This sermon is number 20 in a series of 24
Ezekiel - Part 20
"The Valley Of Dry Bones"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2001 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
The Bible says 'Watch and pray', and there was a wasp that landed on my hymnbook during that prayer, and I made sure that it wasn't going to fly away again! Now we're turning to Ezekiel chapters 35, 36 and 37. You wouldn't think there would be wasps about in December, but there are and for some reason they're all in the Iron Hall - so beware tonight in the Bible Reading! Now, we're not going to read these three chapters, I hope that you've read them before you've come. We want to read the first 14 verses or so of chapter 37, which is the chapter concerning the valley of dry bones, but we will be looking at chapters 35 and 36 also.
Let's begin at verse 1 of chapter 37: "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry". Now there's two descriptions: very many and very dry. "And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD".
As we speak tonight the Jewish people, the nation of Israel, are being bombed to death in their own land. It is the attempt to bomb God's people out of the land that is their rightful inheritance. We look to world politics, and we find that its opinion is generally against the Jews and Israel in the land. Her Arab neighbours are against her, and absolutely detest her, and would push her into the sea if they had their way. I think the question that many people are asking, and certainly God's redeemed people, the church, is: is there anything in the Scriptures to help us understand these events that are taking place around us at this very moment? Questions like: will Israel remain in Palestine? Will there ever be a time when Israel will be pushed out again, when Israel will go into captivity? Will the Palestinian people ever take over the whole nation of Israel and get the land again? Will her enemies evict her from the land? Will any nation in the world succeed in putting Israel out of Palestine? Will she ever be finally defeated? Will there be a war that will come one day when Israel will be defeated and she will lose sovereignty over her own land?
Really we could sum up all those questions in just one: what is the future of God's ancient people, Israel? Does she have a future? And if she has a future, what does God say it is? Now, believe it or not, those questions are very similar to the questions that were being asked in Ezekiel's day. Those questions, as I believe those questions today can be answered, were answered by God's prophet then, Ezekiel. Miraculously, tonight, the very answers that Ezekiel was given thousands of years ago are exactly the same answers that we can give to those questions tonight concerning our day and a day that will come, prophetically, in the future.
In chapter 35, if you look at it, we have a repetition of God's judgement upon the Gentile nations - but one in particular, Edom. You remember we looked, in chapters 25 through to 32, at God's judgement on the Gentile nations round about Israel, and we can see a parallel in the nations round about Israel today. Now none of those nations exist today ethnically, except for Egypt - and we saw that there was a future aspect to the prophetical teaching in Ezekiel concerning Egypt. But we did learn that there's a parallel, although some of those nations do not exist today, the nations round about Israel today are still a thorn in her flesh. Chapter 35 is a repetition of God's judgement on Edom again, and God directs the prophecy toward Mount Seir, which was the national mountain of the nation of Edom.
Now, if you cast your mind back you'll remember that Edom, the nation of Edom, were the descendants of Jacob's brother Esau. Jacob was blessed, Esau was not blessed - in fact, the Bible says he was hated. You remember that Esau was resentful of the blessings of Jacob, and as we go through Israelite history we find that that resentment continues right through - that jealousy and envy and pride of the Edomites against the Israelites. In fact, the whole book of Obadiah* is dedicated to that very thing, and we studied it about a year ago or so - and the tape is available from the tape room afterwards if you want to listen to the background of this - how the Edomites were filled with pride, envy, and really a perpetual hatred against the Jewish people. The reason was, right back to their father Esau, they wanted the blessing of God's people - but they wanted the blessing without the Lord, they wanted the land without the Lord, they wanted the fruit and the wealth without the Lord. They wanted, all the time, to seize the land, the promised land of God's people.
