Ezekiel 36:1 "And
you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, 'O mountains
of Israel, hear the word of the LORD.:
DEAR READER, AS BACKGROUND PLEASE
NOTE THAT THE HERMENEUTICAL PRINCIPLE UTILIZED TO INTERPRET THE PROPHECIES
OF EZEKIEL IS DESCRIBED AS FOLLOWS...
If the plain sense
of the Scripture makes good sense in
then I will not seek some other sense lest the final interpretation turn out
to be nonsense and totally unrelated to God's intended meaning (all
Scripture has only one interpretation, but many applications).
It follows that every
word in Ezekiel 36-39 will be taken in its primary, ordinary, usual,
sense, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of
related passages and self-evident and fundamental truths, indicate
otherwise. There will be no attempt to
the passages. God addresses these prophetic promises to
Israel or Judah
and there is no justification to
spiritualize the promises as given to the
an entity which is not even mentioned in the Old Testament! When one
with the NT Church
in the interpretation of OT prophetic writings, the prophecies become very
difficult to interpret and indeed cannot be interpreted accurately! I should
add that while I have been accused of being a "dispensationalist", I would
respond by saying that I am not a "dispensationalist" but a "literalist!"
"The most serious charge that can be
leveled against non-literal interpretation is that of perverting the
promises of God. God’s promises, both in the OT and NT, were given to
specific recipients using words which they understood in the context in
which they lived and in which the promises were given. When a nonliteral
view of these passages is adopted, this robs the original recipients of the
promises as God gave them:
Adopting a nonliteral view
of the Old Testament kingdom prophecies raises some disturbing questions:
What did those prophecies mean to those to whom they were addressed? If
prophecies seemingly addressed to Israel really apply to the church (which
did not exist at that time), did God give revelation that failed to reveal?
And if those prophecies were meant to apply symbolically to the church, why
were they addressed to Israel? What meaning could such prophecies have in
their historical settings? Ironically, many who spiritualize Old Testament
prophecies reject the futurist interpretation of Revelation because it
allegedly robs the book of its meaning for those to whom it was written. Yet
they do the very same thing with the Old Testament kingdom prophecies. (Revelation
"God’s promises involve both ends of the
communication channel: the things God said and what those who received His
promises understood them to mean in the original context. It is not
permissible, after the fact, to make what God said mean something different
which would have been entirely foreign to those who originally received His
word. Allegorization and spiritualization do just that." (Tony
Garland on The Art and Science of Interpretation)
goes on to emphasize that...
chapter (Ezekiel 36) presents the prerequisite regeneration which Israel
must experience before they can nationally enter
into the promised blessings.
This chapter must be understood to speak of a literal Israel, a
literal land, and a literal regeneration, leading to a literal
kingdom under Messiah.
John Walvoord agrees noting that...
chapter requires a future millennial kingdom after the second coming of
Christ for its complete and literal fulfillment (Jer 23:5–8).
Just as the prophecies of judgment were literally fulfilled in
connection with Israel and the nations, so her future restoration will be
literally fulfilled and she will experience the marvelous grace
of God. (The prophecy knowledge handbook).
additional background, you may want to read Tony Garland's
excellent discussion on
Interpreting Symbols (From preface of
his commentary on Revelation, one of the best
commentaries from a literalistic perspective I have ever read
A Testimony of Jesus Christ - highly
recommended). You might also want to read Bob Smith's succinct summary on
Figures of Speech.
Some attack the principle of literal
interpretation of Scripture by stating that this method denies the
Bible's use of figurative language (including types, symbols, figures of
speech, etc). Dr Charles
Ryrie counters such specious reasoning noting specifically that
not preclude or exclude correct understanding of types, illustrations,
apocalypses, and other genres within the basic framework of literal
interpretation… (Literal interpretation) might also be called plain
interpretation so that no one receives the mistaken notion that the
literal principle rules out figures of speech.
E R Craven adds that...
The Literalist (so called) is not one who denies that
figurative language, that symbols are used in
prophecy, nor does he deny the great spiritual truths are set
forth therein; his position is, simply, that the prophecies are to be
normally interpreted (i.e., according to received laws of language)
as any other utterances are interpreted–that which is manifestly
literal being regarded as literal, that which is manifestly
figurative being so regarded. (From
a Note appended to the bottom of the page - See Lange, J. P., Schaff, P.,
Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
: Revelation, 1872)
Irving Jensen writes that...
Apocalyptic writing prophesies of things to come by means of much symbol
and imagery. Daniel and Revelation are the
two books of the Bible usually
classified as apocalyptic. Ezekiel contains many apocalyptic passages.
(Jensen's Survey of the OT)
For a historical
Babylon attacked Jerusalem on three separate occasions
(1) 605BC - Daniel was taken captive
(2) 597BC - Ezekiel and 10,000 taken
(3) 586BC-Judah and Jerusalem defeated.
THE FALL OF JERUSALEM:
THE MAJOR TURNING
POINT IN EZEKIEL
Ezekiel records the siege of the city of
Son of man, write the name of the day,
this very day. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very
day....14 "I, the LORD, have spoken; it is coming and I shall act. I shall
not relent, and I shall not pity, and I shall not be sorry; according to
your ways and according to your deeds I shall judge you," declares the Lord
GOD.'" (Ezekiel 24:2, 14)
Comment: Even though Babylon was
880 miles away from Ezekiel (in Babylon), God revealed to his prophet the
beginning of the siege in Jerusalem on the very day it began This final
siege began in January, 588BC (precisely dated in Ezek 24:1 corresponding to
2Ki 25:1, cp Jer 39:1, 52:4) and lasted approximately 2 years. The Lord had
the prophet memorialize this horrible event and then describe it in a
parable of a cooking pot (Ezekiel 24:3-14) to picture God's imminent
judgment against the "bloody city" (Ezek 24:6). And then God gave Ezekiel
the personally painful sign of the death of his beloved wife, and forbade
the prophet to mourn her death as a heartbreaking sign to the people of Gods
wrath upon the wayward nation (Ezekiel 24:15-24).
Now it came about in the twelfth year of
our exile, on the fifth of the tenth month, that the refugees from Jerusalem
came to me, saying, "The city has been taken." (Ezekiel 33:21)
Comment: A fugitive who escaped
from Jerusalem brings word of the holy city's fall to Nebuchadnezzar. The
city had actually fallen some 6 months earlier (July, 586BC).
The destruction of the city of
Jerusalem marks the major turning point and a division of the book of Ezekiel
into two sections (see table below). Prior to this time, Ezekiel's message had been judgment is
coming, but after Ezekiel 33:21 God changes the prophet's message to hope
and restoration of Jerusalem and the nation. Irving Jensen writes...
It is at Ezekiel 24 that the prophet
learns that when Jerusalem falls, his tongue will be loosed to speak a new
message of hope; and people, sobered by the reality of Jerusalem’s
destruction, will begin to give him a hearing. (Read Ezekiel 24:25–27.)
(Jensen's Survey of the Old Testament)
The LORD is not there
The LORD is There
Before the Siege
During the Siege
After the Siege
HORROR & NO HOPE
Ezekiel Sees Glory & Receives Call
Restoration of Israel by Jehovah
Glory Returns to
Joel Rosenberg writes that
Ezekiel 36, 37
set the stage for the “War of Gog and
Magog” by describing that Israel will be reborn as a country in the last
days, the Jewish people will come back to the Holy Land from exile all over
the world, the Jewish people will rebuild the ancient ruins and make the
deserts bloom again (Ed: I have been to Israel and this is a
beautiful reality today!). These things have all happened, and this suggests
we are getting closer to the fulfillment of the next set of prophecies.
PROPHECY AGAINST NATIONS
THAT WERE AGAINST ISRAEL
Keep the context in mind - In
Ezekiel 35:1-15 God had prophesied judgment against Edom and Ezekiel 36:1-15
continues the prophecy against Edom. While this section is somewhat complex,
the basic thrust of Ezekiel 36:1–15 can be subdivided into two parts (1)
Ezekiel 36:1–7 is an oracle of divine judgment against Edom and the nations
for appropriating Judah’s land and (2) Ezekiel 36:8–15 comprise an oracle of
divine blessing of restoration and salvation for Judah and Israel.
I must admit that Ezekiel 36 has proven
to be a huge challenge to interpret, but I felt better after reading
Block's introductory note...
If Chapter 35 seems disjointed, Ezekiel
36:1–15 is even more so. Numerous repetitive and disruptive prophetic
formulae appear to chop it up into little fragments. Indeed, it is difficult
to determine when Yahweh is addressing his messenger and when he is
addressing the mountains. The result looks like a patchwork quilt, except
that quilts usually reflect more deliberate design. Wevers describes this as
“a hodge-podge” of materials. (The
Book of Ezekiel, Chapters 25–48 New International Commentary on the Old
A C Gaebelein puts Ezekiel 36 into
proper perspective reminding us that...
With this chapter the great prophetic
utterances of Ezekiel begin concerning the future restoration and blessing
of Israel. From here on to the end of the book, all is still unfulfilled,
nor can it be fulfilled until the Lord Jesus Christ comes again and is
enthroned as King.
Prophesy to the mountains of Israel
- This was not the first time Ezekiel had prophesied to the mountains of
Israel (See Ezekiel 6:2,3). In the previous chapter, Ezekiel had set his
face against Mount Seir (representative of the land Edom, Ezek 35:1ff), but
now the prophet addressed his comments to the mountains of Israel as
the symbol or representative of the land of Israel.
F F Bruce points out that...
In Ezekiel 6:1–3 the mountains of Israel
were apostrophized (apostrophe = In rhetoric, turning away from
the audience [In Greek apostrophe = “turning away”] to address
someone or something that cannot respond) in terms of denunciation because
of the idolatry practised on them. Now they are apostrophized in tones of
consolation: although they are at present occupied by alien invaders,
because their rightful inhabitants are in exile, yet the invaders will soon
be expelled and the rightful inhabitants restored to cultivate them and reap
fruitful harvests from them (cp Ezek 36:8-11). (Bruce, F. F. New
International Bible Commentary. Page 837. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Publishing House. 1979).
Matthew Henry adds that...
(In Ezekiel 6:1-3) God was coming forth
to contend with His people; but now that God is returning in mercy to them
He must speak good words and comfortable words to these mountains, Ezek 36:1
and again Ezek 36:4....The people were gone, some one way and some another;
nothing remained there to be spoken to but the places, the mountains and
valleys; these the Chaldeans (Babylonians) could not carry away with them!
John MacArthur adds that...
Ezekiel addresses Israel’s mountains, as
symbolic of the whole nation. He promises: (1) to give these
mountains again to dispersed Israel (Ezek 36:12); (2) to cause fruit
to grow on them (Ezek 36:8); (3) to rebuild cities and to multiply
people there (Ezek 36:10); and (4) to bless in a greater way than in
the past (Ezek 36:11). This promise can only be fulfilled in future
to Israel that she has not yet experienced, because it includes the
salvation of the
New Covenant (Ezek
36:25–27, 29, 31, 33).
John Walvoord entitles Ezekiel 36
as "The Future Restoration of Israel to Her Land."
Warren Wiersbe writes that...
One of the purposes of the
is that God might fulfill His promises to
His people, promises He couldn’t fulfill because of their rebellion and
unbelief. In His grace and mercy, God gave Israel a wonderful land, a
perfect law, and a glorious Lord. They defiled (His) land by their terrible
crimes; they disobeyed (His) Law by adopting pagan practices; and they
defied their Lord and tempted Him by resisting His calls to repentance. But
Israel will trust the Lord, obey His Word, worship in His temple as they
should, and bring delight to the Lord who will rule from David’s throne. But
there’s a further fulfillment, for the Kingdom Age will “wrap up” all the
previous ages in God’s revelation of Himself and His purposes. The land will
be like the Garden of Eden (Ezek 36:35), complete with a river of life and
trees of life. The promises made to Abraham will be fulfilled and his
descendants will possess and enjoy their land. The Law of Moses will be
obeyed from the heart, and the Lord will be worshiped and glorified. The
Messiah that Israel rejected at His first coming will be received and
honored and will reign over them (Ezek 43:6–7). God will fulfill every
kingdom promise found in the pages of the prophets!
The mountains of Israel - This
exact phrase occurs only in Ezekiel where it is found 16x in 15v - Ezek 6:2,
3; 19:9; 33:28; 34:13, 14; 35:12; 36:1, 4, 8; 37:22; 38:8; 39:2, 4, 17.
Excursus on The Mountains of Israel
- As an aside, one might well ask why address the prophecy to the
mountains? What was on the mountains of Israel? On most of the mountains at
this time there were "high places" (see Ezek 6:3, cp 1Ki 14:23 =
"high places" a phrase that occurs 80x in OT), altars to the pagan
(so-called) gods, especially Baal (cp Jer 3:6-9, 2:20 Isa 57:7). Judah's
idol worship was one of the main reasons God took them from the land and
brought them into exile in Babylon (ironically, a land filled with idols).
They had failed to obey God's clear instruction (and warning) to destroy the
idols in the land of Canaan (Dt 7:5).
Beloved, do you have any idols,
anything that comes between you and God, anything you love more than you
love Jesus? If you do, you must (emphasize "must") destroy the idol
or idols. If the "idol" is
another person obviously you don't "destroy" them, but you must not let them
take the highest place on the "throne of your heart." Your love for them
must not be greater than your love for Jesus (Mt 10:37, Lk 14:26 where
"hate" is relative - in other words our love for Jesus makes our love for
others is like "hatred". One's devotion to family must take second place to
one's devotion to Christ.). Idolatry is detestable to God and will surely
bring His hand of discipline to those who fail to heed His command to rid
themselves of their idols!
O mountains of Israel, hear the word
of the LORD - In other words as noted above,
is addressing the nation of
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Because the enemy has spoken against you, 'Aha!'
and, 'The everlasting heights have become our possession':
Because - This is a
term of explanation.
For the reason that. For the cause which is explained in the next
proposition. For the reason next explained. The conjunction because
introduces a series of 5 "therefores" in the next five verses. The basic
"complaint" that the LORD has is with the enemies of Israel, for He knew
their insults and their aggression toward Israel during the time of the
Babylonian invasions and final defeat of Jerusalem. Israel's enemies would
be punished for their "anti-Semitism." (cp this same principle in Ge 12:3)
This is good principle for all God's children to keep in mind for as Paul
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight
of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all
men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of
God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.
Comment: And so in this first section of Ezekiel 36, God explains
that He will avenge the injustices committed against Israel.
The enemy has spoken against you -
In context enemy refers especially to the Edomites but also includes the
rest of the nations (Ezek 36:5).
The enemies had in essence "cursed"
Israel which invoked God's immutable promise to Abraham...
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.” (Ge
Aha (Job 39:25; Ps 35:21, 25;
40:15; 70:3; Isa 44:16; Ezek 25:3; 26:2; 36:2) - An interjection or cry that
imitates or expresses joy or satisfaction (Isa 44:16). In the present
aha is used in the sense of
Israel's enemies gloating over Judah's defeat (Ezek 25:3, cp Ps 40:16). In
Job 39:25 aha is used figuratively to expresses the satisfied
neighing and anticipation of a warhorse anticipating a battle. The English
word aha is used to express surprise, triumph, or derision.
The everlasting heights ("the high places" [sites of idol worship])
have become our possession - Ezekiel is quoting what Judah's enemies
were saying. They were boasting that the high places for the worship of
false gods had become their possession, similar to their revilings in
Ezekiel 35:12 where they said "‘They are laid desolate; they are given to us
Regarding the fact that the enemy
considered Israel "our possession" contrast God's opinion about who the land
really belongs to in Ezekiel 36:5! In Leviticus God said..
The land (the promised land), moreover, shall not be sold
permanently, for the land is Mine; for you (addressing Israel) are
but aliens and sojourners with Me. (Lev 25:23, cp My land in Ezekiel
Therefore prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "For good reason they
have made you desolate and crushed you from every side, that you would
become a possession of the rest of the nations and you have been taken up in
the talk and the whispering of the people.":
- So prophesy and say: 'This is what the sovereign LORD says: Surely because
they have made you desolate and crushed you from all directions, so that you
have become the property of the rest of the nations, and have become the
subject of gossip and slander among the people
Therefore - This is a
term of conclusion.
This conjunction introduces the next 5 passages.
Wiersbe explains that...
the Lord knew what the enemy was saying and doing, and He determined that
there would be serious consequences because of their decisions. That’s why
you find the word “therefore” six times in this section (Ezek 36:3–7,
The ESV Study Bible explains the
repetition of therefore this way...
In Ezek 36:1–7 there are a series of nested “because” and “therefore”
statements whose relationships are difficult to disentangle, as apparent
outcomes simply introduce further grounds. Three factors are intertwined:
the encroachment of Israel’s enemies, the desolation of the land, and the
wrath of God.
You have been taken up in the talk and
the whispering of the people - This is addressed to the mountains of
Israel as representative of the entire nation. "They talked publicly and
privately about her fate." (Constable)
Whispering (dibbah) means slander, a bad report with intent to
defame. The picture is of whispering which spreads slander against someone
(Ps 31:13, Jer 20:10). In the present context the whispering is
strictly speaking not slander for the people are speaking truth about Israel
but in a derogatory sense.
God had clearly warned (it was actually a prophetic promise) this would
happen to Israel when she refused to obey Him...
You shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among
all the people where the Lord drives you. (Dt 28:37, cp Jer 24:9).
'Therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD. Thus says
the Lord GOD to the mountains and to the hills, to the ravines and to the
valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the forsaken cities which have become
a prey and a derision to the rest of the nations which are round about:
Therefore - Because of what
Israel's enemies were saying and whispering about Judah's ignominious
O mountains of Israel - Remember
that God is using this phrase as a metaphor. Ezekiel is actually speaking to
Israel in exile and defeat. By all human estimates, they were in a hopeless
state and must have surely wondered whether God would avenge them and
restore the nation of Israel.
Prey (baz) means booty or spoil. It speaks of plunder which
means the taking of good by force (as when the enemies of Israel plundered
In other words, in the present context,
the land of Israel had been plundered by Babylon, by Edom and by other
surrounding nations. And what God is preparing to tell His exiled, dejected,
despondent, defeated people in the following verses is in essence "What
goes around, comes around."
Baz = 27 verses in the OT (Note
that almost 1/2 are in Ezekiel) - Num 14:3, 31; 31:32; Deut 1:39; 2 Kgs
21:14; 2Chr 28:14; Isa 8:1; 10:6; 33:23; 42:22; Jer 2:14; 15:13; 17:3;
30:16; 49:32; Ezek 7:21; 23:46; 25:7; 26:5; 29:19; 34:8, 22, 28; 36:4f;
Derision (la'ag) describes
mocking or scoffing at someone. Scoffing is a show of contempt by mocking
words or deeds which are meant to stress one's disrespect for the party who
scoffed. In English mockery describes insulting or contemptuous action or
speech, making the mocked one the subject of laughter, derision or sport.
La'ag - 7v in OT - Job 34:7; Ps
44:13; 79:4; 123:4; Ezek 23:32; 36:4; Hos 7:16
To the rest of the nations - The point is that Babylon's defeat of
Israel was the cause for many other nations to scorn and mock God's people
or to "kick 'em while they were down" to use a modern slang saying.
