Ezekiel 20:35
And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(35) Into the wilderness of the people.—As in the past there was a period of probation and discipline in the wilderness, so shall there be in the future. The similarity is insisted upon in Ezekiel 20:36, and the phrase “face to face” is taken from Deuteronomy 5:4, not to show that the Lord will interpose again with the same sensible manifestations, but will plead with them in ways equally adapted, in their more advanced condition, to show them His overruling hand. As this phrase is plainly to be understood according to its sense, and not according to the letter, so it is quite idle to attempt to locate the wilderness of the people” as any material wilderness, as that of Arabia, or that between Babylonia and Palestine. The phrase must mean that wilderness condition of the people, scattered among the nations, in which the Lord will plead with them as He did with their fathers. This might refer, as some commentators think, to the state of the Jews in our own time, dispersed among all nations; but there is nothing in the connection to indicate so distant a future, and it may quite as well refer to the then approaching condition of the people. Already many thousands of them had been carried captive to Babylon; others (see Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 43:5) had been scattered among all the surrounding nations; the mass of the ten tribes had long before been carried by the king of Assyria to other regions; and the large remnant still left in Judæa, influenced by their own fears, soon afterwards went down to Egypt. In Ezekiel’s own life-time, Israel was scattered widely among all the prominent nations of the earth, and thus brought into the “wilderness of the people.”

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 wilderness of the people - A time of probation will follow, as before in the wilderness of Sin, so in the "wilderness of the nations" among whom they will sojourn (not the Babylonians) "after" that captivity. This period of their probation is not over. The dispersion of the Jews did not cease with the return under Zerubbabel; but in our Saviour's time they were living as a distinct people in all the principal places in the civilized world; and so they live now. God is yet pleading with them "face to face," calling them personally to embrace those offers which as a nation they disregarded.35. wilderness of the people—rather, "peoples," the various peoples among whom they were to be scattered, and about whom God saith (Eze 20:34), "I will bring you out." In contrast to the literal "wilderness of Egypt" (Eze 20:36), "the wilderness of the peoples" is their spiritual wilderness period of trial, discipline, and purification while exiled among the nations. As the state when they are "brought into the wilderness of the peoples" and that when they were among the peoples "from" which God was to "bring them out" (Eze 20:34) are distinguished, the wilderness state probably answers partially to the transition period of discipline from the first decree for their restoration by Cyrus to the time of their complete settlement in their land, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. But the full and final fulfilment is future; the wilderness state will comprise not only the transition period of their restoration, but the beginning of their occupancy of Palestine, a time in which they shall endure the sorest of all their chastisements, to "purge out the rebels" (Eze 20:38; Da 12:1); and then the remnant (Zec 13:8, 9; 14:2, 3) shall "all serve God in the land" (Eze 20:40). Thus the wilderness period does not denote locality, but their state intervening between their rejection and future restoration.

plead—bring the matter in debate between us to an issue. Image is from a plaintiff in a law court meeting the defendant "face to face." Appropriate, as God in His dealings acts not arbitrarily, but in most righteous justice (Jer 2:9; Mic 6:2).

Bring you; drive you; and since you think of such a course of ease to yourselves by casting me off among the nations, I will bring you among such as you shall be soon weary of.

Into the wilderness; into the most horrid, barbarous, and savage parts of the inhabited world; into the mountainous barren parts of Media, Hyrcania, Iberia, Caspia, and Albania, and Scythia, inhospitable nations, and mortal enemies to strangers.

Plead; debate, pass sentence, and execute it also on you.

Face to face; not, as the rabbins dream, to conceal the dishonour of the Jews, but indeed plainly, openly, and so as my hand shall be seen.

And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people,.... Into Babylon, and into captivity there, which they thought to avoid by fleeing to other countries. Some think that those inhospitable nations are meant, Syro-media, Caspia, Hyrcania, Iberia, and others, into which many of the Jews were brought, who sought to live elsewhere than at Babylon; and others are of opinion that this respects the time of their return from Babylon to their own land, between which lay a wilderness, here referred to; but perhaps the prophecy respects the present state of the Jews, in which they have continued ever since their destruction by the Romans; through whom they have been brought among the several nations of the world, particularly the Roman empire, compared to a wilderness; and represented as a populous one, as it is, and in which the beast, or antichrist, now is; see Revelation 17:3 and there will I plead with you face to face; judge, condemn, and take vengeance, or inflict punishment on them in the most public manner, as he now does. The Targum is, "and I will take vengeance on you face to face". And I will bring you into the {r} wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face.

(r) I will bring you among strange nations as into a wilderness and there will visit you, and so call you to repentance and then bring the godly home again, Isa 65:9.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
35. of the people] peoples. This wilderness of the peoples is the Syro-Babylonian wilderness, adjoining the peoples among whom they were dispersed; as that into which their fathers were brought was the wilderness of Egypt, i.e. adjoining Egypt. Isaiah 40:1-11 also represents Jehovah as marching at the head of his people, redeemed from exile, through the wilderness from Babylon to Jerusalem. Ezek. may follow Hosea 2:14-15, but cf. Jeremiah 31:2 seq.

plead … face to face] With no intermediaries, no heathen people on whose fellowship they could stay themselves, absolutely cut off from men and alone with their God (Hosea 2:4). Jehovah’s “pleading” or litigating is sometimes in terrible deeds (ch. Ezekiel 17:20), sometimes in words of reason (Isaiah 1:18; Micah 6:2 seq.). Gathered out from the nations and far from their seductive influences Israel will respond to the discipline of her God as in former days (Hosea 2:15).

Ezekiel 20:35The Judgment Awaiting Israel of Purification among the Heathen

Ezekiel 20:32. And that which riseth up in your mind shall not come to pass, in that ye say, We will be like the heathen, like the families of the lands, to serve wood and stone. Ezekiel 20:33. As I live, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah, with strong hand and with outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you. Ezekiel 20:34. And I will bring you out of the nations, and gather you out of the lands in which ye have been scattered, with strong hand and with outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, Ezekiel 20:35. And will bring you into the desert of the nations, and contend with you there face to face. Ezekiel 20:36. As I contended with your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so will I contend with you, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Ezekiel 20:37. And I will cause you to pass through under the rod, and bring you into the bond of the covenant. Ezekiel 20:38. And I will separate from you the rebellious, and those who are apostates from me; out of the land of their sojourning will I lead them out, but into the land of Israel shall they not come; that ye may know that I am Jehovah. - העלה על רוּח, that which rises up in the spirit, is the thought that springs up in the mind. What this thought was is shown in Ezekiel 20:32, viz., we will be like the heathen in the lands of the earth, to serve wood and stone; that is to say, we will become idolaters like the heathen, pass into heathenism. This shall not take place; on the contrary, God will rule over them as King with strong arm and fury. The words, "with strong hand and stretched-out arm," are a standing expression in the Pentateuch for the mighty acts by which Jehovah liberated His people from the power of the Egyptians, and led them out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 6:1, Exodus 6:6 with וּבמשׁפּטים גּדולים). Here, on the contrary, they are connected with בּחמה שׁפוּכה, and are used in Ezekiel 20:33 with reference to the government of God over Israel, whilst in Ezekiel 20:34 they are applied to the bringing out of Israel from the midst of the heathen. By the introduction of the clause "with fury poured out," the manifestation of the omnipotence of God which Israel experience in its dispersion, and which it was still to experience among the heathen, is described as an emanation of the divine wrath, a severe and wrathful judgment. The leading and gathering of Israel out of the nations (Ezekiel 20:34) is neither their restoration from the existing captivity in Babylon, nor their future restoration to Canaan on the conversion of the people who were still hardened, and therefore rejected by God. The former assumption would be decidedly at variance with both מן העמּים and מן הארצות, since Israel was dispersed only throughout one land and among one people at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Moreover, neither of the assumptions is reconcilable with the context, more especially with Ezekiel 20:35. According to the context, this leading out is an act of divine anger, which Israel is to feel in connection therewith; and this cannot be affirmed of either the redemption of the people out of the captivity in Babylon, or the future gathering of Israel from its dispersion. According to Ezekiel 20:35, God will conduct those who are brought out from the nations and gathered together out of the lands into the desert of the nations, and contend with them there. The "desert of the nations" is not the desert lying between Babylonia and Palestine, on the coastlands of the Mediterranean, through which the Israelites would have to pass on their way home from Babylon (Rosenmller, Hitzig, and others). For there is no imaginable reason why this should be called the desert of the nations in distinction from the desert of Arabia, which also touched the borders of several nations. The expression is doubtless a typical one, the future guidance of Israel being depicted as a repetition of the earlier guidance of the people from Egypt to Canaan; as it also is in Hosea 2:16. All the separate features in the description indicate this, more especially Ezekiel 20:36 and Ezekiel 20:37, where it is impossible to overlook the allusion to the guidance of Israel in the time of Moses.

