V’yechi

V’yechi

He lived

“Blessing Israel”

Genesis 47:28-50:26
1 Kings 2:1-12


by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

This week’s parashah, V’yechi, brings us to the end of the Book of Genesis. For twelve weeks, this first book of the Torah has instructed readers about the Creation of the universe and Planet Earth, to an emphasis upon the one family which was chosen to be God’s representatives to humanity at large. From Adam to Noah to Abraham and finally Jacob, the Almighty has progressively demonstrated how He works through specific individuals in order to accomplish His will and purposes. Now as Genesis comes to a close, the Patriarch Jacob, inheritor of the covenants and blessings bestowed upon Abraham and Isaac, is now in a position to extend those same blessings to his progeny who will give rise to the future nation of Israel.

Many critical lessons should be understood from this week’s Torah portion. After all, we witness how Jacob is in a unique position to not only bless his sons, but also prophetically declare much of the future intention of his offspring. Great lessons for followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can be imparted by the graphic example of extending one’s blessings upon children. Consider how the author of Hebrews indicates that by following the example established by his father Isaac, Jacob exhibited the great faith that he had in the God who was not only faithful to his fathers—but now to him as his life was ending:

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come. By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (Hebrews 11:20-21).

In many respects, the concept of faithfully blessing one’s children and offspring, in order to pass on the blessings you have received from God, is reinforced and categorically established by the actions described in V’yechi. Thankfully, faithful men and women of God who have inherited these blessings throughout Biblical history—have been responsible for passing them on to people like us today, who clearly reap the benefits of the original blessings imparted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We should have great confidence in the Lord that we will see them continue to be passed on to future generations!

The Double Blessing

As you begin to study and reflect upon some of the details of this Torah portion, you should be able to pick up on some of the subtle statements which indicate how Jacob, just like his grandfather Abraham and father Isaac, was gifted with prophetic insight about the future of his children and their offspring. Jacob was 130 years old when he arrived in Egypt, and he lived there for seventeen years until his death (Genesis 47:28). During his time spent in Egypt, Jacob was surely able to reflect upon his life experiences, including his reunion with the presumed-deceased Joseph, and how events had led him to his final days outside of the land promised to him and his descendants. No doubt as he considered all of life’s trials and tribulations, he thought about his twelve sons and how they had behaved and acted over the years. He probably remembered some of the dreams that Joseph had shared with he and Rachel years earlier in Canaan, and now how he had witnessed their fulfillment. As he approached death, Jacob desired to finalize his estate.

Jacob was very preoccupied about his final resting place. As his body began to fail, he was compelled to commit Joseph to a pledge to return his remains to the Land of Canaan:

“When the time for Israel to die drew near, he called his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Please, if I have found favor in your sight, place now your hand under my thigh and deal with me in kindness and faithfulness. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but when I lie down with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.’ And he said, ‘I will do as you have said.’ And he said, ‘Swear to me.’ So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed” (Genesis 47:29-31).

Jacob had a very special relationship with the God of his fathers. The various encounters he had with Him over the years, and now the opportunity to be circumspect, forced him to conclude that it was imperative that he have his body laid to rest in the tomb of his fathers. After all, he might have reasoned, he knew of how his father Isaac had placed his grandfather Abraham in the tomb Abraham himself had purchased in Machpelah,[1] and then he in turn had placed Isaac in that same tomb.[2] Because Jacob had also been promised Canaan as an inheritance, it would only be natural for him to be laid to rest in the same tomb. Since Joseph ostensibly had the power to fulfill his request, Jacob secured a vow from Joseph.

Once this request was insured, Jacob was probably content to finish off the days of his life. We soon discover that as the number of Jacob’s days were coming to a close, he now went into action to repeat many of the actions that he had witnessed his father Isaac perform decades earlier. Jacob understood the important principles of the birthright blessings. After all, some of the most memorable events of his life centered around the challenges of the one who would receive the birthright inheritance and the blessing of Isaac. Of course, we remember that in the case of Jacob and Esau, in spite of the fact that Esau was the elder son, Jacob received both the birthright blessings and the leadership blessings for his generation.[3] Now as death approached, Jacob had the opportunity to pass blessings and important words onto his sons, and as we also see, his grandsons—with each of the words containing an important prophetic theme.

