Just like every other year, 2017 starts off with our wondering if this will be the time and season when the Lord will take out that final one from the Gentiles for His namesake, if…if…if…if….
I was looking at Ezekiel 37 recently, trying to see if there is some hint in the Old Testament prophetic accounts about the selection and ordaining of the 144,000 special Jewish messengers, as recorded in Revelation 7. That is the chapter in Ezekiel telling about the valley of dry bones coming to life, a unique portrayal of the restoration of the nation of Israel. I didn’t find anything about the 144,000, but I did notice what was missing in the content of chapter 37 and those following it.
After the restoration of Israel, Ezekiel goes directly to the invasion of Israel by Gog of the far north, in chapters 38-39. The valley of dry bones account has its parallel in Luke 21:29 and following with the budding of the fig tree. But why did Ezekiel not mention those events in between Israel’s rebirth and the Gog-Magog war? And of further interest is that he goes right into a detailed plan for the construction of the new temple. Temple reconstruction fits into the first half of the seven years of the covenant that is confirmed, according to Daniel 9:27.
Another interesting comment at the end of Ezekiel 37 is the promise there of a “covenant of peace” that the Lord assures Israel that it will be everlasting:
“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore” (Ezekiel 37:26).
Is this indirectly referring to that covenant confirmation Daniel introduces in Daniel 9:27? That one is solely a product of the Gentiles (the United Nations, possibly) and is not everlasting, as it is for only seven years. Also, is the reference to establishing “a sanctuary in their midst forevermore” another reassurance to Israel to look beyond what is scheduled in their forefront during the seven years of the imposed covenant to that time when Jesus sets His feet on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) and sets up His earthly kingdom for a thousand-year reign from Jerusalem and erases the desolation of the sanctuary caused by the lawless one?
What about the Rapture event? He doesn’t mention it, nor what has and is happening since the rebirth of Israel. I had to conclude that Ezekiel was a prophet, primarily, to the Jews, and we look to Daniel to see the parallel of biblical history with secular history. Then we have the prophecies of the New Testament filling in the details and the end-time wrap up. Paul introduces the details of the New Covenant of Christ’s redemption plan as mysteries that had not been told previously. Indeed, Peter says these are “things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).
After the conclusion of the Gog-Magog war, at the end of chapter 39 of Ezekiel, the Lord reviews again His sending Israel into captivity and why, and reminds them that He will no longer turn his face away from them, having restored them to their land. Why is it so hard for the “Replacement Theology” proponents to believe and understand that God does not make promises He does not intend to keep?
In order for the temple to be rebuilt, as the chapters following Ezekiel 39 so describe it, there must have been the “confirmation of a covenant with many” of seven years, as mentioned in Daniel 9:27. Halfway through that seven-year covenant, that descendant prince of the ancient Romans who destroyed the city and temple will desecrate this new temple, shutting down the sacrifices and declaring himself God.
Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 of this imposition, “…who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
That is exactly what Isaiah 14:12-15 says is the ambition of Lucifer:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.”
The central figure in all his claims is “I” just as this word connection indicates: Sin, Pride, Lucifer.
As believers watch, wait and wonder what all these things that are happening have to do with God’s plan for our redemption, I am one who is convinced that God will not allow mankind to create circumstances in their own timeframe that will fulfill His plan that was made before time began. “Flesh and blood” is never allowed to inflict its “Adam-defiled” poison into His holy purposes.
The atmosphere of rebellion in America against what is intended to be a return to law and order, safety from the threat of terrorism, and a return to national stability of social and economic conditions is so radically contrary to common sense. It has all the marks of Satanic motivation—good is evil and evil is good (Isaiah 5:20). There is an apparent principle in God’s economy that as people turn away from God, He, then, turns away from them, letting them “gorge themselves” with the degradation that their sinfulness so desires. Note, for example, in Romans 1:22-24, how that came about:
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts….”
Solomon recorded this truth, that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:9), yet these “profess themselves to be wise.”
We have thought that the “falling away” that must happen before the Lord comes back for the believers, as Paul reports in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it means “falling away from the faith,” but it could well include in its meaning the total rejection of all that even hints of God. That documentary I saw, years ago, of lemmings rushing pell-mell over the cliff to their deaths is a vivid reminder of what this culture is now portraying.
There is an answer for that emptiness of life and purpose, that sense of futility:
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (John 7:37).
As Jesus cried out those words of anguish and longing for those who are lost those many centuries ago, His eternal plea still rings out today. Those who belong to Him realize that in these troubled times, He is our Blessed Hope, whose appearance we are expecting soon.
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