Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Ezekiel, Israel and the End Times: Ezekiel chapter 34-39 overview
by I Gordon
As we start a new study on some selected chapters in the book of Ezekiel, lets start with a bit of background on this prophet and section of his book. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel was a priest (Ezek 1:3, Jer 1:1) and a prophet who was taken captive into exile during the Babylonian seige of Judah in 586 BC. His first and last prophecies recorded in his book are generally thought to have between 593 B.C.and 571 B.C. His book can be split into four general divisions:
The call of Ezekiel (ch 1-3)
The sins of Judah and the warnings of coming judgment (ch 4-24)
The judgment upon the nations (ch 25-32)
Israel's future end time restoration (ch 33-48)
A great theme of this book is the glory of God.
Charles Lee Feinberg writes
"From the first to the last chapter of Ezekiel one supreme thought runs throughout, that of the sovereignty and glory of the Lord God. He is sovereign in Israel and in the affairs of the nations of the world, though the loud and boisterous claims of men seem to have drowned out this truth. In His sovereign will God has purposed that we should glorify Him in life and witness to the ends of the earth."
In this little series I want to study and explore chapters 34-39.
Why study Ezekiel chapters 34-39?
That is a good question! As you can see from the general divisions presented above, chapters 34-39 fall into the last section on Israel's future end time restoration. Within these chapters Ezekiel speaks about a regathering of the nation of Israel from all the nations of the world (not just from Babylon). He speaks of a battle in the end times where God will make His name known to the nations. He also speaks of the coming of the true Davidic King to rule and reign from Israel. And we are, I believe, in the midst of those times! We have seen, and can see, these prophecies taking place. The nation of Israel is God's super-sign in the last days. As Larry Norman used to sing "The world is closely watching as we near the battle line, but if you're truly wise you'll keep your eyes on Palestine'. If you want to know what time it is and how close we are to the Lord's return, keep your eyes on the nation of Israel! Some of what Ezekiel prophesied in these chapters has already come to pass with the founding of the nation of Israel beginning in 1948. Other prophecies are yet to be fulfilled. But the exciting thing is that in our day we can see the mentioned players and nations aligning themselves and taking their place as foretold by this prophet called Ezekiel, 2600 years ago! Amazing.
So what is it that we shall see in these chapters?
Chapter 34 - This contrasts Israel's false shepherds and the One coming true shepherd. What does this chapter mean for the church today? Why would this be important in the end-time section of the book? This chapter speaks to the leaders of Ezekiel's day, those in Jesus' day, the church age and for the leaders of Israel in a soon coming day. But it ends with the great hope of the final day under the true Shepherd of Israel.
Chapter 35 - A prophecy against Edom. Who is Edom? Why do they get mentioned again in this end-time section when Ezekiel has already prophesied against them in chapter 25:12-15? Who is Edom today? And what is their 'everlasting hatred' that is spoken of and how does it relate to today? So many questions!
Chapter 36 - This chapter foretells the scattering of Israel amongst the nations as well as their end-time regathering. Why would God regather them after all that that nation has done? This chapter answers that question. It also introduces the concept of the New Covenant based on a new heart and a new spirit.
Chapter 37 - This chapter contains the famous prophecy of the valley of dry bones. So what is this? And what is the resurrection mentioned in this chapter? What is the great army? And why is it important to the age in which we live?
Chapter 38-39 - Another famous chapter this time focusing on Gog and Magog and an end-time invasion of Israel while it lives in safety. Who are the nations involved in these chapters and can we see them aligning today? Yes we can!
One MAJOR theme running through all these chapters
Now there is another MAJOR theme that is repeated over and over throughout all these chapters and it makes them even more interesting... especially for the days in which we live. See if you can spot it in the following table using selected verses. While I think even Stevie Wonder could see it, I'll highlight part of the passage to make it completely obvious.
|Passage||Who will Know?|
|Ezekiel 34:27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.||Israel|
|Ezekiel 34:30 Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign LORD.||Israel|
|Ezekiel 35:4 I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD.||Edom|
|Ezekiel 35:9 I will make you desolate forever; your towns will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD.||Edom|
|Ezekiel 35:11 therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.||Edom|
|Ezekiel 35:15 Because you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, that is how I will treat you. You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the LORD.' "||Edom|
|Ezekiel 36:11 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.||Israel|
|Ezekiel 36:23 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.||The nations|
|Ezekiel 36:36 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.'||The nations|
|Ezekiel 36:38 ...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."||Israel|
|Ezekiel 37:6 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.' "||Israel|
|Ezekiel 37:13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.||Israel|
|Ezekiel 37:14 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.' "||Israel|
|Ezekiel 37:27-28 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. (28) Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.' "||The nations|
|Ezekiel 38:16 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.||The nations|
|Ezekiel 38:22-23 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. (23) 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.'||The nations|
|Ezekiel 39:6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD.||The nations|
|Ezekiel 39:7 '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.||Israel / The nations|
|Ezekiel 39:21 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.||The nations|
|Ezekiel 39:22 From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God.||Israel|
|Ezekiel 39:23 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.||The nations|
|Ezekiel 39:27-29 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. (28) 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. (29) 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."||Israel / The nations|
So going out on a limb here...
So what can we take from all those passages above? What is the major theme that comes out through all these chapters? Well, I don't want to go too far out on a limb here but I'm just getting a slight little feeling that the Lord is wanting, and going, to make His name known. I know, I know... that's a big call! : ) No, it isn't a big call and nor is it radical or rocket science. God Himself gets Ezekiel to repeat this same phrase and theme OVER and OVER!.. "I will make my name known'. Therefore, we are in for quite a ride in the days ahead. Let's just break down a few quick points that come out of this.
The Lord wants to make His name known. That is clear and straight forward.
While this is true of all time, He has specifically set aside a day (period of time) in the last days when He will do this.
He will make His name known to the nation of Israel and all the nations of the world.
The Lord will glorify His name and He is specifically going to use the nation of Israel to do this.
God will give all the nations enough proof of who He is before the final judgment occurs so there is no possible way that mankind has any excuse for rejecting Him.
Some nations will only see that the Lord God of Israel is the true God through judgment.
These verses presuppose that Israel, Edom and the nations, in large part, do not know the Lord before these events take place. That is the position that we currently find ourselves in. But things are changing...
We live in an age where science thinks that is has done away with God. In fact for many people, science has become their God. It is the source of all truth (apparently). We live in an age where mankind is self focused and self exaltant. In the Western world especially humanism is in. God... well not so much. We live in an age where Islam again seeks to dominate on the world scene. It has lofty goals of imposing sharia law across all nations. And yet it has a thorn in it's side that it hasn't been able to remove... those pesky little Jews living in their backyard in that tiny land called Israel!
To those under all of these things (and more), the true God, who has been hidden to so many, will make His name known. For some it will lead to repentance and salvation. For others, a further hardening of their heart (as it did to Pharaoh when the God of Israel revealed Himself through judgments upon the land). But either way, mankind will be given proof. There will be no excuse. And God will do it through the tiny nation of Israel. He has said it and will bring it to pass. Strap yourselves in!