Ezekiel 36:16–38 (NKJV)
Sin Brings Judgment
16 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. 19 So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds. 20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
The Lord reiterates the cause of the judgment against Israel and Judah in the beginning. Their disobedience and rebellion defiled the land and profaned the name of God.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!”
The Lord establishes early in the discourse that the Jews did not deserve the restoration God would bring. On the contrary, this blessing is a result of nothing they had done. Instead, He will bring them back and bless them to establish His name and prominence among the nations. He will forgive them (sprinkle them with clean water), and will transform them (heart of flesh for a heart of stone). He will give them an identity (put His Spirit within them), lead them in righteousness (“you will keep My judgments”), and dwell among them. They will loathe their sins, and be ashamed for them.
33 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.”
37 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”
The Lord restates the specific promises of restoration from earlier in the chapter, and further says that the desolate land shall be like Eden, and He will again hear their prayers, and they will be like His own flock, offered as a holy sacrifice. Although we may bear the consequences of our sins long after we are forgiven, we also will receive the blessings of God once repentence occurs and restoration begins. Don’t lost heart, but press on. Judgment will end and restoration will come…God’s way.