Ezekiel 20:31
When you offer your gifts, sacrificing your sons in the fire, you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. So should I be consulted by you, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be consulted by you!
Unacceptable PrayerJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 20:1-32
The Memory of Offences in the Land of PromiseJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 20:27-31
God, and Israel in the Then PresentW. Jones Ezekiel 20:30-32

Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? etc. The Lord Jehovah through his prophet now addresses himself to the Israel of that day, and especially to the elders who had come to the prophet to inquire of him. In these verses he declares their sins. Three chief points claim our attention.


1. The idolatry of the fathers continued by their children. "Say unto the house of Israel, Thus salts the Lord God; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?" The whoredom spoken of is spiritual - unfaithfulness to God, in the worship of idols. Even the exile in Babylon did not for some time cure the people of this sin. As their fathers had done, so did they. Parental example is very powerful for several reasons.

(1) It is the example of those who are most looked up to and imitated by the young.

(2) It influences the young in the most impressionable season of their life. "As the twig is bent the tree inclines."

(3) It is most continuous in its influence upon the young. "The characters of living parents are constantly presented for the imitation of their children. Their example is continually sending forth a silent power to mould young hearts for good or ill; not for a single mouth or year, but through the whole impressionable period of childhood and youth, the influence of parental example is thus felt. If it be constituted of the highest and purest elements, the results will be unspeakably precious. Sons and daughters will" almost certainly become patterns of propriety and goodness, because their parents are such. If, on the other hand, their example be evil, most injurious will be its effects upon their children. A solemn consideration is this for parents, and one that should be laid to heart by them. It is difficult, moreover, to break away from sins which have obtained a firm hold upon family life and practice.

2. Idolatry practised even in its most cruel rites. "For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day" (see our notes on ch. 16:20, 21).

3. The practice of idolatry defiling the idolater. "Ye pollute yourselves with all your idols" Worship either elevates or degrades the worshipper, according to the character of the object thereof. Genuine adoration is transforming in its influence upon him who offers it, We become like unto the object or objects of our supreme love and reverence. Hence the worship of the true God purifies, exalts, enriches, ennobles, sanctifies, the worshipper; while the worship of any idol or idols - e.g. riches, rank, popularity, power, pleasure - defiles, degrades, and impoverishes the worshipper. Moreover, sin of any kind pollutes the sinner; it stains and defiles his soul (see our notes on ver. 7).

II. THE INQUIRIES OF HYPOCRITES REJECTED BY THE LOUD GOD. "Shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you." (We have already considered this topic in our homilies on vers. 1-4 and Ezekiel 14:1-11.)


1. Here is a deliberate design formed by man to conform to idolatrous usages. "That which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone." Thus the house of Israel, the people of the only living and true God, inwardly resolved to conform to heathenish customs, hoping in some way to improve their condition by so doing. And in our day there are those who, while manifesting some respect for religion, yet conform to this world in its questionable and even sinful usages. And some "regard an irreligious condition as preferable to the struggles of a religious life."

2. Here is man's design to conform to idolatrous usages discovered by the Lord God. It was in vain for these insincere inquirers of the Lord to think that they could conceal any design from him. And elders of Israel should have known this so well as to be in no danger of overlooking it. But the practice of sin misleads and deceives sinners, and had probably deceived them. God is perfectly acquainted with every thought of the mind of man (Ezekiel 11:5; Psalm 139:1-5; Matthew 9:4; John 2:24, 25; Hebrews 4:13).

3. Here is man's design to conform to idolatrous usages defeated by the Lord God. "That which cometh into your mind shall not be at all." Their inward purpose he would frustrate. They might attempt to carry it out, but it would not succeed. "That Israel should become like the heathen," says Schroder," would be repugnant to the nature of God, especially to his name Jehovah. The very reverse would be much more in harmony with it, namely, that the heathen should become like Israel." The Church of God is not to be conformed to and lost in the world; but the world is to be conformed to the Church and to be included therein. The kingdoms of the world are to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (Revelation 11:15). And so the Lord declares that the evil designs of his sinful people should fail. He can utterly foil the deepest, subtlest schemes of man; and he will do so when those schemes are exposed to his holy will (cf. Job 5:12-14; Psalm 33:10, 11; Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 8:10; Acts 5:38, 39). - W.J.

