Ezekiel 36

Chapter 36 is the beginning of the Ezekiel Tetrad, and it is the most general. It also encompasses the largest amount of time, and it is only when we get to verse 31 that we see the Children of Jacob saved. This chapter also allows us to see where we are within the time frame of this prophecy, and even how close we are to its fulfillment. And, as we tackle this chapter and then chapters 37, 38 and 39, you will see greater and greater detail surrounding the events that lead to Israel’s salvation and Ezekiel’s Fire.

Let’s start.

God Speaks To The Land Of Israel

1 “And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel 36:1

note: all verses are NKJV unless indicated otherwise.

This bit is interesting. God speaks to the Mountains of Israel, expressing an irrevocable relationship between the physical Land of Israel and God. I think that it is safe to say that God has a relationship with the Land of Israel in a way that is separate from God’s relationship with the People of Israel. You might even say that this is a story of two relationships – the relationship between God and His land, and the relationship between God and His people – and how God brings these two together.

But – and this is important – this is a profound statement to all those who claim that all references to Israel in the Last Days are allegorical. And, it’s also a message to those who want to claim for themselves all the promises to Israel. There is no way that you can believe any of that, in light of how God specifically talks about a physical Land of Israel. This cannot be ‘allegory’. Nor can you put the label of ‘allegory’ to the discussion of that real, physical group of people whose physical ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In fact, as we continue through chapter 36, God has something to say about those who make foolish claims against the Land of Israel and the People of Israel:

2 Thus says the Lord God: “Because the enemy has said of you, ‘Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,’ ” ’ 3 therefore prophesy, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because 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”— 4 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— 5 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.” ’

Ezekiel 36:2-5

BECAUSE the enemies of Israel have claimed that they own the ancient places of the Land of Israel, God says, “Enough! You will no longer consider this place as your own. It belongs to someone else.” And, the enemies of the Land of Israel are everywhere. There is not a single country on this planet that hasn’t engaged in some kind of attempt to subvert the true ownership of this piece of geography.

A few nations have spent more time being a friend, instead of an enemy. But, only ‘more’. And, there are only a handful of countries that try to defend Israel from unjust accusations. Worse, outside of America, Israel’s defenders are tiny. And, Israel’s base of support within the US has been steadily shrinking for decades.

The voices of hatred for Israel are growing as true faith in Christ continues to erode around the world. More and more antisemites feel free to voice their hatred and get elected to public office. And, one day, Israel will stand alone.

Well, alone only in the sense of this physical world. There is One who stands with Israel, and He is going to judge the nations for the evil that they have done to the Jews and to the Land that is His. Trying to claim God’s property for yourself is a very unhealthy pastime.

The Shaming Of The Gentile Occupiers Of The Land Of Israel

Then, in verses six and seven, God brings shame upon the Gentiles who have occupied the Land of Israel:

6 “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.” 7 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.

Ezekiel 36:6-7

BECAUSE the land of Israel has suffered shame at the hands of the gentiles living in the area, God will make them suffer their own shame. In fact, you could make something of a case for them suffering THE SAME KIND OF SHAME as the Jews have suffered. Those who seek to conquer, will themselves be conquered. Those who seek to steal from the land, will themselves be stolen from.

What has happened to every country that attacked the modern State of Israel – every single time?

They were defeated so badly, each time, that the world had to step in to save the nations attacking Israel, to keep them from becoming completely destroyed. In 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, the world felt compelled to step in and stop Israel from completely destroying the enemies that attacked her.

Every time the Arabs attacked, they lost more land.

To think that a tiny little country could win against the combined armies of the Middle East…

…Well, it is God at work!

God used the foolishness of the Arabs to give the Land of Israel to the People of Israel. It is almost as if the Arabs were the biggest Zionists of all.

The Land Of Israel Will Flourish

Notice in verse eight, that God speaks of a physical manifestation, when the Children of Jacob are returning to their land:

8 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.

Ezekiel 36:8

God says that He will cause the land to prepare itself for the coming of the Jews. Before the Jews, the Land of Israel was a malaria-infested, barren land – a horrific place to live. As the first Jews began to return, the land became a paradise – but only in the areas where the Jews settled.

Take a good look at the earliest photos of the Land. All the trees had been cut down. The hills and valleys were barren. It was waste howling wilderness.

