The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ezekiel 37

Eze 37:1

The order of events in Eze 37: (1) The graves where Israel is buried are opened (v 12). (2) The skeletons are brought into the valley of vision (in the land of Israel), and are left scattered there (vv 2,12). (3) They say, 'Our bones are dried, our hope is lost' (v 11). (4) They confess their own unworthiness (v 11). (5) Ezekiel prophesies upon them. (6) There is a noise like thunder, and an earthquake. (7) The bones come together and re-form into skeletons. (8) Flesh and sinews grow on them; they are now corpses. (9) The call to the four winds (spirits) brings the breath (spirit) of life into them. (10) They stand on their feet as a very great power.

"The parable is a prophecy of Israel being brought, in a spiritually dead condition, from their Gentile dispersion back to the land of their fathers. There they become disintegrated and helpless. It is a process which takes place in the Land. This part of the prophecy has not yet happened. It would seem to correspond to the prophecies in Zec 14:1,2; Eze 35:5; 36:13-15; Joel 2; 3; Psa 83; and esp Ezekiel 20:34-37" (TofE).

The New Covenant is deeply rooted in history and land. The promise to Abraham was unconditional and included in its benefits a geographical inheritance -- indeed, not just any territory but specifically the land of Canaan (Gen 12:1,7; 13:15-17; 15:18,19; 17:8). It is that land that is in view throughout Ezekiel's prophecy, whether in immediate fulfillment or Last Days fulfillment, for unless that land is the focus of God's covenant the ancient promises to the patriarchs lose their intended significance.

Eze 37:4

DRY BONES, HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD!: A call to the "dry bones" of Israel to hear God's Word and repent! Thus, the "dry bones" are, literally, alive -- whilst being "dead" spiritually.

Eze 37:5

I WILL MAKE BREATH [OR SPIRIT] ENTER YOU, AND YOU WILL COME TO LIFE: It is the Spirit of God believed, and that alone, which came bring "life" back to the people of Israel (Eze 36:26). Cp Hosea's vision of a national "resurrection" for Israel (Hos 6:1-3).

Eze 37:7

A RATTLING SOUND: Heb "ra'ash": a vibration, or shaking: sometimes translated "earthquake": cp Eze 38:19 (sw); Zec 14:5 (sw); Rev 16:18.

Eze 37:10

SO I PROPHESIED AS HE COMMANDED ME, AND BREATH ENTERED THEM; THEY CAME TO LIFE AND STOOD UP ON THEIR FEET -- A VAST ARMY: "When Ezekiel prophesies to the four spirits of the heavens, the Spirit of God comes into this corpse-like Israel so that the spiritually dead come to life and stand up on their feet 'an exceeding great company' (the Heb here is very emphatic). These four winds or spirits are the manifestation of divine power in the fourfold cherubim chariot, with its fourfold symbol of Israel, which Ezekiel saw: 'whither the spirit (wind) was to go, they went... the spirit of life was in the wheels' (Eze 1:20; cp also Zec 6:1-8). Interpreted in this way, the vision harmonizes very readily with the various other prophecies of Israel's experiences in the Last Days" (TofE).

"There is no finer illustration of the life-changing power of the preached word than what the prophet saw in his vision. It has the power to transform those who are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-22) and make them new, living creatures in Christ (2Co 5:17)" (Cooper, cited in Const).

This verse is referred to in regard the two witnesses of Rev 11: "But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them" (Rev 11:11).

Eze 37:11

WE ARE CUT OFF: KJV has: "we are cut off for our parts" -- ie, it is for our sins that we are being cut off. Here is a picture of national repentance: "It is a noteworthy principle of Bible teaching that only when a man honestly acknowledges his own unworthiness and sin before God can he be forgiven. Concerning Israel this truth is enunciated over and over again: 'When thou art in tribulation, and all these things come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice: (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them': Deu 4:30,31 (cp also Psa 81:13,14; Jer 3:14-18; 4:1,2; Deu 30:1-3; Lev 26: 41; Zec 6:15; there are many others" (TofE).

Eze 37:16

Vv 16-22: "It has to be borne in mind that the political split between Israel and Judah had become final and complete about 150 years before the time of Ezekiel, in the days when Shalmanezer V destroyed Samaria and took the northern people captive. Since that time Israel (as distinct from Judah) ceased to be identifiable. It would seem, then, that with reference to the Last Days one must look for a meaning of the joining of the two sticks into one other than that of the re-uniting of the northern and southern kingdoms. [Various] possibilities present themselves: (1) The uniting of Jewry into one community -- the Dispersion actively and wholeheartedly joining with the 'Yishuv', those who have returned. Hos 1:11 supports this suggestion. (2) The union of the saints in Christ with that section of the Jews who turn to God in faith in the time of their calamity, thus themselves becoming saints in the higher sense of the term (cp John 10:16). (3) The uniting of Israel to Christ (note the introduction of the name Joseph, the great prototype). (4) The extension of the State of Israel to include all the territory of the ancient kingdom.

The second and third of these are very close in idea, and for this reason one of these is probably to be preferred. But there seems to be little in the context which is decisive" (TofE).

Eze 37:18

WON'T YOU TELL US WHAT YOU MEAN BY THIS?: Cf Eze 4:1; 5:1; 12:9; 17:12; 20:49; 24:19.

Eze 37:19

The LORD would combine the two parts of Israel into one whole nation (cf Isa 11:12,13; Jer 3:18; Hos 1:11). The two parts, in a modern context, may sig (1) the Jews still in dispersion, and the Jews in the Land, or (2) the whole of the territory of ancient Israel and Judah.

Eze 37:21

I WILL TAKE THE ISRAELITES OUT OF THE NATIONS WHERE THEY HAVE GONE. I WILL GATHER THEM FROM ALL AROUND AND BRING THEM BACK INTO THEIR OWN LAND: Most specifically, from the land of Babylon/Iraq and from the land of Egypt (cp Isa 11:11-16; 27:12,13).

Eze 37:22

THE MOUNTAINS OF ISRAEL: Most esp identified with Jerusalem (cp Isa 2:2-4).

Eze 37:23

I WILL CLEANSE THEM. THEY WILL BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD: These Jews would no longer defile themselves with idols, other detestable things, or transgressions of the Lord's (Mosaic) covenant. The Lord promised to deliver them from the many places where they had gone and sinned and to cleanse them (cf Jer 31:31-34). Then they would enter into a proper relationship with Him. In the present State of Israel only a very small percentage of the population is actively religious, and Christ is more firmly rejected there than almost anywhere else. (Cp Hos 2:23; Zec 13:9.)

Eze 37:24

MY SERVANT DAVID: God's servant David would rule over them and be their king (Eze 34:24; 2Sa 7:13,16; Jer 30:9; Hos 3:5). They would have only one king who would shepherd them so that they would follow the Lord faithfully (cf Exo 19:5,6; Lev 26:12; Deu 7:6; 14:2,21; 26:18,19; 27:9; Jer 30:22; 31:33; 32:38). They would live in the Promised Land forever, and the Lord's servant David would be their appointed ruler forever. In view of God's promise to David in 2Sa 7:12,13, this must refer to the Son of David, Jesus the Messiah. "David" sig "the Beloved" (cp Mat 3:17: God's words to his Son upon his baptism).

Eze 37:25

THEY WILL LIVE IN THE LAND I GAVE TO MY SERVANT JACOB, THE LAND WHERE YOUR FATHERS LIVED: This land was promised to Jacob when he was at Bethel (Gen 28:13-15).

Eze 37:26

I WILL MAKE A COVENANT OF PEACE WITH THEM: Cp Eze 16:62; 20:37; 34:25.


Eze 37:27

MY DWELLING PLACE WILL BE WITH THEM: He would also set His sanctuary in their midst forever (cf Eze 20:40; 40:5--43:9; Zec 6:12,13), not temporarily as He had done with the tabernacle and temple, but forever.

Eze 37:28

THEN THE NATIONS WILL KNOW THAT I THE LORD MAKE ISRAEL HOLY, WHEN MY SANCTUARY IS AMONG THEM FOREVER: His dwelling place would be with them forever, and He would also establish an intimate relationship with them. The people of the world would know that He is Yahweh who sets aside Israel as sacred for His glory and special purpose in the earth when He would set up His sanctuary in Israel's midst forever (cf Exo 19:5,6).
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