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Ezekiel 35-37 Listen
1 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it,
3 And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate.
4 I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
5 Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end:
6 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.
7 Thus will I make mount Seir most desolate, and cut off from it him that passeth out and him that returneth.
8 And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills, and in thy valleys, and in all thy rivers, shall they fall that are slain with the sword.
9 I will make thee perpetual desolations, and thy cities shall not return: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
10 Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there:
11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee.
12 And thou shalt know that I am the LORD, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.
13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
14 Thus saith the Lord GOD; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.
15 As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir, and all Idumea, even all of it: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Here's another prophecy against Edom. Mount Seir is located in Edom. They already received mention in Ezekiel's prophecy (Ezekiel 25:12-14, see notes), but here's a whole chapter devoted to their destruction. Edom had a long, colorful history with Israel going all the way back to Jacob and Esau. Edom was Esau's nickname, and the very way he came by this nickname was a sore subject found in Genesis 25 (see notes). Remember when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup? Here's what Genesis 25:30 says, "And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom." Edom is the Hebrew word for "red." The very name of these people continually resurrected bad memories, and they lived up to these bad memories with their constant harassment of Israel over the centuries. Edom had sought to block Israels first entrance into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14-21, see notes; Numbers 24:15-19, see notes).
Note these other conflicts with the Edomites:
Other prophets also prophesied concerning Edom:
Therefore, it would seem that Ezekiel uses Edom as the epitome of nations that sought to overrun and acquire Israels land for themselves. Ezekiel is clear on the reason for Edom's demise in verses 5-6, "Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that their iniquity had an end: Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee: sith thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee." That kinda reminds me of God's words to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 (see notes), "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee."
It is clear from this passage that Edom will not prosper. Incidentally, this land coincides with the nation of Jordan today. There's a rather interesting prophetic theory that centers around this region during the tribulation period (see notes on Micah 2:12-13 for details). The last great eradication of the enemies of God before the millennium will take place at the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes).
Why Israel fell (Ezekiel 36:1-21)
1 Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:
2 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:
3 Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
4 Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;
5 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
6 Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:
7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:
10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;
14 Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD.
15 Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.
16 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.
18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:
19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.
20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.
21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
These verses turn on the heathen nations that have had a part in Israel's demise. Edom (KJV "Idumea") gets special mention among these heathen nations in verse 5. Now that word has gotten to the exiles that Jerusalem has fallen to the Babylonians (Ezekiel 33:21, see notes), they're all ears about when this exile is going to come to an end. Ezekiel gets right to the point in verse 8, "But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come." Finally...prosperity...at last! And the return to the homeland (Israel) is seen in verse 10, "And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded." We see the details of the promise of that restoration in verses 10-15.
It is important to note that restoration to the land is prophesied by both Jeremiah and Ezekiel in a couple of different contexts. As we have stated many times, the exiles actually went back to their homeland under Persian rule in 535 B.C. However, at that time they were not an independent nation. In addition, the times-couldn't-be-better scenario of life back in the land found in this chapter has never existed - even to this day. The prophecy of complete restoration and eternal prosperity won't really be manifested until the millennium. So in the numerous restoration prophecies found in the Old Testament, sometimes the prophets are talking about the simple return to their homeland in 535 B.C. and sometimes about the eternal prosperity of Israel in the homeland during the yet-future millennium.
It's not all positive here though; in verses 16-21 Ezekiel carefully points out that even in exile, the Jews continue to disgrace the name of the Lord.
Let's talk about restoration (Ezekiel 36:22-38)
22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
36 Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.
37 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock.
38 As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
Why restore Israel? Verses 22-23 make it plain that restoration is necessary for God's sake - not Israel's. Here's a restoration of Israel, and verses 25-28 tell us that this is more than just the return in 535 B.C. under the Persians. This is a national heart cleansing and times in Israel couldn't be better. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah referred to this in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes) as the New Covenant. The realization of the New Covenant is yet future - during the millennium.
Notice particularly verse 35 "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden." When Jews began to return to Israel in the early part of the 20th century, Israel was a wasteland. Today, vegetation is being grown where none existed for hundreds of years. It's difficult to view the environment that now exists in Israel and make a case that it is anything other than the beginning of this prophesied restoration.
1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
You old timers will recognize that as the first line of an old Negro spiritual. Remember? "The arm bone is connected to the shoulder bone," and so on. This is actually one of the most fascinating chapters in all of the prophetic books. It outlines the reconstituting of Israel out of nothing. According to the passage, the bones are the whole house of Israel, dispersed. They come together even though they are very dry. Here's what's exciting about this: the first part of this prophecy happened on May 14, 1948 when Israel actually became an independent nation after over 2,500 years; Jews migrated from all over the world back to their homeland in the years preceding that date...and afterward.
Technically speaking, I'm comfortable with the notion that the "shaking of the bones" (verse 7) in this prophecy is a reference to World Wars I and II. Those wars changed the world's attitude toward the Jews and made it possible for Israel to become a nation in their original homeland. However, this prophecy is not completely fulfilled until the New Covenant is established in the nation per the specifications of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes). That consists of every inhabitant of Israel knowing and loving God personally - in their own, individual hearts. However, viewing the first step of this process in our lifetime is way exciting.
Notice verses 22-23 tell us that Israel will be a false-worship-free zone at that time. But that's not all! We see in verses 24-28 the words "forever" and "ever more" used five times in talking about their new relationship with God. This is the millennium when the New Covenant will be completely fulfilled and the Messiah will rule. You will notice the reference to David in verse 24, "And David my servant shall be king over them." That did not happen in 535 B.C., but will in the yet-future millennium. As a matter of fact, the mention of David here is an interesting reference. For more details regarding David's role in the millennium, take a look at the information box provided above entitled, "King David's Role in The Millennium." To read it in full screen, click here.
Perhaps it should be mentioned that the Mormon Church distorts a portion of this prophecy for their own purposes. Look at these verses:
Ezekiel 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
Ezekiel 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
The Mormons view the stick of Judah to be the Bible and the stick of Joseph (Smith) to be the Book of Mormon. And they happen to be the only church to unite them into one faith. That's a scary way to read the Old Testament. Actually, the sticks are representative of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel which had split after the reign of Solomon (I Kings 12, see notes). In the millennium, all of Israel will once again be united. Some people really, really mistreat the Bible.