Furthermore, people today don’t realize that before the Jews came to the Land of Israel, nine out of ten children died – usually from malaria. Now, no one in the Land of Israel dies of malaria. Before the Jews came, the Land of Israel was one of the most wretched places on Earth. Soldiers stationed there got sick within a month and had to be rotated out. The entire population was in poor health, uneducated and desperately poor. Now, it is completely the reverse, for both Arab and Jew.

Even more telling, the Arabs sold the Jews the worst of the Land of Israel, and the Jews turned those awful acres of land into the best of Israel – to the envy and consternation of the Arabs.

The Land Of Israel Will Be Better Than Ever Before

And then, in verses nine through eleven, God continues to speak to the Land of Israel and says that it will be better than it ever was:

9 For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. 10 I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 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.

Ezekiel 36:9-11

I call this:

a prophecy fulfilled!

This really has happened. The Land of Israel is more productive, in terms of agriculture, than at any other point in her history. And the people of Israel are stronger today and more prosperous than at any time in human history. Never has the land and the people produced so much and been so powerful. Israelis are better educated and more successful than at any time in history – and the story of this great prosperity isn’t over yet.

To those who point out that Israel controls less area now than during the times of King David and King Solomon, I would like to mention that David and Solomon didn’t have the global reach that the government of Israel has today. There is not a single place on our planet that hasn’t been influenced in some way by Israel. Even here in Taiwan – where I am right now – Israel’s presence is felt. But, the story about Israel’s land isn’t over. We could yet see Israel’s land expand beyond any border seen in her history. We’ll see.

Let’s move to the next verse:

12 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.”

Ezekiel 36:12

When God spoke of the return of the Jews, He said that the Land of Israel would become a place that you could walk, and a place where your children would live and thrive. That was certainly NOT the condition of the Land of Israel before the Jews started to return to it. Before the Jews, the countryside was ruled by bandits who would rape and pillage unwary travelers. Add chronic malaria and a tremendous rate of infant and childhood mortality, and you have a Land of Israel that was a dangerous place to live – before the Jews came.

After the Jews came, Israel became beautiful and lovely – a place where children thrived.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m not really sure that this is a direct answer to this prophecy, but ‘walking the land of Israel’ is a national pastime for Israelis. I have never seen any group of people more interested in hiking all over their country.

Then, verses thirteen through fifteen speak God lifting the affliction imposed upon the land:

13 ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Because they say to you, ‘You devour men and bereave your nation of children,’ 14 therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore,” says the Lord God. 15 “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.’ ”

Ezekiel 36:13-15

Interesting what it says here… God says, “you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore.”

What does that mean?

Does the Land of Israel have a Nation of Israel that belongs to it?

Do a people and a land belong to each other?

Or, maybe is it just the Land of Israel and the people of Israel belong together?

I really do believe that the Land of Israel and the Children of Jacob belong to each other, but only if the are followers of God. And, that is something that God talks about next.

The Sin Of Israel

In the next few verses, God begins to describe the sinful past of the Jews, when they lived in their land, and the recalling of that is painful to read. It is a litany of vile transgressions and terrible suffering. And, that recollection continues from verse 16 until verse 26.

Just remember an important point, as we read this. When Israel returns to the Land of Israel, all of that awfulness is no longer a part of their future – but, it is still present with them. God does not wash their sin from them until AFTER they enter the Land of Israel. I really hope that you understand that point. Many seem unable to see this.

I really am surprised at the thinking of many who claim to be Christian. It should be clear to everyone who reads Ezekiel 36, that the people of Israel are saved AFTER they enter the Land of Israel. Yet, there are foolish people who claim that Israel must be righteous and holy before they enter the Land. So, as we move through the rest of this chapter, make very sure that you see that…

…God brings the Children of Jacob into the Land of Israel, while they are still sinful and in rebellion against God.

You will need to reject the Bible, to say otherwise.

The second thing to remember is that the story of Israel’s transgression is also a story of our own transgression. What happened to Israel – because of her sins – will also come upon us, because of OUR sins. And yes, we really have sinned greatly before God.

Our churches throughout the world are following in ancient Israel’s footsteps and committing the same kinds of sins that Israel committed. Therefore, the same kinds of judgement lie in our future. When you look at the statistics for abortion, pornography, divorce, adultery and sex outside of marriage, you will find very little difference between Christians and non-Christians.

