The Captivity Will End
True freedom comes when we give our all to God.
Question: Why might someone say the the freedom God gives is “true” freedom?
Freedom of God gives true freedom because no matter what state we are in, the love of God causes a perfect separation from all bondage. We can feel free though we are enslaved!
Eph 6:5 Servants (New testament Greek meaning is slave), be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
Ezekiel 36 and 37 represents a striking change from the previous three lessons of this unit. As we study these chapters, we move away from the harsh tone of judgment to the sweet melody of freedom and restoration. By reflecting on the ways in which God promised to restore the Jewish exiles, we learn that freedom we all long for-spiritual freedom-only comes from the Lord, found in the miraculous ways in which He works in our lives.
We, like the exiles, have rebelled against God, yet He offers to give us freedom. But to receive this freedom, we must open ourselves to Him. We must hand over our lives to Him and allow Him to work in ways only He can. If we will do so, we will experience true freedom.
How many of you have heard others say, and maybe even said it yourselves; I’m trying to change myself. The problem is, without giving up to Christ, we will always be bound by fleshy desires. In order to receive freedom, we must enslave ourselves to Christ, an enslavement that will always bring freedom.
1. NATIONAL AND SPIRITUAL RESTORATION
Ezekiel 36:1-15, 33-36
Eze 36:1 Also, thou son of man, prophesy unto the mountains of Israel, and say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD:
…….God speaking to the profit here was not speaking literal. Many of Biblical prophecies are figurative, meaning using words or examples to show the intensity of the point. All of Israel at this time have been either enslaved or scattered from their lands for many years. Regardless of name, rank or family heritage, slavery brings forth depression and lack of hope. When the spirit of a man has vaporized, his strength is extinguished.
Ezekiel here was commanded to prophecy to the men of Israel who had at one time been rulers and leaders.
Eze 36:2 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession:
Eze 36:3 Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people:
Eze 36:4 Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about;
Eze 36:5 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, and against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey.
Eze 36:6 Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen:
Eze 36:7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.
…….Because God’s people had been spitefully entreated, God would punish those who come against them.
Our Lord is fond of his children and vengeance belongs to Him. When we are true to God he will be true to protecting our name and character no matter the accusations that come our way.
Eze 36:8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
…….Here God is speaking to the land itself, commanding it to produce and flourish with fruit and livestock.
…….Living in the blessings of God are completely surrounding. He never leaves anything undone, no does he perform half way. He is the hedge around us and not only does that hedge look good and protect, but it brings forth comfort too!
Eze 36:9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:
…….We have heard this before; God is not against You. He may not be for the things we are entangled in, but he will always be for the worship of our hearts.
In giving ourselves to Him, we will prosper.
Eze 36:10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
Eze 36:11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I amthe LORD.
Eze 36:12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
Eze 36:13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;
Eze 36:14 Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord GOD.
Eze 36:15 Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.
…….Just as the land once provided a flowing of milk and honey, it would once again be everything a people needed to not only survive but thrive.
We as children of God should desire God’s full control over all of our possessions. Only then will it be exactly what it was created to be!
Eze 36:33 Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded.
…….In order to receive this blessed land again, His people had to be righteous. We can’t live in the blessings of God and carry labels that falsify his Testament.
We must be cleansed from our iniquities!
Eze 36:34 And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
Eze 36:35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
Eze 36:36 Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it,and I will do it.
……One purpose of God blessing His people is to be a living example of what it means to live for Him. The only time man is exalted is to bring an opportunity to give the Glory directly back to God!
Eze 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
Eze 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
…….Here is another showing of God doing the work. When we put forth the effort of removing the debris, he will remove the storm that causes it. There is no worse living than to be in bondage by desires we have no power over. Our worship to self is the hardest idol to overcome, that is why the work must be performed by Him.
Eze 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
…….His spirit will never force us to live in righteousness, but will always be the cause of it. He said, “I will take away the stoney heart” and we must allow Him to.
Not only does He remove, but He also replaces. He will never leave a void in the midst of work.
