Ezekiel 37-39

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 10, 2005

Ezekiel 37

:1-14  Dry Bones

There’s the old spiritual …

“Your toe bone connected to your foot bone, Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone, Your ankle bone connected to your leg bone … now hear the word of the Lord …”

:1 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.

:2 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.

dry – bleached and baked under the hot sun

:3 And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know."

It sounds like a trick question to me.  I like Ezekiel’s answer, he puts it back to the Lord.

:4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!

:5 'Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.

:6 "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."' "

:7 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.

“Your toe bone connected to your foot bone, Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone …”

:8 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.

sinews and the flesh – first the bones were put together back into skeletons, then skin and flesh was added.  Now they’re dead corpses.

breathruwach – wind, breath, mind, spirit

:9 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."' "

Prophesy to the breath – or, “prophecy to the wind” (NLT) or, “prophecy to the spirit” …

:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

The dead corpses come to life.

:11 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!'

:12 "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.

I will open your graves – a resurrection.  Perhaps this is talking metaphorically, it could also be taken literally.

:13 "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.

:14 "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.'"


God’s Restoration

There aren’t too many things that are any more final than death.
Sometimes the painful things that happen in our lives can seem just about as devastating as death.
Yet God is able to bring restoration.
It comes from His Spirit.
Stanley Jones writes about a crucial moment in his life when he found himself on his way to what could have been a spiritual disaster:
For months after my conversion, I was running under cloudless skies.  And then suddenly I tripped, almost fell, pulled back this side of the sin, but was shaken and humiliated that I could come that close to sin.  I thought I was emancipated and found I wasn’t.  I went to the class meeting—I’m grateful that I didn’t stay away—went, but my music had gone.  I had hung my harp on a weeping willow tree. As the others spoke of their joys and victories of the week, I sat there with the tears rolling down my cheeks.  I was heartbroken. After the others had spoken, John Zink, the class leader, said: “Now, Stanley, tell us what is the matter.”  I told them I couldn’t, but would they please pray for me?  Like one man they fell to their knees, and they lifted me back to the bosom of God by faith and love. When we got up from our knees, I was reconciled to my heavenly Father, to the group, and to myself.  I was reconciled.  The universe opened its arms and took me in again.  The estrangement was gone.  I took my harp from the willow tree and began to sing again—the Song of Moses and the Lamb, especially the Lamb.  The cross was my refuge and my release.
That was a very crucial moment in my Song of Ascents, the moment when I lost my music.  My destiny was in the hands of that group.  I was a very bruised reed; suppose they had broken me?  I was a smoldering wick; suppose they had snuffed me out?  Just a criticism: “I told you so.  Too good to be true.  He was riding for a fall.”  But they never uttered a criticism, or even thought of one, as far as I could see.  The reaction was nothing but redemptive love.  That group became redemptive.  I saw and experience the power of redemptive love incarnate in a group.

-- A Song of Ascents

It comes from His Spirit breathing life into old dry bones.

:15-28 Two Sticks United

From time to time you may answer your doorbell at home only to find two handsome young men dressed in white shirts, ties, and name badges identifying them as “elders”.  They are there to tell you about the book of Mormon.  And if you are kind enough to let them talk, you will hear them share something amazing from this passage in Ezekiel. 

They will tell you that this passage is actually about the book of Mormon.  They will tell you that the “stick of Judah” is the Christian Bible, while the “stick of Joseph” is the book of Mormon.  (see for yourself at “FaithinChrist.org”, a Mormon website)

I remember hearing this years ago and I have to tell you it sounds pretty convincing.  I remember also being pretty amazed at seeing Joseph Smith’s name in the Bible as well.  I didn’t know how to respond to this.  How do we respond to this?

First we need to review a couple of things to make sure we’re all on the same page.

When was the book of Ezekiel written, and what were the historical circumstances?

Ezekiel wrote around the time of the Babylonian exile.  He himself was one of the exiles in Babylon.

Let’s review some of the terms we’re going to find in the passage:

Tell me what the name of the nation of the Jews was called:  Israel
Ezekiel wrote long after the nation had been divided into two kingdoms, a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom.  What were the various names that these kingdoms were known as?
Northern Kingdom:  Israel, Samaria (the capital city), Ephraim (the dominant tribe)
Southern Kingdom:  Judah, Jerusalem (the capital city)
The Northern Kingdom was carried off into exile by whom?  The Assyrians in 722 BC.
The Southern Kingdom was carried off into exile by whom?  The Babylonians in 586 BC.
When Ezekiel is writing this, which tribes of Israel are left in the land of Israel?  None.
Super trivia question:  The twelve tribes of Israel were descendants of the sons of Israel (also known as Jacob).  Which son of Israel was the tribe of Ephraim a descendant of?  Joseph.

Now, we’ll read through the entire passage and see if you will know how to answer the nice folks at your door.  Get your thinking caps on Bible Scholars…

:15 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:16 "As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: 'For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.'

:17 "Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.

:18 "And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, 'Will you not show us what you mean by these?';

:19 "say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."'

:20 "And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.

:21 "Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land;

:22 "and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.

:23 "They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

:24 "David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.

:25 "Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.

:26 "Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.

:27 "My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

:28 "The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore."' "

Okay Bible scholars – what do these two sticks represent?  Do they represent the Christian Bible and the Mormon Bible?  No, they do not.

It seems pretty clear what these sticks represent, in fact Ezekiel labeled them.  He wrote on the sticks exactly what they represented:

:16 "As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: 'For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.'

The sticks represented the two factions of the Jewish nation, the southern kingdom (Judah), and the northern kingdom (Joseph, or Ephraim).
By Ezekiel’s day, both nations had been carried off into exile.
But there would be a day when God would bring them back into the land, and instead of two divided nations, they would be a single nation.

When does this reunification take place?

Some might say it took place after the Babylonian captivity – but the “sanctuary” (vs. 26) wasn’t going to be there forever.  It would be destroyed again by the Romans in AD 70.

Others might say that it’s taking place now – though there is no “sanctuary” built … yet.

It may also refer to the time after Jesus returns.

Ezekiel 38

Ezekiel is about to describe a great war.  This war has not yet taken place.  Though there are several possibilities as to when this will take place, I believe that this war is most likely the next major prophetic event to take place.  It would seem that this was will come before the seven year Tribulation period, though it’s possible it might come after the Rapture.

The future:  The Rapture, Gog Invasion, the Antichrist gains power, the Tribulation starts, the Antichrist will declare himself to be God (halfway through the Tribulation), Armageddon, Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation, Satan is bound and Jesus rules for 1,000 years, Satan is released for a short time, then Jesus will regain control and there will be a New Heavens and New Earth forever …

:1 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:2 "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him,

Who and what are these places and people?

GogGowg – “mountain” – it seems that this is the name being given to the ruler of this land of “Magog”.  I guess you could say he’s a “mountain man”.

land of MagogMagowg – “land of Gog”; the 2nd son of Japheth, grandson of Noah, and progenitor of several tribes northward from Israel; the mountainous region between Cappadocia and Media and habitation of the descendants of Magog, son of Japheth and grandson of Noah (these are areas in modern Turkey, Iran, and Iraq)

the prince of … it would seem that Gog is prince of these next three regions.

Roshnasiy’ – one lifted up, chief, prince, captain, leader; rising mist, vapour.  The scholar Gesenius (and others) identified this as “Russia”.  Delitsch identifies it with Assyr.  Josephus clearly identified “Magog” as referring to the Scythians, which were the ancestors of the true Russians.

Meshech Meshek – “drawing out”; son of Japheth, grandson of Noah, and progenitor of peoples to the north of Israel; a people on the borders of Colchis and Armenia (these areas are in modern “Georgia” and “Armenia”, these areas used to be included in the former Soviet Union); descendants of Mesech often mentioned in connection with Tubal, Magog, and other northern nations including the Moschi (sounds like “Moscow”)

TubalTuwbal – “thou shall be brought”; son of Japheth and grandson of Noah; a region in east Asia Minor; perhaps nearly equal to Cappadocia (modern Turkey).

:3 "and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.

:4 "I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.

It sounds like these nations will be entering this war against their wills.  They are forced into this conflict.  I wonder if there would be some sort of treaty that would require them to attack Israel.

:5 "Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;

Persia – modern Iran

EthiopiaEthiopia is south of Egypt

Libya – Mr. Gaddafi’s country

:6 "Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops; many people are with you.

GomerGomer – “complete”; the eldest son of Japheth and grandson of Noah; the progenitor of the early Cimmerians and other branches of the Celtic family. The Babylonian Talmud identifies it with Germania (Germany)

TogarmahTowgarmah – “thou wilt break her”; son of Gomer, grandson of Japheth, and great grandson of Noah; probably the area known as Armenia and/or Turkey.

:7 "Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.

:8 "After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.

Note:  this takes place in “the latter years”.  This invasion has not yet happened.

:9 "You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you."

:10 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:

:11 "You will say, 'I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates';

This is speaking of Israel in the days prior to this invasion.  There will be a time of peace.

:12 "to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

plunder and bootyIsrael is quite wealthy compared to the surrounding nations.

:13 "Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?'" '

Sheba, DedanSaudi Arabia

merchants of Tarshish – Tarshish is often identified with Spain, but some have suggested that it might extend all the way to England.

young lions – some type of younger relative of Tarshish?  Some have suggested this might be a reference to the United States.

These nations will object to the invasion.  But it doesn’t look like they’re going to do anything else to help.

:14 "Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day when My people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?

:15 "Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army.

:16 "You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land. It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes."

God is going to be recognized by what is about to happen.

:17 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?

:18 "And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel," says the Lord GOD, "that My fury will show in My face.

God is going to get real upset.

:19 "For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: 'Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel,

:20 'so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.'

It sounds like this will be an earthquake similar to the one that set off the great Tsunami last year in India – an earthquake that was apparently felt around the world.

:21 "I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains," says the Lord GOD. "Every man's sword will be against his brother.

