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GOD'S PROMISE TO THE JEWS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, August 13, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).


I do not spend much time preaching on Bible prophecy. I believe that most sermons ought to be directed toward the conversion of the lost. But the movement of world events at this hour requires us to think deeply about the crisis in the Middle East. And I believe that every Christian ought to know why we wholeheartedly support the tiny nation of Israel, and the Jewish people in general.

The passage in Scripture Mr. Prudhomme read a moment ago is prophetic. We usually apply these verses to conversion and revival. It is right to do that, for they most certainly illustrate what happens to a large number of people in revival, and to an individual when he is converted. But the thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel speaks of revival and conversion only by application.

It is most interesting to read what C. H. Spurgeon, the "prince of preachers," said about these verses way back in 1864. Spurgeon preached very little on prophecy. In his sermon on this passage, he said,

I am not now willing to go into millennial theories, or into any speculations as to dates. I do not know anything about such things, and I am not sure I am called to spend my time in such researches. I am rather called to minister the gospel than to open prophecy…Let this be settled, however, that if there be any meaning in words, Israel is yet to be restored…If there be meaning in words this must be the meaning of this chapter… [Israel] is to be re-organized; her scattered bones to be brought together…She is to be restored; she is to be restored “as from the dead” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1991 reprint, volume X, pp. 428-429).

What an amazing statement! He said that in 1864! There was no state of Israel for nearly a century afterwards. A full eighty-four years before the modern country of Israel was established, Spurgeon, taking our text literally, said,

Israel is now blotted out from the map of nations…no king reigns in Jerusalem…But she is to be restored; she is to be restored “as from the dead.” When her own sons have given up all hope of her, then is God to appear for her. She is to be re-organized; her scattered bones are to be brought together. There will be a native government again…a state shall be incorporated (ibid.).

“Israel…is to be restored…a state shall be incorporated.” And that is exactly what happened 84 years later!

On May 14, 1948, at the end of British rule over Palestine, the Jewish state of Israel was born! The Jewish National Committee in Palestine issued a proclamation which appealed to the national and historic rights of the Jewish people to this land. This proclamation was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 29, 1947 as the basis for the establishment of this new state. The following year, on May 14, 1948, the words of God began to be fulfilled,

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

What God promised the Jews 2,535 years beforehand began to happen! God said, “I will…bring you into the land of Israel” – and that is exactly what God did!

Now, this morning I want us to see three simple truths concerning this great promise and the beginning of its fulfillment.

I. First, the meaning of “graves.”

The text says,

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12).

What did God mean when He said that He would bring them out of their “graves”? The answer to that question is right there in our chapter. Look at Ezekiel 37:21. Let’s read it aloud, beginning with the word “Thus.”

“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” (Ezekiel 37:21).

It is quite clear that the “graves” spoken of in Ezekiel 37:12 are the “heathen” nations of verse 21.

Now, anyone who has studied world history at all knows that the Jewish people were driven from their homeland of Israel in 70 A.D. by the Roman armies of Titus. Jerusalem fell to Titus on September 8, 70 A.D. Dr. J. Vernon McGee said,

The Jews were scattered. Titus put them in slavery. They built the great Colosseum in Rome. (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, vol. IV, p. 342).

This is known as the Great Diaspora – the scattering of the Jews throughout the world.

When I was attending a liberal Southern Baptist seminary in the early 1970s the professors said that this prophecy was about the Babylonian Diaspora when the Jews were taken into Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C. and that it had no bearing on the Diaspora of 70 A.D.  But they didn’t even believe it prophesied the Babylonian Captivity.  They said it was written afterward and wasn’t really a prophecy.  You see, liberals like that don’t believe the Bible at all.  But they were wrong to say this passage only applied to the Babylonian Diaspora.  Those liberal teachers were wrong for two reasons. 

(1)  First, the Jews were not sent to Babylonia in verse 21. They were sent to the “heathen,” and would not be brought back from Babylon, but from “every side.”

(2)  Second, this passage is clearly prophetic of a future regathering when God will “put [His] spirit in you” (Ezekiel 37:14). That did not happen when they returned from Babylonia. It is a future event, as yet unfulfilled. Right now we are seeing the beginning of the fulfillment of verse 12. In the future, verses 13 and 14 will be fulfilled.

Thus the beginning of the fulfillment of our text started in 1948, only 58 years ago. God began to “open” their graves and cause the Jews to “come up out of [their] graves” in the nations of the world, from among heathen nations like Germany and France and Russia, and many other “heathen” nations. That is still happening today. Jewish people are still coming to Israel out of the “graves” of the gentile nations.

II. Second, the reason God is doing this.

You may wonder why God gave this promise to the Jews,

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

Why did God give the Jews this wonderful prophecy and hope?

He did not give them this promise because they deserved it, or because they were good. There are Arab people in Israel who are good Christians, while many Jews there are complete secularists, even atheists. The Jews are not given the land of Israel because they are good and righteous in God’s sight. Moses made that very clear when he said,

“Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but…that he [God] may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 9:5).

The reason God is bringing the Jews back to Israel is because He promised that land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the patriarchs – way back, at the beginning, in the book of Genesis. Please turn to Genesis 17:8. Let us stand and read this verse aloud. God said to Abraham,

“And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).

You may be seated. 

That is part of God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham, given to the patriarch about 1900 years before Christ. I said it was an unconditional promise. God didn’t say, “I will give you this land if you and your offspring obey me.” No, God simply said,

“I will give [it] unto thee” (Genesis 17:8).

No strings attached. That land is given to the Jews by God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham and his seed. It’s their land because God gave it to them, not because of their good works or righteousness, but by His grace alone.

God has an eternal covenant with Abraham that never can be broken. No matter what the Jewish people do, God has given them that land. Even the rejection of Christ by most Jews does not break this everlasting, unconditional promise to Abraham. The modern Jewish state of Israel exists by the sheer grace of God, who made a promise to Abraham, and He will not break His promise.

“I will give [it] unto thee” (Genesis 17:8).

Therefore, God said in Ezekiel,

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

III. Third, the type and the antitype.

A “type” is something in the Old Testament that is fulfilled by the antitype in the New Testament. I am convinced that we have a type and antitype here. The Old Testament type is God’s promise to

“open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

The antitype, or New Testament fulfillment, is shown in several New Testament passages.

The first one I will mention is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was dead, and he was in the grave. He had been dead in that grave four days. He had been dead in that grave long enough to make his sister say to Jesus,

“By this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39).

But Jesus came to Lazarus’ grave and

“cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth” (John 11:43-44).

The calling of Lazarus out of his grave is a pictured fulfillment of God causing the Jews to come out of their graves.

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

Isn’t that exactly what happened, to the letter, when Jesus called Lazarus from his grave, and he again walked the streets of Jerusalem in Israel?

A second antitype was fulfilled when Jesus Himself rose from the grave. When the women came to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning, they found He had risen from the dead, that God had “caused” Him to “come up out of [His] grave” and He was again walking the streets in Israel!

“The angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: For I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:5-6).

Just as the Jewish people are being brought out of their graves “into the land of Israel,” so God caused Jesus to rise from the dead, leave His grave, and walk once again on the streets of Israel! What a wonderful antitype! What a wonderful fulfillment!

Third, the New Testament gives your own conversion as an antitype, which pictures, in your own new birth, the raising of the Jews from captivity, and God causing them to return to their own land. Please turn to Ephesians 2:5. Stand and read this verse.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:5).

You may be seated.

Like the dispersed Jews, driven out into the graves of the heathen nations of the world, you were “dead in sins.” But God comes to you and “quickens” you. That means He “causes” you, by grace, “to come up out of your grave.”

When you hear the gospel, do not resist.  Man is as passive in his conversion as the Jews are in their restoration!  God “causes” you to come out of your grave!  God “brings” you to Jesus for salvation!  Arise from your grave and come to Christ.  All you must do is stop resisting Christ.  He is calling you this morning.  Some of you know He is calling you.  He died on the Cross to pay for your sins.  He rose again to give you life.  Now He is calling you to come to Him and receive pardon and eternal life.  Do not resist His call.  Come to Him and you will be saved. 

“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12),

for that is exactly where we are headed when the Lord descends from Heaven. If you come to Jesus now, you will descend with Him to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and God will

“bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

What a happy promise! What a perfect joy! As that old song says,

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land,
O, who will come and go with me,
I am bound for the promised land!
   (“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme:  Ezekiel 37:1-13.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
                  “On Jordan's Stormy Banks" (by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).

 


THE OUTLINE OF

GOD'S PROMISE TO THE JEWS

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:12).

I.   The meaning of "graves," Ezekiel 37:21, 14.

II.  The reason God is doing this, Deuteronomy 9:5; Genesis 17:8.

III. The type and the antitype, John 11:39, 43-44; Matthew 28:5-6; Ephesians 2:5.