No Apologies Round Two

"Few if any recent generations could sit with a Bible in one hand and their newspapers in the other and see the fulfillment of prophecy, but for us it’s almost routine." Jack Kelly

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tis the Season- might as well get used to it

I hope everyone had a good, safe, happy and Blessed Christmas. Ours was nice and quiet, some of the family able to show up, just the way I like it. While I do like the traditions of trees and tinsel, giving and receiving, cookies and Grandma's home cooking, I always try and meditate on the true meaning of the whole season which is called Christmas.

I am forever grateful and glad that God so loves the world, that He came to us that long ago night as a little baby, the Heavenly King of Kings, born in a smelly stable and laid to rest in an animal's feeding trough.

Christmas has changed a good deal over the centuries, and while not everyone has always celebrated Christmas, it seems as though people were not so vocal or demonstrative about their objections to the Christian celebration of Jesus' birth either. Not so today.

In our ever more politically correct, multicultural, globalist, ever tolerant society. Where one religion is as good as another, or none at all, where those who are so vocal about tolerance, peace and to each his own, I have noticed more and more outrageous and intolerant attitudes towards Christmas and Christians. While I am not surprised by more intolerance toward Bible believing Christians, it does make me sad and a little angry that such demonstrations have to happen on both of the most important and significant Holy observances of the Christian belief.

Seems that every year during Easter and Christmas, is the time where most of the true intolerance is practiced against those who are accused of being intolerant. Bible believing Christians. What is sad, that Christmas is a time when most people, Christian and non Christians alike think about peace and goodwill towards others.

So, how much tolerance, peace and goodwill was shown this year? If you or someone you know was denied a Merry CHRISTmas greeting, offended by our retailers because they are observing the bottom line dollars instead of the reason for the season, get used to it- because compared to the rest of the world, Americans have seen nothin' yet. If you think that children being denied the
right to sing Christmas Carols in school or the theft of baby Jesus is persecution, you got another thing coming.

Let's go to Jolly old England. The land of my parent's heritage. Not only is Great Britain losing her own heritage, it seems as if she is willing to give it away lock stock and barrel to Islamists. Not only are the leftists in England as stupid as those in America, in believing that being tolerant to Islam while blaming Christians and Jews for the injustices to the world, but to allow someone so hate filled as
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad even a second of television time is not only absurd, but s dangerous and moronic move. To allow time for this man to spew his offensive drivel , statements such as “If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”

Now, again, people who see this, would think that the man speaks loving and something true. Now, I have no intention of even attempting to rebuke his statements, because he actually does speak enough truth in that Jesus did preach justice and love- but the rest of the truth is lost on Ahmadinejad - that is the rest of the Holy Bible. I'll not respond about Jesus' righteous justice, Iranian/Islamic hatred for Jews, which Jesus Christ when He walked on this earth was a Jewish man from a Jewish family in the line of David, King of Israel. Nor will I add that the only terrorists these days are Islamic ones. Maybe not all Muslims are terrorists, but all the recent terrorist activities have been done by Muslims. And the Iranian PM is one of the lead instigators in much of it.

So, why did Channel 4 do it? For the Peace and love of Christ at Christmas time? Well, Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, said: “As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”

OK, so forget Christmas, lets bring in the biggest threat since Hitler to the Jewish people, because he is influential?! So, what, would they have given Hitler his say too? A critical time in international relations?! Oh, well, of course, one of the best way to pacify the enemy is to give him equal air time during a celebration of the birth of Christ.

How else is Great Britain bowing toward mecca and giving unto Allah at Christmas time? Well, how about
shoving Christian kids to the back of the line so muslim kids could celebrate Eid?

A letter sent to parents from “The staff at Greenwood Junior School', said: "It is with much regret that we have had to cancel this year's Christmas performances. This is due to the Eid celebrations that take place next week and its effect on our performers.”
Following outrage from parents, the school was forced to send out a second letter saying that the Christmas play would be done in January.
Sent by the head teacher, Amber Latif, and Yvonne Wright, chair of governors, it apologised for “any misunderstanding” but said it had to respect “the cultures and religions of all the children”. It added: "The Christmas performance has not been cancelled outright but has been postponed until the New Year.”
So, I would like to ask these brilliant scholars of everything Politically Correct, just how is postponing a celebration of the Savior's birth which happened over five hundred years before Mohammad was even a twinkle in his daddy's eyes, being respectful to Christians?! It's not. And in a world where people celebrate different meanings, different cultures and beliefs- someone is going to get left out in the cold. It just so happens that it is always the Christian who is.

Oh, and speaking of celebrating differences, how about Amsterdam? You know, that bastion of all things free? Legal prostitution, legal drug use, legal just about everything?
Check out the gay nativity, with the transvestite Mary. OK. Now, all I ever hear is about Christian bigots and homophobes when it comes to anything to do with out not accepting homosexual behavior. No mention of the fact that we have love for gays and lesbians, just that we are hateful because while we may have to give in and tolerate their agenda, but will not accept it. The other thing I hear the most is how the Homosexual agenda is only about being tolerated and not anything more. I find this quote most telling in the truth of the gay and lesbian agenda- Frank van Dalen, chairman of Pro Gay, which organized the event, said gays were not satisfied with being tolerated, but wanted to be "socially accepted as an indivisible part of society. I am not going to apologise for my deeply held Biblical beliefs, no matter what anyone says. I have known and been friends with gays and lesbians, and will continue to love them- but I will NOT ever accept the life choices as anything other than wrong and unnatural. There. I've said it and will no doubt have a lot of people hating me for it. So be it. I trust the Bible as the Word of God, and I also accept the Word as truth for when it was written as well as for every period in history, today and in the future. God's word is the same yesterday as it is today.

One last thought on this article. They claim they want to be accepted. They claim they only want to fit in as a normal part of society- to not be offensive, but be visible. I have to ask, in all honesty, How is it that one can believe it is normal and non offensive to hold celebrations and parades in cities all over the world, while prancing around naked, dressed outrageously, or having a man in drag holding a fake baby Jesus with the wise men dressed in leather and dog collars? Is that sounding normal?

OK, now that I have offended so many people, and most likely given a bad name to Christianity. For those who believe that Christians are the bane of society, that other religions are more peace loving and caring, well, lets look at the
Buddhists for a minute and see what some peace loving monks in Bangladesh have been up to this Christmas season. Oh, well, seems like they are holding 13 newly converted Christians captive in a southeastern part of Bangladesh in an attempt to forcibly return them to Buddhism. Buddhist leaders and local council officials have warned Christians to return to Buddhism or be evicted, saying, "You cannot live here - you have to leave this place with family members because you became Christians. Those who became Christians cannot live in this predominantly Buddhist area."
Fearing for their lives, the source said, some area Christians have gone into hiding.

Yep. Sounds like peace and pacifism to me. Gotta love those Buddhist monks.

Now, if you've been watching or hearing the mainstream media within the past two days, you know that mean ol' Israel is at it again- murdering innocent Palestinian women and children again with unprovoked attacks on Gaza. ( If you've ever paid attention, however, to real news, you would realize that there never was a cease fire on the part of the Palestinians- they have been lobbing and firing rockets into Israel almost daily ever since the so called truce began.)

