Ezekiel 18:30
Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
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(30) Repent, and turn.—The three last verses of the chapter contain an earnest exhortation to the Israelites, based on the principles of God’s dealings with man just now declared, to repent and receive His mercy and blessing. Here, as before, there is no question of human sufficiency; and when the counsel is given (Ezekiel 18:31), “Make you a new heart and a new spirit,” it is not meant to say that this can ever be the work of any other than God’s Holy Spirit; but that Spirit is ever given to them that ask Him, and the question of salvation is still one which each man must decide for himself before God. The whole point of the chapter is that God’s dealing with man is determined by man’s own attitude towards Him. He that is alienated in his heart from God, whatever may have been his previous life, God will judge; and he that now seeks to conform his life to God’s will, God will receive and forgive.

Ezekiel 18:30-31. Therefore will I judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, &c. — You complain of the injustice of my ways or proceedings; but if I judge you according to the desert of your ways, you will certainly be all found guilty: and nothing but repentance, and a real turning to God in heart and life, can avert that ruin to which your sins have exposed you. Cast away from you all your transgressions — Here God, in a most tender and pathetic manner, exhorts the Israelites, and in them all sinners, to comply with those terms on which alone he could or can take men into favour, and save them from destruction, namely, the casting away or forsaking all their sins, whether of omission or commission, all their sinful tempers, words, or works; and giving up themselves sincerely and heartily to his love and service. And to show that a mere attendance on modes of worship, and an external obedience to the precepts of God’s law, are not sufficient, nor can be accepted without internal purity and holiness, he adds, Make you a new heart and a new spirit — Which words imply, both that a new heart and a new spirit are absolutely necessary in order to salvation, and that means must be used by us in order to the attainment of these blessings. It must be well observed, that what is here commanded as our duty, to show the necessity of our endeavours in the use of means, is elsewhere promised as God’s gift, (see Ezekiel 36:26; Ezekiel 11:19,) to show man’s inability to perform this duty, without the special grace of God, which, however, will not be denied to those who sincerely and earnestly seek it, in the way God has prescribed, namely, the way of prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, attention to and faith in the word and promise of God, assembling with his people, and carefully shunning the appearance of evil. For, as Lowth well observes, the difference of expression is thus to be reconciled, “that although God works in us to will and to do, and is the first mover in our regeneration, yet we must work together with his grace, and not quench or resist its motions:” see notes on Jeremiah 31:18; Jeremiah 31:33-34. To the same purpose are the words of Calmet here: “We can do nothing well of ourselves; we have of ourselves nothing but sin: all our power comes from God, and with the aid of his grace we can do all things. But if, on the one hand, we ought to humble ourselves on account of our impotence, on the other hand we ought to hope in him, who giveth to all liberally, and who willeth not our death, but our conversion. He informs us of our freedom of will, by enjoining us to make us a new heart: he would have us to do what we can, and to ask of him what we cannot.”

18:30-32 The Lord will judge each of the Israelites according to his ways. On this is grounded an exhortation to repent, and to make them a new heart and a new spirit. God does not command what cannot be done, but admonishes us to do what is in our power, and to pray for what is not. Ordinances and means are appointed, directions and promises are given, that those who desire this change may seek it from God.Equal - literally, "weighed out, balanced." Man's ways are arbitrary, God's ways are governed by a self-imposed law, which makes all consistent and harmonious. 30-32. As God is to judge them "according to their ways" (Pr 1:31), their only hope is to "repent"; and this is a sure hope, for God takes no delight in judging them in wrath, but graciously desires their salvation on repentance.

I will judge you—Though ye cavil, it is a sufficient answer that I, your Judge, declare it so, and will judge you according to My will; and then your cavils must end.

Repent—inward conversion (Re 2:5). In the Hebrew there is a play of like sounds, "Turn ye and return."

turn yourselves, &c.—the outward fruits of repentance. Not as the Margin, "turn others"; for the parallel clause (Eze 18:31) is, "cast away from you all your transgressions." Perhaps, however, the omission of the object after the verb in the Hebrew implies that both are included: Turn alike yourselves and all whom you can influence.

from all … transgressions—not as if believers are perfect; but they sincerely aim at perfection, so as to be habitually and wilfully on terms with no sin (1Jo 3:6-9):

your ruin—literally, "your snare," entangling you in ruin.

Since you persist to implead me of iniquity in my judgments, after all I have said to clear myself, there is nothing left by which I may be cleared but this, to proceed with you according to your doings.

I will judge you; I will debate, determine with you.

O house of Israel; who do keep up this opinion of me, the proud contemnors of God, and justifiers of themselves.

Every one; none shall be overlooked or excused, every one shall be judged.

According to his ways; your ways shall be the standard and measure; if they are good, you shall receive good; if evil, you shall suffer evil; and then there can be no colour of complaint.

Repent; it will be safest for you that are proud quarrellers; be therefore advised, repent, and venture not your life and welfare on self-justification. Some others there were of better temper; they are exhorted by repentance to prevent wrath, and prepare for the mercy which the Lord ever showeth to the penitent, as Ezekiel 18:21,22.

Turn yourselves; or, return yourselves; persuade others also. (Yourselves is not in the Hebrew.)

Iniquity; neither your ungodly practices, nor your unjust opinions of me and my ways, saith the Lord.

Shall not be your ruin, the cause of your temporal and eternal misery. Or thus, Cease from sin, then you will judge aright, and not be stumbled at the supposed inequality of my judgments: who leave sin, can see what mercy spared, pardoned, saved them; but who live in sin, will have soft thoughts for sin, and hard thoughts of God.

