The Latter Major Prophets – Ezekiel 36-37

“Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord.  This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The enemy said of you, “Aha!  The ancient heights have become our possession.”’  Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and crushed you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you — this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.’  Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations.  Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn.
“‘But you, mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.  I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will cause many people to live on you—yes, all of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt.  I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.  I will cause people, my people Israel, to live on you.  They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because some say to you, “You devour people and deprive your nation of its children,” therefore you will no longer devour people or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign Lord.  No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
Again the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions.  Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight.  So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols.  I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions.  And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’  I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.
“Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.  I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
“‘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.  Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.  I will save you from all your uncleanness.  I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you.  I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.  Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.  I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord.  Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt.  The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it.  They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”  Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Once again I will yield to Israel’s plea and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed festivals.  So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people.  Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

  • Ezekiel 36:1-38

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.  He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.  He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.  Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded.  And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.  I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”  So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people 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: 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.’”
The word of the Lord came to me: “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, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’  Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
“When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to 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 it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’  Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 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.  They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for 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.
“‘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 gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived.  They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.  I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

  • Ezekiel 37:1-28

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Ezekiel 36-37 ‘Israel’s Birth and Restoration’: “These are the most theologically significant chapters in the entire section of Ezekiel dealing with Israel’s restoration, if not the entire book.  They provide the major eschatological motifs of the prophecy and a synopsis of Ezekiel’s theology.  From a theological perspective, the problem for Ezekiel, as well as the other prophets of the exile (Jeremiah and Daniel), was how to comfort a nation who had not only lost their land but also, as their captors boasted, their Lord.  The people believed their subjugation by a foreign power symbolized the conquest of their inferior god by the victor’s superior deity.  The theological conclusion was that the conquered people’s god was not strong enough to protect them from conquest, as Ezekiel 36:20 seems to suggest: ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’  But the more accurate covenantal background for this statement is the suzerain-vassal treaty, an ancient Near-Eastern form of law code made between a sovereign (the suzerain) and his subjects (the vassals).  The exile demonstrated, in accordance with this established basis for national relations, that as Israel’s suzerain, God was responsible to uphold the terms of His covenant by punishing Israel, His vassal, by exile for covenant violation.
“However, it was the postexilic generation returning to Judah in 535 B.C. that faced the greatest theological challenge.  God had brought back a remnant to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, yet the majority of Israelites remained in exile (and continue to do so today).  Were they meant to literally inherit the promises made by the former prophets?  How could their experience of a meager return to a land still under foreign domination, while the majority of their fellow Jews remained outside the land, be considered a restoration?  How could the temple they rebuilt, which was financed by a foreign government and erected under duress over an insufferable number of years, and which was pitiable by comparison to the temple of the past, fulfill the great vision they had been given?  When would Messiah arrive to regather the Jews in the Diaspora, conquer Israel’s enemies, and restore Jerusalem?
“These were the theological questions Ezekiel’s prophecies needed to address while encouraging the nation to seek the Lord and not lose heart over their present circumstances.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy from Genesis to Revelation (quoted Greek without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 36:1-15 ‘partial fulfillment of the prophecies are coming’: “The ultimate in all of eternity is knowing the Lord.  When you know Him, you can’t help but glorify Him because He is absolutely worthy of glory and honor and praise.  Life is not about me.  I need to be reminded of that regularly.  Coming face-to-face with the sovereignty of our Lord God Almighty humbles me.
“The Israelites were now in a position to be humbled and to be in awe of what the Lord was going to do on their behalf.  Despite their stiff-necked, hard-hearted rebelliousness toward the Lord throughout their years as a nation, the Lord did not break His covenant with them.
“The exiles in Babylon should have been excited by these words!  This prophecy was partially fulfilled when the exiles were led back to Israel by Zerubbabel under the edict of Cyrus King of Persia.  But the history of the nation after that return proves that the rest of the prophecy seen in this chapter, as well as what we read about in Ezekiel 34, has not yet been fulfilled.
“It didn’t take long for the exiles who returned to the land of Israel to realize that the prophecies of the Lord were only partially being fulfilled.  You can read about the taunting that Nehemiah and the wall-builders received from Sanballat the Samarian and Tobiah the Ammonite in Nehemiah 4:1-5.
“Prophecy has been described as a series of mountain ranges.  As you look out at the view, you see the peaks of many mountains, but the distance between them is hard to calculate, and the valleys in between the mountain peaks are not visible at all.  Prophecy often describes the great crests of the mountains all at the same time, and doesn’t offer comments on the timing or events that will occur in between them.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 36:1 ‘a prerequisite regeneration’: “This chapter presents the prerequisite regeneration which Israel must experience before they can enter into the promised blessings.  This chapter must be understood to speak of a literal Israel, a literal land, and a literal regeneration, leading to a literal kingdom under Messiah. prophesy to the mountains. Cf. verses 1, 4, 6, 8.  Ezekiel addresses Israel’s mountains, as symbolic of the whole nation.  He promises: (1) to give these mountains again to dispersed Israel (v. 12); (2) to cause fruit to grow on them (v. 8); (3) to rebuild cities and to multiply people there (v. 10); and (4) to bless in a greater way than in the past (v. 11).  These promises that she has not yet experienced can only be fulfilled in future millennial blessings for Israel because they include the salvation of the New Covenant (vv. 25-27, 29, 31, 33).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 36:16, 26 ‘a heart transplant’: “Do you remember the first time the Lord said this to Ezekiel? … Ezekiel 11 … If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have already undergone a heart transplant. Your cold hard rebellious heart was circumcised and you were given a brand new heart.
“In Ezekiel 36:26, the Lord repeats the exact same words that  He said in Chapter 11. The context has changed though, and in this chapter the Lord explains to Ezekiel the reason for His incredible plan.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 36:24-26 ‘in God’s name’s sake’: “The heart of man was made to worship the Lord.  The first commandment to the Israelites was to love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul and strength. But they could not, and we cannot, unless there is a change of heart.
“Everything that the Lord is about to prescribe and carry out in the next verses is for His name’s sake.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 36:25-31 ‘Israel’s restoration’: “This section is among the most glorious in all Scripture on the subject of Israel’s restoration to the Lord and national salvation.  This salvation is described in verse 25 as a cleansing that will wash away sin.  Such washing was symbolized in the Mosaic rites of purification (cf. Num. 19:17-19; Ps. 119:9; Is. 4:4; Zech. 13:1).  For the concept of sprinkling in cleansing, see Psalm 51:7, 10; Hebrews 9:13; 10:22.  This is the washing Paul wrote of in Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5.  Jesus had this very promise in mind in John 3:5.
