Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Parable of the Two Sticks

This morning I was reading the Haftarah portion for Vayigash. It was Ezekiel 37:15-28. In it Ezekiel was told by God to take two sticks. He was to write "For Judah" on one of them and "For Joseph" on the other. These sticks were to represent the divided Kingdom which was made up of Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom that was also known as Ephraim, which came from the name of one of the sons of Joseph). Ezekiel was to put these two sticks together, although it doesn't say how he was to do that. Perhaps he joined them in some way, or perhaps God miraculously joined them. Anyway, in their joined state, this single stick represented that the divided kingdom would one day become one again.

Ezekiel 37:21 (KJV)
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:

In verse 21 God explained how this joining would take place. He would bring back to the land of Israel his Jewish people from wherever they had been scattered. This prophecy is being fulfilled during our own days. Beginning with the statehood of Israel in 1948, Jews have been going back to their own land.

Ezekiel 37:22-23 (KJV)
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:
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 dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

Verse 22 adds that there will be one king over the reunited Israel. This has not yet been fulfilled, but verse 23 gives us a clue as to the timing of this one king. In this joined Israel, the Jews will no longer defile themselves with their idols, their detestable things, nor their transgressions. God will save them and cleanse them, so that He would be their God and they would be His people. This is depicting a time that Paul speaks of in Romans. Eventually, all the Jews will be saved and they will recognize their Messiah.

Romans 11:26 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Ezekiel 37:24 (KJV)
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.

Verse 24 of Ezekiel specifies that the king will be David. This is not David in some reincarnated sense, but rather indicates that the Messiah King will be a descendant of David. That King will be Yeshua. This verse also points out that the Jews having been saved will walk in God's judgments, observe His statutes, and will do them. What are God's judgments and statutes? Any Jew will know that God's judgments and statutes are found in the Torah. Since they will be saved, they will have the indwelling Holy Spirit that will enable them to observe the Torah. Let me say this again. After salvation, God's people will observe and obey the Torah.

Ezekiel 37:26 (KJV)
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.

Lastly, Ezekiel repeats that God will make an everlasting covenant of peace with the Jewish people. This is not a new covenant that abolishes the old, rather it is the renewed covenant that is spoken of in Jeremiah. Notice, too, that the dwelling place of the Jews will be in the land of Israel, where God will set His sanctuary in the midst of them. This will be their covenant and dwelling place forever.

Jeremiah 31:31 (KJV)
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

The time that Ezekiel has been speaking of is after Yeshua's return, when He establishes His Milennial Kingdom. However, the covenant that God makes with Israel and their homeland will last forever. This means that the time goes beyond the Milennial kingdom into eternity.

If we Gentiles want to be a part of God's people, we can only participate through the Jews. By grace through faith, God grafts us into Israel. There is no other way. Although God has intended that both Jews and Gentiles are a part of His Kingdom, they are identified only by the term Israel.