Middle East Meltdown 004 – Ezekiel 36

Middle East Meltdown 004 – Ezekiel 36
Ezekiel 36:22-32 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 23, 2022 • Middle East Meltdown


The Middle East Meltdown 004 – Ezekiel 36

By Dr Andy Woods – 01/23/2022

Ezekiel 36:22-32

I was going to say welcome on this cool morning, but I just got back from New York state. This is like a heat wave (laughs). If my wife didn’t pack me my big ski jacket, I’d have been in a world of hurt up there.

So let’s pray, father, we’re grateful for this morning. This is the day that the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. There will never be a day like this ever again in terms of its uniqueness and nor was there a day exactly like this beforehand, so this is a special day. So, I do pray, Lord, on this special day, the first day of the week, when Jesus rose bodily from the dead. I pray that we would be good stewards, as Christians, of your word and your truth in your church and we ask for a special hand of blessing on our Bible study this morning and on the main service that follows and we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.

Well if you could locate the book of Ezekiel chapter 36, and verse 22 (Ezek 36:22). You might recall that at the beginning of the new year, we started a new study in Sunday school called the Middle East Meltdown and I’m thinking we better do the study fast before the whole thing really melts down and there’s nothing left to talk about. But this is basically a study of Ezekiel, 36, 37, 38 and 39 which is, of all the areas of the Bible that I think is in play right now prophetically in terms of stage setting and God moving things around to set the stage, I would pick this section of the Scripture here that we’re looking at in this study. 2:17

Ezekiel 33‒48

  1. Ezekiel recommissioned (33)
  2. False shepherds removed (34)
  3. Edom destroyed  (35)
  4. Israel’s restoration: physical & spiritual (36)
  5. Israel’s restoration illustrated (37)
  6. Means of restoration: Northern invasion (38)
  7.  Results of the Northern invasion: conversion (39)
  8. Millennial Temple (40‒46)
  9. Tribal land allotment (47‒48)

So we’re in the middle of Ezekiel, 36 which is a prophecy that Ezekiel received two thousand six hundred years ago of the restoration of Israel in the last days. Not just her physical restoration but also her spiritual restoration. So you can take Ezekiel, 36 and you can kind of divide it up as follows:

Ezekiel 36

  1. Israel to prosper again (Ezek 36:1-15)
  2. Israel’s sins inhibiting prosperity (Ezek 36:16-21)
  3. Israel to be restored: physically & spiritually (Ezek 36:22-38)

Verses 1 through 15 (Ezek 36:1-15) is a prophecy that God gave to Ezekiel that Israel would prosper again; and then verses 16 through 21 (Ezek 36:16-21), I think we took a look at a lot of those last time, those verses, these are the sins inhibiting God’s ultimate purposes through Israel. So you get a graphic description of her sins; and then once that sin issue is dealt with, then you have Roman numeral three there, the clearest prophecies you get probably anywhere in the Bible of Israel’s physical and spiritual restoration. So I believe we left off there at verse 22.

So take a look if you could Ezekiel, 36, verse 22 (Ezek 36:22) and it says: Therefore say to the house of Israel, this is what the Lord says… So that’s an expression you want to pay attention to cause that’s a way to outline the chapter. So because he says “thus says the Lord” or “this is what the Lord God says”, you know there’s a new oracle or a new section coming in the chapter and if you drop down to verse 33 (Ezek 36:33), you’ll see the same expression: Thus says the Lord God… So that must be another section in the chapter and then if you look down there verse 37 (Ezek 36:37), what does it say?: Thus says the Lord God… So that must be another section; and so when you put together an outline of a Bible chapter, particularly a prophet, you want to pay attention to these kind of internal, you know, literary remarks because you want to have an outline of it that’s coming from the Bible and not trying to impose something on the Bible. But you continue on with Ezekiel, 36, verse 22 (Ezek 36:22) and it says: Therefore say to the house of Israel, This is what the Lord GOD says: It is not for your sake, house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went… Why is God going to recycle Israel back into her own land in the end times? He’s going to do it for His holy name’s sake. You know, He’s not doing it because He feels sorry for them. I mean, He might to some extent. He’s not doing it out of human compassion. He’s doing it for His own name’s sake and because He is God and because His character is perfect, He is free to make these sorts of decisions and the truth to the matter is if God doesn’t do this then there’s a bunch of promises that He’s made much earlier, going back to the time of Abram, that we’re studying in the main service in Genesis, 15, that would be left unfulfilled, which means at the end of the day God would have egg on His face, God would be a liar; and because God is zealous for His own name, He has to put His hand into history to fulfill what He promised He would do long ago and ultimately He’s doing this for His holy name’s sake; and that by the way, is the same reason the exodus happened. 6:47

