A few days before leaving on our 9 week trip to the States and Canada, as I was reading for the hundred plus time Ezekiel 37, I noticed that verse 17, which reads: “Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand,” is not exactly that way in Hebrew. Examining the injunction “join” I found out that my previous understanding of that word, which was to “connect” them together and to make them one stick, was not the right or correct understanding of “karev” (kof-resh-veth), a verb that actually means to “draw near” or “approach”. Picture the prophet holding one stick in one hand, and the other stick in the other hand, drawing them “one toward the other one”. The verse continues: “so that they will be one in your hand”. The last word translated “one” is a plural “one” – “achadim” (that is, “ones”).
As the prophet continues to draw these two closer together, they eventually end up next to one another in only one of his hands. However, they are still two sticks, each distinct and independent of the other, which is to say that they are still two nations and two kingdoms. The next verse actually confirms the idea of the two sticks (“achadim”) in the prophet’s hand, as it reads: “And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’” (v. 18 emphasis mine). The reference there to the subject matter of the previous verse points, once again, to plural, “these”, thus telling us that the sons of the prophet’s people (which could refer to the Jews in Babylon) are still looking at two sticks. The Hebrew word is “eleh” (alef – lamed – hey), meaning “these” (and not “this” – “zeh”, zayin- hey).
Continuing in verse 19, YHVH says very clearly that He will take the two sticks/trees out of the prophet’s hand and make them “one” – “echad” – in His hand. Thus, if they would have been one (echad) in the prophet’s hand, it would not have been necessary for YHVH to make them one in His hand. The following verse takes us back to YHVH’s word to the prophet: “And the sticks [plural] on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes” (v.20). This statement allows us to envision the prophet with two sticks in one hand, as mentioned above, one next to the other. For them to be in this position, or to get to the point of being drawn so close to one another, major effort or changes will have to take place in both camps, not to mention the need to resolve the disunity that already exists within each respective camp.
YHVH’s prophetic declaration and order of procedure are very important to understand: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again” (Ezekiel 37:21-22 emphases mine). Here we see the two becoming one stick/nation and kingdom, not only in YHVH’s hand but also in their land.
History proves that YHVH started fulfilling the prophecy by having gathered Judah, bringing them to their land. But now what about the second nation? Zechariah chapter 10 talks about the days when Judah would be back in the land, and also that YHVH would save Joseph (v. 6) and then gather him to become the other stick/nation in the hand of the prophet. “I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased” (Zechariah 10:8)
According to the above scripture, the first stage for the house of Joseph/Ephraim was/is to be saved. I believe that that means to be “redeemed” and to be restored to their original identity as the sons of Israel, a phenomenon which has been accelerating from the time that the historic old city of Jerusalem came back into the hands of the nation of Judah in 1967. Next YHVH says that He will gather (kuf-vet-tzadi) them (referring to the dry bones), using the verb “kavetz”, which is seen, for example, in 1 Kings 20:1 as to “gather, assemble or concentrate forces” (such as the dry bones in Ezekiel 37:10). Employing the same verb, Isaiah 60:4 reads: “Lift up your eyes all around, and see: they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side”.
If the redeemed members of the house of Joseph are going to become a nation in the hand of the prophet, they will have to be gathered first and foremost unto Yeshua their redeemer. Yeshua will then unify them by the oneness of His indwelling Spirit, ultimately into family communities: “Elohim sets the solitary in families… And makes families like a flock” (Psalm 68:6a; 107:41b), and I might add, with seasoned mature recognized leadership/elders (see Jeremiah 23:4). This unity is not conformity to outward or external religious symbols and practices, but is based on the evidence of the life of Elohim’s Son. “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
The above verse indicates that the nation/stick of Joseph is made up of Elohim’s sons, who are governed by His Spirit. It also points out that the king of this spiritual kingdom is residing in the hearts of His subjects. The government of Elohim is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (see Romans 14:17). We know that Satan will not stand by allowing this restoration to go forward. He will work through the power of sin, which is in our flesh, to bring forth the unloving nature of his kingdom of darkness. When he gains a measure of success in these efforts, we may become what YHVH hates, that is, “a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16,19). The power of sin is the next most powerful force to Elohim’s. The only authority that has already defeated the nature and power of Satan’s is the wisdom of Elohim, which is the word of the execution stake. “For the message/word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of Elohim” (Corinthians 1:18).
“Elohim is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Yeshua the Messiah master and king. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Master Yeshua the Messiah, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (Corinthians 1:18). This is not necessarily referring to what we do, but to what we believe to be true about the Father’s finished work through Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection. Next time, Yah willing, we will explore what that might look like. In the meantime watch and pray, for the devil, with his wiles, is always looking to use us (our flesh) to abuse ourselves and others. But the love of Elohim is in our hearts in order to encourage and build us up and others in faith, hope, and love. There are many parts to His body, and we all may have a different leading as to what He is doing to accomplish His purposes, but that is a matter of the heart, which only He knows. Some may want to serve together in a framework of an organization, others feel to do it another way, again, according to the way they feel led. But none has the right to judge what is in the heart of another. We all have the privilege of forgiving one another when necessary.
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