By Benjamin H. Liles
As I wrap up Ezekiel with this last chapter, the forty-eighth, I realize how long and truly hard this was for me to get through. On one hand it got me to truly read His word, and the other to do my best to understand God's plan, not just for Israel, but the world as well. Don't get me wrong, God loves Israel; a great deal. Yet, it seems the way He's loved Israel seems and looks lopsided. On one part it looks like He absolutely and unequivocally loves Israel, and at the same time He's a God who dispenses truth and justice as He sees fit.
It's like He told Hosea, "Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt. In that day—this is the Lord’s declaration—you will call Me, “My husband,” and no longer call Me, “My Baal.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names. On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground. I will shatter bow, sword, and weapons of war in the land and will enable the people to rest securely" (Hosea 2:14-18, Holman Christian Standard).
And now we have come back to where it all started, with God. He gives to Israel her proper place: "From the northern border along the road to Hethlon at the entrance of Hamath, to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus northward, in the direction of Hamath, there shall be one section for Dan from its east to its west side (48:1)," with Dan at the head and the northernmost point of Israel. This is what Ezekiel declares.
We see a God who loves so much He doesn't really want to dispossess those who are His in the slightest. He desires to give them the best He has to give. In fact, the more I think of God's love toward all people who call on Him and seek Him out, due to His love for the people of Israel as well as the world, it comes across as a love letter from Solomon to his bride.
Solomon wrote, "'I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys. Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens. Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men. In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love" (Song of Solomon 2:1-4, New American Standard). So is God's love toward Israel as well as all people who believe and call on Him. Recall in His word it says, "Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation'" (Exodus 17:15-16).
Truly the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel) is also the same God who commissioned the disciples of Jesus that they "will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8, Berean Study). As I wrap up this book series on Ezekiel, I also want to point out the fact my wife, Tanya, got me more interested in wanting to teach God's word, the Bible, in a right and straightforward manner. The folks at When We Understand The Text have made teaching the right way available in an online format.
It helps me understand and see I'm not the only one who truly desires to explain the Bible, God's word, in a truthful and decent manner. I want to teach what's right, what's good, and encourages the body of Jesus Christ. It's like Paul said and wrote, "So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous...But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you...For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree" (Romans 11:11-24, bold for emphasis).
If Israel is the "cultivated olive tree" and those who are in the church that Christ authorized to spread the gospel message are the "wild olive shoot," then this means that the church Christ instituted is an extension of Israel. It all goes back to God calling out Israel to be His people, so that through them the world would be blessed. Jesus Christ has assuredly done this as He descends from David, from the tribe of Judah of Israel; taking our sins at the cross so we may have life. It is through His death, burial and resurrection we no longer are alive to sin, but dead to it. We no longer have to live in that way. So, as Jesus once ministered and said, "Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 4:17, Expanded). I pray this has blessed, encouraged, and shown you I am willing to take the time and effort it means and takes to go through a book of the Bible.