HOW ISRAEL BECAME A NATION “IN A DAY”

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THE LAND COVENANT

The Promise Made To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

The Lord promised Abraham that their agreement, or covenant, would be UNCONDITIONALLY and EVERLASTING. He said.

“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV).

The agreement which the Lord made with Abraham is clearly irrevocable—it can never be broken. The believers of Amillennialism and Preterism are thus making God out to be a liar. They insist that God is done with Israel and that the promises made to Abraham have been carried over to the church, in a spiritual manner.

The Promise Made To Isaac

As the Lord had promised, Abraham and his wife Sarah conceived a son, Isaac. The Lord made it clear that the promises to Abraham would be fulfilled in this particular son of his.

Later, God repeated the promise to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-4).

The Promise Made To Jacob

Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. God later promised Isaac’s son Jacob that he would be the heir to the promises. (Genesis 35:11-12).

GOD WARNED HE WOULD SCATTER THE JEWISH PEOPLE

The continuous disobedience of the Jewish people is clear from throughout the Bible. The Lord has warned the people of the consequences of disobedience. He said the following.

“However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you . . . This is what will happen: Just as the Lord delighted to do good for you and make you numerous, he will take delight in destroying and decimating you. You will be uprooted from the land you are about to possess. The Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of wood and stone. Among those nations you will have no rest nor will there be a place of peaceful rest for the soles of your feet, for there the Lord will give you an anxious heart, failing eyesight, and a spirit of despair” (Deuteronomy 28:15, 63-65 NIV).

While the ownership of the land was theirs forever, their occupancy was linked with their obedience.

In 721 B.C., the Assyrians took the Northern kingdom of Israel, which comprised the ten northern tribes, into captivity. King Nebuchadnezzar, in three different deportations, took the remaining two tribes, the southern kingdom of Judah, captive to Babylon. Finally, in 588-586 B.C., after a long siege, he burned the city and the temple.

The children of Israel also were scattered in A.D. 70 when Titus, the Roman general, surrounded the city of Jerusalem and burnt the rebuilt city and the temple.

For almost 1900 years, the Jews wandered the earth as strangers—being persecuted from every side. The culmination of their persecution occurred in the Holocaust of World War II, when six million Jews were put to death in concentration camps. The predictions were literally fulfilled.

GOD PROMISED TO BRING BACK THE SCATTERED JEWISH PEOPLE.

Irrespective of the above, through Jeremiah the prophet, we read the promise of the Lord of their continuing existence.

“The Lord has made a promise to Israel. He promises it as the one who fixed the sun to give light by day and the moon and stars to give light by night. He promises it as the one who stirs up the sea so that its waves roll. He promises it as the one who is known as the Lord who rules overall. The Lord affirms, “The descendants of Israel will not cease forever to be a nation in my sight. That could only happen if the fixed ordering of the heavenly lights were to cease to operate before me.” The Lord says, “I will not reject all the descendants of Israel because of all that they have done. That could only happen if the heavens above could be measured or the foundations of the earth below could all be explored,” says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:35-37 NET).

The Jews have been the most persecuted people of all nations, throughout human history. In fact, the Holocaust of the Second World War, eventually took six million Jewish lives, and yet the nation survived.

God also promised to bring back the scattered Jewish people. We read the following prophecy through Jeremiah.

“The Lord spoke to Jeremiah. “The Lord God of Israel says, ‘Write everything that I am about to tell you in a scroll. For I, the Lord, affirm that the time will come when I will reverse the plight of my people, ISRAEL AND JUDAH,’ says the Lord. ‘I will bring them back to the land I gave their ancestors and they will take possession of it once again’” (Jeremiah 30:1-3 NET).

It is of utmost importance to note that the gathering concerns the scattered from both Israel and Judah.

The northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians in 721 B.C, and never returned during biblical times.

The southern kingdom of Judah experienced a seventy-year captivity in Babylon. In 537-536 B.C., or after the seventy years, those who had been taken captive to Babylon were allowed to return to their land from their first exile (Ezra chapter 1). They were however removed from their homeland a second time in A.D. 70.