Therefore will I judge you, O house of Israel,.... The case being fairly stated, the charge removed, instances to the contrary given, the Lord, as Judge, proceeds to bring the controversy to an issue, and to pass the definitive sentence, and to deal with them in the way of his providence as they deserved:

everyone according to his ways, saith the Lord God; not according to the ways of their father, but according to their own ways: this refers, not to the last and general judgment, but to some sore temporal punishment, which God, as the righteous Judge, would inflict upon them for their sins, according to the just desert of them; but whereas, notwithstanding all their wickedness, insolence, and blasphemy, the Lord was desirous of showing mercy to them, rather than proceed to strict justice; he exhorts and advises them to the following things:

repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; this is to be understood of a national repentance for national sins, to prevent national judgments, being an address to the whole house of Israel; and not of evangelical repentance, which is the gift of God, and of an external reformation, as the fruit of it; and not of the first work of internal conversion, which is by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; though, were both exhorted to, it would not prove that these are in the power of men, only show the want and necessity of them, and so be the means of God's bringing his chosen people to them. The phrase, "yourselves", is not in the original; both words used signify "to turn"; and may be rendered and explained thus, "turn" yourselves, and "cause others to turn" (p); let every man turn himself from his evil courses, and do all he can to turn his brother, or his neighbour, from the same; so Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech interpret them. The Targum is,

"turn you to my worship, and remove from you the worship of idols:''

so iniquity shall not be your ruin; meaning temporal ruin, as it deserved, and they were threatened with; and which might be prevented by repentance and reformation: or, "shall not be a stumbling block to you" (q); an hinderance, an obstruction in the way of their enjoyment of temporal blessings.

(p) "convertimini et facite converti", Pagninus, Montanus, "sub. proximos"; so some in Calvin; "quisque suam fratrem", Munster, Vatablus. (q) "et non erit vobis in offendiculum", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
30. iniquity … your ruin] More naturally: that it (your transgressing) be not a stumbling block of iniquity to you. The transgressions which they are called on to renounce are specially their idolatries, cf. ch. Ezekiel 14:3, Ezekiel 7:19, Ezekiel 44:12.

30–32. Exhortation to repentance founded on the principle that God will deal with every man according to the condition in which he is found.

Verses 30, 31. - That work was to produce repentance, hope, and fear. The goodness and severity of God alike led up to that. For a man to remain in his sin will be fatal, but it is not the will of God that he should so remain. What he needs is the new heart and the new spirit, which are primarily, as in Ezekiel 11:19, God's gift to men, but which men must make their own by seeking and receiving them. So iniquity shall not be your ruin; better, with the margin of the Revised Version, so shall they not be a stumbling block (same word as in Ezekiel 3:20; Ezekiel 7:19; Ezekiel 14:3) of iniquity unto you. Repented sins shall be no more an occasion of offence. Men may rise on them to "higher things," as on "steppingstones of their dead selves." Ezekiel 18:30The vindication of the ways of God might have formed a fitting close to this divine oracle. But as the prophet was not merely concerned with the correction of the error contained in the proverb which was current among the people, but still more with the rescue of the people themselves from destruction, he follows up the refutation with another earnest call to repentance. - Ezekiel 18:27. If a wicked man turneth from his wickedness which he hath done, and doeth right and righteousness, he will keep his soul alive. Ezekiel 18:28. If he seeth and turneth from all his transgressions which he hath committed, he shall live and not die. Ezekiel 18:29. And the house of Israel saith, The way of the Lord is not right. Are may ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not rather your ways that are not right? Ezekiel 18:30. Therefore, every one according to his ways, will I judge you, O house of Israel, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Turn and repent of all your transgressions, that it may not become to you a stumbling-block to guilt. Ezekiel 18:31. Cast from you all your transgressions which ye have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! And why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:32. For I have no pleasure in the death of the dying, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah. Therefore repent, that ye may live. - For the purpose of securing an entrance into their hearts for the call to repentance, the prophet not only repeats, in Ezekiel 18:27 and Ezekiel 18:28, the truth declared in Ezekiel 18:21 and Ezekiel 18:22, that he who turns from his sin finds life, but refutes once more in Ezekiel 18:29, as he has already done in Ezekiel 18:25, the charge that God's ways are not right. The fact that the singular יתּכן is connected with the plural דּרכיכם, does not warrant our altering the plural into דּרכּכם, but may be explained in a very simple manner, by assuming that the ways of the people are all summed up in one, and that the meaning is this: what you say of my way applies to your own ways, - namely, "it is not right; there is just measure therein." לכן, "therefore, etc.;" because my way, and not yours, is right, I will judge you, every one according to his way. Repent, therefore, if ye would escape from death and destruction. שׁוּבוּ is rendered more emphatic by השׁיבוּ, sc. פניכם, as in Ezekiel 14:6. In the last clause of Ezekiel 18:30, עון is not to be taken as the subject of the sentence according to the accents, but is a genitive dependent upon מכשׁול, as in Ezekiel 7:19 and Ezekiel 14:3; and the subject is to be found in the preceding clause: that it (the sinning) may not become to you a stumbling-block of iniquity, i.e., a stumbling-block through which ye fall into guilt and punishment. - The appeal in Ezekiel 18:31 points back to the promise in Ezekiel 11:18-19. השׁליך, to cast away. The application of this word to transgressions may be explained from the fact that they consisted for the most part of idols and idolatrous images, which they had made. - "Make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit:" a man cannot, indeed, create either of these by his own power; God alone can give them (Ezekiel 11:19). But a man both can and should come to God to receive them: in other words, he can turn to God, and let both heart and spirit be renewed by the Spirit of God. And this God is willing to do; for He has no pleasure בּמות המת, in the death of the dying one. In the repetition of the assurance given in Ezekiel 18:23, המּת is very appropriately substituted for רשׁע, to indicate to the people that while in sin they are lying in death, and that it is only by conversion and renewal that they can recover life again.
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