Ezekiel 36-37 • The Signs of the Times


There are generally 2 categories of prophecy: Plain and obscure. This isn’t a criticism of the Word as much as it is about how we as humans focus our attention on things. “Plain” prophecy states in clear, undisputed terms an event that will happen, such as “I will return Israel from all the nations.” An example of “obscure” prophecy is “the mark of the beast is 666.” Both types of prophecy will come true but we tend to focus on the more mysterious “obscure” category than the plain indicators God has given. Have you noticed that the “obscure” type seems to be the focal point of most controversies and the most widely disagreed upon?

I believe the “obscure” category represents things which will reveal themselves almost at the moment they occur, often without a lot of warning time in which to digest their significance. The “plain” category are the more “dull” and obvious activities by which, I’ve come to believe, are the ones which not only give us the biggest lead time in terms of warning, but are the very things which will open our eyes to the fulfillment of the more difficult and mysterious prophecies as they’re finally identified and fulfilled.

Ezekiel 36 & 37 provide the general framework by which all other End Times prophecy must fit together correctly in order to be fully and completely understood. If they deviate in the least respect from this framework it does not mean it was not an act of God’s will, but that it was not yet the fulfillment of His specific prophecy. For instance, at least twice there have been sacrileges committed in the Holy of Holies; but because they didn’t occur in the right context under all God’s prescribed conditions, we know that there is still to come the final abomination of desolation that will mark the End Times.

Read 36:1-3

Q: The pronoun “you” that God is using in this passage refers to whom?

A: To the physical land of Israel.

Q: In v.2, who believes the land has finally come into their possession?

A: The nations around Israel.

Q: And why would they think the land can become theirs now? Is it simply because Israel’s been conquered?

A: The nations around Israel are all familial relations who have also had more or less successful spiritual relationships with God at one time or another. They know that to possess the land that Israel must turn her back on God and experience spiritual separation, and then in turn physical separation of the land will ensue. These nations understand this is all, in reality, a spiritual issue as to whether or not Israel follows God.

Read 36:4-7

Q: So what issue is God making with the nations around Israel?

A: That their joy in Israel’s spiritual downfall in order to get the land is also sin. If they lived by the 2nd greatest commandment there would be no joy in Israel’s downfall. Their rejoicing in Israel’s spiritual downfall is, in itself, their own spiritual downfall.

Read 36:8-9

Q: What is the biggest contrast of this passage from the many times elsewhere in Ezekiel where God has uttered similar words?

A: Every other time God has stated, “I am against you”; this is the first occurrence of “I am for you.”

Point: Is everyone aware of how much the physical landscape of Palestine has changed since 1948, being transformed from barren desert into a garden?

Read 36:10-12

Q: To whom is God speaking as He promises restoration?

A: To the land. God is promising that what will happen will happen in that specific place. Note the sequence of the conversation in v.3-12 God has with the land:

Israel will be restored to its original position as heirs. In other words, there is a SPIRITUAL connection between Israel and God of which the land is a physical manifestation or witness thereof.

Read 36:16-21

Q: So if prosperity in the land was a spiritual witness of God through Israel, what was Israel’s removal from the land?

A: A BAD spiritual witness of God.

Q: So if Israel is PHYSICALLY restored to the land, will that be the good, spiritual witness God desires?

A: Not in and of itself. It will have to be accompanied by spiritual revival, a return to HIM. The evidence is in the condition of the heart.

Read 36:22-23

Q: So the real sign or work is not just physical restoration by itself. What must it be combined with?

A: Clear demonstrations of the holiness and sovereignty of God.

Q: So is the re-gathering of Israel in 1948 (and that continues to this day) enough in and of itself?

A: No, because the real sign is spiritual awakening, not just physical re-occupation.

Read 36:24-28

Q: So the sprinkling of clean water on them in v.25 could be compared to what?

A: Baptism in Christ.

Q: The giving of a new heart described in v.26 could be compared to what?

A: Salvation in Christ.

Q: The personal indwelling of the Spirit in v.27 could be compared to what?

A: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a deposit of our guarantee in Christ.

Q: And does v.28 state that Israel becomes His people again simply because they’ve re-occupied the land?

A: No. They don’t become His people again until they return to God through Christ.

Read 36:29-32

Q: What does this spiritual renewal lead to?

A: The opening of Israel’s eyes to their behavior and the true work of God.

Read 36:33-38

Q: We focus on all these wonderful things that will happen but what is the “trigger” or event that will signal the actual fulfillment of all these things?

A: In v.33, “….On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities…”

Point: The real sign isn’t possessing the land but possessing the Lord.

Read 37:1-14

Q: Was it enough to just restore the flesh and sinews and physical bodies to the bones?

A: No, they were merely transformed from bones into corpses. They are still dead.

Q: When were they actually made alive and therefore the resurrection completed from death to life?

A: When the breath of life was breathed into them.

Point: First physical re-gathering to the land–the equivalent of restoring the bones to corpses–then spiritual awakening–the breath of life that completes the work of bringing Israel back to life. Right now, at this point in prophetic history, Israel is just a bunch of corpses. The sign we’re waiting for that we can all plainly see is their spiritual revival, a wholesale commitment to accepting Jesus as the Messiah.

Overall Application

Q: What is the point of knowing and even witnessing these events for those that already believe in Christ? What exactly are we supposed to do with this information?

A: It’s supposed to change our behavior. The earlier we become aware the “signs of the times” the sooner we’re to live according to this knowledge. Some ways this should affect us: