September 13, 2021
"They will never again defile themselves with their idols, their detestable things, or any of their transgressions; but I will cleanse them, so that they will be My people..."
“They will never again defile themselves with their idols, their detestable things, or any of their transgressions; but I will cleanse them, so that they will be My people, and I will be their God. My servant, David, will be king over them, and all of them will have one shepherd; they will live by My rulings and keep and observe My regulations. They will live in the land I gave Jacob My servant, where your ancestors lived; they will live there – they, their children and their grandchildren, forever; and David My servant will be their leader forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give to them, increase their numbers, and set My sanctuary among them forever. My home will be with them, I will be their God and they will be My people. The nations will know that I am the Lord, who sets Israel apart as holy, when My sanctuary is with them forever.” Ezekiel 37:23-28
It is the most remarkable testimony to God’s faithfulness that the blessings of His promises were obtained, despite Israel’s sinful ways. Of course, Israel’s apostasy brought upon them God’s judgment of exile. But in today’s passage, Israel was prophesied to return to the land and be blessed in ways they could hardly imagine.
God promised to gather His people and “circumcise their hearts.” But the blessing God has in store is not exclusively for ethnic Israel. Here in Ezekiel, the definition of “Israel” begins to take on an expanded definition. Glimpses of God’s grand design had been given already: the famine that Elijah brought down on Israel resulted in the blessing of a Gentile widow (1 Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4:26). Naaman (the Syrian general), whom God raised up as a scourge on Israel, was healed by Elisha to continue his vengeance on Israel. Jonah was commanded to preach the Word of God to the enemy Gentile city of Nineveh. Israel’s restoration set up the coming of Jesus: the redemption of the World. And His continued blessing of Israel encourages us that not only is He faithful to his Word, but He has redemptive plans for Israel yet to unfold. (Revelation 7:4)
Jesus, whom Matthew calls the “Son of David” (Matthew 1:1), called Himself the “Good shepherd.” (John 10:11) And Jesus went on to say that He had sheep, who were not of the fold of Israel; and that He must “bring them in also so that there would be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:16) In short, Gentile believers have not replaced Israel as God’s people; rather, they have been included among those “Messianic” Jews who believe in Him rightly. Together, they form the greater flock of the Messiah.
“It is not as though God’s Word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” Romans 9:6
Jesus also said: “Greater love had no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command.” John 15:13-14
When we combine these Scriptures with other evidence, like the restoration of the nation of Israel and the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers, it becomes apparent that Jesus is the central figure in the fulfillment of the prophecy in today’s chapter. Because He is Messiah!