These chapters continue the prophesy from yesterday’s reading: that the LORD will put a new heart and a new spirit in His people, that furthermore He would put His own Spirit in His people, and when they are Spirit- filled, they will walk in His statutes, and keep His judgments and do them (Eze 36:25-27).
Ezekiel sees a vision of dry bones being restored to life; including breath coming from the four winds to cause them to live. His Spirit that He will put in His people, is that breath. We are dead, in other words, until the day that we receive a new heart and a new spirit from Him. When we are filled with His Spirit, then we become living beings. This prophetic vision from Ezekiel merely foreshadows the new birth that is clearly taught in the New Testament.
But then the LORD says something interesting about the dry bones who are now living by the breath of His Spirit, with a new heart and a new spirit:
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” Eze 37:11
He does not say they are the house of Israel, which we saw, especially in Isaiah, were synonymous with Ephraim and the ten tribes of the northern kingdom. He says they are the whole house of Israel, i.e., all the sons of Jacob, the complete twelve tribes including Levi.
So wait a minute: the people that we are used to identify with the new birth, with being filled with the Spirit a la Act 2, are Christians — Gentiles. But here the LORD says of them, that they are the whole house of Israel, the twelve tribes of Jacob. What is the LORD prophesying of here?
Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.” Eze 37:15-17
Judah was the southern kingdom which was taken captive to Babylonia. It was primarily composed of two, or three tribes: Judah, Benjamin, and Levi, for when Jeroboam introduced calf worship in the northern kingdom, many of Levi left the northern kingdom and emigrated to the southern kingdom, where the Temple stood and where the LORD God was still being worshiped.
Notice the prophecy says, For Judah and for the children of Israel. At various times throughout the history of the two kingdoms, families from the ten tribes emigrated to the southern kingdom, in order to renew their covenant with the LORD God. By the time the kingdom of Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken captive to Babylon, the majority of the people were of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, whose territory it was, but also, of Levi, and remnants of the other tribes. So with the southern kingdom, was Judah (Judah + Benjamin) AND the children of Israel (Levi + remnants of all the tribes).
But that is not the last component. With Judah and the children of Israel, were their companions, their fellow worshipers (Strong’s H2270). It is my opinion, that these are those who have joined themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Israel’s witness. This was the purpose of Israel in the first place: to be a gateway for the return of the nations back to the worship of the one true God. This is why, throughout Torah, the LORD made commandment that there was to be one Torah for the native born, and the stranger, or Gentile, who dwelt with them. From the very beginning, Gentiles of the nations went up with Israel to worship Israel’s God (Exo 12:38), and if they entered into the covenant of Israel with Israel’s God, then they were to be treated as native born and not as second class citizens.
The second stick was for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim. We learned back in Gen 49, that Jacob split the birthright and blessing of Abraham into two. On the tribe of Judah he conferred the birthright, the authority and rulership. On the tribe of Joseph, he conferred the blessing, the material prosperity. The stick of Joseph, the scepter in other words, was in the hand of Ephraim, because in Gen 48, Jacob placed Ephraim above Manasseh and passed the identity of “Israel” to him. This is why especially in Isaiah, Ephraim is identified with the house of Israel.
Ephraim and the house of Israel was the northern kingdom which was taken captive to Assyria. From Assyria, Ephraim and the house of Israel was scattered to the nations. They have become so thoroughly integrated with the Gentiles in whose nations they lived, that they forgot that they were ever the people of God. Many of these “Gentiles” have come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ over the past two thousand years.
Thus we have two witnesses in the earth: 1) Judah, and 2) Joseph. 1) Jews, and 2) Christians. 1) Those genetically descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and 2) their companions, their fellow worshipers, not genetically descended, but who have, however, seen the truth and joined themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through their witness. Not all who are Jews today are genetically descended from Jacob. Did you know that? Throughout history, a mixed multitude has joined themselves with Israel. Even when Judah was living in Babylon and Persia, the favor bestowed on people like Daniel, and Esther, caused many of the nations to join themselves with Judah and become Jews. Some of these returned to Israel with Ezra and Nehemiah and were counted as full Jews, as native born, according to Torah.
Plus, there are many Christians who are genetically descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Someone who was a Jew, a genetic descendant from the tribe of Judah, in the first century, who became a believer in Messiah Yeshua, was eventually thrown out of the synagogue. For all their descendants might know, their family has been Catholic or whatever from time immemorial, and it would be a shock to them to learn that they are genetically Jewish!
So in other words, let’s not get hung up on genetics, because outside of a DNA test, we can’t know for sure, so many millennia later, who is descended from who. Just because someone is a religious Jew does not make them an ethnic one. Just because someone is an ethnic Jew does not even make them a descendant of Jacob. Just because someone is a Christian does not make them an ethnic Gentile!
What God is saying, is that it doesn’t matter: He is going to take the house of Judah: JEWS, and anyone associated with them who have joined themselves with them, and He is going to take the house of Joseph: CHRISTIANS, and anyone associated with them who have joined themselves with them, and He is going to make them one people in His hand. They will be one kingdom and have one king: David, or the son of David who is Messiah Yeshua.
So Christian, do not be afraid to embrace Torah and your Hebrew roots. It was prophesied long ago, that in the latter days you would do so. Jew, do not be afraid to embrace Messiah Yeshua and salvation by grace through faith. It was prophesied long ago that in the latter days you would do so. Jew and Christian will join together to become one people of God with Messiah as their king. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!