In another remarkable prediction, we read the following words that the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah.

“In that day the Lord will reach out his hand A SECOND TIME to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11,12 NIV).

Against all odds, the modern state of Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948, and the Jews began to return to their homeland from all points of the compass. This is the second time in their history they have come back into their land after being forcibly removed.

According to the Lord, this return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland will be for His sake, not theirs. It is almost astonishing how Amillennialism and Preterism dishonour God by applying Replacement theology. Ezekiel records Him saying:

“Therefore this is what the sovereign Lord says: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob, and I will have mercy on the entire house of Israel. I will be zealous for my holy name. They will bear their shame for all their unfaithful acts against me, when they live securely on their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will magnify myself among them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations, and then gathered them into their own land. I will not leave any of them in exile any longer. I will no longer hide my face from them, when I pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 39:25-29 NET).

HOW ISRAEL BECAME A NATION “IN A DAY”

“Who has ever heard of such things?  Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” (Isaiah 66:8)

Theodore Herzl And Modern Zionism

It was over eighteen centuries after the destruction of Jerusalem, its Temple, and the scattering of the Jewish people, that the modern push for a state began in earnest.

In January of 1895, a Jewish Austrian journalist named Theodor Herzl, covered the trial in Paris of a French Jew named Dreyfus. Dreyfus was unfairly convicted of a crime that he did not commit. Seeing first-hand the hatred directed against Jews, Herzl was determined to begin a process to found a Jewish state.

Later in 1895, Herzl published a book entitled Der Judenstaat—The Jewish State. He argued that the only way in which the “Jewish problem” can be resolved was by establishing a Jewish state in the Holy Land. Herzl’s writings started the Jews on the road back to their Promised homeland.

At the conclusion of the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland on September 3, 1897, Theodore Herzl made the following entry into his diary.

“In Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this aloud, it would be greeted with worldwide derision. In five years, perhaps, and certainly in fifty, everyone will see it.”

Herzl’s entry in his diary would turn out to be prophetic. The modern state of Israel would be founded about fifty years after he made this statement!

Turkish Rule Ends In The Holy Land

In the early 20th century, the Ottoman Turks four-hundred-year reign over the Holy Land, was about to end. During World War I, the Arabs helped the British fight the Turks. D.E. Lawrence, “Lawrence of Arabia,” was instrumental in achieving the victory over the Ottoman Empire.

In October 1917, a British General, Edmund Allenby, launched an invasion in the Holy Land. On Sunday, December 9th, the Turks were driven out of Jerusalem. Two days later, the General made his entry into conquered Jerusalem, on foot. He said no one could enter the Holy City except in humility, on foot. He said upon entering:

“Since your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and the pilgrimages of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore I do make known to you . . . that all sacred buildings will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those whose faiths are sacred” (Source Records of the Great War, Vol. 5, ed. Charles Francis Horne, National Alumni, 1923).

At the conclusion of the First World War, Britain, France, and Russia forged the Sykes-Picot Agreement. This pact carved up the Ottoman Empire which had seen its defeat in the War.

Britain gained control of the Holy Land. For the first time in eight hundred years, the Holy sites of Christianity were delivered from the domination of Islam.

The Request Of Chaim Weitzman

Another step toward the realization of a Jewish homeland came after the First World War. Chaim Weitzman, a Jewish chemist, helped the War effort by developing a technique where synthetic acetone could be manufactured.

Acetone was a prime ingredient in the production of explosives. His discovery was given credit by the British government as a main factor in Britain winning the War. The government attempted to personally reward him for his efforts on behalf of the nation. Weitzman asked nothing for himself, but he did make a request for his people—a Jewish homeland in the Promised Land.

The Balfour Declaration

In 1917, a monumental event took place. Lord Balfour, the head of the foreign ministry of the British government, wrote a letter to Baron Rothchild—a representative of the Jewish people. In it, he declared the willingness to see a Jewish state established. The letter read as follows.

Foreign Office

November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours Sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

One writer explained what happened like this.

