Second Chances - Israel's Captivity

Many of the Jewish people today are being encouraged by their teachers, that Israel will be exalted among the nations and that they will rule the world and reign with their coming messiah. It is at that time that the Gentiles will be subject to them. The temple will be rebuilt and the messiah they are expecting will come to that temple.

This teaching can be perpetuated and can gain momentum because the people are not comparing what they are being taught with the actual prophecies from which this encouragement is being perceived. Misunderstandings can arise very easily when scriptures are viewed apart from their context. While many prophecies assert that Israel will be returned to her homeland, and many view Israel’s becoming a nation as the fulfillment of those prophecies, the majority of them have to do with Israel’s return to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity.

The prophets recognized that the restoration of the people to their land after the captivity and the construction of the temple, would usher in the appearance of the Messiah.

The prophet Ezekiel labored among his people who had succumbed to the Babylonian captivity. It was a time of great distress, discouragement and hopelessness. The prophets at that time, including Jeremiah, labored to bring their people to the understanding that their captivity was the direct result of their own sin and rebellion against God and His word.

This captivity, as prophesied by Jeremiah, would last for seventy years. In God’s mercy He showed them through the mouth of the prophet, that this would not be the end of their nation. The people in Ezekiel’s day needed to be reminded that their nation had not received a life sentence.

The prophet Isaiah also foretold of the captivity (Isaiah 39:5-7), and he also prophesied that they would be permitted to return to their homeland (Isaiah 14:1).

In chapter thirty-seven of Ezekiel’s prophecy, he is transported in a vision to behold the spiritual condition of his people at that time. He beheld a landscape of skeletons, a people who had been stripped to the bare bone, so to speak. They had lost everything, and the death of hope is portrayed as a valley of dry bones. In the midst of this portrait of hopelessness, God asks the prophet a questions. “Can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3). Can the dead come back to life again? Ezekiel answers in essence, “Only you know the answer to that one.”

Then God tells him to “Prophecy upon the bones.” Ezekiel obeys and speaks the prophecy God has given him over the dry bones and the prophet watches as the skeletons are restored, clothed once again with flesh, but they are still lifeless corpses.

God then tells Ezekiel to prophecy to the wind. The element of the wind in scripture represents God’s life giving Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel obeys again and the breath of God’s Spirit restores life to the people. Ezekiel has just been shown that God will restore His people. He will bring them out of their graves, the nations where they have been scattered. This is also a promise of their restoration after death.

God continues to show Ezekiel that after their return, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah will be unified as one when they are returned to the land. This was fulfilled after the captivity.

They are also told that they will have one king over them, (Ezekiel 37:24) and in this prophecy the long deceased King David is used as a similitude of the Messiah as He is in many other scriptures. This messiah also ushers in the “covenant of peace,” the New Everlasting Covenant (Ezekiel 37:26, Jeremiah 32:37-40) that will restore the people’s broken relationship with God.

The prophet was surrounded by the other captives each wallowing in their despair, and the joyful proclamation of hope contained in Ezekiel’s prophecy of their restoration must have been the life raft of expectation that they would hold onto until its victorious fulfillment. They would float upon that life raft upon the seas of their captivity for seventy long years.

At the end of that captivity, the prophet Daniel, picks up his pen where Ezekiel had left off concerning this time, and received further details about what would transpire when His people had been permitted to return to their homeland.

Daniel is informed by an angel that the temple and the city would be rebuilt, but that it would also be destroyed again after the Messiah arrives and is killed (Daniel 9).

A careful reading of all the other prophets reveals that it was their expectation that the messiah would come to the second temple. This would make the second temple more glorious than the first because it would see the entrance of the “desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7).

Daniel’s prophecy was exquisitely fulfilled with the advent of the Messiah Jesus. Forty years after His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, the city was destroyed as prophesied, because “they did not know the time of their visitation” (Luke 19:44). They failed to recognize that the messiah had come. As a result, once again the Jews were driven from their land and into the nations.

Continuing on to the conclusion of Daniel’s prophecy, we see that there is no other benevolent messiah occurring until the judgment in Daniel 12, which occurs at Jesus’ second coming (Matthew 24,25).

Contained in the previous chapter 11, we are shown another attack on the holy land by an evil dictator who is in league with some Islamic nations (Daniel 11:41,43). This prophecy directs us back to Ezekiel’s chapter 38. This is a specifically distinct prophecy from his previous message of encouragement to the Babylonian captives.

The instructions contained in chapters 38 and 39 deal with a time frame that is located in the future defined as “the latter years” (Ezekiel 38:8). We also see that Israel has once again been “brought forth out of the nations” (Ezekiel 38:8,12).

The people have been gathered out of the nations and returned to the land, but there is no mention of them being brought back directly by God as in all the previous verses that deal with God restoring His people to the land after the Babylonian captivity. In those verses God always says directly that He, “I will” return them to their homeland. In Ezekiel’s chapter 38, that phrase is conspicuously absent. We are therefore led to the conclusion that Israel’s return to their homeland was the result of man- inspired political manipulations. Anyone who has done an honest, objective examination of the establishment of Israel and all the events surrounding it, will have to come to the same conclusion.

It is the belief among occultists, many New Agers and Satanists that a messiah will arise. The Bible records the arrival of this evil one and labels him the false prophet and the antichrist (Revelation 13). He will be promoted as the true messiah. The Jews are also waiting for a messiah to arrive, therefore Israel becomes a perfect and logical front for the advent of the Satanists’ expectations. Those who have supported the nation of Israel have no idea of the true motives behind the instigation of Israel in these latter days.

Today, there are many orthodox Jews who will not return to the Holy Land because they have accurately recognized from the scriptures that they are only to be brought back by the messiah. While they are correct in this, they have failed to recognize that Daniel has said that the messiah has already come. But the scriptures show us that the messiah Jesus will come again and “hiss” for them at the end of a “second” captivity.

I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased (Zechariah 10:8).

Currently, the Jews have increased in modern Israel and God is saying that they will be restored to their previous state they had before the second captivity that Zechariah also prophesies of in verses one and two of the last chapter of his book. We are shown that this captivity will be endured in the space of time that precedes Jesus’ supernatural return that is described in that chapter (Zechariah 14).

The second captivity is inflicted upon the modern nation of Israel through the arrival of a one world government or empire (Revelation 13). This “beast” is comprised of three animals that were once used to represent three previous world empires; the lion- Babylon, the Leopard - Greece, and the bear – Medo-Persia. While this system is also likened to the Roman Empire, it is the product of man’s sin and rebellion against God. The enslavement it produces is a judgment upon those sins of the people in the world including Israel. – Therefore I will be to them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps… (Hosea 13:7,8).

The second gathering of the Jews from the nations after their second captivity, is mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy and is related to the time of peace that Jesus’ second coming will instigate.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Patros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea (Isaiah 11:11).

(This verse may not only refer to the Jews, but also include persecuted Christians who are also the Lord’s people who have been persecuted in the Islamic nations mentioned in this verse.)

It is only after this second captivity and Jesus’ return that the Jews will be restored and the world will recognize their value as the “mother” who birthed life and salvation for us all in the Messiah Jesus. It is at this time that all the prophecies of a warless world are fulfilled.

We return again to Ezekiel’s prophecy and leave behind chapters 38 and 39 that record his people’s second future desolation, which is referred to as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” and the “great tribulation.” In the remaining chapters of his book, he is shown the pattern of another temple. I am sure he and the others in his time would perceive this temple as a foreshadow of the second temple they would build at the conclusion of their first captivity. And this vision is designed to be an encouragement that their religious life would be restored. But it also serves the same purpose to those who are the survivors of the second captivity. This is the "millennial" temple that would be built specifically for the Messiah Jesus.

We see the living waters of His Holy Spirit flowing out from His place in Jerusalem to bring life to the Dead Sea,(Ezekiel 47:1-11) and splitting to restore a polluted ocean in Zechariah 14:8. This fountain of new life will also be poured out upon all Israel that has finally recognized and received their salvation in the wake of their mourning for their previous rejection of Him (Zechariah 12:10).

As the Spirit of New Life in the Everlasting Covenant flows around the world restoring everyone and everything it touches, the warless, peaceful world that the Jews have longed for becomes a reality, only after they have realized that the spiritual life Messiah Jesus brings is so much more desirable and important. Just as the prophets of old were given their warnings for the people to repent, they were also given the encouragements that would sustain God’s people during the times of chastening and despair. They were given the promise of a second chance.

As we enter into the latter days and the darkness of these times are falling around us, lets hold onto the hope God’s word provides and look forward to the time when all Israel will be saved and the whole world will be safe resting at the Messiah’s feet in love and gratitude for their redemption.

Copyright 2021 by H.D. Shively

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