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. However, it’s generalities are vitally important because it allows us to see if we exist within the time frame of this prophecy, and even how close we are to its fulfillment.
As we tackle chapters 37, 38 and 39, and chapters in other books, you’ll see greater and greater detail surrounding the one event that we are hoping for.
1 And thou, son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of Jehovah.
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 distinct 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, God has a bit to say about other people first.
2 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha! and, The ancient high places are ours in possession;
3 therefore prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because, even because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the nations, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and the evil report of the people;
4 therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the cities that are forsaken, which are become a prey and derision to the residue of the nations that are round about;
5 therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations, and against all Edom, that have appointed my land unto themselves for a possession with the joy of all their heart, with despite of soul, to cast it out for a prey.
BECAUSE the enemies of Israel have claimed the ancient places of the land for their own, God says, “Enough! You will no longer consider this place 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.
6 Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my wrath, because ye have borne the shame of the nations:
7 therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I have sworn, saying, Surely the nations that are round about you, they shall bear their shame.
BECAUSE the land of Israel has suffered shame at the hands of the gentiles living in the area, God will make the people living around 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 invaded Israel, every time? They were defeated so badly, each time, that the rest of the world had to step in to save these nations from becoming completely destroyed. When the world stepped in to stop Israel, nothing lay between the armies of Israel and the capitals of Syria, Jordan, and Cairo.
Every time the Arabs attacked, they lost more land.
To think that a tiny little country could whup the combined armies of the Middle East…
Well, it’s delicious.
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for they are at hand to come.
God says that He will cause the land to prepare itself for the coming of the Jews. Before the Jews, 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.
Even more telling, the Arabs sold the Jews the worst of the Land of Israel, and the Jews turned that land into the best of the Land of Israel – to the envy and consternation of the Arabs.
9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn into you, and ye shall be tilled and sown;
10 and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded;
11 and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited after your former estate, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.
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 the any border seen in her history.
12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of children.
When the Jews return, 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 Israel. 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 thrive.
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 unique to Israelis.
13 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because they say unto you, Thou land art a devourer of men, and hast been a bereaver of thy nation;
14 therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nation any more, saith the Lord Jehovah;
15 neither will I let thee hear any more the shame of the nations, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the peoples any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nation to stumble any more, saith the Lord Jehovah.
Interesting what it says here… God says, “thou shalt… neither bereave thy 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.
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. And second, the story of Israel’s transgression is also a story of our own transgression.
Our churches throughout the world are following in 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.
16 Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their way and by their doings: their way before me was as the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity.
18 Wherefore I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood which they had poured out upon the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols;
19 and I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
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 55 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?
20 And when they came unto the nations, whither they went, they profaned my holy name; in that men said of them, These are the people of Jehovah, and are gone forth 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.
21 But I had regard for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations, whither they went.
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye went.
23 And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
24 For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them.
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
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 even mention 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.
29 And I will save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the grain, and will multiply it, and lay no famine upon you.
30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye may receive no more the reproach of famine among the nations.
31 Then shall ye remember your evil ways, and your doings that were not good; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
What was begun, is completed. Israel wakes up to see what they’ve been and the mistakes that they’ve made. Israel returns to the Lord and is finally, and forever, back.
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.
Is Jesus The Mashiach?
Did the Jewish people get it wrong 2,000 years ago, or did WE Christians get it wrong?
We are very close to having that question resolved, once and for all.
Oh, and remember verse 31. Chapters 38 and 39 are contained in that verse.
Of course, the chapter isn’t done yet. He 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 Nor for your sake do I this, saith the Lord Jehovah, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
33 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded.
34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, whereas it was a desolation in the sight of all that passed by.
35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.
36 Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, Jehovah, have builded the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate: I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and I will do it.
God brings Israel back and redeems her… not because of who Israel is… but, because of who GOD is. And, because of the land that God loves. There’s something special about the Land of Israel, something that God loves more than any other part of His creation. I don’t understand it, but I think that I feel it – because, I love His land, too.
37 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: For this, moreover, will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them: I will increase them with men like a flock.
38 As the flock for sacrifice, as the flock of Jerusalem in her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
The Lord is saying that He will PACK Israel FULL of His people.
It will be a glorious time.
And, it’s coming.
So, we have completed the first of the four parts of the Ezekiel Tetrad, I hope that you will join me as we go through chapters 37, 38 and 39.