Week 2, Lesson 1: Ezekiel 36 – God Proves Faithful in Restoring the Land

Hey friends, it is Week 2 so hop on the bus and let’s get moving! Together, we are seeking deeper understanding of God’s faithfulness in His Word, while anticipating Him to reveal new depths as we cast our eyes upon the sights, the culture, and the people of Israel. Buckle up ‘cause here we go!

Have you ever experienced a time when you were “certain” something would look a certain way or be a certain way, only to be blown away because your imagination could not fathom the fullness once it was revealed? Well, get ready! That is about to happen when we enter the Holy Land!

Think of a favorite Bible passage of which you know the setting. How would you describe the picture you have in your mind? What does the place look like? What are the sights, sounds, smells, and culture that you envision? Prepare to be amazed as we experience those places and those Biblical accounts.

If you are not traveling with us to Israel, keep an eye on Looking4theBlessedHope.com before, during and after our tour. There will be pictures and updates!

In this week’s study we will examine God’s faithfulness revealed in present-day (or recent history) of Israel. This is the “here and now!”  What is God doing in our generation, and does it have any impact on us personally? Let’s find out!

Week 2, Lesson 1: Ezekiel 36: God Proves Faithful in Restoring the Land

To study the “here and now” of Israel, we must include our generation, including reaching back a few years. We approached the here and now last week, but there is more to learn as we move toward more modern times.

If you recall, the nation of Israel split into northern and southern kingdoms after King Solomon’s reign. Each kingdom embraced paganism and idol worship, and each was exiled…the northern kingdom to Assyria (2 Kings 17) beginning about 740 BC, and the southern kingdom to Babylon (2 Kings 24-25) beginning about 600 BC.

Yet, God was faithful to bring them back and restore them to their land. Despite that, rebellion continued throughout the years and, as you know, the Romans ruled the land at the time of Jesus. Though Jews were still allowed to carry out sacrifices, worship in the Temple, and continue traditional religious rituals, the presence of the spirit of the Lord had long departed the Temple and Jewish life was becoming more Hellenized. We will see lots of Greco-Roman influence while in Israel, giving us a peak into the paganistic time period surrounding the life of Jesus.

In Matthew 24:1, Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple when He said to His disciples, Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Sure enough, in 70 AD the Romans utterly destroyed the Temple and much of Jerusalem, and Jews fled to the four corners of the earth. (We will definitely see the evidence of those things!)

But remember God’s promises to Abraham about land and descendants? God is a faithful God and, though He allows enemies to discipline Israel when they are rebellious, He never forgets His promises. It was a given…Israel simply MUST return to the land God promised them.

Fast forward to the 1800’s and not only were the Jewish people scattered around the world, but the land of Israel had become a desolate, barren wasteland of swamps and sand dunes. There were no longer any trees or vegetation, and during an 1867 visit, Mark Twain described Israel as a “…desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse… We never saw a human being on the whole route… There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

Where was the Faithful One in this? The Jews were without a home, and the land was virtually worthless. But God had not forgotten. He simply allowed consequences of rebellion to bring discipline, and this was not the first time. Deuteronomy 29:22b-28 describes a similar situation:

…the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the Lord has laid on it: 23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’ 24 All nations would say, ‘Why has the Lord done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?’ 25 Then people would say: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; 26 for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. 27 Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. 28 And the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.’

Lest you view God as tyrannical rather than faithful, consider why the land was desolate. The Jewish people had forsaken the covenant of the Lord and served and worshiped other gods! Remember this:

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)

God has never stopped pursuing His people, and He will never stop pursuing us! His desire for us is the same as His desire for His people, that each would yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness!

So, God remembered His “land and descendants” promise to Abraham and He set to work, first on restoring the land. Ezekiel 36 is the key land restoration prophecy whose fulfillment began in the late 1800’s and continues to this day. Speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, God instructed him to prophesy to the mountains (verse 1), the land, the hills, the rivers, and the valleys (verses 6) of Israel. In this chapter, God is addressing the land.

Pick it up now in Ezekiel 36:16-37, as God began to reveal why the land was defiled and what He was about to do about it. In verses 16-21:

  • What had Israel done in the land?
  • According to verses 18-19, how did God respond?
  • Furthermore, what did the Jewish people do once they got to foreign lands (verse 20)?

If you have kids, how do/did you respond when they acted shamefully? Did you love them less? Why did you discipline them? In such situations, how does a parent remain faithful to a wayward child?

God’s faithfulness, even in the midst of His name being profaned, is absolutely amazing. In verses 22-31, make mental notes of what God does, and what God will do. Verses 22-23 focus on the re-sanctification of His Holy name. Notice for whose sake He does these things.

Ezekiel’s focus shifts in verses 24-31. There are at least 10 “I will” statements in those verses. Can you find them? Despite His name being profaned, God’s faithfulness never wanes. But there is one more point God wanted to make in verse 32. What was it?

Why do you think God said what He said? Do you lose confidence in His faithfulness at that point? It may seem as though you should, but stick with the Biblical account! Read and meditate on verses 33-38.

God promised to restore the desolate land so much so that the nations all around would know that He, and only He, rebuilt the ruined places and planted where it was desolate. He wanted His people, and the surrounding neighbors to know that He is God!

Do you see a difference in restoration of the land in these before and after pictures of the Jezreel Valley from the 1920’s and today?

The land of Israel is clear evidence of God’s faithfulness! You will see beautiful views such as the Jezreel Valley, and with Bible knowledge you will believe that God’s faithfulness stretches to the furthest reaches of our imagination…and then some!

If God is that faithful concerning the land of Israel, what about the people of Israel? We will soon find out! Great work today…let’s meet again tomorrow!

PS: If you prefer to follow the study in pdf format or get the entire weeks’ lessons at once, click the “Bible Studies” tab above and find the study there.

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