Ezekiel 20:40

40. For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, says the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first-fruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.

40. Quia in monte sanctitatis meae, in monte excelso Israel, dicit Dominator Iehovah, illic colent me tota domus Israel, tota inquam in terra, illic propitius ero illis:1 et illic requiram oblationes vestras et primitias donorum vestrorum in omnibus sanctificationibus vestris.


God now directs his address to the elect, or the remnant in whom he wished his Church to survive. Thus far he has spoken of the whole body of the people: he says, although he should free them from the hand of the Gentiles, yet that redemption would be but partial, because they should perish in the desert, and never enjoy the promised land. On the whole, he shows that those to whom a free return to their own country was given were no less strangers than if they had been exiles at the time, and always remained outlaws, since their impiety prevented their restoration. God now addresses the true Israelites, who were not only naturally descended from their fathers, but were genuine and spiritual children, as Paul distinguishes between those sons of Abraham born according to the flesh and to promise. (Romans 9:7-9.) For this reason also it is said in Psalm 73. -- And surely God is good to Israel -- to those who are upright in heart for the Prophet here asserts that God is gracious towards the Israelites; but since many hypocrites boast themselves to be members of the Church, for the sake of correcting them, he restricts the sentence, and does not reckon any, as true Israelites except the upright in heart. So the same thing is repeated in Psalms 15 and Psalms 24. -- Who shall ascend into the mount of the Lord? But the perfidious and the wicked did mingle themselves with the sincere worshipers; yet the Prophet excludes them from the list of the faithful, since he says that none should have a fixed station in God's sanctuary unless the sound in heart and the clean in hand. In the same sense also the Prophet formerly taught, that although hypocrites proudly boasted themselves to be God's people, yet their names were not written in the secret catalogue of the righteous. (Ezekiel 13:9.) We now see how well those things which seem inconsistent agree together, namely, that the Lord's redeeming Israel from the tyranny of the Gentiles would not profit them, and yet, that they should come into the mountain of Israel and worship him sincerely. Israel is here placed before us in a twofold light: for many were Israelites in name; but here the Prophet is treating of the elect, whom Paul calls a remnant of grace. (Romans 11:5.)

In the mountain, says he, of my holiness, in the lofty mountain of Israel. He does not call the mountain high, because it was loftier than others, for we know that there were many lofty mountains in the land of Judea; and Zion was but a small hill; but we have elsewhere seen that it was preferred to lofty mountains, because it excelled in dignity. Here our Prophet does not regard the height of Mount Zion, but the singular glory with which it was adorned; as if he had said that God resided there, and his glory shone forth over all the loftiness of the world. Meanwhile I do not doubt that this epithet is obliquely opposed to the high places, which were consecrated everywhere, as we saw before. Since, therefore, the people had erected altars in all elevated places of all kinds, here God opposes one lofty mountain to all these, whose height had deceived those wretched men who thought themselves when there, nearer to heaven. This, therefore, is the reason why he calls it a high mountain. He says, there shall the whole house of Israel worship me, the whole, I say, in the land. It is not surprising that the whole house of Israel is placed here without exception, because, as I have said, the Prophet does not comprehend all those who boasted in that title, but he only means the pure worshipers of God, who were the spiritual children of Abraham. But here God describes the agreement in faith among all the faithful, as if he had said that the people would be fresh, and would not follow various speculations, as they formerly wandered, each after his own superstitions, but there should be one common rule for all. So we are taught by this passage that our worship does not please God except we are bent upon a simple agreement of faith, and the celebration of his name with our mouth. The impious often subscribe to different modes of belief, but they have no regard to God: but, here we must hold the principle, that God cannot be worshipped unless the doctrine of his law flourishes. The whole house of Israel, I say, in the land. He signifies by these words that the whole land of Israel, so long contaminated by much filth, should be so sacred that the pure and perfect worship of God should alone be beheld there. In the land, then, purged from all defilement's by which it was before polluted, he adds a promise, there will I be propitious to you. We formerly saw that all the people's sacrifices were rejected, and that for one reason, because they mixed them with their own inventions. Now, God pronounces that he would be propitious to them, because he will be purely worshipped, and his service shall no longer be vitiated by the perverse comments of men. We here see, therefore, that God's complacency or favor is accompanied with a detestation of all superstitions, as we have often mentioned previously. As, therefore, God abominates whatever is added to the simple teaching of the law, so he asserts that he will be propitious where he is purely worshipped according to the law. He adds, and there will I require your oblations: the person is changed, but the sense flows on readily: he says, I will require your oblations: he puts one kind of oblation, but he includes them all, as will be seen at the end of the verse. Although I confess that two different kinds of offering are signified by the words, hmwrt, theromeh, and, hpwnt, thenopheh, yet they are often taken for any kind of offering when used separately, a part being put for the whole, as I have said. He says, then, that the offerings were grateful to him, and he implies that by the word requiring, because we have seen that the people's gifts were refused when corrupted by foreign superstitions, and God is said to exact the gifts which he approves. And the first-fruits of your gifts, he says, that is, the flower or excellence of your gifts, in all your sanctifications, that is, in all my worship. It signifies, on the whole, when the Israelites betake themselves to the simple doctrine of the law, their obedience is so grateful to God, that their gifts please him, their offerings are taken into account, and their whole worship is accepted. It now follows --

1 Or, "I will embrace them with my favor." -- Calvin.


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