It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD--let it be known to you. Be ashamed and disgraced for your ways, O house of Israel!
I. GOD'S GIFTS ARE BESTOWED IN A DEFINITE ORDER. "Order is heaven's first law." In nature and in human nature, God works from the center outwards. Jerusalem was such a center. The home is a center. Man's soul is a center - a center for himself, his family, his fortunes, his contemporary society.
1. Soul-cleansing is the root-blessing. This embraces cleansing from the love of sin, the power of sin, the stain and curse of sin. The animal part of our nature is kept in subjection to the spiritual. The old fountain of evil is cleansed. The real man no longer lives in the cellar and scullery of his nature; he prefers now to live and move in the capacious rooms above - in the great halls of reason and conscience.
2. A better social life. They "shall dwell in the cities." It is easier to live a godly life in a garden than in a city, but that sequestered life would be narrow and poor and weak. In the city temptations and hindrances abound; and he who surmounts them is raised into a higher plane of life. Men of pure and lofty tastes constitute a society that is fruitful in goodness. They shall be cemented in strong and vital ties for mutual security and mutual help.
3. Agricultural fertility. The Jews were devoted to the pursuits of husbandry; hence fertility in the field was their greatest earthly prosperity. This fertility would be the more highly prized because of its contrast with recent desolation. That which had been like a desert was to be prolific and beauteous as the virgin soil of Eden. The last vestige of the curse was to vanish. With the smallest measure of labor shall come the largest measure of increase.
4. Growing population. An unmistakable mark of national prosperity is increase of men. The stalwart and athletic youth would not be slain on the battle-plain, nor decimated by pestilence, nor destroyed by ruinous vice. Just as the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with flocks in the time of the Passover, brought thither for the Paschal feast, so should the towns and villages teem with hale and sinewy men. "I will increase them with men like a flock."
5. Renown among the neighboring nations. "The heathen shall know" that Jehovah is the real Source of prosperity. They had learnt to think of him as an austere Ruler, or as indifferent respecting his people's weal. Truer thoughts of God and of God's goodness shall displace the old ideas. They shall understand God's high designs, and shall admire and praise. To serve such a God will be counted true honor.
II. GOD'S GIFTS ARE PLEDGED BY AN INFALLIBLE PROMISE. The advantages of making this prosperity a matter of promise was manifold.
1. It would sustain their hope. In their exiled state, they were in danger of yielding to sullen despair. Adversity had demoralized them. They had well-nigh lost heart.
2. It would encourage wise effort. The bright prospect of a golden age would stimulate them to exertion. They could the better bear the ills of banishment when they knew these were only for a time. They would more bravely face the toils of another journey homeward when they knew what splendid prosperity was guaranteed.
3. It would more clearly unfold God's moral intention in their adversity. That defeat and its consequent hardships were no mere caprices on God's part. Nor had he wholly abandoned them. The judgment, though severe, was disciplinary. It was moral medicine, destined to produce better health. Hence a window was opened through which they gained an insight into God's heart.
4. The promise gave them a grasp upon God. They well knew his faithfulness. No word of his had ever failed, nor ever would. If he had fulfilled his threats of evil, much more would he fulfill his promises of good.
III. GOD'S GIFTS ARE SUSPENDED UPON HUMAN PRAYER.
1. This was an honor conferred upon men. God takes imperfect men into partnership with himself. Great though his power may be, he loves to ally himself with men, so that he may inspire them with a sacred ambition, and lift them to a higher level of life. He would have us to feel a responsibility respecting the welfare of mankind. This expands both mind and heart.
2. Prayer itself is salutary. No other occupation of the human mind is so salutary. There is hope for the lowest sunk, if he has begun to pray. Prayer generates humility. It dissolves self-trust and fosters trust in God. It enhances the value of God's gifts if we have to ask for them. Prayer serves to purify and elevate the nobler emotions. It brings our wills into submission to the Eternal Will.
3. The most successful prayer is united prayer. The request must be made "by the house of Israel." This union of hearts in prayer promotes sympathy, brotherly love, concord, cooperation. Social piety is fostered. The whole people is prepared for the blessing. The furrows are opened to receive the heavenly rain. This announcement forecasts that of the New Testament - that if "two shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." - D.
Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded.