I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.
These words have often formed the ground of infidel cavils, and therefore require perhaps to be explained; also they open up to us a very important subject, namely, that of our responsibility to God, not only for our actions, but for our opinions. There is a great tendency now to consider that moral guilt can hardly be incurred by a purely intellectual act. It is assumed by the majority that no alarm need he felt about the future life on the score of a man's principles. If he is mistaken in his ideas of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, his mistake, it is urged, will not injure him. Now we believe the tenour of Scripture to be opposed to this. It distinctly states that the thoughts of the heart and the words of the mouth shall be brought into judgment; and it speaks of false opinions on points of religion as strongly as of unrighteous actions. Ezekiel announces a very solemn judgment of God upon those who refuse truth. The chiefs of the nation are before the prophet, requiring to know how God might be propitiated, so as to bring them again to their country and their homes. "Then," it is written, "came the word of the Lord to Ezekiel." Suddenly, yet perceptibly to himself and them, the Eternal Spirit entered into him, so that the words he spake were no longer his own. Possessed by this awful Indweller, he recapitulates the history of the Jews from the beginning; their repeated sins, God's reiterated forgiveness; their falls, their chastisements, their restoration to favour. Amongst these mingled visitations of wrath and mercy is described that on which we propose now to dwell.

1. It has been supposed by some that the statutes and judgments here alluded to were those of the Mosaic Law, and that in describing them as statutes not good, the Almighty designed to express their deficiency, as contrasted with the Gospel system, in future times to be made known. A short consideration, however, of the context will show that this theory is unsound, and at the same time explain the real meaning of the text. God having first promulgated to the Israelites laws of life, upon their indifference to these gave them laws of death; and the general principle here involved is, that the punishment of transgressing or refusing holy laws is to have unholy laws assigned us. If we will reject truth we shall be caused to take falsehood for our guide. If a man have truth proposed for his acceptance, and reject it; if he turn away through carelessness, or shut his heart through perverseness of will to the truth as it is in Jesus, what we should most fear for such an one is not famine, or pestilence, or sword. There is a more terrible vial still than these in the treasury of God. Of those who having ears hear not, the punishment would appear to be, that eventually the capacity of understanding shall be taken from them. We cannot, of course, in any particular case pronounce whether the curse of invincible ignorance has been poured out, and the veil drawn finally over the heart; but we urge it upon yea as strong ground for never playing with your convictions, or shutting your souls against the voice of instruction.

2. But now we can imagine that many and great objections present themselves to your minds in connection with the foregoing doctrine. Is this, you ask, agreeable to the goodness and justice of the Deity? Can it be reconciled with His attributes, that He should thus, at any period of human life, take away the power of belief, and Himself blind the soul and make dull the heart? Now let us pause for a moment upon the nature of God's punishment, so far as we may discover it. We may trace one grand principle pervading and colouring all the visitations of Divine vengeance; the principle is this, that the punishment should in its quality bear a resemblance to the sin. Adam and Eve, presuming to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, were debarred access to the tree of life. Jacob, deceiving his father Isaac, was in his turn deceived by his own sons. And it is not difficult to perceive why this should be. The punishment of sin is to preach against sin. How much more striking this preaching becomes when the penalty inflicted is of a sort to call to remembrance the precise iniquity of which it is the penalty. Now, if this be correct, the particular judgment spoken of in the text is just what we might expect would overtake those who will not when they may amend their opinions and embrace the truth. If the sin be to resist truth, what should the penalty be but the being incapacitated from embracing truth?

(Bishop Woodford.)