*See 'The Pride Of The Edomites'
Now please note that at this moment in which we speak in Ezekiel, God's people are under divine discipline. You've seen that with me: the Shekinah glory has been removed from the temple, the people have been taken captive beside the River Chebar - where Ezekiel is at this moment - all of them have been taken into Babylon, and they're under God's discipline for their sin, because of their idolatry, their following of other gods, their political and religious pacts with other nations. They are under discipline, but please do not make the mistake of thinking that God's people are rejected! You remember we saw last week that we're coming into the last section of this book that speaks of the restoration, the revival of God's people again. In other words, the glory, the Shekinah brightness of God's presence that has now been removed from the temple, God is looking to a day telling His people when that glory will return again. They're under discipline, but they're not rejected - now, that was the thing that Edom failed to see. For because God's people were under discipline, the Edomites put the boot in - they thought they could get away with it, they didn't notice the difference.
Now, we know today in a similar sense that blindness in part has happened unto Israel. But we must be very careful that we do not make the mistake of many Bible teachers - particularly amillennialists - who see no future whatsoever for the Jewish people. That is a mistake, for Jesus Christ the Son of God prophesied, Himself, a future for those people. Paul the apostle, in the book of Romans and particularly chapter 11, prophesied concerning the future of the Jewish people. John the apostle in the book of the Revelation, particularly in chapter 20 and following, predicts a new future for the people of Jerusalem. The minor prophets, we have looked at them in the past, and the major prophets, one of which we're looking at tonight, all of them speak of a future day for the Jews. Now, the Edomite history - as I have said - was a history of hatred the words God's people, the Jews. It goes right back to when they refused passage, when the children of Israel were being delivered out of Egypt and they had to come through the land of Edom to get to the promised land, the Edomites said: 'No, you're not coming through', and they had to go the long way round. God always held that against the Edomites. Remember now, they were brothers of the Jews, they were related by blood, but they had this hatred and this resentment.
When you go into 1 Samuel 22 you find a man called Doeg, and he was an Edomite too, and he almost succeeded in destroying the priesthood of Israel in the days of Saul - another Edomite. We find, when we looked at the book of Haggai* and Habakkuk*, we found that the Edomites were the people who rejoiced when the temple was destroyed, when the people of Jerusalem were taken captive they laughed and said: 'Aha, aha!', as the Psalmist says. They always got the boot in when God's people were down and out. Now they are taken into Babylon, and the Edomites are still ridiculing and blaspheming God and His own people. It's no different when we go into the New Testament, the history of the Edomites. If you go into the New Testament you find that their name changes to the Idumeans. You find that Herod the Great in the Nativity story, that we'll be thinking of very soon, he was an Edomite - an Idumean - by birth. He was the very one who sought to slay the infant Christ who, remember, was the rightful King of the Jews!
*See the Bible Study Series page at Preach The Word
Now, as far as I can discern, it would appear to me that the Arabs in the land of Palestine today, at this moment, and those Arabs in the South-East of the land of Israel, are the present-day descendants of Edom. Now, let me prove that to you. I can't go into everything, but certainly from our chapters - if you look at verse 10 of chapter 35, look at two of the characteristics of these Idumeans and the Edomites. Look at verse 10, God says: 'Because thou hast said', now He's speaking to the Edomites now, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there'. Now let me give you an understanding of this verse, we're talking about two countries - remember I had the map here, and the Northern Kingdom was the kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was the kingdom of Judah? God is saying to Edom: 'Because you have said 'These two countries will be mine'' - what are they doing? They are wanting the land, in other words, the whole country of Israel north and south, for themselves. Does that ring any bells?