“What was figuratively described in verse 25 is explained as literal in verses 26 and 27.  The gift of the ‘new heart’ signifies the new birth, which is regeneration by the Holy Spirit (cf. 11:18-20).  The ‘heart’ stands for the whole nature.  The ‘spirit’ indicates the governing power of the mind which directs thought and conduct.  A ‘stony heart’ is stubborn and self-willed.  A ‘heart of flesh’ is pliable and responsive.  The evil inclination is removed and a new nature replaces it.  This is New Covenant character as in Jeremiah 11:31-34.
“The Lord will also give His ‘Spirit’ to the faithful Jews (cf. 39:29; Is. 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:16ff.).  When Israel becomes the true people of God (v. 28), the judgment promise of Hosea 1:9 will be nullified.  All nature will experience the blessings of Israel’s salvation (vv. 29, 30).  When the Jews have experienced such grace, they will be even more repentant—a sign of true conversion (v. 31).
“Ezekiel profoundly proclaims the doctrines of conversion and spiritual life.  He includes forgiveness (v. 25), regeneration (v. 26), the indwelling Holy Spirit (v. 27), and responsive obedience to God’s law (v. 27).  These are all clearly presented as he prophesies Israel’s conversion.  As a nation, they will truly know their God (v. 38), hate their sin [vv. 31, 32), and glorify their Savior (v. 32).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 36:26 ‘a new heart’: “It is a peculiar feature in our holy religion that it begins its work within and acts first on the heart.  Other religions, like that of the Pharisees, begin with outward forms and ceremonies, perhaps hoping to work inwardly from without, although the process never ends, for though the outside of the cup and the platter is made clean, the inside still remains full of rottenness as before.  No truth is surer than this concerning all the sons of men, ‘You must be born again.’  There must be an entire and radical change of man’s nature, or else he can never come where God is.  The gospel does not flinch from this but enforces the declaration.  The Holy Spirit does attempt to improve human nature into something better but lays the axe at the root of the trees and declares that we must become new creatures and that by a supernatural work of the omnipotent God.  Scripture does not mince matters, or say that some men may naturally be better than others, and by an improvement of their excellences may at last become good enough for God.  True religion begins, then, with the heart, and the heart is the ruling power of manhood.  You may enlighten a man’s understanding, and you have done much, but as long as his heart is wrong, the enlightenment of the understanding only enables him to sin with a greater weight of responsibility resting on him.  He knows good to be good, but he prefers the evil.  He sees the light, but he loves the darkness and turns from the truth because his heart is alienated from God.  If the heart is renewed, the judgment will, before long, follow in the same track.  But as long as the heart is wrong, the affections govern the will and bias the character of the man toward evil.  If a man loves evil, he is evil.  If he hates God, he is God’s enemy, whatever his outward professions, whatever his knowledge, whatever his apparent good qualities.  The heart is more nearly the man than any other of the faculties and powers God has bestowed on our nature.  The heart, when renewed by grace, is the best part of manhood; unrenewed, it is the worst.
“It is a great covenant promise that the heart will be renewed, and the particular form of its renewal is this — that it will be made living, warm, sensitive, and tender.  It is naturally a heart of stone; it is to become, by a work of divine grace, a heart of flesh.  Therefore, much of the result oi regeneration and conversion will be found to lie in the production of a tender spirit.  Tenderness—the opposite of what is stout, obstinate, cold, and hard—is one of the most gracious signs in a man’s character.  And where God has given fleshiness, or living sensitiveness instead of stoniness or dead insensibility of heart, there we may conclude that there is a real work of grace and that God has created vital godliness within.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Ezekiel 36 ‘Reflections’: “How shall we think of the Holy Spirit?  The Bible declares that He is God.  Every quality belonging to Almighty God is freely attributed to Him.  All that God is, the Spirit is declared to be.  The Spirit of God is one with and equal to God just as the spirit of a man is equal to and one with the man. …
“The historic Church when she formulated her ‘rule of faith’ boldly wrote into her confession her belief in the Godhood of the Holy Ghost.  The Apostles‘ Creed witnesses to faith in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, and makes no difference between the three.  The fathers who composed the Nicene Creed testified in a passage of great beauty to their faith in the deity of the Spirit:
“And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of Man

Ezekiel 37:1-14 ‘the dry bones’: “Next, the prophet turns to the grace of God, which restores the dead to life.  In chapter 37, Ezekiel relates the amazing vision of the Valley of the Dry Bones.  He sees the bones join together at the command of God – yet there is no breath in them.  It is only when God breathes on them that they come to life!  This is a picture of what God intends to do with the nation Israel.
“From God’s viewpoint, Israel is a valley of dry-bone death.  But a day is coming, says the Lord, when God will breathe upon this nation.  Like those dry bones, Israel will receive new life, and God will use the nation of Israel as the cornerstone of His reestablished kingdom on earth.”

  • Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring through the Bible

Ezekiel 37:1-14 ‘only 14 verses’: “Have you been wondering through this whole study when we would ever get to that captivating chapter about “dem bones”?  I think you will be a little surprised, as I was, that this intriguing illustration is explained in just 14 verses.  And then the Lord moves on with another hands-on demonstration for Ezekiel to give to his audience.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 37:5 ‘God is our focus’: “God Himself, must ever be the object of our worship.
“The old creed said that we worship one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
“if we could set forth all of God’s attributes and tell all that He is, we would fall on our knees in adoring worship.
“It says in the Bible that God dwells in light that is unapproachable, whom no man can see or has seen, and whom no man can see and live.
“It says that God is holy and eternal and omnipotent and omniscient and sovereign, and that He has a thousand sovereign attributes.  And all of these should humble us and bring us down.
“No worship is wholly pleasing to God until there’s nothing in us displeasing God.  Now, if this discourages anybody, l do not apologize.  Actually, some of us need to be discouraged in order that we may get straightened out.
“Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and high conduct of life—all of these must be taken as burnt offerings and offered to God.
“If there is anything in me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly!
“I do not say that God must have a perfection of worship or He will not accept any worship at all.
“l would not go so far; if l did, l would rule myself out.  And we would all hang our harps on the willows and refuse to sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land.
“But, l do say that the ideal God sets before us is that we should worship as near to perfectly as we can, and that if there are areas in my being that are not harmonious and that do not worship God, then there’s no area in my being that worships God perfectly.
“When all creatures, all intelligent, moral creatures are attuned in worship, then we have this symphony of creation.
“For where there is not worship there is discord from the broken strings.
“When all of the fully-redeemed universe is back once more worshipping God in full voice, happily and willingly and out of the heart, men will see the new creation and the new heaven and the new earth!
“Worship seeks union with its beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best.”

  • A. W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks I

Ezekiel 37:11-13 ‘parable of restoration’: “Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones presents an apt, instructive, and impressive figure.  It is not, however, a mere figure; it is a parable based on a remarkable representation of the resurrection of the dead.  Although the children of Israel at that time knew little enough concerning the resurrection, yet the Lord, the Holy Spirit, knew all about it; and he used it as a striking picture of the salvation of Israel from that national death that had come on them.  We may with equal accuracy see in it a vivid representation of the work of grace on the hearts of all those who are made alive into spiritual life by the power of divine grace.  Men by nature are dead in sin till they hear the voice of God and feel the enlivening breath of the Spirit and are made to live according to that word, ‘The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.  Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die’ (Jn 11:25-26).
“The salvation of sinners by the grace and power of God is as great a wonder as the general resurrection.  The putting of spiritual life into a natural person is a marvel of marvels and should excite as much wonder as the raising of Lazarus, or of Jairus’s daughter, or of the young man at the gates of Nain.  What a feeling one has that there is a God when God has saved him!  When he begins to dance for joy of heart because he is fully forgiven, then he knows Jehovah is God.  He carries a demonstration of the truth within his own heart and tells of it to others with tearful eyes.  ‘Oh,’ he says, there is no mistake about it.  There is a merciful God, tor I have obtained mercy.  There is a refuge for sinners, for I have fled to it.  There is pardon, for l have obtained it.  There is rest, for I enjoy it.  There is a heaven, for I begin to hear its bells ringing in my heart.’”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Ezekiel 37:14 ‘’: “Doesn’t the Lord‘s explanation make everything perfectly clear? Yes! And no! This prophetic passage has been interpreted in a variety of ways. We are studying the Word of God to learn what the author intended to communicate when he wrote it, and to learn what the Lord wants to communicate through that author. We have to study this passage in the context of the surrounding verses, chapters, and the whole book of Ezekiel.
“I hope you’ve come to understand that this book is about the Lord ’s relationship with His chosen people Israel, the sin they committed against Him, the judgment they deserved, and the restoration of the nation as the people of the Lord. It is very important to realize that the vision of the dry bones coming to life is given in the midst of other prophecies regarding the restoration of the nation of Israel.
“The Lord clearly said that ‘these bones are the whole house of Israel.’ That is a simple, clear statement, given to Ezekiel as an explanation of the vision. That explanation presents the vision as another way that the Lord is communicating His promise to restore the nation. It is parallel to the previous chapters and those that follow. That these bones are the whole house of Israel also tells us, therefore, that the dry bones do not represent individual Israelites, nor do the dry bones represent the resurrection of the body of a believer at the time of rapture.
“But what about the ‘graves’ referred to in Ezekiel 37:12, 13?”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 37:15-28 ‘The kingdom of God on earth’: “No one has been looking forward to that day more than the nation of Israel. God intended that the nation of Israel demonstrate to all people how glorious it can be to live under the government of God.  But they didn‘t.  And for His name’s sake, He judged His people.  But also for His name’s sake, He promised to renew His people with His Spirit, restore them as a nation, and return them to the Promised Land.  When the Israelites were last in their homeland, they were living as a divided people. Two kingdoms. North and South. Israel and Judah. Things will be different when they return.”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 37:21 ‘And what of present-day Israel?’: “Has this prophecy been fulfilled?  Yes. And no.  Under an edict by Cyrus, King of Persia, the Israelite exiles in Babylon began to return to their own land.  Then Darius the Mede encouraged more of the people to return to Israel.  Finally, King Artexerxes authorized Nehemiah to lead many of the exiles back home.  Yet this return to their homeland was not permanent; the little strip of land bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert, between Egypt and Europe, has been the place of one military campaign after another.  Nation after nation has tried to establish itself there. From AD 70 until I948, the Israelites had almost no residence in their land whatsoever.
“Was 1948 the year that the dry bones were gathered from all ends of the earth? Perhaps it was the beginning of the gathering, but it was not the complete fulfillment of this prophecy. There is so much more to come!”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

