Ezekiel’s Vision of Israel’s Restoration Part 1 -- By: Merrill Frederick Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 106:423 (Jul 1949)
Article: Ezekiel’s Vision of Israel’s Restoration Part 1
Author: Merrill Frederick Unger

Ezekiel’s Vision of Israel’s Restoration
Part 1

Merrill F. Unger

The thirty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel’s prophecy contains a vision which, because of its importance and graphic character, places it at once in the forefront of major Old Testament passages dealing with the return of Israel to its homeland. Indeed, in portions of Scripture abounding in magnificent and glowing accounts of Israel’s future hope and glory, the vision of the dry bones stands as one of the most striking and arresting portraitures of the nation’s restoration to be found anywhere in the prophetic Word. Its language is compelling and pregnant. Its imagery vivid and trenchant. Its scope sweeping and expansive. Its theme grand and elevated. Accordingly, the proper interpretation of the vision is of vast importance in eschatological study and far-reaching in its ramifications.

The Vision Misinterpreted and Misunderstood

However, despite the vitality and significance of this remarkable prophetic passage and the timeliness of its message, it is widely misunderstood and misapplied. Much error and confusion cling to it. Ignorance abounds with regard to it. Much of the misunderstanding may be attributed to fantastic and unworkable eschatological theories which close, rather than open, the truth, and veil it in darkness, rather than flood it with light. Or, on the other hand, much of the blame may be laid at the door of sheer neglect, even on the part of theologians and Bible teachers. The theme has been avoided by many as being altogether obtuse and incomprehensible. It is astonishing how many students of the Word approach such highly wrought symbolic portions of prophetic Scripture like Ezekiel, Daniel or the Revelation with an emotion somewhat akin to terror, which seems to paralyze them into an agnostic attitude of “I don’t know. I can’t know!” As a consequence, many do not try to know, avoiding

such themes altogether. The resulting toll of such neglect in ignorance and error is appalling.

First, then, in dealing with this subject, it will be necessary to focus attention upon

I. Various Erroneous Views

1. The First Erroneous View Is That the Vision Describes the Physical Resurrection of the Dead in General. This position, although espoused by Jerome, and in later times more especially defended by Calov, and most ardently championed by Kliefoth, must be rejected, not because the doctrine of the resurrection of the body would not have been a potent consolation to the pious-hearted in Israel, or because that doctrine was not then known, but simply because, in the prophet’s own explanation, the bones are declared specifically to be those, not o...

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