The exodus, as recorded in the book of Exodus, is probably the greatest redemptive act of God in all of human history, outside of the cross of Jesus Christ. Other than the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no more powerful example of redemption, where God purchases His people from slavery and liberates them. Then the book of Exodus; and why did the whole exodus event happen? It happened because of God’s holy name. You remember, Exodus, 2, verse 24 (Exo 2:24) which tells you exactly why God acted in that time period. It says: So God heard their groaning… Then it says: God remembered His… What’s the next word?… covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… So God moves His hand in history after four hundred years of bondage and brings His people out of Egypt back into the land four hundred years later originally sojourned in by Abraham and God does that because He’s promised that He would do that. It’s in chapter 15 of Genesis, verses 13 through 16 (Gen 15:13-16), if you’re interested and this is how God moves, this is how God acts. He moves in history to vindicate His name. So that’s why we make a big deal at this church of the covenants that God has made with Israel. If you can understand the covenants that God has made with Israel, you can understand the actions of God in human history; and you know, quite clearly, God is doing these things, whether it be the exodus or whether it be the end time re gathering of Israel, as described in the book of Ezekiel, to vindicate His name. 8:50

One of my favorite commentators on the book of Ezekiel is Charles Feinberg and he writes this:

Charles L. Feinberg –  The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Paperback ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1969; reprint, Chicago: Moody, 1984), 206.

“It is vital to remember that’s such action on God’s part does not reveal in any sense a partiality toward Israel. It is rather a vindication of God‘s glory and will, for He has condescended to link his purposes on earth with the people of Israel.”

It’s vital to remember… And he’s commenting here on the book of Ezekiel… It is vital to remember here that such action on God’s part does not reveal in any sense a partiality toward Israel. It is rather a vindication of God‘s glory and will, for He has condescended to link his purposes on earth with the people of Israel… That’s what makes Israel such a big deal. I mean, there’s so much of the Bible dealing with Israel and the restoration of Israel and it almost has nothing to do with Israel. It has everything to do with God’s promises that He has made to Israel, God’s covenant that He has made with Israel; and the fact that God at the very beginning decided to link His purposes to the nation of Israel and so, much of it relates to the vindication of God and you see this over and over again as you move through Ezekiel, 36; and then take a look at verse 23 (Ezek 36:23), the next verse. Verse 23 says:  I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD, when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight… So God’s purposes in history, here’s the fancy word for the day, are doxological. God works in human history to glorify Himself; and so our theology is very different than what you’ll hear in a lot of churches where they’ll try to argue, no! God’s purposes are soteriological. Doxological glory, soteriological salvation. Many people believe that God works in human history to save souls, which He does. But the thing to understand is when a soul is saved, who gets the glory? God does. That’s why Luke, 15 talks about when one sinner repents, the angels rejoice. So even the saving purposes of God are subsumed under His doxological purpose. So the overarching agenda of God in human history is doxological, to glorify Himself, not soteriological. I’m not trying to say God doesn’t care about saving people, He does but it’s subsumed under the fact that He actually receives the rightful glory; and if you believe that God’s primary purpose in human history is soteriological, then you have no basis for understanding His plan for the angels. The good angels that didn’t fall with Lucifer’s rebellion and the evil angels, a third of them, that fell with Lucifer. How do you explain God’s dealings with the angels when the plan of salvation is not even open to the angels? So God is obviously dealing with the angels in a particular way. But it can’t be soteriological, because the plan of salvation is not open to the fallen angels. So if you have too narrow of an understanding of God’s purposes, if you make it all about salvation, then you don’t have a basis for explaining what He’s doing with the angels which has nothing to do with salvation. So the big picture is the glory of God and human salvation is a beautiful thing and it’s a wonderful thing and it’s something that’s emphasized in the Bible, but it’s not the ultimate purpose of God. The ultimate purpose of God is doxological. 13:29

So we teach a theology here called Dispensationalism, it scares a lot of people cause it’s a word they’ve never heard before. But what does a dispensationalist believe? A dispensationalist basically believes in three things.

Dispensational Theology is a System of Theology

Traditional-normative dispensational theology is a system that embodies three essential, fundamental concepts called the sine qua non (lit. “without which is not”):

  1. The consistent use of a plain, normal, literal, grammatical-historical method of interpretation;
  2. Which reveals that the Church is distinct from Israel;
  3. God’s overall purpose is to bring glory to Himself (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).

