Summary: A brief overview of Israel’s history relative to the prophecy of Ezekiel
Timeline for Israel: Ezekiel’s Four Purposes of Prophecy
1. Proclaim the grievous sin of the Jewish nation which justified its captivity and judgment, illustrating that God was not unfaithful or powerless.
2. Record the withdrawal of the Glory of God from the Temple before it’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, indicating that Israel, not God, was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar’s army.
3. Proclaim the coming judgment of surrounding nations, illustrating that their gloating and mischief toward Israel during her defeat and captivity would not go unpunished.
4. Proclaim the re-gathering and redemption of the people to their land at the end of the age, illustrating that their captivity was remedial punishment, and not permanent judgment, and that God will fulfill His promises to the patriarchs of old, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In 606 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim, king of Judah, submit to his authority and took some of the royal seed captive back to Babylon, including the prophet Daniel and his three companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
In 598 B.C. rebellion by the remaining Jews in the land brought about a second attack by Nebuchadnezzar and further punishment. This time he took approximately 10,000 Jewish captives back to Babylon including Ezekiel.
In 586 B.C another rebellion against the rule of Nebuchadnezzar brought the city of Jerusalem under siege, and the city was destroyed completely including the Temple and more Jewish captives were taken back to Babylon.
However, the Jews would return after 70 years of captivity in 536 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel (Ezra 1-6) and eventually rebuild the Temple. It was completed in 515 B.C. A second return of the Jews under the scribe Ezra occurred in 458 B.C. and he restored obedience to the Law and Godly worship by the people.
A third return was led by Nehemiah in 444 B.C. which was decreed by Darius and is the starting point for Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks. Nehemiah’s burden was to build the wall around the city of Jerusalem and this was miraculously accomplished through his leadership in 52 days!
As world powers changed Israel went from domination by Babylon, Persia, Greece and finally Rome in 68 B.C. In A.D. 66 the Jews rebelled against Rome, and four years later, after an extended siege, the Romans under Titus broke through the walls of the city.
Jerusalem was sacked and completely destroyed not leaving one stone upon another as the Romans extracted the gold from the very joints of the Temple stone literally moving each stone from atop the other fulfilling the Lord’s prophecy found in Matthew 24:2.
The Temple was once again destroyed and the Jews were scattered across the face of the earth as these horrendous calamities upon the Jews were God’s judgment for the rejection of their God-sent Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Through the centuries that followed many powers claimed control of the land of Israel, including the Byzantines, Muslims, Seljuks, Mamluks, Crusaders, Turks, and the British. The land was abused, the trees cut down, the topsoil was washed off the hills and the valleys became malaria infested swamps.
And then after 1800 years, at the end of the 19th century, and beginning of the 20th, Jews began to return to their homeland, fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. What they found was this desolate land with only a handful of Bedouins and an occasional village throughout the breadth and length of the land.
The promised land was not very promising, it was not the land of milk and honey that the Jews entered 3300 years earlier under Joshua’s leadership. Nevertheless, the prophet Ezekiel speaks glowingly of the restoration of the land in the last days. (Ezekiel 36:6-11)
He clearly proclaims that the land will be sovereignly and graciously restored (Ezekiel 36:21-23). He also speaks of the re-gathering and regeneration of the Jewish people who have for so long lived in unbelief (Ezekiel 36:24-28).
This regeneration did not occur at the end of the Babylonian captivity and it has not occurred at any point in time since, because, Ezekiel was speaking of the moment in time at the end of the age which Paul so clearly wrote of in the book of Romans 11:26:
‘And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.’
In Ezekiel 37 Ezekiel writes of an event that must precede Israel’s spiritual redemption. First she must be re-gathered back into the land, and the twelve tribes reunited. In verse one he is carried out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set down in the midst of the valley which was full of dry bones, suggesting that they were dead for a long time.
These bones were probably white, bleached by the hot relentless sunshine of the centuries. The Lord asks him a question in verse three: