Ezekiel 36 - Outline of Ezekiel (MENU page)
In chapter 35, the LORD declared that He is against mount Seir. In ch. 36, He declares that He is for the mountains of Israel (v.8,9). The subject of this chapter is the restoration of Israel. The LORD addresses the land first and the people second. However, there can be no restoration of one without the other, for by God's design, the land and people of Israel are inseparable.
 
1. The promised restoration of the Land of Israel - (36:1-15)
  1. Through the destruction of its ungodly possessors (v.1-7)
  2. Through the fulfillment of God's purposes for it (v.8-15)
1. Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel,
and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:
2 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because the enemy hath said against you,
Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:
3 Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Because they have made [you] desolate, and swallowed you up on every side,
that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen
{ie., nations},
and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and [are] an infamy of the people:
4 Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD;
Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills,
to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes,
and to the cities that are forsaken,
which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that [are] round about;
5 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken
against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea,
which have appointed my land into their possession
with the joy of all [their] heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
6 Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel,
and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys,
Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury,
because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD;
I have lifted up mine hand
{ie., I have sworn},
Surely the heathen that [are] about you, they shall bear their shame.
...Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD...
Prior to the fall of Jerusalem, the LORD had prophesied that the land of Israel would be desolate (Eze 6:2-7; 33:28).
Following that judgment, the LORD had prophesied that the land would be restored as the home of His people (Eze 34:14).
Here, He declares the actions that He would take toward the restoration of the land of Israel... first, against their oppressors (v.1-7).
...because {lit., because, even because} they have made you... desolate... swallowed you up... a possession... an infamy...
The crimes of Israel's enemies are cause for their desolation. Eze 35:15
  • They took possession... even of the 'ancient high places' of worship (ie., the Temple mount). Eze 35:9,10; eg., Jer 52:12-19
    (Following the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, in 586 BC, the people of Israel abandoned idolatry. During the Great Tribulation, idolatrous 'high places' will not exist in Israel. Thus, 'the ancient high places' refers to the Temple, in 'the plural of majesty.' Rev 11:2)
  • They made the land desolate {ie., waste, devoid of inhabitants}. Eze 35:3-7; eg., Jer 52:15
  • They devoured the land for themselves. Eze 35:12c; Lam 2:16
    (Also see Note at Eze 35:12)
  • They defamed the land, and its Owner. Eze 35:12a; Psa 44:13-16; Lam 2:15
    The nations mocked the God of Israel, as powerless to protect His land and people. Deu 28:37; Jer 24:9; Dan 9:16
In v.1-5, the LORD assures the land of Israel, that He has seen the animosity of its neighbors.
In v.6-7, He comforts His land, with the judgment that He will exercise against those nations.
...Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken... against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession...
'All Idumea' includes the whole world of unregenerate nations. Eze 35:15 (Also see Note at Eze 35:15)
...because ye {ie., the land of Israel} have borne the shame of the heathen... surely... they {the nations} shall bear their shame. (v.6,7)
The word translated 'shame' means: disgrace, dishonor, reproach, confusion, shame.
The desolate land of Israel had been in a state of dishonor, and was a source of derision on the lips of the nations.
     But the LORD is going to turn the tables, for the nations will see the hand, of Him whom they had mocked, move against them. The nations, which had dishonored Him and His land, would be brought to desolation (Eze 35:15) and burdened with their own shame and confusion (Mic 7:16,17; Zech 2:12,13). In the near-term, there were partial fulfillments (eg., the judgments of ch. 25-32). But the prophecy looks forward to the time just prior to Israel's final restoration.
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches,
and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
9 For, behold, I [am] for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:
10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, [even] all of it:
and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit:
and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better [unto you] than at your beginnings:
and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, [even] my people Israel;
and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance,
and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them [of men].
13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they say unto you,
Thou [land] devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;
14 Therefore thou shalt devour men no more,
neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD.
15 Neither will I cause [men] to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more,
neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more,
neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.
...But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall... yield your fruit to my people of Israel... for they are at hand {ie., near, soon} to come.
In contrast to the former desolation of the land of Israel, and to the future desolation of enemy nations, the land of Israel will no longer be a wasteland, but will become abundantly fruitful, because it will be populated, possessed, plowed, and planted by the people who belong there.
     But were they soon to come?
  • Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, a remnant of captive Jews returned, under Ezra and Nehemiah.
    But, at best, this was only a partial fulfillment, or dim foreview, of the return foretold in this chapter. Many aspects of this prophecy were not fulfilled at that time. [eg., At that time, the enemy nations were not made desolate and ashamed (cf. v.7), the few Jewish returnees were but a small minority of Israel's dispersed people (cf. v.10), the prosperity and status of the nation was far diminished from its previous estate (cf. v.11), the nation would again be bereaved and dispossed from the land, by the Romans, in 70 AD (cf. v.12), to this day, the nation is oppressed by Gentile nations (cf. v.15), and the people of Israel were not given new hearts (see v.26), etc.]
  • The return foretold, here, is certain, for it will come at the appointed time, which is the LORD's hands (Acts 1:7).
    His view of time is different than ours (eg., Hag 2:6,7; Heb 10:37; 1Pet 4:7; 2Pet 3:8; Rev 22:12,20).
    When the time does come, the long wait will seem like a passing moment, for the joy of His presence (eg., Gen 29:20).
  • As these notes are being written, the modern state of Israel has just celebrated its Seventieth Anniversary, of its re-establishment as an independent nation (in 1948 AD).
    Under cultivation by its people, the desolate land has begun to "blossom as the rose" (Isa 35:1,2). The present status of the land (as measured by its military power and economic and agricultural prosperity) is far greater than that of the nation under Ezra and Nehemiah, or during the earthly life of Christ. However, it still falls short of its superpower glory, in the days of David and Solomon, or in the future Messianic Kingdom (as foreseen in this chapter). Yet, the unprecedented return of the Jews to their land, after a 2000 year absence, is a strong indication that the LORD's hand is moving. The fulfillment of this prophecy is indeed "at hand" (Luk 21:28-31).
...I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it... (v.10)
As these notes are being written, fewer than half of the world's population of 14.4 million Jews live in the land of Israel. A similar number live in the U.S.A. Yet, when this prophecy comes to fulfillment, 'all' of Israel's people will dwell in their land... and the nation will be permanently settled in the land, never to be uprooted again... and never again to suffer the bereavement of battle casualties (v.11,12; Amos 9:13-15).
     However, today, Israel is under existential threats from neighboring nations. According to the prophecies of ch. 38-39 (and others) these enemies will come close to destroying Israel, before the LORD intervenes to deliver 'all Israel' (Rom 11:26).
...Because they say unto you, Thou [land] devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations...
This is another mocking derision against the promised land. It was first raised by the unbelieving spies, in the days of Moses (Num 13:32). It was echoed by the ungodly nations, as they ridiculed their Israeli captives, and reproached their God (eg., Psa 123:3,4).
...Therefore, thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave... neither hear the shame of the heathen... nor bear the reproach of the people...
The LORD will restore the land of Israel, to remove its reproach, and to reflect His glory. Eze 37:25-28; Zeph 3:19,20
 
