Bringing the Breath of Life to Israel
“Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life’” (Ezekiel 37:5, all scriptures from the New American Standard Bible).
by Ernie Kuenzli
The valley of dry bones prophecy actually contains two related but separate
prophecies regarding the recovery of Israel. The first prophecy concerns re-assembling the bones, causing sinews to join them, flesh to grow upon them, and then skin to cover them (Ezekiel 37:4-8). This prophecy was accomplished when Israel, as a secular nation with a defined border, was declared in 1948. But after this was fulfilled, “there was no breath in them.” The bones were not yet alive from God’s standpoint. The hopes of Israel were still not completely fulfilled (Ezekiel 37:11).
Then, God gave Ezekiel a second prophecy. “He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain,
that they come to life’’” (Ezekiel 37:9). The breath of life needs to be granted to the nation that they might become alive. God explains to Ezekiel how this will be done. “‘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 37:14). It is God’s Spirit that brings Israel breath, and therefore life.
This spirit comes to Israel as a result of their deliverance in the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 explain in detail how Israel is delivered. Gog and his associates come down upon Israel from
the north “to capture spoil and to seize plunder” (Ezekiel 38:1-15). But the result of Gog coming against Israel and God’s deliverance of Israel will be the sanctification of God in the eyes of both the Gentiles (Ezekiel 38:16) and
Israel (Ezekiel 39:27). “And I will set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment which I have executed [on Gog and his allies] and My hand which I have laid on them. (22) And the house of Israel will know that I am the LORD their God from that day onward (Ezekiel 39:21-22).
“‘Then they will know that I am the LORD their God because I made them [Israel] go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them [Israel] again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer. (29) I will not hide My face from them any longer, for I will have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ declares the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 39:28-29). Today, neither the world nor Israel understands why the Jews have gone into exile nor why they have been recovered. Not until God delivers Israel from Gog, and He pours His Spirit upon Israel, will the world of mankind see and understand that the restoration of Israel has been His work.
How will God be sanctified through Israel in the eyes of many people? By delivering them from the Gentiles and then by making a New Covenant with them whereby He can pour upon them His Spirit and give them life. We see this reality in the prophet Joel’s description of this experience. Joel 2:15-17 describes Gog’s assault upon Israel. During this time, “let the bridegroom [Christ] come out of his room And the bride [church] out of her bridal chamber.” This describes the completion of the church and that the marriage of the lamb has taken place. God then promises to bless Israel
in verses 18-19, but first, He needs to deliver Israel from Gog. “(20) I will remove the northern army [Gog and his horde] far from you, And I will drive it into a parched and desolate land, and its vanguard into the eastern sea, And its rear guard into the western sea.”
Then, God will send grain [new food], new wine [new doctrines] and oil [the holy Spirit]. “The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. (25) Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten … (26) You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you … (27) Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame” (Joel 2:20, 24-27). It is “after this That I [God] will pour out My Spirit on all mankind,” after He has first poured His Spirit on Israel and brought them to life (Joel 2:28).
Pouring His Spirit upon Israel is one of blessings God brings to the nation under the New Covenant. The prophet Ezekiel mentions the two-step process of re-gathering Israel and then bringing them to life in Ezekiel 36:24-29. “I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.” This verse corresponds to Ezekiel 37:8.
But there is no breath in Israel yet.
Continuing, Ezekiel writes: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. (26) Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (27) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to
walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (28) You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. (29) Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.”
Here, Israel does not receive God’s Spirit and hence, the breath, until He has first sprinkled clean water upon them — cleansing them by applying Christ’s blood to seal the New Covenant. Then, He gives them a new heart, a new spirit (His Spirit) and this heart transformation causes them to walk in God’s statutes, observe His ordinances, and become His people.
Jeremiah clearly links this heart transformation of Israel to the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31,33-34. “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah … (33) this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days … I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them … for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’”
It will take God’s holy Spirit to put His law within the Jewish people, just as His spirit writes God’s law within the disciple of Christ now. Just as God’s holy Spirit begets spiritual life in the Christian, it brings life and a spiritual
understanding to the Jewish people, and ultimately to the entire human family.
God, through Jeremiah, confirms this in Jeremiah 32:37-41. “Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place
and make them dwell in safety.” Then, under the work of the New Covenant, (38) “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; (39) and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. (40) I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from
them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. (41) I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.” That God would promise, and then plant the Nation of Israel in their land, with all His heart and soul, is just an amazing commitment on the part of the Creator to bless the offspring of His good friend, Abraham.
Today, we see the assembling of Israel’s enemies continuing. “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and
My inheritance, Israel” (Joel 3:2). But since the church is not complete — “the fulness of the Gentiles has [not] come in” — the partial hardness or blindness still afflicts Israel.
God has not yet roared from Zion nor uttered His voice from Jerusalem (Romans 11:25, Joel 3:16). That awaits the completion of the church and the marriage of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-8). Then, God will rescue Israel, make with them a New Covenant, and pour His Spirit upon them bringing them life, fulfilling the Ezekiel 37:10. “Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy … (18) And in that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the LORD To water the valley of
Shittim” (Joel 3:17-18).