Dr. Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism, pp. 38-41

So I’m getting this from Dr. Charles Ryrie and he writes: Traditional or normative dispensational theology is a system that embodies three essential, fundamental concepts called “sine qua non”, which is Latin, which means without which there’s not. A Sine qua non is… this is the bare basics and if you took away one of these bare basics, you wouldn’t have what those basics represent anymore. I think biologists, creationist use language like “irreducible complexity” and things like that, the mouse trap example. There’s only so many pieces in a mouse trap that make it work and you take away one piece and you don’t have a mouse trap anymore. That is basically the way to understand dispensationalism. It’s basically three things and you can boil the whole thing. Everybody’s got these charts and everybody’s arguing with each other about how many dispensations there are and all this stuff, it’s all a bunch of background noise, okay? All you got to do is focus on three things and if one of these three things is missing, you can’t have dispensationalism anymore. So what are those three things? 15:17

(1) The consistent… Let me say that again, that word is so important… The consistent… Gosh! Maybe I should say it a third time… The consistent use of the plain, normal or literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation. What does that even mean? Plain, normal, literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation? It basically means the literal method. When these words were given, how would have Ezekiel’s audience understood these things? When Ezekiel says Israel is going to be re-gathered into her own land, how would they have understood land? How would they have understood the name Israel? And obviously they would have understood these things in a very normal, plain sense and of course, there’s always figures of speech in the Bible. But when there’s figures of speech it’s sort of obvious where they are. So other than a figure of speech like a simile, you know, equating two things with like or as or a hyperbole, an exaggeration to prove a point, you know, I’m so hungry I could eat a horse kind of thing; other than those types of situations in the Bible, you take the Bible just in a normal sense and you do that consistently. In other words, I do that in the book of Ezekiel, just like I do it in the book of Romans. Now, if you attend a reformed church or a church coming from another theological perspective, they’ll do it in some places in the Bible. You know, they’ll do it in John’s gospel, they’ll do it in the book of Romans, they’ll do it in the book of Galatians, but oh my goodness! If they ever get to the book of Revelation, which most of them just ignore anyway, you’re going to get some wild interpretations that have nothing to do with the normal, literal, grammatical sense. So what we believe is that when you take the normal, literal method, which by the way was used by the Protestant reformers to rescue the church soteriologically from over a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Okay! I mean, Luther stood on literal interpretation, you can see it all over Luther’s writings. So this method obviously works. I mean, God used it to achieve the Protestant Reformation. We wouldn’t even have Protestants, we’d all be Catholics if it wasn’t for that method of interpretation. So it obviously works. What makes us unique though is we want to apply it everywhere. I don’t want to just apply it in Romans, in John, in Galatians, I want to apply it in Genesis, 1 through 11, which by the way, moves you into the direction of young earth creationism. We haven’t been here, the world hasn’t been here for billions of years. You’ve got to cram all that stuff into the text, the Bible doesn’t say that; and we also do it in prophecy. So that’s why the word “consistent” is so big, because all aspects of Christendom use this method somewhere or else they’ll be full-fledged liberals. I mean, they all believe Jesus rose from the dead, you’ve got to apply a literal method to believe that the Bible teaches that. What we’re doing is we’re applying it consistently and so Charles Ryrie, when he describes dispensationalism and it’s bare bones, the first thing he mentions is the plain, normal, or literal, grammatical, historical method of interpretation, consistently applied. 19:18

(2) Which reveals… You see the order here? It reveals something. You start using this method and you’re going to come to a conclusion that the Bible is revealing that the church and Israel are distinct. God has separate programs for Israel and the church. Now, we don’t come to the Bible and say, gosh! I think it’s really neat that God has separate programs for Israel and the church, let me go to the Bible and try to read it in here somewhere. You start with the right method of interpretation and as you start to consistently apply it, you learn that the church is the church and Israel is Israel and never shall the two trains meet; and then the third final ingredient of dispensational theology is number three and that’s why I’m bringing this up in this particular verse dealing with the glory of God. (3) God’s overall purpose in history is to bring glory to Himself. So that’s how you evaluate any decision that you make in life. You know, everybody wants a specific, you know, kind of vision or liver quiver, you know, shall I take this job? or Shall I take that job? Shall I live in this state? Shall I live in that state? You can make a lot of decisions based on what you think is going to glorify God the most, cause that’s your purpose. That’s why you exist and at this point, the Westminster confession, you know, has it right, the chief end of man, in other words, man’s ultimate purpose: Why we are here. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That’s why you were created and because you were created to do that, you’re really not going to be fulfilled doing anything else and whoever you are in life, you have to constantly ask yourself, is this glorifying God? or is it not glorifying God? Cause that’s your purpose. God has equipped us all different, made us all different, different gifts, skills but wherever you are, family, wherever you live, your purpose in life is to glorify God and the tragedy is most people live their whole lives without ever entering the purpose for which they were created. They’re kind of too busy with their own plans rather than glorifying God. So that’s what makes a person a dispensationalist. Sine qua non, bare basics, consistent normal method of interpretation which yields an Israel-Church distinction, separate programs for Israel and the church and then you start to see that God’s overall purpose in human history and in all of history is to glorify Himself. So we can put it this way:

Doxological Purpose

  1. God’s ultimate purpose for the ages is to glorify Himself.  Scripture is not human-centered, as though salvation were the principle point, but God-centered, because His glory is at the center.
  2. The glory of God is the primary principle that unifies all dispensations, the program of salvation being just one of the means by which God glorifies Himself.  Each successive revelation of God’s plan for the ages, as well as His dealing with the elect, non-elect, angels, and nations all manifest His glory.

Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Charles Ryrie, p. 94

God’s ultimate purpose for the ages is to glorify Himself.  Scripture is not human-centered, as though salvation were the principal point, but God-centered, because His glory is at the center… This is more statements from Charles Ryrie… The glory of God is the primary principle that unifies all dispensations… The different ages in the Bible… the program of salvation being just one of the means by which God glorifies Himself.  Each successive revelation of God’s plan for the ages, as well as His dealing with the elect, non-elect, angels… See the angels there? How would you handle the angels if you think the primary purpose of God is salvation? When the plan of salvation is not even open to the angels. So obviously the plan of God and the purpose of God has to be broader than just salvation… Angels and nations all manifest His glory… 23:53

This is from Dr. Mike Stallard, who is, I think, now with the Friends of Israel. He has a chart, it’s like a triangle and you kind of work your way up through one edge there and it’s all of the things that God has done in creation to glorify Himself.

So he has there, with the proper Bible references, the creation of the world, the creation of the nations, the creation of Israel and then finally you get to Acts, 2 and you have the creation of the church; and then you kind of go up the other side of the triangle and it’s all of the things that God has done in redemption to glorify Himself. So we have: the redemption of creation in the Bible, the judgment of the nations, the restoration of Israel, the rapture of the church. So here is all of the things that God did in creation, here’s all of the things going on the other side of the triangle that God did in redemption; and what is it at the top of the whole thing? It’s His glory. Everything He does is designed to glorify Himself and so he (Stallard) has on here, God’s plans for the angels, God’s plan for the salvation of individual men, God’s plan for the lost, all vital programs, but they all contribute to one central idea, which is the ultimate glory of God, which is huge in Scripture and you’re seeing it there in verse 23 (Ezek 36:23). In fact, in the book of Isaiah chapter 42, and verse 8 (Isa 42:8) this is what God says: I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to idols… And if you want to have a life that God blesses, particularly in ministry, I think I got this from Billy Graham if I remember right, don’t touch the three Gs. The moment you touch one of the three G’s, your career is going to be short circuited really fast and I know many, many ministers that have fallen and it always relates to they touched one of the three G’s. 26:37

So what are the three G’s? (1) Don’t touch the gold, embezzling money and all that stuff, (2) Don’t touch the girls, sexual immorality, all that kind of thing; and then (3) and this probably is the most important of the three, Don’t touch the glory, because the moment you touch the glory, is the moment God says, I’m not going to share my glory with anybody. That is why when you have the selection of elders in the church, which I think we’re getting ready to do something like that a few weeks down the road, it says in 1st Timothy, 3, I believe it’s around verse 6 (1 Tim 3:6) that an elder or an overseer must not be a novice. In other words, he must not be a new convert. Lest he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Oh! So it’s referring back to an example of Satan and what was the example of Satan? Satan, Isaiah, 14, 12 through 15 (Isa 14:12-15), Ezekiel, 28, 12 through 17 (Ezek 28:12-17), touched the glory. In fact, the Isaiah passage says he wanted to raise himself above the clouds and if you study clouds imagery throughout the Bible, it’s not a meteorology lesson. The clouds typically refer to the glory of God. That was Satan’s undoing. He wanted to bask in, he wanted some of it to reflect upon him, the glory of God and that’s what led to his fall; and if you put a new convert or a novice into a position of leadership in the church Paul says the exact same thing is going to happen. God may use them in some way and they might, you know, want a little bit of the adulation and so they touch the glory and consequently they begin to fall; and just do a study of people that you know. Public names, non-public names, people that are sidelined. It’s always these three things. I mean, every single time it’s one, two or three. I hear about another tragedy or casualty in the ministry and I just say to myself, alright! Which G was it? And every time I hear a story I could put every single one of these guys in one of those categories and the third is the worst. You touch the glory, you’re interfering with God’s purpose in human history; and so when God uses you and He will, don’t get too comfortable in the limelight. You know, if God uses you to bless someone else, just say well praise the Lord. If God can use a donkey, I guess you can use me. You know, that’s the right attitude instead of, you know, Gee, you know, God you’re so lucky I’m on your side. I mean, once you start thinking like that, it’s just time before you get removed from whatever it is you were doing. 30:05

