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    THE GATHERING OF ISRAEL

    “Come from the four winds O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”PROLI 171.1

    We can now pass rapidly to the close of our subject, with a view of the gathering of Israel, and of their establishment in their own land. We turn first to the prophecy of Ezekiel, and must necessarily quote a large portion of the thirty-seventh chapter. The prophecy was uttered soon after the Jews were carried away to Babylon. And here we would remark, incidentally, that the books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, are the only prophecies that were not spoken either before or during the captivity, and that Haggai and Zechariah were written before the complete restoration after the captivity. Therefore whatever portion of the prophecies refers to the restoration of literal Israel, was fulfilled by the decrees of the kings of Persia. As we shall see, however, the greater portion of the prophecies refers to the final gathering of the true Israel of God. Now for Ezekiel’s prophecy:—PROLI 171.2

    “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about; and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live; and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” Ezekiel 37:1-10.PROLI 172.1

    It is useless to spend time conjecturing what this may mean, when we have the Lord’s explanation given in connection with it, so we quote further:—PROLI 172.2

    “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land; then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” Verses 11-14.PROLI 172.3

    This is nothing less than a prophecy of the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Christ. But the Lord continues the interpretation thus:—PROLI 172.4

    “Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land.” Verse 20.PROLI 172.5

    No one can deny that the gathering of Israel of which Ezekiel speaks, is the same gathering that is spoken of by the other prophets. It is evident that the words, “Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land,” is the same promise that the Lord made to David, through the prophet Nathan, when he said (2 Samuel 7:10), “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime.” And this gathering of the children of Israel into their own land is accomplished only by opening their graves and bringing them up out of their graves. In this prophecy of Ezekiel, therefore, we have the most positive assurance that the promises to Israel never contemplated anything else but an eternal inheritance; their own land is the earth made new.PROLI 172.6

    With Ezekiel’s statement that the gathering of Israel shall follow the general resurrection, compare the following:—PROLI 173.1

    “And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30, 31.PROLI 173.2

    When this gathering of the people of God takes place, “the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. And this is what Paul calls “our gathering together unto him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1.PROLI 173.3

    Returning to the prophecy of Ezekiel, we find out what will follow this gathering of Israel:—PROLI 173.4

    “And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two nations any more at all.... And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Ezekiel 37:22-27.PROLI 173.5

    With the statement that they shall be placed in their own land, in peace forever, compare the promise to David, in 2 Samuel 7:10. And with Ezekiel 37:27: “My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” compare what John says in his prophetic description of the new heavens and the new earth: “And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:3-5.PROLI 174.1

    Again, with the statement that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, which is expressly declared to be when the earth is made new, read the following, and there cannot remain a doubt but that the gathering which the prophets of old spoke concerning Israel, was the gathering to the New Jerusalem in the new earth:—PROLI 174.2

    “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he [compare Hosea 13:14]. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.” Jeremiah 31:10-12.PROLI 174.3

    Before this has been consummated, however, the wicked must be destroyed from the earth. When Christ, — “the Seed to whom the promise was made,” — the One whose the kingdom is by right, — shall come, he will say to the true Israel, who are gathered from all the earth, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. This resurrection of the righteous at the coming of Christ, is called the first resurrection, and takes place one thousand years before the resurrection of the wicked (Revelation 20:1-5), of whom those not previously dead are destroyed “by the brightness of his coming.” During this thousand years the earth will be desolate, reduced to its primitive, chaotic state, as is described in Jeremiah 4:23-27: “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” See also Isaiah 34:2-15, in which it is stated of the earth that “from generation to generation it shall lie waste;” and that the Lord “shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.”PROLI 174.4

    It is called “bottomless pit,” because that word is the same as “the deep” of Genesis 1:2, which, as the earth will be during the one thousand years, was “without form, and void.” In this desolate place Satan will be obliged to stay, and is therefore “bound,” being unable to deceive the nations until the thousand years are expired, when the wicked will be raised, and he can exercise his power again for a little season. Then the holy city, the New Jerusalem, will come down from God out of Heaven (Revelation 21:1), the hosts of the wicked, under the leadership of Satan, will go up on the breadth of the earth, and encompass the beloved city, when fire shall come down from God out of Heaven and devour them. Revelation 20:7-9. This fire shall burn as an oven, until the wicked are burned up root and branch (Malachi 4:1), and shall also dissolve the earth and purify it from all its corruption. 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 11. From their place of safety in the city of God, the saints will behold the destruction of the wicked (Isaiah 33:14-16; Psalm 37:34), and shall afterward go out upon the purified earth, which will then be their home throughout eternity.PROLI 175.1

    But if the earth is the kingdom, and the saints do not dwell upon it for more than a thousand years after the coming of the Lord, how can it be said that they inherit the kingdom at his coming? This is easily answered. At the first resurrection the saints are taken at once to the capital of the kingdom, the New Jerusalem, where, during the thousand years, they are associated with Jesus in judging the wicked, and determining the punishment due each one. Revelation 20:4-6; 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3. During this time the entire history of the world will pass under the eyes of the saints, and they will understand the secret workings that have been hidden from all but the eyes of God. Then the things which have seemed obscure, in God’s dealings with men, will be understood. So Christ and his saints will be in possession of the earth during all the thousand years, although they do not dwell in it during that time. It will be in their hands, and they will be engaged in making it fit for habitation, by removing from it those things which offend. The kingdom is given to Christ as soon as he leaves the throne of grace, and ceases to plead for sinners. From that time “the uttermost parts of the earth” are his possession, and he at once proceeds to dash the nations in pieces, so that when his people Israel are planted in the land, the children of wickedness shall not afflict them any more. (See 2 Samuel 7:10.)PROLI 175.2

    The Desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.PROLI 176.1

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