(Israel Conference at Langensteinbacherhohe: “The Redemption of Israel According to Ezekiel and Paul”, Jan 8-11, 2004)
Ezek 20:41-44 I [YHVH] will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the gentiles. Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I bring you into the Land of Israel, into the country which I raised my right hand in an oath to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils which you have committed. Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O House of Israel, says the Lord GOD.
Twice in these four verses, we read and heard by the Spirit of God that the Word of YHVH says, ‘You shall know that I am YHVH’. This expression occurs 61 times through 24 chapters, half of the book of Ezekiel!
Ex 3:14-15 And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. Moreover God said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, YHVH God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations. Ex 6:3-4 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by My name YHVH I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the Land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. Ex 34:6-7,14 And YHVH passed before him and proclaimed, YHVH, YHVH God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the childrens’ children to the third and fourth generations, for you shall worship no other god, for YHVH, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Rev 4:8 Holy, Holy, Holy, YHVH God of Hosts, who was, is, and coming.
YHVH is the one true God. He is the Living One. From the Old and the New Testament scriptures, it is evident to those who are born again from above that the one true God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is also evident by revelation from the Father that Jesus Christ is LORD: He is YHVH. Jesus is the Savior God of Israel, just as He is for you and for me. We come to God our Father only through Jesus His Son, and this only by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us personally. This is the redemption which God is going to accomplish for His inheritance, Israel, His priestly nation.
It is by God’s mercy, and not due to Israel’s initiative to repent and return back to Him. God’s sovereign love will bring Israel back to Him, even as He has now been bringing Jewish people back to the land for over 120 years, in accord with His promises, despite Israel’s continuing unbelief and lack of repentance. Thank God for the love of the Father!
Ezekiel is God’s servant to bring forcefully Israel’s sin, and God’s necessary judgments, to the people. The sin and uncleanness of Israel will be fully exposed in order for complete cleansing and healing. Each person has to bear his own responsibility (Ezek 18). This prepares the way for the glad tidings of restoration and forgiveness, and the re-establishment of the Kingdom of God to Israel. (Remember the disciples’ question to Jesus?) The gospel, too, must include the experience of the truth of judgment and repentance in order to receive the grace of forgiveness and restoration. YHVH is God and does not change; it is we who must change, and be changed. Both Ezekiel and Paul, with the other prophets, make it clear that only a remnant of the people will be saved. Even should Noah, Daniel, and Job all pray and intercede, they could not change God’s righteous judgments against the nation (14:12-23). God’s judgments cause suffering for both the wicked and the righteous: for the wicked it is only judgment; for the righteous it is a refining fire (ch.21).
For this, God must give Israel—as to each of us—a new heart and a new spirit. We need to be made new in order to see how unrighteous and unclean we have been in the sight of the Holy One of Israel. To have everlasting possession of God’s blessings and promises we must first be restored to Him personally. It is in the light of His glory that we see ourselves, and so can receive more fully the abundant grace and mercy of His forgiveness for ourselves and for our sins. The New Covenant promise to the House of Israel of a new heart and a new spirit—God’s Spirit—is to enable us to keep His commandments: LOVE of YHVH God with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength; to love others as we love ourselves; to love fellow redeemed brothers and sisters as Jesus has loved each of us. Love is keeping the commandments of God in Christ. Israel and the redeemed of the nations will all know the LORD, from the least to the greatest. The Creator who has not been recognized or accepted will be known by all through the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the express image of the invisible God.
God has His appointed King—a Priest-King whom He has chosen and anointed to receive the Throne in Israel. (Ezek 21:25-27; Gen 49:10; Zech 6:12-13; Ps 2; Mt 23:37-39) Until that day, God will overthrow every false ruler (Jn 10:7-16) until He comes whose right it is, and the Father will give it to His Son Jesus, the Son of David.
For Israel, as for Christians, to receive what God has promised to give, the people must come to God on His terms by His way. Only by seeing her true condition and calling upon the Name of YHVH (Ezek 36:37) will Israel receive all that she truly seeks for—and far more than she can even think or imagine (v.11). Israel wants peace and security, to live life without fear of enemies. God alone can provide that , but it is grounded in worshiping Him in spirit and truth. God brought Israel out of Egypt by Moses to serve Him and so be free. The present immigration from all the nations in which we were scattered, as Ezekiel was given to prophesy, is a greater exodus than that from out of Egypt (Jer 23:7-8). God makes it very clear (v.22-23) that it is not for Israel’s sake that He does this, but for the sake of His holy name. He sill sanctify His great name, which we have profaned. And the nations, Israel, and God’s enemies will all know that He is YHVH God, the Holy One of Israel.
When Jesus taught us how to pray, the first thought is the sanctification of the Father’s name. God Himself says that the sanctity of His great name is connected with Israel’s redemption and His dwelling place being established in her midst in the Land of Israel, as promised to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob and to their descendants. For this to happen Israel must be cleansed from all her uncleanness and ungodliness. God can not dwell in the midst of a sinful and rebellious nation. To help serve this purpose, YHVH God will stir up Israel’s lovers—those nations with whom she has prostituted herself unfaithfully against her God and husband—that they will turn against her, leaving her rejected and desperate (ch. 23).
According to Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, there will be much tribulation for Israel in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Wars will come, but the victory is the LORD’s! The coming of the Kingdom of God always implies destruction—condemnation and death–to His and His people’s enemies, including the antichrist, who is probably identified here as Gog (Ezek 38-39). We see this at Sodom and Gomorrah, yet God knew how to save righteous Lot. We have the examples of Pharoah and Egypt, when the true living God defeated all their gods, but He delivered the households marked with the blood of the lamb. We see the same thing even within Israel after the incident of the golden calf, but the tribe of Levi was rewarded. Again, when the Israelis entered the promised land, Jericho and all that it contained was destroyed, except for Rahab and her family. In the New Testament we have Ananias and Saphira being judged and killed on the spot for lying and deceit soon after the Holy Spirit was given to the first believers. At the end of the age, when Jesus comes to establish the Kingdom, we see the separation of the goats from the sheep. And we see when the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Anointed One, He destroys those who destroyed the Earth.
God’s purposes for Israel include reconciling Ephraim and Judah (37:16-22). Israel will be Israel and Israeli, not “Jewish” as we now think of it, but the Israel of God whose culture is reflective of that unity of all the tribes in a restored relation of brotherly love honoring to God their Father and to the King of Israel, Yeshua, the Son of God. Israel’s salvation and redemption allowing her to enter her inheritance and destiny as a priestly nation is ultimately dependent upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to save His people from Gog and the nations—Turkey, Iran, Sudan, and Libya–joined together with him against Israel. Jesus will then establish the Messianic Kingdom on Earth, with the full remnant of each of the tribes of Israel inheriting their allotment in the Land which God promised on oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob/Israel and their descendants. All the other surviving nations will also inherit their lands whose boundaries have been set by YHVH God (Dt 32:8). The name of the holy city Jerusalem will be from that day, YHVH Is There! (48:35)
Israel will no longer have malicious neighbors (28:24). As both Mary and Simeon exclaimed and proclaimed surrounding the conception and birth of the Messiah Yeshua, God will scatter and put down the proud, and exalt the lowly; He will deliver Israel from the hand of our enemies that she will serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him forever.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Summary of Ezekiel: Ch. 1-32: Judgment and Horror; Ch. 33-48: Hope and Restoration
Ch. 1-3 Ezekiel sees the glory of YHVH and receives his call to the children of Israel, a rebellious nation
Ch. 4-24 Judgment upon Israel precedes that of other nations (cp. 1Pet 4:17-18). Israel made the first-born from among the nations by the sovereign will of God, and to whom much is given more is required.
–YHVH is departed! (11:33)
Ch. 25-32 Judgment of nations in near proximity who oppose Israel and her God. Vessels of dishonor, of wrath, reserved for God’s righteous judgment for refusing the light of His covenant relations with Israel (and with the Church, for there is only one Mediator and one Savior).
Ch. 33 The Watchman for the House of Israel to warn them from the LORD
–Jerusalem has been taken (v. 21)
Ch. 34 The false shepherds versus the true Shepherd
Ch. 35 The judgment upon Mount Seir and Edom because of their everlasting hatred against Israel
Ch. 36 –The land claimed by YHVH and given back to Israel
–A new heart and new spirit given with increase, fruitfulness, prosperity
–Israel will loathe herself (as did Job and Isaiah) when she sees herself in the reality of YHVH’s goodness and holiness
Ch. 37 New and resurrection life given to body and nation. Ephraim and Judah restored: one nation/one people/one family
Ch. 38-39 Overthrow of last enemy, Gog (overthrow of antichrist – Dan 11:21;2Thes 2:8)
–YHVH is glorified, and His name is hallowed
Ch. 40-48 –God’s Kingdom restored forevermore in Israel and the world: Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as in Heaven
—44:15-16 Israel’s establishment as a priestly kingdom: blessed and sanctified; millennial Sabbath rest for God’s creation
–differences from Law of Moses, including “holidays”
–YHVH is there!