Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Eze 36:1-15 is the contrast to the preceding. Now, when the prophet speaks, Judaea is waste. The pagan nations around, and Edom in particular, rejoice in scorn: but the land of Israel is a holy land given by Yahweh to His people, and it shall be theirs. The promises are those of temporal blessings; and although these temporal blessings were typical of Messiah's reign, yet we may not doubt that this prophecy had for its first object the return of prosperity to the land and to the people, after their return from Babylon.
The "mountains of Israel" are opposed to "Seir," the mount of Edom Eze 35:3.
The residue of the pagan - Those of the surrounding nations which had survived Jerusalem's fall, and may have profited by it.
The shame of the pagan - The taunts which the pagan heaped upon them.
I have lifted up mine hand - i. e., I have sworn. Compare marginal reference.
Their shame - They shall find their taunts come home to themselves.
They are at hand to come - i. e., under Zerubbabel.
The judgments which God sent upon the land, had so destroyed the inhabitants that men deemed it a fatal land, which brought destruction to all that should occupy it (compare Kg2 17:25).
Bereave - Or, as in the margin: i. e., the land shall not prove the ruin of its inhabitants by tempting them (as of old time) to the sin of idolatry.
Hear in thee the shame of the pagan - Hear the pagan putting thee to shame by their contemptuous words.
The reproach of the people - "Thy people" (thy rightful possessors) shall have no cause to reproach thee for want of fertility. Were the blessings promised here merely temporal they could not be said to be fulfilled. The land is still subject to pagan masters. The words must point to blessings yet future, spiritual blessings.
In the following chapters to the end of Ezek. 39 the conflict between the world mid God is described in its most general form, and the absolute triumph of the kingdom of God fully depicted. The honor of God is asserted in the gathering together, and the purification of, His people. As the dispersion of the children of Israel was far wider and more lasting than the sojourn in Chaldaea, so the reunion here predicted is far more extensive and complete. The dispersion yet continues, the reunion will be in those days when Israel shall be gathered into the Church of God.
The defilement of the people described in order to its removal.
They profaned my holy name - Caused it to be dishonored by the pagan who said in scorn, "This is the people of God." The pagan, seeing the miserable state of the exiles, fancied that Yahweh was no more than a national god, powerless to protect his subjects.
I had pity for mine holy name - Render it: I "had" a pitiful regard to "Mine Holy Name."
Ezekiel the priest has in view the purifying rites prescribed by the Law, the symbolic purport of which is exhibited in Heb 9:13-14; Heb 10:22. As the Levites were consecrated with sprinkling of water, so should the approved rite "sprinkling of water" thus prescribed by the Law and explained by the prophets, give occasion to the use of water at the admission of proselytes in later days, and so to its adoption by John in his baptism unto repentance. It was hallowed by our Lord when in His discourse with Nicodemus, referring, no doubt, to such passages as these, He showed their application to the Church of which He was about to be the Founder; and when He appointed Baptism as the sacrament of admission into that Church. In this sacrament the spiritual import of the legal ordinance is displayed - the second birth by water and the Spirit. As Israel throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel prefigures the visible Church of Christ, needing from time to time trim or purification - so does the renovated Israel represent Christ's mystical Church Eph 5:26. The spiritual character of the renovation presumes a personal application of the prophet's words, which is more thoroughly brought out under the new covenant (e. g., Heb 11:16). Thus the prophecy of Ezekiel furnishes a medium through which we pass from the congregation to the individual, from the letter to the spirit, from the Law to the Gospel, from Moses to Christ.
Ye shall be my people - (Compare Co2 6:16-18; Heb 8:10. The writers of the New Testament appropriated these and similar phrases of the Old Testament to the Church of Christ. Between the restoration of the Jews (the first step) there are many steps toward the end - the spread of Christ's Church throughout the world, the conversion of the Gentiles, and the acknowledgment of the true God - which justify men in looking forward to a time when the Gospel shall be preached in all the world, and the earth become the kingdom of God in a fuller sense than it has ever yet been. But all these are "steps." Our prophecies look beyond all this to a new heaven to a new earth, and to a new Jerusalem Rev 21:3.
The pagan that are left - Gathered out of pagandom into the community of God - accepted and redeemed.
Their sin had prevented God's hearing them. Now their purification opens God's ears to their words.
As the holy flock - A reference to the flocks and herds brought up to Jerusalem to be consecrated and offered unto the Lord Ch2 35:7. Thus, the idea is brought out:
(1) of the multiplication of the people,
(2) of their dedication to the service of God.