This week's Haftorah reading is from Ezekiel 37:15-28. As 2022 comes to an end, Dr. Jeffery Myers reminds us, in a very vivid way, about the nature in which we exit the old season, will determine how we will enter into our new one!
Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Haftorah:
Lion of Judah Speaks: Haftorah Portion – Ezekiel 37:15-28
We all know the first part of Ezekiel 37 as the narrative of the Valley of Dry Bones. However, if we were to ask about the latter part of Ezekiel 37, most would not know anything about it. Why is there a lack of understanding? There are probably a couple of reasons: One vision is a spectacular vision and one is not. The Valley of Dry Bones is a cinematic picture and when these bones assemble and actually come alive into a vast army, you can almost see it! But the 2nd half of Ezekiel, even though it is a vision, lacks action and imagination—it is two sticks coming together to form one. No motion picture would be created from this vision. The first vision is simpler, less detailed ad more obviously encouraging. It is a message of hope and of encouragement which we can certainly apply to various situations in our lives. The 2nd part may be slightly more difficult to extract, however, there is a great deal more revelation to see.
Ezekiel 37:15-17, says, “The Word of Adonai came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou Son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: thou take another stick and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join there one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in their hand.” It is as simple as that—two sticks with names written on them and then joined together.
To appreciate this, however, let’s do a brief history lesson. Remember that although Solomon was a great King, he was a hard taskmaster and the people pleaded with him for greater leniency. Long story short, there were two opposite views in the court and Solomon’s son, Rehoboam took the position which led to a rebellion under a man called Jeroboam and following a short but bitter civil war, Elohim’s people were divided.
In the south you had Judah and little Benjamin, the people of Simeon who were scattered in the land of Judah plus all the Levites who remained faithful to the Temple worship in Jerusalem. The nation had a series of kings after Rehoboam, all descended from him in the same dynasty. Some were bad like him but some, such as Asa, Hezekiah, and Uzziah, were good. Eventually because of Manasseh and other wicked kings they were taken into exile in Babylon. The other tribes all to the north (Northern Kingdom) formed a new nation under Jeroboam. A form of false worship was introduced and things went horribly wrong; from bad to worse. A series of dynasties came and went. In every case the king was wicked. The worst of them was King Ahab who reigned with his wicked Queen Jezebel. Both northern and southern kingdoms were carried into exile. In their land they were replaced by other pagan peoples who brought in a hybrid religion of their own. These are the Samaritans, so called from the capital city of the north. Here the Kingdom is referred to as Ephraim. Remember, Ephraim, is one of Joseph’s sons and the most prominent of the 10 tribes was named after him. It is rather complicated, as real life is, but it is good for us to know this so that we can better understand the Scriptures.
We see Israel was divided into separate companies, the first wandered away from Elohim, and then they wandered away from one another. However, somehow Elohim is going to gather together the exiled people, scattered as they were in Assyria, and Babylon and by this time in other places too, and He was going to bring them all together again as one. This would be a miraculous thing to do and to behold. By joining the House of Israel together as one, once again, Elohim is going to bring about several great and wonderful changes. These changes are spoken about in Ezekiel 37. There are six changes spoken about in this haftorah. The first is, He will “rescue from exile and return them home to the Promised Land.” Glory…if you have ever been to Israel, you have seen it! The reunion is going to take place back in the Promised Land itself. It involves two parts- the rescue and the return! This is what has happened and still happening today! Ezra and Nehemiah talk about it- the promise is that they and their children and their children’s children will live there forever. Yeshua is drawing them back to the land physically and back to Him spiritually. As we lift up Yeshua, He will draw all men unto Himself!
The second change is “continual unity under one King…and His name is Yeshua.” The unity is fulfilled in Elohim’s true people under the authority of King Yeshua HaMashiach. When Yeshua returns the 2nd time, there shall be this true unity in Israel. So come Yeshua, Bo Yeshua Bo!
The third change is that “there will be purity from idolatry and sin and we will have a strong covenant relationship with Abba.” Ezekiel 37:23, says, “Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them; so, shall they be my people, and I will be their Yah.” What a weighty and comprehensive promise it is! Yeshua is able to meet us in every place, and to cleanse us. So how does that apply to us today? The world is full of paganism and idolatry and wickedness. Have you stopped defiling yourself with your idols and vile images? Have you turned from your offenses against Elohim? We need to call to Elohim to save us from our sinful backsliding and to cleanse us.
The fourth change is that we will “be obedient to Elohim’s law.” We shall return to the ancient paths, be obedient to His unchanging Word and follow Him in righteousness by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh. We will return to Elohim and be obedient to the laws and ordinances He has given us to live. We shall reject the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and again eat the fruit of the Tree of Life. Yeshua said, if you love me, keep my commands and we can only do that as we allow His Word to transform us by the renewing of our mind.
The fifth change is “we will be in covenant peace, prosperity and growth.” We see a literal fulfillment following the resettlement of the people of Israel but there is more that that- there is a covenant of peace with Abba in Yeshua. A peace that transcends all understanding that guards the hearts and minds of followers of Yeshua and that peace between them. Because we have been justified by faith, we have peace with Abba. We are at peace because we are no longer rebelling against Elohim by Yeshua’s power. As far as prosperity, we may or may not be rich, but we lack no good thing in Yeshua!
The last change is that “we will have Elohim’s covenant presence, a witness to the nations.” Ezekiel 37:26-27, says, “And I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My Tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their Yah, and they shall be my people.” In the 23rd verse, Adonai’s promise was, “They shall be my people, and I will be their Yah”, and here, grace seems to ring the changes by reversing the order: “I will be their Yah, and they shall be my people.”
Picture the Temple that was rebuilt when they returned to the Promised Land. Once again, they know the immediate presence of Adonai there. The 2nd Temple wasn’t as impressive as Solomon’s Temple but it was to that site that Messiah eventually came. When He was just six weeks old, His parents brought Him there and Simeon blessed Him. He was there again when He was twelve and many times after. He turned out the money changers and taught His people. He is Yah incarnate, Emmanuel, Elohim with us. He now sends His Ruach who is active in all the world bringing Elohim’s presence nearby. He is here now! What a glorious privilege. It is a witness to the nations. No other nation knew what Israel knew. No religion ever promises what we know as believers—Yeshua in us, the hope of glory!
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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2022 is coming to an end so remember how you exit a season is how you enter your new one. Let us exit 2022 with praise, worship and thanksgiving so that 2023 can be filled with the same!
Have a great Sabbath as you worship the King!
See you next year and see you at the altar!