A Fruitful Land for A Redeemed Nation Ezekiel 36:8–15
Israel is the key in God’s prophetic program among the nations of the world, for it was chosen to be His means of bringing blessing to the world. These blessings are presented in the covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3). When Israel apostatized, God chastised the erring nation. It is at that point in history that Ezekiel 36 begins. It gives an outline of God’s planned dealings with Israel through the future Millennial Kingdom.
The Land Given to Abraham
To the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 15:18) God gave the entire portion of land from the river of Egypt (the Nile) northward to the river Euphrates. The Mediterranean Sea forms the western boundary line, and the eastern area covers most of the Sinai Peninsula, Edom, Jordan, the Negev, Syria, and the areas now occupied by the Arab nations. This is the only area on earth that God gave to a specific people long before they actually became a nation. It was given by God to Abraham’s seed with no strings attached (Gen. 17:7–8). God is not finished with the Jewish nation or with the land that He gave them to possess. Although they have never fully occupied that land, they will do so during the Millennium.
From Rags to Riches
Mark Twain described Palestine in the 19th century as a “blistering, naked, and treeless land” (Innocents Abroad, Vol. II, p. 234). He spoke of the villages as “ugly, cramped, uncomfortable, and filthy” (Ibid., p. 260). He stated, “It was better to swallow a devil than to have to live in such a place” (Ibid., p. 266). He was describing the area around the now beautiful Sea of Galilee, whose surrounding hills are covered with trees and where forests abound. In the day of Israel’s restoration, various types of trees will be abundant there once again (Isa. 41:18–20).
God gave a wonderful promise of Israel’s restoration in Ezekiel 36:8–15). It will be restored like a tree producing fruit (v. 8). God will increase the numbers of the house of Israel. Its cities will once again be inhabited and its ruins rebuilt (v. 10). Animals will be plentiful, and the land will become fruitful (v. 11). The people will never again be deprived of their children (v. 12). God then declared that the nation of Israel will never be destroyed or suffer taunts from other nations (vv. 13–15).
The phrase “mountains of Israel” (v. 8) refers to the whole land of Israel (v. 6). This passage clearly teaches that Israel, although out of the land for a time of chastening, will be regathered, the land will become fruitful, and its population will increase. It will be respected rather than insulted.
Israel will be literally restored. The fulfillment of that prophecy is yet future, but God is continually moving in that direction. Today Israel exports about 80 percent of its fruit and vegetable harvest. We are perhaps witnessing a foreview of the coming day when “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6).
During the Millennium the curse inflicted upon the earth as a result of Adam’s sin will be lifted, at least in part. Isaiah records that the earth will break forth in abundance, and desert places will produce rich vegetation (Isa. 35:1–2).
The Land During the Tribulation
The land of Israel is unique in God’s program, as it will be the place where the final overthrow of the armies of Russia will take place. Ezekiel 38 and 39 give a vivid description of that supernatural, crushing defeat.
Russia’s invasion into Israel will take place during the first half of the Tribulation, when Israel is dwelling in peace and safety, feeling completely secure as a result of its accord with the Antichrist.
Another reason God is vitally interested in the land of Israel is that the area will play an important part in the career of the Antichrist. Daniel 9:27 states that this dictator will make a seven-year pact with the Jews. However, he will break this treaty in the middle of the seven years (the Tribulation) and inaugurate the most dreadful time in Israel’s history.
Zechariah 14:4–10 describes five physical changes that will occur when Christ’s feet touch the Mount of Olives. First, a great earthquake will shake the land of Israel, completely renovating the land structure, as islands and mountains suddenly disappear. Second, the Mount of Olives will split open, creating a tremendous valley east of the city of Jerusalem. Third, the entire area will be leveled, producing a plain extending north and south of Jerusalem. Fourth, Jerusalem itself will be thrust upward so that it dominates the countryside from a high position during the Millennium. Fifth, a river will spring up from beneath the surface of the earth, flowing westward into the Mediterranean Sea and eastward into the Dead Sea.
Further, the greatest human war ever fought will take place in the land of Israel. The Antichrist and his army will engage the armies of the kings of the east. This encounter is often referred to as the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16).
