Our reading today contains the great chapter of Ezekiel 37 which declares that the LORD will make again His people, Israel, to take root in the Promised Land of Canaan. Even though the Israelites have experienced a devastating judgment at the hands of God through their defeat and exile by the Babylonians, and their Land has been left desolate, the Good News is that this is not God’s final word regarding the people of God. The final chapter of Israel’s story still has to be written.
This is the whole message of the valley of dry bones which come to life through the breath of God (Ezek. 37:1-28). This is truly a rich passage which has many of the foundational gospel truths in seed form. When Ezekiel 37 was written, it seemed that all hope for God’s people had been extinguished through their unbelief and disobedience. The LORD, however, will not allow the unfaithfulness of His people to nullify His purposes of salvation for the world.
I believe that there has been an initial but partial fulfillment of the promises in Ezekiel 37 through the faithful remnant of Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile in 539 BC. I believe part of this faithful remnant stayed in Babylon, and it consisted of people like Daniel and his 3 friends, Esther and Mordecai. And not every single Jew who returned to the Promised Land in 539 BC were truly faithful to their God, Yahweh.
Through the faithful remnant, the Messiah Jesus came into the world. He is the One who fulfills the prophesy of 37:24,25: “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live their forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.” The Davidic prince is the Messiah Jesus and it is through His death and resurrection that the Holy Spirit is able to be poured out on the people of God.
God’s Spirit indwelling God’s people is prophesied in Ezekiel 37:14: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD”. I believe when Peter talks of the promised Holy Spirit in Acts2:33, he is referring to this prophesy as well as those found in places like Ezekiel 11:19: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh”. Peter proclaims in Acts 2 that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection, is a fulfillment of these Old Testament promises.
As we look at Ezekiel 37, we realize that a significant part of this prophesy has already been fulfilled, but there is still a significant part that still needs to be fulfilled. I believe this will occur when Christ comes back a second time and reign from Jerusalem in the new heavens and the new earth. Even so come Lord Jesus come. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John