Opinions Are Divided on Israel

Reinhold Federolf

What the dry bones in Ezekiel 37 and Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38—39 communicate about present-day Israel.

What do we do when we discover Bible prophecies about Israel as a people that haven’t yet been fulfilled? Do we assert that they must have already been fulfilled at some point? Or that they shouldn’t be taken literally but symbolically, reinterpreting them to apply the “spiritual truth” they contain to the reality of today’s Church? And yet, isn’t that precisely what Israel did with the messianic promises? The prophecies concerning the Lamb of God—who would be slain for the sins of mankind—were simply ignored or misunderstood, although His cause and manner of death are described down to the smallest detail (Is 53; Ps 22). The humble, righteous, redeeming, servant King, who was to enter on a donkey (Zech 9:9), was replaced by the glorious and victorious Messiah. He was to appear on the clouds of heaven and, most importantly, would eradicate social injustices and free Israel from the yoke of the Romans. He would bring the peace Israel was longing for. Everything was being seen purely in terms of the earthly and human. As a result, Israel (and especially its religious leadership) was caught in a tragic dead-end. If we consciously make compromises regarding Bible prophecy, something similar could happen to us: being overwhelmed by unexpected events. Thus, we must point out an unequivocal third possibility ... a literal, tangible, and yet future fulfillment of these biblical promises.

In Ezekiel’s impressive chapters 37—39, we’re confronted with the interesting description of an end-time scenario.

Why an “end-time” scenario?
“After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land … In the latter days I will bring you against my land” (Ezek 38:8, 16).

This passage is a prophetic look into the last days and the related history of Israel.

How do we know that Gog’s hostile invasion (Ezek 38:2) hasn’t occurred yet?

We’ve discerned this through four “side effects” mentioned in chapter 39: “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years” (v. 9). For seven years, Israel won’t have to deal with energy shortages at all; that’s how long the supply of Gog’s enemy armies will last. 

Verse 12: “For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land.” Disposing of the corpses will take more than half a year. (And today, we have trucks and backhoe loaders!) In verses 15-16, we find more information that also has never been fulfilled in Israel’s history. The immense mass grave will confer a new name upon a designated section of the valley, a gorge east of the Dead Sea: “the Valley of Hamon-Gog.” At this time, there will also be a nearby city named Hamonah. There is neither a “Valley of Hamon-Gog” nor a city of “Hamonah” in Israel today, leading us to the logical conclusion that the invasion of Gog from Magog hasn’t yet happened!

How are the people of Israel described?
In Ezekiel 37, we see an entire valley of human skeletal fragments suddenly become a scene of divine intervention. Gradually, almost like an anatomy lesson, all these wildly dispersed pieces fit themselves together properly, causing a large crowd of the revived to stand there. So that we don’t simply interpret and apply this in a purely evangelistic manner, verse 11 explains for the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.”

Who are the graves?
The graves (vv. 12-13) from which the people come out and are joined together are the most diverse peoples of this world, because verse 21 provides another piece of our puzzle: “Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.”

Isn’t it terrible and shocking for someone to be called a grave? Though they were once strongholds of Christianity, Europe and North America in particular are crumbling into morbid decadence; on a collision course with God, due to opposing the Bible and scorning Christian values. Committed Christians are increasingly branded as intolerant preachers of hate, messed-up fundamentalists, and enemies of democracy and human rights. It may not be long until the Bible is banned as discriminatory and destructive reading material.

In this light, we can understand why God classifies people as graves. Without Him, only the wages of sin remain—death. That is why the godless people are called graves. Jesus prepared His disciples: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).

The Islamists’ hatred of Christians (and Jews) is obvious. But that, in and of itself, is not the problem. Today, we’re becoming aware of an increasing global opposition to genuine Christianity, just as Jesus foretold.

Since the three chapters of Ezekiel under discussion belong together, this return of Israel also occurs during the end times. It is easily recognizable in Ezekiel 38:8, where Gog’s motivation is illuminated: “After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel … Its people were brought out from the peoples ...”

So, this Gog will be standing against a people who have been reunited from among many peoples worldwide. It had escaped the sword (destruction), and had only a short time before crying out from the depths of despair, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off” (Ezek 37:11). In Ezekiel’s valley of bones, we hear the Jews (Israel) cry out in the face of extermination, “Our hope is gone; we’re being annihilated!”

However, God’s revelation through Ezekiel’s vision assures the reader that, despite the horrific experience, the Jews will escape the sword, survive as a people, and return to their land. Keeping Israel’s recent history in mind, can we still be in doubt of the Bible’s late-breaking prophecy? Ezekiel’s promises are being fulfilled!

News from Israel - 03/2024

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