2. The promised restoration of the People of Israel - (36:16-38)
  1. The cause of Israel's desolation - Israel's sin (v.16-20)
  2. The cause of Israel's restoration - God's Sovereign Grace (v.21-23)
  3. The means of Israel's restoration - The New Covenant (v.24-32)
  4. The witness of Israel's restoration, to the surviving nations (v.33-36)
  5. The witness of Israel's restoration, to Israel (v.37,38)
16. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land,
they defiled it by their own way and by their doings:
their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.
18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land,
and for their idols [wherewith] they had polluted it:
19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries:
according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name,
when they said to them, These [are] the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
The just cause of Israel's judgment and dispersion from their land has been thoroughly discussed in the previous chapters of Ezekiel.
This brief review of Israel's sin shows their complete unworthiness of the Lord's mercies... and the greatness of His Grace extended to them.
  1. They defiled {ie., made utterly unclean} their own land. Lev 18:24-28; Num 35:33,34; Psa 106:37,38
     -- by their own way, Prov 16:25; cf. Jer 7:23,24; 18:15,16; Eze 7:3,8
    • uncleanness {ie., filthiness}, like that of a removed woman (see Lev 15:19
      and Isa 64:6 where 'filthy' means 'menstrous'), as demonstrated in...
    • bloodshed and idolatry, Eze 16:36-38; 23:37-39
  2. They profaned {ie., polluted} the LORD's Name, in the lands of the Gentile nations...
    • by their idolatry and immoral conduct, eg., Jer 16:12,13
    • through the derision (from the ungodly nations)...
      - that the LORD's people did not obey Him (Rom 2:23,24),
      - and that the LORD was unable to keep His people in their own land (v.3,13; Psa 115:2).
    As Ezekiel uttered these words, Jerusalem's long predicted fall (and the dispersion of her people) had become historic fact, for the reasons given in v.17,18. Verses 19-20 envision Israel's experience during the long centuries of their displacement, which had only just begun.
         Israel was to bear witness, before the nations, of the character of the LORD (Isa 43:10-12). Yet, in the willful blindness of unbelief, they had horribly misrepresented Him. Even so, the LORD has pre-determined that He will show Himself to the nations, through His relationship with Israel (Isa 43:1-13).
    [Christian, what does your way of life say about your Lord? Titus 2:11-14; 1Pet 2:9-12]
 
b. The cause of Israel's restoration - God's Sovereign Grace (v.21-23)
21 But I had pity for mine holy name,
which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I do not [this] for your sakes, O house of Israel,
{cp. v.32; cp. Deu 7:7,8; 9:5-7}
but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
23 And I will sanctify my great name,
{cp. Eze 20:9,14,22}
which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them;
and the heathen shall know that I [am] the LORD, saith the Lord GOD,
when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
...I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned...
Even though they had polluted His reputation before the nations, the LORD had determined that He would act in Grace {undeserved favor} toward Israel.
...the heathen shall know that I am the LORD... when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
The LORD would be sanctified {ie., set apart} as the true and living God, through His dealings with Israel.
By His action, in their behalf, Israel would be a passive witness to His glory. cp. Eze 20:39-44
His merciful purpose was that Israel and the nations should truly know the LORD (cp. Joh 17:3).
 
c. The means of Israel's restoration - The New Covenant (v.24-32)
24 For I will take you from among the heathen,
and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness,
and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,
and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them].
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers;
and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses:
and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field,
that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that [were] not good,
and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
32 Not for your sakes do I [this], saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you:
be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
In v.24-32, the LORD explains the way in which He will graciously deal with Israel, to reveal Himself to the nations.
The plan which He outlines, here, has four distinct facets.
-- The first three are wholly His work. Observe how often He says "I will..." (in v.24-30).
-- The first three points will occur in the order presented. The fourth will coincide with, and continue on from, the second.
-- The fourth is a fruit of His work within the hearts of His people: "Ye shall..." (v.31).
  1. Regathering - external cleansing (v.24,25)
    • I will take you from among the nations... gather you... bring you into your own land...
      Today, this has been partially fulfilled, as nearly half of the world's Jews have returned to their land.
    • I will sprinkle clean water... ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
      Today, this also has been partially fulfilled, with an external cleansing from corrupt behavior. The people of Israel have forsaken the idols which their ancestors worshipped. They are a nation governed by laws and exercising true justice.
      However, they are still in unbelief. They stand in the self-confidence of their political, technological, financial and military strengths. They have yet to turn to the LORD with all their heart, to place all their hope in Him.
  2. Regeneration - internal transformation (v.26,27)
    • a new heart also will I give you...
      This is the new birth of the Jewish people, as new creatures, through the New Covenant, established in Christ's blood, and accessed through faith in Him. Psa 51:10; Jer 31:31-34; Zech 12:10; 13:1; Mat 26:28; Joh 3:3-6,14-16; 2Cor 5:17
    • a new spirit will I put within you...
      The new heart, within the believer, is born of God's Holy Spirit, and therefore desires the things which He desires. Joh 1:12,13; 3:5-7; 1Joh 3:9
      This passage, in Ezekiel, may have been in Jesus' mind, when He told Nicodemus that he should have known about spiritual rebirth (Joh 3:8-10).
    • I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh... (Eze 11:19,20)
      In this passage, the 'stony heart' is the rebellious sinful nature, which is unreceptive to God's Word (eg., Zech 7:12; Mat 13:5,20,21). The 'heart of flesh' refers to a heart that is alive and responsive to the things of God (eg., 2Cor 3:3).
           Elsewhere in scripture, the term 'flesh' is often synonymous with the old sinful nature, which cannot please God. Christ died to put away our sinful condition (Lev 17:11; Rom 6:1-5). The believer died with Him to sin, and arose with Him to live for God. Yet, as long as he is in the body, the believer still has the fleshly nature, which is opposed to the new nature indwelt by God's Spirit. Therefore, within the NT believer, there is a struggle between these two natures. The believer obtains victory over the old 'fleshly' nature, by mortifying {ie., putting to death} and reckoning the old nature to be dead {ie., ineffective}, through Christ's finished work and the Spirit's effectual power (eg., Rom 6:6-13; 8:3-13). At Christ's return, the believer's old sinful nature will be entirely removed. (Since the people of Israel will receive the new birth upon recognizing Christ at His return, it seems that they will have no struggle with the old nature, for their 'stony heart' will truly be removed, at the time that they turn to the Savior.)
           The new nature is a gift of the Sovereignty of God (v.26)... Yet, Israel will ask for it (eg., v.37, Lam 5:21). "Sovereign Grace and human responsibility are co-existent." Php 2:12,13 [in quotes, GWms]
    • I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
      The indwelling Spirit of God will enable His people to live for Him in perfect harmony with His will. Isa 59:20,21; Joel 2:27-29; Rom 8:14-16; Gal 5:22,23
  3. Restoration - continual blessing (v.28-30)
  4. Renunciation of their own ways... and eager submission to their Sovereign LORD (v.31-32)
    • Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that [were] not good...
    • and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations...
      Confronted by the Holiness and Grace of God, the redeemed sinner ought to be broken and ashamed for his former rebellious ways. Eze 16:60-63; Rom 6:21; 1Pet 4:1-3
...Not for your sakes do I [this], saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: (cp. v.22,23)
...be ashamed and confounded {ie., hurt, reproached} for your own ways, O house of Israel.
The work of salvation is entirely God's work, in behalf of undeserving sinners. Titus 3:3-6
His costly love has purchased, not only my salvation, by my heart and life. 2Cor 5:14,15
 