“The proclamation was of international importance, as it was solemnly sanctioned by the League of Nations. By this act that body, which is more and more inclined to look upon itself as being invested with the right to control the destiny of the peoples of the world, was obeying the will of Him who really holds the fate of mankind in His hands.

How would it be possible to doubt this miracle? God was exercising His sovereign right as King of all nations.

For a long time the diplomats of the various countries, moved to pity by the cruel treatment inflicted upon the Jews during the regularly recurring pogroms and collective murders in Central Europe, had been looking all of the world for some country that would offer this unhappy race a promise of security. One after another Argentina, Brazil, Canada, certain uninhabited regions of Asia, and Uganda have been proposed. But these projects could but come to nought, for they ran counter to a divine promise given to Abraham: “I will give this land to thee and thy seed forever.”

On the other hand Palestine had long been coveted by several of the great powers, and these had done their very best to get control of it.

Their efforts also came to nought. They were broken against a decree which no human power could shake. What God’s lips had proclaimed His hand was accomplishing: “I give thee this land forever” (Paul Perret, Prophecies I Have Seen Fulfilled, London, Marshall, Morgan & Scott LTD., 1939, pp. 27, 28).

We should also observe, that he made this statement in 1939—before the modern state of Israel was reborn.

The United Nations Resolution

The next major event in the establishment of the modern state of Israel was United Nations Resolution 181. This was passed by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947. It called for the partition of Palestine into two states—one Arab and one Jewish. The city of Jerusalem was to be a separate entity governed by a special international regime.

On the one hand, this resolution was considered by the Jewish community in the Holy Land to be a legal basis for the establishment of the modern State of Israel. As can be imagined, this resolution was rejected by the Arab community.

The End Of The British Mandate

In July 1922, the League of Nations had entrusted Britain with the “Mandate For Palestine.” The Mandate recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” In accordance with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Britain was called upon to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel.

Interestingly, in September of 1922, the League of Nations and Great Britain decided that the provisions for setting up a Jewish national home would not apply to the area east of the Jordan River. This particular area constituted three-fourths of the territory which was included in the original Mandate. The territory eventually became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

After the United Resolution 181 was passed in 1947, Britain planned to withdraw from the Holy Land so that a Jewish state could be established. The complete withdrawal would take place on May 14,1948.

The Declaration Of The State Of Israel

On May 14,1948, Israel, as a modern state, came into existence. We have highlighted some of the important points of the text of this declaration that was made by David Ben-Gurion, as well as other Israeli leaders, on that special day:

“The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom. Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. . .

This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.

This right is the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.

ACCORDINGLY, WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE’S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called “Israel”…

PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE ALMIGHTY, WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE, ON THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE 5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH MAY, 1948).”

This declaration was signed by Ben-Gurion and other Jewish leaders. With it, the modern state of Israel miraculously came into existence!

U.S Recognition Under President Harry Truman

On May 14, 1948, President Harry Truman recognized the newly formed state of Israel with the following telegram:

“This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional Government thereof.

The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.”

We read the following account as to why Truman did this from Clark Clifford—Truman’s Secretary of State:

“From our many talks over the past year, I knew that five factors dominated Truman’s thinking. From his youth, he had detested intolerance and discrimination. He had been deeply moved by the plight of the millions of homeless of World War II, and felt that alone among the homeless, the Jews had no homeland of their own to which they could return. He was, of course, horrified by the Holocaust and he denounced it vehemently, as, in the aftermath of the war, its full dimensions became clear. Also, he believed that the Balfour Declaration, issued by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in 1917, committed Great Britain and, by implication, the United States, which now shared a certain global responsibility with the British, to the creation of the Jewish state in Palestine. And finally, he was a student and believer in the Bible since his youth. From his reading of the Old Testament he felt the Jews derived a legitimate historical right to Palestine, and he sometimes cited such biblical lines as Deuteronomy 1:8: “Behold, I have given up the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the Lord hath sworn unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Clark Clifford, Counsel to the President: A Memoir, 1991).