So, how are theses peace wanting Palestinians treating their fellow Gaza citizens this Christmas? Well, let's just say I am not the only one who had a quiet Christmas celebration. Looks like Christians in Gaza have no choice but to be quiet about their Christmas celebrations. Oh, publicly they blame Israel for their woes, but with past persecution from Muslims in Biblical lands, they know where the real threat comes from. I'll let you read
the article yourselves for this one. I get tired of trying to spread the word all by myself.

In other parts of the Biblical Holy Land, we travel to the town where Christ was born.
O' Little Town of Bethlehem... Not only has the Birth place of the savior of the world been taken over by Muslims, we have these peaceful purveyors of Islam hanging banners out denouncing the Son.

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy played down concerns that a banner effectively denying Jesus’ deity was provocative to Christians, although he did question its position, in front of Nazareth’s most prominent landmark.

Oh, not provocative. SO, would it be fair to say, hang a giant banner in the middle of the Dome of the Rock or Mecca saying that Mohammad was a pervert who married a 6 year old little girl, and also believed that he talked to demons? Would that be provocative?

Well, other than the usual about
Churches being destroyed in Vietnam, Christians being jailed in China and the usual persecutions which happen around the season of peace and good will toward men, we do have some good news actually.

This may come as a surprise to all of those 60's flower children throwbacks- the code pinkos and Jane Fonda followers, but did you know that Iraq Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Karim Khalaf,
"All Iraqis are Christian today!" on Christmas?

Some of you may not realize, or maybe you do, but Iraq was a Christian nation from way back until recently. Remember the story of Jonah? He was a prophet in the Old Testament (yes, the one who was swallowed by a big fish) sent to Nineveh to preach to the people there. Nineveh was an ancient northern Assyrian (Iraq) city. Christianity was also brought to the Assyrians early in the new Church.

It is wonderful, and I pray that it will be lasting, that Iraqi authorities are celebrating the birth of Christ, and I pray that the Christians who fled during the early part of the insurgency
will return to their homeland.

For those of you who may be reminded of evil and bad things, thinking that this is too negative of a post even for me, especially at Christmas time, I would like to say, A New Year is coming. It would be prudent for all Bible believing Christians to remember those around the world who are suffering for Christ, and to pray for strength and boldness for them and for us, as we will be facing more in the coming years. It is also a time to look forward to more of what the Lord is showing us, and getting us ready for when He returns again.

He come the first time as a helpless babe in the lowest of circumstances. He will COME again, next time as our deliverer from the evils, perils and heartaches of this world. He Will come again, only this time, it will be as our King and Lord, who will bring with Him, His true PEACE. I can't find much negative and disheartening about that. God Bless you, and if you do not Know of the Christ, please read the Gospel of John.

To all of you, I pray a Happy, healthy and safe and Blessed New Year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blessed Christmas~

Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily; To us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, oh, come, our Lord of might, Who to your tribes on Sinai's height In ancient times gave holy law, In cloud and majesty and awe.Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse's stem, From ev'ry foe deliver them That trust your mighty pow'r to save; Bring them in vict'ry through the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, O Key of David, come, And open wide our heav'nly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high, And cheer us by your drawing nigh, Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind In one the hearts of all mankind; Oh, bid our sad divisions cease, And be yourself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!

Amen- Yes. Come Lord Jesus!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Where are you storing Your treasures?

I'm not in a good place as I post this, so I'd do well to read it as I wrote it a few months ago and rejoice in it- as I hope and pray you all will.

A lot of Christians think about heaven a lot, and I imagine, many non Christians wonder what the big deal is. They may not believe the popular myths about heaven, but I wonder if they’ve ever had someone tell them the Biblical picture of heaven. Do you think about what heaven will be like? Do you wonder what we’ll do or see when and if we go?
If you are one of the millions of people who have only heard the myths of heaven, hopefully, this picture will give you a better and more appealing picture of a real place.
First of all, heaven isn’t~
Angel wings, playing harps on clouds and learning how to fly! It isn’t being quizzed by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, waiting to see if you can go in or not!
To know what heaven is really like, we need to go to the source- The Bible! Let’s see what the Bible has to say about Heaven.

Revelations 21 says:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Let’s stop here for a minute. Notice first, that John (the Author of the Book of Revelation) saw a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus told us that all old things would pass away, and that includes heaven and earth as we know it. I’ve always wanted to travel. There are so many beautiful places on this earth that I would love to see. Places like Israel, Switzerland, Italy, Peru, Antarctica , but I know I’ll never get to these places. Heck, I can’t even scrape up the money for a family trip back to Canada to visit everyone! I’d also like to be able to go to West Virginia to see where my sweet husband was born. I’d love to see all of America and Canada too, but this is just not in it for me to see these places any time soon. I used to kind of let it bug me, but no more.
Some day, there will be a even more spectacular earth! It’s almost like God says, “You thought the Grand Canyon, the Angel Falls, and the Matterhorn were cool? Take a look at this!”

As an artist, I can't wait to see new colors that I can't even imagine right now.

Some day I will get to not only see a new earth, but I will get to see planets like never before either, and I will have all of eternity to allow my Lord to show everything to me!
The Next thing John mentions, is the New Jerusalem, with God saying that now He will live with us. Now, I don’t know about you, but sometimes I would just love to be held and loved as I was when I was little. You know, when you were afraid, or hurt, your mom would come in and rock you, smooth your hair back and whisper comforting words? I miss that, but am way past that anymore. Now I do it for my son. But I miss the feeling. I will be in the presence- the physical presence of God!
Those who had no physical or emotional love from parents will be forever loved, comforted and blessed by their heavenly Father.

I know I am able to pray and talk to Him in this life, and I know that He shows me things and speaks to me though His Holy Spirit, I won’t ever have to feel alone, I won’t have to pray to someone I can’t see or physically feel His loving touch! I will be with Him!!! This thought kind of makes me afraid a little, and I know I will have a lot to answer for first, but afterwards- I can, and you can, have a real relationship with Him face to face! How Awesome is that!
The next few words are the most lovely, most comforting words to a weary body! Jesus will wipe every tear from our faces! There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!
Oh, can you imagine?! I mean, most people when they read this, immediately think of the big things like no more diseases, no more handicaps. Now, those will no longer be an issue, and it is wonderful to think of believers who have lived their lives either blind, or deaf, wheelchair bound or without the use of limbs- they will be able to see, to hear, to run. All without pain!
Think though what else this means. All the smaller aches and pains will no longer be bothering us. Every winter (yes, even in Florida we feel winter!) I get pains where all my old injuries once were. As a accident prone child, I have many of those haunting me now! Not only that, but there will be no paper cuts, no sunburns, no scraped knees, no more bashing your funny bone. No more stubbed toes, no more tooth aches, ear aches, stomach aches, no migraines, no eye strain, no acne, no ingrown hairs, no infections, no more slivers- you know, those ones that go right up under your finger nails! No more hangnails, no more bruised shin bones. No broken toes, arms, legs! No more pain! No more suffering!
No more death and no more mourning! I love that too. There are so many people I miss, not only by death, but also by distance. There are people I miss terribly who I may or may not see again in this life, and I miss them very much. I miss my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. Those who died before me, knowing Christ as their salvation will be there waiting for me. I will never have to miss anyone or mourn because there will be no death anymore. I am blessed, but also in a way I feel bad, because I have not had to know yet, the pain of losing a parent, spouse, sibling or child. Those who have suffered such losses will not have to suffer those anymore! No more mourning. How comforting. We will never be too hot or too cold, never need anything because Jesus is our everything!

Sometimes I still find myself wishing for a nicer home. One which has air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter. One which the windows will open or close when I need or want them to! One which has 2 bathrooms so no one is inconvenienced. One which does not have so many mouse doors and insects coming in to visit! Sometimes I wish we had a bigger kitchen, with an updated stove and refrigerator, more cabinet space and a little more space. I used to want more- but the more I read God's Word, the more I wait for the house my Lord and Savior is getting ready for me right now. I can be assured there will be no "wildlife" living in it with me, nor will there be any dust, rot or mold. I don't mind "this old house" anymore, because I know as meagre as it is, it is still so much more than many people have. Jesus is getting our rooms ready, and we will never need or want more.

The next part of Revelation 21 says:
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

I know that part was a lot to read, and for some, who may believe all people will go to heaven, they may not like to be reminded, or believe that there is also a real and literal place called Hell.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Ezekiel Factor Part 4

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

So far in this study, we’ve seen the prophecies of Israel’s latter-day rebirth. We’ve learned that they would first appear again in unbelief, thinking that they had brought themselves back to life and that they themselves had built, populated, and defended their homeland. But we’ve read God’s declaration that He was behind this, although not because of anything they’d done to deserve it. In fact He said He would bring them back in spite of their behavior in the world.
In our last episode we saw that one day soon God will decide to step from behind the scenes and reveal Himself directly to His people and to the world, through signature signs like fire, hail, and earthquakes that always signaled His presence in Old Testament times. He had Ezekiel tell them and us that this will happen in the context of a great battle that would catch them off guard and almost put an end to them. But at just the right time He will intervene and save the day. Now He’s going to tell us how this will happen.
Ezekiel 39
“Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coast lands, and they will know that I am the LORD.
” ‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of. (Ezek. 39:1-8)
The King James has the more accurate rendering for the beginning of this passage. The phrase translated I will turn you around and drag you along in the NIV and others, literally reads I will turn you around and leave but the sixth part of you which means that 5/6ths of the Moslem forces will be destroyed. The Hebrew concept is roughly equivalent to the one behind the English word “decimate.” Although decimate originally described the punishment requiring that 1 in 10 soldiers in a mutinous Roman Legion be executed, figuratively it has come to mean that something is all but totally destroyed. Synonyms are “annihilate” or “wipe out.” So it is with the Hebrew. When the Lord brings this Moslem coalition into the mountains of Israel, He will also use the ensuing battle to wipe them out. Because they’re too big a force for Israel to handle alone, He’ll cause them to attack each other. Then He’ll make their weapons and ammunition fall from their hands.
Some interpret the idea of sending fire on Magog and those who live safely in the coast lands as warning of a nuclear exchange. Magog refers to Russia of course, but the identity of the coast lands is less clear. The Hebrew word literally means “a coast, island, or shore” and in Jeremiah 25:22 the phrase “beyond the sea” is used to help locate them, the sea being the Mediterranean. This reference could easily be pointing to Europe, and some even believe the US is in focus here. But as I’ve said, I don’t think this attack can take place until the US is out of the picture, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Also the Hebrew word translated in safety is the same one that’s used to describe Israel’s state of mind in Ezek. 38:8. Again it denotes a sense of carelessness, this time on Europe’s part, as if they don’t believe this kind of thing could happen to them and therefore aren’t prepared for what’s coming.
And once more the Lord explains His real purpose. He’s going to use this battle to announce to one and all that He’s Israel’s Protector and Champion. The nations of the world are being told that to get to Israel, they’ll have to go through Him.
” ‘Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up-the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek. 39:9-10)
In Ezekiel’s day people burned wood for heat and so that’s the idiom he used to describe the situation. In fact, the passage indicates that all of Israel’s energy needs for 7 years will be met by converting the energy from the weapons the enemy leaves behind to peaceful use. I can’t imagine the enemy carrying in enough of any traditional energy source to supply Israel’s national power and heating needs for 7 years, so a more modern application is in order. Let’s say nuclear. The old Soviet Union converted submarine reactors into electric power plants so the notion isn’t that far fetched. And as you’ll see, the clean-up procedures for this battle are remarkably similar to today’s nuclear decontamination process. Why only 7 years then, when a nuclear reactor could theoretically supply energy needs for much longer? If, as I believe, this battle will introduce the 70th week of Daniel, 7 years worth of energy is all they’ll need. After that, the Lord will supply their needs. (Rev. 22:5)
” ‘On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.
” ‘For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign LORD.
” ‘Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land’. (Ezek 39:11-16)
If this valley is east of the Dead Sea, as the King James translation implies, it would be in Jordan today, and even in Ezekiel’s day would have been outside Israel’s borders. Yet verse 11 clearly locates the burial place in Israel. Therefore I believe the NIV translation is more accurate and the valley Ezekiel’s referring to is more likely the one traditionally called the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psalm 23:4) that was part of Israel during Ezekiel’s time. If so, it’s at the bottom of the old Jericho Road that still runs east from Jerusalem to Jericho and is on the way to the Dead Sea. And remarkably, it’s in territory occupied by the Palestinians today. Does Ezekiel’s battle effectively wipe out any Palestinian claims to Biblical land? Or is this one more clue that the battle described in Psalm 83 will have preceded it and the Palestinian claims have already been done away with?
It will require the combined efforts of all Israeli citizens for 7 months to bury the enemy dead. After that they’ll hire professionals, some to decontaminate the land and some to search for any bodies the people may have missed. They won’t touch any bones they find, but will set up markers and call the professionals to come take them away. This method fits modern Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare decontamination procedures to a tee. Did the Lord have Ezekiel write this to show us the type of weaponry being used? Between this and the energy reference above, it sure looks that way.
“Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: ‘Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls-all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,’ declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezek. 39:17-20)
The carrion birds and scavengers will have a field day due to the carnage left behind on the battlefield. Earlier the enemy force was described as being a great horde, like a cloud covering the land. Now that it’s been decimated there are dead bodies everywhere. This is not unique in Israel’s history. Josephus wrote that after the Battle of the Galilee in 68 AD there were so many dead bodies floating in the Sea that you couldn’t see the water.
“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.
“Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek 39:21-29)
