Week 2, Lesson 2: Ezekiel 37: God is Faithful to Bring His People Home
Yes, the land of Israel shouts God’s faithfulness, and the people of Israel are further proof that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be eternally faithful to His “called out” ones. We are going to spend the day in Ezekiel 37 learning just how faithful God is, so find it in your Bible.
If you thought the land of Israel was in bad shape when Jews began to return in the late-1800’s, the Jewish people may have been in even worse condition as droves of them began returning in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Consider world history.
Since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jews had been dispersed around the globe, but primarily across Russia and Europe. They were treated harshly and often targeted for elimination, often (sadly) in the name of Christianity. During a series of religious wars, known as the Crusades (between 1095 and 1291), marauders intended to retake Jerusalem from Islamic rule. But it was often Jewish people who were exploited or had their communities destroyed. At times violence erupted, Jews were massacred, and synagogues burned to the ground. Many Jews fled for their lives to more peaceful areas.
Less than two centuries later, Jews met an even greater threat when, during the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), Jews were originally accused of trying to influence Christians to leave their faith. Once the inquisition was set up, accused Jews were given time to “confess” or face punishment. If confession was made, they had to agree to spy on friends and family. That, of course, encouraged corruption as people fabricated lies out of fear or jealousy, or to receive a reward. Those who refused to confess were often tortured. Sadly, this was perpetuated by Christians, and many Jews either lost their lives, were forced to convert to Christianity, or fled for their lives. Eventually, they were expelled from Spain altogether.
That brings us to World War II which broke out in 1939. The German Third Reich held the world’s attention. While war was raging, genocide of the Jewish people was also happening across Europe as the Nazis were executing “The Final Solution” to rid the world of Jews.
Having integrated into various societies, many Jews had found prosperity in medicine, law, business and other endeavors. Yet, Hitler and his cronies considered them subhuman and set about to eliminate them. First, their synagogues and businesses were burned down, then they were rounded up and taken to ghettos to live in squaller with little provision. They were made to wear yellow stars of David to be easily identified as Jews, and they could no longer hold a job or go to public places.
Later, they were gathered and stuffed into cattle cars and taken by rail to various places, primarily in Poland and Germany to hard labor camps. There, they worked for the German commanders and officers who penned them in horrid conditions inside concentration camps. They were malnourished and often German death officers “selected” only those capable of hard labor to survive. Women and children were separated from the men and often “disappeared.” Under the guise of taking them to bathhouses to shower and clean up, they were led to gas chambers where they were poisoned, then thrown into incinerators to burn their dead bodies.
That period was known as the Holocaust and by 1945, over 6 million of Europe’s 9 million Jews were systematically eliminated. It is estimated that 1.5 million of those were children. Those fortunate enough to be liberated were badly tortured, starved, marked and, at times, mutilated. Here is an infamous photo of a group of Jewish men just before liberation:
While in Israel, we will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum, where we will learn in greater depth the evil meant to extinguish Jewish people, but how that contrasts with God’s blessings upon them today.
With that as the backdrop, let’s get to Ezekiel 37. From the ashes of the Holocaust, God brought forth life! Read verses 1-14.
- Though written roughly 2,500 years prior to the Holocaust, do you find Ezekiel’s description of the valley of dry bones to be eerily characteristic of the Jews of the Holocaust?
- According to verse 11, to whom does the valley of dry bones refer?
- Can you imagine the men in the picture above saying, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off. (Verse 11)
- What are two promises God made in verse 12?
- Slow down to meditate on all the promises of God in verses 13-14.
Indeed, God had prepared the land (as we studied in Ezekiel 36), and in Ezekiel 37 He promises to bring them back to their land. What does that tell you about God’s faithfulness?
Now, drop to verses 21-23.
- From where will God bring them?
- What promises does God make regarding a unified kingdom?
- Repeat the last sentence of verse 23.
What amazing faithfulness! After fully neglecting their God and turning to idols and rebellion, God never forgot His promises to them. In fact, I get the sense He longed to show greater depths of the love He has for them. (Isaiah 42 is a fantastic passage illustrating His desire for them!)
Currently, there is a record number of Jews returning to Israel, just as Ezekiel prophesied. The floodgates opened after the Holocaust, and they continue to pour in from nations all over the world! Not even COVID could stem the flow! Pause now, click the “Zion” link below, and listen carefully to the words of a beautiful song expressing God’s heart in the return of His people to the land.
(This video was shot at the Tower of David, where we will see a spectacular laser light show! May this song ring in your ears as we experience that place!)
Finally, a word about verses 24-28. King David is Israel’s most beloved king, and Ezekiel’s prophecy goes beyond what occurred after the Holocaust, and even what continues today. When Ezekiel references David, he is looking to a season in time beyond today. Following the tribulation, when we return with Jesus to earth (we will have been raptured just prior to the tribulation), He will come to establish His Millennial Kingdom (Feast of Tabernacles). That is what Ezekiel’s prophecy is referring to here. At that time, the kingdom of peace will be at hand and the King will reign for 1,000 years! His tabernacle will be among us, both believing Jews and Gentiles, and He will be Lord of all! Oh, glorious day!
Once again, God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people is our guarantee that He will be faithful to us!