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Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of Yahweh was on me and He brought me out in the Spirit of Yahweh, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones- The Spirit comes into these bones, thus continuing the teaching of Ez. 34:25 and chapter 36, that God will give a new heart to latter day Israel. "The valley" suggests a specific valley in view, and I suggest in the latter day fulfilment, it is the valley of Armageddon. Although initially it was the valley near the Chebar of Ez. 3:22, from where the exiles could have been revived. The bones in that valley connect with the picture developed in chapters 34-36 of the final destruction of Israel and the people in the land just before the Lord's coming. The earthquake associated with their revival (:7) is that which brings down the cities of the nations in Revelation, and is perhaps also referred to in Zech. 14 as occurring when the Lord Jesus sets foot on earth. The significance of the earthquake is totally missed by those who misinterpret the vision as referring solely to the national revival of the state of Israel in the 20th century. I suggest that the vision of Ezekiel 37 speaks of their literal resurrection and a new heart being given them. Ezekiel 39 then speaks of a revived Israel burying the multitudes of their invaders in the valley- surely the same valley is in view. What they did to Israel shall be done to them, as the prophets frequently say will happen.

Elsewhere in these notes on Ezekiel I have commented that there are multiple allusions to the garden of Eden. This is to be restored on earth at the Lord's coming. The idea of bones becoming a living person very much alludes to the creation of Eve, the first Biblical reference to "bones" (Gen. 2:23). The symbology is appropriate to the restoration of Eden which is to come at the Lord's return, and not to the Zionist creation of the state of Israel in the middle of the 20th century. See on :6. The recreation of a body into which the spirit is breathed likewise alludes to Gen. 2:7.



Ezekiel 37:2 He caused me to pass by them all around: and, there were very many in the open valley; and, they were very dry- God as it were augmented the pile of firewood by adding the bones out of the boiled dry cauldron to it (Ez. 24:5). The resurrection and revival of these dry, charred bones in Ez. 37 is therefore all the more miraculous, just as in Ez. 15 the charred vine twigs were to be revived and used by God. The language of the restoration is used of us in the New Testament; this is how amazing is His ability to use we who were rendered worse than useless by sin. We see here the power of the Spirit and the prophetic word to revive that which was totally destroyed.


Ezekiel 37:3 He said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? I answered, Lord Yahweh, You know- This continues the idea of Ez. 33:10, where Israel pine away in their sins and ask "How should we then live?". The question is whether Israel can really be forgiven of the enormity of their sins. The revival of the bones therefore speaks of their forgiveness and spiritual restoration, rather than the faithless creation of a Zionist entity by a group of Jewish agnostics and Eastern European atheists which happened in the 20th century. God's response in Ez. 33:11 is to say that Israel must turn from their sins and "live". Beginning in Ez. 34 we saw however that God as it were gives up on the idea of Israel repenting and decides to send His Spirit into them, binding them into the new covenant- grace indeed. Here we see the same- the Spirit is sent into the bones and they are revived, made to live; rather than them coming to spiritual life themselves.


Ezekiel 37:4 Again He said to me, Prophesy over these bones, and tell them, you dry bones, hear the word of Yahweh- Note the parallel between God's Spirit and His word. Ezekiel appears to represent the latter day Elijah who will bring about this resurrection and revival through his latter day ministry; and again, this speaks of the latter days, not of Israel's political fortunes in the 20th century.


Ezekiel 37:5 Thus says the Lord Yahweh to these bones: I will cause spirit to enter into you, and you shall live- God takes the initiative; He no longer awaits their revival on their own initiative (Ez. 33:11), now He causes His Spirit to enter and transform them; and this is the token of the new covenant which we too have entered by grace. Ezekiel 37 had its primary fulfilment in the return under Ezra. Then, Israel was given “a quickening” (Ezra 9:9 LXX), in fulfilment of how the dry bones in captivity were revived. At that time, Judah could have fully revived. But most of them chose to stay in Babylon. And so the prophecy was rescheduled and reapplied. But this gift of the Spirit is part of the promise of the new covenant, the new heart and spirit of Jer. 30,31; Ez. 20,36 etc. And God is willing to give that to all who enter it by baptism today.


Ezekiel 37:6 I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am Yahweh- The language of creation; see on 37:1 bones. It could be that the literal resurrection of those slain by the Babylonians was in view. But this was transferred to refer to the spiritual enlivenment possible for those within the new covenant. The sinews of flesh are perhaps intended to contrast with how Israel had previously had "iron sinews" (Is. 48:4); the idea is that now they had been given a heart of flesh, a soft heart to God's ways, rather than a hard heart.


Ezekiel 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. As I prophesied, there was a noise-
This meant that the “whole house of Israel” was to stand up from their graves and return as a mighty army to the land. The “noise” is s.w. in Ezra 1:1 about the “proclamation” of Cyrus for Judah to return to the land. All of God’s people didn’t return; the majority preferred to stay in Babylon.

And an earthquake- Heb. 'a shaking'. The cherubim spoke of God's people. The sound of the cherubim Angels which Ezekiel heard was like the noise of an earthquake (Ez. 3:12 LXX). Now he hears the "noise" of "shaking" or earthquake as the bones of Israel in exile come together by the spirit / Angelic operation of Yahweh (Ez. 37:7). The same word is used about the latter day events in Israel when the latter day 'king of the north' invades (Is. 9:5; 29:6; Jer. 10:22; 47:3). And the same word is soon to be used in Ez. 38:19 for the earthquake which will happen when Gog is destroyed, and which will happen at Christ's return to save a Jerusalem which has fallen to her enemies (Zech. 14:5). They may well refer to the same event- for events will happen quickly at the time of the Lord's coming and the meaning of time may well be changed. See on :9.

And the bones came together, bone to its bone- There was to be a unity between the ten tribes and Judah, brought about by the experience of repentance, forgiveness and the work of God's Spirit. But this didn't happen at the restoration from Babylon; the nobles continued to oppress the people.


Ezekiel 37:8 I saw, and, there were sinews on them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them- See on :6. The Divine intention had been that the exiles repented, and then He would return them to Zion, having miraculously judged Babylon and also released the ten tribes from their captivity. But they wouldn't repent, and so God brought them back to their land anyway. This perhaps is the significance of the bodies being rebuilt but still lacking the Spirit / breath. Yet the allusion is clearly to the creation of Adam, who was likewise created and then given the Spirit. This is to be Eden restored, a new creation. But the exiles stubbornly refused all this. The whole prophetic scene here has been transferred to our days, when any man in Christ is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and filled with the Spirit within. And this is to happen nationally to Israel in the last days.


Ezekiel 37:9 Then He said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind-
God makes His Angels spirits / winds. Is this the command to Michael, Israel's Angel which comes into action for them in the last days (Dan. 12:1) to start  to revive Israel? He is called forth from his exalted place dwelling between the four  cherubim Angels. The language is reminiscent of that in Gen. 2:7, where the Angel breathed into man the breath of life, which caused him to stand up upon his feet (cp. Ez. 37:10)- and here the Angel is being asked to do the same, to Israel. Further connections between the "wind" and Israel's Angel are in Jer. 4:11-13.

But the meaning in reality is that the prophetic word was to be the source of the Spirit entering into the repentant exiles, if they repented. For the wind / spirit / breath is presented as under the control and bidding of Ezekiel the prophet.

Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live- The Spirit came from four places (Ez. 37:9)- just as there were four cherubim. As the sound of the cherubim was as of a great army (Ez. 1:24), so revived Israel stood up as a great army (Ez. 37:10).The Angel cherubim would work with God's disillusioned and broken people, to revive them, so that they would become like the guardian Angels of Israel above them. The point was that the Angel cherubim system which Ezekiel had seen at work amongst the captives was able to gather them together, and give life to the nation. And yet that didn't happen to those exiles- because they didn't walk in step with the spirit. The potential was that just as the exiles had been scattered to the four winds, so they would be spiritually revived wherever they were, and brought to Zion.


Ezekiel 37:10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceedingly great army- See on :9. The potential was that God would have used them as an army to destroy Babylon; " You are my battle axe and weapons of war: and with you will I break in pieces the nations; and with you will I destroy kingdoms; and with you will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with you will I break in pieces the chariot and him who rides therein; and with you will I break in pieces man and woman; and with you will I break in pieces the old man and the youth; and with you will I break in pieces the young man and the virgin" (Jer. 51:20-22). The strong emphasis upon 'breaking in pieces' recalls the little stone of Dan. 2 cut out from the great mountain (Babylon) which was to destroy the kingdoms of men then dominating Israel and become a great kingdom of God on earth. This potential didn't happen; but it shall do finally in the last days.


Ezekiel 37:11 Then He said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are totally cut off- The valley of dry bones vision in Ez. 37 depicted Israel in captivity as bones waiting to come together and return to the land as a great army. Jer. 8:1 and other passages earlier in Ezekiel (Ez. 6:5; 24:4) had described both Judah and Israel as dry bones. The feeling of those bones was that "our bones are dried and our hope is lost" (Ez. 37:11). Judah in captivity felt that they had no "hope", that God had cast them off, and that they were unable to have a full relationship with Him outside the land. However, it seems that this was a rather convenient piece of theology for them- they were doing well in Babylon, and despite the opportunity to return to the land, they largely chose to remain in Babylon. "The whole house of Israel" repeats the great prophetic theme- that both Israel and Judah were to revive and return to Zion. But they would not (see on :22). The reason why this didn't happen is the same reason as to why people aren't revived today; the exiles thought they were just too far gone, they had lost their hope and were too lifeless to be revived, so they  may as well remain in Babylon and live their lives out there, for better or for worse. This is exactly the reason why people refuse to accept the work of the Spirit in their lives today; they lack the faith to believe that from an apparently hopeless human situation, God can revive.


Ezekiel 37:12 Therefore prophesy and tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: 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- God really would have done this at the restoration from Babylon, but the exiles lacked the faith in these simple words. For them to be addressed with these words, we can conclude that it is spiritual revival which is in view. Although a literal resurrection may also have been possible then.


Ezekiel 37:13 You shall know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened your graves, My people, and caused you to come up out of your graves-
The opening of the graves precedes the coming into the land of Israel (:12). It cannot be that the opening of graves refers to a revival of Israel after the holocaust in Europe; for they did not then 'know Yahweh' before entering the land. Rather I suggest does this refer to the literal resurrection of Jews killed during the latter day desolation of the land. Radical Islam speaks of burying the bones of every Jew now alive in Israel. If this happens, then this prophecy will have a comfortable literal fulfillment. The way a revived Israel then bury the bones of their abusers in Ez. 39 would be a way of demonstrating that the judgments meted out upon Israel by her latter day enemies are then meted out to the invaders.


Ezekiel 37:14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; and you shall know that I, Yahweh, have spoken it and performed it, says Yahweh- This alludes directly back to the vision of the Angel-cherubim's spirit being placed in the "wheels" of natural Israel in Ez. 1:20,21. The placing of the Spirit within them was to be associated with their return to the land; being "placed" there suggests God's work. This isn't what happened in the 20th century revival of the state of Israel; although that was not without significance. For the prophecies require an invasion of the land in the last days and suffering of Jews within it, and so they had to be gathered there for this to happen. The phrase "place you in your own land" is used in Is. 14:1 of the time when the Gentiles "shall be joined with them and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob". This is yet future, but it was potentially possible at the time of the restoration from Babylon. But sadly the Gentiles mocked Judah for continuing serving their idols, and were hardly encouraged to connect with the hope of Israel.


Ezekiel 37:15 The word of Yahweh came again to me, saying- The unity of God's people was and remains a major concern with God. The common experience of grace and repentance was intended to unite Israel with the Gentiles (see on :14) and also to unite Judah with the ten tribes. 


Ezekiel 37:16 You, son of man, take one stick and write on it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions. Then take another stick and write on it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions- There are many links discernible between Ezekiel and Zechariah, as they both prophesy concerning the same scattering and restoration of Israel. Here, the connection is with Zech. 10:6 "The house of Judah... the house of Joseph... they of Ephraim". There was envisaged a unity between Judah and Israel [Ephraim] at the restoration, but it never came about. And finally Zechariah breaks his sticks, as if to say the potential prophesied by Ezekiel was not going to happen in the restored community; although it shall come finally true in the last days.


Ezekiel 37:17 Join them yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand- The intention was that the prophetic word of Ezekiel would be the basis for the unity of God's people; this unity would happen through his hand. But they didn't take him seriously, and so this didn't happen at the time of the restoration. "Join" is the word used for the exiles joining or coming near to Yahweh (Ez. 44:16; Zeph. 3:2); as to this day, our connection with God becomes our connection with our brethren, and we cannot have one without the other. 'Becoming one' continues the allusions to the creation; it is the phrase used about "man" becoming one flesh through the union of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:24).


Ezekiel 37:18 When the children of your people shall speak to you saying, Will you not show us what you mean by these?- Ezekiel performed the miracle before their eyes. The message was obvious because the sticks were clearly marked (:16). Failure to understand God's word nearly always has a moral basis. They naturally recoiled at the idea of such unity with those whom they considered inferior. And so they make out that they don't understand, even though the explanation given in :19 is really only stating the obvious from what the miracle of the joined sticks had itself taught.


Ezekiel 37:19 Tell them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his companions; and I will put them with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in My hand- See on :18. Ezekiel's hand was to be seen as God's hand (:17 "in your hand"). The rods represented leadership and kingship; the hand of Ephraim was to no longer hold a stick, neither would Judah; God's hand would hold the united stick. There was to be a new, Divinely appointed kingship. ten tribes were all the same


Ezekiel 37:20 The sticks whereon you write shall be in your hand before their eyes- The idea is that Ezekiel's hand was to be seen as representing God's hand (:17,19). They were to see with their eyes that in a miraculous way, God through Ezekiel's word could unite Israel and Judah with Him as king, holding the rod or stick which represented rulership. But as ever, petty parochialism meant that this great potential didn't happen at that time.


Ezekiel 37:21 Say to them, Thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they are gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land- "Take... gather... bring" suggests they were to be assembled and then brought together back to Zion. This never happened with the exiles; the gathering together by the river Ahava (Ezra 8:15,21,31) was a very small fulfilment, but the majority weren't interested. The fulfilment therefore has to be in the last days. The same words "take... gather... bring" are found in Ez. 36:24, where this is to happen before they are sprinkled and given a new heart by the work of God's Spirit (Ez. 36:25,26). It is this new heart which would empower the exiles from whatever background to become "one nation" (:22). Unity is a gift of the Spirit, beyond our human achievement- but we must be open to receive it.


Ezekiel 37:22 I will make them one nation in the land on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all-
 "Make them one nation" suggests that unity is brought about by the work of God on men's' hearts; see on :21. This is the interpretation of how God made the two one stick (:19 s.w.). It was a psychological miracle of the spirit that He was willing to perform, just as the two sticks had  miraculously become joined in Ezekiel's hand. Remnants of the 10 tribes had been taken into captivity along with the two tribes; it could have been that at the restoration, the difference between Israel and Judah was ended and one Messianic King reigned over them. This was likewise in view in Is. 11:13; Jer. 3:18; Hos. 1:11 etc.. But they refused. The majestic prophecy of Jer. 23:5-7 had prophesied that when Israel returned from Babylon, “the branch” would rise and save them “and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth”, i.e. establish the Messianic Kingdom (cp. Ps. 72:2; Is. 9:7). But Zerubbabel, the “branch-from-Babylon”, lead the people back from Babylon, half heartedly built a temple- which faithful men wept at, when they saw how feeble it was compared to that which should have been (Ezra 3:12). And then he beat it back to Babylon. Significantly, Neh. 7:7 describes Zerubbabel as being at the head of twelve leaders of the returning exiles, who are called “the people of Israel” (cp. Ezra 2:2).

Some of the ten tribes did return with Judah. Thus “the Jews” is used synonymously with “Israelite” (Neh. 2:10; 4:1; 5:1,8; 7:73; 12:47). 12 he-goats and 12 bulls were offered for “all Israel” in Ezra 6:17; 8:35. But still Judah and Israel remained divided; and no “prince” arose to fulfil the prophecies. The intended unity between God's people will only happen in the last days when they are bound together by their repentance and experience of forgiveness.


Ezekiel 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling places in which they have sinned and will cleanse them. So shall they be My people, and I will be their God- Not serving idols is paralleled with no longer being divided (:22). Idolatry in whatever form leads to division amongst God's people. The existence of only one God is therefore a demand for total unity between His worshippers- for their whole hearts will be for Him and not for anything else.
Paul, writing to those who thought they believed in the unity of God, had to remind them that this simple fact implies the need for unity amongst us His children, seeing He treats us all equally as a truly good Father: "If so be that God is one... he shall justify the circumcision by faith, and [likewise] the uncircumcision through faith" (Rom. 3:30 RV).

"Their dwelling places" are the places in exile to where they had been scattered. But they were the places in which they had sinned by idolatry. This supports the impression that the exiles whom Ezekiel was addressing were idolaters still at that time.

 
Ezekiel 37:24 My servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd. They shall also walk in My ordinances and observe My statutes and do them- This is clearly the same “prince” as referred to in Ezekiel 45-48. The restoration prophecy of Jer. 30:9 speaks of a returned Judah serving “David their king, whom I shall raise up unto them”- implying that David would have been resurrected at the restoration, if all had gone according to what was possible? But Zech. 6 offers other potential fulfilments for the prince in Zerubbabel and Joshua; but these also didn't come about. And so the final fulfilment will be in the Lord Jesus. Likewise Cyrus could have been Yahweh's shepherd at the restoration (Is. 44:28). There were so many potentials possible, just as there are in our lives and those of so many. God's enthusiasm and interest in us given our failures as a race and His people... is so wonderful. He must be so thrilled when we at least try to respond and allow His plans to progress in us.


Ezekiel 37:25 They shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they shall dwell therein, they and their children and their children’s children, forever: and David My servant shall be their prince for ever- Had Judah repented at the time of the restoration, a Davidic ruler would have been raised up, Zerubbabel is the most obvious candidate (see on Zech. 6). He would have reigned "for ever", perhaps for an age. But he dropped the baton, or at least Judah were unwilling for this scenario. And so the prophecies were reinterpreted and rescheduled for total and eternal fulfilment in the Lord Jesus. "The prince" of the envisaged restored temple in Ez. 40-48 refers to this same individual. “The prince” of Ezekiel 40-48 is hard to understand as an immortal being such as the Lord Jesus. “The prince” of Ez. 21:27 was Judah’s last ruler- so “the prince” later in Ezekiel would appear to be a promise of a restored monarchy. Yet tragically, the royal family chose to remain in Babylon.

The restoration was to be associated with the appearance of a potential Messiah figure. This is a point repeatedly made in so many prophecies of the restoration. Take Is. 61:1-4: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison [Babylon] to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion [the “poor of the land” allowed to remain after the Babylonian invasion], to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness [cp. how they sat and wept by the rivers of Babylon]...And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations”. And there are many other such prophecies which connect the appearance of a Messiah with the rebuilding of Zion. Haggai prophesied to encourage the people to get on with building the temple (Ezra 5:1), and yet he spoke of the desire of all nations (Messiah) coming with an earthquake and glory filling the temple (Hag. 2:7). I submit that this is a prophecy of what could have happened at that time, but it has been deferred to the second coming of the Lord Jesus.   The cherubim visions of Ez. 1,9 and 10 are applied in the New Testament to the glorified Christ (Rev. 2:18; 1 Pet. 4:17; 2 Pet. 2:4-9). This surely implies that they were ultimately fulfilled in the Messiah; and perhaps we are to understand that they could have had fulfilment in a Messiah figure at the time of the restoration.


Ezekiel 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them and multiply them and will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore- They had broken the old covenant, and so a new covenant was offered- which would last eternally and would achieve peace with God. This would be the fulfilment of the promises to Abraham, for it was those promises which spoke of their 'multiplication'. The promises to Abraham are to this day the basis of the new covenant, which we too can enter, although the exiles refused it. "My sanctuary" appears parallel with "my tent" (:27,28). The essence of this will finally come true as described at the end of Revelation- God will Himself dwell with men. In the context of the possible scenario at the exile, they could have witnessed this dwelling of God with them by building the temple system of Ez. 40-48, into which the shekinah glory of God would have entered to represent His dwelling with them. But they didn't build it as commanded, and so they precluded the possibility of all this.


Ezekiel 37:27 My tent also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people- Although the exiles were commanded to build the temple of Ez. 40-48, they were to be aware that essentially God doesn't dwell in temples made with hands. He had always made that point by dwelling in a tent. And this is therefore brought to view again here.


Ezekiel 37:28 The nations shall know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in their midst forevermore- The sanctuary God envisioned originally was one which His hands made (Ex. 15:17; Ps. 78:69). The permission to  build a temple with human hands was a concession to human weakness; although the word is used many times in Ez. 40-48 of the temple Israel were to build. But they refused to do so as commanded.  The essence of the sanctuary was to be Messiah; He was to be a sanctuary for God's people (Is. 8:14). And this was and is how Yahweh shall eternally tabernacle with His people.