Questions God Asks, Pt. 2

Questions God Asks, Pt. 2

Study Guide, June 12, 2022

Pastor Clay Olsen

Have you noticed that people have a lot of questions about Bible prophecy? That’s a good thing. People should be asking a lot of questions about prophecy, because the more you learn about God’s plan for the world to come the better equipped you are to live in the world that is…or the world of today. The Women’s Monday Life Group is going through a great study on prophecy right now, and that is both commendable and super rewarding. And here’s an interesting thing…God Himself asked Ezekiel a question about prophecy. And this question had not only an encouraging answer for their day, but a powerful revelation for now and forever. What do we mean? Let’s explore.

When you open the book of Ezekiel you find the people from the Southern Kingdom of Judah living 800 miles away from Israel. That’s because they were under judgment from having abandoned God, and thus had been over-run by the Kingdom of Babylonia in the first siege of 597 B.C. And in the second siege of 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Earlier, in 722 B.C., the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen under the same judgment and had been displaced throughout Assyria. So now both the nations were under judgment and were no longer living as sovereign countries. And they had little hope of that ever changing. But ‘hope’ is something that God specializes in. Hope is actually a birthright virtue of believers, especially since our Messiah is Himself ‘the Blessed Hope’. So no matter what situation we find ourselves in, or no matter how much we are without or how much we have lost, since we are ‘in Christ’ we always have ‘hope’, since ‘hope’ is primarily a Person, the Person of Hope, our Messiah and God!

So the Lord comes to Ezekiel and says, “Let’s take a walk”…or a ride actually…at least through a vision, that much is revealed. Let’s look: Ezek 37:1-3- “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” NASU Quite a question, huh? Now, there are a lot of things going on here. Remember, every passage has a primary interpretation and then secondary applications. One of the applications is resurrection. One thing for sure is that we know about the joy of ‘resurrection’. We know that of course, our bones and bodies can live again.

We think of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. You know, I always found Martha’s objection to Lazarus’s resurrection kind of odd. Do you remember that? I like how the King James put it… “…but Lord, he stinketh!” Uh oh! Now, that is a problem…he stinketh…maybe just call the whole thing off…But no, dead bodies stinketh, but resurrected bodies don’t stinketh…so no worries!

But seriously, one of the greatest joys of the Christian life is that we know that these mortal bodies of ours are simply just temporary previews of the amazing immortal bodies that God is going to give to each one of us. And these immortal bodies will be equipped to live with Him on both the coming eternal Earth and to travel throughout the eternal Heavens. Every pain you feel in your temporal body now is going to be replaced by the best feeling and the most physical strength and health that you could ever imagine. So, yes, we know that these bones can live again!

But this message to Ezekiel was primarily a revelation about a national resurrection…a resurrection of God’s promise about the place and plan God has for the people of Israel as a national people group that God promised would have an eternal existence and identity. It was a powerful reminder of the Abrahamic Covenant, where God promised that God would raise up a nation that would have an eternal identity and was promised an eternal land grant. God promised this to Abraham: Gen 12:2-3- “And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” And then God got even more specific: Gen 13:14-15- “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” NASU

So God promised that the nation that was derived out of the heritage of Abraham, Israel to be exact, would have an identity and a specific property on the Earth for how long? Forever! That means even in the coming Millennial Kingdom and on into the Eternal Kingdom…because forever is ‘forever’. And God’s promises always come to pass. And we could do another series on that, but in a nutshell, that is the Abrahamic Covenant. And that leads us back to this:

Ezek 37:3-14- “And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. ‘I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.'” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then 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 come to life.”‘” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,” declares the Lord.'” NASU

God was assuring Ezekiel of the Abrahamic Covenant! Though the nation had been judged, it was not over. It would never be over, as God has plans for the nation of Israel. And those plans are extremely significant especially as we see the End Times unfolding before our very eyes. As the authors in Charting the End Times point out: “The return of Israel to her land is unique in all of human history! There are ancient peoples who have always occupied their lands, such as the Egyptians. But never have they left their ancient boundaries only to return. Israel is the only nation that has ever been deported from her homeland, remained a distinct people while outside the land, and then returned to her original country.”1

Now, we know that many returned to the land after the Babylonian captivity and lived in the land right on into Jesus’ days in Israel. But they were an occupied territory under the Romans, and then dispersed by Romans and Greeks once again, until May 5, 1948, when Israel became a ‘sovereign’ nation once again! So when you look at the nation of Israel and hear about the nation of Israel in the news, you are looking at a partial fulfillment of prophecy, and a modern miracle…a miracle that Ezekiel prophesied about in 580 B.C. However, there’s still more to be fulfilled, because although the dry bones have come together again, there is still something missing. How’s that? Well, let’s talk about it.

We praise God that many Jewish people around the world are receiving their Messiah. The Chapel has long supported the Life in Messiah mission work. And those missionaries who serve with Life in Messiah are some really brave Brother and Sisters, for they seek to help Jewish people find life in Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and Lord of all. We actually have a family visiting us this Summer from France, who minister to the Jewish population of Paris, one the largest Jewish populations in the world. So, Praise God for that work and for our many Messianic Jewish Brothers and Sisters in Christ. However, among the Jewish people in Israel and other parts of the world, there is still what the Apostle Paul referred to as ‘a hardening’ toward the true Messiah that lies over their hearts. Look what Paul said about that: Rom 11:25-27- “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB. THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS.” NASU

It’s like in Ezekiel’s vision, the bones have come together, but there is still the spiritual life that is missing. The Hebrew word used in Ezekiel for ‘breath’ is ‘ruwach’. It is often interchanged with the word ‘spirit’. Jesus used the Greek equivalent of that word when He told Nicodemus that he needed to be ‘Born Again’ by receiving a new ‘spirit’…new spiritual life. That is what’s missing in the theology of much of Israel today, is their need for the dry bones to receive the new spirit of life in the only Messiah and Lord, Jesus Christ. However, Paul says, when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, then a worldwide evangelistic wave will bring peoples from every tongue, tribe, and people into a saving relationship with Jesus, the Messiah…many, of which, will be from the nation of Israel.

Remember, ‘the fullness of the Gentiles’ is a reference to the Church Age. And the Church Age began at Pentecost and will be completed at the Rapture of the Church. It’s like an intermediate Age between God’s work with Israel in the Old Testament and God’s renewed work with Israel in the Tribulation Age, or the Tribulation period, just before Jesus returns to establish the Millennial Kingdom on Earth. And again, the fullness of the Gentiles is used of the Church because Israel had rejected the Messiah. Remember what John told us in John 1:11-12- “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” NASU Jesus came out of the Jewish line of Judah. Daniel had even given the people of Israel a timeline to watch for Jesus’ coming in His first advent. But they neglected both the Scriptures and thus neglected their mission of carrying the Gospel of the Messiah to the world. Thus, God raised up the Church to carry the Gospel to the world, which includes of course Jews and Gentiles.

But remember, Daniel also said that following the Church Age, there would be one more period before the second advent, the 70th week of Daniel, the Tribulation Age, when God would raise up the nation of Israel once again. In fact, this time, many Jewish people will receive their Messiah and help share the saving Gospel with every tongue, tribe, and nation on Earth. In fact again, the Apostle John gets very specific in revealing that God seals Jewish representatives from every tribe of Israel and gives them special assignments during the Tribulation Age. You often hear people talk about ‘the lost tribes of Israel’. Well, God knows exactly where they are and who they are. So, it’s all covered! Look at Rev 7:2-4- “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…” NASU We are not told their exact mission, but the fact that at that time the Gospel is spread throughout the whole world, along with the Angel messenger proclaiming it as well, strongly indicates their mission to be evangelistic…especially since the Messiah is about to return to the Earth.

Is this exciting or what? If you’re having trouble in dealing with the things of today, try focusing more on the things that are coming in the ‘tomorrows’ ahead, and it will strengthen you to deal with the things of today. That’s a fact! It’s like a statement Sharon recently read to me that when Jesus first came to Earth the whole world judged Him. But when Jesus comes back, He is going to judge the whole world. Jesus is in charge! The whole world belongs to Jesus, even though many people live like it belongs to them. They are on the verge of finding out differently. What people need to find out is how they can escape their captivity to the devil and become Born Again and then belong to Jesus forever! They need to find out how their dry bones can receive new breath, new life, new spiritual life and become a forever child of God.

We pray that this brief examination of Ezekiel’s prophecy gets you even more excited about the wondrous plans that God has and is working on even now. And we pray that you will make sure that you have received the Spirit of Christ, the only Messiah and Lord into your life. And that you will commit to finding ways to share that message, the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, with others around you.

  1. Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, Charting the End Times, p. 91