So that is what a dispensationalist is and that’s why verse 23 (Ezek 36:23) is talking about the vindication of God’s holy name. That’s why He’s gathering Israel in the last days, it’s for His name; and then you go to Ezekiel, 36, verses 24 through 28 (Ezek 36:24-28) where it says: For I will take you… Israel… from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God… Now, I have many, many people telling me today that the modern state of Israel has nothing to do with Ezekiel, 36 and the reason I say that is they are a bunch of unbelievers over there. The Jewish nation is an unsaved nation, nationally I’m talking about. So, how could God be at work in an unsaved nation? But look at the order, it’s so obvious when you look at it. For I will take you from the nations and gather you from the lands and bring you into your own land. That’s verse 24 (Ezek 36:24), then you go to verse 25 (Ezek 36:24) and it says, then… Isn’t that a sequence? Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean… talking about the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s so obvious when you look at this that this is a twofold regathering. They come back in unbelief, verse 24, which God has caused, then He regenerates them, verse 25. So that basically is the answer to this idea that Israel is not a work of God, because they are a bunch of unbelievers over there. It’s very clear that God recycles them in unbelief first and regenerates them second. That’s what the word “Then” in verse 25 means. Now, when this is illustrated in Ezekiel, 37 you’ll see the exact same thing. This is illustrated with the valley of dry bones, where the bones will come together and it will specifically say but there was no breath in the body. The breath or the Ruah in the body is the Holy Spirit and the breath in the body comes into existence subsequent to, after the bones have been re-gathered. So Ezekiel, 37 is talking about a two phase work. Ezekiel, 36 is talking about a two phase work. It’s just at Ezekiel, 37 illustrates the two phase work in Ezekiel, 36. 33:43

I’m very much indebted to Dr. Randal Price for this chart here, because it describes these two works.