Following this victory the Lord will complete the return of His people Israel to their land, begun in the early 1900’s and made official in 1948. Though He caused them to be scattered all over the world, He’ll now bring them back, not leaving any behind. Since about 55% of the world’s Jewish people currently live outside of Israel this will be some homecoming. But having witnessed His defeat of their enemies, Jews from all over the world will flock to Israel and to Him, yearning for a reinstatement of their Old Covenant relationship. And after waiting for nearly 2000 years for them to return, He certainly won’t refuse them now.
For their part they’ll soon build a Temple, Old Covenant worship being impossible without one. Following the instructions from Ezekiel 40-48, which we’ll begin exploring next time, they’ll build the Temple in Shiloh, about 12 miles (20km) north of Jerusalem. I believe this is the Temple that will be made desolate by the anti-Christ and later cleansed at the beginning of the Millennium, just as the second Temple was first made desolate and then cleansed in the time of the Maccabees.
And so this battle will mark the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week, the last 7 years of human history before the Lord returns. Having given this prophecy to Israel, Ezekiel doesn’t get into any detail about its immediate aftermath, especially as it relates to the world’s subsequent reactions. But for we who are the Church today, the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 carries more significance in what Ezekiel didn’t say than in what he did.
From our study of Ezekiel 38 you can see that there are really only a few major preceding conditions left before this prophecy can be fulfilled. Turkey has to switch sides, the US has to be taken out of the picture, and Israel has to be living in an assumed state of peace with its neighbors. So when will this happen?
In almost 60 years of Israel’s modern existence, there really hasn’t been a day when this condition has been met, although enemy sneak attacks in 1967 and especially 1973 did take the country by surprise as to timing. The simultaneous invasion by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur 1973, with Jordan and Iraq right behind them, brought Israel perilously close to defeat. Historians report that due to “a rare moment of flabbiness in Israeli intelligence and in the government, Israel did not expect any attacks from its neighbors just at this point in time.” (Both the Jewish Yom Kippur and Moslem Ramadan forbid waging war during their observance, and in October 1973 as the attack began these Holy Days overlapped.)
It took a week for Israel’s forces to recover and go on the offense. Two weeks after that the war was over, cease-fire arrangements having been negotiated by the UN. In the treaties that followed, Egypt regained control of the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula lost in 1967 and Syria got back a small portion of the Golan Heights, although had the UN not stepped in, Israeli forces would have soon entered both Cairo and Damascus.
Those Who Don’t Learn From History …Not since then has there been such a relaxed state of readiness by Israel and indeed it’s hard to see how one could happen in the future. In fact the Bible mentions only two possibilities for a time of peace in the entire End Times scenario, and neither fits the bill. The first occurs at the outset of Daniel’s seventieth week when the anti-Christ makes his initial appearance. By means of peace he will deceive many, Daniel 8:25 (KJV) tells us.
The other time is during the 1000 years of peace known as the Millennium or Kingdom Age. Let’s rule that one out right away. First of all it’s an unparalleled time of peace personally administered by the Prince of Peace. Israel won’t have any enemies to attempt a sneak attack until right at the end when Satan is freed from his 1000 years of captivity to lead them. And second, the end time prophecies in Ezekiel are sequential, first the latter days re-gathering of the Jews to Israel in chapters 36-37, then this battle, then from chapter 40 on it’s the Millennium. The Battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has to follow the modern re-gathering but precede the Millennium. It can’t happen at the Millennium’s end.
So let’s go back to the first possibility, the beginning of Daniel’s 70th week. Daniel 9:27 reveals that as one of his first official acts, the anti-Christ will enforce a seven-year covenant with Israel that includes permission to build a Temple. (This seven year period is called Daniel’s 70th week.) But because of the controversy it would stir up, most Jews today don’t want a Temple and won’t want one till the Creator of the Universe dramatically reveals Himself to them. He does so in the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, and after that they’ll be clamoring for a Temple, regardless of the consequences. Old Covenant observance requires it. So it appears that this battle has to precede Daniel’s 70th week, too early for the anti-Christ’s false peace.
Also, the fact that the anti-Christ emerges as a peacemaker implies that some parts of the world will have recently been at war. Perhaps even a war involving a nuclear exchange, which will have left the world in shock, desperate for a plan that would prevent that ever happening again. Satan’s “man of peace” with his seven year covenant will have just the thing to put the world at ease and allow him to begin his meteoric rise to world dominance.
Have You Reached A Verdict?As we see, circumstantial evidence weighs heavily in favor of the anti-Christ revealing himself on the heels of Ezekiel’s battle rather than before it. And so neither of the Bible’s identified possibilities for peace will take place in time for this battle. That means that some dramatic chain of events, similar to those that led to the “sudden” fall of the Soviet Union, will have to occur soon to place Israel in the vulnerable state necessary for Ezekiel’s prophecy to be fulfilled.
From what we currently understand about End Times Prophecy, the two events most likely to create such a sudden change in the political climate are the destruction of Damascus, foretold in Isaiah 17 and the battle that’s the subject of Psalm 83. No alliance against Israel such as the one described there has happened in history, and if the Lord grants the psalmist’s request to destroy them, the Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Syrians will all cease to be a threat when it’s over. In its aftermath, Israel will be larger, stronger, and feel more secure than at any time in its modern history. Perhaps secure enough to let down their guard a little.
So What’s The Point?Now why is all this so important to us? Well, we’ve already made a case for the anti-Christ to appear right after the battle of Ezekiel 38 and we know from the passage itself that the Lord uses it to reveal Himself to Israel and draw them back to Him.
But here are two more good reasons. First, you’ll recall from our study in 2nd Thessalonians that the church has to disappear before the anti-Christ can be revealed. (2 Thes. 2:7) And second, in the past when the Lord’s focus was on Israel there was no Church, and while it’s been on the Church there has been no Israel. These two entities seem to be mutually exclusive in the Lord’s workings, so if He’s going to focus on Israel again the Church has to disappear (Romans 11:25 & Acts 15:14-18).
So if the Church has to disappear before the anti-Christ can be revealed and if the Church has to disappear when the Lord turns again to Israel, and if both these are outcomes of the Battle of Ezekiel 38-39, you can see why it’s so important to us. By the way, none of this is meant to modify or refute the Doctrine of Imminence, which holds that the Lord could come at any time. In fact rather than saying that Ezekiel’s battle has to happen before the Rapture, I’m saying that it looks more like the Rapture has to happen before Ezekiel’s battle.
Beginning in chapter 40 the focus will shift to the Millennium, Israel’s Kingdom Age. We’ll learn a lot about the coming Temple and about life in Israel after the 2nd Coming. We’ll see God’s return to the Temple after a 2600 year absence, signifying that the people, the Temple, the City and the Land will all have become holy again. See you then.

Related Posts:
Why Will Israel Need A Treaty?
Magog / Armageddon?
More End Times Chronology
Questions From The Ezekiel Study
End Times According To Ezekiel, Follow Up

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Ekekiel Factor Part 3

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
We have now come to Ezekiel 38, the battle between Israel and a coalition of Moslem nations that comes on the threshold of Daniel’s 70th Week and will kick off the End Times in earnest. We’ll review the 2600 year old prophecy in light of recent world events.
What Time Is It?First of all, let’s get some kind of time frame started. Although Ezekiel’s prophecies aren’t consecutive they are chronological. In other words, he didn’t include every event of the End Times, but those he did include are in the proper sequence according to time. Falling between Israel’s modern re-birth, prophesied in Ezekiel 36-37, and the Millennium, covered in Ezekiel 40-48, the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 has to take place after 1948 but before the 2nd coming, and all agree it hasn’t happened yet.
This has led some to see the passage as a description of Armageddon, but as we’ll see there are several prominent nations missing from this battle whereas Zech. 14:2 prophecies that all the nations will join the battle on that day. Even if you take the phrase “all the nations” to mean only Israel’s neighbors, you’ve still got a problem because Ezekiel’s list of attackers leaves out some that you’d expect to be involved.
Also, Ezekiel prophesied that the Lord would use this battle to turn Israel back to Him and to complete the return of Jews from all over the world to Israel, not leaving any behind. (Ezek. 39:28) This leads me to believe that the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 is the event that re-starts the clock on the 490-year period of time spoken of by Daniel, the famous 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27. The 483rd year of that prophecy had come when the Messiah was crucified and the Temple destroyed, stopping the clock seven years short of complete fulfillment.
And there it’s remained. But I believe the dramatic victory the Lord wins over Israel’s enemies in Ezekiel’s battle will start the clock again. It will convince them to officially re-instate their national Old Covenant relationship and demand a Temple for worship. It’s this Temple that’s later desecrated by the anti-Christ, kicking off the Great Tribulation. That makes Daniel’s remaining seven years the last ones before the 2nd Coming, so Ezekiel’s battle will be a dramatic sign that the Lord’s return is very near, on a par with the re-birth of the nation.
With all this in mind, let’s begin a careful study of Ezekiel 38, to prepare us for these events now because many believe that they’ll become reality soon.
Ezekiel 38
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you. (Ezek. 38:1-6)
Who Are These People?I believe that Gog is a supernatural being, leading both the battle of Ezekiel 38 and the final battle at the end of the Millennium 1000 yrs later. (Rev. 20:8) Perhaps he’s Satan’s counter part to Michael the Archangel.
For what it’s worth, there’s an obscure reference in the Septuagint translation of Amos 7:1 to Gog, The King of the Locusts. The identification of Gog as the locusts’ king is revealing since Proverbs 30:27 states that locusts have no king. This hints that the “locusts” of Amos 7 are not intended to be natural beings, but symbolic of something else.
Then there’s a similar reference in Revelation 9:11 where locusts from the Abyss are described as having a king, and are clearly demonic. Are these two references giving us a clue to Gog’s supernatural nature as well? I think so.
You won’t find any hint of this in translations of Amos 7:1 rendered into English from Hebrew. You can only get there from the Greek translation. But with no connection to any physical territory or people as there is with Magog and the others named in Ezekiel 38, and with Biblical appearances so far apart in time, there’s good reason to believe that Gog is a non-human character, one of Satan’s own.
In contrast, there are over 130 historical references tying Magog to the ancient Scythians (they defeated Saul at the battle of Beth Shean and nailed his body to the gate of the city). They include Josephus and Herodotus, called the father of history. The Great Wall of China was known as the “Ramparts of Magog” in ancient times and was built to protect China from Magog. Some see a striking similarity between what’s known about the Scythians and the Mongol Hordes of Genghis Kahn. Magog was a son of Japeth and inhabited central Asia. His children, the Scythians, are the ancestors of today’s Russian people.
Meshech and Tubal were brothers of Magog and are linked to the same general area, but more likely with the Turkic people. Josephus associated Meshech with Cappodocia, home of the ancient Hittite Empire in Eastern Turkey.
There are many opinions on what the “hooks in the jaw” phrase describes, but I think it’s becoming clear that Vladimir Putin is determined to make Russia a world power again, with dominating influence in the Middle East, and that’s what will drive him into this battle. I think Gog is whispering in Putin’s ear right now, persuading him to do this. And the Lord is encouraging it because it’s the only way to get Israel’s attention.
Persia is the ancient name for Iran. Cush and Put were sons of Ham and brothers to Mizraim (which means “two Egypts”) and Canaan. Narrowly they are called Ethiopia (Cush) and Lybia (Put) but both were in possession of much larger territory in the past. The word Cush has a Hebrew root meaning black, and can be representative of the black races of Africa, while Put can represent the north part of the continent; Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, etc. Note that all are sons of Ham and therefore not Semitic. The common denominator among African nations is religion (Islam) not race.
Gomer was Magog’s brother and settled along the Danube River in what would become Eastern Europe. Beth means house in Hebrew. Togarmah was a son of Gomer. The Armenians of today call themselves the House of Togarmah. The Turks (but not the Kurds, who are the ancient Medes of Media-Persia fame) are also included. As with the African nations, The characteristic all these nations have in common is their religion, they’re all Moslem.
“Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land. (Ezek. 38:7-9)
The fact that Israel is the target in this passage is self evident, but a controversy rages around the Heberew word betach translated “in safety” in verse 8. A secondary meaning, “carelessly” could mean that they’re not really safe but just think they are and so their guard is down. From outward appearances it looks like it would take a truly miraculous change in Israel’s current situation to achieve either of the conditions this word implies.
As I mentioned last time, some are beginning to think that a fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 are needed to create the climate in which Israel would be living in a false sense of peace without walls and gates. The idea is that if Israel took off the gloves and went bare knuckle against the terrorists who live next door, they’d win hands down. There’d be no more Palestinian problem, no Hamas and no Hizbollah. Israel would wind up with more territory, something that would bring greater security, and the country’s reputation of invincibility would be restored, and along with it their confidence.
They’d also have the room they’ll need to accommodate the return of Jews from all over the world who’ll stream into Israel after Ezekiel 38.
In Isaiah 49:19-21 the prophet foretold of this return that began as a trickle with Israel’s re-birth and will expand into a flowing river and then a mighty torrent.
“Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.
The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, ‘This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.’
Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these—where have they come from?’ “
The prior fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 also helps explain why Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt won’t be participating in Ezekiel 38.
” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people-all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, “Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?” ‘ (Ezek. 38:10-13)
What Are You Guys Doing?Israel is described here as a country at peace in the idiom of Ezekiel’s day, a land of unwalled villages, when this enemy coalition attacks, and other countries not mentioned before take notice. Again we see that something significant will have happened to change Israel’s perception of the surrounding nations.
Sheba and Dedan are first mentioned as grandsons of Cush in Genesis 10:7. Later, in Genesis 25:3, we read of grandsons of Abraham named Sheba and Dedan as well, born to Jokshan, a son of Abraham and his 2nd wife, Keturah. From the passage it’s not clear which pair of grandsons is being referenced, but commentaries none-the-less identify these two as representing the nations of the Arabian Peninsula, notably Saudi Arabia.
According to archaeologists W. F. Albright and Wendell Phillips, Sheba was on the southwestern edge of the Arabian Peninsula across the Red Sea from present-day Ethiopia. Sheba is known in history as Saba in Southern Arabia, home to the Sabaeans of classical geography, who traded in spices with the other peoples of the ancient world. Dedan was probably the habitat of the Arabs in the northern part of the Arabian Desert, which is modern-day Saudi Arabia. The ancient capital of Saudi Arabia is still called Dedan on many maps today.
Tarshish was a son of Javan, who settled the area of Southern Greece. There are three schools of thought where Tarshish is concerned. One view locates Tarshish to the East, accessible from Solomon’s great seaport at Ezion Geber on the Red Sea. But since Javan and his family traveled north and west from Babel at the confusion of tongues, it seems unlikely. Large sea going vessels were often nicknamed “Ships of Tarshish” and more likely this is how Tarshish came to be linked with Ezion Geber, since both Solomon and Hezekiah built such vessels there. Others see this as a reference to ancient Tartessus, a seaport in southern Spain, near Gibraltar. They recall the sea going navies of the Phoenicians, who operated “Ships of Tarshish” out of nearby Cadiz. They sailed as far north as England for tin, a metal used in the making of bronze and other alloys, which they mined in Cornwall. Some believe that the name Britannia is actually derived from a Phoenician word meaning “source of tin.” If so, since the ships of Tarshish brought tin to the ancient world, this reference could be to Great Britain making the “lions” (KJV) or “villages”(NIV) of Tarshish Great Britain’s colonies, of which the US is most prominent today. The fact that the lion is a symbol of the British Empire lends support to this view.
All that being said, the most provocative point here is that the very coalition of western nations that freed Kuwait and deposed Saddam Hussein are not engaged here, but instead question the invaders’ intentions from the sidelines.
“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. (Ezek. 38:14-16)
Here the Lord makes His intent unmistakably clear. He’s orchestrating this event to reveal Himself to the world once again. The years and years of debate over God’s existence, begun with the German School of Higher Criticism in the 1800’s and continued in the modern rationalism of the 1950’s will be put to naught as God uses this battle to poke His head through the fabric of the sky and shout, “I’m still here!”
” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. (Ezekiel 38:17)
The absence of any specific reference to Gog in any other prophetic writings (except the Greek version of Amos 7:1) lends credence to my theory that he’s a supernatural figure who has influenced various nations to rise up against Israel. Gog is not a traditional enemy like Edom or Philistia. He has no human descendants who’ve grown into an historic nation opposed to the Lord’s people. Nor is there a geographic location on Earth we can point to as his homeland. He’s a supernatural enemy who the Lord will deal with in a supernatural way.
This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD . Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’ (Ezek. 38:18-23)
With signs reminiscent of all the Heaven-fought wars of the past, the Lord is aroused in anger to execute judgment against the invaders of His land and enemies of His people. And as He has done before, He sows confusion in the hearts of Israel’s enemies so that they commence attacking themselves while He unleashes the classic weapons of divine intervention. Earthquakes, plagues, bloodshed, rain, hailstones, and burning sulfur; these are His signature signs. Neither Israel, nor the enemy coalition, nor those watching from afar will fail to interpret them correctly.
So ends chapter 38. Next time we’ll see why some think this battle goes nuclear and get another good reason why it’s not the last battle of the Age of Man. See you then. 02-02-08

Related Posts:
Ezekiel 38 And Armageddon
Why Will Israel Need A Treaty?
Magog / Armageddon?
Who Is The Lord Talking To?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Ezekiel Factor Part 2

If you missed the first part, please see entry below. This is a fascinating look at Old Testament prophecies, which will come to pass soon!

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

As I said in part one of our study, Ezekiel ignored all of the post exilic period, the First Coming, and the subsequent 1900 year diaspora in his book, skipping from Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC all the way to the regathering of the Nation in 1948. One possible explanation is that after the Shekinah Glory departed the Temple before Jerusalem was destroyed (Ezekiel 10) He has never returned and won’t until the beginning of the Millennium (Ezekiel 43). The entire Second Temple period took place without the Spirit of God ever hovering between the Cherubim above the Ark in the Holy of Holies.
In fact, the Ark itself, along with its Mercy Seat and Cherubim, has been missing since before the Babylonian captivity began. According to the Mishna, the official codification of Jewish oral laws, there was no furniture in the 2nd Temple’s Holy of Holies, just a stone platform, called the foundation stone, on which the Ark had rested in the 1st Temple. The first high priest who entered the 2nd temple’s Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur should have immediately come running out of the Temple shouting. “Ichabod! Ichabod! (Inglorious! Inglorious!) The glory of the Lord has departed and we must repent until the cloud of His Presence again fills the Holy of Holies!”
But instead, for several hundred years they conducted the ceremony as if He was there, sprinkling the blood on the foundation stone and hoping He would forgive them from afar. After the 2nd Temple was destroyed in 70 AD they could no longer even do that.
Ezekiel’s focus on holiness could explain his 2600 year omission from Israel’s history. Remember, his chief aim was to remind them that they were the holy people of the holy temple, the holy city, and the holy land. By abandoning God for the pagan deities of their neighbors, Judah had not only become unclean as a people, but had defiled the temple, the city, and the land as well. God’s only choice was to withdraw Himself, send the people into captivity and destroy the nation.
Ezekiel 36 was an overview that extends from the regathering in 1948 into the Kingdom Age. In it, the Lord promised to bring them into the Land, cleanse them from all of their sins, install a descendant of David as their shepherd, give them a new heart and put His spirit in them, take them as His people and be their God and completely rebuild their nation.
In Chapter 37 we’ll begin to see how all this will come about. Let’s get started.
Ezekiel 37
The Valley of Dry Bones
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “ (Ezek. 37:1-14)
That this prophecy is in some stage of fulfillment cannot be denied. During WW2 the Nazis’ final solution was the complete eradication of the Jewish people. They were hunted down, rounded up and sent to death camps, marked for execution. Then in the closing days of the war, the Allies liberated the camps and those whose hope was gone came out of the places that were intended to be their graves. I’ll never forget watching the news films of those skeletal figures in their striped prison garb walking through the gates of the camps, their eyes filled with wonder and bewilderment. Could it really be happening? 3 out of every 4 prisoners had died inside the walls of those camps, and the remainder who came out could simply not believe it was finally over.Later, after visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem it was clear to me that I had witnessed the record of this prophecy’s partial fulfillment.
Because it wasn’t complete. The breath (Hebrew ruach) that was breathed into these skeletons came from the four winds, signifying that it was by a sovereign act of God and not because of anything they had done to deserve it. (Ezek. 36:22) And it wasn’t the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit. That blessing is yet to come for them. What this means is that the nation would first reappear on the world scene in its human spirit only, not in union with God. (Today only about one in four Israeli Jews is religious.) First they would have to realize that the Lord had done this and was behind their re-birth. That will happen after the Battle of Ezekiel 38, and after that will come Zechariah 12:10 when the blinders are taken totally off and they finally see Jesus as their Messiah. Then the Holy Spirit will come, the dead will literally come out of their graves, (Daniel 12:2) the nation’s resettlement in the Promised Land will be complete, and the prophecy will be fulfilled in total.
One Nation Under One King
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.’ Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
“When your countrymen ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezek. 37:15-23)
Nearly 400 years before Jerusalem was destroyed, the nation had split. The Northern Kingdom had separated from the South over idolatry. The north was most often called Israel but was also referred to as Ephraim a dozen times or more. Isaiah 11:13 is a good example. The south was always called Judah, or in New Testament times by the Greek version, Judea. From the time of their latter day regathering they would henceforth be one again.
You may have had missionaries visit your home, representing a group whose founder was Joseph Smith. If you entered into their discussions, they may have expressed their belief that Joseph Smith appears in the Bible, citing Ezekiel 37:16 as their proof. Their interpretation of this passage is that the word stick means scroll so the stick of Joseph is his scroll, the Book of Mormon. The stick of Judah is the Bible. One day, they say the two books will be joined together and the world will understand that the Book of Mormon really is another testimony of Jesus Christ. Some Mormons think of themselves as the remnant of the tribe of Ephraim, who came to the New World at the time of the Babylonian captivity. (Recent DNA research has cast doubt on this view.) To them, having the Book of Mormon in their hands fulfills the meaning of Ezekiel’s words that the stick of Joseph is in Ephraim’s hand.
There three problems with this interpretation. The first is that it’s out of the context of the passage, which is the reunion of the northern and southern kingdoms. Joseph and Judah are two sons of Jacob who represent the two components of the divided Kingdom. (Ephraim was one of Joseph’s sons.) Second, as I mentioned, Ephraim was an alternate name for the northern Kingdom. And third, the Hebrew word translated as stick here appears 328 times in the Old Testament but never means a scroll. It means “a piece of wood.”
” ‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’ “ (Ezekiel 37:24-28)
This is the ultimate conclusion of the prophecy and is clearly yet future to us. It’s intended to be seen as a Kingdom Age prophecy, to be fulfilled after the 2nd Coming during the period of time that the Church calls the Millennium. One or more descendants of David will be the Prince spoken of in more detail later in the Book of Ezekiel. Remember the ultimate Son of David, Jesus, will be King of the whole Earth. This prince governs Israel only. The Temple and it’s use will also be described in detail in chapters 40-47. At that time Israel will once again be the Holy People of the Holy Temple, the Holy City and the Holy Land.
Oh, By The WayEven casual students of prophecy know that the next event on Ezekiel’s agenda is the battle that brings Israel back into a covenant relationship with God, arouses their national demand for a Temple and ushers in the 70th week of Daniel, the last 7 years before the Lord returns. And for the first time secular news sources in Israel have started mentioning Ezekiel 38, calling it the Battle of Gog/Magog. Just a few weeks ago, three prominent Rabbis in Israel barely stopped short of identifying US President Bush as the Gog of Ezekiel 38, addressing him by Gog’s title, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal instead.
But some, myself included, believe that there’s too much that still has to happen for Ezekiel’s battle to happen right now. In past studies, I’ve spoken about Turkey, called Meshech and Tubal in verse 3, as currently being on the wrong side, and Israel’s condition in verse 11, unwalled villages full of unsuspecting people, hardly describes the current climate there. Then there are the current major players, like the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians and Jordanians, who are all missing in the Ezekiel line-up. Does anybody think they’ll just disappear, or sit this one out?
These and other problems have scholars wondering about the possibility of another battle or two before Ezekiel’s. Isaiah 17 says that Damascus will be destroyed. It almost came to pass last fall, and many were surprised when it didn’t. If the fall of Damascus precedes Ezekiel 38 that would explain Syria’s absence, but what about the others?
This question has a few scholars taking another look at Psalm 83, and for some pretty good, if circumstantial, reasons. Psalm 83:4-8 contains a line up against Israel that historians can’t connect to any specific time in Israel’s past. That means it could still be in our future. And if that’s the case, it might be the event between now and Ezekiel 38, whether in conjunction with the fall of Damascus or separately, that puts everything into place.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you- the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them to lend strength to the descendants of Lot. (Psalm 83:4-8)
Their objective is right out of today’s headlines, and it takes almost no imagination to see that the names of Israel’s antagonists in Psalm 83 could be representative of Israel’s current enemies, and include most of those missing from Ezekiel 38. I’m not suggesting that all these ancient people have come back to contend with Israel again, but those who inhabit the lands of these ancient people today are for the most part enemies of Israel just like the original occupants were. The Ishmaelites are the true Arabs of today and still live in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is the most prominent. Gebal (aka Byblos) and Tyre can be tied to Lebanon. Today’s Palestinians are neither the Philistines nor the Edomites of history. And today’s Jordanians aren’t the descendants of Ammon or Moab either, but both reside in the lands of their ancient counterparts. The Amalekites and Hagrites were from Edom, where Jordan is today, and the Assyrians populated lands belonging to Syria now. This is a prophecy that along with Isaiah 17 bears watching, because Israel’s victories against these enemies could make them into a larger, more powerful, wealthier nation, one that could get careless about their security and be taken by surprise sometime later.
Since Ezekiel made no attempt at a chronological history, it shouldn’t surprise us that he didn’t mention the fall of Damascus or this 2nd Arab coalition from Psalm 83. It’s another confirmation that the study of prophecy has to include all of God’s word not just a few popular chapters.
But we’re in a study of the End Times According To Ezekiel so Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 notwithstanding, our next study will cover chapter 38. See you then. 01-26-08

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Jesus In The Temple?
Ezekiel’s Sticks
The Temple, The Throne, And The River
Ezekiel’s Temple

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Ezekiel Factor

Before switching over to blogger, I was in the middle of posting a long series about Iran, Israel and the coming conflict. About that time as well, Russia, the Sleeping Bear, woke up. I had a few people ask me what did I think about Russia exerting itself again, against Georgia, and the activities of Putin and Medived. I have been studying a few parts of the Bible trying to get an understanding of where we are, and what is going to be happening soon. My focus lies on the Prophet Ezekiel. I have been reading an excellent study, the best I have seen so far, and I want to share it now in parts- as it has so much information on where we are going, and what is coming up. It involves Russia, Iran and others, and when we see it happen, you can be sure the Lord will be coming shortly after to bring His Bride, the Church, to Himself in the time known as the Rapture. Strap yourselves in folks- things are happening almost faster than I can write about them. Bible believing Christians can see signs of Prophecy almost daily now. I pray that those who do not believe, those who aren't sure what they believe and those who may believe but are skeptical about these days called the End Times- will see what has been happening in the world, open their Bibles- or go get one, and READ. It's all there. Everything that has made headlines in today's news- is in the Bible. You know, that dusty book written by a bunch of guys a long, long time ago. Read what Jesus says in all the four Gospels about the end times. Read the Book of Daniel, read Ezekiel. Read Revelation. Most importantly, even if you are not sure- ask God to help you to understand what is written. Sincerely ask Him, and He will show you what it all means.