Truman, against the wishes of almost all of his advisors, recognized the new state of Israel. Interestingly, among other reasons, we discover that Truman, as a believer in the Bible, accepted the fact that God gave the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The War Of Independence

The declaration of the new State of Israel in Tel Aviv, as well as the recognition by the United States, did not sit well with the Arabs. Fighting immediately broke out. An armistice was declared in 1949.

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UN Recognition

Israel became a member of the United Nations on May 11, 1949. The preamble to this resolution admitting Israel to United Nations membership made specific reference to Israel’s undertakings to implement General Assembly resolutions 181 and 194 (the right of return).

With this United Nations resolution, the modern state of Israel was officially accepted as one of the nations of the world. However, many problems remained unsolved. This included the borders of the country. In fact, the problem of Israel’s borders remains to this day.

(Main Source: 25 Signs We Are Near The End – Don Stewart)

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THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY – PART 2

BASIC PROPHECY

  1. IMPORTANCE OF ISRAEL IN PROPHECY

COVENANTS

One of the critical building blocks in understanding end time prophecies, is an understanding of the four unconditional and eternal covenants God made with Abraham and his descendants. These covenants established a permanent relationship between God and His chosen people, Israel and will ultimately all be fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. In that day, Israel will be in right relationship with God forever, just as these covenants promised.

THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT (GENESIS 12:1-3; 15:18-21)

God’s promise to Abraham is first made in Genesis 12:1-3. The promise is formalized into a covenant in Genesis 15:1-21 and then amplified in Genesis 17:1-18.

God promised Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, NASB). Certainly, this prophecy has been partially fulfilled in the blessing that has come to the entire world through Abraham’s greatest descendant, Jesus Christ.

God also made two national promises to Abraham: (1) the promise of descendants who would become a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:7; 22:17-18) and (2) the promise of the land of Israel as an eternal inheritance (Genesis 12:1; 13:14-17; 15:18-21). The land God promised includes the modern-day nation of Israel and parts of modern-day Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq (Genesis 15:18-21).

The covenant should be understood as an unconditional covenant as the original promises were given to Abraham without any conditions whatsoever. Furthermore, when God reiterated the covenant to Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob, there were no human conditions (Genesis 26:2-4, 24; 28:13-15). The New Testament also expressly affirms the unchangeable nature of the covenant (Romans 11:1-2, 11, 28-29; Hebrews 6:13-18).

This unconditional promise of the land has never been completely fulfilled in history, but it will be fulfilled in the Millennium when Christ gives the Jewish people the land He promised (Isaiah 60:21; Ezekiel 34:11-16).

The three promises are descendants, land, and blessing:

THE LAND COVENANT (DEUTERONOMY 30:1-10)

There are seven main features in the program there unfolded:

(1) The nation will be plucked off the land for its unfaithfulness (Deuteronomy 28:63-68; 30:1-3);

(2) there will be a future repentance of Israel (Deuteronomy 28:63-68; 30:1-3);

(3) their Messiah will return (Deuteronomy 30:3-6);

(4) Israel will be restored to the land (Deuteronomy 30:5);

(5) Israel will be converted as a nation (Deuteronomy 30:4-8; cf. Rom. 11:26-27);

(6) Israel’s enemies will be judged (Deuteronomy 30:7);

(7) the nation will then receive her full blessing (Deuteronomy 30:9).

THE DAVIDIC COVENANT (2 SAMUEL 7:12-16)

This covenant, since it builds on the Abrahamic Covenant, is also unconditional and is specifically stated to be eternal (2 Samuel 7:13; Psalm 89:3-4, 28-29). In this covenant, God promised David that someone from his house or dynasty would sit on his throne and rule over his kingdom forever. All believers agree that Jesus fulfilled this promise, being David’s greater son (Luke 1:32-33).

The agreement was for David’s Son to sit on David’s earthly throne and rule over David’s kingdom on earth forever. This must be literally fulfilled for the covenant to be valid and for God to keep His solemn promise to David. This promise will be fulfilled only when Jesus Christ, from the line of David, sits on David’s throne in Jerusalem, ruling over Israel in the coming Millennium and on into eternity (Ezekiel 37:22-25; Amos 9:11-15; Zephaniah 3:14-17; Luke 1:30-33, 69).

