The imagery of this chapter is unsettling. In fact, some believe that this passage indicates the coming of yet another holocaust. But, that is the wrong way to look at this chapter.
The Very Dry Bones – An Allegory
Let’s go through the chapter and see what it says.
1 The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
The word picture here is powerful. Dry, sterile death. Hopelessness. Utter and absolute destruction, except for one thing. There are at least bones, and these bones are not broken. They are a remnant of what once was, and that remnant still continues on. And God is going to use what is left (those dry bones) to build again.
Furthermore, to believe that this passage represents a holocaust is extremely foolish. Yes, it is true that Zechariah 13:8-9 speaks of two thirds of Israel dying, but it is ‘only’ two thirds. And, I suspect that a large portion of that ‘two thirds’ will be those who are attacking Israel.
Furthermore, Zechariah tells us that – at a minimum – a third of Israel survives. In this valley of ‘dry bones’, there are no survivors. There is no life. Therefore, it should be clear that God is communicating to us with allegorical imagery. God is not killing all the Jewish people and then resurrecting them back to life.
The Jewish people have been spiritually dead for two thousand years. It is now time for them rise from their spiritual grave.
God continues this metaphor with the next two verses:
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” ’ ”
God is going to take a nation that is spiritually and hopelessly dead, and revive them. God is going to reanimate what was lifeless and scattered. And, He speaks to the lifeless, even though they cannot hear. And, when Ezekiel speaks to them, they do not spring up fully formed in verses seven and eight.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
So, after Ezekiel speaks, a process begins. The bones come together. Then, organs, muscles, connective tissue and skin form on the assembled skeletons. When the process ends, their bodies have form. They are no longer dry and sterile. If we were looking out through Ezekiel’s eyes, they’d probably seem to be asleep.
The Holy Spirit Enters Them
Then, in verse nine, we see the Holy Spirit:
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ’ ”
TRANSLATION NOTE: The New King James Version, among a host of other versions, translates הרוח (pronounced ha-roo-ach – ch as in Bach) as ‘the breath’. That is completely and utterly wrong. That word either means wind or spirit. It does not mean – and never has meant – breath. The Hebrew words for breath are נשימה and נפש.
Furthermore, there is the Hebrew word ‘el’ before the word ‘ruach’. God commands Ezekiel to tell el haruach to come from the four winds and give life to the bodies.
God (el) of spirit (ruach)?
Well, in Hebrew el can also be another way to say the word the. The word ‘el’ is used throughout the Bible as the definite article, the. But… it really COULD be referring to ‘God the Spirit’, or as we refer to Him – the Holy Spirit. We certainly know that there can be no spiritual life without the Holy Spirit. But, at the same time, I believe that it is wise to be cautious when addressing metaphors.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter how we interpret this usage of the word ‘el’. It should be clear to all of us that God gives them spiritual life and that the Holy Spirit lives inside of them. That, after all, is salvation.
So, God calls the Holy Spirit to enter these dead bodies and cause them to live. The next five verses give us the result, as well as a connection to Ezekiel 36:
10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’ ”
TRANSLATION NOTE: Again, the word for ‘breath’ in verse ten is either ‘spirit’ or ‘wind’. Yet, when the translators came to verse 14, they translated the possessive form of that word as ‘My Spirit’. These Bible translators are either amazingly stupid or horribly corrupt. And, there is no room for either on Bible translation teams.
How can you be a Christian and do something like this?
What This Metaphor Cannot Be
Let me take you through a bit of simple reasoning, to show you what this metaphor cannot be. And, that which is left will be what it MUST be.
In this chapter, we see graves mentioned – and an opportunity to take this passage far too literally. So, let’s look at these graves.
Are they real, honest-to-goodness graves?
They cannot possibly be real graves with dead people in them. This is a metaphor, one of many, many metaphors in the bible.
Let me make it more clear:
Nowhere in the Bible do we see God bringing the Jews back to their land and killing all of them.
Yes, a lot f Jews die in Zechariah 13, but not even close to all. And, Zechariah does not mention that those who are killed are brought back to life again. In fact, nowhere in the Bible do we see any example of this.
Remember that the Bible is consistent. If something doesn’t happen anywhere else in the Bible, you need to think again about your interpretation. This is a basic tenet of Biblical interpretation.
Let us also remember that Chapter 37 happens in context with Chapter 36. Here are the core verses that everything points to:
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. 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.
When we read this passage alongside chapter 37, it’s clear that chapter 37 cannot be referring to another holocaust. It’s a metaphor.
To illustrate my point, look again at the verses above (Ezekiel 36:24-28). God is also using metaphor, otherwise we’d have to say that when God brings the Jews back to Israel, they will all get rained on and have open-heart surgery.
Taking that passage both passages completely literal, makes the Bible completely ridiculous.
So, if Ezekiel 36:24-28 is a metaphor, then the ‘dry bones’ in chapter 37 is a metaphor – but, a much bigger metaphor.
The fact is, the ‘Vision of the Dry Bones’ is a retelling of what happens in verses 24-28 of the previous chapter – except, in this case, God is emphasizing the CHARACTER of Israel’s exile. These graves are Israel’s exile. And, God sent Israel into exile because, when they were given a choice between spiritual death and spiritual life, they chose spiritual death – in the same way that many Christians appear to be doing today with their turn towards worldliness.
But here, in Ezekiel 37, the Children of Israel get a second chance. And, God is a God of second chances.
(Otherwise, you and I are in a LOT of trouble!)
Let’s continue with the rest of Ezekiel 37.
The next part should eliminate all question over the tribes of Israel in the Last Days. I have gotten countless email messages and comments raising question after question about the tribes of Israel. And, these questions show that our pastors have not been teaching our brothers and sisters about what God has actually said. The amount of ignorance on this issue is astounding.
How can our brothers and sisters be so ignorant of such a simple thing?
It is an evil thing for our pastors to withhold the truth from their congregation. And yes, that is exactly what they are doing. They are deliberately holding back, and I’ve watched pastors do it with my own eyes and ears.
I know one pastor who said that if he told all of the truth that he knows, more than half of his congregation would leave. That pastor knows what he has done, and he will pay an eternal price for this wickedness. Do not follow in the footsteps of these hirelings. In fact, the words of Jesus speak to this issue:
12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.
Our hireling shepherds have thrown us to the wolves. It is time for us throw these men out of our congregations and bring in those who would truly care for us. But, this is a message for another another time.
One Stick – The 12 Tribes Become One
So, let’s talk about how God has already combined all the tribes of into just one tribe:
Judah (i.e., Yehudah).
Every Levite – those with the last name Cohen or Levi – calls himself a Jew (i.e., from the tribe of Yehudah). Cohen and Levi are family names that are specifically of the tribe of Levi. Those names cannot be of any other tribe. Yet, every Cohen or Levi will say that they are Jewish, and therefore of the tribe of Judah. Paul in Romans 11:1 and Philippians 3:5 speaks of himself as being of the tribe of Benjamin – yet, throughout his letters, he calls himself a Jew.
Do you find that to be interesting?
I do. What’s more, it demonstrates the fulfillment of prophecy.
Here is how God describes this:
15 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 16 “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
18 “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’— 19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.” ’ 20 And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
21 “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.
Now that you’ve seen this for yourself, you can now help in the effort to educate our brethren. We do not need to find the ‘missing’ tribes of Israel. We do not need to determine who is Jewish and who is not. God knows the stick that He holds in His hand. However, some might need a little more of an explanation.
When the northern ten tribes where grabbed by the Assyrians, many Israelis lost their tribal identities. Some still held on to them, like Paul’s family – of the tribe of Benjamin. But, most probably had their specific, tribal connections obliterated. After all, it’s hard to hold on to something like that, when you are suffering under terrible conditions. The only thing that they probably kept was the knowledge that they were from Israel.
We have something of an example of this when Nehemiah was trying to determine who should be allowed to be a priest, and who should not (Nehemiah 7). Some could not be found in the records and had to be barred from serving in the Temple. Well, almost 2500 years later, the problem is so much worse, we don’t know the tribal identity of ANY of the children of Jacob.
Except that all the Children of Jacob identify as being Jewish.
We could go on endlessly about how this might have happened. But, it’s not necessary. We only need to take what God said here as proof.
So, please tell those who wish to confuse the issue, that the ‘missing tribes’ are not missing. All the tribes of Israel are now Jews. All of them. No exceptions. If you say otherwise, you need to repent.
Worse, those who say that the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel is not the work of God, are resisting God. Are rebelling against God. And, that never ends well for anyone. I have seen the bitter fruit of those who rebel against God. I have seen their bitter end. I have even warned them, but they wouldn’t listen – and they have paid a terrible price for not listening.
The Jews Will No Longer Be Pagan
Then, God says, yet again, that He will bring them back and then – afterwards – cleanse them:
23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.
Unfortunately, there really are idols in Judaism. Jews will disagree with me, and I understand that – and why. But, that doesn’t change the fact that they have idols in their heart and idols in their synagogues.
For instance, did you know that they actually bow down to their Torah scrolls?
When a Torah scribe finishes the last few letters of a Torah scroll, they believe that the scroll becomes alive – that it becomes a living being. And, this is the same mindset of classical idol worship. Where I am now, I see it several times a week in Taiwan where they really have idols that they really worship.
Seriously. If you want to see real, honest-to-goodness idol worship, come to Taiwan.
And, the parallels between Taiwanese idolatry and the idol worship in Judaism are remarkable. Furthermore, there is an idolatrous veneration and worship of the great sages of Judaism. And, you can also see exactly the same kind of thing, here in Taiwan.
Gloating Over Jewish Paganism Is A Sin
Now, am I gloating?
Absolutely not. I don’t like talking about these things because it gives ammunition to the antisemites who call themselves Christian, but are not. If you are someone who gloats over the idolatry of the Jews, I believe that you are destined for the eternal wrath of a holy God.
Yes. You heard me right.
In fact, it is difficult for me to believe that anyone could be saved, who despises the Jews. Gloating over the idolatry of the Children of Jacob demonstrates an appalling lack of spiritual understanding – even a lack of salvation. No saved person gloats over the unsaved condition of another person. No one. Neither do saved people declare that it is impossible for someone to be saved because of their sinful nature. For ANYONE to declare that the sinfulness of a group of people renders them incapable of being saved… well …you would have to be appallingly ignorant or unsaved.
And, appalling ignorance is your ONLY defense, in my eyes – if you declare that God is not going to save the Jews. Of course, if you claim to be appallingly ignorant, it is time to shut up and listen to those who are not.
And, I have found that most appallingly ignorant pastors are too proud to shut up and listen.
Okay, I will now calm down and go on with the rest of Ezekiel 37.
Jesus Will Be Their King – Just As He Is Your King
Now, I like this next verse, verse 24:
24 “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.
I think that you can probably guess why I really, REALLY like this part.
Who is this David?
Is this literally King David, risen from the dead?
This cannot actually be a resurrected King David – any more than the dry bones could be literal dead people. King David was a man who died thousands of years ago, and is still dead. And he will remain dead until the Resurrection.
Do you honestly believe that King David will be resurrected to lead the people of Israel?
Unfortunately, there are those without the Holy Spirit who make such claims.
So, for those of you who are actually LISTENING to the Holy Spirit, it is easy to see that this is referring to the THRONE of David, or – more accurately – the one who rightfully sits on it.
Jesus Christ was of the lineage of King David. He rightfully could have demanded that Israel acknowledge Him as the rightful heir to the throne of David, while He was on this earth. And, in fact, He did acknowledge His Kingship of the Jewish people. So, this ‘David’ referred to in verse 24, can only be our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, the discussion about David continues with the next verse:
25 Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.
Again, if the ‘dry bones’ is a metaphor and the reference to David is a metaphor, then His kingship over Israel is ALSO a metaphor – a metaphor about a spiritual transformation in which the M’shiach ben David (Messiah son of David) leads Israel.
Again, how could David be the prince of Israel forever?
Only through Jesus Christ.
Then, in the last three verses of Ezekiel 37, we see the same covenant from God – the same covenant that you and I are a part of:
26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 28 The nations also will know that I, the Lord, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” ’ ”
I know. That reference to sanctuary and tabernacle is confusing. It might even suggest to some that the Law of Moses and the ordinances of sacrifice will return. But, I ask you…
Was the sacrifice of Christ, our Lord and Savior eternal and sufficient, or not?
Read Hebrews 10 and tell me whether God would be pleased with a return of the Mosaic Law. Read Galatians to see if the Law was sufficient, in ANY way. Unfortunately, there are Christian movements that have arisen that make such claims.
Please, if you value your eternal life in Christ, do not take ANYTHING away from the Bible!
In the final analysis, I love these chapters in Ezekiel because they are filled with such good news about the future. It shows us that one day, the Jews and the Christians will once again be one family. I look forward to that.
I just do not relish the devastation that comes before it.
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