Sunday, June 25, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Vision of the Dry Bones(Ezek. 37) ]

Lonnie Branam

Ezekiel 37:1-10 says, The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold there were very many in the open valley, and indeed they were very dry. And he said to me,”Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “ O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, `O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones, : “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”'” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over, but there was no breath in them Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”'” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them , and they lived and stood upon the feet, an exceedingly great army.”

This is Ezekiel's famous vision of the dry bones. At some former period it appears to have been the scene of a great battle, but it was silent and calm now. The dead soldiers had been left unburied, and there they returned to dust where they fell. The battlefield was full of skeletons which were dislocated and scattered. The rain had washed and the sun had bleached the bones so that they were white and dry. Ezekiel prophesied to these bones and immediately there was a shaking among the skeletons. The bones came together until every skeleton was completely restored. Next, ligaments, muscles, and skin appeared on each body. Ezekiel spoke again and commanded them all to live, and man after man sprang upon his feet until the valley the prophet saw covered with dry bones is now crowded with a mighty army. Few stories have ever been told that captures the imagination more than this one. What a marvelous resurrection from the dead the prophet was privileged to see! However, I would remind you that this was a vision, and it is not to be understood literally. A symbolical picture was presented to the mind of Ezekiel, and it was meant to represent something which was going to happen in the future in regard to the nation of Israel. Fortunately, the meaning of the vision is quite clearly interpreted and explained in the chapter. There is no reason for either Jews or Gentiles to misunderstand it. By this vision God made two important


predictions about the nation of Israel. It had a direct bearing on the Jewish people regarding the Old Covenant God gave them through Moses and the New Covenant which God promised to make with them as revealed in the book of Jeremiah 31:31,32, “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah–not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” The Jewish nation has no excuse not to know and understand that the Old Covenant through Moses was not to last forever but would come to an end, and they were to live under an entirely new covenant and a new religion headed by their Messiah.

The first prediction in this .vision of the the dry bones is that Israel was to return to their land after seventy years of captivity in Babylonia, and they were to enjoy a political awakening and restoration. God Himself explained this part of the vision in verses 11.12, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, `Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' “Therefore prophecy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.” This prediction had no reference to the general resurrection of the dead at the end of the world, as some assert. This is clear for God said these bones were the bones of Israel and not the bones of all mankind. These dead bones was an appropriate symbolic representation of the nation in Babylonian captivity. God had swept the entire nation off the land of Palestine for rebellion, idolatry, disobedience and religious apostasy. The northern ten tribes had been taken off their land in 722 B.C., well over 100 years before vision was given. The other two southern tribes had been taken off their land in one Babylonian invasion in 606 B.C. and a second invasion in 586 B.C. Ezekiel was taken into Babylonia as a prisoner in the first invasion in 606 B.C.

Thus, at the time of this vision the nation of Israel was in a most pathetic condition.. The city of Jerusalem was destroyed; their temple was burned to the ground, and thousands of people died when the city was captured. Untold thousands of the most gifted people were taken away and enslaved in Babylonia. The ten tribes taken away were but were replaced by heathen foreigners from Assyria. Their intermarriage with Hebrews corrupted the blood line of much of the Hebrew nation. The national life of the nation was almost extinct, and in a real sense Israel was a dead nation. One of chief purposes of this vision was to teach


Israel that this terible condition was not to be permanent, that Israel was to be restored to their land, that the temple was to be rebuilt, and their national life would be restored. This promise of a political restoration was fulfilled about 535 B.C., some 50 years after this vision was given. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, a small number of Israelites re tuned to Palestine. How God brought them back to their land and made them a recognized government again is recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Modern-day prophecy preachers are wrongly using and applying this vision to the return of Israel recently in our generation. This prophecy was fulfilled in 535 B.C., and after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the loss of their national existence a second time, God never promised that He would return them to Palestine again, and never commanded them to rebuild the temple again.. They have no temple, and Jews today make no effort to perform all duties God required in the Torah. The Mosaic law required them to offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of their many transgressions. According to the law of Moses almost all things were purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there was no forgiveness for Israelites. There is no shedding of blood as Jews practice the law of Moses today. The Jews find themselves today without any way to have their sins forgiven. God has never changed His mind about this great Bible truth, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Jehovah God since the first century has forgiven no Jew or Gentile of sin except by the shed blood of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. David their new King and Messiah was the Lamb of Jehovah who takes taeks away the sins of the entire world. God has only one Temple in the whole world today, and that is the Church of God, the Church of Christ. It is a living temple, a spiritual temple consisting of all people called out of this world of sin and darkness into Jehovah's marvelous light.

This vision of dry bones made a second prediction that Israel would have a new religious awakening, a religious restoration that would bring them back into God's favor and blessing. Let us now consider the religious restoration that was to come to the nation of Israel that would greatly bless and restore the religious condition of the Israel to God. The second prediction is made in Ezekiel 37:15-28. Please open your Bible and read this passage. Some amazing changes were to take place in Israel. In verses 21,22 God revealed that when they returned, the nation would no longer be divided into two nations--10 tribes in the north and 2 tribes in the south. . God said, “ I will make them one nation in the land and one king shall be over them all.” The kingship was to be restored to Israel, and a new marvelous king was to be appointed by God. Verse 24 says, “David my servant shall be king over them, and


they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe my statutes and do them.” Under David their new king, there would be a great religious awakening and a turning to Jehovah God. In verse 15 God said that David would be their prince or king forever. David would be their everlasting king. He would remain their king in all generations and centuries to come. David was to be their king as long as time lasts. What a remarkable prophecy! However, this is indeed a most difficult prediction, for it has puzzled Rabbis and Jewish scholars for 2500 years. They do not understand it to this very day. The difficulty is that David was dead and had been in his grave for at least 400 years when Ezekiel uttered this prophecy. How could David become their new king when he had been in the grave for hundreds of years? Furthermore how could David continue to be their king forever when David was only a man and subject to death, even if God raised him from the dead and made Him the new king of Israel? Was God going to raise David from the dead, make him the new King of Israel, and keep him alive supernaturally? Or perhaps was God going to make someone to be their new king, who was only a descendant of David, who was comparable to him in greatness and religious disposition?. What a mystery! If we are to understand this prophecy literally, we can only conclude that David was to be raised from the dead, become King of Israel a second time, and remain alive on earth as their king until the second coming of Christ. The only other interpretation would be that the literal David was not to be raised from the dead and become their king. The literal David was only a type or symbol of another David to arise in Israel, comparable to his greatness, a descendant of David worthy to wear the name of David, figuratively, with qualities of rulership and religious wisdom.

This mystery was never explained or understood until some 500 years after this vision was given to Ezekiel. It was not explained or understood until the New Covenant predicted in Jeremiah. 31:31-33 was given to the nation of Israel by Jehovah. Israel has ignored and rejected this new covenant for two thousand years to their great shame. The apostle Peter was the very first person ever to solve this mystery and give to Israel and the world an intelligent explanation of the David was who was to become the new and everlasting king of Israel. Peter knew about this prophecy of the dry bones. and the predicted coming of David to be their king, and he knew how important this prophecy was to Israel. For the very first time God revealed its meaning, through the Holy Spirit, to the apostle Peter. In about the 33rd year of the first century A.D. God was working great miracles in the city of Jerusalem by the twelve


apostles of Jesus Christ. As uneducated men, they were speaking and
teaching supernaturally in seventeen different languages of the world. Thousands of Jewish pilgrims from all over the world demanded an explanation of the supernatural wonders going on before their very eyes.
As the spokesman of all the apostles, Peter addressed the entire multitude. In Acts 2 Peter read to the multitude a remarkable promise God made apparently to David in Psalm 16:8-11. At least, Israel thought the promise was made to David. Probably David thought it referred to him also, even though he did not understand it. In Psalm 16:9,10 David said in speaking to God, “My flesh also will rest in hope, for you will not leave my soul in hades, nor will you allow Your Holy one to see corruption:” David in that Psalm said that when he died God would not leave his soul in Hades long enough for his body to decay.” This could only mean that David was to be raised from the dead in a very few days after he died. His dead body would not stay in the grave long enough to dissolve and decay. When you connect that prophecy with the one in Ezekiel 37 that promised that sometime after the Babylonian captivity, David was going to be the new King of Israel forever, it is quite understandable why Israel misunderstood Psalm 16:10 and Ezekiel 37:24 about David becoming the new King of Israel. Israel was looking for David to come back to life and be their king.

However, Peter cleared up this mystery completely and explained it so convincingly and indisputably that 3,000 Jews became Christians in one day and inaugurated the establishment of the Christian religion in the world. . After reading to the Jewish multitude in Jerusalem what David wrote in Psalm 16, Peter said: “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the Patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Messiah to sit on his throne he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Messiah”(Acts 2:29), Peter informed them that the promise made to David that he would not be in the grave long enough for his body to decay did not refer to David himself but to someone else. It could not refer to David, for Peter said David was still dead in 33 A.D. Hence, he could not be speaking of himself. If it referred to David, he should have come back to life about 1,000 B.C. His body, said Peter, did decay and his tomb is with us to this day; and we all know where his tomb is and honor it to this day. . But when Jesus of Nazareth


died, who was born in the city of David and descended from the lineage of David, He did not remain in the grave long enough for His body to decay. God raised Him from the dead on the third day after His death, and all we apostles are witnesses to this fact.. The only person who could meet this qualification is Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom God did not leave in the grave but three days. That evidence was great enough to convince all honest-minded Jews and Hebrews that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the Messiah of Israel and even David himself predicted this fact in Palm 16. Within a few years the number of Christians in Jerusalem rose to 5,000, not counting women and children. There can be no doubt that there were more than ten thousand Christians in the city of Jerusalem alone. Thousands more became Christians throughout the land of Israel and later in other parts of the world. This religious awakening of Israel predicted in Ezekiel 37 took place in the first century A.D. when Christ became the new David and new king of Israel. He is now sitting at the right hand of God, and He will be the king of Israel and all Christians forever and forever, even till Christ returns.

I would like to challenge the nation of Israel to explain this great religious awakening of Israel in the first, second and third century A.D. If untold thousands of Hebrews and Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah and were willing to die rather than deny Him, how do you explain your hatred of Him, your rejection of Him for the past two thousand years? Your own race was the first to accept Christ as your Messiah. How do you justify brainwashng Jewish children to hate Christ and the Christian religion when untold thousands of your fellow Hebrews loved Him and served even to persecution and death. Will you cover up this fact and hide the greatness of Christian Hebrew people who exalted Jehovah God during those first three centuries of the Christian religion? This is a part of Jewish history. Christian Hebrews are the people who gave the Christian religion to the world. Shall you dishonor them and call them traitors?. This is not right and you know it's not right. How can you do this? Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth?. The most glorious period of all of Jewish history was the first three centuries of this Era. Even the nation of Israel to this day determines all historical events from the time of Jesus's birth, and so does all of Western Civilization. To dishonor Him Israel will not use the B.C. and A.D. method that computes all time from Christ's birth. Instead they use the B.C.A and A.C.E method whch means “Before the Common Era” and “After the Common Era.” This is just a ploy to show disrespect for Jesus, for both methods mean exactly the same thing. The common era began in the year of Christ's birth. To date something “Before the Common Era” is to date it before Christ was born.


To date anything A. C. E. that is, “After the Common Era” is to date it after Christ was born. Try as you may, you cannot take this great honor away from the Christ that your ancient Hebrew descendants discovered and proclaimed to the world. You cannot deny that godly Christian Hebrews spread the knowledge of Jehovah God throughout the ancient Roman Empire, and in so doing brought great blessings to the entire human race... I wonder what Jewish children being taught about Jewish history in the first three centuries of this Era, and if they a even being told their famous descendants? They were not traiters to the Israel; they were honorable Hebrews and Jews who became devout Christians.. They were the finest, holiest and most devout worshipers of Jehovah who had risen in Israel for 1500 years..

According to the indisputable facts of prophecy and history, the nation of Israel had a wonderful religious wakening, and it took place in
Israel in 100 A..D, 200 A.D. and 300 A.D. During those three centuries
Hebrew Christians took the lead in destroying the religion of Idolatry that
cursed the human race for over 3,000 and Israel for 1500 years. . Hebrew Christians took the lead in bringing to an end the Pagan Roman Empire that ruled the world for 400 years. By 300 A.D. the Christian religion became the official religion of the entire Roman Empire. David, the new king of Israel pulled off this great victory. You can see why prophecy gave Jesus of Nazareth the name of David. The New King of Israel conquered the Roman Empire. Hebrew Christians took the lead in taking the knowledge of Jehovah God, the one true God, throughout the Roman Empire. The Hebrew Christians of the first three centuries of the Christian religion are the glory of the Jewish race, the cream of the crop, and what they did for the world can never be taken away from them. It is the teaching of Jehovah God that honor should be given to people who deserve honor, and if anyone deserves honor it those Hebrews who blessed the world in those three centuries. I am glad to honor them in this message. The human race owes them a debt of gratitude.

In Romans 11:15 one of those great Hebrews by the name of Paul said this about that part of the Jewish nation who rejected Christ, “For if their casting away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?.” This teaches thet part of the nation that rejected Christ was cast away from God's favor, but their rejection of Christ was not a total loss to God or Christ. It actually resulted in millions of Gentiles becoming worshipers of Jehovah through Jesus Christ. God knew this would happen, and used it to bless the rest of the


world. God's rejection of Jews for rejecting Christ and God's reception of Christian Gentiles is explained like this in Romans 11: 17, “If some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive tree were grafted in among them and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the Olive tree, do not boast against the branches. Remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. .Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty but fear.” We are informed in this passage from Jehovah that the larger part of the Jewish nation were cut off from God's favor just like dead branches are cut off of a natural Olive tree. The branches that were not cut off this tree were Israelites who became Christians. The branches that were grafted in among Jewish Christians from a wild Olive tree were Gentiles who left Idolatry and became children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. . One matter is very clear from this statement; all Jews who did not become Christians when the Christian religion began were cut off from God's favor and were no longer chosen people of God. They can no longer be called God's nation. God has only one chosen nation today, and that is the Christian nation composed of both Jew and Gentiles who are Christians. I close with another statement of Paul the Hebrew Christian in Romans 11:25, “I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles have come in, and so all Israel will be saved.” This is an interesting statement that is considered a very difficult statement to understand. Many believe that it is a prophecy that with the passing of time, this nation will finally open their eyes and see the terrible mistake they have made. If this is the meaning, then they will turn to Christ just like their ancient descendants did in the first three centuries of this Era. They will have to obey the gospel of Christ just like Jews and Gentiles have done for the past two thousand years. Paul warns Gentiles not to boast or be proud over Israel's rejection, but learn from the mistake that Israel made. God rejected them for unbelief, and He will also reject Gentile Christians if they fall into unbelief.

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