Jeremiah, Ezekiel and
Daniel were the prophets of the Babylonian exile.
Jeremiah covers the last days of the southern
kingdom in Jerusalem as the Babylonians were
battering down the walls of the city in 586 B.C. The
Israelites in Babylon felt their nation was dead.
God's prophecy through Ezekiel was to "the whole
house of Israel" which was being held captive.
Israel had "died" and there was no hope. The vision
of the dry bones is a prophecy of the restoration of
Israel to her land when the greater son of David
will reign as king and all Israel will "have one
shepherd." The reviving of these dead bones
signified Israel's national restoration. It depended
on God's power alone for a national and a spiritual
restoration. The breath of new life in the dead
corpses symbolized the work of the Holy Spirit
The great visions of
Ezekiel weave together a theme of hope to a
desperate people who are suffering in exile for the
sins of their nation. The vision is powerful and
vivid. Death in the Old Testament, with few
exceptions, was viewed as an impossible state from
which there was no return. It was a huge monster
with a wide open mouth in which no one could escape.
To see this vast army revived and living in the land
was startling and unexpected.
The Hebrew prophet
Ezekiel watched in visions the glory of the LORD
departing from the temple in Jerusalem. He saw the
Shekinah glory leaving the inner court and moving to
the outer court and then rising and moving out to
the Mount of Olives and rising up from there. Had
God completely forsaken His people?
ISRAEL RESTORED TO THE
In chapter thirty-seven
Ezekiel describes the remarkably beautiful vision of
the Valley of Dry Bones. He sees in his vision a
valley full of dry bones, bones that are not joined
together, and then when joined they have no breath
in them. Then God breathes upon them and they come
to life again. This picture of God's resting grace
illustrates what God is going to do with the nation
of Israel. From God's perspective she has been lying
there as a nation for 2,000 years in a state of
death, but a day will come when God will breathe
upon this nation. Like the valley of dry bones, it
will receive new spiritual life, and God will use it
to reestablish His kingdom on earth.
As Ezekiel was delivering
his prophecy he saw "the bones come together, bone
to its bone" (v. 7), "flesh grew" and "skin covered
them" (v. 8), "breath entered them," and "they stood
up" (v. 10).
The LORD was kind enough
to give us the interpretation of the vision in vv.
11-14. "These bones are the whole house of Israel .
. . Thus says the LORD God, 'Behold, I will open
your graves and cause you to come up out of your
graves, My people; and I will bring you into the
land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the
LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you
to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will
put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life;
and I will place you on your own land. Then you will
know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,'
declares the LORD'" (37:11-14).
Most interpreters agree
that the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is
not the main point of this chapter. The main purpose
of the vision was the restoration of Israel.
However, if God could bring a hopeless dead nation
to life, it would be a small step to the realization
that the same God could conquer man's greatest
It also needs to be noted
that this vision is not a preview of the birth of
the New Testament church. The early church, which
was composed mainly of Jewish people, never applied
the name Israel to the church. That application came
centuries later. It is true some of the Old
Testament figures are applied to the church, however
Romans 11:1-36 reminds us God fully intends to
restore Israel and that many will be saved by grace
through faith in Christ alone just as many Gentiles
are being saved today. The blessings of the new
covenant are not an equation of Israel with the
church. God did not cast aside His chosen people
Israel. The promises given to the nation are not
transposed to the church. The arrival of the church
age did not circumvent the nation Israel (Romans
10:1-21; 11:25-36). He still has a purpose for the
In a second symbol
Ezekiel gives the uniting of the sticks which
pictured God's restoring and reuniting His people in
the land as a single nation (37:15-22). It has
nothing to do with the Mormon cult's teaching that
the Book of Mormon and Bible being joined together.
That is heresy. The prophecy is the bringing
together of two contrasting entities into a
"compound unity." It is the rejoining of two nations
Verse twenty-one restates
the purpose of the vision and the goal of the LORD.
The Lord God says, "Behold, I will take the sons of
Israel from among the nations where they have gone,
and I will gather them form every side and bring
them into their own land; and I will make them one
nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and
one king will be king over all of them; and they
will no longer be two nations, and they will no
longer be divided into the two kingdoms" (vv.
21-22). God will have weaned them off idols and
"their detestable things" and "transgressions." God
will deliver them and "will cleanse them. And they
will be My people, and I will be their God" (v. 23).
The vision is powerful
because only God can raise the dead (37:3). Jesus
said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one
who believes in me will live even if he dies" (John
In the same way the
nation coming alive again after 2,000 years is only
by the sovereign power of the LORD God. It is a
testimony to the sovereign God of the nations. The
non-Jewish nations will see the events and "will
know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when
My sanctuary is in their midst forever" (Ezekiel
How will God do it? "'I
will put MY Spirit within you, and you will come to
life, and I will place you on your own land. Then
you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done
it,' declares the LORD" (v. 14).
