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Chapter 36:1 - 38

 

In verse 1 God tells Ezekiel "to prophesy to the mountains of Israel."  Some Bible teachers suggest that God is really talking to Israel and not the mountains.  They say that the mountains symbolize that.  There may well be some validity to this thinking but I tend to believe that God is at least prophesying about the land of Israel if not to the land of Israel itself.   

 

In verse 2 you see the words "Sovereign Lord," as you do all the way through Ezekiel.  This is important to point out.  God is sovereign.  He can, and He will, do whatever He wants to do, and, when He says He will do something, you can bet He will do it.  All the way through the book of Ezekiel the Sovereign Lord says He will do certain things.  Many of these things He has done.  The rest, He will do.  It is important to understand the sovereignty of God, both on an individual level and a national level.

 

Verse 2 also says, "aha, the ancient heights have become our possession".  It is Israel 's enemies who have said this, and the word "aha' tells us that they are gloating in the fact that they have conquered Israel.  This had come true when Ezekiel prophesied this.  It came to pass in a final sense in 70 A. D..  We need to understand that 70 A.D. is an important date in Israeli history, and so is 1948.

 

God is about to pronounce judgment on the nations of the world in the following verses.  We know when this judgment will take place.  In verses 3 and 5 we see the word "nations".  This is important.  It is these nations that will come under the judgment of God spoken of here.  In Ezekiel's day Israel was captured by just one nation, not many nations, and that was Babylon.  It wasn't until 70 A.D. that Israel was attacked by Rome and disbursed into the "many nations" of the world, where they were, until the 20th century. 

 

What we see in verses 3 and beyond is that the nations of the world will be judged for their treatment of the land of Israel, the land that belongs to God.  God calls the land His land in verse 5.

 

In verse 5 we see the word "glee."  This suggests that

when the nations of the world ridiculed and 
did evil against the land, they gloated and rejoiced in the things they did.  This was clearly the case in 70 A. D. when Rome sacked Jerusalem.  It was also the case in 135 A. D. when Rome sacked Jerusalem again and renamed the province of Judah the province of Palestine , a word associated with Israel 's long time enemy, the Philistines.  

 

Again, note the words "my land' in verse 5.
 
We should understand that God gave a particular portion of land to Israel , but in the long run, He calls the land "His land."  God calls the land of Israel His land throughout the Bible.  So, when any nation does anything to the land of Israel, they do it to God.  God takes that very personally because that land belongs to Him.

 

In verse 6 we see God's "jealous wrath" against the nations of the world because the land of Israel has "suffered the scorn" of the nations of the world.  The land of Israel, more than any other land on earth has suffered scorn from other nations of the world.  This will escalate and find its climax in the Great Tribulation at the end of this age. 

 

We should know this fact.  When the Jews are not in their land the land suffers, as it did from 70 A. D. until the Jews began to return to their land in the mid 1800's.  It was only then when the desert began to bloom, which is just a down payment of what the future will be like. 

 

We need to know, that when it comes to Israel , that is, the land and the nation, God is very protective and actually jealous, because the land of Israel belongs to Him, and Him alone. This is important in the world of politics today, but few politicians recognize this fact.  In the long run, all the judgments that God pronounces and carries out, especially those at the end of this age are for one reason, that is, so the world will know that God is the only God.  We see this in this chapter of Ezekiel and all the way through the Bible.

 

In verse 7 we see God swearing with "uplifted hands."  This would be similar to us swearing on the Bible in a court of law.  It is symbolic of the fact that what God is about to declare is based on truth and will come about.  What He declares in verse 7 is that the surrounding nations of Israel will become like Israel was.  That is, they will suffer scorn as the land of Israel had suffered scorn.  We need to note here the specific nations spoken of.  Verse 7 does not say "the nations of the world."  Verse 7 is directed specifically to those few nations that immediately surround Israel.  We see these nations mentioned in Psalm 85 as nations that come against Israel and will thus be judged.

 

Verses 8 through 12 speak of the restoration of Israel .  They speak in geographic terms.  On the mountains and in the valleys people and flocks will increase and be prosperous.  Note in verse 11 the reason for this prosperity.  It is so that Israel will know that God is the Lord.  Again, this is the fundamental reason for everything God does throughout human history. 

 

Note in verse 8 that the restoration of the land of Israel is in connection with the return of the Jews to their land.  After the majority of Jews were scattered from Jerusalem and the surrounding area once known as Judah , the land became desolate.  It was basically a wasteland as the Bible predicted.  The Arabs and the Muslims were not able to regenerate the land.  The land did not begin to blossom until the Jews began to return to their land in the mid 1800's, and, it was then, when you saw more Arabs come to this land because of what the Jews had done.  In many instances the Arabs became employed by the Jews, something modern day people seemed to ignore or have removed from their memory and teaching. 

 

Notice again to whom these verses are spoken.  God is speaking to the earth, the land of Israel.  In verse 9 God says that He is concerned about the land of Israel, and you might say, "for good reason."  God is creator and He is concerned about all that He has created.  The land was meant for people to live on, cities to be built, and vegetation to grow.  The prophet predicts the day when the land will be restored.  Again, history tells us that the land of Israel is only productive when the Jews are in their land.

 

In verse 12 we see that the land of Israel is the inheritance of the Jews.  I believe I can safely say that if God willed this portion of the earth to the Jews, He will not change His mind. 

 

Verse 12 specifically states that the Jews will once again possess the land that was promised them.  At this present moment, they do not have all of the land that God promised them in the Abrahamic Covenant.          

 

In order to understand verse 13 to the end of
this section I must remind you that God is 
specifically speaking to the land of Israel and not Israel itself as a nation.  God says here that the nations have scorned the land of the Jews, and that has been the case for centuries when the land was a wilderness.  That will no longer be the case.  Right now, Israel is one of the world's leaders in the exporting of fruit.     

 

 

In verses 16 and 17 God reminds Israel
just why they were dispersed into the nations of the world and why the land became desolate.  God also reminds them that it was He who did the dispersing.  He in fact was behind the Roman invasion of 70 A.D..  It was an act of judgment on Israel for them not obeying their Lord.  Verse 19 says, "I dispersed them among the nations."  Again, we see the word nations here, not the word nation.  This can only be speaking of 70 A. D..  No other date is possible. 

 

I think we can learn something here concerning God's judgment on a nation.  I realize that God is specifically speaking of Israel here but it is my opinion that as God judged Israel by making its land desolate, He can do the same to other nations of the world, which I believe He has done and is probably doing at the present. 

 

The reason why God brought the land down was not because of anything wrong the land did, but the wrong that Israel had done.  God, thus, causes ecological disasters because of the ungodly conduct of the people in the area where the disasters hit. 

 

In verse 19 we also see that because of the Jews
evil conduct He not only caused their land to be desolate, He scattered them among the nations.  Note again that it is the nations and not the nation, as in the nation of Babylon or Rome.  I believe this is a post 70 A. D event. 

 

Note the word "country" in verse 19.  It is translated from the Hebrew word "Eretz," meaning "land," and especially land that has been designated to a people to live in.  You might say that Theodor Herzl popularized the phrase "eretz Israel - "the land of Israel.  He was born in 1860 and died in 1904.  His book entitled "The Jewish State" is often noted to be the founding document or tenants of the Zionist Movement.  In this books Herzl uses the term "eretz Israel" a lot. It became a very important phrase in the 20th century Zionist Movement.

 

In verse 20 we note that even in all other nations of the world, the Jews still profaned the name of their God.  They did this by not living the way they were supposed to live.  In these other nations, they were not obeying their God, and for the most part, they still aren't.  Yes, you can see synagogues in many nations of the world, but the worship that takes place in these synagogues is adulterated.  It is not the worship that God demanded of Israel in the Old Testament or the New Testament. 

 

Verse 21 inserts a very important point into this chapter.  God said that He was concerned about His holy name that the Jews would profane while living in the nations of the world.  God being concerned about His name is the fundamental reason why He restores Israel, and that we will see in the next few verses.    

 

Verses 22 and 23 show us again the reason why God judged Israel, and why He will judge the nations of the world.  It is for His name sake.  It is so all nations, including Israel will know that there is only one God, and it is Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel.  When it comes right down to the end, the battles and the suffering we see in the Great Tribulation, they all have  spiritual significance, and at that time, I believe many people will see this to be true, but will still fight against it. 

 

When God's people, whether the Jews or the church, do not represent Him as they should; when they misrepresent Him by their conduct, it profanes God's good name to the world.  I think that the church over the centuries has profaned the name of God just as much as the Jews, and the church have suffered for it.   

 

In verse 24 we note that God is now speaking to the Jews and not their land.

 

Verse 24 is important.  It is clear and direct.  God simply states that the day will come when He will gather the Jews from the nations of the world and bring them back into their own land.  This prophecy began to come to pass in the mid 1800's when Jews began to migrate back to their land.  Even more so, when Israel became a nation in 1948, the fulfillment of this prophecy began to take off.  Prior to 1948, Israel had no land they could call their own to come home to.  They now have the land, or at least part of it, and they have been returning from all over the world.  If you visit  Israel today, you will see all nations represented in Israel, but whatever nation these people came from, the bottom line is that they are Jews.

 

Many theologians say that verse 25, according to the Hebrew text, should begin with the word "then".  That is to say, "then God will sprinkle "   This would also make sense in context.  First God brings Israel back to her land.  Then at a later date He restores His relationship with her.  At that point, all Israel will be saved as the apostle Paul says in Romans 11. 

 

Note from verses 24 to 32 God says "I will" eleven times.  There are a number of things listed here that God will do.  Israel won't do them.  God will.  He will sovereignly do them on His own and by Himself.  Again, the text states that He will do them for Himself and His reputation.  God will do these things to reclaim His good name among the nations of the earth.

 

Note the things that God will do.  They aren't spiritual.  They are material.  They are geographical and natural.  By these last two, I mean Israel will get her land back and the land will produce its fruit in abundance. 

 

The thing I would like to point out here is the spiritual restoration of Israel.  God says that He will cleanse Israel.   He will remove the heart of stone and give the Jews a soft heart of flesh.  He will give them His Holy Spirit.  This is the Holy Spirit revival that Zechariah and others have predicted as well.  Israel will return to their God, and it will be of God's doing.  This is still to come once God brings Israel to her knees in the Great Tribulation.

 

So I've just pointed out the "I wills" from God.  Note also the "you wills" in this section.  Israel is to be "ashamed" for what the detestable things they have done.  This is speaking of true repentance.  Israel will mourn for their sinful condition.  God will hear her cries of repentance, and He will forgive, cleanse, heal, and pour out His Spirit on them.  Beyond reclaiming the land and nationhood, Israel  will be restored to her God.

 

Note when the final restoration of Israel as a nation takes place.  In verse 33 God says that on the day He will cleanse Israel, and then the final restoration will take place.  First comes the spiritual, then the material as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:46.  Total Israeli prosperity will not come to the nation of Israel until she repents and God's cleanses them of all their sins and gives them the Holy Spirit.  This will be a day not unlike the Day of Pentecost, but specifically for the Jews at the end of this age.

 

Verses 34 and 35 speak of the land of Israel becoming like the Garden of Eden.  Many people look at the prophecies concerning the land of Israel blossoming and producing fruit and think that has happened already.  To a degree it has, but not to the degree that is prophesied, especially in this verse.  I'm not sure what the Garden of Eden was like, but I doubt if it looked anything like Israel today.  The fulfillment of this prophecy will only take place after Jesus returns and makes it happen.  We have never seen the land of Israel look the way it will eventually look.

 

When it comes to the restoration of the land that belongs to Israel, on that day, as verse 36 states, all the surrounding nations that are left, will acknowledge that it is the Lord God of Israel that has restored Israel. 

 

Note the idea the point concerning the surrounding nations that are left.  After the Great Tribulation, many of the surrounding nations will be in great peril and destruction.  Those who are still alive will know who rebuilt Israel.  It is hard for us to imagine, but some day, the whole world will bow their knees to God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Finally humanity will acknowledge the existence of the God they chose not to accept.

 

Verse 37 states that God "will hear the plea of Israel ".  This is the plea that Israel makes during the suffering of the Great Tribulation . The one hundred and forty four thousand Israelis of the book of Revelation will lead a national revival.  The word pleas here suggests Israeli repentance.  Only after this repentance, aided by God Himself as Zechariah and others say, will God come and cleanse Israel, give them His Spirit, and restore them to full nationhood.

 

Note in verse 38 the point God makes concerning the number of Israelis increasing.  Although the analogy is different, this is once again, another reference to the Abrahamic Covenant where God promises Israel to have a great number of people.  Some Bible teachers, those who believe in Replacement Theology, believe that part of the Abrahamic Covenant has already been fulfilled in Old Testament times, but that's not so, and this verse proves it.  This verse speaks of a time yet in the future.  So we know that the Abrahamic Covenant is yet to be fulfilled, meaning, Israel still has a prophetic and historic future.  God is not finished with Israel. 

 

 

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