Hopefully you’ve caught your breath after yesterday’s exciting lesson! Wow…what a historic day: May 14, 1948! God has been faithful to His people throughout history, and He has put His Holy Name upon His Holy City! Now, that is amazing, isn’t it!
We’re about to take a look at the actual Biblical account of God’s revelation to Ezekiel regarding the re-birth of Israel. As you know, Jews were dispersed all over the earth and the nation-state of Israel was non-existent for centuries. Jews began making aliyah…return to the homeland…in 1881, fleeing from Eastern Europe. Between 1904 and 1914, about 40,000 Jewish pioneers returned to the land and found it barren, and in some places, swampy. Tel Aviv was nothing but a giant sand dune on the outskirts of Joppa and did not seem to be habitable. No one else really wanted the desolate wasteland at that time.
However, God has always blessed Israelis with great initiative and intuitive knowledge, so they began to drain swamp land and make the uninhabitable habitable. About 100,000 Jews returned between 1919 and 1923, and a quarter million Jews followed in the 1930’s. Additional aliyahs ensued after World War II. By then, the land was prosperous once again and everyone wanted a piece of it!
But God reserved the land for His chosen people, and as He promised in Ezekiel 36:24 and Amos 9:14-15, He re-gathered His people in their land!
But the Lord issued another prophecy through Zechariah. Read Zechariah 12:3. Though the Lord promised to re-gather His people in their land, He also warned that, in the end, Jerusalem will be a heavy stone that will injure those who try to move it. In other words, all the nations will come against Jerusalem, attempting to remove His name from the city, but will be destroyed in the process. History is teaching us that fact, even now!
But today we’re going to hear a testimony from a graveyard! Let’s pick up the action in Ezekiel 37. The ruin of Israel is equated to dry bones, and the dry bones represent the whole house of Israel. The nation was dead, and God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” From a human standpoint, the answer is “no!” But with God, all things are possible! He was giving Ezekiel the prophecy that the dry bones, Israel, will indeed live again! He promised to bring back life to the dead carcass!
According to verses 5-6, why did God promise to breathe life into the land and cause it to come alive? In verses 7-9 of Ezekiel 37, God predicted the miraculous restoration of Israel! Physically, the Jews are back in their land, but is Israel really alive spiritually? Remember, the Jews missed their Messiah and God pressed the pause button on His plan for the Jews. Thus, the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 is only partially fulfilled. Israel will not return to life spiritually until they recognize their Messiah during the 7-year Tribulation. During that time, they will long for Him, will see Him, and will be re-born spiritually!
Ezekiel 37:11 and Isaiah 49:14-16 indicate the hopelessness felt by the Jewish people. What was God’s response?
It is easy to understand why the Jews felt hopeless, isn’t it? How hopeless it must have seemed during the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities. How hopeless it must have seemed during the holocaust. How “cut off” they must feel even now, as Israel watches the nations of the world turn against her. But God faithfully stands on the side of His chosen people! Indeed, He has inscribed them on His hands!
Now read Ezekiel 37:12-14. What were some of the promises God made to Israel in these verses? Now, contemplate Amos 9:14-15, which we explored yesterday.
Not only would God bring them back to their land, but He promised to restore the land. Remember, it was barren and filled with sand dunes and swamp land. In addition, they found it virtually treeless because the Turks had taxed trees! People who had trees cut them down in order to avoid taxation! Erosion became a huge problem, so when the Jews returned they began planting forests. Today, Israel has some incredibly lush forests, unbelievable farm land and bird sanctuaries that attract more migratory birds than anywhere else on the continent!
God proves Himself over and over!
Time to head down the homestretch, so don’t close your treasure box just yet! Instead, read the remainder of Ezekiel 37 (verses 23-28). Based on what you read, have these things occurred yet?
Dear friends, one day God’s chosen people will be delivered and they will be His people and He will be their God. Verse 24 promises that their beloved king, David, will once again rule over them as their prince forever!
God absolutely will not forget His people or His promises. As believers, we can trust that His promises to us are just as sure! Now, that’s a nugget for your treasure chest! But I hope that is not the only treasure you collected today. We are living in a time in which prophecy is being fulfilled right before our very eyes. Thus, we look expectantly for the Blessed Hope! Pray that our Jewish friends and their neighbors will come to do the same.
Great job this week!