“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In this place which is desolate, without man and without beast, and in all its cities, there shall again be a dwelling place of shepherds’” (Jeremiah 33:12).
“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. 2 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. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 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.’”
7 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. 8 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.
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’ 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’”
We are continuing our look at God and His commitment to Israel. There have been so many issues along the way, with misinterpretations and verses taken out of context and the fact that we underestimate the commitment of God to Israel and, in turn, us. God cannot break His promises to Israel and the commitments He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Today, we will look at a prophecy made about Israel coming back from the dead after a long time of ‘death.’ In this context, Ezekiel is in Babylon, living there as a part of the exiles who have been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. They would be there for 70 years, and in the process, God sends two sets of prophecies, one to Daniel (see chapters 7-9) and then a series to Ezekiel. We will look at this particular one today and see that it was fulfilled in the last generation, and we see the results of its fulfillment today.
As Jesus was preparing his disciples for His death, He made a prediction about the Temple in Jerusalem that was fulfilled in AD70 by General Titus of the Roman army; Matthew 24: 1-2,
“As Jesus left the temple and was walking away, His disciples came up to Him to point out its buildings. ‘Do you see all these things?’ He replied. ‘Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.'”
Between AD70 and about AD135, the Jews from Israel were scattered throughout the whole world. They went to every continent and country to find refuge. The nation was dead. A few stragglers lived in the area, and war after war was fought for control of Israel. We have examples of the scatterings from the lives of men like Phillip in Acts 8; we find Jews living in Galatia, Ephesus, and Rome; and just about everywhere Paul went as a missionary, he was able to find Jews. Even my little Barbados is home to one of the oldest synagogues in the world. We are thousands of miles from Israel.
Notice in the prophecy that the bones come to life in stages; in verse 8, we get the sinews, then the flesh, then the skin, and then in verse 9, the breath.
In the late 1800s, the British established the British Mandate that would begin to rebuild Israel; there were just 56,000 Jews living in Palestine by the end of WW1. By 1945, there were just under 400,000 Jews living in Israel. And by May 14th, 1948, just over 500,000 (CJPME.org) Jews lived there when the nation of Israel was declared to be an independent state by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. He is the architect behind the modern state of Israel. God, of course, was the one who actually put it all in place.
President Harry S. Truman was the first head of state to recognize Israel as an independent state. In 1967, during the Six Day War, the Jews regained control of Jerusalem, and on May 14th, 2018 (exactly 70 years, one generation) after the declaration of independence, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and began plans to move the US Embassy there. In 2021, the last time we had a count, there were almost 9.4 million Jews living in Israel, and there are more returning to live there every day. Israel is a thriving economy filled with medical and agricultural advances. They sit on one of the largest natural gas finds in the world. Slowly but surely, just like the prophecy in Ezekiel, life came back to Israel, and she is here to stay.
Just in case we are not sure about whom the prophet is speaking, God makes it clear in verse 11, “These bones are the whole house of Israel.” There can be no doubt as to the subject of this prophecy, and we can see the nation of Israel today, and many have traveled there as tourists. The country came back to life, not just back to life, but came back gradually in stages, as described in Ezekiel 37. We can see this tangible fulfillment of prophecy more than 2,000 years after it was spoken.
Let us finish up our thoughts today with a look at Ezekiel 37:21-23. Here, we see two more promises made to Israel.
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.”
God will unite them into one nation again. When they went into captivity via Babylon and Assyria, there were two kingdoms – the Northern and Southern – but God promises that they will be one again. Today, there is only one Israel. But He goes even further. God promises, in the context of the future, that they will be His people and He their God. They will no longer follow after idols and strange gods. Jesus is coming soon to fulfill this just as sure as we see Israel alive and well in front of our eyes, according to Ezekiel 37.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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