As we enter our final few articles of our series on The Holy Spirit & The Restoration of Israel, let’s briefly recap what we have demonstrated so far.
- The pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon Israel in the first century was in fulfillment of the Old Covenant promises made to Israel.
- The anointing of Jesus by the Holy Spirit was definitive proof to Israel that her Messianic restoration had begun. (Isaiah 42, Isaiah 61)
- The pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the nation of Israel on the day of Pentecost was definitive proof to Israel that her Messianic restoration was continuing to be fulfilled after the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus by the Jews. (Isaiah 32, Isaiah 44, Joel)
- Israel’s Messianic restoration was not “postponed” by the rejection of the Jews, and was never intended to be fulfilled in an “earthly” manner. Israel’s eschatological restoration was always intended to be fulfilled “spiritually” in Jesus Christ through the New Covenant. (Acts 2)
- The New Testament writers continued Jesus’ message by preaching and teaching the restoration of Israel and her kingdom, decades after the cross. (Romans 15, Acts 13, 15)
- The calling of the Gentiles into the promises of Israel was yet another definitive “last days sign” to Israel that her messianic restoration was taking place in the Body of Christ – the Church. (Acts 13, 15)
The fact is, the Jew’s rejection and crucifixion of Jesus did not postpone the kingdom. On the contrary, the cross was the pathway to kingdom glory. Furthermore, the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost was not a sign that the “Church age” was being temporarily established until God resumed his restoration work with Israel. On the contrary, the pouring out of the Spirit was the definitive sign that the Body of Christ (the Church) was God’s vehicle to restore Israel to her Messiah and her kingdom.
But surely, even a brief study such as this one on the Holy Spirit and the restoration of Israel would be greatly lacking if we did not consider Ezekiel’s prophecy of the “dry bones”. It is my firm conviction that the theme of the Holy Spirit and the restoration of Israel in the New Testament, is the working out and the “bringing to life” of Ezekiel’s great prophecy.
We will now demonstrate that through the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the subsequent pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, Israel was being reconciled as one kingdom-nation, gathered to her Messiah, resurrected from death into life, built up into the temple of God, and established in her promised New Covenant. In other words, Ezekiel’s prophecy of the dry bones was fulfilled in the first century, and recorded as a testimony to us on the pages of the New Testament.
Some verses have been omitted for brevity sake.
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones…. “Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope as perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. “Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. “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.’…. Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and 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…. “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
Now, what should be obvious to the reader is the fact that Israel was not “literally” (physically) dead. She had suffered covenantal death through sin. Death for Israel in this context was separation from Yahweh through exile, she had been separated and “cut off” from the land and temple. Therefore, since Israel’s death was not physical, then Israel’s resurrection would not be physical. And, since Israel’s death was covenantal separation from Yahweh, Israel’s resurrection would be covenantal restoration to Yahweh…. through the Spirit.
Once again for the sake of brevity, we will only hit the highlights of the fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Testament. Let’s begin…
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones…. “Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life…. Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope as perished. We are completely cut off.’
Notice that Ezekiel says he was brought out to see this vision by “the Spirit of the Lord”. In other words, what Ezekiel saw was spiritual, it was to be spiritually discerned. Ezekiel was told that the dry bones in the valley represented the “whole house of Israel”. But they were “cut off” and their hope (messianic hope) had perished. Ezekiel sees the entire nation of Israel as a dead body, cut off from their covenant with Yahweh and dead in their sins.
But Ezekiel sees a remedy. Notice in verse 5 that through “breath” (the Spirit), Israel would “come to life”. The dead and dry corporate body of Israel began to be raised from the dead when they received the “breath of life” from the resurrected Christ.
So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Israel had begun to be raised from the dead. One can’t help but see the illusion to Genesis 2:7. God was breathing life into his new creation. Let’s go on….
Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. “Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.
Jesus alluded to these words of Ezekiel when he said that the hour had come (“now is”) when the dead who would hear his voice would come forth from their graves, and would live.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs (graves) will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
Those who heard the voice of the Son of God through the gospel of the kingdom were raised out of their “graves” into life in Christ.
Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
And, the “spirits in prison” who heard the preaching of Jesus in Hades (1 Peter 3:18-19), were delivered from the power of death, and were “raised from their graves”, after His resurrection.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs (graves) were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs (graves) after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
This was the “first resurrection”. Let’s continue….
“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.’
Notice, the Lord said that when he had “put his Spirit within them”, Israel would “come to life”. The day of Pentecost was without doubt the fulfillment of this prophecy.
“And it shall be in the last days God says, that I will pour forth of my Spirit on all mankind…”
The nation of Israel was being raised from their graves and given life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s go on….
Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land, and 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.
The “one king for all of them” was none other than Jesus, the Son of David. On the day of Pentecost, Peter declared that Jesus had been raised up and seated upon the throne of David in fulfillment of God’s promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-13. Peter was letting “all the house of Israel know for certain” that Jesus had been crowned King over all of them in fulfillment of Ezekiel 37:22.
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. “And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses…. “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
As King of Israel, Jesus was gathering the elect from “every side” and making them “one nation”, under one Shepherd-King (1 Peter 5:4).
“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
And by making them “one nation”, Jesus was forever doing away with the “two nations”, who were divided into “two kingdoms”. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is powerful evidence that Ezekiel 37 was being fulfilled. As the Gentiles were being grafted into Israel’s promises and recreated in Christ as one new man, the “scattered of Israel” who had been “swallowed up among the nations” (Hosea 8:8), were by implication being made into one nation on the “mountains of Israel” (Cp. Ezekiel 37:22 and Hebrews 12:22).
Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near.
As the whole house of Israel was being gathered into one nation and joined together as one kingdom, they were receiving their promised covenant of peace….
“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them.
To demonstrate from the New Testament that Ezekiel’s “everlasting covenant” was being established with the whole house of Israel, we don’t have to look very hard. Jesus initiated the New Covenant with all Israel (the 12 apostles representing all 12 tribes) at his last Passover.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My blood.
The writer of Hebrews refers to the New Covenant which was ratified by the blood of Christ, as Ezekiel’s everlasting covenant of peace.
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal (everlasting) covenant, even Jesus our Lord.
And finally, the consummative purpose of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon Israel was that so God would dwell with man.
And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. “My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians writes the following…
2 Corinthians 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.
Did you catch that? Paul said that they (the first century Corinthians) were the temple of God, as Ezekiel said (as it is written). In other words, the body of Christ (the Jewish remnant and the grafted in Gentiles) was being built up as Ezekiel’s temple where God could dwell with them by his Spirit. Paul teaches the Ephesians Christians the same thing…
So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
By being “built up together” as the temple of God, they were being prepared for God to “dwell in them” and “walk among them” (Ezekiel 37:27) in the “cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). Ezekiel 37 was being fulfilled, and Eden was being restored in the first century. We have demonstrated plainly that the theme of the Holy Spirit and the restoration of Israel in the New Testament, is the outworking and the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s great prophecy. Israel was receiving her Messianic-Davidic kingdom, and was being restored to covenant relationship in Jesus Christ. It is only in Jesus Christ where the Lord has promised, “I will be their God and they shall be My people”.
Continued in Part 13