March 11, 2023: Haftorah - Ezekiel 36:16-36
This week's Haftorah reading is from Ezekiel 36:16-36. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers as he unfolds the process and powerful benefits of restoration, along with ELOHIM’S motivation to vindicate His Holy Name, and to restore His broken People back into alignment with Him - including us today!
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 36:16-36
Restoration in Hebrew is “shuv” which means to return or restore. Ezekiel unfolds the process and powerful benefits of restoration for the nation of Israel. We see an emphasis on Elohim’s motivation to vindicate His holy name before the eyes of the nations. The only way to truly be restored is to listen closely, find out what is in harmony with Elohim and then draw closer to His presence. However, many times we have walked so far outside His character and nature that our ears cannot hear His voice, His calling to us. Despite Israel’s well-deserved punishment of dispersion and the desolation of her cities, Elohim refuses to allow the nations to interpret the situation as any type of reflection on His inability of sovereignty and to bring to pass His ultimate purpose for His chosen people.
Israel was out of harmony with Elohim but there was still hope. We have an example with King David. He was a man after Elohim’s own heart. David shows us what it means to be in and out of harmony with Elohim. David arrived at one of the lowest times in his life. His own son, and best friend staged a coup, seizing the throne and forcing David to flee for his life. In one clean sweep David lost his kingdom and now he is fleeing with a price on his head. However, David lost something even more important than a kingdom, a son, a best friend. He lost that close abiding presence of Elohim. He knew he was out of harmony with Elohim whom he loved. Adonai would observe his repentant heart and would “shuv”, or “restore.” Adonai would look at his heart, see his repentance and restore good to him or restore him into harmony. David had a heart that looked beyond his loss in the natural world to the loss he suffered spiritually. Restoration of harmony with Elohim was first on David’s agenda. Is it the same for us?
If you suffered a broken heart, a loss of friendship, a loved one stabbing you in the back and also the loss of the presence of Elohim in your life, what would be first on your agenda to have restored? This is what Elohim is doing with Israel, graciously restoring the wayward elect nation. Every action Elohim performs in human history is driven with one goal in mind: that His people and the world may know that He is Elohim. We are not the center of the universe, and we do not determine Elohim’s agenda. He assures His reputation not ours. He is concerned that all may see His Glory and His grace. He acts to preserve the sanctity of His reputation. In Ezekiel, he tells us not only what Elohim will do but why He is acting in this way. The two focal points of Elohim’s purposes are His own name and the nations of the world, and these two are related. He wants His name to be great so that the nations may regard Him not as ineffective but as Adonai over all the earth. Israel is to be the channel!
In Ezekiel 36:16-21 the background for restoration unfolds. The scattering of Israel is because of uncleanness. They have polluted Elohim’s Holy Land, defiling it by their ways and deeds verse 17 proclaims. Their punishment would be dispersion because of their enormities in the civil and spiritual realms. Elohim according to the Israelites ways and deeds judged them. They had a disregard for Elohim’s reputation, profaning His holy name. Ezekiel 36:21-23 says, “But I had concern for My Holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. It’s not for your sake, O House of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My Holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.”
Elohim’s holiness is not so much His moral purity as His power, prestige, honor, and worthiness to be worshipped. The Israelites had profaned all those things by their rebellion and conduct and those around have seen their behavior. They do not deserve His deliverance and grace. We are in the same situation…deserving of punishment but His grace is sufficient for us. He is so relentless in His love for all of us. He will “shuv” His people! He will cleanse them with the sprinkling of clean water, cleansing them of their filthiness and from all idols. This clean water is the new covenant connected to Yeshua when He spoke of being born of water in John 3:5. Paul talks about being washed in I Cor. 6:11. There must be an internal repentance or the ceremonial cleansing would just be an external ritual with no meaning.
Elohim will regenerate His people. He will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them. He will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. He will change them. He will change us! They will no longer be characterized by perverse thinking and unresponsiveness to Elohim but will experience a massive spiritual revival. Elohim will replace and renew their heart and spirit. The heart includes the mind and the will, along with the emotions; it is the seat of the personality, the inmost nature of man. The spirit is the impulse which drives the man and regulates his desires, his thoughts, and his conduct. We know the heart is stubborn, rebellious, and insensitive but will be changed to one that is soft, impressionable, responsive and obedient by the Ruach HaKodesh as Elohim implants His Ruach within them He will transform their motives and empower them to live according to Elohim’s Torah. He will certainly not do away with them.
Ezekiel 36:27 says, “And I will put My Ruach within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” Elohim will endow Israel with new wills, their lives will be governed by a new impulse that will be an expression of Elohim’s own spirit. He will remake their human natures so they will walk in the ways of Elohim and His Word.
This supernatural empowerment would cause the covenant relationship to become a living actuality rather than a doctrinal truth. This would bring them to a place of security in the Land. Ezekiel 36:28, says, “And you will live in the Land that I gave to your forefathers; so, you will be My people, and I will be your Elohim.” Halleluyah!
What is the result of Israel’s regeneration? A permanent occupation of the Land; a covenant relationship with Elohim; protection against relapse into idolatry; the abundant supply of every want; self-humiliation and repentance on account of past sin according to Ezekiel 36:28-32. The benefits of restoration are the transformation from desolation to paradise conditions. They will be cleansed, rebuilt, cultivated, beautified, fortified, and inhabited. Ezekiel 36:35-36 says, “And they will say, “This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate, and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you will know that I, Adonai, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what which was desolate.” It was because of Elohim and Elohim alone!
The most important consequence will be the spread of the knowledge of Elohim throughout the world. They will see what He has accomplished and will know His strength and power. Israel will increase and will restore the Land to a “better-than-original” state. The nations will come to Israel not to destroy her but to recognize the One who sustains her…they will gather to worship Elohim! His name will be restored! Ezekiel 36:38 proclaims, “Then they will know that I am Adonai.”
Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,
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Have a blessed Sabbath. Love Him with all your heart and serve Him with gladness. Exalt His name and let it be known by your life!