Israel Restored: Vision of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37)
By Benjamin H. Liles
Before I start on this article, in posting scripture verses I intend to use as well as to how it pertains to Israel, it also speaks to the nature of man overall. It means the prophecies concerning Israel aren't just partially fulfilled, but that God intends on blessing Israel further. Israel has her King. She may not realize who it truly is as He's been there once before; He both walked throughout the land of Judea but also in Samaria. He was born in Bethlehem, of a virgin woman, from the house of both David of the tribe of Judah and of Levi. He is our High Priest. He took our sins and bore them. As it is said in scripture, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:4, New American Standard).
From the outset of this article I want to let everyone know that I ask for leniency for the length of it. This is a lot longer than the normal articles I wrote to date. The thing of it is that the part of scripture that has partially been fulfilled has to do with World War 2 and the nation of Israel obtaining her inheritance as God spoke long ago through His holy prophets. In particular it comes from Ezekiel. I know it's a huge jump from the last time I went over Ezekiel, which was chapter six, but I feel guided by God's strong hand to show how not only has part of this been fulfilled, but also that One has fulfilled another part of it and still has yet to happen: Ezekiel 37:1-14 is what is being looked at tonight (morning where Israel is).
The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord'"(Ezekiel 37:1-14, New King James).
Most Bible scholars will attest to the fact that shortly after World War 2 both Britain and the United States went to bat for the Jes who remained after the events of the war as well as the Holocaust to come back to the land of Canaan. The nations that surrounded this area have called the land Palestine, but in fact the Bible says the land of Canaan. In terms of God's word this means it doesn't matter who calls the land that flows with milk and honey whatever they wish; it matters what the Lord God of Israel says. Messianic Jews especially will agree with this statement as well as true and authentic Christians.
I don't want to just talk about how God allowed this to happen but to show and prove why Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of God. He came, as John the Baptist said, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come One more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16). This happened on the day of Pentecost, where as the disciples gathered in the upper room where Jesus instituted communion as the Passover meal was given. This event, communion--rather the breaking of bread and drinking the wine of the New Covenant--is the same as the Lord God instituted for Israel as they came out from Egypt known as Passover.
Why is this so important to even note here when the topic is on Israel's restoration? It is because God has said in His word, "And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God" (Ezekiel 11:19-20, Holman Christian Standard).
You see up until Jesus Christ came to fulfill the words of the Law of Moses and of the prophets the Law had been constantly and consistently broken. A huge part of it was due to Israel's leaders. The first of which was David who committed adultery and murder, towards Uriah the Hittite as well as with Bathsheba. His child from that union with Bathsheba died because of David's sin. He said to his servants, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:22-23, New King James).
In fact, Nathan the prophet told David, as God gave him the words, "Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun. The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die" (2 Samuel 12:9--14).
From that moment to the exile of both houses of Israel and Judah, first by Assyria towards Israel and Babylon to Judah, Israel has been dispersed throughout the world. This laid the groundwork for Israel to be restored by God back to the land which God told Moses and then to Joshua to take possession of Canaan--the land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 33:3). Both portions of Israel sinned in the sight of God, first by abandoning Him, then by committing idolatry as well as adultery as God was to be her inheritance. Israel played the harlot by asking other nations to help her in subduing her enemies; it was in this that Israel committed adultery. She forgot God can and will fight on her behalf had she chosen to remain faithful and obedient to Him. But they chose instead to be disobedient. In this way they rebelled against the Lord their God.
The psalmist wrote these words, "Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand. Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me" (Psalm 88:5, 16, New American Standard). Yet because of God's great love and graciousness towards His people He promised He would bring them back to their land. He would be their God and they would be His people. "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it" (Ezekiel 37:5-6, 9-10,12-14).
So how has God also fulfilled this in and through His Son Jesus Christ? We're told by apostle John, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (Jesus to Nicodemus, John 3:8). He says this to Nicodemus to let him know that there will be those born by the Spirit. Likewise we read a bit later, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one" (John 10:28-30). This promise Jesus gives fulfills the prophecy Ezekiel gives to Israel by God's command: "Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live" (Ezekiel 37:9, American King James).
We're told by the writers of Acts, "Now when they came up out of the water (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch), the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39). Even Joel, before the New Testament came about, gave this word from the Lord God of Israel, "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other; and My people will never be put to shame. It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days" (Joel 2:27-29).
When God gave this prophecy to the children of Israel He said it first to them. Since Israel is the apple of God's eye it stands to reason that Someone would have to come to give to Israel their rightful inheritance, the Spirit of the Lord. As Christians, of which I follow Jesus Christ myself, also partake in this incredible promise as the words declare "I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind" it can be seen that others given power by Christ, by the Spirit of God--His Holy Spirit--would evangelize to the world, the nations which would serve Him. But it means we need to have a change of heart.
Since we all are given God's word, first by His Law which He gave to Moses, and then by the prophets we can see just how much Biblical prophecy points us to Jesus Christ. Those who belong to Him can never be snatched out of His hand as He said (John 2:28). This reinforces what God revealed to His servant Moses: "See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand" (Deuteronomy 32:39, New American Standard). For this reason Jesus Christ could actually say, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17, Berean Study).
The reason the Jews of Jesus' time didn't recognize Him as Messiah wasn't just because they disregarded the prophetic word God gave about sending His servant, His own Son to die on behalf of our sins. They didn't recognize Him as they desired God to fulfill His prophecy about overthrowing those who are their enemies, that is to say Rome and their occupation of Jerusalem. They missed the point in that Jesus Christ was sent to "restore sight to the blind, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raise, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor" (Matthew 11:5).
Jesus Christ suffered the pain He did to nullify the effects of sin and death. We who belong to Him now are no longer under condemnation of the Law. If we still lived under the Law then continuous sacrifice would have to be made. However Jesus Christ was the last sacrifice which ended the daily ritualistic sacrifice so we can be presented blameless before God the Father (Hebrews 10:1-18 shortened). Consider the fact that Hebrews 10:18 says, "Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin." We no longer are enslaved by the Law, but rather the Law stops our mouths from justifying our sinful actions (Romans 3:19). We can become children of God by Christ's atoning work at the cross; who died for the ungodly so we are righteous before God.
With all that said I want everyone to know, as I have done so in the past, that I do this out of a sincere love. I do this according to my faith that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. He accomplished God's word in the way He lived, by the signs and wonders God the Father allowed so that the good news could be proclaimed. It is like John wrote, "A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another" (John 13:34, Berean Study). Even Paul said, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...And now remains faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13). I pray this blesses and encourages you. I pray our Lord and King reveal Himself to with His mighty deeds. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.