Ezekiel 39:23
And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword.
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(23) For their iniquity.—In the times foretold God’s dealings shall no longer be misunderstood, nor the sufferings of Israel considered as the result of His want of power to protect them. All the world shall so far understand His righteousness, that they shall see the reasonableness and necessity of His punishing even His chosen people for their sins, and purifying them that they may become His indeed.

Ezekiel 39:23. And the heathen shall know, &c. — The heathen nations shall be made sensible that my people were not carried away by their enemies because I wanted power to save them, but as a just punishment of their sins. Because they trespassed against me — Committed sin with a high hand. Therefore hid I my face from them — Withdrew my favour and protection; and gave them into the hand of their enemies — Who could not have hurt them if they had not first forsaken me their God, and exposed themselves to my displeasure. So fell they all by the sword — My defence being withdrawn, they fell under the sword of the enemy.39:23-29 When the Lord shall have mercy on the whole house of Israel, by converting them to Christianity, and when they shall have borne the shame of being cast off for their sins, then the nations shall learn to know, worship, and serve him. Then Israel also shall know the Lord, as revealed in and by Christ. Past events do not answer to these predictions. The pouring out of the Spirit is a pledge that God's favour will continue. He will hide his face no more from those on whom he has poured out his Spirit. When we pray that God would never cast us from his presence, we must as earnestly pray that, in order thereto, he would never take his Holy Spirit from us.The purposes of the past dispensation shall be made clear to God's people themselves and to the pagan. His judgments were the consequence of their sins; and these sins once abandoned, the favor of their God will return in yet more abundance.23. hid I my face—(De 31:17; Isa 59:2). The sottish heathen thought meanly of the God of Israel, and reckoned they came into captivity because the people of some greater god had by the’ power of their god prevailed against Israel’s God and his people; but by this overthrow given to Gog, they shall see it was not impotence in Israel’s God, but iniquity in Israel’s people, that brought them into captivity.

Trespassed; committed sin perversely, continually, and with a high hand.

Hid my face; withdrew my favour, would no more regard them, and then it was soon a night of trouble to them.

Into the hand, into the power,

of their enemies, which could not have hurt Israel if Israel had not first forsaken his God, but then God forsook them. When God withdrew his defence, as fenceless, they fell under the sword of the enemy; for it is he that subdueth enemies and giveth victory. And the Heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity,.... Before this they thought the captivity of the Jews, and all their distresses, were owing to their own weakness, and the weakness of the God they served, and to the superior strength of their enemies, and the power of their gods; but now, by this strange and amazing destruction of Gog and his army, they will see that it was not owing to those things, but to the sins and transgressions of the people of the Jews:

because they transgressed against me; prevaricated with him, acted a perfidious and treacherous part to him, as the word (i) signifies; which they did, when they delivered Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah, into the hands of the Gentiles, to be crucified; it is their disbelief of Christ, and rejection of him, and maltreatment of him, that is here more especially pointed at; and which is the cause of their present long captivity and exile, and of all the afflictions and troubles they have since met with: so the Targum renders it,

"they dealt falsely with my Word;''

the Word made flesh, the incarnate Saviour:

therefore hid I my face from them; took no notice of them, showed them no favour, took no care of them; disregarded their prayers and cries, and removed his presence from them, and all the tokens of it. So the Targum,

"I caused my Shechaniah (or majesty) to remove from them;''

and thus it has been ever since, and now is:

and gave them into the hand of their enemies; the Romans, who took away their place and nation; which they feared would be the case, should many believe in Christ; but the true reason of it was because they did not believe in him, John 11:48,

so fell they all by the sword; that is, through the sword of the conquering Romans; they fell into their hands; some perished by the sword, and others were carried into captivity; and all were punished for their iniquity, trespass, and perfidy.

(i) "praevaricati essent contra me", Pagninus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Polanus, Cocceius, Starckius.

And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for {l} their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore I hid my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so they all fell by the sword.

(l) The heathen will know that they did not overcome my people by their strength, neither yet by the weakness of my arm, but that this was for my people's sins.

23. Jehovah’s dealing with his people Israel is the great lesson which he reads to the heathen; it is the history of Israel in the hand of Jehovah their God that reveals to the nations what Jehovah is. For the nations knew Jehovah only as God of Israel, and it was thus only through Israel that he could reveal himself to them. This last great event in the history of Israel, Jehovah’s signal defence of them now that they are his people in truth, casts light on his former hiding of his face from them. Deeper elements than mere power enter into his rule of his people; a conception of God is suggested to the nations unlike any they had hitherto entertained—there is a God who is omnipotent and who rules the nations in righteousness, the God of Israel.Verses 23, 24. - And the heathen shall know. The special lesson for them should be not so much teaching concerning God's supremacy over them, or concerning their relation to Israel, as concerning the principles of God's dealings with Israel. They should learn that if Israel had for a season been abandoned to the sword and driven into exile, it was not because of Jehovah's inability to protect them, but because of their wickedness which had caused him to hide his face from them - an expression which in Ezekiel occurs only here and in ver. 29, though it is found in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 31:17, 18) and in the older prophets (Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 57:17; Isaiah 64:7; Jeremiah 33:5).
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