The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (24)
Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper
- Some Preliminary Observations
- The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
- The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
- The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
- Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
- The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
- Prophecy and Idolatry
- Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
- The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
- God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
- The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
- Israel's Past and Future Experiences
- The Sword of Jehovah
- Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
- The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
- The Boiling Caldron
- Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
- The Oracle Concerning Tyre
- The Oracles Concerning Egypt
- The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
- The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
- The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
- The Judgment upon Edom
- The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
- Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
- The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
- The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
- The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
- The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
- The Millennial Jerusalem
- The Millennial Temple
- The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
- The Land of Israel in the Millennium
The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
In Ezekiel 6:1-10 we have a prophecy concerning the judgment that would fall upon the mountains of Israel because of the wickedness of the people who resided in the country. In contrast with this prediction of calamity is the one which is made to the same mountains of Israel in chapter 36 (vss. 1-15), where we read that the curse will be lifted from these very same mountains.
The Strife in the Land of Palestine
God promised Israel when He brought her out of Egyptian bondage that, if she would be faithful to Him, she would have bountiful crops, would be smitten with no diseases, would have no plagues, and that never would any foreign, hostile powers cross her borders and cause trouble. But Israel has been disobedient to the Lord through the centuries. Her land has been torn by strife and war continually. It has been said that Jerusalem has suffered forty-six major sieges during Historic Times. But the time will arise when the last gun will be fired in Jerusalem and the last victim fall to such a tragic death. How the population of Palestine look forward to the glorious era when deliverance will be brought to this unfortunate people!
In verse 2 we learn that the oracle, found in chapter 36, is spoken to Israel “Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha! and, The ancient high places are ours in possession.” The enemy here, as we see from the preceding chapter which is joined very closely with this one, is none other than the Edomites and other Arabic countries associated with Edom.
In this same verse the enemy claims that the land of Palestine, which belongs to the Jew, is her own, and that she possesses the high places of the land. It is a well-known fact that the Jews have settled in the lowlands and valleys of the country, whereas the Arabs have been in the high places. They have claimed, ever since the trouble of recent years have arisen in Palestine, that the country is theirs, because they had been in peaceful possession of it for centuries. Of course, this is only a claim.
From verse 3 we see that these enemies are the ones who have made the land desolate:
Because, even because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might he a possession unto the residue of the nations, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and the evil report of the people; 4 therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord Jehovah ...”
The country is made desolate in fulfillment of this prediction. Those bringing about this condition are those termed enemies, of whom we have taken notice just above. The result is that the country is thrown into the lap of the residue of the nations.
Though we may not be dogmatic concerning the exact fulfillment of this prediction, a person can easily see how the recent strife in Palestine has brought about at least a certain amount of the conditions here foretold. The Arabs contested the Jewish claim to Palestine and their right to build their home in the land. Strife entered. The Palestinian situation was dumped into the lap of the league of nations, and they divided the country, which brought about the terrific war of recent months. As a result of that conflict, there has been much desolation and waste throughout the country. Though I am not claiming that this is the fulfillment of the passage, it certainly might be classified as a fulfillment.
In verses 4 and 5 the Lord gives a special message to these mountains of Israel:
“... Thus saith the Lord Jehovah to the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the cities that are forsaken, which are become a prey and a derision to the residue of the nations that are round about; 5 therefore, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the nations, and against Edom, that have appointed my land unto themselves for a possession with the joy of all their heart, with despite of soul, to cast it out for a prey.”
God takes up the matter according to this prediction and champions the cause of Israel in the dispute that the Arabs launch against the Jews for claiming Palestine as their own. He who touches the Jew touches the apple of God's eye. One cannot entertain anti-Semitic thoughts in his heart and go unpunished by the Lord.
According to verse 5 the indignation of God is aroused against the rest of the nations and against all Edom that appoint the land of Palestine to themselves for a possession. The oracle which the Lord thunders against the enemies of Israel is this:
Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold I have spoken in my jealousy and in my wrath, because ye have borne the shame of the nations: 7 therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I have sworn, saying, Surely the nations that are round about you, they shall bear their shame.” (vss. 6b,7)
Because of the active hostility that the Arabic nations around Palestine have shown toward the Jewish people, the Lord declared that these nations shall bear the shame, the reproach, and the chastisement for their sins.
Message of Hope and Comfort to the Mountains of Israel
The message of special hope and encouragement to the mountains of Israel is found in verses 8-15.
The date of this prophecy is given very clearly in verse 8:
But ye, 0 mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches,
and yield your fruit to my people Israel; for they are at hand to come.”
This passage contemplates a time when the Jews are out of their land but are ready to return to it. When that time arrives, according to the prediction, the country is ready to shoot forth its branches and to bring forth its fruit to full fruition for His people Israel. This passage, studied in the light of related ones, can refer to none other than the final and complete, restoration of the Jews to the land of their fathers in the latter days. When this time comes and the Messiah appears, rending the heavens and descending to the earth, He will lift the curse and then the Land of Palestine, will bring forth its fruit to the returning exiles. From these facts we see that the prophet was carried from his own time across the centuries to the very end of this age, to the times in which we are living.
Seemingly the Lord has been against the land which He gave to the Jewish fathers and to their children after them. But of course this language cannot be taken literally, for the Lord has not been
against the land. But His judgment against the land on account of the people might, in popular thought, be expressed as His being against the land.
When the time arrives for Israel to return to the land of the fathers, and the soil is to be tilled by them, God promises according to verses 10 and 11 that He will multiply the house of Israel upon the land. The cities of Israel shall be inhabited and the waste places shall he built up. Not only will the population of Israel be increased and Abraham's seed become as numerous as the stars of heaven, but the beasts of the field likewise will be increased — as we see in verse 11. Moreover, the crops will he bountiful. There will be sufficient rains at the proper time, and right climatic conditions to produce bumper crops. There will be no mildew, no blasting, no plagues by which the crops will be injured. According to the latter part of verse 11, God declares that He will do better by the nation of Israel in the future than He has ever done before. At the time, as we see in verse 12, the men of Israel will be restored to their land, and they will possess their inheritance within the boundaries of the land which God gave to Abraham, the great father of all the faithful.
In verses 13 and 14 we see the popular thought expressed concerning the land of Palestine and its being the cause of the people's being devoured and the population being depleted. But, as stated above, this is only popular language, since there is such abundant evidence throughout the land that it has been under the curse during the time that Israel has been in rebellion against God.
But when this prophecy is fulfilled, there will be no more curse and no more reproach upon the Jewish people. They will have been restored to their land and to fellowship with God. Then Israel will enjoy her place as the head of the nations instead of being the tail as she is at the present day.
It is very interesting indeed to the students of prophecy who follow the moving picture that is constantly being shifted in the land of Palestine today. At the same time it behooves us, as we study the Jewish situation, to avoid all speculation and guessing. In other words, it behooves us to be very sane and sound and avoid jumping at hasty conclusions. At the same time we must not be skeptical and consider ourselves unable to see the fulfillment of plain prophecies that God has made concerning the return of the Jewish people to the land of their fathers.