Ezekiel 37:26 ‘covenant of peace’: “Cf. 34:25. This is the New Covenant in full force.  Israel has never yet been in a state of perpetual salvation peace; this awaits fulfillment in the future kingdom of the Messiah who is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).  an everlasting covenant. The everlasting nature of the Abrahamic (cf. Gen. 17:7), Davidic (2 Sam. 23:5), and new (Jer. 50:5) covenants are joined together in the redeemed who experience the millennial kingdom ‘forever’ (used four times in vv. 25-28).  The Hebrew word for ‘everlasting’ may refer to a long time or to eternity.  It is also true that these covenants will continue to be fulfilled after the millennium in the eternal state.  My sanctuary. The Spirit of God begins to prepare for the great reality that God will have a sanctuary in the midst of His people and will dwell with them (cf. Zech. 6:12, 13).  God promised to dwell with man on earth (47:1—12).  This has been God’s desire in all epochs: ( 1) before Moses (Gen. 17:7, 8); (2) in the Mosaic era (Lev. 26:11-13); (3) in the church era (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19); (4) in the Millennium (Ezek. 37:26-28); and (5) in eternity future (Rev. 21:3).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Ezekiel 37 ‘Summary’: “The nation of Israel will enjoy the reign of Jesus Christ, the Messiah-King, on earth for 1,000 years. … The blessings on Israel will give glory to the Lord.
“’This people I have formed for Myself: They shall declare My praise.’ Isaiah 43:21  You don’t have to wait to praise Him.  He has already restored you to Himself.  He has already changed your heart and given you His Spirit.  He has already made you a citizen of heaven with all the saints. You are already a servant of the King of Kings and you know Him as your Good Shepherd. You are His sanctuary, His dwelling place.  He is in your midst.  And He will be with you always, even until the end of the age. Praise Him!”

  • Elizabeth Bagwell Ficken, that you may know the Lord, an in-depth study of Ezekiel
  • For more information go to https://elizabethficken.com

My Thoughts

As if the mountains needed reassurance, Ezekiel prophesies to the mountains that they will one day be occupied by the Israelites.  Their land will be fruitful.  The towns will be rebuilt.

As some of the scholars state, the return of Nehemiah was only a partial fulfillment of this prophecy.  One might point to the return of the Jews in 1948, but again, this is only a partial fulfillment, if any fulfillment at all.  The neighbors were angry with Nehemiah.  The country of Israel today is under attack or in fear of attack from its neighbors.  The present-day Israel has not rebuilt the temple, yet in Revelation, the New Jerusalem will not have a temple, because God will be in their midst.

Yet, this prophecy to the mountains is more for the neighbors and the Jews than for the mountains.  As if saying to all opportunists, “Do not think of inhabiting the land, for you will know that I am the Lord.”  God is letting all the nations know at this point that He is the only true God.  You might think that with the Israelites gone, the God of the Israelites was either too weak to save them or God left with them.  God is establishing Himself as being God to everyone.

The cleansing and transplanting of hearts of flesh instead of stone hearts is not done yet.  As Christians, we have a new heart, but within our bodies, we have the capacity and propensity to sin.  Those things have not been fixed, for the Christians or the Israelites.  Thus, this prophecy points to the millennium reign of Jesus, a descendant of David.

Another mystery then arises.  If the millennium reign has Satan in chains and it is after the tribulation, who are the “other nations” who compare the Promised Land to that of the Garden of Eden?  And, if we have a handle on who these other nations are, they are friendly with the people of Israel.  Does this mean that their hearts have also been transformed?

While Ezekiel 36 provides hope, it is shrouded in as much mystery as John’s Revelation.

Then, we come to the dry bones.  Some scholars point to this as proof of life after death and the resurrection of the dead.  Elizabeth Ficken states that this is a corporate example of the tribes of Israel being restored, noy each individual.

Regardless of the uses, probably multiple, of this imagery, I like “how” it happened.  It starts with inanimate dry bones.  Then the dry bones begin to rattle and form into skeletons, bone on bone.  Then the tendons and ligaments start to form and then the flesh.  But still, there is no breath in them.  God tells Ezekiel to prophesy, and with those words originating with God, the breath of life enters what had just been dry bones.  Depictions of this as skeletons marching is silly and unbiblical.  They had flesh by the point in which they could breathe.  And it takes brains to march in formation, staying in step.  I was a Captain in the army, and I could never master that.  Formation?  Yes.  Keeping in step?  I started with my left foot, but …

My interest in the “how” stems from the Creation of Adam.  It was one thing for God to fashion the body of Adam, but then God breathed into Him, and Adam was alive, created in God’s image.  This vision of Ezekiel may give us a glimpse of how it happened.

And there will be peace.  Odd, the dry bones become a great army, but then there will be peace.

Yet, with all of Ezekiel’s pantomime’s in illustrating various prophecies, God asks for one more.  Oddly, the people did not get the message.  The twelve tribes will be reunited, peace among the tribes and peace with the neighbors, but in the time of Jesus’s ministry, the Samaritans, who were in part related to the Jews, were a hated group of people.  They had intermarried with other peoples and were deemed unworthy.  It goes back to that heart transplant.  The prophecies are only partially fulfilled until the heart of man is transformed and our sin nature is no more.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. Does God treat you better than you deserve? Worse? Pretty fair? What does this show you about God’s character?
“2. Have you experienced any of God’s promises to Israel: (a) Cleansing? (b) Stony heart transplant? (c) Power to obey? (d) Plentiful harvest? How did it happen? Which would you like to see happen?
“3. What shape is your heart in right now: (a) like a piece of granite? (b) being broken up by some hard blows? (c) being soften by the steady ‘rain’ of the Spirit? (d) other? Why do you describe yourself like this?
“4. What fear keeps you from ‘climbing mountains’? ‘Do you find the small group a safe place to express your fears? Do the members: Listen and accept? Try to fix it? Analyze you? Approve or disapprove? What do you need when you‘re being vulnerable?
“1. How would you describe your life currently: (a) Dry bones? (b) No backbone? (c) Into the flesh? (d) Full of hot air? (e) Standing tail?
“2. Has God raised you from ‘the dead’? When and how did it happen?
“3. Are you ‘filled with the spirit’? What does this mean? How does it happen?
“4. How can group members better raise each others’ spirits?
“1. What object lesson has illustrated God‘s truth to you recently? Have you been paying attention?
“2. Has your family been divided by: (a) Sibling rivalry? (b) Divorce? (c) Long-standing feuds? (d) Death? Can this brokenness be healed? How?
“3. Christendom is currently divided into hundreds of rival groups. Do you think God approves? Should we work to become reunited?  What would it take to restore the unity of all believers as God intended (see Jn 17:20-26)? ls your small group open to Christians of different perspectives?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are three sets of questions, one for each chapter, but a second set for Ezekiel 37.

A few questions speak of a small group.  Apply them to yourself personally and/or to a church group of which you are part.

And if you do not know that you have had that “stony heart transplant,” you can ask Jesus into your heart by surrendering to Him.  Open the door to your heart, and He will enter and cleanse your heart, performing that heart transplant.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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