If you go to verse 2 of chapter 36 the Lord says something again concerning their claims: 'Thus saith the Lord GOD', and this is referring to all the enemies of the nation, not just Edom, 'Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession'. Not only do they want to claim the land, but they're making a boast that some sacred sites - high places, holy places to the Jews - are also theirs and in their possession. Now, go to Jerusalem tonight: the Temple Mount is in the hands of the Arabs. Go to find the tomb of David, it is in the hands of the Palestinians. Go and look for the Cave of Machpelah where Abraham was buried, where Isaac is buried, and where Jacob is buried - and at this moment as we speak, they are in the hands of Muslim Arabs. That was then, this is now, and things have not changed. In the same way we say today: it would be wrong for Israel's enemies tonight to think that God has cast them off, and thereby they can get away with what they are doing to Israel - they cannot do what they like to God's ancient people, for God has not finished with His ancient people! More than that: He is not finished with their ancient enemies either!
So then, what is God's plan for His ancient people? Well, the first thing can be found really in the totality of chapter 36, in your first pointer on your sheet. The first thing is: 'The Restoration of the Land and the People'. In verses 1 to 7 all of the nations, not just the Edomites, but all the nations against Israel who in the past have tried to seize the land and have scorned God's people - God says: 'I am going to punish them'. If you look at verses 1 to 3: 'Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD'. It talks about their enemies scourging them, in verse 2. Verse 3: 'Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people'. Now before the Babylonian captivity, and before this prophecy, the mountains of Israel were covered with forests. They were clothed with olive trees and vineyards, and little prosperous villages, and fruit and agriculture. We know that because it's immortalised in the writings of the Psalmists and the prophets, they sing of the wealth and the fruitfulness of Israel. But as we come here we see that God is saying that these mountains have become desolate, the hills have become eroded and have left empty crags and wildernesses. What we find is, in the history of Israel, during the long dispersion when the people were put out of the land for 19 centuries, when they had overlords from the Gentile nations and foreign invaders, that all of that fruitfulness, all of the forests of the mountains were denuded, and the hills and the mountains were made bare.
These carefully tended vineyards and gardens and olive groves disappeared as successive waves of invaders ravaged the soil of the Holy Land with all their wars. Finally, after the nations and the armies of the nations had fled and had no more interest in Jerusalem, then the eroding forces of nature came in helped by herds of goats and animals - and they completed the scene of absolute treeless desolation. A wilderness, and God said that that would happen. The little flourishing settlements and cities were also destroyed; there was just an absolute desert. The Negev to the south became a rocky wasteland, whilst the fertile coastland of the plain slowly but surely gave way to shifting sand dunes - no more fertility or fertile soil, but only sand. The fertile valley of Jezreel that we read about in the Old Testament, that is sung of and is famous for its vineyards and fertility in Bible times, had degenerated into a vast swampland.
That was the judgement of God, but as we look at verse 8 - if you look down at it - God says: 'But ye, O mountains of Israel', again prophesying to the mountains of Israel, 'ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come'. These forests, these crustaceans of fruit and wheat and plentiful fertility, God is saying: 'They have gone away in judgement, the land is waste and is a desert, but one day there will be great forests there again. One day, covering the mountains of Israel will be orchards that will yield their fruit unto My people, Israel'. For almost 2000 years absolute nakedness of forests, only a few groves remaining, none of the great famous cedars of Lebanon that we read about in the Scriptures, but God says: 'There is a day coming, and I will bring forests again, I will bring fruit again, I will bring fertility to the land again'. Can I tell you tonight: it's already happened! Under the British mandate there was a great movement set on course which we know to be called the reforestation of the mountains of Israel, and there were millions - literally millions - of trees planted. God is saying: 'I am making this happen', He says it in His word, verse 9 at the end of the verse: 'I am making it happen as a preparation for My people coming back to their own land as God's people again'.
Now, you go to Palestine tonight and again once more the great sycamore trees are to be found on its mountains, again the tamarisk tree and the myrtle trees are there - they have been planted in their tens of thousands in the area that flourished only 3000 years ago - for 2000 years they have been a wasteland. Entire forests have now been re-clothed on the once barren Judean hills. I'm led to believe that during that British mandate 200 million trees were planted in the vast programme of reforestation across those mountains - pine trees planted in the mountains, planted on the sand dunes that were once at that fertile plane.