d. The witness of Israel's restoration, to the surviving nations (v.33-36)
33 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities
I will also cause [you] to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
34 And the desolate land shall be tilled,
{Jer 50:19,20; Amos 9:13-15}
whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden;
{cp. Isa 51:3}
and the waste and desolate and ruined cities [are become] fenced, [and] are inhabited.
36 Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know
that I the LORD build the ruined [places, and] plant that that was desolate:
I the LORD have spoken [it], and I will do [it].
...they {the nations} shall say...
The former mockery of the nations will cease (v.3,13). Their lips will express astonishment at the transformation of Israel's wasteland (v.35).
...the nations that are left {ie., that remain} round about you shall know...
The surrounding nations, which had been Israel's enemies, will have been severely diminished through the LORD's judgment upon them (v.5-9). The surviving citizens of those nations will be astounded to see what the LORD has done. His restoration and abundant blessing of Israel will be a powerful witness to the nations, concerning the God of Israel, the everliving One whose Word is unfailing (eg., Psa 126:1,2; Jer 33:7-9).
 
e. The witness of Israel's restoration, to Israel (v.37,38)
37 Thus saith the Lord GOD;
I will yet [for] this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do [it] for them;
I will increase them with men like a flock.
38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts;
so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men:
and they shall know that I [am] the LORD.
...I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them...
The wonderful things, which the LORD has promised to Israel, will come in the day when they believe His Word, and diligently seek Him who has promised (Isa 55:6,7; Jer 29:11-14). When God's Grace moves Israel to judge themselves (v.31,32), and to appeal for His intervention, He will hear their prayer (cf. Eze 14:3). He has already provided them with words to pray (eg., Psa 80:14-19; Dan 9:4-19; Hos 14:1-7).
...the waste cities shall be filled with flocks of men...
The cities which had been desolate for millennia, will not only be restored, but also filled with His people, the sheep of His pasture (Eze 34:29-31). The number of people is compared with the thousands of sheep, dedicated to the LORD, during Israel's prescribed annual feasts in Jerusalem. (eg., Deu 16:16; 2Chr 35:7-13)
... and they shall know that I am the LORD.
The people of Israel will also be astounded at what the LORD has done for them. His faithfulness and power to fulfill His promises to Israel, will bear witness to them also, that He is the LORD. Psa 126:3; Isa 43:10-12

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