3. Prophecy concerning Israel

Most Bible prophecies concern God’s people and God’s land. Many of them are being fulfilled today. This gives us confidence that God did inspire the prophecies and that he is still actively working in the world.

Focus passage: Ezekiel 37:1-14,24-28

“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. Hear the word of the Lord.”

These words from a well-known Negro song refer to Ezekiel’s vision of a valley of dry bones. Ezekiel prophesied in about 590 BC when the nation of Israel was in captivity in Babylon. He gave many prophecies about Israel. This is one of the clearest with each element of the prophecy being explained.

  1. Summarize in point form the main events of the vision.
  2. Which parts of the prophecy have been fulfilled?
  3. When do you expect the rest of the prophecy to be fulfilled?
  4. What did God mean when he said he would put his “Spirit within them and they would live”?
  5. How many common ideas can you find between Ezekiel 37:24-28 and Luke 1:30-33?

History of Israel
2000 BC Abraham, the father of the Jews
1400 BC Israel invades and conquers Canaan and is established as a nation.
1000 BC King David
605 BC Jews taken captive to Babylon
538 BC Jews return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city
AD 70 Romans capture Jerusalem. Jews scattered throughout the world.
AD 1882 First wave of Jewish immigration as a result of Russian pogroms.
AD 1897 1st Zionist congress in Basle, Switzerland
AD 1900 A handful of Jews living in Palestine; Turks in charge.
AD 1904 Second wave of Jewish immigration.
AD 1917 British capture Palestine; Jews begin to move there.
AD 1945-1948 Many Jews who survived World War 2 migrated to Palestine.
AD 1948 State of Israel proclaimed
AD 1948- Many wars with Arabs; Israel maintains independence; Jews migrate in large numbers.
AD 1994- Attempted peace settlements with surrounding Arab nations.
Some prophecies about Israel
1. Israel’s national birth was predicted by God to Abraham.
Genesis 15 2000 BC
Fulfilled through Abraham’s descendants.
2. Israel’s disobedience, scattering, preservation and revival was predicted by Moses.
Deuteronomy 28 1500 BC
Fulfilled: scattered in AD 70, returned to land in 20th century, nation reborn 1948.
3. Israel is a continuing witness to God’s existence
Isaiah 43:1-2, 10-12 700 BC
4.Though scattered throughout the world, Israel would be preserved.
Jeremiah 30:10-11; 31:10 600 BC
Fulfilled: The Jews have survived the Spanish inquisition, the Russian pogroms, the Nazi holocaust, and many other attempts to destroy them. Throughout their history, God has preserved a remnant of his people.
5. They would return to the land and regain control of Jerusalem.
Luke 21:24-31 AD 30
Fulfilled: nation reborn 1948, Jerusalem recaptured 1967.

Prophecies about Israel

Ezekiel 37 is just one of dozens of detailed prophecies about Israel. Israel is the subject of more prophecies than any other nation, simply because the Jews are God’s special people. Much of their history has been foretold including events that have taken place in the 20th century. The existence of the people of Israel, the Jews, and the existence of the nation in its biblical land, are evidence for the inspiration of the Bible.

Throughout the prophets, God repeated his intention that he would remember the promises that he made to their faithful ancestors. (e.g. Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 36:22-24) Despite their wickedness, ultimately he would bring them again to their own land.

The situation in the Middle East is complicated because both Jews and Arabs have been there for thousands of years, both are descendants of Abraham, and both have received promises from God. However, God has made it clear that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews (see Obadiah, for example).

Human attempts to bring lasting peace to the Middle East will fail sooner or later. One of the consistent stumbling blocks to peace in the region is the city of Jerusalem. God, through the prophet Zechariah, says of Jerusalem:

I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling … I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (Zechariah 12:2-3)

Thought provokers

  1. Read Ezekiel 36:16-38.
    1. List the parts of this prophecy that have been fulfilled.
    2. List the parts of this prophecy that have not yet been fulfilled.
    3. How do your two lists compare with the prophecy of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37?
  2. Here are some further prophecies about Israel. Consider if they have been fulfilled yet. If not, when might they be fulfilled?
      Psalm 83; Zechariah 13:8-9; 14:1-5; Joel 3:1-17; Luke 21:20-24; Micah 4:9-13.
  3. Read Isaiah 19:23-25. What does this suggest about the long-term prospects for peace in the Middle East?

Further investigation

  1. Find out what happened in the 1967 “Six Day War”. What prophecies were fulfilled when Israel captured Jerusalem?
  2. Psalm 83 lists a number of nations who wish to destroy Israel. Use a map and Bible dictionary to find the modern day names for these places. It is possible these are the nations that attack Jerusalem before Jesus returns. See Zechariah 14:1-3.

Want to know more?

  • Israel: land and people of destiny by John Collyer, (Christadelphian Office, 1988). A good summary of the history of Israel, the present situation and the destiny of both land and people.
  • Jews, Arabs, and Bible prophecy by Harry Whittaker (Biblia, 2nd edition, 1991). An interesting look at many prophecies about Israel and suggestions about how they might be fulfilled.
  • Great news for the world by Alan Hayward (published by Christadelphians Worldwide, 1976). Chapter 3 “Flight path for a nation”.

See also

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