Who will be this "one
king" who will be "king for all of them"?
DAVID WILL BE THEIR
The LORD reaffirms and
reinforces the previous message to His people about
who their deliverer will be. They are incapable of
delivering themselves. They are like dead people in
a grave. They are powerless. The LORD makes this
clear in vv. 24-28.
My servant David will be
king over them, and they will all have one shepherd;
and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My
statutes and observe them. They will live on the
land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your
fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and
their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David
My servant will be their prince forever. I will make
a covenant of peace with them; it will be an
everlasting covenant with them. And I will place
them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in
their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be
with them; and I will be their God, and they will be
My people. And the nations will know that I am the
Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in
their midst forever.
This restoration of
Israel is a foundational thought in Hebrew prophecy
regarding the exile. Our minds hasten back to
Ezekiel 34:23-24 where he has already introduced us
to "one shepherd, My servant David." All of these
grand prophesies take us back to the original
promise to king David in 1 Samuel 7:13-16. The
identification of the Shepherd-King David is Jesus
Christ the Messiah, the Son of God (Luke 1:69;
Revelation 7:14-17; 14; 22:16; 1 Peter 5:4; John
10:11-18; 1:34, 41, 49; Matthew 2:2).
Under "My servant David"
the people will be led by the Holy Spirit to obey
God's ordinances and keep His statutes (v. 24). They
will enjoy the "everlasting" "covenant of peace" (v.
26). You can not escape the emphasis on
"everlasting" and "forever" in vv. 25-28 because it
is used five times.
John Walvoord keenly
notes, "The Israelites residing in Palestine today
are not the fulfillment of this prophecy. But it
will be fulfilled when God regathers believing
Israelites to the land (Jeremiah 31:33; 33:14-16),
when Christ returns to establish His kingdom (cf.
Ezekiel's Israel will
have an everlasting king from the house of David.
"My servant David will be king over them; there will
be one shepherd for all of them. They will follow my
regulations and carefully observe my statutes. They
will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, in
which your fathers lived; they will live in it –
they and their children and their grandchildren
forever. David my servant will be prince over them
forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them;
it will be a perpetual covenant with them. I will
establish them, increase their numbers, and place my
sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will
be with them; I will be their God, and they will be
my people. Then, when my sanctuary is among them
forever, the nations will know that I, the Lord,
sanctify Israel" (Ezekiel 37:24-28, NET).
Note that it is My
servant David," "one shepherd," "they shall live on
the land . . . forever," "David My servant shall be
their prince forever." The "covenant of peace with
them . . . will be an everlasting covenant."
EVERLASTING WORSHIP IN
Moreover, Ezekiel sees
the "sanctuary in their midst forever" (v. 26). In
chapter forty, he describes with astonishing,
precise detail the coming restoration of the temple.
He sees the glory of God returning to the Holy of
Holies and the Shekinah establishing itself in the
Holy of Holies. In his vision Ezekiel sees the
throne of God and underneath it the river of God,
sweeping through the temple, out the eastern side,
across the land and into the Dead Sea to heal its
waters. This can't be Zerubbabel's temple because it
was consumed by Roman fire in A.D. 70, and
therefore, did not stand forever. Many Hebrew
scholars remind us that it was never filled with the
Shekinah glory. It is a glorious picture of the
Spirit of God in the millennial kingdom. Ezekiel
envisions the future work of God with Israel in
bringing about a total restoration of the nation.
God is not through with Israel.
We are the temple
of the living God
Let's pause and make a
beautiful application of Ezekiel 47:1-9 to our lives
as believers in Christ. Here is a marvelous picture
of the restoration of the temple of God in man. The
apostle Paul wrote, "We are the temple of the living
God" (2 Corinthians 6:16b). The living God dwells in
the holy of holies in the temple of our bodies. This
is the secret of the exchanged life of the believer
of Jesus Christ. It is a life in which the resources
of the Holy Spirit are discovered and applied to our
There is a tremendous
personal application here for every Christian. God
in His saving grace through Jesus Christ makes the
believer alive in Him. Jesus stood in the temple on
the last day of the feast of the Tabernacles and
cried out, "If any man thirst, let him keep coming
to Me and let him keep drinking" (John 7:37). "He
who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, 'From
his innermost being shall flow rivers of living
water" (v. 38).
Ezekiel saw a throne and
flowing out from under the throne was a river. The
water of the Spirit came from the very throne of
God. Ezekiel sees the river move past the altar, the
place of sacrifice. The Christian can never drink of
the water of the Spirit unless we are willing to do
so by means of the cross of Calvary. We have been
cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Our sins
are all forgiven. It is only as we are willing to
accept God's judgment of death upon the flesh that
we can drink of the river of the Spirit of God. The
natural man can never please God no matter how
reformed he may be.
