And say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up my hand to the seed of the house of Jacob…
The continuity of the national life seems to have been as constantly present to the mind of Ezekiel as was the fact of individual responsibility. He distinguished between national and personal character; but both were in his apprehension real. It is certainly remarkable that, in answering as he was directed to do, the application of the elders, he should proceed to epitomize the history of the nation. His aim seems to have been to show that the irreligion and rebellion of which he complained in the epoch of the Captivity had existed throughout the several periods of Israelitish history. In a few brief paragraphs the prophet, in a most graphic way, exhibits the conduct of the chosen people in several successive eras. As was customary and natural, the first period dealt with was that of the momentous deliverance from the bondage of Egypt.
I. REVELATION. God made himself known unto Israel in the land of Egypt. In this revelation were included:
2. Covenant, confirmed by oath.
3. Promise of deliverance from bondage; further promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, the glory of all lands.
II. COMMAND. One great duty Jehovah laid upon his chosen and covenant people - the duty of abandoning the idolatry, whose evil effects they had witnessed among the Egyptians. They could not consistently receive the Divine revelation, and at the same time be guilty of idolatry, which in all its forms was a contradiction of the worship and service of the one living and true God. Idolatry was not only dishonouring to Jehovah; it was a defilement of all who took part in its practices.
III. REBELLION. Notwithstanding the grace displayed in the revelation, notwithstanding the authority accompanying the command, the chosen and favoured nation rebelled. The circumstances of the case, when considered, render this all the more marvellous. Although the superior power of the God of their fathers had been so conspicuously displayed, "they did not forsake the idols of Egypt." Such conduct was both treason and rebellion in one.
IV. THREATENING. The truly human manner in which the prophet, in this and similar places, speaks of the Eternal leads some readers to charge him with anthropomorphism. The language used of a man might imply vindictiveness; and, taken in connection with what follows, might even imply mutability and fickleness. The Divine "fury "and "anger" may not be free from emotion, but such language is mainly intended to convey the impression that the law of righteousness exists, and that it cannot be violated and defied with impunity, either by nations or by individuals.
V. RELENTING AND SALVATION. The ground upon which Jehovah bore with his sinful people is remarkable; it was "for his own Name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen." For this reason he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. Their emancipation was owing, not to any daring of their own, not to any heroism of their leaders, not to any fortunate conjunction of circumstances, but to the interposition of Almighty power. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up mine hand unto them, saying, I am the LORD your God;
WEB: and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: In the day when I chose Israel, and swore to the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I swore to them, saying, I am Yahweh your God;