Prophecies of Israel’s Regathering – Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones

Bible prophecy revolves around Israel.  For almost 2000 years, following the destruction of the second temple (70AD) and the Romans completely stamping them out (135AD), Israel was not a nation.  They had been scattered worldwide and bitterly persecuted, but a remnant was miraculously preserved.  And now here is Israel again – reborn!  Against all odds, religious culture and traditions have survived.  The Hebrew language has even been resurrected (after having been lost for over 1700+ years).  Bible prophecy about the end times cannot come to pass unless Israel is a nation. There are many verses predicting Israel’s regathering at the end of times, including: Jer 31:10, Jer 33:7, Ezek 37:21-27, Isaiah 66:8

“When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind.”  Ezekiel 39:27-29

“I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,  and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land,  and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,”says the Lord your God.”   Amos 9:14-15

“For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”  Jeremiah 30:3

“Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.  And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms.”  Ezekiel 37:21-22

The prophet Moses foretold (with some additions by Jeremiah and Jesus) that the ancient Jewish nation would be conquered twice and that the people would be carried off as slaves each time, first by the Babylonians (for a period of 70 years), and then by a fourth world kingdom (which we know as Rome). The second conqueror, Moses said, would take the Jews captive to Egypt in ships, selling them or giving them away as slaves to all parts of the world. Both of these predictions were fulfilled to the letter, the first in 607 B.C. and the second in 70 A.D. God’s spokesmen said, further, that the Jews would remain scattered throughout the entire world for many generations, but without becoming assimilated by the peoples or of other nations, and that the Jews would one day return to the land of Palestine to re-establish for a second time their nation (Deuteronomy 29; Isaiah 11:11-13; Jeremiah 25:11; Hosea 3:4-5 and Luke 21:23-24).

This prophetic statement sweeps across 3500 years of history to its complete fulfillment—in our lifetime.  (from reasons to believe)

 

The book of Ezekiel details Israel’s fall and restoration so wonderfully.  Here is a great commentary on it by Jack Kelley:   The End Times According to Ezekiel.

The rebirth of the nation of Israel was predicted over 2600 years ago by the prophet Ezekiel to be in stages. This is the meaning of the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.  I can’t explain it better than Jack Kelley, so I will let him explain:

Beginning in chapter 36 Ezekiel shifted from his message of current judgment to one of future hope. He began writing these chapters after he learned that Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians and its desolation had begun. Having earlier prophesied against the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 6) he now began speaking promises to them.
Reminding the mountains that he had pronounced judgment against the surrounding nations for trying to possess them, and for plundering and ridiculing the towns that had dwelt upon them, the Lord had Ezekiel say,” But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.” (Ezekiel 36:8-13)
While this was partially fulfilled after the Babylonian captivity, the people were driven off the land again in the first century AD, so the complete fulfillment had to begin sometime after that. Earlier, Isaiah had prophesied that there would be a second return, and his contemporary Amos said that after that one they would never be uprooted again. So that’s the one we’re looking for.
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. (Isaiah 11:11)
I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)
According to history the second fulfillment officially began in 1948. Why did the Lord finally do this? What had they done to deserve it?  This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:22-23)
Frequently the Lord had His prophets first give a sweeping overview statement to describe a promise and then fill in the details afterward. Such is the case with Ezekiel’s next declaration.  “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel!” (Ezekiel 36:24-32)
Clearly the complete fulfillment of this promise to Israel is yet future to us. But its magnitude is striking. God promised that Israel would be brought back into its Biblical lands, something we see is already in process. Then the people will be cleansed from all their sins, given a new heart, and the Holy Spirit will come to dwell within them. (Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet, because it can only happen when one is born again.) Then the Kingdom promises will begin coming true and the people will remember their former sinful ways and detest themselves.
This is another indication of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work, convicting them of their sins. This is the same way things happened for you and me. In a general sense, we knew we were sinners in need of a Savior when we first went to the altar, but we didn’t understand the full extent of our depravity until after we were saved and the Holy Spirit began to reveal it to us in depth.

The Valley Of Dry Bones

Now, let’s look at Ezekiel 37 where the dramatic rebirth of the nation is foretold in the vision of the valley of dry bones.
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”  Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:1-6)
Picture yourself standing in a large valley whose floor is strewn with bones. They’re scattered around randomly, none of them connected to another, bleached and dry. It looks like they’ve been dumped there some time ago and left, as if who ever did it had no further use for them.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. (Ezekiel 37:7-8)
In what looks like an animator’s dream, the bones slowly begin to rise and join themselves together from the feet up to form skeletons, each bone in its proper place. Tendons appear and begin to snake along the bones attaching themselves to make the bones move. As each one connects you can hear the clicking sounds of the tendons conducting tests, making the bones move on command. Muscle and flesh begin to cover them and finally skin spreads out along limbs and around torsos, enclosing the muscle and flesh and giving the bodies a finished, though lifeless, form.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:9-10)
The breath that gives them life comes from the four winds, used symbolically to represent a sovereign act of God. This tells us that though they are now living beings, they are not yet possessed of the Spirit of God. That will come later, as we’ll see. The people would first be gathered together in unbelief, a secular nation. This is seen in their status today, brought back after a 2000 year absence by a sovereign act of God, but not yet a covenant people again. This is what God meant when He said it wouldn’t be because they deserved it, but because He promised it.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ “ (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
Notice the Lord has Ezekiel speaking to the whole house of Israel. There are no lost tribes. The complete fulfillment of the Dry Bones prophecy requires two more things only God can do. He must put His Spirit in them and He must bring the faithful of their past out of the grave to join them. His Spirit will come when they’re ready to recognize Him as the Messiah they put to death so long ago.
Zechariah said this would happen during their final time of trial at the end of the age.  “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zechariah 12:10)
(In the Hebrew language, this verse reveals an astonishing secret. After the phrase They will look on me … it contains two untranslated letters, an aleph and a tau. They are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. So the verse literally reads, “They will look on me, the Aleph and the Tau …” In Genesis 1:1 the same two Hebrew letters show up after the phrase In the beginning, God … So it reads In the beginning God, the Aleph and the Tau … In Genesis 1 the Father is in view, but in Zechariah 12 it’s the Son. Was God planting little clues that He and the Messiah are one? Well, look at Revelation 1:8;  “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”  The original language of the Revelation is Greek where the first and last letters of the alphabet are Alpha and Omega. Now let’s read the words of Jesus in Revelation 22:13;  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Aleph and Tau, first and last in Hebrew. Alpha and Omega, first and last in Greek. Both languages referring to both the Father and the Son. Someone’s trying to tell us something.)
Daniel 12:1-2 says that following the Great Tribulation Daniel’s people will come out of their tombs, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. This is the Bible’s first mention of two resurrections, one for the faithful and one for the damned. Jews who are resurrected to life will dwell in Israel during the Millennium, the final fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:13. From Rev. 20:11-15 we learn that the resurrection of the damned will happen 1000 years later at the Great White Throne judgment.
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