Ezekiel sees the river
quickly grow large enough in which to swim. There
are no tributaries. It's source is God. It is a
"great, gushing, mighty torrent of life coming from
under the throne of God." Three times the prophet in
his vision says, "He led me through."
Have you as a believer of
the Lord Jesus Christ experienced these living
waters? This is what it means to abide in Christ and
walk in the Spirit.
The waters were
Has the Holy Spirit led
you to the place where the waters are ankle deep? I
pray you don't stop there. Too many of us have
experienced only a shallow sense of God's grace and
power in our lives. I am convinced this is why
people take off on carnal tangents and chase after
religious fads. They flock from one emotional
experience to another and remain shallow
We are carnal––still
fighting with God and His Spirit within. The carnal
believer is still selfish, disobedient, unbelieving.
He is only ankle deep, still resisting God's grace.
The waters were
Moreover, Ezekiel says,
"He led me through and it was knee deep." Have you
begun to hunger and thirst for the righteousness of
God? You will never be satisfied completely until
the Holy Spirit places within your heart a hunger
and thirst to be right with God in every area of
your life. When was the last time you saw God? Only
the pure in heart see God. Do you find yourself down
on your knees crying out to God for more of His
The waters were
Then Ezekiel was led
through to water up to his loins. There is less and
less of the old nature dominating the believer and
more and more of God's grace revealing Christ
within. Who has the power and control in your life?
Are you still in conflict between the sovereign will
of man and the sovereign will of God? Zechariah 4:6
says, "'Not by might nor by power, but by My
Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts." Has the Holy
Spirit brought you to the place of quiet yielding
obedience to the indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit? Life in the Spirit is the only way to live.
The waters over his
Ezekiel saw one more
thing. "He led me on and the water had risen and it
had become a river to swim in." It is the picture of
the believer utterly committed to God's will in his
life. He is now over his head. God is in control.
The grace and the power of God controls his life.
When Ezekiel went back to the bank of the river he
saw trees. God brought healing to the barren
deserted land. The river is fertile. The river of
life that flows from the throne of God is full of
Galatians 5:22 says God
produces in the believer all kinds of spiritual
fruit. It is the fruit of the Spirit and wherever
the Holy Spirit is in control of the person will be
fruitful. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there
is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the
Spirit" (5:22-25). Some of us have been at every
stage of spiritual life Ezekiel is describing and
there is still room for growth.
Revelation 21:1-2 is a
picture of the same river of life. The river in
these passages of Scripture is clearly the Spirit of
God's testimony to the risen Messiah. He brings
spiritual refreshment and blessing. On either side
of the river the tree of life bears fruit with
spiritual healing for all who partake of it.
The refreshing waters
from this river are free for all who will humble
themselves and drink. There is a river of water that
flows from the throne of God and the Lamb. The
Savior stands and gives the great invitation to all
who will come to the fountain and drink. "The Spirit
and the Bride say, 'Come,' and let the one who hears
say, 'come.' And let the one who is thirsty come:
Let the one who wishes take the water of life
without cost." Salvation is by grace alone through
faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. It is fully
offered to all who will come and drink.
To the woman at Jacob's
well Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks of this water
will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water
that I will give him shall never thirst; but the
water that I will give him will become in him a well
of water springing up to eternal life" (John
Have you experienced the
river of the Spirit of God? Does the Holy Spirit
flow right through the center of your life? That is
when you begin to live, and your life becomes full
of God's presence.
It has been suggested
that the temple Ezekiel is describing (48:35) may
ultimately picture the resurrection body which is
the new temple for God. However, God's present
temple is composed of all those who have been built
by the Holy Spirit into the house of God.
Tragically, some have
never experienced this life in the Spirit that God
gives. You are still "dead in your trespasses and
sins." And you will remain dead spiritually until
the Holy Spirit comes into your life and raises the
What a marvelous vision
Ezekiel paints of the eternal home of the saints.
This is what the Savior has in store for us (John
14:1-3; Revelation 22;17). The river about the
throne of God is the Holy Spirit's testimony of the
risen Christ who brings refreshment and blessing to
everyone who comes to Him.
Frequently the Scriptures
use the symbol of a river as referring to the grace
of God in Christ ministered to the soul in the power
of the Holy Spirit.
Have you personally
experienced this new life in Christ? Jesus Christ
came to give you eternal life. Here is a free gift
for you. All you have to do is receive it.
If you need help in
becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You.
37:1-28 Valley of Dry Bones
the Old Testament