In this second part, we will fill in that gap between the promises at the end of Ezekiel 37 and verses 24-28, showing the long journey in time to the fulfillment of those promises to the extent they have been made sure so far.
Ezekiel prophesied for about 22 years, between 593 to 571 B.C. He was making those prophecies about 565 years or so before Christ was born. (Historical calculations indicate that Jesus was born about the year 6 B.C.) It was when Babylon took them captive and they were a long time in bondage to them, going from Babylon to Roman control.
Ezekiel speaks in the past tense, but he is writing these things prior to their happening. It was in 70 A.D. that the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple, “not leaving one stone upon another,” as Jesus said in Matthew 24:1-2.
It took the Romans 65 years to empty the city of the Jewish people. Then, the land lay in desolation for 1,800 years until about 1870, when nomadic Jews began to drift back into the area. Thus, God saved the land for Israel’s restoration, which was finally legalized on May 14, 1948.
The destruction in 70 A.D., however, was not the beginning of the Millennium, as some are currently claiming. Hardly any mention of that destruction is in the Scriptures, and no possibility is there that the “abomination of desolation” Daniel spoke of happened.
No Roman soldier, or anyone else, stood in the temple as it was being torn down, declaring himself to be God and demanding everyone’s worship, as the claim is made. It was the fulfillment of God’s promise to scatter the Jewish people into all the nations of the world. And it did just that.
From 70 A.D. to 1870 A.D., about 1,800 years, the land was empty of any permanent habitation. The Turks, when the land was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, tried to homestead it for 300 years, then gave up and went home. Why? Very little annual rainfall.
When Mark Twain visited that area in 1853, he wrote that it was “the most desolate place on earth.” So God was saving that land for the return of the Jews, as He had promised centuries earlier.
Nomadic Jews began to drift back into the land in about 1870, and surprisingly—yes—the annual rainfall began to increase! During the First World War, when fighting was going on in the Middle East, Jews gave the British valuable assistance, and they, in turn, responded with the Balfour Declaration that set aside the land of Palestine as the homeland of the Jews. It had come under British control, away from the Ottoman Empire during the war.
From God’s viewpoint, as we can see now, there was to be a new nation with its own sovereignty among nations of the world in a future time. But how was He to get His chosen people out of the nations of the world where they had deeply embedded themselves over those centuries of being outcasts from their homeland?
It is hard to fathom such an undertaking with its awful results, but the Holocaust of the Nazi regime came to pass. It was not a new experience of the Israelites, for every time God wanted them to move in a new direction, drastic things had to happen in order that those people would be willing to follow the Lord.
Getting them to want to come out of those nations and cultures they had become embedded in was to prove to be a difficult task, even with the view of being returned to their ancient homeland. And many still have not returned there.
In this case, God knew that Israel was to get her own nation reinstalled with full legality in just a few years. Remember the situation when God was ready for them to leave Egypt, as reported in the Book of Exodus. God uniquely raised up a man named Moses to lead them, but they were not ready to follow his leadership.
So, it took forty more years for Moses and the people as well to be willing to leave Egypt after their 400 years there. A hard Pharoah came into power and imposed hard labor upon them, and they became willing then. But as Exodus reads, they often wanted to turn back to Egypt as hardships on the journey happened.
The background of the coming to fruition of May 14, 1948, has some interesting intrigue. One of my early mentors as a new Christian was a man from Missouri who related to me this story: President Harry Truman, as a resident of Missouri, was a neighbor to a Jewish family as he grew up.
He had learned of the Jewish situation, and when the United Nations Security Council met that day in May 1948, and Russia did not attend, Truman, as US president, brought the issue before the council to be ratified. And a new nation was born in a day.
There is not any mention of Israel’s struggles in Ezekiel’s prophecies of these 75 years to hold onto their national sovereignty. Constant threats of being wiped off the face of the earth are ongoing, like the 1967 war when they took hold of Jerusalem once again.
Ezekiel goes right to chapters 38-39 that reveal the coming Gog-Magog war when Russia of the far north joins with Iran (called Persia until 1935), Turkey, and others and will see that Israel is defenseless, “like a city without walls” and available for plundering.
After that, Ezekiel begins a 10-chapter account of the new temple and its mysteries. The Gog-Magog war appears to come into reality just after the Rapture of the church, thus opening the seven years of tribulation reported in Revelation 6-19.
Where does the Gog-Magog war fit into the end times timeline, you are asking? In Paul’s prophetic account in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, he writes, “But as to the times and seasons, I have no need to write to you, for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.”
Who will be saying, “Peace and safety” but Israel, which has been without peace now for 75 years? And after the Rapture—which happens like a thief at night—and the Antichrist confirms that covenant of peace for Israel, they will think he is their friend.
Of great interest is the report that tells of who will be among those who will see these things come to pass. In Luke 21, Jesus tells a parable of the blossoming of the fig tree, that when it begins to bud new leaves, summer is near. The fig tree represents Israel, and its blossoming represents the return of Israel to its land and its national sovereignty.
(At this point, an interesting coincidence, or is it, that the original King James Version, which came before most current paraphrases and translations, uses these words in the foretelling of the Rapture, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and other passages, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the trump of the Lord shall sound….”
Then, in these last days, a man named Trump appears on the scene and upsets the whole world, which is following America’s “falling away” from faith, lawfulness, and justice for all. Is this really just a coincidence, or…? This man is not deity, but then, neither was Samson and others of their time. It would take a man like Trump, who sees them on their level of deeply embedded opposition to truth and could shake them loose—perhaps some to God’s redemption and many others to His judgment. It appears unlikely that any other Republican nominee will be able to threaten the leftist Democrats to any extent in the coming election. Leftists fear and hate Trump too much.)
Jesus said the generation that sees these things happening will not pass away until it is all finished (Mark 13:30). Of course, the Rapture will remove all believers of this generation at its occurrence.
Why, then, doesn’t Jesus address it as “that generation” if it was future when He was informing the disciples? It is because Jesus saw all prophecy in the present tense, for time was not a factor in His foreknowledge capacity. Remember His revelation of Himself in John 8:58: “Before Abraham was, I AM!”
Now we who were alive before May 14, 1948, are that generation. For 75 years, we have been following the Luke 21:28 directive, “When these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption is drawing near.”
There is a decreasing number who are now age 75 and older, but this generation continues until there are none remaining who lived before “the fig tree blossomed.” The time is short, either in translation “in the twinkling of an eye,” or resurrection and meeting Him in the air for believers who have died!
In Psalm 90:10, it is written, “The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years. Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow, for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” It brings to mind the gospel song titled “I’ll Fly Away.”
Another favorite gospel song for many of us in this generation is “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” Putting two together, it goes like this: “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,” then “I’ll Fly Away!”
“Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20b).
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