The first is the present or first re-gathering of Israel, which is what we’re seeing happen now. It’s the miracle on the Mediterranean. It’s a modern day work of God and our generation is privileged to see it and then, in the right hand column is to be compared to the permanent second re-gathering. So in the first one, they returned to part of the land, right now only a fraction of what God promised to Abram. But when it’s all said and done, when they’re in faith at the end of the tribulation period, they’ll occupy all the land that God has sworn to Abram. Currently, they’re returning in unbelief, but by the time you get to the end of the tribulation period, they will return in faith. They’re restored to the land only in the present re-gathering, but when it’s all said and done at the end of the tribulation period, they will not just be restored to the land, they will be restored to the Lord. The current re-gathering of the Jews is setting the stage for the tribulation period. It’s setting the stage for the discipline that the nation is going to experience during those seven years. But when God re-gathers them at the end of the tribulation period it is not setting the stage for discipline, it is setting the stage for the millennial kingdom. This is how you can support the modern state of Israel, even though the modern state of Israel is a Christ rejecting nation. You look at it in the sense that it’s just phase one. Phase one is important cause unless you have phase one, you can’t have phase two. But there’s a subsequent phase coming. I’ll show you later on when we get into Ezekiel, 37 that it’s the same thing that God does in Eden in the creation of the first man, where there was no breath in the body. So God did a twofold work bringing Adam into existence. God is doing a twofold work bringing Israel into existence and guess where we live? We live right between the two re-gatherings. I mean, what a privilege to live at this time in history, as this is happening. Back to verse 24 (Ezek 36:24): For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into someone else’s land… Is that what it says? See, when you watch CNN and MSNBC, they’ll tell you that, that the Jews are there in someone else’s land, they stole it from someone else. That’s not what God says. God says, when I re-gather them, I’m going to bring them back into their own land; and this explains Christ’s whole conversation with Nicodemus, the lead teacher, the lead Pharisee in the time of Christ, the born again discussion. I call it the Nick at Night discourse, where Nicodemus comes at night, cause he doesn’t want, you know, his reputation to get too sullied, you know, he doesn’t want to be publicly identified with Jesus, but Jesus is doing all these miracles and Nicodemus says, you must be of God or these miracles wouldn’t follow you; and that’s when Jesus says to Nicodemus, and you know the passage, John, 3, verse 5 (John 3:5): Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…. In the words, you’ve got to have a physical birth and you’ve got to have a spiritual birth or you can’t enter my kingdom. Now, why would he say that? He’s referring to this process right here. Nicodemus, who’s wrapped up in all the tradition and not the scripture, doesn’t really know what Jesus is talking about because he says there in John, 3, verse 9 (John 3:9): Nicodemus responded and said to Him, How can these things be?… You know, how can a man be born when he’s old? And did you catch Christ’s answer in John, 3, verse 10 (John 3:10)?  Jesus answered and said to him, You are the teacher of Israel, and you do not understand these things?… Notice the definite article in front of “teacher”, you’re not a teacher, you’re the teacher. You’re like the lead teacher of the whole nation in terms of the religious thinking of the nation and you don’t understand something this basic? And obviously, Christ is directing Nicodemus back to Ezekiel, 36. Nicodemus should’ve known this. But Nicodemus, like most Pharisees, were wrapped up not in the Scripture, they were wrapped up in their traditions and so the Scripture was kind of a footnote. So when Jesus talks about the new birth and Nicodemus is marveling about it, how can this be? It’s like…  Have you ever read your Bible buddy? Hey dude! Read your Bible, have you read Ezekiel, 36? And that’s the reason for Christ’s sort of consternation. 39:52

So what is going on in Ezekiel, 36 is the fulfillment of the New Covenant. God through Abram promised three things in the Abrahamic Covenant: Land, Seed and Blessing.

The blessing is amplified in the New Covenant, which is a covenant that God specifically made with Israel, where He would regenerate them; and you find its clearest expression in Jeremiah, 31, verses 31 through 34 (Jer 31:31-34), when God through Jeremiah says: Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Jacob, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the LORD… I gave them the ten commandments and they broke every single one of them. Well, what’s the problem then? The problem is the ten commandments were exterior to them, outside of them. In the New Covenant, God says, I’m going to take my ten commandments, I’m going to put them in your hearts through regeneration. So you’re going to have… Israel, nationally, is going to have an internal compulsion to obey God. This is what the work of regeneration does, that the system of religiosity cannot do. The system of religiosity, the only thing it can do is get the flesh to try harder. You see, the ten commandments on the wall… I was raised in an Anglican’s environment and we had to memorize the ten commandments. They taught us nothing about regeneration and so, we had to, in Sunday school, you know, memorize and give back to them, verbally, the ten commandments and every time you walked into that Sunday school room as a little kid, you see the ten commandments on the wall and so here I am, trying and trying and trying throughout my life to keep those ten commandments. Not understanding the work of regeneration, where God through regeneration puts the ten commandments inside of you. That’s what’s promised here in the New Covenant. This is why Israel broke the Mosaic Covenant. But when the New Covenant is in effect, they won’t be breaking it anymore. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put My law… Where? On their Sunday School room! No… within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more… You have to understand what’s being predicted here is national regeneration. By the time you get to the end of the tribulation period, every living Jew, every living Hebrew, every physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be born again. 43:37

Now, there’s been great revivals throughout church history but nothing like this. I know of no revival where every single member of a whole country is saved. I know of no revival over every single member of a city is saved and God forbid, in some places it’s hard pressed to find every member of the church is saved. But this is something that is just going to sweep the nation; it’s going to happen cause God said it’s going to happen and Ezekiel, 36, is talking about this. So Dr. Charles Dyer puts it this way, he says:

Charles H. Dyer – Old Testament Explorer, p. 690.

“Ezekiel 36 parallels the New Covenant God promised to Israel and Judah in Jeremiah 31. This covenant includes at least three specific elements: (a) restoration to the land (Ezek. 36:24; Jer. 31:27–29), (b) forgiveness of sin (Ezek. 36:25; Jer. 31:34), and (c) the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit (Ezek. 36:26–27; Jer. 31:33).”

Ezekiel 36… Which we’re studying… parallels the New Covenant God promised to Israel and Judah in Jeremiah, 31. The covenant includes at least three specific elements: (a) the restoration to the land… Which is a wonderful thing. But that’s just the front porch. I mean, God has a lot more in mind for the nation of Israel other than just bringing the Jews into the land… (b) the forgiveness of sins… See the verses he’s quoting there? Ezekiel, 36 and Jeremiah, 31, the New Covenant; and (c ) the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit… And as you slip down to verse 29 of Ezekiel, 36 (Ezek 36:29), it says: Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you… Why would it talk about agricultural prosperity? In fact, go back to verse 8 (Ezek 36:8), if you could: But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will come soon… It keeps talking about agricultural prosperity. Why does He keep talking about agricultural prosperity? Cause that’s what Deuteronomy, 28 says, verses 1 through 14 in the cycles of discipline and blessing. God told Israel in the Mosaic Covenant, if you step out of line, there’s going to be discipline. If you’re obedient to me, then there’s going to be blessings. You’re going to go out and fight your wars and you’re going to win every single one of them. You are going to lend and you’re not going to borrow and your crops are going to reap a harvest. That’s why Ezekiel is mentioning agricultural prosperity, because at this point in human history, Israel will obey God. Why is she obeying God? Because God has fulfilled His word in and through Israel to give them the New Covenant. There’s something inside of them now, giving them a compulsion to obey, not just a legal code on the outside which just gets the flesh to try harder and successively and progressively fail. 47:00

See, this is all a type of what a human being needs. I mean, I understand we’re not Israel, we’re the church, got it, but this is like a big deal, because you can sit in church your whole life and never understand this. I was in a church until the age of 16 with rituals, ordinances, I was an acolyte, which is another way of saying an altar boy in the church, had the ten commandments memorized, they gave me a big silver cross for perfect Sunday school attendance and I didn’t know the first thing about the new birth. It wasn’t until I went to a home Bible study in the spring of the 1983 that I heard the first time “born again”. I didn’t even know what that meant and the teacher, bless his heart, was teaching out of John, 3 about the new birth; and I guess he could see this sort of quizzical look on my 16 year old face and he used that Scripture to lead me into a saving relationship with Jesus. So this may seem like archaic stuff, but if you miss this point, you don’t even understand what Christianity is. This is why the world is staying away from Christianity, because they think it’s just another system of rituals to get the flesh to try harder and it’s not that, it’s a revolution from within where God changes a person from the inside out through the new birth, the impartation of divine life which is what regeneration is. In fact, the Greek is Pauline Genesia. You recognize Genesia from Genesis, beginning. Pauline is an adverb meaning again. The word “regeneration” is only used twice in the New Testament, that’s what the word is, beginning again, a new birth; and this is what is promised for Israel in the last days and the discussion of prosperity continues there in verse 30 (Ezek 36:30): I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations… It’s all about crops and prosperity and agriculture, because that’s what God said in the Mosaic Covenant. Once you obey Me, there’s going to be blessings that are so big, they’re going to chase you down the street. I mean, you won’t even have enough room for the crops and the agricultural prosperity that I’m going to bring to this nation. The only thing missing is obedience and we’re going to fix the obedience problem by putting my laws inside of you. 50:07

Look at verse 31 (Ezek 36:31): Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves… See, everybody today is talking about self-loathing. You know, you’ve got to apologize for being a member of a certain race, you’re the oppressive race. You know, you’ve got to self loathe. I have a seminary professor, very sadly, that gets up in front of his class at a well-known school. I won’t call out the name of it. But he gets up in front of his class every single semester and he apologizes for being a white male. That’s how he starts his class, critical race theory, self-loathing. Everybody’s into this self-loathing; and it’s interesting God has His advantage point of self-loathing. In other words, when I regenerate you, you’re going to hate the way you used to be. You’re going to say, you know, the way I used to act, I don’t even know why I acted that way, cause I’m so different now, because of an internal transformation. There’s going to be an internal motivation to obey. Now, I will warn you about one thing, the doctrine of Calvinism will teach people from these verses, that God regenerates you so that you can believe. Regeneration precedes faith. They will teach that faith is a gift and they have such a distorted view on depravity, that they think a human being, even when that human being comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, cannot believe. So God has to regenerate a person, so that they can believe. God has to give someone the gift of faith and the Calvinists will almost foam at the mouth, quoting Ezekiel, 36, because in their minds, they think it teaches that God does the regenerating whether you want it or not; and by the way, in Calvinism who gets the gift of faith? Well, you get it if you’re one of the elect. If you’re one of the small fraction of people that God has chosen to be saved, then you get regenerated so you can believe. What about everyone else? Well, the rest of them is to God’s glory that they all go to hell. That’s why Dave Hunt wrote a book against Calvinism called “What love is this?”. I mean, is this God? Does He create people with no choice at all? Just to spend eternity in hell? So He can be glorified? How do you juxtapose that with the long suffering of God? The patience of God, the mercy of God. So you’ll get people that will quote and even a lot of Calvinistic literature that I’ve read, going all the way back to the Westminster confession in their understanding of regeneration preceding faith they quote Ezekiel, 36. They don’t quote it because of Israel, they quote it because I think it supports faith as a gift. Regeneration precedes faith and I just want to give you the other side of the story and you’ll find that in Matthew, 23 very end the chapter, verse 39 (Matt 23:39), when you construct a doctrine, you have to look at everything the Bible says on that issue, not just a passage. If I only had Ezekiel, 36 to work with, yeah, there’s a case to be made that regeneration precedes faith, but look at what Jesus says about the conversion of Israel at the end of Matthew, 23. 54:23

