35:1-9 – A prophecy against Mount Seir. Where is Mount Seir and what does it represent? It is the primary site for the kingdom of Edom (house “father” was Esau) which lies to the southeast of Israel and Judah. However, “Edom in Ezekiel 35 is merely one representative of the nations at large who oppose Israel and her God” because “Edom was the arch-type of the non elect the very paragon of a nation raging against the Lord and against his anointed” (Duguid NIVAC 406, 409; cf. Stuart 331). This is a motif that began with the prophetic word concerning the twins, Jacob and Esau, which Rachel gave birth to (cf. Gen. 25:23). From the beginning there was animosity and this actually continued even to the days of Jesus when Herod, an Idumean (of Edom) tried to kill Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16-18) and the later Herod who actually shared complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus (Luke 23:6-12). What did the LORD promise to do to the Mountain of Seir and what was the end goal? Why was Edom to be judged (cf. Ps. 137:7; Obadiah) and is there any hope for Edom (cf. Deut. 23:7-8)? In what sense was this fulfilled or meant to be fulfilled?
35:10-15 – Why it matters what we say? What did Edom say that the LORD would hold them accountable for? Who are the “two nations” that Edom looked to take over as their own? Note that though the LORD removed his people from Israel and Judah that it was still His land and He would not give up His claim to it. “Yahweh may indeed have left the temple and the city, allowing Nebuchadrezzar, his agent of judgment on his own people, to raze Jerusalem; but this did not mean he had abandoned all interest in the place, nor did it authorize any other nation to seize his land” (Block NICOT II:319). Also, note that the “mountains of Israel” (as opposed to the traditional term “land of Israel”) were rejoiced over for being made desolate, but the LORD would in fact make Mount Seir (and all it represented; cf. a similar use of “Babylon” in Rev. 17-18) desolate.
36:1-15 – A prophecy to the mountains of Israel. What did the LORD promise to the mountains and all the desolated regions of Israel? Why would the LORD promise judgment against those who slandered the land and savagely took possession of it? Note that it has to do with the LORD’s zeal and jealousy. What does this tell us about the LORD’s motivation for judgment? Was it primarily for Israel’s benefit or His (with Israel to benefit as He does)? What theological significance might be attributed to knowing that “I am concerned for you” reads literally “I will turn to you” (cf. Lev. 26:9) in Eze. 36:9? Whose people are Israel? Is the LORD concerned for the land? Note the promises of fruitfulness in both agriculture and the people of Israel. Has this prophecy been fulfilled? (see particularly verses 12-15) What was said about the land concerning its ability to sustain or “devour” a population (cf. Num. 13:32) and how would this be changed?
36:16-23 – What led to the defilement of Israel and why would they be redeemed? In what way should we understand Israel’s defilement to be like a woman with her monthly period? (cf. Lev. 15:19-24) It seems to signify that Israel was to be separated from all things sacred and clean and therefore excluded from both the land and the people that have been set apart. This would explain the LORD’s exiling of His people. How was the LORD’s name profaned among the nations by the exile? What role does the LORD’s “name” play in how He acts towards people, both in judgment and redemption? For whose sake will the LORD return His people to the land and bless them? Note the emphasis upon what is “holy”. What significance does this make?
36:24-32 – The gathering of Israel. Who will gather Israel from the nations? (cf. Deut. 30:4) What will the LORD do as a part of this gathering? What does it mean for the LORD to “sprinkle clean water” on His people and to? (cf. Lev. 15) What will the LORD do to redeem His people? Is it enough to have them outwardly acting the way that they should or is there a necessary inward change? (cf. Deut. 30:6-8) Dan Block sees Jeremiah’s influence in this passage, but notes that what Jeremiah attributes to Torah Ezekiel attributes to “the infusion of the divine rûaḥ” (NICOT 356-7). Note that the LORD promises the Spirit to redeemed Israel just as the believer in Christ is promised the Spirit. Will there be any room for personal boasting after the people of Israel are redeemed? What should and will their response be?
36:33-36 – The promise of a resettled land. What is the prerequisite for the resettlement? Will the land simply be restored to its former state or will the state after redemption be better than the former? The comparison “like the garden of Eden” is something that other prophets also mention (cf. Isa. 51:3; Joel 2:3) Why does the LORD say that He will do all of this?
36:37-38 – The “flocks” that are heard. What does it mean for the LORD to finally “yield to the plea of the house of Israel”? Note that earlier Ezekiel had been denied pleading with the LORD on behalf of Israel, but now the LORD will answer such cries. Why are the people likened to sheep and what picture does this present? What is the reason for all of this?
Douglas Stuart, Ezekiel (Dallas, TX: Word 1988).