Christians have blasphemed God by their actions, and God will judge us for doing so.

So, we should look at ourselves in the mirror as we read verses 16-19:

16 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 17 “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. 18 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. 19 So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.

Ezekiel 36:16-19

If we defile our country with the blood of unborn children…

Do you think that we are going to escape the same judgment, if we do the same thing?

Almost 60 million induced abortions since 1973 is a lot of blood. A lot.

And, if God did this to the people of His friend Abraham, what do you think He’s going to do to us?

If you think that Christian Women haven’t been having abortions, think again. I am horrified to tell you that many women who claim to be followers of Christ are having their children murdered in the womb. And, because of that – and much else – we can only expect a terrible judgment from God.

And, verse 20 is a stinging indictment:

20 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.’

Ezekiel 36:20

The story of the Jewish people is not one that you would want for anyone. Until the coming of Christ, they were the only people that you could go to, to find God, and they damaged the reputation of God, wherever they went. And, that is the literal meaning of blasphemy:

blas – damage, harm

phemy – reputation, fame

If you are Jewish, that is your legacy. You have a history of blaspheming God.

But, for those of us who are Christian, how many of us have made faith in God look bad?

How many of us live a life that blasphemes the name of God?

If someone accused you of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

The people of Israel were evicted from their land because they didn’t fulfill the covenant between them and God.

What about the great New Covenant that W have entered into?

Are we reflecting the Light of Christ into a dark and dying world?

Are we glorifying God?

I am sorry to say that very, very few of us a doing what our Father has asked us to do, and because of that we can expect the same to happen to us that happened to Israel. I really do believe that the judgement of God – on the church – is coming, if it is not already here. We have a holy and just God who desires a holy and just people – a people that will not tarnish His reputation. God desires a people who will not blaspheme His holy name.

And then, for those who still take pride in their Jewish heritage, God delivers two more verses that strip away any self-satisfaction that you might have:

21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.

22 “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.

Ezekiel 36:21-22

I love the Jewish people. I really do. But, it should be clear to anyone who knows their history and their writings, that there is NOTHING to be proud of. Their Talmud is full of unbelievable error. They have a two thousand year history of complete and utter rebellion against God. And, it would be an obscene thing to take pride in any of that. And God is making that utterly and completely clear.

God continues with verse 23, a verse that ends with something optimistic:

23 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.

Ezekiel 36:23

Notice how God acts, and why. Yehovah gathers those who have profaned and blasphemed His holy name and uses them to make His name holy to the world. He demonstrates to the world that He exists and that He is the One True God. He’s giving the world one more chance to see Him and accept Him.

Again, who is it that God is communicating with, when He brings the Children of Jacob back to Himself?

The world.

This point is vital for our understanding of Jacob’s Return. This is not just God fulfilling His promises, but it is also a warning to the world that He exists and that His judgments will not be withheld forever. Remember that God gives warning to those that He judges, and Israel will be used by God to warn the world of what is coming.

Will the world heed this warning?

No, of course not.

But, some might listen. Might.

God Saves Israel, In The Land Of Israel

Now, the next few verses is where I get to speak specifically to those who claim to be Christian, yet deny that God is at work in the Land of Israel and the People of Israel:

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then 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. 26 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. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

Ezekiel 36:24-27

I hope that you were reading carefully because God spoke of a specific order to this prophecy:

  1. Jacob returns to the Land of Israel
  2. God cleanses them
  3. God gives them spiritual life and His Holy Spirit
  4. Then, and only then, do they obey God.

I truly hope that people understand the order to this prophecy, because it is clear that God has been following that order – and, that we are in the early stages of step two.

Salvation In Christ

Now, notice how the Children of Jacob are reconciled to God. You could almost insert your own name into that passage. Jesus chose us, paid for our sins and washed us clean from our disgusting sinfulness. He gave us a new heart and put the Holy Spirit within us. And, He has caused us to walk according to His laws and judgments.

Are you seeing the connection here?

I am, and I hope that you are too.

The point is that Israel won’t be going back to a Torah that cannot save them. They will be embracing the One True Savior. They will be saved in the same way that you and I have been saved.

And, we see more of this in verses 28-31:

28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 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. 31 Then 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.

