Prophecy Profile According to Ezekiel

Ezekiel's world was falling apart. Corruption, greed and violence were rife (so what's new!). The very fabric of society in Judah was being torn to shreds. A contemporary, living at the time, wrote this indictment of the reigning monarch Zedekiah as well as the rulers and the priestly class: "Zedekiah . . . reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He also did evil in the sight of the LORD his God . . . and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel . . . Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD, which He had consecrated in Jerusalem.

"And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, TILL THERE WAS NO REMEDY" (2 Chronicles 36:11-16). In spite of these terrible conditions Ezekiel's prophecies concerning Israel in the latter days are among the most vividly portrayed in all Scripture.

The prophet's name means God strengthens. He was only a young man when Nebuchadnezzar's armies smashed their way into Jerusalem and totally destroyed the Temple. Among those who were taken captive into Babylon with him were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who were to have a profound effect, not only on Nebuchadnezzar, but upon all who were their associates.

Whilst much of Ezekiel's ministry was to the exiles in Babylon, he also prophesied of a time when Israel would be gathered out of all countries (not just Babylon) and would return to their own land in the most remarkable circumstances. So amazing is this future regathering of Israel to its homeland that the prophet describes it as a nation being resurrected from the dead (37:12-13).

The Jewish people have returned twice to the land God promised to their forefathers. On the first occasion only a small remnant consisting of some of all the twelve tribes returned under the leadership of Zerubbabel. On that occasion their main objective was to rebuild the Temple and restore the walls of their beloved Jerusalem. Both tasks were finally accomplished but only after fierce opposition from their enemies.

The second return has been accomplished in this generation. It too was accomplished amidst overwhelming difficulties and opposition by Israel's enemies. Except for a small minority, even the Church failed to grasp the spiritual significance of what has been described as the greatest miracle of our time – the rebirth of Israel on the soil of its ancient homeland. This second return is the one that Ezekiel so vividly describes in chapters 36 to 39.

Ezekiel Predicts Israel's Regathering

There are striking dissimilar circumstances when Israel's return under the leadership of Zerubbabel is compared with the nation's present-day return. Under Zerubbabel there was a mass migration of forty odd thousand besides their servants. Their journey from Babylon to Jerusalem would have taken about four months to complete covering a distance of about 1500 kms (900 miles). Their first assignment upon arriving in Jerusalem was to build "the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses, the man of God" (Ezra 3:2). Furthermore the return from Babylon was the result of a royal decree issued by King Cyrus.

By comparison the present-day state of Israel began with no mass migration resulting from a royal command to do so. On the contrary, a few refugees fleeing from the pogroms of Czarist Russia endured untold hardships as they made their way mostly by foot to the Land of Promise, only to find malaria-infested swamps, rocky eroded hills, a poverty-stricken land under the rule of Turkey. World-war One and the liberation of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Turkish rule brought some respite and the Balfour Declaration resulted in a resurgence of immigrants.

A new city was born on the sand dunes on the outskirts of Jaffa with the picturesque name Tel Aviv, Hill of Spring. The Hebrew language was reborn and Jews began to return to their beloved Jerusalem. But no altar was built upon which to offer sacrifices to God. A Moslem mosque occupied the sacred Temple area, an effective barrier to any attempt to establish a place of worship on the Holy Mount.

Their alternative was to reclaim the swamps, plant millions of trees on the eroded hills, till the soil, establish settlements and reclaim the desert. And this was precisely what Ezekiel said they would do. Hear this: "But you O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown" (36:8-9).

In spite of murderous attacks by hostile terrorists the once-barren soil began to yield abundant harvests, and just as Ezekiel prophesied, so it came to pass: "I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it, and the cities shall be inhabited and ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings . . . " (36:10-11).

The Rebirth of the Nation – 1948

There is no more graphic description of the hardships and struggles of the pioneers to establish their homeland than Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones recorded in the 37th chapter. Not only does this chapter describe the coming together of "bone to his bone" as an illustration of how waves of new immigrants during the 20's and 30's firmly cemented the foundation upon which the future state would be built, but the prophet also describes the resurrection of the state of Israel with the equally astonishing description of Israel's armed forces that have amazed the world in four savage wars. In all literature there is nothing to compare with the grandeur of Ezekiel's prophecy attributed to the command of Almighty God.

"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 a valley; and it was full of bones . . . And he said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' So I answered, 'O Lord GOD, you know.' And 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 unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live . . . So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone . . .

"Thus says the LORD God: Come from the four winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, AND THEY LIVED, AND STOOD UPON THEIR FEET, AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY. Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel" (37:1, 3, 5-11).

What could be spoken in plainer language than the following prophecy? "Thus says the LORD God: Behold, 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; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel . . . " (37:21-22).

Ezekiel's prophecy in chapter 37 not only covers the establishment of the state of Israel as portrayed in his vision of the valley of dry bones, but it also has a future, or progressive element as yet unfulfilled. At that time, "David My servant shall be king over them . . . they shall also walk in My judgements, and observe My statutes and do them . . . My tabernacle shall also be with them: yes, I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (37:24-27).

"An Exceeding Great Army"

Round One

In hindsight it is now obvious that Israel did indeed "stand upon its feet AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY". On May 15th 1948 five hostile armies swept across Israel's borders confident of a swift and easy victory. Israel was encircled by implacable foes bent on the infant nation's immediate destruction. And the world just waited to see it happen! Hardly a finger, hardly a voice was raised in support of the newly-born infant state. But a miracle happened! This newest among the family of nations "stood upon its feet AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY" and flung the invaders back across its borders.

Round Two

In 1956 Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and closed it to Israeli shipping. Indeed, not even parcels mailed to Israel were allowed on ships using the Canal. Following this act of aggression Egypt blockaded the strategic Straits of Tiran thus sealing Israel's southern port, Eilat. Finally Egypt moved its tanks across the Sinai Peninsula. The second round to destroy Israel ended four days later with the complete rout of the Egyptian army.

Round Three

In June 1967, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, and Iraq combined to make the third round swift and decisive. It was a military colossus that was poised to destroy Israel. On the first day of the war Egypt's airforce was destroyed. On the third day Jordan was swept out of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem was miraculously liberated from Jordanian control. By the sixth day the Golan Heights had been cleared of the murderous Syrian artillery that had terrorized Israeli farmers for nineteen years. On the seventh day Israel rested!

Round Four

On the day when Israel fasts and prays, Yom Kippur, the combined might of the Arab armies struck again in 1973. It was the fourth round and Israel was struck a blow below the belt and reeled under the onslaught that followed. But did not Ezekiel prophesy that Israel would stand upon its feet AN EXCEEDING GREAT ARMY? Truly this was a modern version of David versus Goliath on a gigantic scale. When Israel was almost down for the count God's promise to His covenant nation came into effect: "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17). How truly has Ezekiel's prophecy come to pass on the four occasions when overwhelming odds combined to destroy the nation God calls "My people".

The Invasion from the North

There is no 'quick fix' in understanding the scope and magnitude of the scene described by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39. The prophet describes an invasion of Israel "in the latter days" by a vast army originating from "the north parts" (lit. the uttermost north). Nations allied with the northern invading force are "Persia (read Iran) , Ethiopia and Libya . . . Gomer and the house of Togarmah of the north quarters". Iran makes no secret of its hostility towards Israel. Ethiopia and Libya are Russian satellite countries also hostile to Israel. The descendants of Gomer and Togarmah are thought to comprise parts of East European countries and southern Russia.

These nations "ascend and come like a storm" and " like a cloud to cover the land". This massive invasion of Israel is scheduled for a time when "the desolate places are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations . . . It shall be in the latter days, and I will bring you against My land".

An analysis of the nations involved indicates that all fit the scenario. The land of Israel fits the description of "desolate places now inhabited" , the people of Israel are "gathered out of the nations". The time factor is the only uncertainty. The invasion of Israel will occur "in the latter days".

What is not uncertain is the amazing outcome of this future war. "And it shall come to pass, at the same time when Gog shall come up against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, MY FURY SHALL COME UP IN MY FACE" (38:18). There will be a blood-bath in Israel that will shock the world. Once again God will honour His word: "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper," and supernatural fire, brimstone, great hailstones and a great flood will wipe out the invading armies, and Israel will spend seven months burying the dead, and seven years burning the debris to cleanse the land.

There is a glorious conclusion to these four chapters that outline modern Israel's destiny. "And I will set My glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see My judgement that I have executed and My hand that I have laid upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward" (39:21-22).