It says more than that, it's not just the forests, but if you look at verses 29 and 30 of chapter 36: 'I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen'. Not just trees and forests, but God is now talking about crops of grain and fruit that would be increased. God is saying: 'There will never be a famine in My nation again - not because you deserve it, but because of My honour, because of My name' - and get this, people, tonight: because of God's promise! God made a promise to Abraham, and God has to keep the promise! There will be fruitful farms and orchards, and in fact it says that it will become like the Garden of Eden.
I don't know whether you know this, but Israel's farmers this very day produce three-quarters of the nation's food. They are almost self-sufficient as we speak! They have over 700 agricultural villages that have been established, and each year 75 million dollars worth of citrus fruit alone is exported around the world! Each year 83,000 tonnes of grapes go out! 126,000 tonnes of wheat, 256,000 tonnes of sugar beet, and well over one million eggs come out of Israel every year! For 2000 years she was a wasteland, and at this moment there is fruitfulness! Now you might think that this is a fulfilment of this prophecy, and it is in part - but the point of the matter is this: this is only the beginning. This is only a preparation of what we read of here, and it will only be finally completed after the great tribulation period when the Messiah comes in glory to reign upon the earth. If you think that's a massive exportation of goods, you ain't seen nothing yet! At the millennium it will be the most fruitful part of God's earth, like the Garden of Eden.
Can you see God's word being fulfilled already? In His grace God will bring the land from desolation to His delight, from desperation and dispersion to re-gathering, from defilement to cleansing, and God will remove their disgrace and bring great glory to them again and to His name. Now, let me say this: this prophecy can only be fulfilled in a millennial kingdom upon the earth, it's the only possible fulfilment! You're not going to tell me that these are spiritual promises to the church? Just as the literal prophecies of judgement against Israel - where they literally fulfilled? They were! In the same way God will literally fulfil these promises to the nation of Israel in connection with the people, and the nation, and the land - their future restoration, God says, will be literally fulfilled!
So there is their future: 'The Restoration of the Land and the People' - but God goes on in chapter 37 in the story of the valley of dry bones. He speaks now of the resurrection of the nation, not just the people or the land, but that entity which is classified as a nation. In verse 3 of chapter 37 God says, as He lets Ezekiel see this valley of very many very dry bones, He asks the question: 'Ezekiel, look at them, can these bones live?'. Really He's saying: 'What do you think, Ezekiel, do you think these bones could live?'. Now what would you think? I wonder would your answer be like Peter, when the Lord told him to cast the net on the other side, and he in his boasting and his pride because he was a fisherman was telling the Lord: 'Well, you know Lord, I'm a fisherman I know what I'm talking about'? Maybe you would look at these bones and you would say: 'Look at the bones, Lord, how can these bones live? These bones cannot live'. Note Ezekiel's answer, this shows me what a man of God he is, verse 3: 'He answered, O Lord God, Thou knowest'. In other words: 'Well, if You're asking me as I can see it, I don't think it can - but, Lord, nothing is impossible with You'.
Really we're looking at the nation of Israel this very night, and we're seeing exactly what Ezekiel saw - there is no spiritual life whatsoever in them, blindness in part has happened to them. They look at these Scriptures and they cannot see what we see, by the Spirit of God, in them. They do not see their Messiah, they don't even see the prophecies of Messiah - even in chapter 53 of Isaiah's 'gospel', if you like. They don't see it! No spiritual life, but please don't make this mistake - because in biblical interpretation and theology many people believe that Israel will never ever be restored, and what they are doing is they're sharing the hopelessness that gripped Israel at this time. Israel were saying: 'Can these bones ever live? Where is the blessedness we knew? By the rivers of Babylon we sat down, and we wept when we remembered Zion'. There are theologians in the church today who would tell us: 'We remember Zion, but Zion will be no more'. Can these bones live? Well, the Lord knows, and we know - because we have the Lord's word. It's not talking about the return from Babylon, don't get that into your head - that may have been a partial fulfilment, pointing to a greater day. I'll tell you why it's only partial: because there has never been a day yet when Israel has been indwelt by the Holy Ghost of God! That is prophesied in this chapter, chapter 36 - but there has never been a day.
