How Do You Interpret Ezekiel 37?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by swaimj, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. swaimj

    swaimj
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    Some on this board say that the church is now spiritual Israel and that Israel as a nation has no eschatological future. Consider Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezekiel 37, the famous passage about the valley of dry bones. Remember that Ezekiel writes during that Babylonian captivity, so the ten tribes of Isreal, having been taken away by Assyria, is no more, and Judah is now in captivity. Ezekiel says:
    Note that the bones picture "all the house of Israel". The "sovereign Lord" promises to bring them back to the "land of Israel".
    Ezekiel continues:
    This section reveals that God is going to rejoin the lost tribes of Israel to the captive tribes of Judah. God will take the two and "make them into one stick".
    When God is finished, the two separated nations of Israel and Judah will be one again. Ezekiel continues with these promises:
    According to this prophecy, the two nations will dwell in the land that God promised Jacob with David as their king, God will dwell with them, and this will be a testimony about God to the nations.

    Has this prophecy already taken place? If so, when?

    If not, how can you deny that God has a future for national Israel?

    Or, please, show me how I am failing to understand this prophecy?


     
  2. ReformedBaptist

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    So, does the prophecy in Ez. limit itself to chapter 37 or is there more? Just asking..
     
  3. swaimj

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    There are certainly more prophecies in Ezekiel than just this one. However, this chapter division seems to be pretty accurate in chapter 37 and the chapter seems to comprise a complete thought. I'm not sure if this really answers your question as I'm not sure exactly what you are asking?
     
  4. HankD

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    Hi Swaimj,

    IMO, this is a prophecy of the millennial Nation of Israel.

    Right now they are in "the land' but with "no breath in them".

    7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.
    8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.


    HankD
     
  5. ReformedBaptist

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    Yes, that is what I was asking. I will look at the passage today.
     
  6. AnotherBaptist

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    That would not be me. But I have already been greeted by the "welcoming committee" :laugh:

    Yes and No. It started being fulfilled in 1948 but will be consummated at the start of the Millennial Kingdom.

    I can't. You understand it just fine. When you get past 37, you get to Gog/Magog, which can only take place with Israel on their land. :thumbsup:
     
  7. swaimj

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    Good point.
     
  8. AnotherBaptist

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    And of course, when you get past 38,39, the 40's follow, with Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. The context keeps supporting a chronological order. :)
     
  9. David Michael Harris

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    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.


    Says it all really.

    Get out of the old and into the New and Living Way.
     
  10. Grasshopper

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    Which is what Christ came to do.

    Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
    Mat 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.


    Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.



    Because of their sin God divorced the House of Israel (Jer. 3:8), she had become like the Gentiles:


    Hos 8:8 Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure.


    Hosea is a very interesting book. It is quoted often by the NT writers. Notice:



    Hos 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.



    Paul alludes to this betrothment:


    2Co 11:2
    for I am zealous for you with zeal of God, for I did betroth you to one husband, a pure virgin, to present to Christ,


    Peter says this:


    1Pe 2:10 who were once not a people, and are now the people of God; who had not found kindness, and now have found kindness.


    This is also a quotation from Hosea speaking of the House of Israel:


    Hos 2:23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.


    So Ezekeil 37:19 was fulfilled in the New Covenant.


    Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;




    The Church is the fulfillment of that Promise.



    Jesus is that King:


    Luk 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
    Luk 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.



    Is Christ not reigning now in His Church?



    Modern Israel has nothing to do with the promises made to Old Covenant Israel.



    You are failing to understand because you do not let the NT writers interpret the passage for you.


    Paul quotes Eze. 37:26-28

    2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Here is the Ezekiel Tabernacle:

    Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
    Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
    Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.





    Paul taught what was written by the Prophets:


    Act 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

    Act 26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
    Act 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.


    Paul's eschatology comes from the OT. There are no better commentators on the meaning of the OT passages than the NT writers.


    I leave you with one final passage, again an OT quotation:


    Act 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
    Act 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.


    A quote from Amos 9:11-12. Notice verse 9:

    Amo 9:9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.



    According to James the tabernacle of David must be rebuilt so that Gentiles may seek the Lord. Is this not a present reality?
     
  11. Jerome

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    "I wish never to learn the art of tearing God's meaning out of His own words. If there be anything clear and plain, the literal sense and meaning of this passage — a meaning not to be spirited or spiritualised away — must be evident that both the two and the ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land, and that a king is to rule over them." ---Charles Spurgeon, on Ezekiel 37
     
  12. asterisktom

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    This shows that, for all the excellent work Spurgeon has done, he was yet a fallible human after all. It is funny that, in the vocabulary of many, the term is always "spiritualize away", never just "spiritualize". Yet Christ, Paul and many other inspired Bible authors "spiritualized" on several occasions.
     
  13. AnotherBaptist

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    In the context of what Spurgeon said, what was being "spiritualized away" was the literal meaning. I have no allusions (no pun intended) about which hermeneutic Israel applied to God's Word:

    They could take (read interpret) the Law any way they wanted to. But break it and they died. Figurative language notwithstanding, there is a literal outcome to all of God's Word.
     
  14. Winman

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    Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
    13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
    14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.


    How could this have happened already? This is speaking of after the resurrection.

    The apostles believed the kingdom would be restored.

    Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
    7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.


    Notice Jesus spoke of "times" and "seasons"

    Peter also preached of times, which shows at least two periods of time must occur first before Jesus returns to re-establish the kingdom.

    Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
    20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
    21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.


    Peter said the heaven must receive Jesus until the "times" of restitution of all things, so there must be at least a minimum of two distinct periods of time that must take place before Jesus returns.

    Paul seems to have looked for the restoration of the kingdom as well.

    Acts 27:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
    7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.


    In Jesus's day, the twelve tribes were still dispersed.

    James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

    So, I personally do not believe Ezekiel 37 will be fulfilled until after the resurrection.

    Matt 19: 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
     
  15. asterisktom

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    Reading the text too literally is often a real danger in Scripture. I don't care that Spurgeon wrote what he wrote. I believe, with all due respect to him, that he was wrong here.

    Literalism (interpreting Scripture always at face value, without considering a spiritual intent) is a faulty hermeneutic that many today share with the jews of the first century: When Jesus spoke of raising the temple in three days they took him literally. When Christ warned His disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees they, likewise, mistook His message. When Christ told His fringe-followers that only those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will have eternal life they left. They didn't wait for, nor were even capable of receiving, the clarification that He was speaking of His Word and the Spirit.

    The very same thing is happening today. Many don't even think of the possibility of spiritual interpretation - they run with the literal, branding those who don't as liberals and disobedient.
     
  16. Winman

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    Yes, but all of these examples you gave would have been unrealistic to take literally in the first place. Now, it is true Jesus being God could raise the temple in three days, but no man could possibly do so. The Pharisees were not bakers, so the leaven Jesus spoke of had to be speaking of something other than leaven. And yes, Jesus was not speaking of his literal body, and explains that if you read further in the chapter. He was speaking of his word, he was speaking of the scriptures.

    John 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
    53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
    54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
    55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
    56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
    57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
    58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
    59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
    60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
    61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
    62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
    63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.


    You will find that in almost all cases when the scriptures are speaking symbolically that it is shown and often the real meaning explained.

    Matt 16:11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
    12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.


    You see, the scriptures themselves tell us Jesus was speaking of the doctrine of the Pharisees. And you will see the same thing concerning the temple.

    John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
    20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
    21 But he spake of the temple of his body.


    People often fail to study properly. In most cases when the scriptures are speaking symbolically it is explained if you read a little further.
     
    #16 Winman, Dec 12, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2009
  17. asterisktom

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    I only have time for this one section right now.

    Yes, people often do fail to study properly. If you want to go this route, that is up to you. You'll find someone here to take up the ball, maybe. Not me.

    Do you not see that what you are saying is not logical proof at all? How can I even prove my contention (that there are unmarked metaphorical uses in Scripture) since the only proof you accept is one that my position would never satisfy?
     
  18. Grasshopper

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    No one has explained why Paul says Eze 37 was fulfilled in the Church according to:


    2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Do we just pretend it is not there?

    If you want a good article on this subject try this: http://www.eschatology.org/index.ph...ulfilled&catid=43:the-israel-of-god&Itemid=61




     
  19. Winman

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    I am not arguing with you that there are not symbols and metaphors used in scripture, that is obvious. But in many cases they are explained in the passage.

    You said:

    I think a person should always first look for a literal interpretation. And all scripture has spiritual intent.

    I didn't call you liberal or disobedient, so I don't know where that came from. I will say this though, many have fallen into error by spiritualizing that which should be taken literally.

    I have been debating with some about the six day creation account for example. I take this literal. I believe God knows what a day is compared to billions of years. If God had spent many billions of years creating the universe, he could have said so and I would have believed him. But he says six days, and there is nothing in the passage to indicate they were any different than the 24 hour days we enjoy today. I have no difficulty in believing God could create everything in six days, he could have done it in an instant.

    But people take these days and apply long times to them, mostly because they are intimidated by so-called science.
     
  20. Grasshopper

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    Yet when Revelation says its events are to happen shortly and are near, all of the sudden literalism goes out the window. Strange huh?
     

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