:22 "And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

:23 "Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD."'

Some have suggested that this might begin to describe a nuclear war.  But it doesn’t have to be a nuclear war.  It might simply be something that God does directly for Israel.

Ezekiel 39

:1 "And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal;

:2 "and I will turn you around and lead you on, bringing you up from the far north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel.

The Old King James reads:

(Ezek 39:2 KJV)  And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee…

Some feel this means that 5/6 of the invaders will be killed.

:3 "Then I will knock the bow out of your left hand, and cause the arrows to fall out of your right hand.

:4 "You shall fall upon the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops and the peoples who are with you; I will give you to birds of prey of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.

:5 "You shall fall on the open field; for I have spoken," says the Lord GOD.

:6 "And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.

:7 "So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not let them profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

:8 "Surely it is coming, and it shall be done," says the Lord GOD. "This is the day of which I have spoken.

:9 "Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers, the bows and arrows, the javelins and spears; and they will make fires with them for seven years.

seven years – this is one reason why we believe that this might take place before the Tribulation, because this period of seven years is mentioned, the same length of time as the Tribulation.

There will be so many weapons lying around that the Israelites will use them for fuel.

:10 "They will not take wood from the field nor cut down any from the forests, because they will make fires with the weapons; and they will plunder those who plundered them, and pillage those who pillaged them," says the Lord GOD.

:11 "It will come to pass in that day that I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude. Therefore they will call it the Valley of Hamon Gog.

Hamon GogHamown Gowg – “multitude of Gog”; the name to be given to a valley of graves; ravine or glen, now known as ‘the ravine of the passengers’ (those who pass by east of the sea), located on the east side of the Dead Sea

:12 "For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land.

It will take a long time to bury this huge army of bodies.

:13 "Indeed all the people of the land will be burying, and they will gain renown for it on the day that I am glorified," says the Lord GOD.

:14 "They will set apart men regularly employed, with the help of a search party, to pass through the land and bury those bodies remaining on the ground, in order to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make a search.

:15 "The search party will pass through the land; and when anyone sees a man's bone, he shall set up a marker by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog.

It’s interesting to watch how the Israelites handle dead bodies after a terrorist attack.  It reminds me very much of this.  Some have suggested that one reason for the markers is because of the possible radiation problem with a nuclear attack.

:16 "The name of the city will also be Hamonah. Thus they shall cleanse the land."'

HamonahHamownah – “multitudes”.  Could it be a city is established to house the people who are burying the invaders?

:17 "And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: "Assemble yourselves and come; Gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal Which I am sacrificing for you, A great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, That you may eat flesh and drink blood.

:18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, Drink the blood of the princes of the earth, Of rams and lambs, Of goats and bulls, All of them fatlings of Bashan.

:19 You shall eat fat till you are full, And drink blood till you are drunk, At My sacrificial meal Which I am sacrificing for you.

:20 You shall be filled at My table With horses and riders, With mighty men And with all the men of war," says the Lord GOD.

:21 "I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them.

:22 "So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward.

We think there will be a great turning to God among the Jews.  Many Jews living in Israel are “secular” or “non-practicing” Jews.

:23 "The Gentiles shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity; because they were unfaithful to Me, therefore I hid My face from them. I gave them into the hand of their enemies, and they all fell by the sword.

:24 "According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them, and hidden My face from them."'

:25 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name;

:26 'after they have borne their shame, and all their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, when they dwelt safely in their own land and no one made them afraid.

:27 'When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations,

:28 'then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.

:29 'And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,' says the Lord GOD."

I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel

The work of the Holy Spirit may be a key to understanding the order of prophetic events.

The antichrist’s unveiling …
(2 Th 2:7 NKJV)  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.

We believe this takes place when the work of the Spirit through the church stops because the church is taken away in the Rapture.

The salvation of the Jews is tied to the “fullness of the Gentiles” …
(Rom 11:25-26 NKJV)  For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. {26} And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

When the church age is finished, and the last Gentile has accepted Christ, then the Rapture will occur and God will turn His attention to Israel, pouring out His Spirit on Israel.

Could it be possible that the timing of God’s Spirit being poured out on Israel might coincide with these events?
Right now the work of the Holy Spirit on the earth is taking place primarily through the church.  When the church is taken out in the Rapture, then the door is opened for the antichrist to step in.  And God turns His attention to Israel, pouring out His Spirit on Israel - and Ezekiel says this takes place at the end of the Gog/Magog invasion.


Hurry it up

I wonder if there isn’t a sense in which we can hurry this timetable up.
(2 Pet 3:9-15 NKJV)  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. {11} Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, {12} looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

What could it mean to “hasten” the coming of the day of God?  I think it’s entirely possible that God has some sort of “number” of Gentiles in mind, Gentiles that He wants to be saved.  And when that last person gets saved, the next stage opens up.

{13} Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. {14} Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; {15} and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

How can we “hasten” that day?

Keep your life together – keep honoring God with your life.

Keep sharing your faith.  What if that person you’ve been thinking about sharing with is the last one?  What are you waiting for?