76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 59 - Ezekiel gained the title of “Father of Judaism.”
April 15th, 1963
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
In the sign of the two sticks, Chapter 37, Ezekiel goes on to have God say that the people will be united as one nation, referring of course to the separate states, Israel and Judah, and governed forever by one shepherd, David, His servant (Ezekiel 37). The Lord also affirms that He will make a lasting covenant of peace with them, and that He will set His sanctuary and tabernacle in the midst of them forever (Ezekiel 37).
This was a great prophecy of resurrection. To voice it, the vision of the Dry Bones was not a necessity. These bones, according to God, (Ezekiel 37: 11), represented “the whole house of Israel,” and they were “very dry” (Ezekiel 37: 2), indicating not only the most recent deaths, but those of countless generations of the past. Ezekiel, therefore, could not mean a return in the flesh to Israel, as some orthodox writers still insist, but he understood the words of the Lord to mean a new or spiritual Israel where the departed in life would live in their renewed life, freed of the anxiety of death. This new land of Israel would no longer be used for burials: “Therefore thou (the land) shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 36: 14) The Spirit of God cannot be interpreted to mean giving renewed life to the dead in a natural sense, as this would be a violation of material law which God respects, but simply the means of eliminating sin and permitting the soul a place in the new, spiritual Israel, whose location, as the Church of the New Birth calls it, is the Kingdom of the Perfect Natural Man. David, the servant of God, could not be here interpreted as meaning me, the Messiah, as the Divine Love had not been rebestowed, and Ezekiel had less insight into Its coming than did Jeremiah, but in this sense Ezekiel actually meant David’s ruling over the united Hebrew nation in the spirit world, free of sin and enjoying the blessings of a purified existence. This resurrection would, thought Ezekiel, include his departed wife, for, as a symbol of destroyed Jerusalem, she too would be restored to a purified life, in the New Israel, in accord with the Dry Bones vision. However, the living Jews in Babylonia and the survivors in Jerusalem had to be taken care of. Therefore, the prophecy of the restoration of the people to the land of their fathers also had to mean the physical return of the living Jews to Judah and Jerusalem from exile, in accordance with the prophecies of the preceding prophets, with special emphasis on the moral regeneration of these returning Jews by virtue of the second covenant made between them and God, with the outpouring, as Jeremiah had said, of His Spirit upon them. We thus find in Ezekiel a curious superimposing of the spiritual upon the physical to include both the living and the departed of the past ages of Hebrews. David, the servant of God, in the material sense, thus becomes a living member of the House of David, and the shepherd caring for his flock. If you understand that Ezekiel was referring to a spiritual and material situation at the same time, you will thus appreciate that the physical descriptions, which are written with considerable visual power, have both spiritual and material meanings, and should thus be interpreted doubly.
The other prophecies have only material meanings. With the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel felt that prophecies of his predecessors were a certainty to occur. Thus the threat of the Northern barbarians, the Scythians, and the descriptions of warriors, are converted into the prophecy of the attack against a restored Israel by Gog, of the Land of Magog. There is such a people mentioned in Genesis 10: 2, but there was no such people or land in Ezekiel’s time. The name was used to indicate Babylonia, a second invasion at a future period by those who at the time held the Hebrews captives. The account of God’s fighting personally with His people, now independent, to destroy the invaders from the east gave the exiled Hebrews great satisfaction in reading that this time God would help to preserve the land of His regenerated nation, purified by their troubles and punishment. It gave the exiles hope and encouragement. At the same time the use of a name that could be revealed only by the deciphering of a Hebraic word code prevented the Babylonians from understanding its true intent and gave no offense to them. Let me state here, and emphatically, that Gog and Magog have nothing to do with prophecies concerning modern leaders or nations, although recently Hitlerite Germany murdered the Jews on an unprecedented scale, while other nations, presumably of a high culture and professing Christianity, used technicalities to cover their indifference and even in some circles secret satisfaction, and Arab states under Nasser are now preparing openly to finish what the Nazis failed to accomplish. Although there have been persecutions of the Jews in Russia, Ezekiel did not have this nation in mind, regardless of all the literature which has been written on this subject by prelates and Bible commentators.
With the return to Jerusalem considered by Ezekiel a certainty, he felt the need to write out plans and specifications for the rebuilding of the Temple. Some of these are a remodeling of Solomon’s Temple, but the outer courts and gates were to have a different layout. There was to be a Temple area, isolated from Jerusalem itself, for the prevention of any profanation, so that even the royal palace and the adjoining cemetery, which in the pre-exilic days stood close by, were to be eliminated. Various innovations were introduced, such as giving the Levites the menial tasks once performed by slaves, with the Zadokite priests of Jerusalem placed in a position of superiority with respect to the Levites, those priests of the rural area whose worship had been characterized by their impurities. Ezekiel’s emphasis here was on purity, to insure Jehovah’s eternal residence in the Temple sanctuary. The result was an emphasis on the ritual side of the religious life. It is easy to see that Ezekiel’s earlier priestly training and experience provided the background for a revised and refined, as well as strict, ceremonial system. This holiness, thought Ezekiel, would by its own nature attend the righteous state of the Hebrews in the restored Jerusalem of moral rectitude, with the “heart of flesh,” given the Hebrews by Jehovah Himself, the means of keeping sin and transgression from the elect. So important did this area of Ezekiel’s thought become in his personality that he was thoroughly convinced this was the Will of God and saw the Temple in a vision, whereby he was carried to Jerusalem, or so he believed, by an angel. It was because of his elaborate plans for the restored Jerusalem and the greatly increased importance in the ceremonial life of the people, as well as the assurance of Jehovah’s eternal residence in the Temple, that gained for Ezekiel the title of “Father of Judaism.”
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens