Most anytime someone asks a question; they already have an answer in their head. What they are trying to do is validate the understanding they have; challenge the information they are holding on to, or to make you look foolish when they ask you the answer to their theoretical question. This last aspect comes into play as some Bible study leader asks you a vague question, which could have multiple answers depending on the scenario and context. You, as I have, stare back at the person asking, for what seems like an eternity but in reality is only about three to five seconds, while you debate with yourself about the validity of the first thought that ran through your head. The only legitimate reason you have for such internal debate is that the answer came so quickly. There are other reasons that you did not give your answer, such as, internal doubts and not wanting to be wrong.
[I started this on a recent Sunday morning before we went to church. That was a mistake as I dug up some painful memories of rejection. To be honest sharing this information with you just about ruined my entire day. I hope you gain something from it. Oz]
I have some added baggage that I have to sort through when analyzing a potential answer that I like to call the voices in my head. As an example, one of them sounds like my father, who dismissed anything I said. In one drastic incident, we were at a church picnic with family friends. My dad’s friend had a son my age, and we were playing hide-and-seek in a rather well-manicured storm drain. Some girl wanted to play, and we ignored her, so she decided to ruin the game by telling the one seeking where you were hiding. We called it quits and went to the park bathroom to wash up for lunch. At this point that girls big brother (he might as well have been six foot tall because all I remember was looking up at him,) came into the bathroom, said you punched my sister and then he hit me in the face. For this injustice against me, I was put in the hot car for a time frame I cannot remember, merely for being the victim, although that is not what Dad said as he was sure I had initiated this evil and probably deserved a punch in the face. I am not sure what motivated my father’s actions that day, except that I learned that this was the way his father did things. Years later when I challenged him over this behavior, his response was, get over it. While the hatred is gone because I forgave him, aspects of this moment in time, along with others, still haunt me over fifty years later.
You noticed that I mentioned the voices in my head. Give me a break, you all have them too, and one of them sounds like your mother. But the obvious factor to me is that these voices cause you mistrust yourself. Sadly, once you come to realize the depth of the Holy Spirit in your life, you find yourself doubting God’s voice as well.
What does that have to do with Ezekiel? The NASB entitles this section;
The Lord Will Restore Israel.
Do I doubt that? No, but if I tried to understand what God is going to do immediately after the wrath of God ends, based on what Bible teachers have shoved down my throat, I would not have a clue.
Some of the lies and beliefs have included:
That Israel has been replaced. This is in total opposition to Ezekiel 39:25-29. The idea of God restoring Israel is embedded throughout the Bible.
That only Christian’s will enter the thousand-year reign. Again, this is false teaching, as there will be survivors of God’s/man’s wrath. Why would there be the need for God to make a statement like this, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15) Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” Revelation 22:14-15 NASB
All who come to the Great White Throne are sent to hell. I realize this point is a little off topic but it conveys a lack of understanding about the nature of the God we serve.
I hate to say it this way, but much of what we hear under the guise of teaching is garbage. To be able to sort out the garbage from the truth will require you, the reader, to have a personal knowledge of what the truth is; the Word of God.
If you are trying to understand things that seem vague or unclear, then begin to look at other passages that convey a similar message. As a follower of Christ you have the Holy Spirit to guide you, but take it to the next level and ask the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. It’s better that way.
Ezekiel 39:25-29 NASB Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name. 26) “They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid. 27) “When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. 28) “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. 29) “I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD.
In trying to understand what God is saying through Ezekiel, the first thing I want to decipher as I read this is what is the timing that surrounds the word NOW.
It is obvious, in the scheme of things, that something has changed. Considering the death and destruction Ezekiel has been describing you might think it would be the end of all war. However, this war with Gog is only one of many wars, no matter how large they are. Is there anything in scripture that logically answers the question about the timing? Yes, and a number of them have to do with Jesus coming back as the Messiah that Israel was hoping for.
If you are like me, asking questions because you want to understand, you are not alone for the disciples asked the same question, and we find it here:
Matthew 24:3 NASB As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
They asked three questions, two of them apply to the timing involved when God said, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name.” Let’s focus on two of them:
What will be the sign of your coming?
Revelation 19:11-16 NASB 11) And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12) His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13) He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14) And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15) From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Revelation 1:7 NASB BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
And, what will be the end of the age?
This one is a bit more gray, especially when you consider that the Millennial reign will be our migration into eternity. What is the difference between the Millennial reign and eternity? The thousand-year reign will still have broken people like this walking around outside the city.
Revelation 9:20-21 NASB 20) The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21) and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
While those of us, living in the city (I assume), will still have an evangelistic and life giving mission. Truth be told, I despise the idea of trying to win the lost. Having had this shoved down my throat as a shy kid, I found it to be one of the most painful and discouraging experiences of my life, and I swore I would never do that again. All these years later, I have conversations with people about the God I have come to understand, and I have them boldly and moderately loud. I do this in opposition to those who look around and make sure no one can hear them before attempting to share some story about Jesus. Typically done in this manner, you will be getting a good dose of religion and I am done with religion.
On the plus side of things, during the millennial reign we will be free from the fear of death, the one thing that inhibits me more than anything. Can you imagine a life free from fear?
If I have not conveyed it yet, let me do so now; Jesus will return in this victorious manner at the end of the seven-year period in which God’s wrath and judgment have been poured upon the nations and Israel. If I have not conveyed it yet, let me do so now; Jesus will return in this manner at the end of the seven-year period in which God’s wrath and judgment will be poured upon the nations and Israel.
Do other people; decent people suffer during this time? Considering that people will continue to come to recognize the lordship of Jesus during this time, then yes. Will God’s wrath be dished out by evil people as well? Yes, and they will lop off the heads of converts during this time.
With ugliness happening during this seven year period, such as having your head lopped off, do we see anything that looks like: “I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel.” The answer is no, as this will not happen until Jesus comes back and restores order. Now that may be entirely taken care of by the judges we see enthroned; these judges by-the-way are the previously martyred during the time of wrath.
“They will forget their disgrace and all their treachery which they perpetrated against Me, when they live securely on their own land with no one to make them afraid.”
“They” is the Jews. As I noted before those of us who apparently live within the new Jerusalem, will have our lives changed from perishable to eternal. As an eternal being, the fear of death and pain will no longer be an issue. This immortality will apply to the Jew as well.
To live securely, with no fear of being driven out of your land, is something beyond comprehension, but note how the security comes with a mental freedom from the disgrace and treachery they perpetrated against God. (If you wanted to know how God feels about our turning our backs on Him, there it is.)
“When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. 28) “Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. Ezekiel 39:27-28 NASB
Israel is a nation today because people came back, and yet, this is something more. How He does it is not spelled out, but they will come this time, forever.