Here is, I. A further account of the sin of the Edomites, and their bad conduct towards the people of God. We find the church complaining of them for setting on the Babylonians, and irritating them against Jerusalem, saying, Rase it, rase it, down with it, down with it (Ps. 137:7), inflaming a rage that needed no spur; here it is further charged upon them that they triumphed in Jerusalem’s ruin and in the desolations of the country. Many blasphemies they spoke against the mountains of Israel, saying, with pride and pleasure, They are laid desolate, Ezek. 35:12. Note, The troubles of God’s church, as they give proofs of the constancy and fidelity of its friends, so they discover and draw out the corruptions of its enemies, in whom there then appears more brutish malice than one would have thought of. Now their triumphing in Jerusalem’s ruin is here said to proceed, 1. From a sinful passion against the people of Israel; from anger and envy, and hatred against them (Ezek. 35:11), that perpetual hatred spoken of Ezek. 35:5. Though they were not a match for them, and therefore could not do them a mischief themselves, yet they were glad when the Chaldeans did them a mischief. 2. From a sinful appetite to the land of Israel. They pleased themselves with hopes that when the people of Israel were destroyed they should be let into the possession of their country, which they had so often grudged and envied them. They thought they could make out something of a title to it, ob defectum sanguinis—for want of other heirs. If Jacob’s issue fail, they think that they are next in the entail, and that the remainder will be to his brother’s issue: “These two nations of Judah and Israel shall be mine. Now is the time for me to put in for them.” At least they hope to come in as first occupants, being near neighbours: We will possess it when it is deserted. Ceditur occupanti—Let us get possession and that will be title enough. Note, Those have the spirit of Edomites who desire the death of others because they hope to get by it, or are pleased with their failing because they expect to come into their business. When we see the vanity of the world in the disappointments, losses, and crosses, that others meet with in it, instead of showing ourselves, upon such an occasion, greedy of it, we should rather be made thereby to sit more loose to it, and both take our affections off it and lower our expectations from it. But in this case of the Edomites’ coveting the land of Israel, and gaping for it, there was a particular affront to God, when they said, “These lands are given us to devour, and we shall have our bellies full of their riches.” God says, You have boasted against me and have multiplied your words against me; for they expected possession upon a vacancy, because Israel was driven out, whereas the Lord was still there, Ezek. 35:10. His temple indeed was burnt, and the other tokens of his presence were gone; but his promise to give that land to the seed of Jacob for an inheritance was not made void, but remained in full force and virtue; and by that promise he did in effect still keep possession for Israel, till they should in due time be restored to it. That was Immanuel’s land (Isa. 8:8); in that land he was to be born, and therefore that people shall continue in it of whom he is to be born, till he has passed his time in it, and then let who will take it. The Lord is there, the Lord Jesus is to be there; and therefore Israel’s discontinuance of possession is no defeasance of their right, but it shall be kept for them, and they shall have, hold, and enjoy it by virtue of the divine grant, till the promise of this Canaan shall by the Messiah be changed into the promise of a far better. Note, It is a piece of presumption highly offensive to God for Edomites to lay claim to those privileges and comforts that are peculiar to God’s chosen Israel and are reserved for them. It is blasphemy against the mountains of Israel, the holy mountains, to say, because they are for the present made a prey of and trodden under foot of the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2), even the holy city itself, that therefore the Lord has forsaken them, their God has forgotten them. The apostle will by no means admit such a thought as this, that God hath cast away his people, Rom. 11:1. No; though they are cast down for a time, they are not cast off for ever. Those reproach the Lord who say they are.
II. The notice God took of the barbarous insolence of the Edomites, and the doom passed upon them for it: I have heard all thy blasphemies, Ezek. 35:12. And again (Ezek. 35:13), You have multiplied your words against me, and I have heard them, I have observed them, I have kept an account of them. Note, In the multitude of words, not one escapes God’s cognizance; let men speak ever so much, ever so fast, though they multiply words, which they themselves regard not, but forget immediately, yet none of them are lost in the crowd, not the most idle words; but God hears them, and will be able to charge the sinner with them. All the haughty and hard speeches, particularly, which are spoken against the Israel of God, the words which are magnified (as it is in the margin, Ezek. 35:13) as well as the words which are multiplied, God takes notice of. For, as the most trifling words are not below his cognizance, so the most daring are not above his rebuke. I have heard all thy blasphemies. This is a good reason why we should bear reproach as if we heard it not, because God will hear, Ps. 38:13, 15. God has heard the Edomites’ blasphemy; let them therefore hear their doom, Ezek. 35:14, 15. It was a national sin (the blasphemies charged upon them were the sense and language of all the Edomites), and therefore shall be punished with a national desolation. And, 1. It shall be a distinguishing punishment. As God has peculiar favours for Israelites, so he has peculiar plagues for Edomites: so that “When the whole earth rejoices I will make thee desolate; when other nations have their desolations repaired, to their joy, thine shall be perpetual,” Ezek. 35:9. 2. The punishment shall answer to the sin: “As thou didst rejoice in the desolation of the house of Israel, God will give thee enough of desolation; since thou art so fond of it, thou shalt be desolate; I will make thee so.” Note, Those who, instead of weeping with the mourners, make a jest of their grievances, may justly be made to weep like the mourners, and themselves to feel the weight, to feel the smart, of those grievances which they set so light by. Some read Ezek. 35:14 so as to complete the resemblance between the sin and the punishment: The whole earth shall rejoice when I make thee desolate, as thou didst rejoice when Israel was made desolate. Those that are glad at the death and fall of others may expect that others will be glad of their death, of their fall. 3. In the destruction of the enemies of the church God designs his own glory, and we may be sure that he will not come short of his design. (1.) That which he intends is to manifest himself, as a just and jealous God, firm to his covenant and faithful to his people and their injured cause (Ezek. 35:11): I will make myself known among them when I have judged thee. The Lord is and will be known by the judgments which he executes. (2.) His intention shall be fully answered; not only his own people shall be made to know it to their comfort, but even the Edomites themselves, and all the other enemies of his name and people, shall know that he is the Lord, Ezek. 35:4, 9, 15. As the works of creation and common providence demonstrate that there is a God, so the care taken of Israel shows that Jehovah, the God of Israel, is that God alone, the true and living God.