The "rest of the nations" would be repaid by God for mocking Israel.
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have
spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all
appropriated My land for themselves as a possession with wholehearted joy
and with scorn of soul, to drive it out for a prey.":
Ezekiel 34 helps us understand what makes
(command) yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the
land into which you are going, (Why
is obedience to this command so important?)
lest it become a snare (Hebrew = lure or bait placed on a hunter's trap -
Beloved, are their any snares
you are aware of in your own life?)
in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their
sacred pillars and cut down (Read
the verbs again!) their
Asherim for (term
you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD (Jehovah),
Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God-- lest you make a
covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they play the harlot with
their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and someone invite you to eat of
his sacrifice (See also
Relationship of idolatry with Immorality)
Comment: Keep the context of the preceding passages in mind -- Moses
had delayed returning from the mountain and the people convinced Aaron to
make a "god who (would" go before" them (Ex 32:1-14, see especially Ex 32:12
- what would that have to do with profaning God's name?)
In the fire of My jealousy (Literally "in the fire of My zeal")
- Moses warned Israel that God was a consuming fire...
(command) yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your
God which He made with you (Referring to the Mosaic Covenant, Covenant of
Law), and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against
which the Lord your God has commanded you (Ex 20:3,4,5), for (term
your God is a consuming (same verb
translated devour in Ezek 36:14) fire, a jealous
(zealous) God." (Dt 4:23, 24)
Comment: The adjective jealous (Hebrew = qanna' from the verb
qana' = to be zealous) is only used to describe Jehovah as the
God who is zealous to protect what
belongs to Him. Thus the worship of false gods always arouses His jealousy
and anger in judgment against the idol worshipers. He will not tolerate
another to have the honor that is due to Him alone (cf. Is 42:8; 48:11). In
the following verse God says His jealousy and wrath are because the land
(symbolic of Israel) had suffered insults from the idolatrous nations.
Israel’s enemies had dealt with her in their anger and envy (Ezek 35:11),
but now Yahweh would deal with them in His fierce jealousy over Israel’s
F F Bruce explains that...
When Yahweh’s land and people were objects of derision, His own reputation
was dragged in the mire; the ‘zeal’ with which He vindicates His people
against the enemy is His concern for His own name and character and pledged
word (cf. Ezek 36:7, 20–23). (Ibid).
I have spoken against the rest of the nations - As noted above,
Israel's scoffing, mocking, deriding, scorning, insulting enemies (
is singled out) would be repaid for their evil.
And against all
- Judgment on Edom had been prophesied in Ezekiel 25 and Ezekiel
35:1-15, and here God again singles out for punishment!
Thus says the Lord GOD, "Because Edom has acted against the house of Judah
by taking vengeance, and has incurred grievous guilt, and avenged themselves
upon them," (NLT paraphrases it "The people of Edom have sinned greatly
by avenging themselves against the people of Judah.") 13 therefore, thus
says the Lord GOD, "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and cut off
man and beast from it. And I will lay it waste; from Teman even to Dedan
they will fall by the sword. 14 "And I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the
hand of My people Israel. Therefore, they will act in Edom according to
My anger and according to My wrath (cp to "fire of My jealousy" in Ezek
36:5) thus they will know My vengeance," declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel
(Again God explains why Edom is singled out) Because you have had
everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the
sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment of the
end."... (Ezek 35:5, Also because of Edom's anger, envy, hatred toward
Israel and arrogance against God described in Ezek 35:10, 11, 12, 13)
Smith's Bible Dictionary gives us a clue as to the reason for God's
focus on Edom...
In the reign of Jehoshaphat (BC 914) the Edomites attempted to invade
Israel, but failed. (2Chronicles 20:22, cp 2Chr 28:17) They joined
Nebuchadnezzar when that king besieged Jerusalem. For their cruelty at this
time they were fearfully denounced by the later prophets. (Isaiah 34:5-8;
63:1-4; Jeremiah 49:17)...They were idolaters. (2Chronicles 25:14,15,20)
My land (cp His land Ezek
36:20) - God is very possessive of the land. He is also possessive of
the people calling them My people in Ezekiel 36:12. The
land of Israel is God's land and the people are God's
people. While God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants,
ultimately the land is His and always will be. (See also Ge 12:1, 7; 15:7;
18; Ex 19:5–6; Lev 25:23; Deut 32:43; Ps 78:54; Jer 2:7.)
Constable notes that...
The Promised Land was the Lord’s land in the same sense that the Sabbath was
His day and the tithe was His possession. These parts were not just segments
of their wholes over which God claimed ownership, but they represented and
illustrated His ownership of all lands, all days, and all possessions.
'Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains
and to the hills, to the ravines and to the valleys, "Thus says the Lord
GOD, 'Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and in My wrath because you have
endured the insults of the nations.':
Behold - (hen probably a
short form of hinneh) calls attention to the text and directs the reader to give
special attention. It is given to heighten the reader's or hearer's
awareness that what follows is truth that must be heard and/or heeded. The
idea is "Listen up! Pay attention!"
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'I have sworn that surely the nations
which are around you will themselves endure their insults.:
Today's English Version
(paraphrase) - I, the Sovereign LORD, solemnly promise that the surrounding
nations will be humiliated.
I have sworn (Literally "I have
lifted up My hand") - God gives an oath that He will vindicate the insults.
The nations...will...endure their
insults - Yes, God allowed the nations to punish Israel but they would
in turn be punished because of their evil deeds. The Avenger would avenge
the enemy nations' evil words and deeds directed at Israel. As Bruce says
"The scorn heaped on Israel by the aliens will recoil on themselves
Bruce, F. F. (1979). New International Bible commentary. "Formerly titled
New international Bible commentary and The international Bible commentary"--T.p.
verso. (837). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
'But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear
your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come.:
OF THE LAND & PEOPLE OF ISRAEL
1) God Will Restore the
fruitfulness of the land of Israel - Ezekiel 36:8-9
2) God will Restore & Repopulate
the cities of the land of Israel - Ezekiel 36:10-12, 33-37
3) God will Regather Jews to the
land of Israel - Ezekiel 36:24
4) God will Cleanse them from their
impurities - Ezekiel 36:25, 33
5) God will Regenerate Israel
Spiritually - Ezekiel 36:26, 29
6) God will give His Spirit to move
them to walk in His laws - Ezekiel 36:27
7) God will be their God & they
will live in the land He gave their forefathers - Ezekiel 36:28
8) God will make the land of Israel
abundantly productive - Ezekiel 36:29-30
9) Israel will remember former evil
ways and will loathe themselves - Ezekiel 36:31
10) God will do all of these things
for the sake of reputation, His Name - Ezekiel 36:22, 32
But you - Here we see a striking
with the preceding dismal picture. Remember that a contrast always signifies
a change of direction, and in this case signals a gracious transition. A ray
of sun breaks through the clouds.
R H Alexander observes that...
Blessing normally follows judgment in God’s scheme. So, having pronounced
judgment on the scornful nations (following the principle of lex talionis
[Ed: An eye for an eye]), the Lord turned to encourage Israel by describing
his preparation of her land for her return in the end time. He stresses that
this would be his work.
Bible Commentary New Testament. Zondervan Publishing
You will put forth your branches - The desolate, ruined land of
Israel will become fertile again. Why? To prepare the land for Israel's
return (cp Ezek 36:34). How would the revitalization of the land occur?
Ezekiel goes on to explain how in the next verse.
'For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you will be
cultivated and sown.:
I will - This is clearly a "key
phrase" in Ezekiel 36 occurring some 21 times in 15 verses! (Ezek 36:9, 10,
11, 12, 15, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 37) Gaebelein refers
to "I will" as God's "word of sovereign grace." Twenty one times
says what He will do. They are the “I
wills” of Israel’s Hope and coming Glory."
Behold - (hen probably a
short form of hinneh) calls attention to the text and directs the reader to give
special attention. It is given to heighten the reader's or hearer's
awareness that what follows is truth that must be heard and/or heeded. The
idea is "Listen up! Pay attention!"
I am for you - This explains how ruined land can again be made so
that it will be cultivated and sown.
'I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the
cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt.:
All the house of Israel, all of it
- Since this says ''all the house of Israel'' the complete fulfillment of
this promise refers to the Millennial Kingdom.
'I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be
fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will
treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.:
I...will treat you better than at the
first - When God restores Israel to the land in the last days will be
You will know that I am the LORD -
Why will God allow such a miracle? He wants His people to know Him.
'Yes, I will cause men--My people Israel--to walk on you and possess you, so
that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of
I will cause men--My people Israel--to
walk on you (the land) and possess you - In God's covenant with
Abraham, He had promised him "To your descendants I will give this land."
(Ge 12:7. 24:7, passed on to Isaac = Gen 26:3) Israel has never fully
possessed the land promised in the Abrahamic Covenant, but here in
Ezekiel God assures Israel that they will possess the land.
You (the land) will become their (Israel's) inheritance
- The land of Israel will belong to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. (See Exodus 33:1)
them of children -
reassures the land and the exiles
that when God regathers His people to the "promised land," the land would
never again be deprived of its children as in Ezekiel 5:17. In other
words, Israel would never again be defeated by enemies. The land would never
again be devastated and made desolate. The fulfillment of this promise
awaits the future Messianic Age.
