Chapter 36 is the beginning of the Ezekiel Tetrad, and it is the most general. It also encompasses the largest amount of time, and it is only when we get to verse 31 that we see Israel saved. This chapter also allows us to see our own position within the time frame of this prophecy, and even how close we are to its fulfillment.
As we tackle this chapter and then chapters 37, 38 and 39, you will see greater and greater detail surrounding the events that lead to Israel’s salvation and Ezekiel’s Fire.
God Speaks To The Land Of Israel
1 “And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord!
– note: all verses are NKJV unless indicated otherwise. –
This bit is interesting. God speaks to the Mountains of Israel, expressing an irrevocable relationship between the Land of Israel, the Geography of Israel and God.
I think that it is safe to say that God has a relationship with the Land of Israel in a way that is separate from God’s relationship with the People of Israel. You might even say that this is a story of two relationships – the relationship between God and His land, and the relationship between God and His people – and how God brings these two together.
But – and this is important – this is a profound statement to all those who claim that all references to Israel in the Last Days are allegorical. And, it’s also a message to those who want to claim for themselves all the promises of Israel. There is no way that you can believe any of that, in light of how God specifically talks about a physical Land of Israel. That cannot be ‘allegory’. Nor can you put the label of ‘allegory’ to the discussion of that real, physical group of people whose physical ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In fact, as we continue through chapter 36, God has something to say about those who make foolish claims against the Land of Israel and the People of Israel:
2 Thus says the Lord God: “Because the enemy has said of you, ‘Aha! The [a]ancient heights have become our possession,’ ” ’ 3 therefore prophesy, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because they made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you are taken up by the lips of talkers and slandered by the people”— 4 therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains, the hills, the [b]rivers, the valleys, the desolate wastes, and the cities that have been forsaken, which became plunder and mockery to the rest of the nations all around— 5 therefore thus says the Lord God: “Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and [c]spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country.” ’
BECAUSE the enemies of Israel have claimed that they own the ancient places of the Land of Israel, God says, “Enough! You will no longer consider this place as your own. It belongs to someone else.”
In fact, everyone who is involved with the Land of Israel should be careful to remember who owns the land, and what purpose the Owner has for that land. Trying to claim God’s property for yourself is a very unhealthy pastime.
The Shaming Of The Gentile Occupiers Of The Land Of Israel
6 “Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, and the valleys, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations.” 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame.
BECAUSE the land of Israel has suffered shame at the hands of the gentiles living in the area, God will make them suffer their own shame. In fact, you could make something of a case for them suffering THE SAME KIND OF SHAME. Those who seek to conquer, will themselves be conquered. Those who seek to steal from the land, will themselves be stolen from.
What has happened to every country that attacked the modern State of Israel – every single time?
They were defeated so badly, each time, that the world had to step in to save the attacking nations from becoming completely destroyed. In 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, the world felt compelled to step in and stop Israel from completely destroying the enemies that attacked her.
Every time the Arabs attacked, they lost more land.
To think that a tiny little country could win against the combined armies of the Middle East…
…Well, it is God at work!
God used the foolishness of the Arabs to give the Land of Israel to the People of Israel. It is almost as if the Arabs were secret supporters of Israel.
The Land Of Israel Will Flourish
8 But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come.
God says that He will cause the land to prepare itself for the coming of the Jews. Before the Jews, the Land of Israel was a malaria-infested, barren land – a horrific place to live. After the Jews came, the land became a paradise – but only in the areas where the Jews settled.
People don’t realize that before the Jews came to the Land of Israel, nine out of ten children died of malaria. Now, no one in the Land of Israel dies of malaria. Before the Jews came, the Land of Israel was one of the most wretched places on Earth. Soldiers stationed there got sick within a month and had to be rotated out. The hills were barren. And, the population was sick, uneducated and desperately poor. Now, it is completely the reverse, for both Arab and Jew.
Even more telling, the Arabs sold the Jews the worst of the Land of Israel, and the Jews turned those awful parcels of land into the best of the Land of Israel – to the envy and consternation of the Arabs.
The Land Of Israel Will Be Better Than Ever Before
9 For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. 10 I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and [a]bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.
I call this:
a prophecy fulfilled!
This really has happened. Israel is stronger today and more prosperous than at any time in its history. Never has it produced so much and been so powerful. Israelis are better educated and more prosperous than at any time of the history of the Land of Israel – and the story of this great prosperity isn’t over yet.
To those who point out that Israel controls less area now than during the times of King David and King Solomon, I would like to mention that David and Solomon didn’t have the global reach that the government of Israel has today. There is not a single place on our planet that hasn’t been influenced in some way by Israel. Having said that, this story isn’t over. We could yet see Israel’s land expand beyond any border seen in her history.
12 Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children.”
When God spoke of the return of the Jews, He said that the Land of Israel would become a place that you could walk, and a place where your children would live and thrive. That was certainly NOT the condition of the Land of Israel before the Jews started to return to it. Before the Jews, there was terrible banditry, chronic malaria and a tremendous rate of infant and childhood mortality. The Land of Israel was a dangerous place to be – before the Jews came.
After the Jews came, Israel became beautiful and lovely – a place where children thrived.
Oh, and one more thing. I’m not really sure that this is a direct answer to this prophecy, but ‘walking the land of Israel’ is a national pastime for Israelis. I have never seen any group of people more interested in hiking all over their country. It really is something that seems to be unique to Israelis.
13 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because they say to you, ‘You devour men and bereave your nation of children,’ 14 therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore,” says the Lord God. 15 “Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore,” says the Lord God.’ ”
Interesting what it says here… God says, “you shall… nor bereave your nation any more.”
What does that mean?
Does the Land of Israel have a Nation of Israel that belongs to it?
Do a people and a land belong to each other?
Or, maybe is it just the Land of Israel and the people of Israel belong together?
It could very well be, and I think that you know which way I’m leaning.
The Sin Of Israel
Now, God begins to illustrate the past and to mention what happened before the Jews came into their land, and the recalling of that is painful to read. It is a litany of terrible sin and terrible suffering. And, that recollection continues until verse 26.
Just remember two things as we read this. First, when Israel returns to the Land of Israel, all of that awfulness is no longer a part of their future – but, it is still present with them. God does not wash their sin from them until AFTER they enter the Land of Israel. I really hope that you understand that point.
I really am surprised at the foolish thinking of many who claim to be Christian. It should be clear to everyone who reads Ezekiel 36 that the people of Israel are saved AFTER they enter the Land of Israel. Yet, there are foolish people who claim that Israel must be righteous and holy before they enter the Land. To put it another way:
God brings the People of Israel while they are still sinful and in rebellion against God.
You will need to reject the Bible, to say otherwise.
The second thing to remember is that the story of Israel’s transgression is also a story of our own transgression. What happened to Israel – because of her sins – will also come upon us, because of OUR sins. And yes, we really have sinned greatly before God.
Our churches throughout the world are following in ancient Israel’s footsteps and committing the same kinds of sins that Israel committed. And, we can expect the same kinds of judgement that Israel also received. When you look at the statistics for abortion, pornography, divorce, infidelity and sex outside of marriage, you will find very few differences between Christians and non-Christians.
16 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. 19 So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.
If we defile our country with the blood of unborn children…
Do you think that we are going to escape the above, if we do the same thing?
Almost 60 million induced abortions since 1973 is a lot of blood. A lot.
And, if God did this to the people of His friend Abraham, what do you think He’s going to do to us?
ESPECIALLY, those of us who claim to be His children?
If you think that Christian Women haven’t been having abortions, think again. I am horrified to tell you that many women who claim to be followers of Christ are having their children murdered in the womb. And, because of that – and much else – we can only expect a terrible judgment from God.
20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’
The story of the Jewish people is not one that you would want for anyone. Until the coming of Christ, they were the only people that you could go to, to find God, and they damaged the reputation of God, wherever they went.
If you are Jewish, that is your legacy.
But, for those of us who are Christian, how many of us have made faith in God look bad?
If someone accused you of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
The people of Israel were evicted because they didn’t fulfill the covenant between them and God.
What about the great New Covenant that WE have entered into?
Are we fulfilling the covenant that we entered into, when we became the children of God?
I am sorry to say that very, very few of us a doing what our Father has asked us to do, and because of that we can expect the same to happen to us that happened to Israel. I really do believe that the judgement of God – on the church – is coming, if it is not already here. We have a holy and just God who desires a holy and just people – a people that will not tarnish His reputation.
21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.
Now, for those who would like to lift up the Jewish people as something great and wonderful, you will notice that God isn’t doing any of this because the Jewish people are anything to write home about. In fact, God is speaking in a way that is just the opposite.
God is heaping criticism upon criticism here.
23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
God Saves Israel, In The Land Of Israel
Now, this is where I get to speak specifically to those who claim to be Christian, yet deny that God is at work in the Land of Israel and the People of Israel:
24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
I hope that you were reading carefully because God spoke of a specific order to this prophecy:
- Israel would return to the Land of Israel
- God would clean them
- God would give them spiritual life and His Holy Spirit
- Only after those three, will they obey God.
I truly hope that people understand the order to this prophecy, because it is clear that God has been following that order – and, that we are in the early stages of step two.
As I have said earlier, there are two big reasons why there is no temple on the Temple Mount. One reason is that rabbis believe that it will only be built by Messiah himself, when he comes. And, they don’t want to get ahead of the game.
The other – and bigger – reason is that most Israelis are secular and do not want a temple. In fact, there is something of a cultural civil war going on in Israel, right now. It is a very low-level conflict that is being fought in the halls of power and academia. And, the only reason why the Ultra-orthodox have any power at all is the historically fine balance between the Left and Right in Israel.
However, that balance has changed and the Ultra-orthodox are having difficulty playing the role of ‘kingmaker’ in Israeli politics.
Unfortunately, along with the successful rebellion against orthodox Judaism has also come the evils of homosexuality and the immorality of a modern society – which is where Zechariah 13:8-9 comes in.
Only those who are willing submit themselves to God will survive what is coming. The rest… unfortunately …will not.
And, for those who are Jewish, I understand that it is hard to think of your people as having been so awful, having blackened the reputation of God. And, it really makes me uncomfortable to focus on it here. It feels like I’m rubbing salt into open wounds. But, the Lord mentions it here, and so it is necessary to talk about it.
Israel both rejected God and claimed God at the same time. They were the chosen people, while at the same time acting in defiance of God. They were inheritors of the promise, but rebelled against the terms of that promise.
And, if Israel is to be saved – and she will be – Israel must acknowledge this history. She must see herself as each one of us saw ourselves when we came to Christ, as fallen and wicked, in need of redemption.
But, God does not leave us in that place of self-loathing. He redeems us, just as He will one day “sprinkle clean water” upon Israel and make her His own again.
28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will [a]loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.
What was begun, will be completed. Israel will wake up to see what they’ve been and the mistakes that they’ve made. Israel will return to the Lord and will be finally, and forever, in a true relationship with God.
And, of course, that is what we call the Salvation of Israel. And, to my Jewish friends who may be reading this, this is the point in which we will finally settle the question of who is right and who is wrong.
The Jews will finally acknowledge that Jesus really is the M’shiach.
God Does Not Save Israel Because They Are Better
Of course, Ezekiel 36 isn’t done yet. God goes on to warn those that He has saved, reminding them that He doesn’t do this because the Jewish people are somehow special. No, He tells Israel that He does this for a different reason altogether.
32 Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord God, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!”
God again repeats that He is NOT doing this because the Jews are somehow better than anyone else. No, God is doing this for His own honor – for His own reputation.
God is also saying that the Jews do not deserve what they will receive. Of course, we Christians say the same thing about ourselves. We very clearly do NOT deserve the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.
Physical Changes That Will Happen To The Land Of Israel
Then, God goes on to describe what Israel will be like AFTER they are saved:
33 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’
Now, some people look at Israel now and see that much of Israel has been cultivated and the cities of Israel are bursting at the seams. And, they say that this part of the prophecy has been fulfilled. And, I am prepared to agree with that idea to a certain point. But, God speaks of physical changes to Israel’s geography in Isaiah 30:
There will be on every high mountain
And on every high hill
Rivers and streams of waters,
In the day of the great slaughter,
When the towers fall.
There may be fossil aquifers and underground rivers that we don’t know about, with water that will break to the surface through this incredible earthquake. It also could be that these massive earthquakes might affect mountains in Europe in such a way that more rain is funneled into Israel. And yes, the mountains in Europe DO have a significant impact on how and when Israel gets rain.
The World Will Know That God Did This
Now, the interesting thing is how the rest of the world will be forced to acknowledge God’s hand in all of this:
36 Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.”
Interesting. God says:
the nations that are left
those nations that survive all that happens
So, those nations that survive the cataclysmic events described here will acknowledge that God has done all of this. They may not WANT to acknowledge it, but they will be forced to.
The Population Of Israel Explodes
37 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like a [a]flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its [b]feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”
Take a moment to think about this statement. God is giving us a word picture to help us understand how crowded with people the Land of Israel will become. Imagine the number of sheep that would be required every time a high holy day arrived. That is an enormous number of sheep. The Lord is saying that He will PACK Israel FULL of His people. And, He will bless them, and will do it for Israel.
Not During – Or Immediately Before – The Tribulation
Now, let me ask you:
Does this sound like something that happens immediately before the Tribulation?
Does this sound like something that happens DURING the Tribulation?
No. Of course not.
And no, it does NOT sound like something that happens during the Millennium. There are plenty of verses that talk about the events during the Millennium, and verses 37 and 38 are NOT apart of them.
Please, for your own safety, do not play games with the words of God.
So, this means that Ezekiel’s Fire will occur several years BEFORE the start of the coming of the Antichrist and the Tribulation. So, everyone that says that the Antichrist is about to come…
…well, you’ve got some waiting to do.
So, we have completed the first of the four parts of the Ezekiel Tetrad. Let’s continue with chapter 37.
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