Eze 36:28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Eze 36:29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.
Eze 36:30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.
Eze 36:31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.
Eze 36:32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.
…….The Apostle Paul gave us a great scripture for reference:
1Co 15:31 I protest (object, or disagree) by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
…….He refused to take the credit for anything that he had become in the Lord. He would forever remember that God performed the work. Even after openly disagreeing he makes this statement, “I die daily”. Though arguing the fact of Jesus doing the work, he mentions this absolute priority. We must die of ourselves, not once, not twice, nor every now and then. Death to ourselves must be a daily striving. While dying for the cause, it will always be the power of God who resurrects for his purpose and Glory!
2. GOD’S WORD AND SPIRIT RESTORE LIFE
The Power of God’s Word
Eze 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
Eze 37:2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
…….Not only were they bones without flesh, but had also been abandoned for some time, scattered abroad from a lost battle, baked in the sun and deemed brittle and useless.
Eze 37:3 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
…….God asks His prophet a question to reveal his faith and assurance in Him. Ezekiel knows that without a shadow of doubt these bones cannot accommodate life, but God can perform the impossible.
Eze 37:4 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
…….Show me your faith and obedience and prophecy in a way that had never been done before.
By now, Ezekiel’s faith in God working His calling was unwavering. We must allow God to bring us to the place where He can give orders, and we perform without doubt.
Eze 37:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
…….This vision was the representation of lifeless Israel being restored out of slavery.
Eze 37:6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
…….Not only will he put us together, but he will give us the strength to stay together. The only flesh that is acceptable in this life is the flesh that he provides.
Eze 37:7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
…….What a sight and sound it makes when God performs a mighty work. This is the sound of revival and freedom.
Eze 37:8 And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
…….How many of us have been satisfied with only the initial work at the altar. Experiencing the miraculous work of salvation, and though it is a miraculous work, there is always more to come.
The Power of God’s Spirit
Eze 37:9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
…….when Jesus had His final earthly fellowship with his disciples, he left them with this:
In John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
…….The Spirit of God is His very breath causing us to live in salvation, there is no greater power than just that. I want to live off of the breath of God!!!
Eze 37:10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
…….A soldier is hopeless without the Spirit. The Spirit brings Hope, expectation and reason.
Eze 37:11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
Eze 37:12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
…….” I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves”
What is it that you would consider your grave? What is the thing or force that keeps you held in bondage? When God gives the invitation, he will perform the work, but we have to initiate! Step out and step up!
Eze 37:13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
Eze 37:14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
…….As Ezekiel Learned in his vision, there is power in both God’s word and God’s spirit. They work in perfect harmony to bring life in even the most hopeless of circumstances, including a valley of dry bones.
3. JUDAH AND ISRAEL REUNITED
Eze 37:15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
Eze 37:18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
Eze 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
……. though this particular prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, God shows here that he will reunite the northern and southern kingdom (Judah and Israel) back together.
Eze 37:20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
…….If God desires to bring together two completely different religions and standards of people, how much more does he desire to bring his church into one body. In order to rightly fulfill his work, we must be in one mind and one accord!
Eze 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Eze 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
……. Ezekiel explain that God would reunite his people into one kingdom, and then provided further details about it.
Eze 37:23 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 God.
Eze 37:24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
Eze 37:25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
…….He made it clear that it would be a holy kingdom and the Lord would place a ruler on the throne like David. But even further than a fleshy king, God is declaring that his people would be ruled by the one ruler Jesus Christ.
Eze 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
Eze 37:27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Eze 37:28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
……. although the kingdom that Ezekiel talked about is not here in its fullest sense, through our faith in Jesus, he makes us citizens of this kingdom in the here and now. Considering this is a holy kingdom, we should strive to live holy lives, set apart from sin. In our own power, we are unable to do this, but if we would trust that Jesus’s work on the cross provides freedom from sin, and that the Holy Spirit applies this freedom to our lives, we can walk in spiritual freedom and live holy lives, as God desires.
There is no greater freedom that the freedom in salvation!