I. I shall endeavour to EXPOUND THIS TEXT. "Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God." The motive for the salvation of the human race is to be found in the breast of God, and not in the character or condition of man. God, who doeth as He wills with His own, and giveth no account of His matters, but who deals with His creatures as the potter deals with his clay, took not upon Him the nature of angels, but took upon Him the seed of Abraham, and chose men to be the vessels of His mercy. This fact we know, but where is its reason? certainly not in man. Here, very few object. If we talk about the election of men and the non-election of fallen angels, there is not a cavil for a moment. Come, then, we must go further. The only reason why one man is saved, and not another, lies not, in any sense, in the man saved, but in God's bosom. The reason why this day the Gospel is preached to you and not to the heathen far away, is not because, as a race, we are superior to the heathen; it is not because we deserve more at God's hands; His choice of Britain, in the election of outward privilege, is not caused by the excellency of the British nation, but entirely because of His own mercy and His own love. We are taught in Holy Scripture that, long before this world was made, God foreknew and foresaw all the creatures He intended to fashion; and there and then foreseeing that the human race would fall into sin, and deserve His anger, determined, in His own sovereign mind, that an immense portion of the human race should be His children and should be brought to heaven. As to the rest He left them to their own deserts, to sow the wind and reap the whirlwind, to scatter crime and inherit punishment. Now in the great decree of election, the only reason why God selected the vessels of mercy must have been because He would do it. As the fruit of our election, in due time Christ came into this world, and purchased with His blood all those whom the Father hath chosen. Now come ye to the Cross of Christ; bring this doctrine with you, and remember that the only reason why Christ gave up His life to be a ransom for His sheep was because He loved His people, but there was nothing in His people that made Him die for them. After Christ's death, there comes, in the next place, the work of the Holy Spirit. Those whom the Father hath chosen, and whom the Son in us. To go a little further: this truth, which holds good so far, holds good all the way. God's people, after they are called by grace, are preserved in Christ Jesus; they are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation"; they are not suffered to sin away their eternal inheritance, but as temptations arise they have strength given with which to encounter them, and as sin blackens them they are washed afresh, and again cleansed. But mark, the reason why God keeps His people is the same as that which made them His people — His own free sovereign grace. And to conclude my exposition of this text. This shall hold good in heaven itself. The day is coming when every blood-bought, blood-washed child of God shall walk the golden streets arrayed in white. Our hands shall soon bear the palm; our ears shall be delighted with celestial melodies, and our eyes filled with the transporting visions of God's glory. But mark, the only reason why God shall bring us to heaven shall be His own love, and not because we deserved it. We must fight the fight, but we do not win the victory because we fight it; we must labour, but the wage at the day's end shall be a wage of grace, and not a debt.
II. I have to ILLUSTRATE AND ENFORCE THIS TEXT, Suppose that some great criminal is at last overtaken in his sin, and shut up in Newgate, He has committed high treason, murder, rebellion, and every possible iniquity. He has broken all the laws of the realm — every one of them. The public cry is everywhere — "This man must die; the laws cannot be maintained unless he shall be made an example of their rigour. He who beareth not the sword in vain must this time let the sword taste blood. The man must die; he richly deserves it." You look through his character: you cannot see one solitary redeeming trait. He is an old offender, he has so long persevered in his iniquity that you are compelled to say, "The case is hopeless with this man; his crimes have such aggravation we cannot make an apology for him, even should we try. Not jesuitical cunning itself could devise any pretence of excuse, or any hope of a plea for thin abandoned wretch; let him die!" Now, if the Queen, having in her hands the sovereign power of life and death, chooses that this man shall not die, but that he shall be spared, do you not see as plain as daylight, that the only reason that can move her to spare that man, must be her own love, her own compassion? For, as I have supposed already that there is nothing in that man's character that can be a plea for mercy, but that, contrariwise, his whole character cries aloud for vengeance against his sin. Whether we like it or not, this is just the truth concerning ourselves. This is just our character and position before God.
III. I come to a very solemn PRACTICAL APPLICATION.
1. First, since this doctrine is true, how humble a Christian man ought to be. I remember visiting a house of refuge. There was a poor girl there who had fallen into sin long, and when she found herself kindly addressed and recognised by society, and saw a Christian minister longing after her soul's good, it broke her heart. What should a man of God care about her? she was so vile. How could it be that a Christian should speak to her? Ah! but how much more should that feeling rise in our hearts? My God! I have rebelled against Thee, and yet Thou hast loved me, unworthy me! How can it be?
2. This doctrine is true, and therefore it should be a subject of the greatest gratitude.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Takes away all ground for human pride.
2. Should inspire us with adoring gratitude.
II. SERVES TO REVEAL THE GLORY OF GOD'S CHARACTER TO THE WORLD. The moral redemption of man, which involves the marvellous history and work of Christ, reveals more of the glory of God than all the material universe in its vastness and variety.
III. INVOLVES SEPARATION FROM ALL UNHOLY ASSOCIATIONS.
1. "Come out," as a protest against iniquity.
2. "Come out" as an example to others.
3. "Come out" to qualify yourself for usefulness. Every man must morally be like Christ, "separate from sinners," to be able to save them.
IV. COMPRISES A THOROUGH RENOVATION OF HUMAN LIFE.
1. The nature of this renovation.
(1) (2) 2. The consequences of this renovation.(1) A new mode of life. Turn the rudder, and you turn the ship.(2) A new relationship, The real meaning of this promise is, You shall be Mine — My loyal subjects, My willing servants, My loving children. And I will be yours. You shall have Me for your King, Father, Everlasting Portion.(3) New circumstances. He that seeks first the kingdom of God, will have all necessary things added to him, This is fulfilled in the temperance, industry, and economy of truly redeemed lives.(4) A new view of past life. It rises up as a huge and a hideous enormity, before which they quail and tremble; and ever after are humble in themselves, lowly before God, charitable towards men. (Urijah R. Thomas.)
(2) 2. The consequences of this renovation.(1) A new mode of life. Turn the rudder, and you turn the ship.(2) A new relationship, The real meaning of this promise is, You shall be Mine — My loyal subjects, My willing servants, My loving children. And I will be yours. You shall have Me for your King, Father, Everlasting Portion.(3) New circumstances. He that seeks first the kingdom of God, will have all necessary things added to him, This is fulfilled in the temperance, industry, and economy of truly redeemed lives.(4) A new view of past life. It rises up as a huge and a hideous enormity, before which they quail and tremble; and ever after are humble in themselves, lowly before God, charitable towards men. (Urijah R. Thomas.)
2. The consequences of this renovation.(1) A new mode of life. Turn the rudder, and you turn the ship.(2) A new relationship, The real meaning of this promise is, You shall be Mine — My loyal subjects, My willing servants, My loving children. And I will be yours. You shall have Me for your King, Father, Everlasting Portion.(3) New circumstances. He that seeks first the kingdom of God, will have all necessary things added to him, This is fulfilled in the temperance, industry, and economy of truly redeemed lives.(4) A new view of past life. It rises up as a huge and a hideous enormity, before which they quail and tremble; and ever after are humble in themselves, lowly before God, charitable towards men.
(Urijah R. Thomas.)
PlacesEdom, Jerusalem, Mount Seir, Tigris-Euphrates Region
TopicsAct, Affirmation, Ashamed, Clear, Conduct, Confounded, Declares, Disgraced, Low, O, Sake, Sakes, Says, Shamed, Sovereign, Working
Outline1. The land of Israel is comforted, by destruction of the heathen, who spitefully used it
8. and by the blessings of God promised unto it
16. Israel was rejected for their sin
21. and shall be restored without their desert
25. The blessings of Christ's kingdom
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 36:24-36
LibraryJanuary 2. "I Will Cause You to Walk in My Statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27).
"I will cause you to walk in My statutes" (Eze. xxxvi. 27). The highest spiritual condition is one where life is spontaneous and flows without effort, like the deep floods of Ezekiel's river, where the struggles of the swimmer ceased, and he was borne by the current's resistless force. So God leads us into spiritual conditions and habits which become the spontaneous impulses of our being, and we live and move in the fulness of the divine life. But these spiritual habits are not the outcome of some …
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth
May 30. "I Will Put My Spirit Within You" (Ez. xxxvi. 27).
August 25. "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" (Ezek. xxxvi. 27).
The Holy Nation
A New Heart.
Prayer --The Forerunner of Mercy
The Covenant Promise of the Spirit
The New Heart
What Self Deserves
The Stony Heart Removed
Let Your Hearts be Much Set on Revivals of Religion. ...
God Has Everything to do with Prayer
How those are to be Admonished with whom Everything Succeeds According to their Wish, and those with whom Nothing Does.
Jesus Angry with Hard Hearts
The Everlasting Covenant of the Spirit
Touching Jacob, However, that which He did at his Mother's Bidding...
Pastor in Parish (I. ).
Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Even as Your Father which is in Heaven is Perfect. Matthew 5:48.
The Person Sanctified.
Evidences Internal and Experimental.
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