Sunday, March 11, 2012

figurative image of `death.'

To be dead, as used in the Bible, can mean different things. It can mean to be dead physically; it can mean to be dead spiritually; or it can have yet another meaning. It is the last image of figurative`death' that will be our subject of study.

God showed Ezekiel a vision. It had to do with a with the death of national Israel and resurrection, but what does this resurrection in the valley of the dry bones represent? Let's look at a passage of Scripture that gives us a feeling for this third definition of death.

Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 37:11-14)

The land of Israel is often referred to as the Promised Land because of God's repeated promise (Gen. 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8) to give the land to the descendants of Abraham. The land is described repeatedly in the Torah as a good land and "a land flowing with milk and honey" (e.g., Exodus. 3:8).

The rule of Israelites in the land of Israel starts with the conquests of Joshua (ca. 1250 BCE). The land of Israel was central to Judaism. In 587 BCE, Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar's army captured Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern day Iraq).

During the Babylonian captivity Israel was cut off from her homeland. They spent seventy years in another country. While Israel was cut off from the promised land she was in the sight of God, as dead! Israel was not in her rightful place because of her sin.

All these Jews were alive physically, but as the Lord showed Ezekiel 37:11 they were a valley of dry bones (in a grave nationally). When the Israelites were living in exile outside of the land of Palestine, they were (figuratively dead and in a grave).

God in restoring His covenant people back into their own land uses the figure of graves opening and His people coming forth in (a national resurrection). Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, (I will open your graves) and cause you to come up from your graves, and (bring you into the land of Israel) (Ezekiel 37:12) When the Jews were living inside of the land they were all live nationally.

It is obvious from this scripture that God sees life and death independent of the physicality of man. If you now understand this third definition of death (national Israel was cut off from the promised land), then you possess a valuable tool in the understanding how God uses figure language.