EZEKIEL CHAPTER 37.
Further Evidences of Israel’s Restoration.
THE VISION OF THE RESURRECTION. — V. 1. The hand of the Lord was upon me and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, in a state of ecstasy in which the prophet was inwardly transported from the things around him, and set me down in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones, one representing a huge grave, in which, however, the corpses had not been covered, v. 2. and caused me to pass by them round about, so that Ezekiel received a very close view of them, observed them most carefully; and, behold, there were very many in the open valley, not in heaps, but scattered over the ground, and, lo, they were very dry, bleached by long exposure to the elements, without sap and vitality. V. 3. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? Did it seem possible to human eyes that these dry bones would be restored to life again? And I answered, properly leaving the answer of the question to the Lord’s almighty power, O Lord God, Thou knowest. With God nothing is impossible, and therefore the believers trust in Him to perform His mighty deeds at His own time. V. 4. Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, that is, over or concerning them, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord, which is the bearer of life, the mediator of the salvation of Jehovah. V. 5. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, His creative divine power, as in the beginning, and ye shall live; v. 6. and I will lay sinews upon you, literally, “binding matter,” for the tendons and sinews hold the bones together and serve as a foundation for the flesh, and will bring up flesh upon you, causing it to fill out the human forms, and cover you with skin and put breath in you, and ye shall live, cp. Is. 26, 19; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, by this proof of His almighty power. V. 7. So I prophesied as I was commanded, without consulting with flesh and blood, simply at the command of the Lord; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, a voice, or sound, and behold a shaking, a louder rustling from the field of bones, and the bones came together, bone to his bone, those of the individual skeletons being assembled in their proper relation. V. 8. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above, so that they were like corpses from which life had but recently fled; but there was no breath in them, there was no life in the members. V. 9. Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, announcing to it the command of the Lord, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, the sovereign Ruler of the universe, Come from the four winds, O breath, the spirit or power of life, and breathe upon these slain, the victims of bloody warfare, that they may live. V. 10. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, just as in the beginning of creation, Gen. 2; and they lived and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. The vision, therefore, evidently does not concern the resurrection of the dead in general, but only a restoration of the Lord’s people in the ideal sense. The Jews who returned from the four winds of the earth, in so far as they were believers, again formed the nucleus of the Church of God, which later included the believers from all over the world. V. 11. Then He said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel, those who were properly included in the Lord’s people, the spiritual Israel. Behold, they say, on account of the tribulations of the exile, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are put off for our parts, they were undone. The condition of Israel was such that the believers in its midst felt that there was as little hope of restoration as there was a chance for marrowless bones to regain their vigor and to be surrounded once more with flesh and blood. V. 12. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, the countries in which they were, in a manner of speaking, buried, and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel, to the place where His people could once more enjoy the fullness of His spiritual blessings. V. 13. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, be established and strengthened in their conviction that Jehovah was truly the God of the covenant, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, v. 14. and shall put My Spirit in you, the breath of life with the power of the Holy Ghost, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land, once more establishing them as His people; then shall ye know that I, the Lord, have spoken it, promised to do it, and performed it, saith the Lord. While this passage is not a direct proof-text teaching the resurrection of the dead, it furnishes a very vivid picture of the method in which God will call all men back to life on the Last Day.
THE SYMBOLICAL ACTION WITH THE STICKS. — V. 15. The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying, v. 16. Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, literally, “a wood,” that is, a piece of wood or rod, probably in allusion to Num. 17, 2, and write upon It, “For Judah,” or “Judah’s, pertaining to Judah,” “and for the children of Israel, his companions”, the reference being to the members of the northern tribes who had joined their cause with that of Judah after the Assyrian conquest, 2 Chron. 30, 5-11. Then take another stick and write upon it, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim,” the most powerful tribe of the northern kingdom, “and for all the house of Israel, his companions,” all those who had adhered to the kingdom of Jeroboam till the end, v. 17. and join them, the two pieces, one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand, very likely by a miraculous act of God. The Lord did not explain the meaning of this symbolical action at once, His intention being to have the Jews consult the prophet about its significance. V. 18. And when the children of thy people, with whom the Lord, at this point, does not identify Himself, shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? for the joining of the sticks would actually he performed before their eyes. V. 19. Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, as representing the northern kingdom, Gen. 48, 19; 1 Chron. 5, 1, which is in the hand of Ephraim, for Ephraim, though the younger, was given the leading position, and the tribes of Israel, his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one In Mine hand. In other words, the Lord intended to gather all those who still clung to Him in simple faith, or those who would accept Him in the same spirit, in the great Church of the New Testament. V. 20. And the sticks where on thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes, to heighten the effect of the lesson to be conveyed. V. 21. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen whither they be gone, where they were held in captivity, and will gather them on every side, from all the nations round about, and bring them into their own land, v. 22. and I will make them one nation, united under the rule of the one great King, the Messiah, in the land upon the mountains of Israel, in the land of the Lord’s heritage, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all; v. 23. neither shall they, now that they have been brought to a full realization of their transgression, defile themselves any more with their idols nor with their detestable things, with any of the abominations which accompanied the practice of idolatry, nor with any of their transgressions, the many wicked acts which had caused the Lord to reject them from being His people; but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned, the scene of their idolatries and abominations, and will cleanse them, this statement including all the Gospel-promises; so shall they be My people, and I will be their God, their gracious Lord through the mediation of the Messiah. As often in the Old Testament, the restoration of Judah as the people of the Lord is typical of the gathering of Jehovah’s children, of the believers, from all the nations of the world. V. 24. And David, My Servant, He who is both David’s Son and David’s Lord, shall be King over them, over His own spiritual Israel, assembled from Jews and Gentiles, and they all shall have one Shepherd, chap. 34, 23; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes and do them, making the will of God, as contained in His holy Word, their one guide and rule in all matters of doctrine and life. V. 25. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob, My servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt, the text looking forward to the true spiritual Canaan, of which the earthly was but a faint picture and symbol, cp. Heb. 11, 10; and they shall dwell therein, even they and their children and their children’s children, forever, the land with the eternal foundations thus being clearly indicated; and My Servant David shall be their Prince forever, namely, Christ, the promised Messiah. V. 26. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, that based upon His grace through the redemption of the Savior, Rom. 5,1; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, not, like that of the Old Testament, of temporary duration; and I will place them, setting the Church in an established position, where it could not be assailed by the enemies, and multiply them, a great number of believers being gained through the Gospel proclamation, and will set My sanctuary, His true spiritual temple, erected in the hearts of all believers, in the midst of them forevermore. V. 27. My tabernacle also shall be with them, the dwelling-place of the Triune God, the abode of the Redeemer, John 14, 23, to be manifested later in glory, Rev. 21,3; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people, a true communion of saints united in the fellowship of the heavenly Father. V. 28. And the heathen shall know that I, the Lord, do sanctify Israel, setting it apart as holy to Himself and abounding in holy works, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore. The prophet Ezekiel clearly has the same union and communion of the believers with God in mind which Jesus describes in such beautiful terms in the discourses held on the evening before His death. Cp. John 13 to 17.