Ezekiel 37 – Israel’s Future History

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We have discussed the fact that when God initially kicked the nation of Israel out of the Land of Israel, He did so for a purpose.  That purpose had everything to do with His judgment against a people that exploited His holy Name and brought absolute dishonor to it.  They became idolaters and suffered His wrath because of that practice.  The final insult was when the leaders of the nation of Israel rejected the Messiah.  Within forty years of that event, which created the situation in which Jesus was crucified, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed due to the attack of Roman armies.  Surviving Jewish people scattered, leaving the Land of Israel far behind.

In spite of what many people believe, God’s plan for Israel did not end there though.  His plan reached way into the future saw the point in time when He would return them to that same Land that He removed them from as He began to gather them from the nations around the world.  This began His final fulfillment of what He promised to do with the Land and the nation of Israel in the final days of human history.

God’s promises to nation and the Land of Israel are clearly seen in the first 28 verses of Ezekiel 36.  He continues in verses 29-30 by saying, “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.”

{pub}To read this entire article you need to become a PZ Insider http://tinyurl.com/Become-A-PZ-Insider {/pub}{author}The point of this is that God will thoroughly bless Israel, once again allowing the Land to flow with milk and honey after He has restored the nation of Israel to the Land.  Once again, He clearly and succinctly notes His reason for doing this:  “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!” (v. 31).  The reason God will restore the Land and restore the nation within it has nothing to do with the people of Israel.  God wants the people of Israel to know what they have done.  He wants them to understand without doubt the tremendous dishonor the people of Israel have brought to His holy Name.  He wants them to literally become undone because of it.  He wants them to realize the result of their actions.

This is all for a purpose.  It is not so that God can sit back and enjoy their sorrow.  God simply wants them to understand that in spite of their mistreatment and misrepresentation of Him, His promises stand for all eternity.  They will find fulfillment.

“‘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. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 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.’ 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,” (Ezekiel 36:33-36).

God repeats Himself here as He seems to do often in Scripture because He is emphasizing a point.  If we follow through on the logical flow of God’s plan, it looks like this:

God will cleanse the nation from their sin
He will create a situation that allows them to live in the cities of Israel
Because they come back to Israel, the old cities will be rebuilt
The Land that laid bare and desolate for centuries will bring forth new life
People who see this will marvel at the transformation that has come over the Land
It is because of this process (outlined in steps a through e), that honor will be restored to God’s holy Name
People will know that in spite of all the odds against them, Jewish people not only came back to the Land, but rebuilt cities and planted new gardens, as a result of God
The glory will go to God, not Israel or any other nation
We see this process happening now within the Land of Israel.  Since before 1948, Jewish people began moving back into the Land they once possessed.  During 1948, Israel once again became a nation.  That which was dead came alive.  No one thought it would happen.  All bets would have been against Israel becoming a nation ever again.  Yet, it happened, in spite of all the odds.  From that time, in spite of all the wars, the skirmishes, the rockets, the terrorism against Israel and all the nations of the world (except Canada at this writing), turning against Israel, that tiny nation has come into existence and has continued to exist.

Not only has Israel continued to exist, but the Land of Israel has once again flourished due directly to the return of Jewish people to their homeland and the beginning of the fulfillment of Ezekiel chapter 36.  The Land once again has begun flowing with milk and honey.  Towns have been rebuilt.  Gardens have been planted.  The Land of Israel looks totally different today than it did when the Jewish people began returning to it decades ago.

This process has taken well over 60 years and is not yet complete.  Jewish people continue to return to their homeland because God is calling them to that Land that He purposefully kept from them for centuries.

When His plan has been completed, the world will glorify God because of it.  The idea that Ezekiel 36 onward is somehow connected to the Church that Jesus gave birth to in Acts 2 and not Israel, is absurd.  The language of Ezekiel is so specific, the only way to say that chapter 36 relates to the Church is to allegorize the text.  There is no reason to do that, because we have been seeing fulfillment of Ezekiel 36 take place before our eyes in this generation.

God’s plan of redemption includes redemption for the Land of Israel as well as the nation of Israel.  The redemption for the Jewish people as a nation will come to them the same way it comes to all of us and that is through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Jewish people who become saved today become part of the authentic Church.  Once the Church is taken in the Rapture, the only people left in the world will be unsaved, whether they are Jewish or Gentile.  No one who is an authentic Christian will be “left behind” after the Rapture has occurred.

Life does not stop after the Rapture.  What begins is the final phase of God’s plan of salvation for those in the world who will become authentic Christians, and His redemptive plan for the nation of Israel.  As a unit, all those who have been chosen as the Remnant of Israel (before the foundations of the world) will come to a point of realization in which they will understand whom their leaders rejected over 2,000 years ago.  They will see the truth about Jesus collectively, as a nation (and again, I am referring to the Remnant here).

It is the same with those Gentiles who were not taken in the Rapture.  They will remain and according to the book of Revelation, multitudes will be saved, many losing their life for Jesus with the tremendous wave of persecution that is perpetrated against humanity under the dictatorship of the Antichrist.  This is the Tribulation period.

So God’s plan to redeem all who will call on His Name will continue even after the Rapture occurs.  I’ve heard people say, “Oh, but come on, you’re saying that God will give these people a second chance!”  Of course I am.  The first time I heard about Jesus, I did not become a Christian.  It wasn’t until I was thirteen years-old that I committed my life to Christ.  I have no idea how many times I heard the gospel presented to me during those thirteen years before the truth finally dawned on me.

Verses 37 – 38 of Ezekiel 36 tell us that God will increase the number of men in Israel like a flock or a herd.  These people will know that He is God.  This is solely because God will open their eyes to that truth, which is the only way anyone can know that He is God.  Whether a person is Jewish or Gentile, salvation comes the exact same way to every person.  The timing may be different, but knowledge of the truth comes from God.

Ezekiel 37
The 37th chapter of Ezekiel is a chapter that most who have read or studied Scripture have at least heard of and it is referred to as the Valley of Dry Bones because God shows Ezekiel the prophet a valley that is filled with bones.  These bones are so dead and have been dead for so long that they are literally dry.

Have you ever been walking in a field or in the desert and you come across a skull or bone of an animal?  It quickly becomes apparent that the skull or bone has been there for some time.  The bone or skull is completely devoid of skin or hair or anything.  It is bone and it has been bleached by the sun.  All of this information tells us that the particular bone has been there for quite some time.

An animal that dies goes through a process of decay.  The decay slowly rots the carcass of that animal.  Other animals may come and eat part of the animal.  After many days, the bones will have been stripped of anything edible.  Months later, the bone or skull will begin to change color from a natural bone color to a whitish shade.  The longer it lies in the sun, the whiter it becomes.  Eventually, it begins to turn to dust and slowly breaks apart as it continues to lie in the sun.

In this chapter, God shows Ezekiel a valley of bones that have clearly been there for some time.  “The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.  Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!  Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.  I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.  Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them,” (Ezekiel 37:1-8; emphasis added).

Notice that Ezekiel points out that the bones were “very dry.”  This tells us that they had gone through the process of decay and they were simply waiting for the last thing to happen; the breaking down of those bones into dust.

Obviously, Ezekiel is seeing bones that were alive at one point and are now quite dead, but not fully decayed.  God asks Ezekiel an important question about the bones.  Can the bones live?

Ezekiel responds that God knows.  God then tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and God tells Ezekiel what to say to them.  Ezekiel obeys and he tells the bones that they are to hear the Word of the Lord.  Ultimately, God says through the prophet that He will put breath back into them and they shall live.

God will put sinews on the bones to connect them one to the other, and then flesh to cover the bones.  Notice that God is going to do this to bring the bones to life and also notice that God says that when He is through, the bones will know that He is God.

God speaks about the breath first, but that is the last thing that happens to the bones.  It’s the last thing that happened to Adam as well.  God created the man by forming his body out of dust and then He breathed into Adam the breath of life and Adam became a living spirit as we read in Genesis 2, verse 7.

Just as God created Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed life into his body, so will God give life to that which was by all accounts, fully dead.  God here is referring to the nation of Israel.  He is not referring to the Church at all, because the Church was never dead, then made alive.  The church was not born until the second chapter of Acts on the day of Pentecost.

It is clear from history that the nation of Israel literally died off the map.  However, God was not content to leave that nation dead and here in Chapter 37, He promises to bring Israel back from the dead.  This He began doing just after World War I with the Zionist movement.  Following World War II, it was clear to Jewish people that they must have their own nation again.  Though they believed this was simply a pragmatic course of action, it is clear from Scripture that God is the One who made this happen.

So the first step in the process of reviving Israel is complete.  From that point, God tells Ezekiel about the next phase.  “Then said [God] unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army,” (Ezekiel 37:9-10).

