Biblical Theology

Redemption in Ezekiel—37:11-14

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’”

—Ezekiel 37:11-14—


In the previous post, we touched on the fulfillment of God’s command to Ezekiel. The dry bones were reattached to one another; they were connected with muscle and ligaments; the exposed corpses were clothed in flesh and stood up on their feet. In the following notes, the preceding events are interpreted by God Himself. We should pay attention to the fact that God interprets His own Word often in both Old and New Testaments. We should take that into consideration when trying to figure out what the Bible says. We are also made privy to the fact that God will open the graves of His people. This language is perhaps the clearest revelation in the Old Testament of God’s future plan for His people in terms of our glorification in Christ.

The Already and the Not Yet of Resurrectional Life (vv. 11-14)

    1. God’s hermeneutic (vv. 11-14)
      • [NOTE] In v. 11, the text turns toward an explanation for what Ezekiel just saw. The interpretation of the vision is supplied by God Himself which brings an interesting interpretational tool to mind. There have been many different theories as to how we should interpret the Bible. In the Reformed tradition, what we call the analogy of Scripture has taken priority when it comes to interpreting God’s Word. The basic assumption behind the analogy of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit is the only infallible interpreter of the Bible. In other words, since the Bible is inspired by the holy Spirit, we need to look to the Bible for the interpretation of the Bible. Ezekiel 37:11-14 demonstrate a perfect example. Ezekiel’s vision is not left to human speculation, it’s interpreted by God Himself. The construction of this sermon has taken for granted the analogy of Scripture which is why we have bounced back and forth from other parts of the Bible to our text here in Ezekiel 37.
    2. The whole house of Israel (v. 27 w/ 2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3)
      • In v. 11 is mentioned the whole house of Israel which is interesting given the background of this phrase. In v. 27, God’s people are referred to as a “dwelling.” In 2 Corinthians 6:16, the church is referred to as the “temple of God.” And again, in Revelation 21:3, God is said to dwell with His people, the tabernacle being “among men.”
      • The house of Israel has a relevant meaning for Ezekiel and Israelites living during his time, for sure. Israel was often referred to as a “house (Ex. 16:31; Lev. 17:3).” But the fact God refers to the bones as the whole house of Israel is significant because we have already seen how the bones are not merely ethnic Israel awaiting national revival. Rather, the dry bones are set within a particular eschatological, or future, context which invokes thoughts about believer’s regeneration and the final resurrection of all those who are united to Christ Jesus. The house of Israel, therefore, is referent to the church, not only to ethnic Israel as in Ezekiel’s contemporary context.
      • Furthermore, in Romans 9:6, it is shown that ethnic Israel is not always to be referred to as the Israel. Paul writes that not all who are descended from israel (ethnic) are of Israel. Then again, in Galatians 6:16 Paul indicates that the church is the spiritualIsrael of God.”
    3. The graves of the people
      • The graves being opened is surely, again, a two-fold picture. It is true that the nation of Israel, during the time of Ezekiel, was desperate for renewal, both spiritually and politically. However, if we examine the same theme in the New Testament, we are able to see clearly the significance of the act of God in opening the graves of His people. In John 5:28, 29, we read:

        Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

    4. The indwelling Spirit of God (Jer. 31:31-34; Zech. 12:10)
      • The ministry of the Spirit is described here in terms of the New Covenant economy. It is in the New Covenant where Christ comes to live in each believer through His Spirit. Indeed, the ministry of the Spirit in the Old Testament functioned the same way, in terms of regeneration (Ps. 51:11), but not in the more robust sense revealed concerning New Covenant believers. Zechariah 12:10 says:

        I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

    5. Israel’s destiny (v. 23 w/ Rev. 21:3, 4)
      • What, then, is the destiny of Israel? After God’s plan of redemption is concluded, where does this Israel end up? In Ezekiel 37:23, it is written:

        They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their [fn]dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.

The future for Israel described in Ezekiel is described, and further clarified, in the New Testament. Revelation 21:3, 4 says:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

This passage harkens back to Ezekiel in more ways than one, but it also perpetuates and clarifies what Ezekiel was seeing. The people of God will indeed be a people indwelt by His Spirit; they will be a people who will be resurrected when Christ, that great Davidic ruler, returns; and they will be a people led into the land promised to them, where there will be no more sin, death, and the Satan’s ministry of darkness will be put to a total end.

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