New Defender's Study Bible Notes
20:1 seventh year. This was probably the seventh year of their captivity (compare Ezekiel 1:2 and 40:1). The elders had come to inquire of Ezekiel at least twice before (Ezekiel 8:1; 14:1). All three times they were rebuked, for they continued to hope that God would restore them to the land, but they nevertheless continued in the same spirit of rebellion against His Word.
20:5 I chose Israel. God chose Israel, not vice versa, because of Abraham and Jacob, and his choice was unconditional and everlasting. Yet again and again and again, His people rebelled against Him—in Egypt, then in the wilderness, then repeatedly in the land of Israel, and God repeatedly forgave and restored them when they repented. Finally, their rebellions became so flagrant and pervasive that He sent them into captivity in Assyria and Babylon.
20:11 he shall even live. If a person could obey all parts of God’s law (James 2:10), he would have eternal life thereby. But none can do this (Romans 3:10-12).
20:25 statutes that were not good. Superficially this might seem to contradict Ezekiel 20:11, in which God had promised that those who “do” His statutes and judgments would “live in them.” Paul also confirmed that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid” (Romans 7:12-13). Note also Leviticus 18:5, as well as Ezekiel 20:13, 21.
God’s law is, in every sense, good! There is nothing in it which men could not obey, if they would only follow it. But the fact is, they won’t! In context in this chapter, the people of Israel were deliberately rejecting God’s law (Ezekiel 20:24) in order to incorporate the laws of the pagan pantheists around them, even sacrificing their firstborn children to the “god” Molech. Therefore God “gave them”—or “gave them over to” (Romans 1:28)—these pagan “statutes that were not good.” When men insist on worshipping the creation rather than the Creator, as multitudes are doing today in their varied philosophies of pantheistic evolutionism, God eventually comes to the point of giving them up to wallow in their sins and to experience in all their fullness the awful fruits thereof (note Romans 1:20-32).
20:29 Bamah. The name itself means “high place,” where the people had sacrificed to idols. The name continued as the name of the town around it, even after its idolatrous uses had ceased.
20:34 gather you out of the countries. This prophecy looks beyond the Babylonian captivity to the eventual worldwide dispersion of the Jews, from which countries God’s angels will gather them back to the promised land after the great tribulation (Matthew 24:29-31). See Ezekiel 20:41-44.
20:35 wilderness. Ezekiel 20:33-44 looks forward to God’s dealings with Israel in the last days. Note Revelation 12:14-16.
20:47 forest of the south. The “south” meant the tribe of Judah in particular. However, the north as well as the south would be burned.