stream in the wilderness August 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 37, 38, 39

Hope Renewed

Sometimes at the end of a storm there is a rainbow. It gives us a renewed hope. Perhaps there has been a storm in your life. Have you ever lost hope? Have you felt abandoned by God or even banished from your family and friends? Has your family split apart? Have your prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling? Has your spiritual life ever seemed dry or maybe even dead? If so, you know how Israel felt. You need a renewed hope. Where can you get this hope? You can get hope from God.

At this time in our Bible reading Israel is dead. Her nation is totally devastated. Her people are either killed or exiled into bondage. Her temple and her palace are looted and destroyed. All her buildings are burned, and all that is left of Jerusalem is charred rubble and a few starving residents. The situation looks completely hopeless to the exiles. For all intents and purposes Israel is dead. It is at this time that the Spirit of God takes the prophet Ezekiel to a valley full of dry bones.

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” (Ezekiel 37:3, NIV)

Then God causes the bones to come together, and as they do, cartilage and skin form themselves upon them. He then calls the wind to breathe into them and they come back to life, a very great army (Ezekiel 37:3-10). Then God explains the meaning to Ezekiel,

“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’” (37:11, NIV),

God responds,

“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, (Ezekiel 37:14, NIV).

A second illustration gives Israel further hope. The LORD instructs Ezekiel to take two sticks and bind them together. When the exiled Jews ask what this means, God says through Ezekiel, “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms,” (Ezekiel 37:22, NIV). The divided family of Israel will come together again and live as one people in their land. What joy!

God further promises to save them, return them to their land, bless them, give them peace, and give them a righteous king to rule over them forever. This will be the fulfillment of the New Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Davidic Covenant. He also promises to live with them and set His sanctuary among them forever. All this is to show the rest of the nations that the LORD is God and that Israel is merely being punished for her sins. She is not abandoned by Him. God gives His dead nation a renewed hope. Perhaps your prospects or your situation look dead. If the LORD is your God, He has not abandoned you. He can give you a renewed hope.

Before Ezekiel's prophecies can be fulfilled, however, tribulation and wars must come. This is often true in our own lives. We experience battles before we receive the victory. In future days, there will be a terrible tribulation which will come upon the world and Israel, as outlined in Revelation 6-19. At the end of it Israel will be saved physically and spiritually, but first her enemies will try to destroy her. Future nations, identified as Magog, Mechech and Tubal, led by a world leader called Gog, will then try to profit from Israel’s unwalled, unprotected cities in a greater way than they are doing today.

One of these nations in Ezekiel’s time, Magog, is far north of Israel, possibly in the area of modern day Russia. Also involved in the coalition of nations against Israel will be Mechech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth Torgarmah (the area of Turkey), Persia (the area of Iran), Cush (the area of Sudan and Ethiopia), and Put (the area of Libya).

Israel will be in a state of peace when the attack happens. Whether this will happen at the beginning of the seven year tribulation period, when the Antichrist confirms a peace covenant with Israel (Daniel 9:27), or at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, is a question debated by theologians. God will suddenly destroy her attackers with a mighty earthquake, hailstones and fire from heaven. There will be so much bloodshed it will take seven months to clean up all the dead bodies.

It would be a mistake to interpret and apply Ezekiel 37-39 directly to our own situation. Most of us are not Israelites, and we do not inherit their promises. But it can be said that God is jealous over all of His people, who through God’s grace have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. We are is His children. The LORD often comes to the defense of those who trust in Him. Will we seek Him? Will we let God be our deliverance?

From God’s promises of the future in Ezekiel 39, God moves the discussion to what He will do for Israel “now.” The change of language in the context from “future” to “now” suggests that God’s future prophecies will be fulfilled at least partially, now. Israel’s present circumstances are her immediate concern.

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery, which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.

When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel," declares the Lord GOD,” (Ezekiel 39:25-29).

Israelite exiles will repent with genuine contrition, and then Israel’s punishment will come to an end. The LORD will then restore the remnant to her homeland.

If we are Christians, having trusted Christ for our salvation, we also have a future hope, but what about now? God can be our comfort and guide. We need to continue to read His Word, the Bible, seek Him, pray and trust in Him. He can restore devastated lives.

Lessons to Live By

  • Perhaps your prospects or your situation looks dead. If the LORD is your God, He can give you a renewed hope.
  • All bad situations are not caused by sin, however, some are. Are your troubles caused by your own sins? If so, genuinely repent and God will show you mercy. He offers you forgiveness, peace and spiritual life (more...).
  • Christians have a future hope of heaven and a present hope of forgiveness, peace, and favor with God

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV) “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”

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