20:1 And it came to pass in the a seventh year, in the fifth [month], the tenth [day] of the month, [that] certain of the elders of Israel came to enquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
(a) Of the captivity of Jeconiah.
20:4 Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge [them]? cause b them to know the abominations of their fathers:
(b) This declares the great leniency and patience of God who calls sinners to repentance before he condemns them.
20:5 And say to them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day when I chose Israel, and c lifted up my hand to the seed of the house of Jacob, and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up my hand to them, saying, I [am] the LORD your God;
(c) I swore that I would be their God, which manner of oath was observed from all antiquity, where they used to lift up their hands toward the heavens, acknowledging God to be the author of truth and the defender of it, and also the judge of the heart, wishing that he would take vengeance, if they concealed anything which they knew to be truth.
20:7 Then said I to them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, d and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I [am] the LORD your God.
20:8 But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken to me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of e their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
(d) God had forbidden them to make mention of the idols, (Exodus 23:13; Psalms 16:4).
(e) Which declares the wickedness of manís heart, who judge Godís service by their eyes and outward senses.
20:9 But I wrought for my f nameís sake, that it should not be profaned before the nations, among whom they [were], in whose sight I made myself known to them, in bringing them forth from the land of Egypt.
20:14 But I wrought for my nameís sake, that it should not be profaned before the g nations, in whose sight I brought them out.
(f) God had ever this respect to his glory, that he would not have evil spoken of his Name among the Gentiles for the punishment that his people deserved, in confidence of which the godly ever prayed, as in (Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13).
(g) Who might by it take an opportunity to blaspheme my Name and to accuse me of lack of ability, or else that I had sought a means to destroy them more conveniently.
20:16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but profaned my h sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.
(h) That is, my true religion, which I had commanded them, and gave themselves to serve me according to their own fantasies.
20:18 But I said to their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your i fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
(i) By which the Holy Spirit confuses them that say that they will follow the religion and example of their fathers, and not measure their doings by Godís word whether they are approved by it or not.
20:24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had profaned my sabbaths, and their eyes were after k their fathersí idols.
(k) Meaning that they set their delight on them.
20:25 Wherefore I gave l them also statutes [that were] not good, and judgments by which they should not live;
20:26 And I polluted them in their own m gifts, in that they caused to pass through [the fire] all the firstborn, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I [am] the LORD.
(l) Because they would not obey my laws, I gave them up to themselves that they should obey their own fantasies, as in (Ezekiel 20:39; Romans 1:21,24).
20:28 n [For] when I had brought them into the land, [for] which I lifted up my hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
(m) I condemned those things, and counted them as abominable, which they thought had been excellent and to have declared most zeal, (Luke 16:15) for that which God required as most excellent they gave to their idols.
(n) Not only in the wilderness, when I brought them out of Egypt, but since I placed them in this land: which declares how prompt manís heart is to idolatry seeing that by no admonitions can he be drawn back.
20:29 Then I said to them, What [is] the high place to which ye go? And its name is called o Bamah to this day.
20:31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even to this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, p I will not be enquired of by you.
(o) Which signifies a high place, declaring that they vaunted themselves of their idolatry and were not ashamed of it, though God had commanded them expressly that they should have no altar lifted on high by stairs, (Exodus 20:26).
(p) He shows that the ingratitude of the people deserves that God should cut them off, and that they should not have the comfort of his word.
20:32 And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the nations, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and q stone.
(q) He declares that man by nature is wholly enemy to God, and to his own salvation, and therefore God calls him to the right way, partly by chastising but chiefly by his mercy in forgiving his rebellion and wickedness.
20:35 And I will bring you into the r wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face.
20:38 And I will s purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.
(r) I will bring you among strange nations as into a wilderness and there will visit you, and so call you to repentance and then bring the godly home again, (Isaiah 65:9).
(s) Signifying that he will not burn the corn with the chaff, but chose out the wicked to punish them when he will spare his.
20:39 As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; t Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and after this [also], if ye will not hearken to me: but profane ye my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.
(t) This is spoken to the hypocrites.
20:43 And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, in which ye have been defiled; and ye u shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.
(u) Your own consciences will convict you after you have felt my mercies.
20:46 Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop [thy word] toward x the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field;
(x) For Judah stood south from Babylon.
20:47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every y green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned in it.
(y) Both strong and weak in Jerusalem.
20:49 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak z parables?
(z) The people said that the prophet spoke darkly: therefore he desires the Lord to give them a plain declaration of it.