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Ezekiel 37 gives us a snapshot of the Kingdom in its prophecy of the resurrection of the “dry bones” of the House of Israel (37:12). Most Christians today mistakenly point to the State of Israel as the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Ezek. 37:12-14 says,
12 Therefore prophesy to them [bones], “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, My people. 14 I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done it,’ declares the Lord.”
The Old Covenant viewpoint is that the land of Israel is the piece of real estate at the east end of the Mediterranean Sea, the old land of Canaan. The New Covenant view, presented to us in Heb. 11:8-16 tells us that the land promised to Abraham was not truly the land of Canaan but instead “he was looking for the city… whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Abraham, we read, was an alien in that land,
13 “… having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country [Canaan] from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
The writer tells us specifically that the promised land for the exiled Israelites was NOT the same country from which they had been exiled. It was, instead, “a better country” and “a heavenly one,” whose builder was God Himself.
No doubt this is the same country promised to David himself at the height of his power and glory, when God made a promise to him in 2 Sam. 7:10, 11,
10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, 11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies…
While David ruled in Jerusalem, God said that He was appointing a place for Israel where they would truly have “rest” and would “not be disturbed again” by enemies. This was not the old Jerusalem, nor the old land of Israel, for we know that their enemies certainly “disturbed” them, that is, they “moved” them to foreign lands, as the KJV reads.
Heb.4:8-10 tells us that the old Joshua (Yeshua) was unable to give them “rest” in the old land. Only the New Covenant Joshua (Yeshua) can do this.
When many Jews immigrated to Palestine a century ago, the Holy Spirit was not poured out upon them, as promised in Ezek. 37:14. In 1948 many Christians ardently believed that the Jews were fulfilling this prophecy and that they would all soon repent and turn to Christ within 3½ years or 7 years at the latest. They were disappointed, for it did not happen. Yet now, decades later, they still believe that the great Jewish conversion will occur at any moment.
Part of the problem is that most Christians do not know the difference between Israel and Judah. Hence, they assume that Ezekiel’s prophecy was directed toward Judah, whom they misidentify as Israel. Before we can even begin to understand this prophecy, we must know that it was given to the House of Israel, not to the House of Judah. The only way that Judah could lawfully benefit from this promise is if they were united (or reunited) with the House of Israel.
But one would be hard pressed to find any Jewish rabbi or scholar who would affirm that the lost tribes of Israel had been reunified with Judah. Only Christians ignorant of biblical history believe that the Jews are the Israelites.
The great conversion of Israel, at least on a physical level, occurred in the centuries after the Spirit was poured out at Pentecost in Acts 2. The apostles and others were dispersed throughout the world, where most of them began the long process of converting the lost Israelites and imparting the Holy Spirit to them.
James wrote his letter “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (James 1:1). Peter knew that these had been exiled to the land of Gamir in Assyria and many were still living in nearby “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1). He says they are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:1, 2). Again, he says in 1 Peter 2:9, 10,
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Peter was referring to the prophecy in Hosea 1:8, 9, in regard to Hosea’s son named Lo-ammi (“not my people”), which prophesied of Israel in exile. Hosea 2:23 says that Israel’s status as “not my people” was to change later by the work of the Mediator of the New Covenant.
23 … And I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!” And they will say, “You are My God!”
In my commentary on Hosea, Prophet of Mercy, I show how the Israelites had lost their status as Israelites and how they had become part of the nations. The Assyrians called them Gamira, Ghomri, Khumree (named after King Omri of Israel). The Persians called them Saka, the Greeks called them Sacae or Scythians, and the Romans called them Saxons. The languages were different, but they described the same people in their history books.
After the fall of Assyria, huge numbers of them moved through the Caucasus Mountains into Europe, and for this reason, anthropologists called them Caucasians. But many had also moved west into what is now Turkey. But in Peter’s day those provinces were known as Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Peter had visited those ex-Israelites of the dispersion and many had been converted to Christ. Thus, he wrote to them, reminding them that they were, in essence, the first fruits of a great harvest. As believers in Christ, they had attached themselves to the New Covenant and could lawfully be called “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.”
Apart from Christ, they were not “chosen,” for God had disclaimed them as “not my people.” But by faith in Christ, they were able to become joint-heirs with Christ.
