November 26, 2007

Ezekiel 36-37 - An Exceedingly Great Army

From today's Bible reading:

Ezekiel 36:

The word of the LORD came to me:

Son of man, when the house of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity.

So I poured out my wrath upon them for the blood that they had shed in the land, for the idols with which they had defiled it. I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them.

But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.

But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came.

Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD:

It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.

And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.
  • I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
  • I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
  • And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
  • And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
  • And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
  • You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
  • And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.
  • And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
  • I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.

It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord GOD; let that be known to you.

Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.

Ezekiel 37:

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.

And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live?

And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know.

Then 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, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.

So I prophesied as I was commanded.

(Once again, Ezekiel was obedient.)

And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had 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 may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived 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 is lost; we are indeed cut off.

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.

And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.

Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.

The word of the LORD came to me:

Son of man, take a stick and write on it, For Judah, and the people of Israel associated with him; then take another stick and write on it, For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him. And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.

And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD:

Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (that is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him. And I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand.

When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD:

(A visual object lesson first, before the message.)

Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.

They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions.

But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever.

I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.

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