Return

The Visions and Oracles of the Prophet Ezekiel (25)

Biblical Research Monthly, January 1947 thru September 1950 — by Dr. David L. Cooper

Installments:

      1. Some Preliminary Observations
      2. The Call and Commission of Ezekiel
      3. The Beginnings of Ezekiel's Ministry
      4. The Final Collapse of Judah Under the Babylonian Siege
      5. Jehovah's Withdrawal from the City and it's Downfall
      6. The Flight and Capture of the King Symbolically Represented and Warning Against a Wrong Attitude Concerning Prophecy
      7. Prophecy and Idolatry
      8. Israel, the Burnt Vine and the Unfaithful Wife
      9. The Riddle of the Two Great Eagles and the Messianic Reign of Christ
      10. God's Reply to the Proverb, “The Fathers have Eaten Sour Grapes, and the Children's Teeth are Set on Edge”
      11. The Young Lions and the Rods of Judah
      12. Israel's Past and Future Experiences
      13. The Sword of Jehovah
      14. Sinful Jerusalem and Her Punishment
      15. The Lewdness of Oholah and Oholibah
      16. The Boiling Caldron
      17. Oracles Concerning Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia
      18. The Oracle Concerning Tyre
      19. The Oracles Concerning Egypt
      20. The Watchman on the Wall (Chapter 33)
      21. The Untrue Shepherds of Israel
      22. The Flock of Jehovah and its Shepherd
      23. The Judgment upon Edom
      24. The Curse Removed from the Land of Israel
      25. Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion
      26. The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
      27. The Scattered Nation of Israel Reunited under King Messiah
      28. The Overthrow of the Russian Forces that Invade Palestine (Chapter 38)
      29. The Overthrow of the Antichrist's Forces Invade Palestine (Chapter 39)
      30. The Millennial Jerusalem
      31. The Millennial Temple
      32. The Prince and the Glorified Millennial Temple
      33. The Land of Israel in the Millennium

Israel's Restoration to the Land of the Fathers and Her Conversion

Ezekiel, chapter 36, is an illustration of the law of recurrence. When the prophets followed this principle, they, figuratively speaking, painted, or blocked out, a certain scene of the future. After that they filled in new details and brought out in brighter or more lurid colors certain characteristics that they put in at the first. Thus in 36:1-15 the prophet foretold the strife between the Arabic nations and the Jews in the end time and of their being finally removed from the scene and Israelis being established in the land of the fathers.

At this future time great fertility will be the order of the day, and great will be the peace of Jerusalem with her children. In verses 16-38 the prophet went back over this picture and touched up some of the details, making them stand out in bold relief, and added new ones.

The Cause of Israel's Dispersion

As a person studies the prophecies that were uttered by these various divine spokesmen, he should always remember the broad blueprint of Israel's history that is set forth in Leviticus, chapter 26, and Deuteronomy, chapter 28.

In these two passages God promised Israel blessedness with all material comforts and freedom from disease and protection from all attacks by enemies. On the other hand, He warned her that, should she be unfaithful to Him, persist and continue in rebellion, He would be forced by her actions to cast her out of her land, to scatter her among the nations and then, eventually, when she repented of her sin, forsook, and confessed it, to restore her permanently to the land of the fathers. God watches over His Word to perform it. Every promise of blessing that He makes to anyone is fulfilled promptly and completely, whenever the one to whom the promise is made becomes obedient in the spirit and the letter of the command.

On the other hand, when men and women persist in rebellion and disobedience to God and will not turn from their wickedness, there is but one thing that a holy, righteous, and just God can do, and that is, to bring the threatened punishment. This is what we see stated in Ezekiel 36:16-21 inclusive.

Israel Regathered and Purified

In verses 22-38 we see the bright future that lies ahead for Israel. In the first verse of this portion of the prophecy, God tells why He will restore Israel. It is not because of her goodness or her righteousness, but because of His holy name which she has profaned among the nations whither she has gone. Moses was led to make a similar pronouncement to the people of his generation and to warn them that they were in possession of the land, not because of any goodness or righteousness of their own, but because God loved their ancestors and had entered into a covenant with them. The same principle holds today. God will be true to the holiness of His character, and to the righteousness of His nature. Because of that and of His faithfulness, Israel is preserved.

For I, Jehovah, change not;
therefore ye, 0 sons of Jacob,
are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

According to Ezekiel 36:23 God will sanctify His holy name among the nations, the name of Jehovah which Israel has profaned among them. Then the nations shall know that Jehovah, the Self-existing One, is the true and living God. The word, sanctify, means primarily to set apart from a common to an uncommon use. God is going to sanctify His name and set it apart in such a way that the nations will revere it and will worship Him who wears that ineffable name, Jehovah.

In verse 24 the prophet speaks of God's regathering Israel from among the nations whither she has been scattered through the centuries in the overthrow of the city of Jerusalem, in A.D. 70:

For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” (Ezekiel 36:24,25)

All the prophets, from Moses to Malachi prophesied that God would gather Israel from among the nations and place her in her own land. Thus this promise is quite familiar to the one who is acquainted with the prophetic word. When the Lord promises to gather Israel and to restore her to the land, He is speaking of the faithful few of Israel who long for the truth, and who will accept it when it is presented to her.

In verse 25 we see the promise that He would sprinkle clean water upon Israel and would cleanse her from all of her filthiness, even from all of her idolatry. Unfortunately some expositors, having forgotten the connection in which this promise was made, have thought that the word “sprinkle” here refers to water baptism, the Christian ordinance authorized by the Lord Jesus. It is clear from the context that the Lord is speaking of the gathering of Israel and of her being re-established in the land of the fathers. It is an unlawful use of language to take some portion out of an oracle which is purely Jewish and to apply it, in the Christian sense, to the people of all nations. This sprinkling of clean water upon those gathered back to the land can have no reference to water baptism whatsoever. To everyone who is familiar with the teaching of the law of Moses, it is quite evident that this is an echo of such a passage as that which is found in Numbers, chapter 19. Whenever anyone was defiled in any way, as for instance, by touching a dead body unwittingly, he was pronounced unclean ceremonially. He had to carry out certain ritualistic observances and to have the water of separation sprinkled upon him, which was prepared in connection with the ashes of a red heifer. When the defiled person thus observed all the requirements, and when the end of the ceremony of purification was completed by the sprinkling of the water, he was pronounced clean and could associate with the rest of the community as before.

Should this refer to water baptism in the Christian sense, it is clear that water baptism cleanses. But no one who has the proper conception of the New Testament teaching will for one second claim that the water cleanses or purifies. Such a thought as this is repugnant to the Christian consciousness. It is, however in perfect accord with the ceremonial regulations of the law of Moses. Hence this sprinkling of clean water upon regathered Israel is purely Mosaic and will be fulfilled by Israel when she returns to God in the future.

Israel, at the time when she returns and is thus cleansed by the Lord, is promised a new heart and a new spirit: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” God through Moses (Deuteronomy 29:4) declared that He had not as yet given them a heart to understand; that is, that He did not regenerate the nation. It is true that those who by faith walked with God and trusted Him had created within them clean hearts, as David prayed. The nation as a group were not regenerated. But when this prophecy is fulfilled, the entire nation will accept the Lord Jesus Christ whom they rejected at His first coming. When they act thus and repudiate their national sin of refusing to accept Him and plead for God to perform the miracle of grace in their hearts, according to Psalm 80, they will be given this new heart, and the Spirit will be given to them.

When God does put His Spirit within regenerated Israel, she will, as a result, truly walk in the statutes of God and keep the ordinances and do them.

They are promised in verse 28 that they shall remain in the land which God gave to their fathers. Nevermore will they he rooted up from it. They will be the Lord's people, and He will be their God in the special sense — as is set forth throughout the writings of Moses and the prophets.

The Lord also will save them from all uncleanness and filthiness of a physical or of a spiritual nature. The Lord will, furthermore, give them sufficient crops and multiply the increase of their fields. He will lay no famine upon them.

In verses 30 and 31 again the Lord reiterates the promise of freeing Israel from famine and exempting her from all evil and calamities.

The entire prophecy concludes with the thought that God will bring about Israel's return to Him and will regenerate and save the nation. At that time He will restore unto her her land, which will then be built up and inhabited. All of the ruins of the centuries will be removed, and the land will be as the Garden of Eden. They will lack nothing when they are thus established in their own land.

Next: The Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones

Return