Study 10 THE PROMISE OF RESTORATION FOR ISRAEL, AND US!
GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verses: Ezekiel 34:11-12)
There are three indisputable facts about the Bible: (1) there is no religious or moral truth which has been written in any book that is not found in the Bible; (2) it is the only book that can make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:16); (3) it is the only book that has the power to foretell the future, for in it God has given us a complete panorama of the history of the ages. The Bible is unique, and it is in relation to the prophetic nature of it that we look at this study. All prophecy in Scripture moves along three lines - (1) the prophecies which relate to the Lord Jesus; (2) those which relate to the Jewish people, Israel; (3) those which relate to the Gentile nations. These verses in Ezekiel undoubtedly point forward to the time when Israel is to be restored and when the Lord Jesus will sit upon the throne of His father David (Luke 1:32-33). But these words are significant for us and our need of salvation.
1. The Lord speaks of Himself as a Shepherd and of His people as sheep
These are metaphors frequently adopted in the Bible. For example in Psalm 23, Luke 15:3-7, John 10:1-16, we are told three things about the sheep:-
- 1. They are lost. You will notice in Ezekiel 34 that they emphasise that the sheep are lost. This is why we hear the shepherd saying, ”I will search for the lost” (verse 16). To be lost means to be separated from and to be out of fellowship with God. This is the position of the majority of Jewish people today; they are blind to the fact that Jesus is their Messiah. The Lord Jesus came to the Jew first (Matthew 15:24); but then the door was opened to the Gentiles, and now - look up Romans 10:11-13! How wonderful it is that today our loving Lord is seeking those who are lost – look up Luke 19:10.
- 2. The sheep are scattered (verses 12,16). How true of Israel these words are! No people have been scattered or driven about like the Jewish people; they are everywhere and yet they are being moved around; they have never been able to settle anywhere for long and will not do so until they see in the Saviour God’s appointed King! - look up and compare Matthew 9:36; John 10:16.
- 3. The sheep are afflicted. In verse 16 we read of the shepherd binding up the injured and weak, and in verse 12 there is reference to ”the day of clouds and darkness”. But thank God, Christ has removed the cloud for every believer by shedding His blood upon the Cross (Isaiah 44:22).
So we see that just as the people of Israel have been lost, scattered and afflicted because they have rejected the Saviour, so every unconverted person is in the same perilous and sad condition. Is this your position spiritually?
2. See what the Shepherd promises to do for His sheep, for the Jews sometime in the future, and for every repentant sinner, here and now, if he will turn to Him
The following points refer not only to Israel but to every sinner needing salvation.
- 1. In verse 11 the Lord says, ”I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.” This is literally true of the Jews, and the Lord who promises to search and seek out His people will at a future time find them, gather them from every nation, and bring them back to Himself and to their own land; in the same way, if you are not a Christian He is seeking you. How wonderful that the Lord of heaven and earth is actually seeking every lost sinner to bring them to Himself! What love He has for all who seek (2 Peter 3:9)!
- 2. In verse 12 we read that the Lord seeks the sheep in order to “rescue them from all the places where they were scattered.” What a wonderful day it will be when the Jews are finally delivered from their oppressors; those who have persecuted them have met their doom and those who are persecuting the Jews today will meet their doom (Genesis 12:3). But here is the promise of deliverance from the power of Satan - Acts 26:18; from the tyranny of sin - Romans 6:14. The Lord is a great deliverer - look up 2 Timothy 4:18!
- 3. In verse 13 we hear the Lord saying, “I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.” Just before He died the Lord Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and said - look up Matthew 23:37. He would have gathered His people then had they allowed Him to, but they rejected Him. But there is coming a day when He will do so from all the countries and bring them back to their own land. How wonderful it is that the Lord also gathers individuals out of the nations - one here and one there, and brings them to Himself, uniting them into His body (Acts 15:14). Compare 1 Corinthians 12:13. Perhaps He has been waiting all down the years to gather you - yet you have refused Him (John 5:40).
- 4. In verses 13-15 we read about the good pasture and grazing land where the Lord will feed His sheep. This speaks of the satisfaction to be found in Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:48-58). He is described in Haggai 2:7 as ”the desired of all nations”, the only One in whom satisfaction can be found. When Israel looked upon the Messiah they saw no beauty in Him that they should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2); but a day would be coming when God would reveal His love in dying for sinful man through His atoning work on the Cross, satisfying the desire of Jews and Gentiles (Psalm 145:16).
- 5. In verse 15 (KJV) we hear the Lord saying, ”I will cause them to lie down”. This speaks of rest and contentment. Think of it - the wandering Jew lying down! There is a great time ahead for God’s ancient people Israel; and there is a great blessing awaiting you at this moment if you will turn to Him and trust Him as the Shepherd of your soul - look up and compare Psalm 23:2; Matthew 11:28; 1 Peter 2:25.