion is not to the commandment given there, but to its perversion into idolatry. This formula is used in the book of Exodus (l.c.) to denote the dedication of the first-born to Jehovah; but in Ezekiel 20:13 this limitation is introduced, that the first-born of man is to be redeemed. העביר signifies a dedication through fire ( equals העביר בּאשׁ, Ezekiel 20:31), and is adopted in the book of Exodus, where it is joined to ליהוה, in marked opposition to the Canaanitish custom of dedicating children of Moloch by februation in fire (see the comm. on ex. EZechariah 13:12). The prophet refers to this Canaanitish custom, and cites it as a striking example of the defilement of the Israelites in their sacrificial gifts (טמּא, to make unclean, not to declare unclean, or treat as unclean). That this custom also made its way among the Israelites, is evident from the repeated prohibition against offering children through the fire to Moloch (Leviticus 18:21 and Deuteronomy 18:10). When, therefore, it is affirmed with regard to a statute so sternly prohibited in the law of God, that Jehovah gave it to the Israelites in the wilderness, the word נתן (give) can only be used in the sense of a judicial sentence, and must not be taken merely as indicating divine permission; in other words, it is to be understood, like 2 Thessalonians 2:11 ("God sends them strong delusion") and Acts 7:42 ("God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven"), in the sense of hardening, whereby whoever will not renounce idolatry is so given up to its power, that it draws him deeper and deeper in. This is in perfect keeping with the statement in Ezekiel 20:26 as the design of God in doing this: "that I might fill them with horror;" i.e., might excite such horror and amazement in their minds, that if possible they might be brought to reflect and to return to Jehovah their God.

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