The issuing of the double portion blessing is first extended. As we should keep in mind, Jacob has had a very full life that included multiple wives and multiple concubines. It was the son of Rachel, the beloved Joseph, whom Jacob designated as the heir of these distinct birthright blessings. As we read in this account, Joseph had two sons, and we witness that Jacob actually adopted them as his own. By in essence making them his own, he passed the double portion blessing onto Joseph’s two grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim:

“Now it came about after these things that Joseph was told, ‘Behold, your father is sick.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim with him. When it was told to Jacob, ‘Behold, your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel collected his strength and sat up in the bed. Then Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, “Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession.” And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are. But your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).’ When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, ‘Who are these?’ And Joseph said to his father, ‘They are my sons, whom God has given me here.’ So he said, ‘Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.’ Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.’ Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the first-born. And he blessed Joseph, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth’” (Genesis 48:1-16).

In this classic passage, the birthright blessings of Jacob are extended to the two sons of Joseph. But in a somewhat confusing manner, due to the inspiration of the moment, the younger son Ephraim actually received the greater blessing that is typically extended to the elder son of each generation. Somehow during this intriguing moment of blessing, Jacob was prompted to cross his arms and place his right hand upon the head of Ephraim. As Jacob placed his name, and the names of Abraham and Isaac upon these two young boys, he declared some truly awesome privileges. He stated that the two of them will grow into a multitude in the midst of the Earth (Genesis 48:16). But then we see that Joseph was somewhat confused, wondering if his elderly father had made a mistake about to whom he was extending his blessings:

“When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the first-born. Place your right hand on his head.’ But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people and he also shall be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.’ And he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel shall pronounce blessing, saying, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!”’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh” (Genesis 48:17-20).

The Patriarch Jacob, although aged, was not confused with what he was doing at all. He categorically declares, “I know, my son, I know,” so as not to be misunderstood. Jacob was able to see into the future, to not only see what was going to befall his two grandson’ descendants, but also bless them according to the preeminence that they would each inherit. This was a very powerful event in the life of the emerging nation of Israel, as it would have a resonating effect once the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land and established themselves as a kingdom. The ramifications of this blessing and Jacob’s other declarations undeniably continue until this very day. They are all a part of God’s great plan of redemption for the world, but most especially how we believe today that the restoration of all Israel has begun to take place via the presence of the Messianic movement.

Blessing Our Own

What can we learn from these rich and “loaded” verses as Genesis comes to a close in our Torah examination? What principles and insight must we embrace that will be beneficial as we bless our children with great love and affection, but most especially model them a dynamic walk of faith in the Messiah Yeshua?

It is important for us to truly understand the power of blessing. All parents are responsible for the next generation and the continuation of the faith that has been passed down to them. If you are a parent, you truly need to grasp a hold of the benefits of blessing your children—no different than how you might regularly tell your spouse “I love you” on a daily basis.

We have seen the Holy One bless Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then in turn the Patriarchs bless their children. Of course, as we have read the blessings throughout the Book of Genesis, we are quick to note that all of the Patriarchs were Divinely guided in the proclamation of their blessings over their various offspring. Whether it is Abraham blessing Isaac or Ishmael, or Isaac blessing Jacob or Esau, or Jacob blessing his sons and grandsons—the one constant thing that you will note is that each of these parents were uniquely tuned in to what God’s will was for the respective children. Each one listened and heard the still quiet voice of the Lord, as He communicated the blessings and the future determined for their children. They in turn, at the proper times, were then able to pass on the blessings to the succeeding generation. You might imagine what the sons of Jacob/Israel thought when they heard that he was “summoning” them to come and hear what would befall them in future:

“Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what shall befall you in the days to come[4]’” (Genesis 49:1).

The expectation to hear a 147 year-old father declare his final words over you had to have been one of the most significant highlights and events of their lives. The Patriarch Jacob, as we know, gave each of them powerful and formative words that would declare forth much of the destiny and future accomplishments of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:1-28). Perhaps we should take this pattern to heart, and in a similar way desire to pass our blessings down upon our own children. Each parent, who has made the effort to truly train up godly sons and daughters (Proverbs 22:6), should be able to have a special moment near the end of his or her life, delivering some final words of admonishment.