"Thus says the Lord GOD, 'Because they say to you, "You are a devourer of
men and have bereaved your nation of children,":
You (the land) are a
devourer of men and have bereaved your nation of children - This is
paraphrased by the ICB as "You eat people and take children from your
F F Bruce comments that you are a
devourer of men...
as though the mother country were a cruel stepmother; cf. the spies’ evil
report of the promised land in Nu 13:32. (Ibid).
therefore you will no longer devour men and no longer bereave your nation of
children,' declares the Lord GOD.:
You (the land) will no longer
devour men - To devour (He) means to eat or consume. Earlier Ezekiel
described that "famine and the plague will also consume those in the
city" (Ezek 7:15), "the fire will consume them (complete destruction
of Jerusalem in 586BC)" (Ezek 15:7)
In Ezekiel 34 God promised Israel...
And they (Israel) will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of
the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no
one will make them afraid. (Ezekiel 34:28)
Comment: This prophetic promise clearly describes the peaceful time
of Messiah's Millennial Kingdom. This promise is given specifically to
Israel, not the church.
Through the prophet Amos God
will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out
from their land which I have given them, says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:15)
"I will not let you hear insults from the nations anymore, nor will you bear
disgrace from the peoples any longer, nor will you cause your nation to
stumble any longer," declares the Lord GOD.'":
I will not let you hear insults from
the nations anymore - When
will this be fulfilled? It can
only be when Messiah rules the nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9, Rev
Then and only then will there be no more ''insults from the nations''.
Look at our day (these notes are written February/March, 2012). Israel is
constantly caused to hear insults from the nations of the world and
this anti-Semitism will crescendo until it reaches a fever pitch in the
time of Jacob's trouble or distress (Jer 30:7 - read what follows this
time - Jer 30:8, 9 = The Messiah's Millennial Reign), which is synonymous
with the last 3.5 years of
Daniel's Seventieth Week,
the horrible time that Jesus called "The
Nor will you (the mountains) cause your nation to stumble any
longer- Why not? How did
the mountains cause the nation to stumble?
The "high places" were built on the mountains and were the site of
Israel's abominable, detestable practices associated with idol worship. The
reason the mountains will no longer cause Israel to stumble in the future is
because God will sprinkle clean water on them and make them clean (Ezek
36:25) in addition to giving them a new heart (Ezek 36:26) and His Spirit
Who would empower them to walk in His statutes (including His prohibition of
idol worship which had been practiced on the mountains) (Ezek 36:27).
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,:
REASON FOR = IDOLATRY
RESULT OF = PROFANED GOD'S NAME
In Ezekiel 36:17-20
reviews Israel's disobedience and
punishment in preparation for describing the restoration, a restoration that
God had promised earlier in Ezekiel 11...
say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Though I had removed them far away among the
nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a
sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone.” 17
“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “I will gather you from the peoples
and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered,
and I will give you the land of Israel.” 18 “When they come there, they will
remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19 “And I
will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take
the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20
that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then
they will be My people, and I shall be their God. 21 “But as for those whose
hearts go after their detestable things and abominations, I will bring their
conduct down on their heads,” declares the Lord God. (Eze 11:16-21-notes).
"Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they
defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the
uncleanness of a woman in her impurity.:
They defiled it by their ways and
their deeds - Earlier the prophet painted an unbelievable picture of the
depth of depravity to which Israel had fallen. He described how worship of
idols who are no gods had entered in the Temple of the Living God and how
Judah's religious leaders had even bowed down to the sun rather than to the
Son! (Read Ezekiel 8:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18) And
they went to the tragic extreme of even sacrificing their sons to their so
called blood thirsty gods! And the blood of these sacrifices, far from
satisfying or propitiating God, enraged His holy anger. Take a moment to
read Jeremiah 7:31-34, 8:1-5.
"Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed
on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols.:
Therefore - A
term of conclusion.
Israel sowed the seeds of defiling deeds and moral uncleanness (Gal 6:8-note),
and reaped the rotten fruit of moral corruption which resulted in the
righteous wrath of God.
Because they had defiled it with their
idols - What had Israel failed to do when they entered the
land? See the passages in the first chapter of Judges which give Israel's
root problem which became her snare (Jdg 1:19, 21, 27-36, 2:3, 11-13, 17,
19) and compare God's commands (Ex 20:3,4 23:32,33 34:12-16 Nu 33:52,53 Dt
7:2, 3, 4,16,25,26, 12:2,3, 20:16-18) Lest we think this was just a
spiritual snare in the OT, read Paul's warnings to the saints at Corinth,
living in a city overflowing with idols!" (2Cor 6:14, 15, 16, 17, Then read
2Corinthians 7:1 - What "promises" had Paul just described?)
The effect of idols is to defile, pollute and contaminate. One reason this
is so is because of the repeated association in Scripture of
Idolatry and Immorality (the
relationship and the antidote)
(E.g., read Jer 3:1, 2 and note
God's response - Jer 3:3).
(See related study -
Idolatry - Brief Excursus on Idolatry;
Idolatry - Dictionary Articles)
In Leviticus God gives Israel a strong warning describing what
happens when the land is defiled by immorality (America, are you
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things (see the horrible litany of
sexual perversions that defiled the land - Lev 18:6-23); for by all these
the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the
land has become defiled, therefore I have visited its punishment upon it, so
the land has spewed out its inhabitants. (Lev 18:24, 25, cp
Lev 18:26, 27, 28)
Blood which they had shed on the land
- In Numbers we read
So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood
pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the
land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed
it. (Nu 35:33, cp Ps 106:38)
"Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout
the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them.:
In Leviticus God had promised that
He would scatter Israel for her failure to keep the Sabbaths...
You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a
sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.
34 'Then (When? When they are dispersed, exiled from the land, then) the
land will enjoy its Sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are
in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35
'All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not
observe on your Sabbaths, while you were living on it. (Lev 26:33-35, cp
2Chr 36:20, 21)
Comment: How long was Judah exiled? Seventy years. One year for each
Sabbath year of rest Israel failed to keep. But what is the total number of
years that she was in disobedience? If a Sabbath year came every seventh
year, then Israel was disobedient for 490 years (7 x 70). What is
fascinating is that in Daniel 9:24-27 God gave a prophecy of seven times
seventy or 490 years, a period commonly known as "Daniel's Seventy Weeks".
Sixty-nine of Daniel's "weeks" (seven year periods) have been fulfilled. One
"week", the Seventieth Week of Daniel has yet to be fulfilled and when
compared with other Scriptures describes the Seven Year period that some
refer to as the "Tribulation." It is the period which is abruptly terminated
by the Second Coming of Messiah, at which time the believing remnant of
Israel (the "one third" of Zechariah 13:8, 9 and the "all Israel" of Romans
11:26) will be saved by grace through faith and will enter into the covenant
promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and amplified below in Ezekiel 36:26-27. This
regenerated, reborn remnant of Jews will enter into and will "people" the
In Deuteronomy we read an
incredible prophecy of divine removal from the land followed by divine
compassion to the people...
And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you shall be
left few in number among the nations, where the LORD shall drive you. 28
"And there you will serve gods, the work of man's hands, wood and stone,
which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 "But from there you will
seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all
your heart and all your soul. 30 "When you are in distress and all these
things have come upon you, in the latter days, you will return to the
LORD your God and listen to His voice. 31 "For the LORD your God is a
compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the
covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. (Deut 4:27-31)
Comment: Even commentators in the 1800's interpreted this as a
reference to the times of the Messiah, Jamieson for example writing in 1863
that " in the age of Messiah, which is commonly called “the latter days”...when
the scattered tribes of Israel shall be converted to the Gospel of Christ (Ed:
The occurrence of this auspicious event will be the most illustrious proof
of the truth of the promise made in Dt 4:31"
Note that God will show compassion to a believing remnant of Israel in the
latter days, not because they deserve it, but because God is a covenant
keeping God and He made a promise to Abraham which He will never break.
"When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name,
because it was said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD; yet they
have come out of His land.':
They profaned My holy name - How
did they profane God's holy name? The pagan nations knew that the land of
Israel was "His land." They associated His people with His name and the fact
that Babylon (and her so-called gods) had defeated Judah, was tantamount to
defeating Judah's God in the eyes of the "religious" pagans and thus cast
aspersions on His name, making it "common" or profane. As Cooper says Israel
was a "reproach and profanation of God’s holy name because they made it
appear that he had not been able to keep them safe." (Ibid)
Beloved, sadly we as believers today can do the same thing as Israel did
(profaning His holy Name)! When others know that we claim Jesus as our Lord
and yet live like the world (and in some cases even like the devil is our
lord), God's holy Name is profaned. I have had occasion to converse with
several foreigners in my home who were visiting the United States for the
first time and have been absolutely amazed at their response as shared
Christ and Christianity with them. Invariably, they would make the statement
"All of the U.S. is Christian!" In other words they (and most of the world)
sees America as a "Christian nation"! Woe! Is America "profaning" the Name
of God? You be the judge. And if America is profaning the Name of God, what
is this doing to God's jealousy and how might He respond? Let all God's
people humbly beseech His throne of grace using the patter of 2Chronicles
7:13, 14. (Observe the
expression of time
in verse 14!)
Profaned - The Septuagint
translates with the verb bebeloo (Also used in Ezek 36:21, 22, 23,
39:7) meaning to cause something which is highly revered to become
identified with that which is common or commonplace.
My holy name - This phrase occurs 13x in 12v most often in Ezekiel -
Lev 20:3; 22:2, 32; Ezek 20:39; 36:20, 21, 22; 39:7 (2x), Ezek 39:25; 43:7,
8; Amos 2:7
In Isaiah God says...
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act for how can My name be
profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. (Isaiah 48:11)
Comment: The NLT paraphrase helps understand this passage = "I
will rescue you (Israel) for my sake--yes, for my own sake! That way, the
pagan nations will not be able to claim that their gods have conquered me. I
will not let them have my glory!"
Here in Ezekiel 36, God is presenting His "rescue plan" for exiled
Israel! God is able to rescue and restore Israel and thereby vindicate His
holy Name among the nations!
