(Ezekiel 20:32-38) “‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen. (Vs.33) As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (Vs.34) I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. (Vs.35) I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. (Vs.36) As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. (Vs.37) I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. (Vs.38) I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord”.
One of the saddest things happening today within wider Christendom in the evangelical and charismatic churches is that there are multitudes of Christians who are so enamoured and awestruck concerning Israel and all things Jewish that are telling the Jewish people that God is blessing them because they are at the forefront of the fields of science, medicine, business, technology, weapons developments and even the arts, and that even many of the desert places now blooming with vegetation are due to the hand of God’s blessing. Furthermore, they are being told by well-meaning Christians that God will protect them from their enemies surrounding them on all sides. However, it is what the Jewish people are not being told about what is going to happen in Israel and why it will happen that is vital for them to know, especially with the Time of Jacob’s Trouble rising like a spectre on the horizon.
Today we see Israel besieged by their implacable Islamic neighbours and by the growing anti-Semitism in the nations of the world especially in Europe. By and large Israelis, including most of the religious sects reject the Messiah our Lord Jesus, and these sects of Judaism in Israel persecute the Messianic New Covenant pastors and believers who faithfully witness for the Lord Jesus to their Jewish brothers and sisters in the flesh.
Now while God watches over Israel and neither slumbers nor sleeps where their welfare is concerned, He is also the God of Torah and has set in the Torah blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The tragedy is that the religious Jews in Israel today are labouring under a works based righteousness which will never justify them before God. (Ephesians 2:8-10). We know that the righteousness God bestows and imparts is that righteousness of the Messiah our Lord Jesus, which is given on the basis of faith in Him and not based on the works of man (Romans 3:19—31). This righteousness of course is not only for the Jewish people but for gentiles who also come to repentance and faith in the Messiah and who are spiritually grafted into the olive tree being the Commonwealth of Israel (Romans 4:16-23) (Romans 11:17-18) (Ephesians 2:11-22).
God will never reject His covenant people but at present the nation as a whole are living like the ungodly pagan nations. The leaders in Israel are not looking to the God of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but looking to the Egypt of this world as they seek to establish alliances with the nations instead of looking alone to God for their security and spiritual welfare. Because of His covenant sealed in the blood of the Messiah to redeem Israel from their sins, God must bring the people of Israel through the night of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble to spiritually refine them and to bring forth a faithful remnant who will embrace the Messiah as their Lord and rightful king, and in His Messianic reign in the age to come they will co-rule with Him from Jerusalem.
Having said this, the prophet Ezekiel foretold of their sifting as a people among the Gentile nations in the last days because they have rejected the Messiah and because they have rejected Torah and the God who gave His laws and commandments. In 1948 God brought them back into the land of Israel, an awesome event of covenant love clearly prophesied also in the prophet Ezekiel. They would come back to the land of Israel and be restored in unbelief, it would be a partial national restoration (Ezekiel 37:1-8) their full spiritual and national restoration as a people is still to come in the future (Ezekiel 37:9-28) and it will take this Time of Jacob’s Trouble to bring this about.
We see a foreshadowing of this final wrestling match the Messiah will have with Israel at the end of this age when we see Jacob wrestling with His Messiah before the incarnation. We see Jacob wrestling through the long night until daybreak and being brought through to a place of victory with a name change being Israel! It was an encounter with his Messiah that changed his heart forever! From that time on Jacob had a brand new relationship with God and the limp he received from the Lord when his hip was touched by God would be a constant reminder that he would have to walk in God’s strength alone and not in his own human strength or intellectual prowess and cleverness, which is a hallmark of secular Israelis and their politicians today.
Now let’s look at a small portion of a part of one of Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning the national and spiritual restoration of Israel at the end of this present age.
(Vs. 32) “‘You say, “We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone.” But what you have in mind will never happen.”