So after the bones were covered first with sinews and muscles, they were clothed in skin.  But that alone does not make a living being.  Only the breath of life will cause that being to actually live.  God uses the wind from the four corners of the earth (“four winds”) to breathe into this great army of non-living bodies.

Once the breath comes into these bodies, they lived and proved it by standing on their feet.  The entire implication of Ezekiel 36 and 37 so far is that what was once dead is now alive again.  The bones that were dried out obviously represent something that was once alive; living and breathing.  They died, leaving only decaying, dried out bones as a remembrance of what once existed.  With those bones, God chose to build them back up and cause breath to return to them.

Since it is clear that the bones were once living and are made alive again, this could not at all be referring to the Church since the Church had never been born and then died only to rise again.  I realize that many today see the fulfillment of this in the Church.  They make a connection between those dead bones and the fact that they became alive again and they say that once they became alive again, that is representative of the Church as the final phase of God’s plan of redemption.

The problem though is that verse eleven is very clear.  “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.”  The only way to get around the obvious meaning here is to take the phrase “the whole house of Israel” and apply it to the Church.  This can only be done through allegorizing the text.  To take it literally means that God is speaking of the actual nation of Israel.

There is a difference between taking something literally and taking something literalistically.  In the former, we understand that God is using a type of parable or metaphor to present His meaning.  We understand that though God is referring to a bunch of dead bones, He is simply using that picture as a vehicle through which He is explaining to Ezekiel (and to us) that the bones simply represent the House of Israel.  The bones are not the actual house of Israel.  He is showing – through the prophet – how He will revive Israel, a nation that died some time ago.  Ezekiel is seeing a vision and from that vision comes a lesson from God.  God uses the parable or story to define what He is literally going to do with the Land as well as the nation of Israel.

If we were to take the parable literalistically, we would have to say that bones are the house of Israel.  That is absurd.  Taking the words literally allows us to understand God’s meaning within the parable He is speaking to the prophet.  The interesting thing about metaphors and parables is that they have only one meaning normally.

Verse eleven clearly has God stating, “…these bones are the whole house of Israel.”  This puts to rest the idea that somehow, if we allegorize the text, we can make it mean that God is really saying, “…these bones represent something I will do in the future, through my Son and it will be called the Church.”  Again, this is an absurd abstraction from God’s Word that has no basis in fact.

It is very clear – or should be – that what has transpired in the Middle East is due directly to the work that God is doing among the people of Israel and in the Land of Israel.  This in no way means there are two forms of salvation; one for Jewish people and one for everyone else.  This concept is rejected based on the text where Jesus says He will not return until they cry out for Him to do so (cf. Matthew 23:39):  “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  It is obvious from this text and the context that Jesus is speaking to Jewish people here.  The Remnant of Israel will one day realize their sin and the terrible mistake their religious leaders made in rejecting Jesus.  It will be on that day that they will turn to the One they rejected, begging for His help.  In essence then, they will turn to Jesus, realizing that He was who He said He was and will receive the salvation that comes only from Him.

So in Ezekiel 36 and 37, God has been outlining His plan to restore and redeem the nation of Israel as well as the Land itself.  He means what He says and it should not be difficult at all to see that from 1948 onward until today and beyond, God has been doing exactly what He originally said He would do, through the prophet Ezekiel.

In verses 12 through 14 God tells the prophet to, “…prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.  And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.”

God is speaking to actual people at this point because in this vision that Ezekiel sees, the bones have become actual, living beings.  God is saying that He will resurrect them by opening their graves and causing them to come up from those graves.  He then says He will put His Spirit within them and He will place them in the very Land He promised to them through Abraham.

This is the process that God has undertaken and over the past five to six decades since Israel became a nation, God has been and continues to bring His people back to the Land.  Once He has completed that process, He will then be able to put His Spirit within them.  But is God talking about the entire race of Jews?  Hardly.  Even though millions of Jewish people have gone back to the Land of Israel, God has His Remnant and only those who make up that Remnant will be giving His Spirit.

Once the Millennial reign of Jesus begins, it is this group of Jewish people as God’s Remnant that will go in and fully possess the Land that God originally gave to them through Abraham.  Unless you understand these portions of God’s Word allegorically, it is impossible to miss God’s meaning:  He will complete His plan for the Land and nation of Israel for the sake of His holy Name, whether anyone likes it or not.

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By Fred DeRuvo

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