Look at verse 37 (Matt 23:37): Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings… In other words, this is what Jesus wanted to do for Israel when He came the first time. What does the end of verse 37 say?… And you… It doesn’t say you were unable. It says you were what?… You were unwilling… You made a choice. You, 1st Century Israel, made a choice to reject me and then it says verse 38 (Matt 23:38): Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!… Covenant curses in the form of national discipline are now coming upon Israel and then Jesus in verse 39 (Matt 23:39) says: For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me… Is that where the verse stops? There’s a word “until” there, isn’t there? There’s a condition as Jesus is speaking to the nation. For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until… You should underline “until” in your Bible, very important… Until you… Who’s the you? Israel… Until you say, BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!… Which is Psalm, 118, verse 26 (Psalm 118:26) which is a messianic song. What He is saying is, I’m not going to regenerate this nation until you first make a decision to trust me. So when you factor in Matthew, 23, verse 39 with Ezekiel, 36, which Calvinistic literature will not do, you can see that the Bible does not teach regeneration precedes faith. It does not teach that faith is a gift. What it teaches is what’s holding up everything that we’re studying here in Ezekiel, 36 is a decision that the nation has to make. Volition is part of something that God uses to carry out his program; and so if you’re going to rant and rave about Calvinism, regeneration precedes faith, and only look at Ezekiel, 36, you’ve got an imbalanced doctrine, you’ve got a factor in the choice the nation must make, as given at the end of Matthew, 23 and then, you look down at verse 32 (Ezek 36:32), look at this God says it again: I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Lord GOD, let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel!… When this final re-gathering and regeneration takes place and all is said and done and you, through volition, have received me… Free will. Who’s going to get the glory? God says I’m going to get the glory. So you notice that as God deals with man, man is not like a puppet on a string. God respects volition. God respects free will. If He didn’t He would be disrespecting how He’s manufactured us, as image bearers. An image bearer of God means, even in our fallen state, if you want to make a decision against Jesus Christ and die in that state, God says, I respect your decision, I won’t overrule you. If I overrule you, I will be disrespecting how I made you. So, when the nation of Israel through volition, and God is going to put them through a lot to get them to this point of decision, when they make the right decision, and they will, prophetically, but through volition, you’re going to have a nation in all of its land, as promised in Genesis, 15, every single person in the nation will be regenerated and the human race and the angelic kingdom  are just going to just explode in praise to God, as His plan has now been executed to precision. So ultimately the whole thing is to glorify Him and to glorify His name. This is reminiscent of verse 22 that we studied a little earlier, where God said, it is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act but for My holy name. 59:40

You look at verse 33 of chapter 36 (Ezek 36:33) and it says: Thus says the Lord GOD… Ah!, there’s our literary outline, we’re starting a new section. That’s the same language used to cover the section that we just emerged from, verse 22 and that same literary formula is used in verse 37 to start a new section. So, Gee, Andy, we really like all your cool outlines of Bible chapters. Well, the great secret of it is: It’s not my outline. It’s God’s outline, I’m just paying attention to what He says in His book; and so, since that’s a new section, I think we’ll stop now and we’re going to let everybody out one minute early, which never happens at this church.

So, let ‘s pray. Father, we are grateful for Ezekiel, 36 and what it teaches us. Make us good stewards of these truths this week. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people say, Amen. Happy intermission.