After the Israelites has settled in the Promised Land they very quickly wanted to be like the other nations because they had failed to take possession of all of the territory that God had given them and had not destroyed those ungodly pagan nations that were under the power of the occult, being idol worshippers of which we are told in scripture is the worship of demons (Deuteronomy 32:16-17) (Psalm 106:36-37) (1 Corinthians 10:20). Remember that they asked the prophet Samuel to give them a king as the other nations had. Samuel tried to reason with them that God was their king but they insisted on having one of their choosing. God gave them King Saul who started out right but ended terribly and brought disgrace and defeat to God’s people.
God already had His man for them being young David. If they had waited on God and continued to worship and serve Him with grateful and faithful hearts then, in His time, God would give them a man after His own heart. Of course David was also a foreshadowing and a type of the Messiah to come who would, like David, be a conquering king. The Messiah, from the lineage of king David, at His second coming will lead Israel to victory over all of their sworn enemies as David did for Israel.
Today Israel’s leaders are not looking alone to God for help and are disregarding the Torah and living lifestyles just like the pagan nations are living. You have idolatry, immorality, homosexuality, Lesbianism, hedonistic and materialistic lifestyles, with night clubs, discos, parties, and a fixation with having it good in this world. Above all of this, they still reject the Messiah who loves them with an everlasting love, who has shed his blood to atone and to cleanse them from their sins, and yet they will have nothing to do with Him. However, God will not let them continue in this way. And so He says “you have determined in your minds to have it your way but I will not let it happen!” Now let’s continue;
(Vs.33-34) “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will reign over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath. I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered—with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.”
God always remembers His covenants yet He is also a just and righteous God and does not want His people to have any rivals or other ‘gods,’ which according to scripture are wicked fallen principalities in the unseen spiritual realm that manifest themselves through idols that men worship. God is going to have to bring Israel to the point, where despite all of their prosperity and influence in the nations and in Israel, they will be stripped bare of all things pertaining to attachments to this world. God’s righteous anger at sin and rebellion will be unleashed on a people that have rejected Torah and the salvation only found in the Messiah our Lord Jesus.
It also needs to be said that God is not going to do this to destroy them, or because He has rejected them. He is going to use this time of great tribulation for Jacob to bring about a people separated to Him, and a people, that in the age to come, will be the head and not the tail and bless the surviving nations of the world. This is His ultimate goal, and that being His people ruled by the only true king of Israel being the Messiah Himself and not literally king David of course.
The anti-Semitism we see increasing in the nations all around the world, especially in the western democracies is no accident, but God really dealing with His people to bring them back into a personal relationship with Him as the only Triune God, and to realise that there is no other God apart from Him. He is doing this by applied pressure and the instrument He is using is Israel’s sworn enemies. The day is coming when no nation will support Israel and the leaders and people of Israel will have to turn back to the Lord in their extremity which will come in the time of Jacob’s Trouble and only then will they be saved out of it (Jeremiah 30:1-10). This will be a time of great tribulation unlike anything that has happened before it and will never be equalled in the future (Jeremiah 30:7) (Daniel 12:1) (Matthew 24:21-22). And then we read;
(Vs.35-36) ”I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
In the 1930’s just before the Nazis started to persecute the Jews in Europe, especially in Germany, the Zionists went through the whole of Europe warning the Jewish people to leave quickly and to go back to Israel because of what was coming. However, multitudes of Jewish people stayed, having positions in government and in the fields of business, medicine, technology, serving in the armed forces and living in comfort and ease without any desire to go back to Israel. Many thought that because they had been serving faithfully for many years in the countries where they were living that they would not be treated badly, the end result was the tragedy of the Holocaust. Sadly it is the thinking of multitudes of Jewish people today especially in the western democracies.
In the Torah in the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 28 you have listed the blessings of the covenant for obedience and the curses for disobedience. The curses outweigh the blessings because sin and disobedience is a very serious matter to God. It was this that sent The Messiah our Lord Jesus into the world, who broke the curse of the law being sin, physical death and an eternal separation from God in the lake of fire, when He shed His pure and untainted blood as Israel’s Passover Lamb to break the power of that curse resting on His people (Galatians 3:13) (1 Corinthians 5:7). Because they rejected Him the curse remained and still remains to this day.
Having said this, when any Jewish man, woman, boy or girl repents of their sin and unbelief in the Messiah and turns to Him by faith to be justified, forgiven and cleansed of all sin and unrighteousness by His atoning blood, the curse over their life is broken forever! They do not cease to be Jewish, but enter into what it really means to be Jewish from God’s perspective. As the apostle Paul writes; “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).
Today within the Gentile nations God is bringing His people into the wilderness or the desert of those nations. In the nations they will be stripped of all self-confidence and be marginalised and rejected by society and become outcasts, once again a result of the curse of the Law resting heavily upon them. Just as God judged the Israelites in the wilderness because of their unbelief and disobedience, so He will be judging those who are doing exactly what their forebears did in the time of the Exodus out from Egypt.
Moses was a type of the Messiah and those who rebelled against Moses suffered terribly and many died in the desert because of their disobedience to Moses, but more so because of their disobedience to the laws and commandments of God. In the end it was only a remnant that entered into the Promised Land, the majority of the Israelites all died in the wilderness and never entered into their God given inheritance in a land that flowed with milk and honey!
However, even though two thirds of the Jewish people will perish in a Holocaust far worse than the one experienced during the Second World War, a faithful remnant will be preserved. This is why it is essential that the gospel of the kingdom be preached to the Jewish people because it is to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) because they are God’s covenant people who are to pass through the time of God’s refining process in the nations and be brought through it to the Messiah and saved out of this time of Great Tribulation, to serve their king and saviour the Messiah our Lord Jesus in His Messianic kingdom! (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Jeremiah 8-10) (Ezekiel 37:15-28). In that day “all Israel will be saved!” Israel “will possess their possession” and “possess the gates of their enemies” and “no one will make them afraid” and “David their king will reign over them” in righteous and justice and with every blessing and abundant prosperity being lavished upon them as His personal possession and redeemed elect people!
As New Covenant believers in the Messiah our Lord Jesus we also are destined to co-rule and reign with them and with the Messiah Himself on earth, seeing we have been spiritually grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel, the olive tree, and made partakers of the same covenant blessings, also being Abraham’s decedents and heirs according to God’s covenant promises! And then we read what the good shepherd will do for those who follow Him and with those who still insist in their rebellious ways. Now let’s continue;
(Vs.37-38) “I will take note of you as you pass under My rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord”
In Bible times a good and faithful shepherd had a rod or staff which would be used in three ways. Firstly, a good and faithful shepherd would use it as the rod of correction to stop his sheep straying. Secondly, the good and faithful shepherd would use the rod to defend the sheep from the encircling predator. Thirdly, the good and faithful shepherd would count them individually as they passed under his shepherd’s rod. He knew them individually by name and their peculiar characteristics and habits. They were all his sheep, the people of his pasture, and he the shepherd who would carry the stray lambs on his broad shoulders when leading his flock back into the sheep pen.
When God regathers His people to Israel out of the nations after the final and partial exile to come, having judged them in the wilderness of the nations, and brought them out and back to Israel, and into the bond of His covenant, being the New Covenant established forever in the shed blood of the Messiah, He will also bring all of His people still living back to Israel, yet only those who have had a revelation of the Messiah and turned to Him alone for salvation will enter Israel, the Promised Land. Those Jewish people who refuse to accept the Messiah as their rightful saviour and king will themselves not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief.
When Israel has been fully restored spiritually and nationally they will know, and the surviving nations in the world will know, that God is the Lord, and that the Messiah our Lord Jesus is the rightful and true King of Israel and the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! In that day we are told in the prophet Isaiah; “Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the Lord Will be established as the chief of the mountains (kingdoms), And will be raised above the hills (rulers of the nations); And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law (the Torah) will go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-3).
This is Israel’s glorious future!!!