So, Ezekiel sees this vision. He is commanded to prophesy over the valley filled with old, dry human bones. They're scattered everywhere, and suddenly as he prophesies he hears a rattling noise all across the valley and the bones of each body come together and are attached to one another as they once had been. After he sees this wonderful site all of a sudden muscles and flesh are formed over the bones, and skin comes over in verse 8 to cover the bones. As we look at that sight we find that the vision is not complete, the bodies aren't finished yet because they have no breath - they're not alive. So Ezekiel is commanded in verses 9 and 10: 'Say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army'.
Now I want you to note two things here: the first word of prophecy that Ezekiel gave, he spoke the word of God and after the bones had come together, the sinew covered them and the flesh and then the skin, but it was still an inanimate body without life or breath. After the first word of God there was no spiritual life in the body. Now the Hebrew word 'ruach', for breath or wind, is the same word for spirit. It's exactly the same. It wasn't until the next time Ezekiel spoke the word of God, prophesied to the wind, that the wind came into the bodies. Now what am I saying? I'm saying this: the first prophecy speaks of restoration of a people who are spiritually dead. The bones are coming together, the sinew on the bones, the muscles, the flesh and the skin - they are coming together as a nation, you can see that, but there's no spiritual ruach, Spirit of God, in them! The second speaks of their regeneration, when the Holy Ghost of God will come and the spirit, the breath, the wind will be in the nation of Israel, and they will be resurrected spiritually, and they will know their God again.
Now look at verse 12 for a moment: 'Therefore, Ezekiel, prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel'. The Jews, he says, will be brought out of the graves of the Gentile nations where they have been scattered. That's speaking of the nation's hopelessness. You're looking at the valley of dry bones, and you think: 'There's no hope of these people ever living' - but God says: 'The graves that you're in, the death that you think prevails in Israel, I'm going to bring you out of the graves of the Gentile nations. I'm going to bring you back from your worldwide dispersion'. We haven't time to look at it, but in Deuteronomy 28 Moses prophesied that if the people did not obey the law in the land God would scatter them to the four corners of the world, and God has kept His word.
When you look at verse 62 of Deuteronomy 28 you find that God told them that there would be few in the land. It's estimated that there were six million Jews in Palestine in the time of our Lord Jesus, but it was reduced to one million in the land through deportations and dispersion - and there is God's word, Moses' word, being fulfilled. Few in the land! The accuracy of Moses' prediction is revealed in the fact that Jews have returned to their homeland, at this moment as we speak, from over 100 different nations! Indeed there's hardly a country or a nation in the world that is not represented by people, Jews, coming back to the nation. Let me say: the first word of prophecy in the vision of the valley of dry bones, I believe, has happened. It is the resurrection, politically as a nation as an entity within a geographical state of the world, of God's people - and it took place on May the 14th 1948, the day of Israel's independence when she became a modern nation. Ironically, I was finding out today, that 1948 was less than 10 years after Hitler boasted that he would build his Nazi empire on the graveyard of Israel.
Of course, you would know tonight that the nation is dead spiritually. It is a sinew, a body, the bones are together, the sinew is covering it, muscles and flesh and skin - but it's dead spiritually. But there will come a day, one day I believe soon, when our Lord Jesus Christ will return and He will speak that second word and the nation, in a day, will be saved! This is wonderful, isn't it? In verse 7 it talks about a great shaking, and after World War I there was the deliverance of Palestine - World War I really brought it about - Palestine was delivered from Turkish rule. But that deliverance provided the shaking of the bones that we find in this valley, it resulted in the rebirth of the state of Israel and it has no equal in modern history, ever!
