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Ezekiel 18:30

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.

30. Propterea quemque 234234     Verbally, “each man.” — Calvin. secundum vias ejus judicabo in vobis, 235235     Or, “between you.” — Calvin. domus Israel, dicit Dominator Iehovah. Convertimini et redire vos facite 236236     “And bring you back:” others, “bring your neighbors back;” but this is far-fetched. I prefer “bring yourselves back.” — Calvin. ab omnibus sceleribus vestris, et non erit vobis in laqueum iniquitas.

 

Here God precisely points out that he would discharge the office of judge, and then he reduces the Israelites to order, and refutes their audacity: for, as long as men do not feel God’s judgments hanging over them, and are not held completely in cheek, they grow restive in their petulance. We see how ferocious and wanton the reprobate are, because they are not held in by the fear of punishment, nor do they dread the judgments of God. Hence that he may take away every vestige of excuse, he says, I will be your judge: plead now; but I will decide your strives in one word, since each of you shall be judged by my will. It is certain, then, that God here asserts for himself the praise of justice and rectitude; but at the same time he brings forward his own authority, that he may strike terror into those who thus madly dare to oppose his sway, and call upon him to render an account. Now, therefore, we understand in what sense he says that he will judge them all according to their ways; that is, although you do not confess yourselves worthy of destruction, it is sufficient that I, as the lawful judge, pronounce you so. I will judge you justly, therefore, since I pronounce sentence according to your ways and to my supreme power, that all your complaints and murmurs may cease. He afterwards exhorts them to repentance, and signifies that they have no other remedy than being dissatisfied with their sins, and deprecating his wrath. Hence we collect that men rebel so extravagantly against God, while they wander away from themselves, since, if they descended within themselves, and sincerely examined their whole life, they would be instantly humbled before God; hence that thought should stimulate them to repentance: but because their conscience is stupid, and they are willingly brutish, they boldly blaspheme God. On the other hand, God now offers a remedy on their repentance and return from their wickedness. The word being converted, or return, refers to the renovation of the mind and heart: for this also is the beginning of repentance, that we should be inwardly renewed in mind, as Paul says, and so be made new men. (Ephesians 4:22, 23.) And this deserves notice, because many, when repentance is spoken of, fix their eyes only on the outward fruits of penitence. But we must begin at the root, as the Prophet teaches, by saying be you converted. But he afterwards adds, והשיבו, veheshibu, and return. This second word ought to be referred to the fruits of penitence; for as interior conversion comes first in order, when we leave off our peculiar vices, and renounce flesh and blood, the fruits and proofs of repentance thought to follow, as John said, Bring forth fruits as witnesses to your repentance. (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8.) We see, then, that the Prophet begins with purity of heart, and then comes to hands, as the Scripture elsewhere says, flint is, to outward works. He says, from all your iniquities or crimes, to show that a partial repentance is not approved by God. It is true, indeed, that even those who strive with all their might to act rightly, do not succeed in discharging their duty without many faults remaining; but we are not treating here of perfection, but only of sincere affection and serious endeavors. Let us then only strive seriously to return into the way, and to humble ourselves calmly and sincerely: this is the integrity which the Prophet now requires.


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