The End Times According To Ezekiel- Part 1

By Jack Kelly

Ezekiel was from the tribe of Levi and was trained as a priest. No doubt He would have become one had his life not been abruptly interrupted. In 597 BC he and about 10,000 others were taken captive to Babylon in the 2nd siege of Jerusalem. Daniel and his friends had gone in the first one eight years earlier and in 11 more years the rest of the nation would be taken captive and the city and Temple burned to the ground. The 70 year Babylonian captivity had begun. There were actually two 70 year periods of judgment in play and they were offset by 19 years. One was the servitude of the nation, which began in 605BC with the first siege of Nebuchadnezzar, and the other was the desolation of Jerusalem which began in 586, at the end of the third siege, with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
The southern kingdom, called Judah, was all that was left of Israel since Assyria had conquered the north over 100 years earlier. Other prophets had warned the southern kingdom to learn the lesson of the north and turn away from their idolatry, and Ezekiel had much to say about it as well. But his chief aim was to remind them that they were the holy people of the holy temple, the holy city, and the holy land. By abandoning God for the pagan deities of their neighbors, Judah had not only become unclean as a people, but had defiled the temple, the city, and the land as well. God’s only choice was to withdraw Himself, send the people into captivity and destroy the nation.
To show them that this was not their end as a people, God announced ahead of time that this national cleansing from their sin of idolatry had a 70 year duration. They were to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, go to Babylon, and live, rather than fight and die, and at the end of the judgment God would bring them back to rebuild.
Like the rest of his people, Ezekiel and his wife lived in relative freedom in Babylon where they acquired a house and settled in as the Lord had commanded His people to do. Ezekiel’s contemporary Jeremiah had written:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:4-7)
In the fifth year of his captivity, Ezekiel was called as a prophet, giving rise to the book by his name. In it he demonstrates an extensive knowledge of both his own people’s history and culture and that of the world around him. He was a man of great intellect, able to see the big picture and convey it to others, and had a commanding grasp of a wide variety of topics. In some circles he’s called “the father of the synagogue” for helping the Jewish people to maintain their relationship with God in the absence of a Temple through the synagogue form of worship that he designed.
The Book of Ezekiel speaks both of judgment and of restoration. The first 24 chapters deal with the Lord’s case against His people, and His efforts to convince them that Jerusalem would really be destroyed, the land would lie fallow, and their temple would be burned to the ground. Ezekiel’s pronouncements of judgment were harsh and unequivocal, leaving no room for hope. He explained why it was happening, and what they had done to cause it. He told them that God had been trying to get their attention, to show them that He alone is God and will not share His glory with another, and to persuade them to turn away from their idols and back to Him. But nothing had worked. The situation called for extreme measures. He had to make them see how serious He was. Some form of the phrase, “Then they will know that I am the Lord” appears 65 times in Ezekiel’s writings in conjunction with the things God had determined to do, both in judgment and in restoration.
So Ezekiel took them through several stages of realization, from “God won’t really do this”, to “If God does this He’ll be punishing us for the sins of our fathers,” and finally to “God is doing this and it’s our own fault.”
More than any other prophet, Ezekiel was often called upon to act out the prophecies God gave him, and in chapter 24 he was given a double dose of major bad news, Jerusalem would fall and his wife would die at the same time. Because God didn’t want His people to mourn the loss of Jerusalem, but to focus on its future restoration, He commanded Ezekiel not to publicly mourn the loss of his wife.
God also had Ezekiel pronounce judgment on Israel’s neighbors for their treatment of His people. Chapters 25-32 contain Ezekiel’s oracles of judgment against Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt. They bore some of the blame for Israel’s punishment because they had enticed the Israelites away from God with their own idolatry. All of them would be conquered by Babylon as well. The Lord had Jeremiah tell their envoys that their choice was to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and live in their own lands or suffer His wrath and cease to exist as nations. (Jere. 27:1-11) Over the next few hundred years several of these nations permanently disappeared from the landscape.
In Chapter 33 the fall of Jerusalem was announced and explained, and in Chapter 34 the Lord said that since Israel’s leaders didn’t take care of the people, He Himself would accept responsibility for them and would send His Servant David to lead them. (David had been dead for 400 years, so this was interpreted to mean the Messiah, the son of David.)
Then follows a final pronouncement against Edom. As the Israelites fled the Babylonian army, soldiers from Edom had lain in wait to cut them off or alert the Babylonians to their presence. Then, after the Israelites were gone, Edom looted their Jerusalem homes. And yet the people of Edom were descendants of Esau and therefore cousins of the Israelites. God took their treatment of His people personally and decreed the total desolation of Edom, which was accomplished by the Nabateans, who destroyed every trace of them.
And that brings us to chapter 36, where Ezekiel shifted to a promise of restoration and where our study on the End Times According To Ezekiel begins.
Ezekiel 36
A Prophecy to the Mountains of Israel
“Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The enemy said of you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.” ‘ Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign LORD : This is what the Sovereign LORD says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you- this is what the Sovereign LORD says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.’ Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn. (Ezekiel 36:1-7)
Son of man is the term Ezekiel used to identify himself. It’s a generic term meant to emphasize his humanity. It’s not to be confused with the Lord’s title of Himself, “The Son Of Man”.
Once the Israelites were gone, their neighbors assumed that the land was theirs for the taking. With the whole world to choose from, God has only claimed the Promised Land for Himself, so naturally that’s the part the enemy wants, too, and he stirred up his forces to occupy it. Then as now people don’t realize that it’s the Lord who makes the land desirable, and when His people are not in it the land is not productive. The once-thriving produce industry in Gaza is a case in point. Having left it behind to help jump start the Palestinian economy, Israel has now been asked for help making it work again. The Palestinians have not been able to manage it profitably even though they supplied most of the workforce during the time of Israeli ownership. It’s not that they’re any less capable, it’s that the Lord is no longer involved.
That’s just one of the obvious parallels between Ezekiel’s day and ours. Some have even gone so far as to try and create a connection between ancient Edom and the Palestinians of today. While it’s easy to see the similarities, the Palestinian people are not the remnant of Edom come back to contend against Israel again. In the judgment the Lord had Obadiah pronounce against Edom, He swore to leave no survivors (Obad. 1:18) and that’s what happened. The Palestinians were never an indigenous people, have never had a homeland and in fact didn’t exist until the UN created the term and identified them as such following Israel’s re-birth. But even if they were, Ezekiel shows that their claim to God’s land is without merit.
” ‘But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.
” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because people say to you, “You devour men and deprive your nation of its children,” therefore you will no longer devour men or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign LORD. No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign LORD.’” (Ezek. 36:8-15)
This prophecy was partially fulfilled during the post-exilic period and in fact during the time of the Hasmonean Dynasty (142-63BC) the people flourished in a manner not seen since the reign of Solomon. But since they were driven from the land again following their rejection of the Messiah we know it’s complete fulfillment still awaits us.
This is one of the first clues we get that Ezekiel’s prophecies of restoration primarily involve the time from 1948 into the Kingdom Age. There’s no direct mention of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah and the subsequent 1900 year diaspora in the Book of Ezekiel, just the frequent promise that He’ll gather them back from all the nations to which they’ve been scattered. It points to the latter day re-gathering, not the one after Babylon.
Again the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’ I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. (Ezek. 36:16-21)
Here’s a reminder of the cause of Israel’s judgment. The shedding of blood refers to their practice of child sacrifice, a form of idol worship so abhorrent to God that He said it never entered His mind that they would do such a detestable thing. (Jere. 32:35)
In Ezekiel’s day the captives were taken to Babylon, yet this passage again talks about their dispersal among the nations, a reference to events following their defeat by the Romans nearly 700 years later. Another clue pointing us to the End times.
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.
” ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel! (Ezek. 36:22-32)
These 10 verses contain the clearest possible denial of the Replacement Theology heresy. Israel could not forfeit God’s promises by rejecting the Messiah because Israel’s behavior is not at issue. God clearly told them that He wasn’t going to re-gather them out of all the countries because of any thing they had done to deserve it. In fact it would be in spite of what they had done. He was going to re-gather then because He promised that He would. And then He was going to give them a new heart and put His spirit in them. This can only happen when one is born again, and it couldn’t have happened after Babylon because the Lord hadn’t come yet. The day will come when they will live in the Land, God will be their God and they’ll be cleansed from all of their impurities. To deny that this is yet to happen is to accuse God of breaking His word to His people.
” ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek 36:33-37)
Chapter 36 is an overview that extends from the regathering in 1948 into the Kingdom Age. In it, the Lord promised to bring them into the Land, cleanse them from all of their sins, install a descendant of David as their shepherd, give them a new heart and put His spirit in them, take them as His people and be their God and completely rebuild their nation.
200 years earlier He had sent Isaiah to tell them:
“Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. (Isaiah 46:8-11)
Now He was sending Ezekiel to give them the details. The bird of prey was Babylon, whose symbol was an eagle with a lion’s head. The man from a far off land was Nebuchadnezzar who He called His servant (Jer. 25:9). God’s plan was to cleanse them and restore them once and for all, and what He has planned He will do.
Although God had known from the beginning of time that Israel would reject the Messiah’s offer of the Kingdom, it was a bona fide offer just the same, and had they accepted it Ezekiel 36 would have been fulfilled, beginning in 30 AD. But they didn’t and the door was opened to the Gentiles, in part to make them envious. As a result, we have been cleansed from all of our impurities and from all of our idols. He has given us a new heart and put a new spirit in us; He has removed from us our heart of stone and given us a heart of flesh. And He has put His Spirit in us and moved us to follow His decrees and be careful to keep His laws. But we should be neither ignorant nor conceited. (Romans 11:25) The Church has not replaced Israel, we’ve just been included in the promise. (Gal. 3:29) For if their transgression has brought such riches to us how much greater riches will their fullness bring? (Romans 11:11-12). Chapter 37, the vision of the dry bones, is up next. See you then. Tags: , , ,
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More next time. I hope you'll come back soon. I will try and post the next parts every few days!