Sunday, October 01, 2006

Restoration, Renewal, Revival - Ezekiel 36:24-38

Ezekiel 36:24-38
© Gene Brooks, Sunday, October 1, 2006
Amis Chapel Baptist Church, Oxford, NC

Ezekiel 36:24-38

INSIGHTS
  1. Restoration (Ezekiel 36:24)
The land was so critical to the nation of Israel that we cannot understand anything about their theology without knowing something about the land. In Genesis 12, God established a covenantal relationship with Abraham and promised that he would be the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). God talked about giving them a land. We know the story: they left Egypt and after wandering for forty years, they finally possessed the land.

After they possessed the land, though, they began to disobey God’s Word. So God scattered them several times. Ezekiel was preaching to a scattered people who had been taken into Babylonian captivity. He told them God promises that He will gather them and bring them back into their own country (Ezek. 36:24). He was going to restore His people (compare Neh. 1:8-9).

When we think of returning to God, we think of the great revival passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and the need to confess our sins. To confess, though, is more than verbal confession. It is aligning ourselves once again with God’s character. To confess His name means to agree with His name in our life. It’s not a matter of merely agreeing verbally. It’s easy to come to church, to kneel at this altar, and to say, “Lord, bring a revival on our nation.” But, the only way we’re going to see a change in the culture of this nation, the only way we’re going to see the penetration of the gospel among the nations, is for sweeping revival to come. God desires to restore His people.

Adam Clarke (great Wesleyan commentator): “Ezekiel 36:24 -
I will take you from among the heathen - This does not relate to the restoration from Babylon merely. The Jews are at this day scattered in all Heathen, Mohammedan, and Christian countries. From these they are to be gathered, and brought to repossess their own land.”

John Gill (great Calvinist commentator): “Ezekiel 36:24 - For I will take you from among the Heathen,.... The Chaldeans and other nations, among whom they were carried captive; and the Papists, among whom many of them now are, often called Heathens and Gentiles in Scripture: this will be fully completed at the time of the Jews' conversion in the latter day: the phrase fitly expresses the act of divine grace, in taking his people from among the world by the effectual calling: and gather you out of all countries; to himself, and to his Son, and to his church, and to some certain place from whence they will go up in a body to their own land, as follows: see Hosea_1:11, and will bring you into your own land; into the land of Canaan literally understood, as well as into the church of God here, and into the heavenly country hereafter, of which Canaan was a type.

  1. Renewal (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
Ezekiel has in view the purifying rites of the Law (Numbers 19:9), but it is fulfilled in Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:22. This is the only place where “clean water” is used in the OT. John took the idea into a baptism of repentance, and Jesus was referring to passages like this in his interview with Nicodemus.
Numbers 19:9;Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:22;Ephesians 5:26;John 3:5

Notice that God’s desire is to cleanse His people of both filthiness (“impurities”) and idolatry. Filthiness has penetrated our own marketplace, our entertainment, and our society. And idolatry? Many will say that’s something that happens overseas. No, oftentimes it’s what we park in our driveways. If we’re going to see spiritual awakening, we must pray that God will bring deep cleansing from filthiness and idolatry.

Once the filth is gone, once the idols have been torn away, it’s time for a new heart. The old one is gone, and God’s Spirit comes to indwell. Our old hearts become easily calloused and hardened. How long has it been since you’ve wept for a lost neighbor or a lost people group? Is it a concern of yours? Do you have God’s concern for the nation and the nations of the world? It’s time for a renewal—time we have a heart concerned for the things that concern God.

  1. Revival (Ezekiel 36:28-30)
Fruitfulness in your lives. In your families. In your business. In your marriage. In your relationships.

With God’s Spirit within, we will be a new people in the land of promise.
The marvelous thing is that God’s blessing does not stop there.We will be delivered from impurities. The land will produce abundant harvests. God is bringing back to life (reviving) His people and the land He promised them.
But the revival does not stop with them. God is not doing this for their sakes (v. 32). His goal is that the nations around them will know He is God and that He has done this (vv. 35-36). God, true to His desire, longs for the nations to come to Him.

Why does God want to bring a great awakening in our generation? So that He will receive the glory. God chose Israel. God has chosen you. He wants all nations to honor His name. Are you living in a way that people see His character, His holiness, and His presence in you?

We can’t leave this passage without thinking first about the opportunity and the challenge that is ours. There are 1.7 billion people on this globe who have little or no exposure to the gospel. Think how many times you’ve heard the gospel. You sit with your remote control and see how many times in North America you can hear the gospel on any given day. But 1.7 billion have almost no exposure to the gospel.

In the year 2000, North Americans gave 11.4 billion for missions. Of that 11.4 billion, only 2.9 billion went to the rest of the world. We spent almost 75 percent of that 11.4 billion here in North America. Did you know during 2001, it’s estimated that Americans spent 2.8 billion dollars on the Easter holiday? That was as much as the combined 1999 overseas ministries income for more than six hundred agencies. We spend as much celebrating the Easter season as we do declaring the message of the resurrection in a whole year! It gets worse. In 2003, we spent 31 billion on pets. Five years ago, we were spending over 350 billion on eating out. If you try to go out to eat on a Friday night, the wait will convince you we haven’t slowed down. You’re standing out the door waiting in line.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have pets. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t enjoy what God has given us. I am suggesting that we may be guilty of consuming the blessing rather than conveying the blessing.

APPLICATION:
  • If we would have revival, we must come to Jesus for cleansing of our sins.
· If we would have revival, we must repent and turn away from further sin.
· If we would have revival, we must our time and treasure and lives on His glory.
· Revival will set our priorities in order and bring fruitfulness to our lives and our nations.

INVITATION:
Sources: F.F. Bruce, International Bible Commentary, p. 838; Ken Hemphill, Empowering Kingdom Growth Sermon, Week 4; John Gill and Adam Clarke on this passage in e-sword.net; Gene Brooks, The Importance of Israel sermon.