But one of the challenges we each have is that we do not know the day or hour of our departure from this world. Even though there is a certain degree of wisdom to store up your insights and wisdom for the end of your days—to perhaps give your children a peek at what you see them doing in the future—in the interim it is also extremely beneficial to bless your children (or for that matter, any loved one or close friend) on a regular basis. In the event that you are not able to have some special, final moments with a son or daughter, be sure to impart enough to them in your regular interactions! This is why the Jewish people have taken to heart the admonition given to Joseph and the people of Israel, about blessing their children like Ephraim and Manasseh:

“And he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you Israel shall pronounce blessing, saying, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!”’ Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh” (Genesis 48:20).

The traditional Jewish prayer, usually recited on Erev Shabbat, is to declare that the material blessings of the double portion which was given to Ephraim and Manasseh, is to now be manifested in the current generation. It is customary for fathers to say this prayer over their sons, followed by them declaring a similar blessing over their daughters that they might inherit the blessings of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah.[5] In Conservative Judaism both parents, father and mother together, will often jointly declare these blessings.[6] By declaring these blessings over their sons and daughters, faithful Jewish people pass on a godly and most encouraging tradition that finds its root not only in our Torah portion—but very early in the Bible itself. The benefits to the children being regularly blessed every week are surely unimaginable!

If there is anything you might want to consider this week as you reflect upon V’yechi, you might want to really think about blessing your children. Let your sons and daughters know how much you care for them, and how much potential you see in them being exercised. Blessing children for good works accomplished has a far greater return than condemning them for opportunities missed, or reminding them of their past failures and shortcomings. Receiving statements of blessing from parents is something that most children truly cherish and never forget! On the other hand, the accounts of those who do not receive statements of blessing are often filled with feelings of regret and remorse, for not hearing comforting and loving messages of appreciation from parents.

While you are developing a habit of blessing your children, you might be considering the important words that you will want to impart as you continue to age and approach death. Leaving children with a legacy and a hope for their future is quite a blessing in itself. It is also quite possible that as your relationship with the Lord becomes closer, He just might impart to you—through His still small voice—a vision of what your children will be doing in the future. Then you, like Jacob, might have the opportunity to place a blessing for a hope and a future upon your descendants.

As the Lord has blessed us through the life of Jacob and the legacy his sons, may we continue to bless Him through our perseverance in the things of the faith that we have received. And by faith, may we like Jacob, pour out His blessings upon our children so that all of our families will be blessed!

Of course, if you have no children of your own, or even if you do have children—make regularly blessing all people you know a regular habit. Encouraging extended family members, close friends, and various acquaintances with the love of the Messiah Yeshua is surely something that each of us needs to do. We do not know if the last time we might see a particular person might really be the last time, so we need to make every effort possible that we have left them with a positive impression from the Father’s heart! The love that parents have toward their sons and daughters is to surely be extended to all who need a special touch from Him.


NOTES

[1] Genesis 25:9.

[2] Genesis 35:29.

[3] Genesis 27:1-41.

[4] Heb. b’acharit ha’yamim; followed by the CJB rendering “in the acharit-hayamim.”

[5] J.H. Hertz, ed., The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, revised (New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1960), pp 402-403; Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz, eds., The Complete ArtScroll Siddur: Nusach Sefard (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1985),pp 384-385.

[6] Jules Harlow, ed., Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals (New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2007), 311.

V’yigash

V’yigash

He approached

“Positioning for Restoration”

Genesis 44:18-47:27
Ezekiel 37:15-28


by Mark Huey
mark@outreachisrael.net

This week’s Torah portion, V’yigash, is a relatively short reading that deals principally with the reunion of the sons of Jacob/Israel, as Joseph in his capacity as the Egyptian viceroy reveals himself to his brothers as the one they cast away into slavery. This occurs through a series of deliberate steps, Divinely designed to bring repentance and reconciliation to the entire family. In surveying V’yigash, Torah readers and students should be able to consider its overriding theme of restoration between family members and God, which is something that surely permeates much of the Holy Scriptures. Most especially not to overlook is how not only are the various brothers reconciled, but Joseph is also reunited with his father Jacob, and the family is relocated to the land of Goshen where they were protected from the ravages of famine. In an ironic twist, we see how these followers of Abraham’s God begin to appreciate His sovereign hand of protection, which preserved them and their emerging progeny, in spite of their propensity to often be guided by the dictates of their sinful hearts.

If you think about the events described in V’yigash, and place yourself in almost any of the principal parts in the drama that unfolds—you will not be able to miss the obvious reality that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is certainly about fulfilling His covenantal promises to His chosen people. How else can you explain all of the unique circumstances? As the brothers are circumstantially forced to seek sustenance from Pharaoh’s grain reserves in Egypt, little did they realize that it was their brother Joseph who was providentially placed in a position to be their protector, deliverer, and ultimate provider. The one who was sold into slavery and disposed of, is now most literally the family’s only hope for survival.

Interestingly, as you ponder the various scenes described between Joseph and his brothers, Joseph and his father and the Pharaoh, and ultimately Joseph and the inhabitants of Egypt as the famine rages on—you might pause to consider whether there might be any significant, prophetic future implications of what occurs. Certainly, the Jewish Rabbis have done precisely this in centuries past, when they discerned that the right Haftarah portion for V’yigash was Ezekiel 37:15-28. They knew that the prophesied restoration of all Israel in the future is definitely one of the primary things that the Jewish community needed to consider, as God will be faithful to fulfill His covenantal promises. When the Sages heard or read the prophecies of Ezekiel, which described a future time when Judah, Israel/Ephraim/Joseph, and their various companions would be reunited and restored to the Holy Land—they were somehow piqued of how Joseph revealed himself to his brothers while in Egypt.

As Messianic Believers today, who are having to consider V’yigash and its message that undoubtedly carries implications beyond the history of the Pentateuch—what do we really need to be focusing on? Might there be something important that will illuminate current developments in the emerging Messianic movement, and the restoration to Israel that is truly prophesied to occur according to the Scriptures?

The Rise of Judah

You should recall that in last week’s Torah portion, Mikkeitz (Genesis 41:1-44:17), we witness that Judah had begun to assert himself as the spokesperson and leader of the brothers who remained in Canaan. When Jacob issued his concern about the lack of food, it was Judah who spoke for the brothers:

“Now the famine was severe in the land. So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, ‘Go back, buy us a little food.’ Judah spoke to him, however, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, “You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you”’” (Genesis 43:1-3).

As the dialogue continued and the discussion about how to overcome some of the challenges of complying with the demands of the Egyptian official (unknown by them to be Joseph) ensues, it was Judah who magnanimously offered himself as “surety” for the life of Benjamin:

“And Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. I myself will be surety for him;[1] you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever’” (Genesis 43:8-9).

Here in an act of self-sacrifice and protection on Judah’s part, we can see definite clues when a future son of Judah, Yeshua the Messiah, will offer Himself up for the sins of the world. As Mikkeitz ended, Judah definitely took the lead among his brothers. With the narrative describing “Judah and his brothers,” Yehudah v’echayv, we find him in charge of the negotiations with the viceroy of Egypt (Joseph):

“When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there, and they fell to the ground before him. And Joseph said to them, ‘What is this deed that you have done? Do you not know that such a man as I can indeed practice divination?’ So Judah said, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found’” (Genesis 44:14-16).

When V’yigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27) begins, we find again that it was Judah who continued in the dialogue with the yet unrevealed Joseph. The clear rise and preeminence of these two brothers would manifest itself later in how the nation of Israel implanted in the Promised Land will have two main components to it, being largely known as Judah (later Judea) and Joseph (or Ephraim, after Joseph’s youngest son):

“Then Judah approached him, and said, ‘Oh my lord, may your servant please speak a word in my lord’s ears, and do not be angry with your servant; for you are equal to Pharaoh’” (Genesis 44:18).

As this interaction took place, it was Judah and Joseph who discussed the challenges that faced Jacob, who still grieved over the loss of his son Joseph (who he thought was dead). The dialogue proceeded and Judah eloquently described the pain of watching his father suffer the loss of his beloved son, and how he would suffer more if the brothers did not return with the youngest, Benjamin (Genesis 44:19-34). Most importantly, it was Judah who declared to Joseph that he alone would offer up his life for the life of his brother Benjamin (Genesis 44:30). Here at this critical juncture, Judah was the one who attempted to acquire a degree of mercy from the shrouded Joseph toward his family.

Viewing the events in Mikkeitz and into V’yigash, one can find that the two brothers Judah and Joseph emerged into taking some very prominent roles in their generation. What they did appropriately complimented the other, as together they assured the survival of the future of the nation of Israel. Many readers have concluded that the unique characteristics of Judah and Joseph include prophetic foreshadowings of later events and occurrences throughout God’s plan of salvation history.

Joseph Recognizes God’s Hand

At the point when Judah declared his willingness to offer his life for that of his brother Benjamin, this was when Joseph finally broke down and could no longer withhold himself. Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Was this a result of Joseph witnessing how his brother Judah, the one who had originally suggested that he be sold into slavery (Genesis 37:26-27), had matured into a man of compassion? Whatever the actual reason or combination of factors, the emotional reality of what Joseph was witnessing was too difficult for him to contain:

“Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, ‘Have everyone go out from me.’ So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life’” (Genesis 45:1-5).

It is most interesting how the Lord molded both Judah and Joseph through completely different circumstances, into the figures of their generation—who would later symbolize the future divisions of Israel that will eventually be reunited in the end-times. Joseph understood beyond a shadow of doubt that it was God Himself who was responsible for all of the episodes of his life, which positioned him into the place to be a preserver of the family of Israel. His statements clearly made this known:

“And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve lifeAnd God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay”’” (Genesis 45:5, 7-9).

Joseph recognized that it was God who had orchestrated the affairs of his life to position him to be the viceroy of Egypt, and be the ultimate deliverer of the family of Israel when the famine strikes. Joseph, whose rise to prominence came through the trials of affliction coupled with the blessing of God to interpret dreams, was no doubt the son who was used by Him to salvage Israel at this point in time.

What does the example of Joseph revealing himself as God’s appointed deliverer communicate to us, as Twenty-First century men and women of faith? Have you ever received an inkling from the Lord that you will be placed in an important position in the future, to help someone or communicate something critical to those needing direction? How many of us might complain about some of the ups and downs of the growth and development of the Messianic movement, not realizing that we have to have a long term perspective, and that some of the things we say—be it explaining who Yeshua is as the Messiah to Jewish friends, or the importance of our Hebraic Roots to Christian colleagues—are to be kept to ourselves until the appropriate time?

How much patience and forbearance do you think a man like Joseph had to possess in order to ably handle his brothers? How much do you think you might need in handling various situations and circumstances in life?

A Supernatural Union

Certainly, the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:15-28, which composes the Haftarah selection for V’yigash, has come to be emblematic of the ultimate reunion and restoration to God’s people as promised by Him. Torah students are reminded year after year that the final restoration of Israel is a prophetic expectation not to be overlooked or ignored. How this involves today’s Messianic movement, particularly with Jewish Believers coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah in great numbers, and many evangelical Christians embracing their Hebraic Roots, is one which has provoked a wide number of responses. While there are many details in this prophecy that need to be explored by readers, the undeniable theme of Ezekiel’s oracle is how a great supernatural unity is to transpire, one which ultimately represents God’s sovereignty and cannot be broken by any mortal:

“The word of the LORD came again to me saying, ‘And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, “For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.” Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. And when the sons of your people speak to you saying, “Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?” say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.’ And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. And say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and they will no longer be divided into two kingdoms. And 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 dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God. And My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them. And they shall live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant shall be their prince forever. And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever”’” (Ezekiel 37:15-28).

As we contemplate this prophecy, we are reminded that its fulfillment can by no means be an instantaneous event. Instead, as it transpires, then the people ask: Will you not show us what you mean by these?” (Ezekiel 37:18, RSV). This question indicates almost as many perplexing thoughts that must have been the initial reaction of the sons of Jacob/Israel, as Joseph revealed himself to them in Pharaoh’s courtyard.

I would submit that if we have begun to actually witness the final stages of Israel’s restoration in our day, that this question has been answered in a large number of ways: some good and some not so good. Some do not know what to do, and so they choose to ignore the relevant Biblical passages. Others have entered in, have over-simplified things, and have opportunized things quite a bit. And still, others have tried to develop the patience needed to recognize that the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom is something that can only occur in the Father’s perfect timing, and have tactfully done the best they can in living forth the prophecy’s ethic of unity.

Let us be those who truly seek His face, and are given the gifts and temperance needed! May we each possess the discernment to know what our place may be in the anticipated restoration of Israel, so that the Lord can use us to help it along at the appropriate season, rather than deter it through any ungodly flesh patterns that cause confusion.


NOTES

[1] Or, “I myself will guarantee his safety” (NIV).