Ezekiel, Israelites, Jacob, Teman
Babylon, Bamah, Egypt, Negeb
Continue, Declares, Defile, Fire, Gifts, Idols, Inquire, Inquired, O, Offer, Pass, Pollute, Sacrifice, Says, Sons, Sovereign, Surely, Yourselves
1. God refuses to be consulted by the elders of Israel
4. He shows the story of their rebellions in Egypt
19. in the desert
27. and in the land
33. He promises to gather them by the Gospel
45. Under the name of a forest he shows the destruction of Jerusalem

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ezekiel 20:31

     7332   child sacrifice
     7435   sacrifice, in OT

Ezekiel 20:1-44

     7348   defilement

Ezekiel 20:13-44

     8807   profanity

Ezekiel 20:30-31

     5325   gifts
     8128   guidance, receiving
     8648   enquiring of God

Ezekiel 20:30-38

     8345   servanthood, and worship

Ten Reasons Demonstrating the Commandment of the Sabbath to be Moral.
1. Because all the reasons of this commandment are moral and perpetual; and God has bound us to the obedience of this commandment with more forcible reasons than to any of the rest--First, because he foresaw that irreligious men would either more carelessly neglect, or more boldly break this commandment than any other; secondly, because that in the practice of this commandment the keeping of all the other consists; which makes God so often complain that all his worship is neglected or overthrown,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Manner of Covenanting.
Previous to an examination of the manner of engaging in the exercise of Covenanting, the consideration of God's procedure towards his people while performing the service seems to claim regard. Of the manner in which the great Supreme as God acts, as well as of Himself, our knowledge is limited. Yet though even of the effects on creatures of His doings we know little, we have reason to rejoice that, in His word He has informed us, and in His providence illustrated by that word, he has given us to
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

There are few subjects on which the Lord's own people are more astray than on the subject of giving. They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise; therefore it is no wonder that the majority of Christian enterprises in the world today are handicapped and crippled through the lack of funds. Is our giving to be
Arthur W. Pink—Tithing

Questions About the Nature and Perpetuity of the Seventh-Day Sabbath.
AND PROOF, THAT THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK IS THE TRUE CHRISTIAN SABBATH. BY JOHN BUNYAN. 'The Son of man is lord also of the Sabbath day.' London: Printed for Nath, Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, 1685. EDITOR'S ADVERTISEMENT. All our inquiries into divine commands are required to be made personally, solemnly, prayerful. To 'prove all things,' and 'hold fast' and obey 'that which is good,' is a precept, equally binding upon the clown, as it is upon the philosopher. Satisfied from our observations
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Covenanting Sanctioned by the Divine Example.
God's procedure when imitable forms a peculiar argument for duty. That is made known for many reasons; among which must stand this,--that it may be observed and followed as an example. That, being perfect, is a safe and necessary pattern to follow. The law of God proclaims what he wills men as well as angels to do. The purposes of God show what he has resolved to have accomplished. The constitutions of his moral subjects intimate that he has provided that his will shall be voluntarily accomplished
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

The Old Testament Canon from Its Beginning to Its Close.
The first important part of the Old Testament put together as a whole was the Pentateuch, or rather, the five books of Moses and Joshua. This was preceded by smaller documents, which one or more redactors embodied in it. The earliest things committed to writing were probably the ten words proceeding from Moses himself, afterwards enlarged into the ten commandments which exist at present in two recensions (Exod. xx., Deut. v.) It is true that we have the oldest form of the decalogue from the Jehovist
Samuel Davidson—The Canon of the Bible

A Sermon on Isaiah xxvi. By John Knox.
[In the Prospectus of our Publication it was stated, that one discourse, at least, would be given in each number. A strict adherence to this arrangement, however, it is found, would exclude from our pages some of the most talented discourses of our early Divines; and it is therefore deemed expedient to depart from it as occasion may require. The following Sermon will occupy two numbers, and we hope, that from its intrinsic value, its historical interest, and the illustrious name of its author, it
John Knox—The Pulpit Of The Reformation, Nos. 1, 2 and 3.

The Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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