"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned
among the nations where they went.:
But - Remember that a
signifies a change of direction, in this case from Israel's disobedience and
punishment described in Ezekiel 36:17-20.
I had concern for My holy name - This is the basis for God's acting
to restore His "chosen people" to the land - for the sake of His reputation.
Cooper makes the point that...
The revelation of God’s name or character was a major aspect of God’s
dealing with Israel from the beginning (cf. Ex 5:2; 9:16; Lev 18:21; 20:3;
22:31–33), and it would continue to be God’s concern (Ezek 39:7–8, 25;
43:7–9). Moses effectively used the appeal to God’s name and character to
stay the judgment of annihilation upon Israel after the incident of the
golden calf in Ex 32:11–18. He gave the same appeal when the people chose
not to enter the land of promise in Num 14:13–19. (Ibid)
The house of Israel had profaned among the nations - Israel was
associated with the name of their God. Their defeat and humiliation caused
the nations to see the God of Israel as impotent and profane (common).
"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 My holy
name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.:
REASON FOR ISRAEL'S RESTORATION:
THE GLORY OF THE LORD
Not for your sake (Repeated thought in Ezek 36:32, cp Ezekiel 20:44)
- The Lord God would not restore the house of Israel because she deserved it
but because of His desire to show her His holiness, especially His holy
God's act of restoration is a clear
manifestation of His grace to an undeserving, idolatrous people. Does
this sound familiar? Who of us can say we merited His grace?
"I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned
among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations
will know that I am the LORD," declares the Lord GOD, "when I prove Myself
holy among you in their sight.:
I will vindicate the holiness of My
great name which has been profaned among the nations - He will do it by
restoring Israel. Is God's name profaned today? Even profaned because of
Israel? I think it is indeed as Israel in continually accused of unfairly
treating the Palestinians.
At the end of this age, God will gather
the Jews from all the nations (Ezek 36:24) and then the nations will know
that He alone is the omniscient (predicted before it transpired) and
omnipotent (power to fulfill His prediction) God.
In Warren Wiersbe's final comments on the book of Ezekiel he observes
the Book of Ezekiel teaches us anything, it teaches us that we must honor
God’s name and magnify His glory. The glory of God departed from
Israel because they defiled the temple. The glory of God returned to
the new temple because it was holy and a place where God could dwell (Ed:
See related resource:
Jehovah Shammah -The LORD is There).
“They shall know that I am the Lord” is a statement found at least
sixty times in Ezekiel’s book. While God’s glory doesn’t dwell in our church
buildings, God can be glorified or disgraced by what we do in those
buildings we have dedicated to Him. As His people, we must be reverent and
honor His name.
"For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and
bring you into your own land.:
Term of explanation.
God explains how He will prove Himself holy and cause the nations to know
that He is
I will...gather you - While there has been an increasing number of
Jews returning to Israel, this verse has clearly not yet been fulfilled.
God's regathering of Israel is a repeated emphasis in this last section
dealing with restoration of the land and salvation of Israel. See Ezek
34:13, 37:21, 39:27-28.
From all the lands - All refers to
all the nations they had been scattered which is important in the
interpretation of this verse. L E Cooper explains that
the breadth of the reference, especially with the addition of “all,”
suggests an eschatological setting. The return to the land in 535BC after
the exile in Babylon involved a return from one nation, Babylon, allowed by
another nation, the Medo-Persians. Technically three nations were involved
in the return of the exiles, Assyria, Babylon, and Medo-Persia.... The
reference in Ezekiel to a gathering from “all countries” seems to
imply a wider scope for the return that looked beyond the first return from
the Assyro-Babylonian captivity. This prophecy reflected the hope of a
regathering after the 70AD dispersion among all nations of the world (cf.
Ezek 11:16–17; Isa 11:12; Jer 16:15). (Ezekiel ; The New American
Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers)
God made a virtually identical promise in the "judgment section" of
Ezekiel 11:17 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "I will gather you
from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have
been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."'
A C Gaebelein comments that...
Only a superficial expositor can speak of a fulfillment when they returned
from Babylon. But even if this were so, though it is not, the verses which
follow have never been fulfilled in the past.
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will
cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.:
Then - An
expression of time.
Remember that the "then's" are especially helpful in guiding one to
an accurate interpretation in the prophetic writings (e.g., Matthew 24 uses
then 9x in 8v - Mt 24:9, 13, 16, 21, 23,, 30, 40, 45 - see especially the
"then" of Mt 24:21! Check the
interrogate with the 5W/H'S).
The crucial question is when?
He does not state specifically. But in the context God is speaking about
Israel and does say Israel will be clean
and idol free. The only time that this occurs in Scripture is when
the Messiah returns and one-third of Israel is saved by grace through faith
(cp Zech 12:10, 13:8,9). Messiah will return at the end of the
at which time "all (all that
believe - all of the one-third) Israel will be saved." (Ro 11:26-note)
If one does not accept the doctrine of the
then one would have to say that this "cleansing" (associated in context with
receipt of a new heart and the Holy Spirit, i.e., individual spiritual
rebirth) occurs in the time of the church age.
Is Israel "clean" today from all her moral filthiness?
Have you ever visited Israel? I have and was shocked to discover that most
of the people I wanted to talk with about the Messiah were not interested in
spiritual issues. They were more interested in their idols, money and the
good life, not the new life in Christ, the only life that could make them
truly clean inside and out. And so if one is Amillennial, they are forced to
transfer this promise and all the promises to Israel for that matter to the
Church. If one does so, they have broken the basic rule for accurate
interpretation -- read the text literally if the context allows and it
certainly does in the context of the book of Ezekiel, a book written by a
Jewish prophet to Jewish men and women in exile and without hope of ever
again having a nation, a holy city and a holy temple. Beloved, you may not
agree with the
literal approach to the interpretation
of Scripture, but it is difficult to dispute the fact that the book of
Ezekiel is as "Jewish" and as "Israel-centric" (if you will) as any book in
I will sprinkle clean water on you - He is speaking figuratively. The
best commentary on this passage by the writer of Hebrews who exhorts his
believing Jewish audience...
Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having
our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed
with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22, see following passage)
- examine Heb 9:12 to see what is being explained!) if the blood of goats
and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been
defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the
blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without
blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living
God? (Heb 9:13-14).
In that day (When you see an
expression of time,
always pause to
interrogate with the 5W/H'S
- read Zechariah 12-14 for the 16 uses of "in that day" - then you
will know the who, what, where, when, why, how answers to that great and
glorious day!) a fountain (Ask - is this literal or figurative? Let
guide your answer) will be opened for the house of David and for the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. (Zechariah 13:1).
F F Bruce writes that the picture of sprinkling clean water is
reminiscent of the ‘water of cleansing’ prescribed in Nu 19:9, but that
removed external and ceremonial pollution: this is symbolical water and
effects inward cleansing (cf. Heb. 9:13, 14). This thought is taken up in
the fountain image of Zech. 13:1 (Ibid).
Gaebelein writes that the promise you will be clean typifies
typifying the precious blood of Christ in its cleansing power (Heb 9:13–14,
10:22). Thus, when the people of Israel believe on Him and look upon Him
whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10), they will be cleansed. “In that day there
shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1)
Cooper adds that...
Cleansing and forgiveness were symbolized by sprinkling with clean water to
wash away their impurities (cf. Ps 51:7). While the reference was to
ceremonial cleansing that was necessary to reestablish worship (Nu 19:13,
20), it is important to remember that ceremonial cleansing was an external
rite, but it was a ritual that also called for internal repentance. (Ibid)
Sprinkle clean water reminds of the beautiful old hymn sung by Red
There is a Fountain Filled With Blood
version beautifully sung by Selah)
There is a fountain fill'd with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, as vile as he,
Wash'd all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransom'd church of God
Be saved, to sin no more.
E'er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing Thy power to save;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.
Lord I believe Thou hast prepared
(Unworthy though I be)
For me a blood-bought free reward,
A golden harp for me!
'Tis strung and tuned for endless years,
And form'd by power divine,
To sound in God the Father's ears
No other name but Thine.
Dr John Walvoord makes a very
interesting comment regarding the "Kingdom of God" in the Gospel of John...
The Gospel of John has relatively few references to the kingdom of
God. This is because John’s Gospel is concerned primarily with the deity
of Christ and salvation through Him. The book’s prophetic sections deal with
the present inter-Advent age.
In John 3:3-5 Christ’s words about entering “the kingdom of God” had
in mind both the present spiritual form of the kingdom and His future
earthly reign. In both cases it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God
without the new birth.
Of importance is
the fact that Christ rebuked Nicodemus for not knowing this concept, for the
Old Testament clearly stated that unless a person had new life he could not
enter the kingdom. As
brought out in Ezekiel 36:25-31, salvation in the Old Testament clearly
involved a new birth, receiving a new heart, and being delivered from the
power of sin. Other references to this in the Old Testament include Isaiah
44:2-4; 60:21 ; and Jeremiah 24:7.
The only other reference to the kingdom in the Gospel of John is found in
John 18:36 where Christ indicated that His kingdom did not receive its power
from the world which relies on physical force for its endurance. Whether
referring to the present spiritual form of the kingdom or the future
millennial kingdom, Christ’s statement would be true in either case.
While Christ clearly offered a present form of the kingdom which believers
can enter now by new birth, He also reaffirmed the hope of the Jews that
there would be a future kingdom in which the Son of David will reign over
the house of Israel. (Interpreting
Prophecy Today — Part 4 The Kingdom of God in the New Testament)
Comment: Clearly Jesus' apostles believed in a literal restoration of
Israel. In Acts they ask the resurrected Jesus "Lord, is it at this time You
are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6, cp Acts 3:21) And notice
that Jesus did not correct them. He simply stated that the timing was not
for them to know but was fixed by the Father's own authority.
Henry Morris agrees writing: That the Lord will, at some future time,
restore the kingdom to Israel is clear from the fact that He did not correct
this idea (often taught in the Old Testament Scriptures) in the disciples'
understanding. Note, for example, the further confirmation of this teaching
in Acts 15:13-18. He did, however, indicate they were not to be concerned
about the time of this future kingdom. They had other more immediate
It is also worth noting that Ezekiel
36:25,26 is part of the haftarah (prescribed reading from the
Prophets) for Shabbat Para (“heifer”), when Numbers 19 (ceremony of a
red heifer...sprinkling) is the Torah reading. The Mishnah "missed' the true
meaning of this profound verse: E.g. Rabbi Aqiba said "Happy are you, O
Israel. Before whom are you made clean, and who makes you clean? It is your
Father Who is in heaven, "as it says, "And I will sprinkle clean water on
you, and you will be clean." (Ezekiel 36:25). The rabbi did not understand
that this was an Old Testament reference to the new birth.
F F Bruce writes that...
The water of v. 25 and the new spirit of v. 26 are conjoined
in the description of the new birth in Jn 3:5. (Ibid).
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols-
God will cleanse them especially from their idolatry, which had defiled the
land (Ezek 36:17–18).
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and
I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of
JEHOVAH'S PROMISE OF
THE NEW COVENANT
Although the actual words "New
Covenant" are not in Ezekiel 36, the truths in this chapter clearly
describe the New Covenant that God promises to Israel. A new heart and new
spirit speak of spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit. God is saying He
will cause Israel to be born again.
I will give you a new heart - God's Spirit will circumcise their
unbelieving hearts and give them a heart that loves God, desires
to obey Him and has the power to obey Him. This is clearly a
description of the New Covenant which is promised in Jeremiah (See also
New Covenant in the Old Testament).
We need a new heart because we inherited a sinful heart from Adam (Ro
cp Jer 17:9). While God commanded Abraham to carry out physical
circumcision, ultimately His desire for all mankind (women included) is
spiritual circumcision. In Deuteronomy Moses speaking metaphorically
instructed Israel to "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart." (Deut
10:16KJV) How is this humanly
possible? It's not! Moses
gives us the answer (addressing Israel but applicable to all mankind)
declaring that "Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart and the
heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all your soul, in order that you may live (spiritually, cp all mankind
needs a "divine heart transplant" = Eph 2:1-note).
Remember that Scripture is always the best commentary on Scripture (Compare
Scripture with Scripture),
and so we go to Colossians where Paul teaches us that "in Him (Christ)
you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands (Paul
is addressing those who have already become believers or saints by grace
through faith, see "the Gospel" in Col 1:4-5-note
in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.
(Personal faith or belief in His death, burial and resurrection gives us
spiritual life via the New Covenant in His blood) having been buried with
Him in baptism (identification with Christ's death, burial and
resurrection), in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in
the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were
(spiritually) dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your
flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our
transgressions" (Col 2:11, 12, 13-note)
Jeremiah declared God's promise to Israel..
Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Like these good figs, so I will regard as
good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land
of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I
will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and
not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And
I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will
be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me
with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:5-7)
In Jeremiah 31 God gives Israel the greatest promise in the Old
Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a NEW
COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not
like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by
the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt (Which covenant?), My
covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the
LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of
Israel after those days (See
Millennium Part 2),"
declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will
write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Cp "I will
put my Spirit within them" - so they have both the Law and the power
to obey the law! Are you trying to "keep the law" in your own strength dear
believer? Give it up! Quit trying and start "dying" to self, surrendering to
the Spirit! Then and ONLY THEN, you will be empowered to keep the law!). 34
"And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his
brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least
of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive
their iniquity (This was always pictured for them in the Day of
Atonement, but now because Jesus was the "Scapegoat" who bore our sins into
the desert so to speak, the Father is propitiated or satisfied and can fully
forgive the believing remnant's sins [and ours dear Gentile believer who has
entered the New Covenant originally promised to the house of Israel and the
house of Judah] as far as the east is from the west!), and their sin I will
remember no more." (This is part of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ) 35 Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, and the
fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the
sea so that its waves roar; the LORD of hosts (Jehovah
is His name: 36 "If this fixed order departs from before Me," declares the
LORD, "Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation
before Me forever." (May the Spirit open the eyes of your heart to
understand what He inspired as a literal promise to literal Israel. The
church is not mentioned in this passage and to insert that meaning is to
jettison the truth of the simple, normal reading of the text. Praise Jehovah
that His promises to Israel are absolutely as sure as the sun rising, the
seas billowing and the seasons coming! Hallelujah!) 37 Thus says the LORD,
"If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth
searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done," declares the LORD. (Beloved, in our
technologically advanced age have the heavens been measured?) 38 "Behold,
days are coming," declares the LORD, "when the city (Jerusalem) shall be
rebuilt for the LORD (in preparation for the returning Messiah's rule and
reign of the entire earth!) from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.
Later Jeremiah emphatically
repeats His promises to Israel...
is speaking - count the "I
wills"! Do you have any doubt that
the omnipotent God will do exactly as He says!)
Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have
driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I
will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. 38
"And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 and I
will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for
their own good, and for the good of their children after them. 40 "And I
will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn
away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in
their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41 "And I will
rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them
in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. 42 "For thus says the
LORD, 'Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am
going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them. (Jeremiah
Finally Jeremiah writes...
"In those days and at that time (Whenever you see an
expression of time
interrogate with the 5W/H'S
Millennium Part 2
events leading up to the
Millennium Part 3),"
declares Jehovah, "the sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of
Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the
LORD their God they will seek (Cp Ro 3:11b - How or why would they seek
Jehovah? See Ro 11:36). They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their
faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the
LORD in an everlasting covenant (Heb 13:20-note.
This is the New Covenant in His blood [Lk 22:20, 1Cor 11:25], the Covenant
of Grace [entered by grace through faith and lived out the same way as we
are enabled by the Spirit! Gal 3:1, 2, 3, 5:1, 7, Gal 5:16-note]
- that will not be forgotten." (Jeremiah 50:4-5)
Even in the "Blessing and Cursing" chapters of Deuteronomy (Deut
28-30), God had given Israel (not the church) a prophetic promise of
restoration to the land and salvation of those regathered...
So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and
the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all
nations where the LORD your God has banished you, (Ed: Notice that
God is not saying this might happen but that it will happen!) 2 and you
return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul
according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3 then the
LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you,
and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has
scattered you. 4 "If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there
the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5
"And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers
possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply
you more than your fathers. 6 "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise
your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with
all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. (Deut
Comment: The circumcision of their heart is another way of describing
their salvation by grace through faith and entrance into the New Covenant,
which includes the promise of the Holy Spirit (see next verse - Ezek 36:27)
(See related discussion -
Circumcision on the Heart)
I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of
flesh - This heart change will be made possible by the New Covenant. God
was seeking not for a legal relationship, but a loving relationship, not a
legal contract on stone, but a loving heart that is motivated to please Him.
The law would be in their heart and their obedience would now be motivated
by love not law, by Spirit enabled desire, not fleshly force. All believers
have experienced this softening of our heart toward God and
most likely have witnessed this profound transformation by the Spirit in the
lives of others who have come to know Christ by grace through faith.
Cooper commenting on Jehovah's similar promise in Ezekiel 11:19 adds
hard heart is stubborn and unresponsive to God (Ex 4:21, etc.). In
2Chr 34:27 the Lord blessed King Josiah because unlike his predecessors, his
“heart was ‘soft’ [“responsive”] and [he] humbled [himself] before God.”
After his encounter with David, Nabal’s heart is said to have “failed him,
and he became like a stone.” Ten days later he died (1Sa 25:37–38). He seems
to have been stricken with paralysis, perhaps due to a stroke. H. W. Wolff
applies the sense to Ezek 11:19–20; 36:26–27: “The heart of stone is the
dead heart…which is unreceptive and makes all the limbs incapable of action.
The heart of flesh is the living heart, full of insight, which is at the
same time ready for new action. The new rūah (spirit/Spirit) brings to the
perception and will of the heart the new vital power to hold on steadfastly
in willing obedience.” (Ibid)
"I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and
you will be careful to observe My ordinances.:
POURING OUT OF
THE HOLY SPIRIT
I consider this passage one of the most
wonderful promises in the entire Bible. So before you read further, take a
on this passage, asking your Teacher, the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9-note,
Jn 14:26, 1John 2:20, 27, 1Cor 2:13), to open your "minds to understand the
Scriptures." (Luke 24:45) and rest assured that He will affirmatively answer
your humble, sincere, honest, believing request (According to God's Word in
1John 5:14, 15). Then you can read the notes below as a good Berean
"to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11-note)
Cooper makes an excellent point addressed to New Testament believers,
especially Gentile believers writing that...
The temptation to find the fulfillment of the “new heart” and “new
spirit” of Ezekiel 36:25–27 exclusively in Christian conversion in
this age should be resisted. New Testament conversion is only a preview
of the massive spiritual revival God has in store for all of true Israel and
Gentiles who believe. The New Testament concept of redemption came out of
the theology of the Old Testament. The similarities exist because what God
wants to do for Israel is what he wants to do for everyone. The point of
Israel’s election to nationhood in Ex 19:1–8 was that they be mediators of
the message of God’s salvation by fulfilling their missionary role as a
“kingdom of priests.” When Israel did not fulfill its role, God used the New
Testament church as a means of presenting the message of redemption. So the
church will be used ultimately to reach Israel as well (Ro 10:1; Ro
I will put My Spirit within you -
This was initially but only partially fulfilled at Pentecost (see Acts
2:1-4) when the Jewish believers were filled with the Holy Spirit. This
promise awaits full fulfillment at the return of the Messiah when "all
Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26-note,
all who believe - compare Zech 12:10, 13:8, 9, see also the
at which time all of Israel who have entered the New Covenant
by grace through faith will receive the indwelling Spirit, Who will be with
And - Don't miss this important
copulative (connecting) conjunction! This great passage "works" but it only
works as a "unit!" The truths of the first clause are integrally related to
and necessary for the fulfillment of the second clause! Is this mysterious?
It is to me, but I believe it is true even though I cannot fully comprehend
how it works. So read on...
And cause you to walk in My statutes - Beloved, how could they (and
any believer) every hope to obey the Law? We simply cannot in our own
intrinsic strength! Attempts to keep the law, lead to legalism which blunts
the flow of transforming, empowering grace which we desperately need to obey
the law. How quickly we all forget that "while we were in the flesh, the
sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members
of our body to bear fruit for death." (Romans 7:5-note)
Pause for a moment and note the effect or "power" of the Law on our sinful
nature. Do you see it in Romans
7:5? The moment we make our
little list of do's and don'ts, we arouse the flesh! God is saying in
Ezekiel 36:27 that His Spirit will cause us to obey the Law.
His Spirit will give us the desire (the "want to" we need because our fallen
flesh cries "I don't want to"...to forgive, to be patient with my spouse, to
love my wife like Christ loved the church, to live at peace with all men,
etc, etc) and the power or ability to follow through (discussed more below).
Puritan Thomas Watson said that...
The Lord doth not only fit work for us, but fits us for our work; with His
command He gives power.
Cooper writes that...
the Spirit of God will “move” them to follow (“walk in”) his laws (Ezek
36:27). Inability to keep the law was a primary concern presented by the
apostle Paul. He lamented his struggle and failure to keep the law in his
own strength (Ro 7:13–25) and followed that lament with the solution in Ro
8:1–39. The solution to his dilemma was living in the power of the Holy
Spirit (cf. Gal 5:16–26). (Ibid)
THE NEW TESTAMENT
PARALLEL OF EZEKIEL 36:27
Paul's command to the saints at Philippi is a virtual "mirror image"
of the great truth in Ezekiel 36:27...
Work out (katergazomai
= command to continually make the effort to bring this to completion. As
discussed below the effort is not self-effort but Spirit enabled-effort)
your salvation (Note: Not work for our salvation, but work out - this refers
not to our one time salvation by grace through faith [justification] but our
daily on-going salvation also by grace through faith, so called "present
tense salvation" or progressive sanctification - see the
Three Tenses of Salvation)
with fear and trembling (What
should be our attitude? A shaking fear?
No, but a holy, reverential awe and fear
of walking in a manner other than pleasing to and glorifying of our Father,
see 1Peter 1:17-note,
it is God Who is at work (energeo
= continually energizing) in you (Who
is this beloved? Is this not
the Spirit of Christ, Ro 8:9, 1Cor 3:16, 1Cor 6:19), both to will (We
don't "want to" but God gives us the "want to") and to work
= continually energizing. We don't have the power to do this by ourselves
and continually must choose to jettison "self-reliance" and surrender
to and depend on "Spirit reliance!") for His good pleasure. (Php
Comment: Succinctly stated, saints are to work out what
the Spirit works in!
The New Living Translation (nice paraphrase but should not be primary
Bible for serious
inductive Bible study
poetically paraphrases verse 13 writing that "God is working in you, giving
you the desire to obey Him and the
power to do what pleases Him."
As mentioned above how the two clauses in Ezekiel 36:27 and Php 2:12, 13
integrally work together to enable believers to truly experience the
abundant supernatural, Spirit filled life is mysterious to me. The following
digression deals with this mysterious interaction which I call "Sacred
Synergism", a term not intended to be sacrilegious!
GOD'S SOVEREIGN PROVISION
I am not an advocate of the popular
phrase "let go and let God" (perhaps more Scripturally we could say "Let's
go and let God!"), the latter part of the slogan is vital to comprehend
because when we as believers are left to ourselves, we can never obey God's
statutes in our own strength. Why? The reason is because every believer
still has the indwelling residual, rebellious nature often termed the
flesh. The Spirit of
God Who indwells the believer is the only power Who can overcome the
ungodly, anti-God inertia of the
flesh (Read Galatians
5:16 carefully and then study the
As we learn to surrender and yield and be filled with and controlled by the
Holy Spirit (cp Eph 5:18-note),
He gives us not only the desire to obey God's commands, but
also the power
to accomplish the obedience, all in a manner that is pleasing to God (Php
And yet it is not all "let go and let God", for every believer has
the responsibility to work out their salvation in fear and trembling (Php
Is this a bit mysterious?
Does it sound like "spiritual double-talk?" As believers we are to work out
our salvation and that is 100% our responsibility and yet it is
100% God's enabling ability! This is a picture of synergism
which is defined as the interaction of discrete agents (in this case
believers on one hand indwelt by the divine Agent, the Holy Spirit, on the
other hand) such that the total effect is greater than the sum of the
Jerry Bridges terms this mysterious partnership the Holy Spirit's
synergistic work explaining that it...
refers to occasions that combine our
effort with His enabling power.
But this isn’t a pure synergism, as if
we and the Spirit each contributed equal power to the task. Rather, we work
as He enables us to work, so we use the expression qualified synergism.
We’re 100 percent dependent on His power
in order to participate in the work, as the psalmist illustrated:
Unless the Lord builds the house, those
who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the
watchman stays awake in vain (Psalm 127:1-See
Two activities are mentioned:
building a house and watching over a city. The Lord’s
involvement isn’t one of helping but of building the house and watching over
the city. At the same time, the builder builds and the watchman watches. The
verse’s message is that the Lord doesn’t merely help the builder and the
watchman; He’s totally involved with them in this qualified
synergism. He supplies all the enabling power, and they do all
the tangible work. There are many such examples in the New Testament. We’re
to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Ed: Our part) —the
sin that remains in us—yet we do so “by the Spirit” (Ed: His
power) (Romans 8:13-note).
We’re to use the spiritual gifts we’ve received to serve God and other
people, yet we do so “by the strength that God supplies” (1Peter
(Bolding and italics added for emphasis). (The
Bookends of the Christian Life -
Jerry Bridges, Bob Bevington-highly
recommended - excellent discussion of the "Second Bookend," entitled "The
Power of the Holy Spirit."
To motivate you to read
this book, check out a few
In Ezekiel 37 God again promises...
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.’ (Ezek 37:14).
God's gift of the Holy Spirit to Israel is mentioned several times by the
Old Testament prophets...
Isaiah 32:15 Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on
high, and the wilderness becomes a fertile field And the fertile field is
considered as a forest.
Isaiah 44:3 (cp Isa 45:17) 'For I will pour out water on the
thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on
your offspring, And My blessing on your descendants;
Ezekiel 39:29 "And I will not hide My face from them any longer, for
I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares
the Lord GOD.
Henry Morris comments: This long-promised regeneration of the nation
of Israel by the Holy Spirit will take place only when the nation accepts
Jesus as her Messiah, repenting and mourning over their twenty-century
rejection of Him (Zechariah 12:10; 13:1).
Zechariah 12:10: I will pour out on the house of David and on
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so
that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for
Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him,
like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
Comment: In the context of the unit of Zechariah 12-14 (these
separate chapters should be read as a unit), this clearly refers to the
Second Coming of Christ.
Ryrie writes: At the second coming of Christ, Israel will recognize
Jesus as her Messiah, acknowledging with deep contrition that He was the One
whom their forefathers pierced (John 19:37).
Joel 2:28, 29: And it will come about after this (See Joel
2:27 which will be fulfilled at the Second Coming) that I will pour out
My Spirit on all mankind (Ed: Everyone who enters the Messiah's
Millennial Kingdom initially will be born again); and your sons and
daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will
see visions. "And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My
Spirit in those days." ()
MacArthur comments: The abundance
of material blessings would be followed by the outpouring of spiritual
blessings. When coupled with the other temporal phrases within the passage
(“in those days” [Joel 2:29] and “before the great and awesome day of the
Lord comes” [Joel 2:31]), the term points to a Second Advent fulfillment
time frame. all mankind. Since the context is “your sons and daughters,”
“all mankind” best refers to the house of Israel only. The nations are the
recipients of God’s wrath, not the effusion of His Spirit (cf. Joel 3:2,
ESV Study Bible Note on Joel 2:28–32: Some past Jewish interpreters
understood this passage to be referring to the messianic age. The early
church followed this line of thinking, as Peter quoted this passage on the
day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17–21).
Bible Knowledge Commentary: The Lord announced that His “day” (Joel
2:31) would be accompanied by an outpouring of His Spirit on all people
(lit., “all flesh”). The following context indicates that “all people”
refers more specifically to all inhabitants of Judah (cf. the threefold use
of your in Joel 2:28, as well as the parallel passages in
Ezek. 39:29; Zech. 12:10).
Jewish believer David Levy comments: In the Hebrew Bible, Joel
2:28–32 comprise a separate chapter (Joel 3) which describes three great
spiritual experiences to be enjoyed by Israel: the coming of the Lord;
salvation to the nation; and the permanent indwelling and filling of the
Holy Spirit. (Joel, the day of the Lord: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry)
D A Garret comments: The Bible several times associates the Holy
Spirit with water or describes Him metaphorically as something that can be
poured out (Isa 44:3; Ezek 39:29; Zech 12:10; Ro 5:5). Joel easily turned
this imagery to his advantage and created a parallel between the gift of
rain and the pouring out of the Spirit...In short, the coming age would be
an age marked by the presence of the Spirit (contrast 1Sa 3:1). (Volume 19A:
Hosea, Joel The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman
Walvoord summarizes these OT
passages promising the gift of the Spirit to Israel..
