There was a time in God’s Church when there was keen interest in watching, not only world events, but the state of God’s people, because Jesus Christ had said that people could predict the weather but they could not discern the signs of the times. The religious leaders of His day asked Jesus for a sign that He was the Messiah:
Matthew 16:2-3 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and overcast. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but you cannot discern the signs of the times
But, then Jesus tells His people that they are different from the world. They are able to discern the signs of the times and not be caught unawares as others will be caught off guard:
1Thessalonians 5:1-4 Of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you... you are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
There are enough details within the Scriptures to tell us precisely when events are shaping up for the coming of the Messiah. A crucial key to understanding Biblical prophecy is knowing the identity of modern-day Israel. The house of Israel has forgotten its identity. Because of sin – Sabbath breaking and Idolatry – God allowed the Nation of Israel, the ten northern tribes, to be taken captive and deported from the Promised Land (Ezekiel 20:16). They have never returned from their Assyrian captivity.
A great deal of the Book of Ezekiel was written for the purpose of warning America and England of their coming captivity by a foreign power. The prophet Ezekiel’s message is written to us today. He poignantly tells us how our population is going to be carved up into little pieces. It is going to happen – make no mistake about that. It is not a matter of spending more money on our beefed-up military armaments and defense budget. But, it is a matter of drawing near to God and being the people of God – that is our only hope because two-thirds of our population will die in an initial onslaught by the enemy (Ezekiel 5:12). Who is supposed to warn the English speaking peoples today of the trouble that is coming upon them very soon?
God gave Ezekiel the commission to prophesy about Israel’s latter days which would not come upon them for thousands of years after they had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Ezekiel was one of the many Jewish captives taken into the subsequent Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar about 130 years after the northern kingdom of Israel went into captivity. Though the ten tribes of northern Israel had long been dispersed, God gave Ezekiel this instruction:
Ezekiel 2:3 He said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
Ezekiel was clearly sent to the house of Israel – but not to the deported ancient Kingdom of Israel. Ezekiel’s words have reached Israel today, but he never did go and preach to the “lost tribes of Israel.” Israel was not lost – Ezekiel knew where Israel had scattered to, just as the apostles knew (James 1:1; Matthew 10:6). Jesus and the apostles knew where the northern ten tribes had traveled seven centuries after their deportation. The mostly English speaking peoples of the world are the latter day descendants of the house of Israel. The warning words of Ezekiel were written for our benefit. Ezekiel lived and died among the Jewish exiles, having never presented his warning commission to Israel of his day.
Ezekiel 3:1-7 Moreover He said unto me, Son of man…go speak unto the house of Israel… And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them… But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.
The surprising thing is Ezekiel’s message was not aimed at the Jews, but at the latter day House of Israel. We know that the “house of Judah” and the “house of Israel” will be united and restored into one nation when Christ gathers His remnant (Ezekiel 37:15-22). Ezekiel tells us that before that takes place, modern Israel [US and BC] will again go into captivity.
In today’s sermon we will begin a new survey of the Book of Ezekiel in order to see what God has in store for His people Israel.
||"Latter Days – Part One"