Dispersion and Restoration of Israel, Ez 36

Ezek 36 is a prophecy concerning the dispersion and restoration of Israel.  

Israel’s Dispersion

Ezekiel’s Prophecy to the Mountains of Israel, Ezek 36:1-7

When Israel and Judah sinned against the Lord, he used the heathen to destroy their land and take them captive.  The Assyrians attacked Israel and took them captive, 2 Ki 17, and the Babylonians attacked Judah and took them captive, 2 Ki 24-25.  So thorough was their conquest that the land became desolate wastes, v.4, and the cities were forsaken, v.4; Deut 28:49-52.  

The mountains, hills, rivers, valleys, desolate wastes, and forsaken cities bore the shame of the heathen, v.6, 3, and became a prey and derision to them, v.4; Deut 28:37.  In Israel, the Assyrians brought in other people, “the residue of the heathen”, v.3, to possess the land that belonged to Israel.  And they claimed the land as their own, v.2, 5.  

We know that the land is the Lord’s (“my land”, v.5) and that he gave it to Israel for a perpetual habitation, Deut 11:10-12.  Therefore, when the heathen took it “for a prey”, v.6, the Lord responded in the fire of his jealousy and in fury, v.5-6.  He lifted up his hand, v.7, and made an oath that as the land had borne the shame of the heathen, so the heathen would bear their shame, v.7.  He gets them back for what they did to his people.

Israel’s Restoration

God’s Oath to the Mountains of Israel, Ezek 36:8-15

The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise in this passage takes place in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, though some of what he promised has already begun with Israel’s statehood.  Notice that God said “they are at hand to come”, v.8.  The time represented by the phrase “at hand” is over 2,500 years.  Nevertheless, we can be sure that God will keep his promise because he said, “I am for you”, v.9. 

God promised that the land would again become productive, v.8-9, being tilled and sown and yielding fruit.  God will multiply the men of Israel, who will inhabit the cities, build the wastes, increase and bring fruit, and settle the land after their old estates, v.10-11.  He will do better to them than at their beginning, Deut 28:1-14, and they will know that he is the Lord.

The men of Israel and Judah will possess and inherit the land, v.12.  And they will never again hear the shame or bear the reproach of the heathen.  Nor will they ever be bereaved or devoured by the land, or caused to fall any more, v.12-15.

Israel’s Dispersion

God’s Pity for His Holy Name in Israel’s Dispersion, Ezek 36:16-24

God dispersed the house of Israel among the heathen because they had defiled and polluted the land by their way, their doings, their bloodshed, and their idols, v.16-19.  When they were dispersed, they profaned God’s holy name because they were called the people “of the Lord”, v.20.  The idea is that if God is so great, certainly, he should have been able to protect them and keep them from being taken captive.

So, when God promised to restore Israel to their land, he’ll do it for his name’s sake, not for their sakes, v.21-22.  God will sanctify his great name when he takes Israel from among the heathen and returns them to their own land, v.23-24.

Israel’s Restoration

God’s New Covenant with Israel, Ezek 36:25-38

When Israel returns from their dispersion to possess their land in the millennial reign of Jesus, God will cleanse their filthiness by sprinkling clean water upon them, and giving them a new heart and a new spirit, v.25-26.  With his spirit within them, they will walk in his statutes and keep his judgments, v.27; Jer 31:31-14.

Israel will dwell in their land and be God’s people and he will be their God, v.28.  He will increase their corn, the fruit of their trees, and the production of their fields, never to see famine again, v.29-30.  This is when Israel will remember their ways and loathe themselves for their iniquities, v.31.  And they will realize that God didn’t restore them for their sakes, v.32.

When they are cleansed, Israel will dwell in their cities, build the wastes, and till the land, v.33-34.  Those who pass by will say the land looks like the garden of Eden and the cities are fenced and inhabited, v.35.  That’s when the heathen round about them will know that God is the Lord, who builds the ruined cities and plants the desolate land, v.36.  He said he will do it and he will do it.

During the millennial reign of Jesus, God increases the men of Israel like a flock of sheep, v.37-38.  The waste cities will be filled with the flocks of men like the holy flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts.  This is why, when Jesus came the first time, he referred to himself as a shepherd and to the righteous of Israel as his sheep, Jn 10.

To study the prior Sunday School lesson, see Mount Seir.

To study the next Sunday School lesson, see The Valley of Dry Bones.