For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

36:1.  “Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord:”


Since mountains are scriptural symbols of kings, and rulers, and/or kingdoms, it is clear that it is Israel’s leaders who are being addressed here.


36:2.  “Thus saith the Lord God; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:”


God’s chastening dispersal of Israel had led the surrounding nations to believe that the empty land was now theirs, the “high places” being the idolatrous shrines which wicked Israel had erected on every hill and mountain for the worship of their idols.


36:3.  “Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:”


The nations, with God’s permission, and as His instruments, had ravaged Israel because of her idolatry, so that she had become a byword, the object of the nations’ contempt and jeering.


36:4.  “Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and a derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;”


The mountains and hills continue to be used as metaphors for Israel’s leaders, while the rivers, valleys, desolate waste places, the forsaken cities, etc., represent the common people and their various activities, given up to be plundered and mocked by the surrounding nations.


36:5.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea (Edom), which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.”


God, in the fierce fire of His indignation against the nations, including Edom “who so exultantly and contemptuously took possession of my country and plundered it,” The Jerusalem Bible, declares His righteous anger.


36:6.  “Prophecy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy (indignation) and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:”


The mountains, hills, rivers, etc., continue to have the same meaning here as in the preceding verses, God’s words to the people being the assurance that He will yet vindicate them for all the shame and mockery they had had to endure from the nations which had persecuted them and seized their land.


36:7.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.”


With His own uplifted omnipotent hand as the guarantee of the fulfillment of His words, He promised that the nations which then mocked and taunted Israel, would themselves become the objects of mockery and taunting.


36:8.  “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.”


In the present context the “mountains of Israel” are used as a synonym for the land, God’s promise being that He would make the land abundantly fruitful for His people soon to return from their exile, the imminence of their return being declared in the words “they are at hand to come,” i.e., the time of their return is near.


36:9.  “For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:”


God Himself would restore the fertility of the land, so that when the returned people plowed and planted, the harvests would be bountiful.


36:10.  “And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded.”


God would multiply the returning Israelites so that the land would be filled with people; “even all of it,” i.e., the whole nation, indicating that the reference is to the Millennium when all the Jews will return from amongst the nations, something that hasn’t been true relative to past returns in which some Jews have elected to remain in the lands of their dispersal.


All the cities of the land, including the ruined ones which will be rebuilt, will be filled with people.


36:11.  “And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit; and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”


God is still speaking of the land, upon which He will multiply men and domestic animals.  “... after your old estates” means that He will make them even more prosperous than they had ever been in the past, His millennial blessings being even greater than anything they had known even when He had first brought them into Canaan.


36:12.  “Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.”


God continues to address the mountain anthropopathically, i.e., as though it were endowed with human attributes, giving the assurance that the men of Israel would once again walk upon and possess the land He had given them as their inheritance.


The last clause of the verse is the assurance that the land would never again receive in burial the bodies of slain Israelites, or of those dying from starvation or disease: their being no death in the Millennium, except for overt sin.


36:13.  “Thus saith the Lord God; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;”


In the past Palestine had been described as a land that devoured the lives of the Israelites, as well as those of men of other nations, i.e., it was a land, not only of warfare, but also of plague and famine sent by God to punish the rebellion of the people.


36:14.  “Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord God.”


36:15.  “Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord God.”


All would be changed in the Millennium.  There would be neither war, plague, nor famine; nor would there be heard any more the taunts of the nations against Israel.


36:16.  “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,”


36:17.  “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.”


This begins a new section in which God no longer addresses the mountain, but His servant Ezekiel, telling him of the wickedness of the Israelites in defiling the land by taking their own defiant sinful way, their wickedness being so great that it was as revolting to God as a menstruous discharge.


36:18.  “Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: “


As the rebellious people had presented God with revolting wickedness instead of holiness, so now would He in turn requite them by replacing His blessing with the outpouring of His fury.


The blood shed was that which resulted from murder, including the immolation of their infants to their false gods, whose shrines polluted the length and breadth of the land.


36:19.  “And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.”


God had punished them by scattering them as captives and fugitives amongst the nations, the punishment being His just requital of their evil thinking and their equally evil deeds.


36:20.  “And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land.”


Even when He scattered them, they continued to dishonor His holy name by their wicked ways, so that the host nations were led to exclaim incredulously, “These are the people of Jehovah?  It is little wonder that He has expelled them from His land.”


36:21.  “But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.”


Israel had cared nothing for the dishonor which their wicked lifestyles had brought upon God’s holy name, but He cared, and would act to preserve His Own honor.


36:22.  “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.”


God assured them that what He was about to do in response to their profanation of His honor, was not for their sakes, but for the sake of His Own holy name.


36:23.  “And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”


Israel’s having profaned His name means that they had caused it to be disdained, treated irreverently by the nations.


“I will sanctify my great name” is also rendered, I will vindicate the holiness of... I will prove the holiness of... I will restore... I will display....”  God’s final chastisement of Israel in the Great Tribulation will produce a repentant converted nation whose holiness will be a reflection of His.


36:24.  “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”


This refers to the regathering of the scattered Israelites from amongst the nations, and their settlement in Canaan, at the end of the Great Tribulation.


36:25.  “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”


“... clean water” is used here as a synonym for the Scriptures, see Eph 5:26 where the synonym is explained.  The statement being made here is that by the preaching of the Gospel in the seven-year Tribulation era, multitudes of Jews and Gentiles, who had not previously heard the Gospel, will be converted, and those saved Jews will constitute the new nation Israel that will pass out of the Great Tribulation into the Millennium.


36:26.  “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you an heart of flesh.”


Conversion will do for those Tribulation-era Jews what it does for believers of this present age: it will transform their lives.  The hardness of the natural heart will be replaced with love and tenderness; and the “new spirit” means that the same Holy Spirit Who indwells believers of this age of grace, will also indwell them, something He did not do to OT converts.


36:27.  “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.”


With Satan imprisoned in the abyss during the Millennium, there will be far less inducement for men to sin, so that they will be able to yield a more perfect measure of obedience than in any previous age.


A statute is something that has been appointed, a commandment, a decree; and a judgment is a verdict, sentence, or charge.


36:28.  “And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”


In that coming glorious age Israel will dwell in peace and safety in Palestine, being God’s people, not just in name, but in reality, their obedience enabling Him to be their God in fullness of blessing rather than the Judge Who must visit their disobedience with chastisement.


36:29.  “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.”


The indwelling Holy Spirit will keep them from being defiled by sin, but this has to be understood in context.  It doesn’t mean that His indwelling presence will enable them to live sinlessly, but, that as with present-day believers, sin will be accidental

and deplored, rather than premeditated and relished.


The fecundity of the millennial earth is further described in Amos 9:13, “... the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt (flow with wine).”


36:30.  “And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.”


Never again would Israel have to suffer the taunts of the nations, because of God’s having to chastise her with famine.


36:31.  “Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.”


Their renewed hearts would give them a new perspective, so that they would see how utterly evil they had been in their former state, that revelation causing them to abhor themselves for their past evil lifestyles and filthy practices.


36:32.  “Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.”


Lest they should have a wrong perception of their true state in His sight, God assured them that the good He was going to do for millennial Israel, would not be on account of any good in that evil generation addressed by the prophet, but rather in spite of their wickedness.  Millennial Israel would be blessed because of their having been converted in the Great Tribulation that will precede the Millennium, for it is only on the basis of repentant conversion that God can bless any man; hence His command to the evil generation to whom He was speaking, to be ashamed and to blush for all their wickedness.  No one can be converted until he first sees himself as utterly sinful, and without even a shred of righteousness, this being the truth declared symbolically in Le 13:13 in which God directs that the man who is completely covered with leprosy is to be pronounced clean, that poor leper corresponding to the sinner who confesses that he is without even one iota of righteousness.


36:33.  “Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.”


This may not be taken to imply that God would cleanse them other than as described in verse 32.  That day of cleansing will never come for Israel or for any man apart from repentant confession of utter sinfulness, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  The terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation will produce that repentant confession on the part of the believing remnant of Israel that will pass out of the Great Tribulation into the enjoyment of millennial blessing, that believing remnant being restored to their own land, which with the whole world, will then have undergone millennial transformation.


36:34.  “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.”


In the Millennium, land that had formerly lain waste, will be

farmed again, and will be abundantly productive.


36:35.  “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.”


The land that had lain waste would be as phenomenally productive as Eden; and the once ruined cities would be rebuilt and filled again with people.


36:36.  “Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it.”


Relative to “... the heathen (the Gentiles) that are left,” the words “that are left” point to them as being the believing remnant of each of the Gentile nations that will emerge from the Great Tribulation to enjoy the Millennium.  They too, with Israel, will know the Lord, first as their Savior God, and then as the omnipotent Creator.


36:37.  “Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.”


God, Who during this present dispensation, invites believers to ask from Him, so that they might receive, will extend the same gracious invitation to millennial Israel, and undoubtedly also to the Gentiles.  He will increase like a flock the little remnant of Israel, and undoubtedly also of the Gentiles, that will emerge from the Great Tribulation.


36:38.  “As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”


As Jerusalem, in the times of her solemn festivals, is filled with the sheep that are to be offered to God, so in the Millennium will the formerly waste and deserted cities be filled again with men, the fulfillment of this prophecy, like that of all other prophecy, being the proof that He Who gave that Word is the omnipotent Jehovah Whose every word will be fulfilled.

[Ezekiel 37]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough