The book of Ezekiel is one of the major prophets in the Old Testament. It was authored by Ezekiel who was set as a watchman to the house of Israel.
Ezek 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:
The thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel is about God’s anger for Israel’s rebellion, and the promise of re-inhabiting Israel again.
Became Enemy’s Possession
Ezek 36:1-3a And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Because the enemy has said of you, ‘Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,’ therefore prophesy, and say,
God is explaining the reason for the prophecy, that us, because of what the enemy said that the ancient heights have become their possession. Ancient heights is nothing but the mountains of Israel. God is speaking to Israel through prophet Ezekiel using the mountains of Israel. This term is very similar to daughters of Zion or daughters of Jerusalem, which refers to the people living there.
Ezek 36:3b-6 Thus says the Lord GOD:
- they made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side,
- so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and
- you are taken up by the lips of talkers and slandered by the people”
THEREFORE, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to
- the mountains,
- the hills,
- the rivers,
- the valleys,
- the desolate wastes, and
- the cities that have been forsaken,
which became plunder and mockery to the rest of the nations all around
THEREFORE thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom,
- who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds,
- in order to plunder its open country.” ’
THEREFORE prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to
- the mountains,
- the hills,
- the rivers, and
- the valleys
Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations.”
God is once again expanding the reason for the prophecy. The land of Israel were made desolate by the enemies so that they can make them a possession, and were taken by lip talker and slandered by the people. They became a plunder and mockery. The imagery of mountains, hills, rivers and valleys were used to refer the land of Israel. When referring land of Israel, God is referring to the children of Israel.
Land will be inhabited again
Ezek 36:7-12 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame. But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.
- I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and
- the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt.
- I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young;
- I will make you inhabited as in former times, and
- do better for you than at your beginnings.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children.”
God is promising that the land of Israel will be inhabited again. The ruins will be rebuilt. Then the children of Israel shall know the LORD and take possession of their inheritance and no one shall make them desolate.
Ezek 36:13 -15‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because they say to you, ‘You devour men and bereave your nation of children,’ therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore,” says the Lord GOD. Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore,” says the Lord GOD.’
God also guarantees a great blessing that no one can cause Israel to stumble anymore. These promises got fulfilled nearly 2500 years later in 1948. Israel not only got it’s own land and a nation, no nation can make it stumble anymore. It’s a promise God was faithful to fulfil even after 2 millennia.
Ezek 36:16-21 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity.
Therefore I poured out My fury on them
- for the blood they had shed on the land, and
- for their idols with which they had defiled it.
- I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries;
- I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.
God is saying the reason for His judgement and scattering the children of Israel. It is because of the blood they shed and for their idols that defiled the land.
Deut 28:64 “Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known–wood and stone.
God warned the consequence of disobedience long back in the law, yet the children of Israel didn’t heed to the warning. We need to ask ourselves, if we are like the children of Israel not heeding to what Christ taught or obeying Christ and keeping His Word.
God’s Concern for His Holy Name
Ezek 36:20-23 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name–when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
God has a great concern for His holy name. We see this throughout the law and the prophets. While the children of Israel used this term to ask God for favour, God Himself used this term only for specific events.
Lev 22:32-33 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.
- God didn’t destroy Israel in the land of Egypt for their idols (Eze 20:9-14)
- God didn’t destroy Israel in wilderness for defiling His Sabbath (Eze 20:22)
- God promises to redeem Israel (Isa 48:9-11)
- God promises to restore the nation of Israel (Isa 66:5-8; Ezek 20:44)
For His name’s sake, God did not destroy Israel and for His name sake He will redeem and restore Israel.
A Nation is Born
Ezek 36:24-25 For I will
- take you from among the nations,
- gather you out of all countries, and
- bring you into your own land.
- I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;
- I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
It is the LORD who will take the children of Israel among the nations. It is the LORD who will gather them out of all countries. It is the LORD who will bring them into their own land. Once in their land, it is the LORD who will sprinkle clean water for them to be clean and cleanse them from all filthiness, to give them a new heart and a new spirit to take their heart of stone and give a heart of flesh, and He will put His Spirit within them to cause them to walk in His statutes and to keep His judgements and do them. It is the LORD’s doing.
This is not to be misunderstood as the new covenant, but rather it is a ritual for the purification of the unclean by sprinkling water as described in the chapter of Numbers 19.
- I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
- I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
- I will put My Spirit within you
and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
God will give a new heart and a new spirit. But how do we receive it?
Ezek 18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
As God said to the children of Israel, it is by casting our transgressions and then getting a new heart and a new spirit. This is the same theme echoed by Jesus when He said, about our heavenly Father who will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
Ezek 11:17-21 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.
The content in the above passages is repeated in this chapter as well. However, the message is not as if God will take care of everything and forces us into His path. No, not at all. God will give a heart of flesh and put His Spirit that we may walk in His statues and keep His judgements and do them. But if our hearts follow our desire to do evil, He will recompense our deeds on our own heads. Hence, this is not God forcing us but assisting us to be holy and righteous. However, if we rebel against Him, we will face serious consequences.
Ezek 36:28-31 Then
- you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers;
- you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
- I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.
- I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And
- I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.
- you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and
- you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.
Only those people whose heart is of flesh and cleansed will dwell in the land and they shall be His people and He will deliver them from all their uncleanness. God will multiply the fruit of their trees and the increase of their field which we can witness today in Israel. Never again they shall bear the reproach of famine among the nations. Doing a quick check on list of famines, there wasn’t a single famine in the land of Israel after 1948.
We are a witness for the LORD’s doing
Ezek 36:32-38 “Not for your sake do I do this,” says the Lord GOD, “let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!” Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”
The below tabulation is adapted from the overview of Palestine’s demographics from the 1st century to the Mandate Era. The estimates are by Sergio DellaPergola (2001) and drawing was on the work of Bachi (1975). Figures in 1000s. (Ref: Link)
|Early 1st c.||Majority||–||–||~2,500|
Today, God had truly blessed Israel and bring the Jews back from just a few thousand Jews living in Israel around 1600s to 6.1 million today. This is the LORD’s doing and we are witness to what He had done.