THE NEW COVENANT (JEREMIAH 31:31-34)

The New Covenant is God’s promise to bring the Jewish people into the right relationship with Himself. This covenant is stated to be eternal (Isaiah 61:8-9; Ezekiel 16:62; 37:24-28). God’s promise to Israel in this covenant contains three central elements.

  1. The forgiveness of sins—God will forgive the people of Israel for their sins.
  2. The indwelling Spirit—God will place His Spirit in the hearts of the people to personally instruct them in His way (Ezekiel 36:24-26).
  3. A new heart—God will give His people a new, clean heart with His law inscribed upon it.

The specific promises in Jeremiah 31:31-34 are to the “house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31, NASB) and will find their ultimate fulfillment for Israel in the millennial kingdom when they are restored to the land with Christ as their king. (Notice the context of this covenant in Jeremiah 31:35-40 is the future Kingdom.) Even though the church participates in the blessing of the New Covenant, this does not set aside God’s clear promises to Israel.

As you can see, these covenants, in many ways, determine the course of future events. God’s promises to Israel are unconditional and eternal, yet they have not been completely fulfilled.

ISRAEL’S ROLE IN PROPHECY

Almost all the key events of the end times hinge on the existence of the nation of Israel. Israel is the battleground for all the great end times conflicts. The people of Israel must be preserved and regathered to their ancient homeland to set the stage for end times biblical prophecy to be fulfilled.

The end times Tribulation officially begins when the Antichrist makes a seven-year treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27). Obviously, for this to happen Israel must exist. The Jews must be back in their land. Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 12 describe armed invasions of the nation of Israel. In the famous “valley of dry bones” vision of Ezekiel 37:1-14, Ezekiel’s graveyard vision symbolizes the national return, restoration, and regeneration of “the whole house of Israel.” Of course, this spiritual regeneration won’t occur until the Messiah returns.

The United Nations approved a national homeland for the Jews, and British control of the land ended on May 14, 1948.

CHRIST IS COMING TO REGATHER AND RESTORE FAITHFUL ISRAEL

The most frequently mentioned promise in the Old Testament is God’s promise that He will one day regather and restore the nation of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6; Jeremiah 30:10; 33:6-9; Ezekiel 36:24-38; 37:1-28). The promise will be fulfilled in two distinct ways—a physical regathering and a spiritual regathering. The physical regathering of Israel began in 1948 when the modern state of Israel was born, and it continues today. This regathering will continue until the midpoint of the Tribulation. It is a physical regathering of the Jewish people to their land in unbelief in preparation for the Tribulation. Especially when the Great Tribulation (second half) begins, Israel will be persecuted like never before.

This will be their spiritual regathering to the Lord in belief in preparation for the Millennium. In Matthew 24:30-31, Jesus says, “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (NASB). The believing Jewish remnant will be regathered, and the Lord will fulfill His covenant promises to them.

 

THE “GOOD NEWS” FOR ISRAEL – EZEKIEL THE PROPHET

As watchmen, we are lately so entangled in Ezekiel 38 and 39 (the Gog and Magog war), that we almost forget about the good news relating to the physical and spiritual restoration that was prophesied for Israel.

When studying Ezekiel chapters 34 to 37, there should be no doubt that these prophecies must and will have a literal fulfillment. To allegorize these chapters to support Replacement / Fulfillment theology is not only dishonoring holy Scripture but also making God a liar.

RESTORATION OF THE NATION OF ISRAEL (EZEKIEL 34:10-36:15)

PHYSICAL RESTORATION

God promised to rescue the Jews in Israel’s future restoration (v. 10). He declared that He Himself would search for His sheep and rescue them from where they had been scattered (vv. 11–12). God promised, “I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land” (v. 13). This prediction of the future regathering of Israel from all over the world is still in progress and will be fulfilled when the coming millennial kingdom begins.

