Ezekiel 20:35
And I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations, where I will enter into judgment with you face to face.
God's Tireless PleadingEzekiel 20:35
The Spiritual WildernessB. Beddome, M. A.Ezekiel 20:35
The Purpose of Israel's ElectionJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 20:32-38
The Sovereignty of God in the Punishment of SinW. Jones Ezekiel 20:33-38
Judicial DiscriminationJ.D. Davies Ezekiel 20:33-44

As among men, when matters of serious importance have to be determined, there is the employment of a religious oath, in other words, a solemn appeal that God should witness the truthfulness of the parties; so, when God discloses his intentions respecting the destiny of men, he speaks with a view to produce the deepest impression. He stakes his own existence upon the certainty of the event.

I. GOD'S RULE IS DIRECTED SOLELY FOR MAN'S PURITY. Such is his own holiness of nature, that he cannot tolerate impurity of any kind in his kingdom. Or, if he does tolerate it for a season, it is only for the purpose of more effectually purifying his saints. To distribute his own happiness, he created men; but that happiness can only reach perfection when it is rooted in purity. Purity or perdition is the only alternative under the sceptre of Jehovah.

II. THE PLACE APPOINTED FOR THE TEST. "I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I plead with you face to face." Already this had been done in the wilderness of Sinai, and now it shall be done again. This wilderness is not Babylon, nor the desert between Babylon and Judaea. It denotes the isolated condition of the people, when they should be scattered among all the nations. A desert is the outward emblem of man's desolation through sin. Iniquity has made a desert in his heart, in his home, in the nation - a desert in all his surroundings. There, under a sense of his folly and misfortune, God condescends to plead with men.

III. A WINNOWING PROCESS IS TO BE PURSUED. "I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me." If the nation, following its lower passions and following foolish kings, refuse God's salvation, God will deal with them individually. As a nation they shall be destroyed; but an election shall be saved. God will appear as a Thresher, and will purge his floor, and separate the chaff from the wheat. Would that the entire nation had yielded to his righteous rule! Yet, if the majority reject his grace, a minority will accept it. Not a single penitent shall be swept away with the rebellious. Divine wisdom can and will discriminate.

IV. THE OBDURATE SHALL BE ABANDONED. "Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me." Lightly as men may esteem the severity of such a sentence, it is the most crushing doom that can befall them - to be given over to the indulgence of their vices. For God to withdraw the restraints of his grace, and allow them the liberty they crave, would be the heaviest scourge, the beginning of perdition. Said God of Ephraim, "He is joined to his idols: let him alone!" Of some it is declared by Jesus the Christ, "He is guilty of eternal sin."

V. THE PENITENT SHALL RISE TO EMINENT PIETY. (See vers. 40 and 41.) They shall worship again in the consecrated mount. Their offerings shall be spontaneous and abundant. Their gifts and sacrifices shall send a sweet savour Godward. Best of all, they shall find acceptance with God. The Most High will be honoured in their midst. His presence will be felt as a purifying power. "I will be sanctified in you." The remembrance of their past ways and past experiences shall open their eyes to the foulness and loathsomeness of sin. Their inmost tastes and affections shall be refined. Self-condemnation is an essential element in repentance.

VI. THE RESULT WILL BE LARGER ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. "Ye shall know that I am the Lord." The manifestation of God's patience, condescension, and tender love will enlarge their conception of God. He will gain a larger place in their esteem and confidence. His true glory will come forth. In this way even human sin will contribute to human elevation; man's guilt will promote God's glory. In the widest sense, "all things shall work together for good." The darkest disaster will serve as a setting for the jewels of God's goodness. - D.

I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.
Many awful threatenings and delightful promises are scattered up and down in the Word of God. Our text seems to be of a mixed nature: the threatening and the promise are blended together, to excite a holy fear of God and a humble trust in Him.


1. God often brings His people into the wilderness gradually, by little and little. The terrors and dangers of the wilderness are concealed; slight convictions are at first impressed which afterwards grow stronger; small rumblings precede the loud claps of thunder; sometimes the clouds seem to break, and promise fair weather; then they grow thicker, and wear a more formidable aspect than ever.

2. The Lord brings them in with an high hand and an outstretched arm, as He did the children of Israel of old. However gently He may act, yet He acts powerfully, and the greatest mildness is attended with an irresistible energy. We may be fretful and impatient, unruly and unmanageable; but He who has taken the work in hand will not leave it unfinished. We may stifle our convictions, but God will revive them; may lull conscience asleep, but He will awaken it again.

3. God brings into the wilderness with a design to bring out of it again (Isaiah 57:16-18; Lamentations 3:32; Hosea 6:1, 2).

II. "AND THERE WILL I PLEAD WITH YOU FACE TO FACE." He does not say that He would plead against them, nor yet that He would plead for them; but He would plead with them, and that face to face, so that they should both see and hear Him. And what would He plead with them about? Perhaps the sins they had committed, and the calamities thereby brought upon themselves. He will also plead the equity of His own proceedings, and the unreasonableness of their conduct. He also pleads with them on the futility of their attempts to help themselves, and the necessity of looking to another quarter for relief (Jeremiah 3:17, 31, 36, 8:22).

1. He pleads powerfully. How forcible are right words, says Job. And such are the words of God: they are founded upon truth, plain and direct, and carry with them an irresistible energy.

2. He pleads convincingly. God will overcome when He judgeth. When He is opponent, no man can be respondent.

3. He pleads tenderly and in love; His appeals are made to the understanding and the heart, and an ingenuous mind must feel their force (Micah 6:3; Isaiah 1:18). What has been said condemns three sorts of persons —(1) Those who have always been in the wilderness of sin, but not in that of sorrow; who are merry and jovial, saying, "Tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant."(2) Those who think they are in the wilderness of godly sorrow, but who mistake every transient pang for real conviction, and every motion of the affections for the work of the Holy Spirit on the heart.(3) Those who are in the wilderness, and struggling to get out of it before the Lord's time. It is better to be in the wilderness than in Egypt; yea, it is better, unspeakably better, to be in the wilderness, though we continue there all our days, than to be in hell.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Manton says: "As one that would gladly open a door, trieth key after key, till he hath tried every key, in the bunch, so doth God try one method after another to work upon man's heart." His persevering grace will not be baffled. He frequently begins with the silver key of a mother's tearful prayers and a father's tender counsels. In turn He uses the church keys of His ordinances and His ministers, and these are often found to move the bolt; but if they fail He thrusts in the iron key of trouble and affliction, which has been known to succeed after all others have failed. He has, however, a golden master key, which excels all others: it is the operation of His own most gracious Spirit by which entrance is effected into hearts which seemed shut up forever.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Ezekiel, Israelites, Jacob, Teman
Babylon, Bamah, Egypt, Negeb
Bring, Cause, Desert, Enter, Execute, Face, Judged, Judgment, Nations, Peoples, Plead, Waste, Wilderness
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 20:35

     1255   face of God

Ezekiel 20:1-44

     7348   defilement

Ezekiel 20:13-44

     8807   profanity

Ezekiel 20:30-38

     8345   servanthood, and worship

Ezekiel 20:33-35

     5955   strength, divine

Ezekiel 20:33-36

     1310   God, as judge

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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