GOOD MORNING, SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are Ezekiel 37-39
Take a deep breath friends. There is a lot to process today!
?Today I’m going to focus on Chapter 37, a prophesy that current generations have seen come to fruition and that more generations still, now are seeing reach an even greater fulfillment. But first, we have to start with a little history because it is highly relevant to the prophecy we are going to read about.
?Around 70 AD Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed. From that time up until the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, we went through a very dry period as far as prophetic events go. So much so that most of the church actually gave up and decided that, despite all of the prophecies such as the one we will read today, the Father must have changed His mind about Israel (Judah) being His people. Since they did not see prophecy being fulfilled with the Jews, early church fathers determined that the Father had replaced His chosen people with the modern church.
They then claimed inheritance of all of the promises YHWH made to Abraham and Israel while declaring that all of the curses remained with the Jews. Classic sibling move. This is known as replacement theology, less commonly it is referred to as covenant theology or Supersessionism. (However, as my friend Shawn Parris points out, you won’t actually hear a pastor say “Today we’re going to talk about replacement theology.” It’s far more subtle than that.)
?So why didn’t the rebirth of Israel and the return of Judah to their homeland change their mind?
All of this usurping by the church towards our Jewish brethren took place around the 17th century so by the time Israel came back into being in 1948 and the homeland was once again established for the Jews, this replacement or covenant theology was already so deeply rooted that, though it was a manmade doctrine, it was held up as if it were directly from YHWH’s word, despite the fact that it contradicts His words time and again.
This is, in essence, what the Pharisees did which earned them harsh rebuke from our Messiah. They held up their manmade doctrine as equal to and often more important than YHWH’s commandments.
This was now part of inherited religion for many Believers, otherwise known as “how we’ve always done things around here.” So they didn’t think to question it.
?Not all churches ascribe to this, thankfully, but it is ingrained in the woodwork of far too many. Now, don’t go expecting a church website to list themselves are “replacement theologists” and I seriously doubt you’d ever get someone from a church who ascribes to this doctrine to admit it but it is pretty easy to spot. You’ll hear things like “God rejected the jews”, “The Jews killed Jesus” and “The old testament is for the Jews and we are new testament Christians” That line of thinking is set up to exempt us from all that is in the old testament. To use a popular pastor’s words: to “unhitch” us from the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments.
?What would that look like? No commandments, no statutes and regulations, and we lose most of the promises we cling to because that is when they were instated. This is just the beginning. One of the many problems with this thinking is that the New Testament is filled with accounts and teachings of folks teaching from and living by the Old Testament. Something to think about: During the times in which people were living in the New Testament, the only Scripture they had was what we call the “old” testament. It is what they studied, lived by, and taught from.
So this statement in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Yup, that’s referring to the part of the Bible most of today’s believers refer to as “old”.
A new religion is not introduced.
A new God is not introduced.
A Messiah comes, as the words of YHWH and the Old Testament writers said He would time and time again, and He does exactly what the Old Testament said He would do.
He brings the words and ministry of His Father.
And what is the new covenant? We’ve read that at least twice this week and recall that it is not a new set of commandments, but a reinforcement of what the Father has already decreed.
?Why is this important, even though you may not see any of these things in your own church or within the body of believers that you reside in? Because this is going on in the world at large today and we, as Believers, need to be aware and prepared so that we are not taken by surprise should any of this end up on our front doorstep.
Again, we must read YHWH’s word to know who Israel as a whole is in His eyes. YHWH has said time and again that He will restore them. They are still His chosen people, But we are grafted into Israel when we seek after Him, Romans 11. ( sorry to cite it for the gazillionth time and I promise to only cite it a few thousand more times over the next month or so).
There are a myriad of other verses wherein He clearly states this but we’ve been over that so I won’t bother going into it again. Also note that Messiah said He came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).
So if we are not grafted into the already established tree as chosen people through our Messiah, oh goodness. That leaves us outside of the gates.
?Anyway, often replacement theologists claim to stand with Israel but at the same time claim that they’ve replaced them and taken the inheritance that YHWH clearly promised, time and again, belonged to His chosen people – because they are the chosen now and the Jews are no longer. More on this in a minute. I promise it gets better 🙂 Short version: We are co-heirs thanks to His grace.
?Today we are reading about the valley of dry bones and, like many prophecies in the Bible, we need make sure we read long enough to see the prophecy interpreted by YHWH Himself.
If you haven’t read today’s readings yet, you may want to stop for a bit, read those, and come back.
?More background for chapter 37: You’ll recall that when Solomon died, Israel fractured into two nations: The Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom. Judah was the Southern and Israel was the Northern. Here is the thing: older Hebrew manuscripts and scrolls actually referred to this kingdom (Israel) as Ephraim. So these two significant kingdoms that made up the body of Israel were most commonly referred to at that time as Ephraim and Judah, the two most powerful and dominant tribes. Out of the twelve tribes of Israel (Levi was separate for YHWH and not counted among this number), the two dominant tribes now took over rule.
?Judah worked hard to maintain their culture, their faith, and their lifestyle. They became what we know as the Jews today. When you think of “set apart” its definitely a descriptor that fits them.
?However, Ephraim was all about assimilation which (predictably) led to a great deal of syncretism. Syncretism is something that we have a great deal of today in which religious practices, holidays, and beliefs wherein multiple faiths and cultures have been blended together over time to make a religion more palatable or accepted to society. The world teaches that this is a good thing and so most of us probably had that feeling towards it as well, until we started reading the Word to see how YHWH views syncretism (I thought it was wonderful once upon a time). Of course, anytime we change something YHWH instated to make it more acceptable to the world, we are making it unacceptable to YHWH. And remember, not only do details matter to YHWH, but He has spoken specifically against this behavior time and again.
?So what happened to Ephraim? They ended up scattering all over the land and its people were absorbed into many different cultures. They were very much scattered to the nations.
?Wanna know what is interesting about this? Back in Genesis 48:19 when Jacob gave his cross handed blessing to Joseph’s sons, the blessing he bestowed upon Ephraim was that he would grow into a multitude of nations. Well, the original Hebrew (transliterated) is melo ha goyim and that literally translates to “the fullness of the gentiles”.
With that in mind, many people believe that this prophecy of Ephraim being gathered back from the nations in which they were sent and rejoined into the one stick with Judah is a gathering of ALL of YHWH’s people, Gentiles and Jews, as He tells us He will do. (if you haven’t read the readings for today yet, this will make more sense after you do)
Ephraim is considered the body of “lost tribes” of Israel who have been scattered. They are lost because they have been so heavily dispersed among the nations, thousands of years ago. There is, no doubt, within the body of Believers today, many are descendants of Ephraim.
No, I’m not saying we’re all Jewish. ?
And each time I even walk towards this topic I want to reiterate that no one has to become Jewish to follow our Father, but as I also reiterate, our Jewish brethren do not have to give up being Jewish in order to follow and have faith in our Messiah either, who Himself was Jewish during His lifetime on this earth.
? Christians and Jews, while remaining Christians and Jews, can all trust in Yeshua/Jesus and be YHWH’s chosen people. ?
Just remember, when we pray for our beloved Jewish brethren, knowing what they are lacking – they are doing the same for us, seeing our clear lack as well.
We each hold a key to those sticks coming together again. If you haven’t figured out what part we’re missing yet, you’re sure in the right place to do so! Keep reading. Keep collecting puzzle pieces. The Father is putting them together for you in His time.
?When reading in Ezekiel 37:15-28, keep in mind what I said yesterday: We must be careful never to read the Bible as if it were speaking to someone else. We are part of this story and the reconciliation of the house of Israel very much includes us. YHWH’s chosen people, both branches, those born and those of us who have been adopted in (Isaiah 56).
?More prophecy being fulfilled: When Israel became a country again, only Jews were allowed to return or “make aliyah”. Nowadays, although not as commonplace or easy, others are being able to make aliyah, ones who can’t trace their lineage back to the tribe of Judah. These people are considered by many to be the returning lost tribes. So this is further fulfillment of the prophecy.
And no, I’m not saying we all have to move to Israel, I’m just giving ya some historical facts. ?
?So how do we know who is Ephraim? I’m not in a position to definitely tell you that. Many churches have theories, many people have theories. I reckon one or two of those theories will prove to be true. YHWH knows.
I wanted to give you a little background on the dry bones. A prophetic draught has now broken and prophecy is being fulfilled at a rapid pace in our time.
May we ever hasten to the word each morning so that we will be found with oil in our lamps! (Matthew 25)
For further reading, you might enjoy this blog post by my friend, Debbie: Are you willing?
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!