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Chapter 37

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ch. 37:1-14    ch. 37:15-27

The Valley Of Dry Bones (ch. 37:1 - 14) 


There are two ways of viewing this chapter.  Some people say that it is the nation of Israel that will be restored or resurrected while others say it is about individual Jews coming back to life.  I would suggest that the main emphasis concerning the bones coming to life in this chapter concerns the nation of Israel.


Beyond this, many people over the years believe these bones that come together is the end time church.  Those who believe in Replacement Theology would believe this.  While being an active member of the Full Gospel Christian Business Men in the 1970's I often heard this passage interpreted to be in reference to what they called the last end time revival - the restoration of the church,  not to Jews or the nation of Israel.  This would have been so because many people in the Charismatic Movement of the 1960's and 1970's were from church denominations that believed in Replacement Theology.    


Note the mention of the Spirit of the LORD, or the Holy Spirit, in verse 1.  When anyone is used by the Lord in the gift of prophecy, whether in Old Testament times or New Testament times, the Spirit of God would come on the person.  You will know when the Holy Spirit comes on you.  He will envelop you and He will use you to speak the Word of the Lord.  I do believe that the gift of prophecy, whether predictive or non-predictive, is a gift for New Testament times.  I think 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 makes this clear.  That being said, whatever the prophetic word is, it must be in line with what the Bible says.  If not, it is not the Word of the Lord.


Concerning the gift of prophecy, the basic thing we should no is that it is simply speaking what God has called or asked you to speak.  It can be predictive or encouraging.  It can be a word of warning and admonishment.  Prophecy comes in all forms.  It is more than predicting future events.    


Verse 1 also states that the Spirit brought Ezekiel into a valley.  Whether the Spirit literally brought Ezekiel into a real valley is debatable.  The text does not say this was a vision, but it could well be one.  I tend to think that Ezekiel, by means of a spiritual revelation, was brought into this valley.  That being the case, it was just as real as a real valley.  I think this point is driven home in verse 2 when Ezekiel, in spirit, literally walked through this valley of very dry bones.       


In verse 3 the Lord asked Ezekiel if the bones he saw  throughout the valley could live.  The text states that these bones were very dry, as in very dead.  I would suggest that the first thing that would come into anyone's mind upon hearing this question is, "how can dead and dry old bones live?  That is probably what Ezekiel thought and for that reason he responded to the Lord by saying, "O Sovereign Lord, you alone know."  Clearly Ezekiel did not know how to answer this question.


I am not sure how Ezekiel felt at this point, but God asked him to prophesy to the dry bones.  God wanted Ezekiel to talk to a bunch of dead dry bones, as weird as that may sound to you and I.  God always has reasons for what He does, and His ways of doing things aren't always the way we would do things.  Ezekiel might have felt a bit strange, but remember, this is a vision.  It is not like chapter 36 where God asked him to speak to mountains, which I believe in that case was literal mountains.     


The words that Ezekiel is to speak to the bones is found in verses 4 through 6.  We see the words "I will" over and over again in the Bible when it comes to Israel at the end of this age, and again, we see these words here.  God will, all by Himself, cause life to come to these bones.  He will join them together, put skin on them  and make these bones into a living body.  This is the Word of the Lord.  The point here is that God alone will do this.  Just how God will do this is debatable.  Some suggest that He will use people to proclaim the Word of the Lord to the nation of Israel , as Ezekiel was doing here in this chapter.  The one hundred and forty four thousand Jews and the two witnesses of Revelation may be employed by God to preach the Word of the Lord during the tribulation period that ends this age.  This may in part be the case.  On the other hand, the horrific events we see in the book of Revelation will clearly bring Israel to its knees in repentance. 


In verse 7 and 8 we see that as Ezekiel spoke the Word of the Lord, the bones came together.  Note that the text states that the bones came together but as yet there was no life in them.  We know that this prophecy predicts the future of Israel.  The fact of the matter is that Israel will first come together, as dry bones, as national Israel.  Israel will become a nation, as they are now, but they will still be dead spiritually.  They will not have the life of God in them.  This is the case with Israel today.  The bones are coming together, but as yet, the breath of life, that is, spiritual life is still to come.  Again, I repeat what the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:46.  He says, "first comes the natural and then the spiritual."  Israel must become a physical nation before she can be restored to her God.  The next step is spiritual restoration.  


The second round of prophecy comes in verses 9 and 10.  God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath, (ruwach in Hebrew - meaning breath, wind, or spirit) so breath can come into the body that has come together.  Once the breath of life comes into the body, the body of bones comes alive.  I believe the breath is the Holy Spirit.  Ezekiel was to prophesy to the Holy Spirit, encouraging Him to enter the dry bones of Israel.  I believe God Himself will do that in His time, although He may use people to do the prophesying.  This is something we all should be praying for.  In both Hebrew and Greek the words for breath are also the word for spirit or wind.  


This makes me wonder.  Right now as I type these words in 2018, the bones are coming together, but there is no Spirit life in national Israel.  Israel is a nation, but they are dead spiritually.  If you read the book of Revelation, the two witnesses and the one hundred and forty four thousand Israelis preach the gospel to the Jews, and at that time they begin to come alive.  This prophecy might well be speaking of that day yet to come.


Note the word "slain" in verse 10.  This might be in reference to all of the Jews who have been slain over the years or it might well be in reference to the Jews who are killed during the Great Tribulation.  Zechariah 13:8 tells us that two thirds of the Jews will be killed during the last few years of this age.


Verse 11 makes it clear what this prophecy is all about.  This prophecy is about the "whole house of Israel ."  That is Israel as a nation.  Newer translations of the NIV and some other translations translate the Hebrew word "bayith" as people and not house.  House, in my opinion is the better of the two words.  The words "house" suggests Israel as a nation, not Jews as a people.  


The time in which this prophecy is speaking to is a time when there will be no north and south.  There will be just one Israel.  All twelve tribes will be one nation as we see in the book of Revelation with the one hundred and forty four thousand preachers, twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes.


We also see Israel's response in verse 11.  Israel comes to its senses.  Israel says that it is a bunch of dry bones.  All hope is gone.  It is cut off from the Lord.  To me, this suggests true repentance on the part of Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation.  We know from other prophecies that there will come a time when Israel repents of their sinfulness.  This, as I have said, will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation.  This is one of the main reasons for the Great Tribulation, that is, to bring Israel to its knees in repentance.


Once Israel repents, you see the Lord's response in verses 12 to 14.  God will bring Israel back to the land and then He will put life back into them once in their land.  I see a two fold fulfillment of prophecy here.  First the Jews go back to the land, and then spiritual life is brought back to them.  They are now coming back to the land.  We await the day when spiritual life will return to Israel. 


We also should note here and understand
that the land cannot be separated from the new life Israel will receive.  The land that was promised to Abraham is always important throughout the Bible.  You cannot separate land issues from Israel 's spiritual restoration.  Israel will get its land, and it will be restored spiritually.  First comes the land, then comes the Spirit, or as the Apostle Paul put it, first comes the natural, then the spiritual.  See 1 Corinthians 15:46.




One Nation Under One King (ch. 37:15 - 27)



In verses 15 through 17 God told Ezekiel to take tw
o sticks that he was to write on.  One stick was for Judah and the Israelis associated with him.  That would be the southern kingdom of Israel known as Judah .  The othr stick was for Ephraim "belonging to Joseph."  The reason for the way this is worded is because Ephraim was Joseph's son.  Ephraim was also known as Israel, that northern kingdom.


In verse 17 God asked Ezekiel to join the two sticks together in his hand.  This action is prophetic of the day when the northern and the southern kingdoms of Israel would be reunited back together in one as they were meant to be, as they are in the process of doing right now as I type these words.    


At this point in time, when Ezekiel was prophesying these things the northern kingdom was not really in existence.  It had been taken over by Assyria.   A good number of Jews from the north at that time relocated to the southern kingdom. The rest were assimilated with the Assyrians.  The southern kingdom at the time of this writing were in the process of being exiled to Babylon. Verses 18 to 21 confirms this.   


Verse 21 is important for us who are living today.  God said that He would gather the Jews from "the nations" in which they had been scattered to and bring them back into their own land.  The word "nations" is plural, and for that reason is very important in the understanding of this verse. 


In Ezekiel's day, Israelis weren't really scattered across the nations of the world.  They were just held captive for the most part, in one nation, and that was Babylon.  I say this because some people think this prophecy was fulfilled when the Jews were allowed back into their homeland after their 70 year captivity in Babylon.  That can't be so.  It was only in 70 A. D. when Jews began to be scattered throughout the nations of the world, and it was only in the 19th and 20th century when God began to bring them back, and only in 1948 did Israel have a homeland to return to.     


There is more to this prophecy in the following verses that confirms that God was not speaking of Israel 's flight back from Babylon to Israel.  In verse 22 He said Israel would become one nation, not two. Verse 23 is the key verse here.  It states that God will save Israel from their sin, clean them up, and at that time He will be their God and they will be His people.  Many prophets speak of the day to come at the end of this age, as does the prophet Zechariah in the last few chapters of his book.  God alone will pour out a Spirit of repentance upon Israel when it has finally fallen to their knees and surrender to their God.  At that time this prophecy in Ezekiel will be fulfilled.  This prophetic word definitely was not fulfilled when the Jews returned  from Babylon to Israel , and it sure wasn't fulfilled in the Charismatic Movement of the 1960's and 1970's.        


Verse 22 speaks of Israel having one King in a united nation.  All conservative Bible teachers understand this one King to be Jesus. 


Verse 24 says that God's servant David will be king of the Jews.  All Bible scholars say this servant is Jesus.  King David from the Old Testament will not come back to life and be king.  One of  the major trains of Messianic thought in the Bible is that Jesus is a king like king David.  He is in the lineage of David, and He will inherit the throne of David, a throne in the literal city of Jerusalem where David's throne once existed. 


You see the word "forever" in verse 25.  Forever means forever.  This prophecy could not have been fulfilled when Israel returned to their land from Babylon .  The prophecy clearly states that Israel will be in the land forever, and that Jesus their king will be their king forever.  Forever means beyond the thousand year rule of Christ.  Forever means eternity on the new earth as seen in the last few chapters of Revelation.  And just to let you know, if you read those chapters of Revelation, you will note that there will still be nations of the world on the new earth. 


The last three verses speak of a new covenant that God will make with Israel.  This covenant is not the new covenant of salvation that Jesus provided all people on the cross.  This is a covenant that has yet to be made and put into place.  Jesus will make this covenant with Israel when He returns to be their king.  It is the covenant the Jeremiah speaks of in Jeremiah, chapters 30 through 32 that Christians often misapply to make the covenant refer to them.  This covenant is a pure Israeli covenant. 


Jews will possess the land.  Jesus will be their king.  God's sanctuary, or dwelling place, will be among them, because Jesus will be among them in the thousand years of His rule.  This prophecy is ultimately fulfilled in the New Jerusalem that comes down from heaven at the end of the thousand years as recorded in the last few chapters of the book of Revelation.    


This chapter speaks of all the tribes
of Israel coming together to become one nation.
Many people over the decades say that the world has
lost ten of the tribes of Israel.  They have called them
"the ten lost tribes of Israel."  Allow me to suggest
that there are no ten lost tribes.  Some of the people
 in the Northern Kingdom of Israel where these ten tribes lived moved south into the Southern Kingdom of Israel because of the Northern Kingdoms apostasy.  That means that there has always been a remnant of those so-called lost ten tribes.  In other words, those ten tribes were never lost.


How a remnant from each of the tribes of Israel will be restored will have to be a miracle because over the centuries mixed marriage would have weakened the purity of each tribe.  I am sure the Lord can figure that one out.



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