Ezekiel 36:28-31

What was begun, will be completed. Israel will wake up to see what they’ve been and the mistakes that they’ve made. Israel will return to the Lord and will be finally, and forever, in a true relationship with God. Again, that is what we call True Salvation.

The Jews will finally acknowledge that Jesus really is the M’shiach.

God Does Not Save Israel Because They Are Better

Of course, Ezekiel 36 isn’t done yet. God goes on to warn those that He has saved, reminding them that He doesn’t do this because the Jewish people are somehow better than anyone else. No, He tells Israel that He does this for a different reason altogether.

32 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!”

Ezekiel 36:32

God again repeats that He is NOT doing this because of the wonderfulness of the Jews. No, God is doing this for His own honor – for His own reputation that has been blasphemed.

God is also saying that the Jews do not deserve what they will receive. Of course, we Christians say the same thing about ourselves. We very clearly do NOT deserve the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.

Physical Changes That Will Happen To The Land Of Israel

Then, God goes on in verses 33-35 to describe what Israel will be like AFTER they are saved:

33 ‘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. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 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.’

Ezekiel 36:33-35

Now, some people look at Israel now and see that much of Israel has been cultivated and the cities of Israel are bursting at the seams. And, they say that this part of the prophecy has been fulfilled. And, I am prepared to agree with that idea to a certain point. But, when I look at the reference to ‘ruined cities’, I shudder.

Why?

Because God speaks of great destruction and physical changes to Israel’s geography in Isaiah 30:

There will be on every high mountain
And on every high hill
Rivers and streams of waters,
In the day of the great slaughter,
When the towers fall.

Isaiah 30:25

We’ll get into Isaiah 30 a little later, but there are a lot of tall buildings, or ‘towers’, in Israel. During my time there, I lived in several. And, when the massive earthquakes that occur alongside Gog and Magog and the Salvation of Israel… those ‘towers’ will crumble. It is doubtful that very much will be left standing, when this prophecy is fulfilled.

The World Will Know That God Did This

Now, in the next verse, there is something interesting in how the rest of the world will be forced to acknowledge God’s hand:

36 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.”

Ezekiel 36:36

Interesting. God says:

the nations that are left all around you

meaning:

those nations that survive all that happens

So, those nations that survive the cataclysmic events described here will acknowledge that God has done all of this. They may not WANT to acknowledge it, but they will be forced to. They won’t have any choice.

The Population Of Israel Explodes

Then God speaks of a population explosion:

37 ‘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. 38 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.” ’ ”

Ezekiel 36:37-38

Take a moment to think about this statement. God is giving us a word picture to help us understand how crowded with people the Land of Israel will become. Imagine the number of sheep that would be required every time a high holy day arrived. That is an enormous number of sheep. The Lord is saying that He will PACK Israel FULL of His people. And, He will bless them, and will do it for Israel.

Not During – Or Even Immediately Before – The Tribulation

Now, let me ask you:

Does this sound like something that happens immediately before the Tribulation?

Does this sound like something that happens DURING the Tribulation?

Does this sound like something connected to Armageddon?

As we dig deeper into this story, we’ll be able to answer with greater conviction. But, there seems to be very little room here for the Antichrist or an immediate onset of the Great Tribulation. Nor does the language of this chapter lend itself to Armageddon.

Armageddon gives us the literal, physical manifestation of God, Himself. In Ezekiel 36, God demonstrates to the world, but does not reveal Himself. God fulfills prophecy, but does not directly show who He is. God gives the Return of Jacob as a sign, a symbol and a warning. When Armageddon comes, there will be no signs and symbols. God will reveal Himself directly at Armageddon, and the mystery of God will be finished – Revelation 10:7.

As for the Antichrist and his army, there is no evidence of him and them in this chapter. Of course, a lack of evidence is not proof. But, I have to wonder at where the Antichrist could fit here. There isn’t even the tiniest hint of this foul person and his minions. But, we are early in this process of laying out the place that the Return of Jacob fits within eschatology.

There is much more to cover. Just be careful to refrain from inserting into these passages, thoughts and ideas that are not there.

Please, for your own safety, do not play games with the words of God.

So, we have completed the first of the four parts of the Ezekiel Tetrad. Let’s continue with chapter 37.

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