God will especially care for those who are weak or injured and who had been trampled by the stronger sheep and will bring them to rich pastures. He will shepherd them and will serve as a judge “between the fat sheep and the lean sheep” (vv. 14-20).

Central to God’s plan of restoration for Israel will be the resurrection of David as a true shepherd who will serve as a prince under Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (vv. 23–24). This places the fulfillment at the second coming when Old Testament saints will be resurrected (Dan. 12:1–3).

God also promised that this would be a time of peace when the wild beasts will not afflict them, when they will receive showers to water the land, and trees will bear their fruit (Ezek. 34:25–27).

God also promised to keep them in safety, no longer allowing the nations to plunder them, and would deliver them from famine (vv. 28–29). As a result of God’s work in restoration of Israel, “Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God,’ declares the Sovereign LORD” (vv. 30–31). This will be fulfilled in the millennium (Jer. 23:5–8).

Ezekiel 36:8–36 continues to describe the blessings. She will be restored like a tree producing branches and fruit (v. 8). God will increase the number of the house of Israel, and her cities will once again be inhabited and her ruins rebuilt (v. 10). Even animals will be more plentiful and the land will become fruitful (v. 11). God not only promised that the children of Israel would walk on her ancient land and possess it but also that nothing would deprive them of their children (v. 12), referring to the fact that Israel would be permanently established in her land when her final restoration takes place (Amos 9:15). God declared that never again will the children of Israel be destroyed and suffer taunts from the nations (Ezek. 36:13–15).

THE SCATTERING OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

God reminded the children of Israel, however, of their wickedness and how they were judged and dispersed among the nations because they had sinned against Him (vv. 16–18). God declared that the Israelites would be “scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions” (v. 19).

THE SPIRITUAL CLEANSING OF ISRAEL

God would not restore Israel because she deserved it, but because of His desire to show her His righteousness and His holiness (vv. 22–23). In her restoration God would cleanse her and give her His Holy Spirit: “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (vv. 24–27). The Holy Spirit will indwell them in that day, in contrast to the Mosaic dispensation when only a few were indwelt.

In that day when the Israelites again live in their Promised Land, they will belong to God, and God will be their God (v. 28). God will make their grain plentiful and they will no longer have famine (vv. 29–30). When God will prosper them in their day of the restoration, they will think back to their wickedness and know that God has shown them His grace.

The land is described as resettled, rebuilt, no longer desolate but like the garden of Eden (vv. 33–35). This will be a testimony to the nations that God has restored Israel (v. 36). Most important, Israel will know that the Lord is her God and that He has restored her.

This entire chapter requires a future millennial kingdom after the second coming of Christ for its complete and literal fulfillment (Jer. 23:5–8). Just as the prophecies of judgment were literally fulfilled in connection with Israel and the nations, so her future restoration will be literally fulfilled and she will experience the marvelous grace of God.

DIVISION OF THE DRY BONES: THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL (EZEKIEL 37:1-14)

In Ezekiel 37:1–10, the prophet was given a vision of a valley filled with dry bones. The Lord asked him the question, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (v. 3). Ezekiel was cautious in replying, indicating that only the Lord would know (v. 3).

Ezekiel then was instructed to prophesy that these dry bones would come to life, that the bones would come together, that flesh would cover them, and finally that they would have the breath of life much like Adam (Gen. 2:7).

Then God spoke to Ezekiel, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live’” (Ezek. 37:9). When Ezekiel obeyed the Lord and prophesied, “breath entered [the bones]; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army” (v. 10).

In Ezekiel 37:11–14, the Lord now interpreted the vision for him. He was informed that the bones represented Israel. Her hopeless, dried condition illustrated her hopelessness of ever being restored. In response to this, God promised to bring her back from death and to the land of Israel. God would put His Holy Spirit in her, and she would be settled in her own land.

The Lord said, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it,’ declares the LORD” (vv. 11–14).

In biblical interpretation today, many affirm that Israel will never be restored. They share the hopelessness that gripped the Israelites as they were scattered from their land to Assyria and Babylon. Contradicting this hopeless situation, God promised to restore Israel and in the strongest possible terms indicated that He would bring new life to her, and she would be restored as a nation, that she would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and she would settle in her own land in safety.

