A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Some form of the phrase “then you will know that I am the Lord” appears in the Book of Ezekiel 50 times. Prior to the Babylonian captivity (605-535 BC) the Lord used it most often in the context of judgment, whether against Israel’s leaders (Ezekiel 11:10), the nation as a whole (Ezekiel 12:20) or its enemies (Ezek 25-35).
The Lord had given the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar authority over the whole world (Daniel 2:36-38) to be His agency for judgment (Jeremiah 25:8-9). This action began the period of time known as Gentile Dominion that continues to this day and will not be fully concluded until the 2nd Coming. He ordered Israel and all its neighbors to either surrender to Nebuchadnezzar or be destroyed (Jeremiah 27:1-8).
The Lord had determined to punish Israel and all the surrounding nations and make His existence known to all people, even if it took destroying them to do so. In some cases that’s exactly what happened. By the time Nebuchadnezzar was finished, Israel had gone into captivity, Tyre and Sidon (Lebanon) had been laid waste, Egypt had been scattered, and Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia no longer existed.
Israel was punished for practicing idolatry. The surrounding nations were punished for celebrating Israel’s punishment. The Lord felt the need to remind all of them who was God and who was not.
That Was Then, This Is Now
But beginning in Ezekiel 36, after Nebuchadnezzar had taken the Jews to Babylon and burned Jerusalem to the ground, the Lord began using the phrase in a different way. He said the restoration of Israel in the latter days would be the way He would show both Israel and the nations of our day that He is the Lord.
Although the Lord’s promise of restoration was partially fulfilled during the time between Israel’s return from Babylon and the Lord’s first coming, the language in chapters 36 and following make it clear Ezekiel was speaking of the time preceding the Second Coming. Here are some examples.
Speaking to the mountains of Israel, the Lord said. “No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezek. 36:15).
Obviously Israel fell to the Romans after their return from Babylon.
‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms” (Ezekiel 37: 21-22).
During the time of their captivity the Jews were held in Babylon, and they were the ones who resettled the land afterward. There was no official regathering from all the nations such as Ezekiel prophesied will take place after the Gog Magog battle (Ezekiel 39:28).
Also, prior to the first coming the promised land had been divided among various members of the Herod family and Rome. It was not a single entity with a single king.
Here’s How You Will Know
Each step along the way to Israel’s complete restoration is meant to be a sign to show both Israel and the nations that God is the Lord. Each of these signs is identified by some form of the phrase “You will know that I am the Lord” and there are ten of them.
In effect He was saying, “You will know that I am the Lord,
When I settle people in the land and they become fruitful and prosperous (Ezekiel 36:11).
When I show Myself holy through Israel before the eyes of the nations (Ezekiel 36:23).
When I have rebuilt what was destroyed and replanted what was desolate (Ezekiel 36:36).
When I fill the rebuilt cities with people (Ezekiel 36:38).
When I bring back to life a people long dead (Ezekiel 37:6).
When I open their graves and bring My people up from them (Ezekiel 37:13).
When I put My spirit in them and settle them in their own land (Ezekiel 37:14).
When My sanctuary stands among them forever (Ezekiel 37:28).
When I defeat the Gog Magog coalition (Ezekiel 38:23).
When I have finished calling My people back to Israel, not leaving any behind” (Ezekiel 39:28).
Here’s How It All Began
The desire for a Jewish homeland was awakened in the hearts of Jewish people toward the end of the 19th Century with the First Zionist Congress organized by Theodor Herzl in 1897. The 1917 Balfour declaration made Great Britain’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland official. Then in 1948 the United Nations declared Israel to be a sovereign nation.
During this 50 year interim Jewish people from all over the world had been coming to Israel to help reclaim the promised land. Barren land was made fertile and malaria infested swamps were drained and cultivated. Since then cities have been rebuilt, more desolate land reclaimed, millions of trees planted, and what had been largely wasteland has been made into some of the most productive farmland on the planet. People have come to fill the cities and a nation long considered to be dead has been brought back to life and resettled in its historic lands after an absence of nearly 2,000 years.
This was the beginning of God’s plan to reveal Himself to Israel and the nations in the end times. It had first been foretold in a prophecy that was ancient even in Ezekiel’s time. Centuries earlier, Moses told the Israelites,
Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers (Deut. 30:4-5).
And then the Lord had Ezekiel tell the people,
It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone (Ezekiel 36:22).
Though scoffers continue to deny it, the rebirth of Israel is a conspicuous fulfillment of prophecy. It’s a sure sign that the end of the age is upon us because to one extent or another these ten signs, intended by God to show Israel and the nations that He is the Lord, are all evident today. Obviously they are not in chronological order, but are listed as they appear in the Book of Ezekiel. Some are already fulfilled and others won’t be completely fulfilled until the Second Coming, but all are somewhere in the process of fulfillment as you read this.
Ten is one of the perfect numbers and signifies the perfection of divine order. These ten signs are the Lord’s way of saying, “Here is everything that’s necessary for Israel and the nations to know that I am the Lord.” Are you getting the message? You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 04-30-11