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“The Dry Bones”
by Art Sadlier   
October 1st, 2008

God is not finished with Israel. He has a program to bring Israel to His intended purpose, we read about the consummation of that purpose in Zechariah 13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God”.

The dry bones in Ezekiel 37 reveal how God’s program to restore Israel will unfold. This is an exciting portion of prophetic scripture. In the context of the chapter, Israel is in captivity in Babylon because of sin, unbelief and disobedience. The captives have lost all hope of restoration, Jerusalem is in ruins, the Temple is destroyed by fire and the land has been depopulated.

However in Ezekiel 36:8, God gives them hope, “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.” God was chastening Israel but He had not cut her off permanently. But the question was, how could this promise of God ever come to pass? That is what Ezekiel 37 is about, how God would bring it to pass. The Lord gives Ezekiel a prophetic vision of how He will restore Israel to her land and her place of blessing.

Two prophetic scenarios are in view here.

  1. The captivity of Israel in 506 BC, and her return to the land, starting in 536 BC.
  2. The final great dispersion of Israel (which began in 70 AD) and her final return.

Many Old Testament prophecies have more than one fulfillment, a near and a far, a classic example of that is found in Isaiah 9:6. There are two fulfillments in that prophecy. For unto us a child is born”, this was fulfilled 800 years later at Bethlehem. A second is given without any comment or explanation, “and the government shall be upon his shoulders”, that is yet to be fulfilled at Christ’s glorious second coming.

The first captivity in 606 BC, was only a foreshadowing of a much greater chastening, which has lasted 2000 years.

The first return in 536 BC, was only a foreshadowing of the great return which is happening in our lifetime.

The vision of Ezekiel 37 brings before us the spiritual condition of Israel nationally during the long centuries of her present dispersion and the process of her restoration.

In Isaiah 6:9-10 the prophet tells of Israel’s setting aside by God. In verse 11, the question is asked, “Lord, how long?” The answer comes in verse 11-12, “Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”. There is enough evidence in this fulfilled prophecy to prove to any honest seeking person, that God is the Lord of history who knows the end from the beginning. The problem of unbelief is not in the head but in the heart.

Paul also answered the question of “how long” in Rom. 11:25, “until the fullness of the gentiles be come in.” Until the church is complete and is raptured out of the world, then the blindness of Israel as a nation will be lifted and her restoration will begin.(note the fullness of the gentiles and the times of the gentiles are two different things)

In Ezekiel 37:1 the Lord, in a vision brings Ezekiel down into a valley which represents the whole world. The valley is filled with dry bones,

verse 11 says, “These bones represent the whole house of Israel”. In verse 2, the Lord lets Ezekiel see Israel as He sees her.

Three things stand out in Ezekiel’s mind.

  1. “There were very many”, they represent all of the Jewish people present in the world at the time of the re-gathering, today about 13 million.
  2. “They were very dry”, what could be deader than dry bones. These bones represent living people but people who are spiritually dead. What a picture of Israel for 1900 years, cut off from spiritual life! Cut off from their land! Cut off from God! Cut off from each other!
  3. “The open valley”, scattered all across this vast valley which represents the whole world to which Israel has been scattered for so long.

Which re-gathering is this focusing on? This chapter is focusing on the last days re-gathering of Israel. Isaiah tells us of this second re-gathering, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people” (Isaiah 11:11). Then he lists the countries of the world to which they are scattered. Hosea also refers to this second re-gathering, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice …” (Hosea 3:4). Such a clear fulfillment of this prophecy leaves no doubt as to the authority of God’s word.

Some 1500 years before this final great dispersion of Israel we read in Deuteronomy 28: 63-66 about the affliction they were to suffer. The prophecies of Deuteronomy have been fulfilled in exacting detail.

....70AD a million Jews were slaughtered at Jerusalem by Rome.
....135AD hundreds of thousands were slaughtered and the remainder were put out of the land, sold as slaves and scattered to the four corners of the earth.
....700AD the land was usurped by Islam.
.... 1348-9AD more than 200 Jewish communities exterminated in Europe.
... 1492AD August, the same day Columbus sailed from Spain, the Jews were expelled.
.. 1700AD No Jews were allowed in Spain, Portugal, England, France, Scandinavia, Sicily, Norway, Germany nor Italy
... 1792AD Jews banned from Russia.

This is only part of the story, all down over the centuries the Jews were persecuted, oppressed and slaughtered. Hitler killed 5,820,000 Jews from 14 countries in Europe. Today Islam is trying to exterminate Israel.

This fulfilled prophecy alone is enough to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that the bible is the word of the living God. We also learn that God will not tolerate sin and disobedience by His people.

Ezekiel’s vision describes Israel’s hopelessness. “Our bones are dried up”, nationally dead! “Our hope is lost”, no human hope of the nation being restored. “We are cut off from our parts”, cut from one another.

We see three stages of Israel’s Return.

... STAGE-1 We see a dramatic scene in verse 7! Ezekiel preaching to dry bones, probably shouting across the valley all of the promises of God to Israel. Suddenly the bones began to shake, shooting all across the valley. Bones coming together, clicking and clacking everywhere. They came together, “Bone to its bone”, suddenly the bones were fashioned into a skeleton. The lost hope is being restored. That is the first stage and that first stage of Israel’s re-gathering has happened in our lifetime. A few thousand at first, 1931- 1935 150,000 Jews returned to Israel. By 1948 650,000 had returned. That was the first stage, the skeleton had been formed, bones coming together into their own land.

...STAGE-2 In verse 6, the skeletons are turned into bodies, a corporate body has been formed, a nation has been formed. May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation again with a government, a constitution, an army and schools etc. Isaiah prophesied this event in Isaiah 66:8. That’s where Israel is today, a body with no breath in it.

...STAGE-3 We see the spiritual restoration of the nation. In verse 9, we read, “Come from the four winds and breathe upon these slain that they may live”. That reminds us of the rushing mighty wind on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the church on its birthday, the day the church came to life. That has not yet happened to Israel. You can read about that event in Zechariah 12:10-12. Today Israel stands between the second and third stages.

The word of God tells us about four things that will happen to Israel between the second and third stages.

  1. A Peace Treaty a false Christ will sign a false peace treaty between Israel and her enemies. It will be a time of great deception that will sweep the whole world, but it will not happen until the Church is raptured.
  2. A Brief Time of Peace this false peace will last only a few weeks or months.
  3. A Divine Deliverance Russia, Iran and the nations surrounding Israel will launch a massive surprise attack on Israel God will intervene with supernatural intervention. See Ezekiel 38:18, 19, 22,23.

This will be followed by a time of great tribulation for Israel, tribulation such as the world has never seen before. All of these things will be used of the Lord to bring Israel to the point of repentance and redemption.

As we have seen the first two stages happening in our lifetime and we see the furious attempts to bring about the peace treaty we know of a certainty that the trumpet is soon to sound. Are you ready?

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