The millennial period for both Israel and the Gentiles will also be a time
of special ministry of the Holy Spirit. In this period, according to
Isaiah 32:15, the Spirit will be poured out from on high. A similar prophecy
is found in Isaiah 44:3: “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,
and streams upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my
blessing upon thine offspring.” Ezekiel predicts: “And I will put my Spirit
within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine
ordinances, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27). In Ezekiel 39:29 a further similar
statement is found: “Neither will I hide my face any more from them; for I
have poured out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord
The presence of Christ, the evident power of the Holy Spirit, and the
context of the knowledge of the Lord and peace, righteousness, and joy will
provide a basis for spiritual life in the millennium far more favorable than
any preceding (time in Israel's history). (Israel
In Titus Paul records an allusion to "sprinkling" to make one
clean in association with the bestowal of the presence and power of the
He saved us (Who? When?
What/Who appeared? See Titus
not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness ("Works",
"Keeping of the law"), but (contrast
= glorious "change of direction!") according to (not "out of" but
proportionate to the infinite riches of) His mercy, by the
by the Holy Spirit, Whom He
upon us richly through Jesus Christ our
that being justified by His
we might be made heirs according to the
of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-note,
Bob Deffinbaugh has a well done summary of
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
and in his subsection on the Holy Spirit and the Nation of Israel
The prophets made it clear that the coming kingdom which God had promised
and for which they looked by faith (cf. Hebrews 11) was one that would be
inaugurated by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf. Isaiah 32;12-20;
44:1-5; 59:20-21; Ezekiel 36:22-32; 37:11-14; 39:29; Joel 2:28-32, etc.).
Among the ministries which the Holy Spirit would perform were the following
(I will put them in the order in which I understand them to have been
fulfilled, or in which they will be fulfilled, although the Old Testament
saints were not aware of this order at the time):
First, the Holy Spirit would deal with Israel’s rebellion and sin.
The first aspect of the Spirit’s ministry had to do with judgment, not
salvation. Thus, Joel (chapter 2) and Zechariah (12:10–13:9) speak of the
Spirit’s ministry of bringing Israel to repentance by causing them to
understand that they had rejected and crucified God’s Messiah. It is because
of this that, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they
will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for
him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).
Second, Israel will be cleansed of her sin. This is closely related
to the first aspect of the Spirit’s ministry. Before cleansing can be
achieved, repentance is necessary, which is the first step. The prophets
spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit in close proximity with the cleansing
of Israel. Ezekiel 36:25 and Zechariah 13:1 speak very clearly of this
cleansing of Israel, although no one knew exactly how this would be
Third, the Holy Spirit would renew Israel by giving them a new spirit, a
new heart. Ezekiel is the prophet who spoke most of this matter of a
“new heart” (cf. Ezekiel 11:18-21; 18:30-32; 36:22-32). The problem with
Israel was not the law which they had been given, but their hearts. God
promised, through His Spirit, to give His people a new heart, a heart which
would dispose His people to love and to keep His laws, and thus to pave the
way for the pouring out of His blessings on His people (cf. especially
Ezekiel 36:26-32). The new covenant of which God spoke did not set aside the
standards of the old, but rather granted men forgiveness of sins, and the
enablement to live in accordance with God’s standards, not to earn their
salvation but to live it out in a way that honored God. (The
Holy Spirit in the Old Testament) (See also Dr John Walvoord's
The Person of the Holy Spirit Part 11 - The
Eschatology of the Holy Spirit)
"You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be
My people, and I will be your God.:
You will live in the land - God is
serious about this promise and repeats it many times in Ezekiel's prophecy =
Ezek 11:17, 28:25, 34:13, 36:10, 39:27.
The land - This phrase almost
always refers to the promised land of Canaan, the land promised by
to Abraham in an unconditional,
immutable, unbreakable covenant. Some today teach that God is "finished with
Israel", but Ezekiel argues strongly against this viewpoint. The miraculous
creation of the nation of Israel in May, 1948 after almost 2000 years of
having no homeland should be strong evidence to every skeptic that God is
clearly not finished with Israel!
Warren Wiersbe observes that...
God gave the land of Israel to the Jews as a part of the Abrahamic Covenant
(Ge 12:1–3; 13:14–18; 15:7–21). That settled their ownership
of the land, but their possession and enjoyment of the land
depended on their faith and obedience (Lev. 26).
The Christian life is similar. We enter God’s family by
trusting Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8–9), but we enjoy
God’s family by believing His promises and obeying His will (2
Cor. 6:18–7:1). Disobedient children have to be chastened (Hebrews 12:5-11),
and God often had to chasten the people of Israel because of their rebellion
and disobedience (Ed comment: Not all of Israel in the OT were God's
true children in the sense that He was their Father [cp Jn 1:11, 12, 13].
of all of Israel were genuine believers in the Messiah.)
"Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for
the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.:
I will save you - Save is Hebrew
yasha meaning to deliver, to help, to defend. The main idea is bring one to
a place of safety or broad pasture as opposed to a narrow strait (distress,
uses the great Greek verb
sozo [word study]
which means to rescue from peril, danger,
loss or suffering, to heal, to make whole, to protect, to keep alive and to
preserve physical and/or spiritual life.
Uncleanness (tum'ah) is a noun which describes that which is
filthy or characterized by impurity (ceremonial but also moral). It is used
to describe a demonic spirit of uncleanness in Zechariah 13:2! Tum'ah
is translated by the
with the word
is a broad term referring
to moral defilement or uncleanness in thought, word, and deed and often
describes sexual sin (Ro 1:24). Strictly speaking akatharsia refers
worthless material, waste, filth or refuse. Sin defiles and produces
corruption and degradation of the soul of the sinner. A sinner is never a
"I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that
you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations.:
So that -
term of explanation
You will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations -
The nations thought their pagan gods bestowed fertility (e.g., Ba'al
was the supreme male god among the Canaanites and Phoenicians, worshiped as
a fertility god and also known as a storm god). Famine in Israel was a
viewed as a disgrace to their God.
"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
F F Bruce writes that "divine
grace produces an awareness of past ingratitude." (Ibid).
Loathe themselves - Cooper notes
that "This terminology was used in Ezek 6:9 to describe Israel’s repentance
in exile. Here and in Ezekiel 20:43 (Ed: In context [Ezek 20:41, 42,
44] this will occur in the Age of the Messiah) it describes their feeling of
revulsion after the return when they would recall their former life-style.
"I am not doing this for your sake," declares the Lord GOD, "let it be known
to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!":
I am not doing this for your sake
- Grace upon grace. Jehovah repeats His statement in Ezek 36:22 "It is not
for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy
(command) (Hebrew = bush) is from a root meaning “to become pale” or
“to blush.” When failure or sin occurs, there is a disconcerting feeling, a
flushing of the face. It conveys the idea of shame of utter defeat which
pervades one's mood. (Ezra 9:6; Isa 1:29; 30:5; Jer 2:36; 9:19).
(command) (kalam) means to be disgraced, humiliated or put to shame.
uses entrepo which means literally to turn back or about and
figuratively means to cause one to turn away because of shame. We all know
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "On the day that I cleanse you from all your
iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places
will be rebuilt.:
On the day - This specific
expression of time
should prompt you to pause and
interrogate with the 5W/H'S.
Jeremiah gives us the answer...
And I (God) will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on
Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of
Ephraim and Gilead. 'In those days and at that time,' declares the
LORD, 'search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be
none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will
pardon those whom I leave as a remnant. (Jeremiah 50:19-20)
Comment: This time will be the day "all Israel is saved" (Ro 11:26-note).
The waste places will be rebuilt - This repeats the promise of
Amos repeats the promise...
Also I will restore the captivity of My people Israel, And they will rebuild
the ruined cities and live in them; They will also plant vineyards and drink
their wine, And make gardens and eat their fruit. 15 "I will also plant them
on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I
have given them," Says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)
Zechariah also reiterates God's promise ...
Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Behold, I am going to save My people from the
land of the east and from the land of the west; 8 and I will bring them
back, and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem, and they will be My
people and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.' (Zechariah
"The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the
sight of everyone who passes by.:
The desolate land - Ezekiel 6:14
explains why God made the land of Israel desolate.
"They will say, 'This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and
the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.':
Like the garden of Eden - This is
a wonderful description (see
terms of comparison simile metaphor)
of the utopian, idyllic conditions that will prevail in the coming age,
during the one thousand year righteous reign of Israel's Messiah (Millennium).
"Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, the
LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted that which was desolate; I,
the LORD, have spoken and will do it.":
The nations...will know - This is
a testimony to the nations that God has restored Israel.
Moses records that the nations
understood why God had brought such desolation and in the future will
understand the same God will bring restoration.
All the nations will say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land?
Why this great outburst of anger?' 25 "Then men will say, 'Because
they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers,
which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt (The
Mosaic Covenant). 26 'They went and served other gods and worshiped
them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them (Idolatry).
27 'Therefore, (term
the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse
which is written in this book (Deuteronomy 28-20) 28 and Jehovah uprooted
them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them
into another land, as it is this day.' (Dt 29:24-28)
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to
do for them: I will increase their men like a flock.:
When God designs to bless his people, he sets them a-praying for the
blessing which he desires to give them
"Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her
appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men.
Then they will know that I am the LORD":
Then they will know that I am the LORD
- Throughout Ezekiel this phrase is repeated. Israel was God's chosen people
and her sin and subsequent judgment brought disgrace to the Name of God.
Their restoration by Jehovah will result in God receiving the glory and
praise and honor that He alone desires.