POSTED 05 SEPTEMBER, 2016
What is commonly called the two-stick prophecy, appearing in Ezekiel 37:15-28, has generated a great deal of attention since the late 1990s. This, in no small part, has been due to the large numbers of non-Jewish Believers entering into the Messianic movement, embracing their Hebraic Roots, and setting out on a life of Torah observance like Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus). Inevitably asked, or at least wondered by such people, is how much of a part of Israel they truly are. Do they just have citizenship in Israel’s Kingdom because of their faith in Israel’s Messiah (Ephesians 2:11-12; 3:6), being a part of the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), being grafted-in to the olive tree (Romans 11:17-18)—or could such people at all be Israel on a physical level? Do these people have a lost Jewish ancestor, and that is why they are drawn into Messianic things—or are they even a part of what is commonly called the “Lost Tribes”? Questions have certainly been asked, which have generated a wide number of responses.
At the center of many of these questions is the oracle of Ezekiel 37:15-28. This short selection of fourteen verses has generated a huge amount of discussion for proponents, opponents, and skeptics of what has been widely touted as “the Two-House teaching.” Many of today’s Messianic Jews believe that all Israel was gathered together and restored in ancient times, and that nothing more really awaits. Many other people believe that a larger restoration of Israel awaits in the future eschaton. Many people do not want to touch the subject matter, considering it to be too flammable. Many people do not know what to do, especially with all of the opinions floating around, and are confused.
- What is the truth? Has all of Israel been restored, or is it something with more to be experienced in the future?
- Who is involved with this restoration? Only Jews? Only physical Israelites? Or all who acknowledge the God of Israel?
The only way we can know for certain is by going to the text. If we do this, we do not have any excuse to overlook or dismiss it with some kind of hyped-up rhetoric about the “two schticks.” And if we do this, we also have to acknowledge that the overriding message of Ezekiel 37:15-28 is about bringing all of God’s people together, and that we should not unnecessarily be driving people apart with either this prophetic word, anything we might relate to it, or some kind of associate agenda.
Are we really ready to see whether the two sticks of Ezekiel 37:15-28 have been reunited? I think that an exegetical paper on this passage of Scripture, engaged with scholastic proposals from the past half-century or so, is long overdue. I have been quite curious for a while, as to what this investigation will uncover. Why some of the biggest and most well-known leaders and teachers in the Two-House sub-movement have yet to write anything detailed on this prophecy, makes very little sense to me. Would they at least be interested in how other people have interpreted it: Jews, Christians, conservatives, and liberals? Or, could there be some things seen in the prophecy that they do not wish to recognize, because they have made this subject matter something a bit too simplistic and under-developed? Have some of today’s popular/populist Two-House proponents actually failed to follow some of this prophecy’s clear directives?
I have been interested in this prophecy for quite a while. I think that when we weigh not only the claims of the text, but also the different views that are out there, we can safely say that the two sticks of Judah and Israel/Ephraim have not yet been reunited. Yet this prophecy also has an important message of fostering unity among God’s people, which many of today’s popular Two-House teachers, who you are likely to encounter, have seriously overlooked or just absolutely not implemented.Ezekiel_37_15-28_ISRAEL_IN_FUTURE_PROPHECY
In too many Messianic settings, when questions are asked about Biblical passages like Isaiah 11:12-16; Jeremiah 31:6-10; Ezekiel 37:15-28; and Zechariah 10:6-10, among others, polarized extremes are likely to be witnessed. One side makes these kinds of verses a central part of its spiritual identity—even more important than faith in the Messiah. Another side, when encountering past abuses, tends to totally dismiss legitimate questions and expectations that such passages pose. How can Bible readers have a mature approach to a larger restoration of Israel, prophesied in the Holy Writ, which is able to navigate through much of the immaturity detectable?
A significant question asked by the Apostles, before Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) ascended into Heaven, was, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Recognizing the restoration of Israel as a critical part of the Apostles own expectations of the Last Days—might there be any aspects of the restoration of Israel, beyond the rebirth of the State of Israel and many Jewish people coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua, that any of us have missed? Is there possibly more to be anticipated in future salvation history, as it concerns the emergence of the Messianic movement, non-Jewish Believers embracing their Hebraic Roots in a very tangible way, and many turning to the truths of God’s Torah?
Israel in Future Prophecy: Is There a Larger Restoration of the Kingdom to Israel? addresses some of the controversies and problems that have been caused, by what is commonly known as the Two-House movement/sub-movement. This book attempts to sort through much of the religious politics and abuse that one commonly encounters when poignant questions are asked about what is happening in today’s Messianic community. It intends to provide some preliminary resolution to the issues which are Biblically-rooted, and are engaged with contemporary Jewish and Christian scholarship, providing some viable alternatives to the posturing more likely to be encountered. Above all, this publication directly takes on over-statements, exaggerations, and sound bytes offered by prominent advocates within the Two-House sub-movement, providing more Scriptural answers to welcoming in the many masses of people from the nations, as a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13) or the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).