The prediction that she would be brought up from the grave is partly symbolic in that the nation seemed to be dead and will be restored to physical life. But it is also to be considered literally, because according to Daniel 12:1–3, at the close of the great tribulation when Christ returns in His second coming, there will be a resurrection of Old Testament saints. Both figuratively and literally Israel will be restored and given new life.

Those who have died and who were saved will be resurrected to share in the millennial kingdom as resurrected saints. The promise that His Holy Spirit would be in Israel goes beyond her experience under the Law, when the Holy Spirit was with her but not necessarily in her (John 14:17).

SIGN OF THE TWO STICKS – A SINGLE NATION AGAIN (EZEKIEL 37:15-28)

Ezekiel 37:15–17. Ezekiel was commanded, “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand” (vv. 16–17).

The situation being addressed was that of the divided kingdom. After Solomon, the ten tribes following Jeroboam became the kingdom of Israel; the two remaining tribes in Jerusalem, Judah and Benjamin, became the kingdom of Judah. The ten tribes were carried off to Assyria in 722 BC, and the two remaining tribes were carried off by Babylon between 605 and 586 BC. The situation where these two kingdoms were divided will end, and as this and other prophecies predict, the two kingdoms will become one nation (cf. Jer. 3:18; 23:5–6; 30:3; Hosea 1:11; Amos 9:11). No fulfillment has ever been recorded in history, and the future regathering of Israel will occur in the millennium.

Ezekiel 37:18–23. Ezekiel was instructed to answer the questions of those who asked the meaning of the two sticks, and he was to tell them, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join them to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand” (v. 19).

God then further interpreted this, saying, “I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms” (vv. 21–22). God promised He would keep Israel from defiling herself as she has done in the past, and He declared, “I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God” (v. 23). This will be fulfilled in the millennial kingdom.

Ezekiel 37:24–25. As predicted in 34:23–24, so here again the prophecy was given, “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I give my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever” (37:24–25).

Though some have attempted to take this prophecy in less than its literal meaning, the clear statement is that David, who is now dead and whose body is in his tomb in Jerusalem (Acts 2:29), will be resurrected. This will occur at the second coming (Dan. 12:1–3), indicating plainly that the restoration of Israel will be subsequent to, not before, the second coming. This requires Christ’s coming before the millennium or in fulfillment of the premillennial promises. The promise that David would be her prince forever must be interpreted as being fulfilled in the thousand-year reign. Actually, the word forever is a translation of an expression “to the ages,” which may be interpreted as forever or until eternity begins.

Ezekiel 37:26–28. As Jeremiah stated, God predicted here a covenant of peace with Israel that will be “an everlasting covenant” (v. 26). Though announced in the Old Testament, it will replace the Mosaic covenant and will have its primary fulfillment for Israel at the time of the second coming when Israel is restored nationally and spiritually.

Scholars have puzzled over the precise meaning of the new covenant, earlier announced by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31–34). Probably the simplest explanation is that in dying on the cross, God made possible a covenant of grace for those who would trust the Lord. This covenant of grace is the basis for the salvation of every individual, from the time of Adam to the last person who is saved. It is preeminently illustrated in the present age when God saves the church by grace and the Lord’s Supper commemorates the new covenant. The new covenant as applied here to Israel primarily has a prophetic meaning, which is indicated here as being fulfilled in the peace, righteousness, and restoration that will characterize the millennial kingdom.

At the time of the fulfillment of this covenant, the number of Israelites in the land will increase greatly, especially during the millennial kingdom. A preliminary prophecy that God will provide a sanctuary (Ezek. 37:28) referred to a millennial temple that is described later in Ezekiel (40–48).

God promised to be with Israel and dwell among her in the millennial kingdom (v. 27). This will also be true in the new earth in eternity. The restoration of Israel will be a sign to the world so that the nations will know that it will be accomplished by the holy Lord, who is able to cleanse Israel and make her holy.

(Source: John F. Walvoord – Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times)