What does this mean?
15The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
16Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
19Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
20And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
21And 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:
22And 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.
Who is Judah? Who is Joseph [Ephraim]? When were they divided into two kingdoms?
In the reigns of David and Solomon the 12 tribes were united under one kingdom but that unity ended after Solomon and the northern 10 tribes revolted from the house of David under Jeroboam son of Nebat, an Ephraimite.
The later biblical history includes accounts of the reigns of the kings of both Israel and of Judah which remained loyal to the house of David.
When Ezekiel wrote his prophecy the people of both kingdoms had been removed from the land of promise. They lived in what is now Iraq, and in various other countries.
In his prophecy, Ezekiel showed the whole house of Israel would be gathered from among the heathen, and they would return to the land promised to their forefathers, and would be reunited under David, (who represents Christ, as Christ has inherited David's throne).
Is this an end time prophecy?
The meaning of all this is discussed by Patrick Fairbairn, in "Ezekiel and the book of his prophecy: an exposition
" [T. & T. Clark, 1855] pp. 408-412.
Fairbairn stated:The whole people of Israel had been represented as participating in the regenerating efficacy of the spirit of life, which was to be given from above: and, as the direct result of this was to unite them to God, so its secondary operation could not fail to be, to unite them in brotherly concord with each other. For the true covenant-people must form but one body, as they can only have one Head; and hence, as the necessary shell for preserving this great truth, it was so strictly enjoined of old, that they should have but one temple, one high-priest, one king, and one commonwealth.
In the Church, believers are brought into the commonwealth of Israel
by faith in Christ, who is both our King and our high priest. Paul said in Eph. 2:11-16:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
The barrier in the temple that separated Jews and Gentiles is broken down; believers of all ethnic background are under one Head, who is Jesus, and are brought into one "commonwealth."
The promises to Joseph, and to Judah, (eternal throne) and to Levi, (perpetual priesthood) and all the other promises of God apply to Jesus and to those who are in Christ, the Church. Paul said, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." [ 2 Corinthians 1:20]
What about the promise of restoration to the land? The Old Covenant promise of the land is a shadow
of spiritual, eternal things, as Jacob alluded to when he said, while blessing Joseph, "The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren." [Genesis 49:26] The high mountains suggest these blessings are high
, and lofty
, and of a spiritual nature. In Isaiah, God said, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." [Isaiah 55:9] And Jacob refers to the hills as "everlasting," which points us to the eternal duration of the promises, that the mountains of Israel represent. This is why, I believe, Ezekiel said, "I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel;" [Ez. 37:22] the mountains of Israel
are symbolic of the promises
of Israel, the spiritual things promised to the saints. This is the "better country" mentioned in Hebrews 11:16. This includes the spiritual truths that are revealed in the Scriptures; whereas other lands represent the false beliefs
of other people. Being removed from the land of promise represents the people being removed from the true faith, and instead dwelling in the darkness, superstition, and ignorance of the pagan nations who did not know God. There is a parallel to Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden. They were denied access to the tree of life
. Restoration to the promised land represents returning to the truth
and a right understanding of the Gospel, as understanding the truth is one of the things Jesus promised his disciples.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Is it related to this scrpture?
John 6:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
Certainly. The "dead" includes those who are spiritually dead.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
The "heavenly places" corresponds to the "better country" of Hebrews 11:16.