Sunday, April 15, 2012

Crowd-Sourced Exegesis: Ezekiel 36:22-38

Say to the House of Israel: This said the LORD GOD: Not for your sake will I act, O House of Israel, but for My holy name, which you have caused to be profaned among the nations to which you have come. I will sanctify My great name which has been profaned among the nations - among whom you have caused it to be profaned. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD declares the LORD GOD - when I manifest My holiness before their eyes through you. I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you back to your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes. And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; and I will put My spirit into you. This I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe My rules. Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God.

And when I have delivered you from all your uncleanness, I will summon the grain and make it abundant, and I will not bring famine upon you. I will make the fruit of your trees and the crops of your fields abundant, so that you shall never again be humiliated before the nations because of famine. Then you shall recall your evil ways and your base conduct, and you shall loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abhorrent practices. Not for your sake will I act - declares the LORD GOD - take good note! Be ashamed and humiliated because of your ways, O House of Israel!

Thus said the LORD GOD: When I have cleansed you of all your iniquities, I will people your settlements, and the ruined places shall be rebuilt; and the desolate land, after lying waste in the sight of every passerby, shall again be tilled. And men shall say, "That land, once desolate, has become like the garden of Eden; and the cities, once ruined, desolate, and ravaged, are now populated and fortified." And the nations that are left around you shall know that I the LORD have rebuilt the ravaged places and replanted the desolate land. I the LORD have spoken and will act.

Thus said the LORD GOD: Moreover, in this I will respond to the House of Israel and act for their sake: I will multiply their people like sheep. As Jerusalem is filled with sacrificial sheep during her festivals, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. And they shall know that I am the LORD.

Wow, that's a long passage. I'd love to hear what y'all think about it! Comment below if you have reactions, they don't have to be profound or theological, they just have to be honest. Thanks so much!


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  2. My immediate impulse would be to demonstrate through this text that God calls and equips the saints in the church. At this time in the congregational life of the PCUSA this is a comforting text that shows God's plan for Israel (the church) will be fulfilled no matter how many times we fail and make a mess of things. This text is a great testimony that we do not have to depend on our own righteousness, but on God's righteousness. I can't help but see very strong covenant language and support for infant baptism in the "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean."

  3. That's an interesting passage, Joseph. I'm not sure I've read it before, or if I have, it didn't really jump out at me. The characterization of God being so concerned with God's name/reputation is interesting to me. The thought that I kept coming back to with this passage was that God might want us to be similarly concerned about our individual reputations. Maybe a name is more important than we sometimes think. I guess through cultivating our own reputation we better serve as stewards of God's reputation, as well. That's definitely an interesting passage and I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  4. My first instinct in this text is, like you, to wrestle with God's suspect motivations. God insists that these things are done, "for My holy name." God's quest to save preserve the name doesn't end there. Even the last paragraph, where you cited the juxtaposition (good catch, by the way) ends with , "And they shall know that I am the Lord." What does it mean for humanity to be at God's whim when God's motivations are strictly based on reputation? This is good news for Israel, fine, but there are also parts of Ezekiel where victims of God's wrath are numerous and unsympathetically disposed of. Also: is this an eschatological vision, or something more immediate? That could change the reading entirely.

    I didn't put a whole lot of time into this, but there is my first go at it. Good luck, brother.