|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
Dr. Renald Showers: If you know the history of the nation of Israel, you know that tragically, the greater part of their history has been characterized by curses than by blessings because of rebellion and disobedience against God. And so they have been scattered throughout the world for centuries and just as He said here, they would despair for life itself. Study the history of the Jewish people as they have been scattered among the Gentile nations of the world: they’ve been hounded; they’ve been persecuted more than any other particular group in all of world history. Anti-Semitism has been poured out upon them venomously in Gentile nations all over the world. The Holocaust of World War II is a very classic example. And while God allows the people of Israel to be chastened as a result of their rebellion against Him, Satan continues to go after them with a vengeance trying to annihilate them from the face of the earth. Why? Because they still remain a key to God defeating Satan. God has made it very clear in the Scriptures that He will not finally finish the job of crushing Satan until the people of Israel repent of their rebellion against Him and place their trust in Jesus Christ as their true Messiah and Savior. And so to Satan’s way of thinking, "if Israel must repent and believe in Jesus before God will crush me, if I can totally annihilate Israel from the face of the earth before they repent and believe...God will never crush me."
And so today, you notice what’s happening with the nation of Israel in the Middle East. Over and over again it’s in the news because of terrorists attacking it. Islamic forces align themselves together against Israel and declare that they want to annihilate Israel from the face of the earth. And the prophetic Scriptures make it very clear that Israel’s worst days are still ahead.
But let me point this out in the meantime. God also, after saying that He would scatter them throughout the nations for their disobedience, in Ezekiel 37, God brought the Prophet Ezekiel to a valley that was full of dry bones. We read in verse 2 that Ezekiel says, "God caused me to pass by them round about and, behold, there were very many in the open valley, and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’" Now, what do these bones represent? We’re told in verse 11 that God said to Ezekiel, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel."
He’s picturing Israel here as dry bones, scattered, oppressed, with almost no life in them whatsoever as they are hounded and persecuted by the peoples of the world. And that’s still even going on in some respects today. But then he goes on to say here, verse 4, "Prophesy unto these bones and say unto them, ‘O you dry bones, hear the word of the Lord, thus says the Lord God unto these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you and you shall live and I will lay sinews upon you and will bring up flesh upon you and cover you with skin and put breath in you and you shall live and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ So I prophesied as I was commanded and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a shaking, and the bones came together bone to bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them and the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them."
Now God, through the prophets, foretold that toward the end of world history He would restore the people of Israel back to their homeland, the land of Israel or as the world has known it for many years, the land of Palestine. Interestingly, we’ve seen a return of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people from all over the world back to their homeland beginning in 1948 when Israel became a new independent nation state for the first time in over 1900 years. But we must recognize that Israel has returned to their homeland starting in 1948 in unbelief, without spiritual life, and that’s what’s being signified here. The bones being put back together; the flesh being put upon it; but no breath inside of it; no spiritual life inside of it. Empty spiritually. That’s the present state of the nation of Israel in the Middle East. It’s back there as a nation state, but it’s still out of joint with God; no spiritual life there.
But then God goes on to say that the time would come, verse 8, "And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, the skin covered them above, but there was no breath in them; then said He unto me, ‘Prophesy unto the wind. Prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus says the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded, and the breath came into them and they lived and stood up upon their feet an exceeding great army."
The prophets make it very clear that at the very end of the seven-year Tribulation period when Jesus Christ the Messiah will come out of heaven in His glorious Second Coming, according to Zechariah 12:10 Messiah will say of the Jews who are still alive, "They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they will go about in great mourning, household by household, beating themselves upon the breast." What He is saying is, the Jews who are alive at the Second Coming of Christ, when they see Him come out of heaven in His glorified form, they will finally recognize Him as their true Messiah and Savior and they will repent. They will radically change their mind toward Him and take Him, receive Him as their Messiah and Savior and that’s when life will be breathed into the nation, spiritual life, and they will be made right with God.
Now, please note something. Some people say, "What evidence do we have that there’s a God who actually exists?" Well, a great line of evidence is what God has said in the Scriptures how He would deal with the nation of Israel historically and eventually bring them back to the land, first in rebellion; but then finally, bringing them to a saving knowledge of the Messiah. In 1948 God brought them back to the land in unbelief and rebellion, just as He foretold here over 2500 years ago through the Prophet Ezekiel. That’s evidence that there is a true and living God. He has foretold He would do this with Israel and He has been accomplishing that with Israel during our lifetime.