In later centuries, Christianity spread throughout most of the territories where the Israelites had migrated. But as Isaiah 56:7, 8 points out, God’s plan was to gather the dispersed of Israel and “others” with them, so that His house would be called “a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
Such is the nature of the Kingdom, because the Kingdom is everything that God created in Gen. 1:1. He never intended to keep a small portion of it and leave the rest to the devil. It was never the divine plan to save a few and destroy the rest. All things will be put under His feet, so that Christ can be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).
But Peter’s letter was addressed to those of Israelite descent who had found the way to become Israelites once again. More broadly speaking, Peter’s encouraging words to them can be applied to all who come to Christ. No one’s “chosen” status is based upon their race or genealogy but upon one’s relationship to Christ Himself.
The problem came with the delay of Christ’s second coming. The church degenerated in its morals and in its knowledge of God, and darkness then covered the church. Historians know this as the Dark Ages. For this reason, a greater fulfillment of Ezek. 37:14 must yet occur. We do not look for a second Pentecost but for a greater outpouring of the Spirit through the feast of Tabernacles.
In 1948 an outpouring of the Holy Spirit came as the Latter Rain movement. The Spirit was not poured out upon the Jews who had gathered in Palestine under the banner of a new state called Israel. Instead, it began in Canada and spread to the United States, falling mostly upon non-Jews.
Yet most of the churches, including Pentecostal-style churches, rejected the Latter Rain movement, because it went beyond their own revelation of “tongues” and beyond the revelation of Pentecost. The Latter Rain movement received the revelation of the feast of Tabernacles, which the Pentecostal denominations resented, because it implied that Pentecost was inadequate and incomplete.
Perhaps that is why the church continued to focus its attention on the Israeli state rather than on the real move of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, they missed Ezekiel’s snapshot of the Kingdom.
Even on the level of physical genealogy, the church failed to identify the Jews correctly. They confused them with Israel—something that the Jews themselves reinforced by naming their state Israel instead of Judah. They did this knowingly, because the name they would call their state was debated among their leaders, some wanting to call it the Kingdom of Judah.
But in the end, Israel was chosen because it implied that it was the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies to Israel. They believed that this deception was necessary in order to gain Christian support.
Ezekiel’s prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was followed immediately by the promise of reunification. Ezek. 37:15-23 speaks of the stick of Judah being united with the stick of Ephraim-Israel. God says in Ezek. 37:22,
22 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 no longer be divided into two kingdoms.
The fact that they were “two kingdoms” is established here. They were to be unified when both recognized the same king over them—in this case, Jesus Christ. We see the same prophesied in Hosea 1:11,
11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader [Christ], and they will go up from the land, for great will be day of Jezreel.
The manner in which this is fulfilled is unclear. Most interpret it through Old Covenant eyes. But when the veil of the Old Covenant is lifted from our eyes (2 Cor. 3:14-16), we see that this reunification must come through the New Covenant as men swear allegiance to the “one leader,” Jesus Christ. This is a promise to all, not just physical descendants of Judah and Israel.
In fact, Isaiah 56:6, 7 blesses any foreigner who desires to attach himself to the (new) covenant. God will bring them to “My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” Neither are they second-class citizens of the Kingdom, for Christ abolished that man-made “dividing wall” that had separated women and foreigners from Jewish men as they worshiped God in the outer court of the temple (Eph. 2:14-16).
In other words, anyone can be an Israelite and an equal citizen of the Kingdom, regardless of genealogy or race.
Ezek. 38 and 39 speaks of a counterfeit migration of “Israel” to the old land in an attempt to usurp the promises of God through rebellion and unrepentance.
These chapters are commonly but mistakenly known as “the Russian invasion of Israel.” Ezekiel was actually prophesying about a great counterfeit that He would destroy in the end. The misunderstanding is caused by confusing the Jews with the Israelites and by simple ignorance of history.
Ezek. 38:2-4 says,
2 Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. 4 I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords.”’
Gog is “the prince of Rosh.” The prophecy is directed at this prophetic prince. The name in Hebrew is spelled with two gimels, which mean (double) “pride, being lifted up.” It was not meant to be a literal name of any man. It was meant to convey extreme pride and arrogance.
Rosh literally means “head,” but it also refers to the head of a poppy plant from which is derived opium. It is often mistranslated as gall. In Psalm 69:21, Jer. 8:14, and 9:15 the “water of gall” refers to poppy juice that is full of opium. Prophetically speaking, opium is man’s solution to the problem of sin and the pain of guilt. Men seek to assuage their pain by positive thinking or by searing the conscience, rather than to deal with it by the blood of Jesus.
Ezek. 38:5, 6 identify the invaders this way:
5 Persia, Ethiopia, and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer with all its troops, Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.