The Land in the Millennium
The geography of the land during the Millennial Kingdom will drastically change, as described in a number of Old Testament passages. Dr. Dwight Pentecost, in his book Things To Come, presents the following seven points:
Israel will become the particular inheritance of the Jewish people (Ezek. 36:8, 12; 47:22–23; Zech. 8:12). This is essential to fulfill Israel’s covenants.
The land will be greatly enlarged in comparison to its former area (Isa. 26:15; Obad. 17–21; Mic. 7:14). For the first time Israel will possess all of the land that God promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18–21).
The topography of the land will be altered (Ezek. 47:1–12; Joel 3:18; Zech. 4:7; 14:4, 8, 10). Instead of the mountainous terrain that characterizes Israel today, a great fertile plain will be formed at the Second Coming of the Messiah (Zech. 14:4) so that Mount Zion will truly be “Beautiful for situation” (Ps. 48:2). This changed topography will permit a river to flow out of the city of Jerusalem and divide to the seas to water the land (Ezek. 47:1–12).
There will be renewed fertility and productivity in the land (Isa. 32:15; 35:1–7; 51:3; 55:13; Ezek. 34:27; 36:29–35). Then the plowman will overtake the reaper because of that productivity (Amos 9:13).
There will be an abundance of rainfall (Isa. 30:23–25; 35:6–7; Ezek. 34:26; Joel 2:23–24; Zech. 10:1). Throughout the Old Testament rain was a sign of God’s blessing and approval. The absence of rain was a sign of God’s disapproval and judgment. The abundance of rain on the earth at that time will be a sign of God’s blessing.
The land will be reconstructed after being ravaged during the Tribulation period (Isa. 49:19; 61:4–5; Ezek. 36:33–38; Amos 9:14–15). The remnants of the destruction will be removed so that the earth may become clean again.
The land will be redistributed among the 12 tribes of Israel. In Ezekiel 48:1–29 this redistribution is outlined. The land will be divided into three portions by a line running from east to west all across its enlarged dimensions. The northern portion will be appointed to the tribes of Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah (vv. 1–7). The southern portion will be allotted to Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad (vv. 23–27). Between the northern and southern portions will be an area known as the “holy oblation”—a portion of land set apart for the Lord (vv. 8–20). This area will be 25,000 reeds long and wide (vv. 8, 20), divided into one area 25,000 by 10,000 reeds for the Levites (Ezek. 45:5; 48:13–14), another area of the same size for the Temple and priests (Ezek. 45:4; 48:10–12), and a third area 25,000 by 5,000 reeds for the city (Ezek. 45:6; 48:15–19).
In “The Temple Vision of Ezekiel,” Bibliotheca Sacra, October 1948 Unger explains these dimensions,
But how long is a reed? This is given as being six cubits, of a cubit and a handbreadth (43:13). So the real problem is, how long is the cubit specified by Ezekiel? As the prophet is very specific in stating that the unit of measurement in his vision is a cubit and a handbreadth (40:5; 43:13), he, no doubt, means the smallest cubit of three handbreadths as the basic measure, plus one handbreadth, or what is equivalent to the middle cubit of 14.4 inches. Upon this calculation the reed would be 7.2 feet. The holy oblation would be a spacious square, thirty-four miles each way, containing about 1,160 square miles. This area would be the centre of all the interests of the divine government and worship as set up in the millennial earth.
Isaiah 35 provides a wonderful description of blessings that will accompany the reign of the Messiah Jesus. The nature of mankind and the animal kingdom is pictured as reflecting the glories that are to come upon God’s people during the Millennium.
Romans 8:22 states that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” However, verse 21 states that the time will come when the groaning will end and the material earth will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The Consummation of the Land
When Israel possesses the land that God promised to Abraham and his seed, it will be resettled and rebuilt. It will no longer be desolate but will be like the Garden of Eden (Ezek. 36:33–35). It will be a testimony to other nations that God has restored Israel (v. 36). Most importantly, Israel will know that the Lord is their God and that He has restored them to a place of blessing.
Although Israel has been scattered among all the nations of the world since 70 A.D., the Scriptures declare that Christ will return and occupy the throne of David (Ps. 89:3–4). When He does, Israel will be regathered to their land.
The ultimate fulfillment of God’s purpose for Israel will be their regathering to the land, possessing it, and enjoying the kingdom reign of Christ and their new relationship with Him.