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From Chris's Heart

April 2009
The Powerful Revelation of Ezekiel 36
by Nick Harris

Ezekiel 36-37 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The theme of Ezekiel 36 is the restoration of the name of the Lord among His people Israel. At this time, Israel was in exile in the land of Babylon. They had been there for many years. Then God appeared and spoke to the prophet Ezekiel.

In Ezekiel 36:26, God promises the prophet that He will give his people a "new Spirit." He informs the prophet that this Spirit will be "within them." God goes on to tell the prophet that their formerly "stony hearts" will be taken from them and they will be given "a heart of flesh,” or tender hearts. When this “heart of flesh” is within them He will then "cause them" to walk in his statutes.

In Ezekiel 36:27, God then tells the prophet that when that time comes, Israel will be "his people" once again and He will be "their God." But here is the catch! God said to Ezekiel:
"Thus says the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36: 37).

In other words, Israel would have to ask God before God would do any of these things in their behalves.

Then, in Ezekiel 37, God offers to the prophet a parable which is often called “the Vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones.” In this vision, the spirit of the Lord carries the prophet to a valley that was full of bones, and these bones were very dry (in other words, they had been there for a very long time).

Once there, God asked the prophet in Ezekiel 37:3, "Son of Man, can these bones live?" And the prophet answered by saying to God, "You alone know." So, in the next verse, God said this to Ezekiel: "Prophesy upon these bones: and say unto them, ‘O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’”

The prophet did as he had been told, and there was a noise and the bones began to come together, and as the prophet continued to watch, sinews and flesh came upon the bones and skin covered them. Suddenly, the prophet could see millions of people. But the problem was this: this army of people had no breath within them. In other words, they were dead.

However, in Ezekiel 36:9, God spoke to the prophet and said this to him: "Prophesy unto the wind, prophesied, Son of Man, and say to the wind, ‘thus saith the Lord God: come from the four winds, old breath, and breathe upon the slain that they may live.’”

What is interesting about this verse is that the word translated into English as "wind" is the Hebrew word, RUACH, which is often translated as the Spirit of the Lord, or the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel did as he was told once again, and he prophesied to this army of dead soldiers, and when he did the breath came into them and they stood upon their feet, and they did, indeed, prove to be a huge army.

Then God explained to Ezekiel the meaning of this vision. According to Ezekiel 37:11, the bones represent the entire house of Israel that will be living at the time of the restoration of Israel to the land. The unique thing about this verse is that God said to the prophet, "Son of Man these bones are the whole house of Israel."

Therefore, God could not have been speaking of those persons who returned to Israel from Babylonian captivity, because at that time the "whole house of Israel" did not return to the land. Thousands remained behind in Babylon and in other places in the world. It had to refer to a later time, and it does.

The next verse is particularly difficult to understand. There, God said to the prophet:
"Therefore, prophesy and say unto them (the house of Israel), thus says 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." (Ezekiel 36:12)

What on earth does God mean? Just this: these graves are not tombs. They are those nations of the world in which the children of Abraham will be dwelling at the time of this great restoration. The miracle of the restoration will be so great that the entire nation will know that Yahweh is God.

So, the question becomes, what constitutes the "entire" nation of Israel? Remember, ten of the tribes of Israel had been carried away by the Assyrians and assimilated into their culture. In fact, they are often called the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” The prophet must have been asking this question because God provides a parenthetical passage to explain what he meant by the "entire" nation of Israel.

God gives to the prophet “the sign of the two sticks,” a most amazing revelation. The prophet is told to find a stick and to write upon it, "For Judah, and for the children of Israel, his companions." Then God tells the prophet to find a second stick and write upon it, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions." The prophet was then told to join the two sticks together in his hand.

Then, God explains what this action meant. He told Ezekiel that God will bring the peoples whose names were engraved on the sticks together as one nation. They will be gathered from every nation, and when they are gathered they will have one king, in the name of that king will be David, meaning a son of David (Ezekiel 36:24). God clarifies even further by indicating that they will have only one shepherd when they come into the land that had been given to Jacob (Israel).

Then, according to Ezekiel 36:25, this newly gathered nation will dwell in the land of Israel forever and David will be their prince, forevermore. The people of Israel will not defile themselves anymore with idols---in fact, they will not even sin. God will totally cleanse them (Ezekiel 36:23).

Finally, God offers an astounding revelation. He tells the prophet that when this time comes, He will make "a covenant of peace" with the people of Israel. Of course, this “covenant of peace,” of which God speaks, has to be the culmination of the “New Covenant” established by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here God is describing for us the millennial reign of Christ.

Sometime in the future Christ will return and establish his kingdom of peace forever and ever. The sign for which we should look is the gathering of the house of Israel from all the nations of the world.

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