The more precise explanation of the words must depend, however, upon the sense in which we are to understand the expression, "desert of the land of Egypt." Here also the supposition that the Arabian desert is referred to, because it touched the border of Egypt, does not furnish a sufficient explanation. It touched the border of Canaan as well. Why then did not Ezekiel name it after the land of Canaan? Evidently for no other reason than that the time spent by the Israelites in the Arabian desert resembled their sojourn in Egypt much more closely than their settlement in Canaan, because, while there, they were still receiving their training for their entrance into Canaan, and their possession and enjoyment of its benefits, just as much as in the land of Egypt. And in a manner corresponding to this, the "desert of the nations" is a figurative expression applied to the world of nations, from whom they were indeed spiritually distinct, whilst outwardly they were still in the midst of them, and had to suffer from their oppression. Consequently the leading of Israel out of the nations (Ezekiel 20:34) is not a local and corporeal deliverance out of heathen lands, but a spiritual severance from the heathen world, in order that they might not be absorbed into it or become inseparably blended with the heathen. God will accomplish this by means of severe chastisements, by contending with them as He formerly contended with their fathers in the Arabian desert. God contends with His people when He charges them with their sin and guilt, not merely in words, but also with deeds, i.e., through chastening and punishments. The words "face to face" point back to Deuteronomy 5:4 : "Jehovah talked with you face to face in the mount, out of the midst of the fire." Just as at Sinai the Lord talked directly with Israel, and made know to it the devouring fire of His own holy nature, in so terrible a manner that all the people trembled and entreated Moses to act the part of a mediator between them, promising at the same time obedience to him (Exodus 20:19); so will the Lord make Himself known to Israel in the desert of the world of nations with the burning zeal of His anger, that it may learn to fear Him. This contending is more precisely defined in Ezekiel 20:37 and Ezekiel 20:38. I will cause you to pass through under the (shepherd's) rod. A shepherd lets his sheep pass through under his rod for the purpose of counting them, and seeing whether they are in good condition or not (vid., Jeremiah 33:13). The figure is here applied to God. Like a shepherd, He will cause His flock, the Israelites, to pass through under His rod, i.e., take them into His special care, and bring them "into the bond of the covenant" (מסרת, not from מסר Raschi, but from אסר, for מאסרה, a fetter); that is to say, not "I will bind myself to you and you to me by a new covenant" (Bochart, Hieroz. I. p. 508), for this is opposed to the context, but, as the Syriac version has rendered it, b-mardûtâ (in disciplina), "the discipline of the covenant." By this we are not merely to understand the covenant punishments, with which transgressors of the law are threatened, as Hvernick does, but the covenant promises must also be included. For not only the threats of the covenant, but the promises of the covenant, are bonds by which God trains His people; and אסר is not only applied to burdensome and crushing fetters, but to the bonds of love as well (vid., Sol 7:6). Kliefoth understands by the fetter of the covenant the Mosaic law, as being the means employed by God to preserve the Israelites from mixing with the nations while placed in the midst of them, and to keep them to Himself, and adds the following explanation, - "this law, through which they should have been able to live, they have now to wear as a fetter, and to feel the chastisement thereof." But however correct the latter thought may be in itself, it is hardly contained in the words, "lead them into the fetter (band) of the law." Moreover, although the law did indeed preserve Israel from becoming absorbed into the world of nations, the fact that the Jews were bound to the law did not bring them to the knowledge of the truth, or bring to pass the purging of the rebellious from among the people, to which Ezekiel 20:38 refers. All that the law accomplished in this respect in the case of those who lived among the heathen was effected by its threatenings and its promises, and not by its statutes and their faithful observance. This discipline will secure the purification of the people, by severing from the nation the rebellious and apostate. God will bring them forth out of the land of this pilgrimage, but will not bring them into the land of Israel. ארץ is the standing epithet applied in the Pentateuch to the land of Canaan, in which the patriarchs lived as pilgrims, without coming into actual possession of the land (cf. Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:4; Genesis 36:7; Exodus 6:4). This epithet Ezekiel has transferred to the lands of Israel's exile, in which it was to lead a pilgrim-life until it was ripe for entering Canaan. הוציא, to lead out, is used here for clearing out by extermination, as the following clause, "into the land of Israel shall they not come," plainly shows. The singular יבוא is used distributively: not one of the rebels will enter.

Links
Ezekiel 20:35 Interlinear
Ezekiel 20:35 Parallel Texts


Ezekiel 20:35 NIV
Ezekiel 20:35 NLT
Ezekiel 20:35 ESV
Ezekiel 20:35 NASB
Ezekiel 20:35 KJV

Ezekiel 20:35 Bible Apps
Ezekiel 20:35 Parallel
Ezekiel 20:35 Biblia Paralela
Ezekiel 20:35 Chinese Bible
Ezekiel 20:35 French Bible
Ezekiel 20:35 German Bible

Bible Hub






Ezekiel 20:34
Top of Page
Top of Page