This identifies the lands from which these invaders come. Persia, Ethiopia (Cush) and Put (Libya), as well as people from Gomer and Beth-togarmah (“House of Togarmah”). Few would insist that this is a complete list, but it is enough to give us a way to interpret the prophecy.
Four of the invaders originate with Japheth’s sons who are listed in Gen. 10:2,
2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras.
We instantly recognize that Gomer was the brother of Magog, Tubal, and Meshech, who are included in Ezekiel’s prophecy. Gen. 10:3 continues,
3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah.
So Togarmah was a son of Gomer and is doubtless the same as the House of Togarmah in Ezek. 38:6.
Gomer, the son of Japheth has often been confused with Gomer the wife of Hosea in Hosea 1:3. However, Hosea’s wife was a prophetic type of Israel, which had committed adultery against God, Israel’s Husband. The Assyrian name for Israel since the time of King Omri of Israel was Gomer.
In the ancient spelling of the language, Omri was spelled with a gimel as Ghomri. Hence, Gomer played a role that was prophetic of the nation of Israel. But obviously, she was not the son of Japheth in Gen. 10:2.
When God exiled the Israelites to Assyria, they became known as Ghomri or Gamiri. Just north of the land of Gamir, across the Black Sea, was where the other Gomer had settled in earlier times. Thus, after Assyria fell, the Gomer-Israelites began to migrate north through the Caucasus, passing through the land that had been settled by the Gomer-Japhethites.
Although the majority of Israelites continued their trek into Europe, God used this situation to hide them and to confuse those historians who were unaware that the Israelites were also known as Gomer. The success of God’s plan is seen plainly in the fact that the Israelites are still known as “the lost tribes of Israel.”
This is actually the key to understanding the prophecy of Ezekiel. Togarmah was a son of Gomer, along with his brothers, Riphath and Ashkenaz (Gen. 10:3), and so they all lived in the same region north of the Black Sea in what is now the Ukraine and southern Russia.
During the Middle Ages, from about 600-1200 A.D. there existed a kingdom in southern Russia and Ukraine that was called Khazaria (or Chazaria). It reached its peak of power about 960 A.D., after which time the Rus came down from the north, conquering Khazaria over a period of centuries and ultimately replacing it with Russia.
According to their own records, Khazaria had been a Jewish kingdom since their conversion—some historians say in 630 A.D., others say it was 740 A.D. The Jewish Encyclopedia speaks of the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism, as do many other Jewish historians.
In 960 A.D. a Jewish doctor in Cordova, Spain named Hasdai ibn Shaprut, heard about this Jewish kingdom and wrote the king a letter inquiring of the origins of Khazaria. He later received a response from King Joseph, who wrote,
“We have found in the family registers of our fathers that Togarma had ten sons, and the names of their offspring are as follows: Uigur, Dursu, Avars, Huns, Basilii, Tarniakh, Khazars, Zagora, Bulgars, Sabir. We are the sons of Khazar, the seventh…”
(See The Thirteenth Tribe, Arthur Koestler, p. 72 or my book, The Struggle for the Birthright, p. 187.)
We see, then, the genealogy of Khazar, son of Togarma, son of Gomer, son of Japheth coming from the king’s letter. We have no reason to doubt the accuracy of his statement, for if anything, as a Jew, he would want to claim ancestry from Judah or from one of the tribes of Israel.
Khazaria and its Jews were later absorbed into Russia, becoming known as the Ashkenazim, as distinct from the Sephardim (Spanish Jews). It is significant that Ashkenaz was the brother of Togarmah in Gen. 10:3.
In other words, one of the invaders of Israel in Ezek. 38 is Togarmah, the father of Eastern European Jews, which comprise the vast majority of world Jewry today. Most of the Jewish population in the state of Israel also traces back to the Ashkenazim, although Sephardic Jews also came from Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, and other places.
The simple truth, then, is that the state of Israel is not fulfilling Ezekiel 37:12 but rather Ezekiel 38 and 39. The invasion of the old land has already taken place, but the church did not see it, because they were unaware of the history of Togarmah and the Khazars in Russia.
What they thought must be a Russian invasion was actually a Jewish invasion from Russia and other parts of the Middle East listed in Ezek. 38:5, 6. This explains why the Spirit of God was not poured out upon “Israel” in 1948. It came upon true Israelites who were believers in Christ.
All that now remains is for God to destroy the counterfeit Kingdom that has claimed the title of Israel.