My Photo
Location: United States

Friday, August 19, 2011

Israel’s return to the Land: Ezekiel 36:24

The legal language used in the infamous trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher  (Perugia, Italy) includes an expression “the evidence is … compatible with …” which indicates that some piece of evidence does not contradict a certain reconstruction of the crime scenario. This is a very weak form of evidence.

Looking at Ezekiel 36:22-27  we might detect some evidence which is compatible with the “House of Israel” returning to the land in unbelief. In verse 22 the Lord tells the House of Israel that nothing Israel has done serves as a motivation to restore them to the land. In other words, the restoration is a unilateral action taken by the Lord for reasons of his own, independent of Israel’s history or current moral/religious state. This is perhaps compatible with the scenario of Israel returning to the land in unbelief.

The sequence of the actions predicted in this passage begins with the return to the land. That is one way of reading it. Verses 22-23 present the goal to be achieved by the action. Verse 24ff presents a series of actions which will bring about the desired result. The sequence of the series does not constrain the reader in reconstructing the scenario. We are not required to view the presentation of the return to the land prior to the purification as a linear temporal model of the future events. However, the sequence might be “compatible with” a return to the land in unbelief.

Ezek. 36:22 RSV   “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.  23 And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.  24 For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.  25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.   

Charles L. Feinberg[1] reads verses 24-25ff as a chronological sequence. The return to the land first and then the purification and regeneration. Reading a sequence of prophetic predictions as temporal and sequential is typical of mid-20th century dispensationalism. The language is a sequence of propositions and the predictions must be presented in some order, but not necessarily linear or chronological order. Verse 24 isn’t linear, the first two statements are parallel  “I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries” and the third statement shows progression “and bring you into your own land.” The purification and spiritual regeneration in verses 25-27 are not linear, the relationship between the statements is a combination of parallelism and synthesis. An attempt to force the transition between the the return to the land and the spiritual renewal into a chronological sequence, based on this text alone, probably isn’t going to withstand close scrutiny.      
[1] Charles L. Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel: The Glory of the Lord, Moody Press 1969, page 209. 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home