Verses 9 and 10 talk about when the bones came together it was like an exceeding great army, now that's speaking of a day that is yet to be. We have seen how the reforestation and the kibbutz in Israel at this moment are preparing for a great day in the millennium, so this is being prepared today. There will be an exceeding great army of people, but you look at the exceeding great army, in preparation, of Israel this very night - the ability, militarily speaking, of the nation. It was outnumbered 80 to 1 in the war of independence in 1948 - 80 to 1! In 1956 Egypt tried to reverse the humiliation of the war of independence, and Moshe Dayan in four days defeated them - and the world was amazed at the lightning speed with which the Israelis fought over the vast desert area, and against the enemy that had been equipped by the finest wares and weapons from Russia and all of Europe! In June 1967 the Arabs were defeated again in six days, and the map of our world was changed and ancient prophecies were fulfilled, and Jerusalem became an all-Jewish city after 2000 years of foreign control - God's word stands!
In verse 12 we read of how God would bring them out of the graves of the Gentiles - that's going to happen on a great scale one day, but it's happening on a great scale in preparation now. The scattered remnants of Jewish people from the far corners of the earth where they have been buried for centuries, tens of thousands, it was seen in 1948, tens of thousands of them - clad only in rags trudging across the burning Arabian desert from Yemen to Aden, their only possessions under their arm the ancient scrolls of the law that they brought from their synagogues - returning to the land that their ancestors had left 2500 years previously when Judah was taken captive that we have been reading about, and there they're returning in 1948. How far away are we from that now tonight?
Turn with me quickly, we must look at this, Isaiah 43 verse 6 - keep your finger in Ezekiel - Isaiah 43 verse 6. Bear with me now, we're thinking of the resurrection of the nation and all these people coming from the four corners of the world, God said here: 'I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth'. Now our AV reads 'to the south', which is correct - but the Hebrew word is 'taman' (sp?), and the English word for 'taman' is 'Yemen', the nation where those Jews came from who had been exiled in Babylon. It was the home of 148,000 Jews, the oldest Jewish community in the world, and they expected to be carried from Yemen to Israel by the wings of an eagle, as the children of Israel were taken from Egypt to the promised land thousands of years ago. Lo and behold, the Jewish government sent DC-4's - 130 people at a time were taken on 'eagles wings' back to Israel.
First there had been no Jew in Jerusalem, they had all been dispersed - only a handful of them in Palestine. Listen, by 1880 there was about 25,000 Jews - one way or another they got into the land. By 1914 at the beginning of World War I there were 90,000 Jews in Palestine. By 1923 there were 180,000; by 1935 - 300,000; 1937 - 430,000; 1945 - 500,000. When independence came in 1948, 650,000. After independence immigration became a flood, and the first group en masse that came into the country was 25,000 Jews who'd survived the Nazi concentration camps. Altogether 33,000 arrived during the first four months of the state of Israel in independence. On that first year of independence 204,000 came in, before three more years passed an additional 655,000 entered. By 1965 there was a total population of 2.2 million from nothing! In 1970, 3 million; 1976, 3.5 million; 1990, 4 million! Boy, did they come from the four corners!
'I will say to the north, Give them up' - every nation in the north of Europe: Czechoslovakia gave 20,000 of its surviving Jews from the war; 30,000 came from Turkey; 36,000 from Bulgaria; more than half of the Jews in Yugoslavia were imported. 'I will bring my seed from the east' - prior to independence, 87% of the Jews that were in Jerusalem and Palestine came from European countries, only about 10% from Oriental countries, but during the first year and a half of independence there was an increase of 37% of Jews from the Orient, and by 1953 it had risen to 50% of the Jews in Palestine from the east! Eight hundred Jews alone came from Shanghai and Hong Kong. 'I will say to the north, I will say to the east, I will say to the south, Keep not back' - Jews from the Southern Arab lands. Before independence do you know how many Jews there were in the Arab lands? 900,000 Jews! Now only about 40,000, because they've all returned to the land. 'I will say to the west', God says in Isaiah. There was a virtual stampede from the west - from Egypt, from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Algeria, from Europe, from the United States of America and Latin America - thousands of Jews coming to their land. Israel spends more on immigration than on any government department apart from defence - and you can imagine that. She has the highest rate of immigration ever recorded in the world, why? Why is this? I'll tell you why: because God has said it!
During the hearing of the British Royal Commission on Palestine in 1937, David Ben-Gurion who was the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine said - he answered the question 'Why?': 'The Bible is our mandate' - that's why. Israel, today, is a restored nation. She's spiritually dead, but these Scriptures will be completely fulfilled one day. It's being prepared, as we speak, for the future spiritual revival in Israel. The regeneration where God says in chapter 36 verses 24 to 29: 'I'll put a new heart in you, I'll put My Spirit in you, I'll make you a new people' - that has never ever happened before, and that is what the Lord Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about: 'Art thou a teacher in Israel and knowest not these things? Ye must be born again!'.
One day that second word will come, the word and the spirit that brings life, that breathed into man at creation, the word that breathed into the Apostles in inspiration, the Spirit that breathed on the disciples at the unction in the Upper Room at Pentecost for the ministry of the word of God - that sweeping spirit will come upon Israel in restoration and they will be a new nation. The restoration of the land and the people, the resurrection of the nation, and thirdly and finally: 'The Reunification of the Kingdoms'. God doesn't do things by half measures. He gets Ezekiel to do another illustration, He asks him to carve the following two words on two wooden sticks. He says: 'On the first stick you've to write 'For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions', and on the second stick you're to write 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions''.
Really these two sticks are illustrations of sceptres, of rules, of kingdoms - and they're speaking of what we saw on our map: the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom, Israel; and the Southern Kingdom, Judah. One stick has Israel on it, one stick has Judah on it. Ezekiel is told to hold both sticks together in one hand, indicating that God one day intends to unite again Palestine, which is tonight a divided kingdom. Israel has not all the land, but one day God intends to unite what the devil divided. What was divided in the days of Rehoboam, which was the beginning of their downfall, will be reunited. Not only will a dead nation receive life, but a divided kingdom will be reunited in a covenant of peace and grace. There'll be no more Ephraim and Judah, but one nation with one King and one temple - and that has never happened before! It will happen in the millennium. Boy, what a joy to know this - do you know what this is all telling us? God in Christ is reversing everything that Satan and sin has ever done! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Do I need to say the coming of the Lord draweth nigh? Do I need to say, unconverted soul condemned in your sin, perhaps with us tonight, flee from the wrath to come? Do I need to say, believer, the night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light? I hope you would agree with me: the Lord is at hand.
Go home and watch the news, and say: 'It's all that they might know that I am the Lord'. Father, we thank Thee that as we have seen from the very outset of this great prophecy, at the very vision at the beginning, that Thou art a God who is moving in this world. Men may not perceive it, but we hope that men and women of God like Ezekiel who have been ascended by the word of God to see the revelation of God's word, that we will perceive and be able to tell the times and the seasons. Lord, no man knoweth the day, but Lord we are very aware that God's word is standing, and before our very eyes it is being fulfilled. We pray that our loved ones will be saved, we pray that our friends will be brought into the kingdom, we pray that our church here in the Iron Hall would have a breath of that same Spirit, and that we would have the life that we need to serve in this late hour. Oh God, help us - seeing these things shall be dissolved, help us to ask ourselves tonight: what manner of people ought we to be? We thank Thee for this reassurance, and we pray that we will go with it in our hearts now, in the name of the Lord Jesus we pray. Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twentieth tape in his Ezekiel series, titled "The Valley Of Dry Bones" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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