Ezekiel’s Redemptive History – Two Sticks, the Unified Nation
Reverend Dr. Philip Lee's sermon from 4th Lord’s Day Service on July 21, 2019
The stick of Israel and Judah
Ezekiel 37:19 says, “Take the stick of Israel and join it with the stick of Judah." Therefore, the prophecy of action speaks of the unification of Northern Israel and Southern Judah. Thus, two nations are unified into one nation. What kind of nation is this unified nation? This is a nation that will become one nation in the land which signifies the servants of God (Ezek 37:22).
The Servant of God
King David reigned from 1010 BC to 970 BC. The prophecy of action of the two sticks was spoken in 585 BC, meaning that King David had already passed away. Therefore, this prophecy of action is not speaking of King David of the past, but it is speaking of a new David (Ezek 34:24; 37:24). This servant is one that has absolute obedience to God. In the original Hebrew language, the word “servant” is עָ֫בֶד (ebed) meaning slave, or servant; one that is absolutely obedient to God. Jesus the Messiah who would be coming in the future is referred to as a “servant” (Isa 42:1). Therefore, we can say that this unified nation is a nation which has one King, and that King is the servant of God who has three characteristics.
First, this servant is one that is “upheld” by God. Secondly, this is a servant in whom God’s Soul “delights.” Thirdly, this servant is God’s “chosen one." If we are to be God’s servants, then we need to be upheld by God, be a delight to God’s Soul, and finally, we need to be a servant that is chosen by God. The true servant of God is the Messiah, who is Jesus. This one King will be the servant of God and be like David the Shepherd (Ezek 34:23).
God will establish a Shepherd like David
The most important thing about this Shepherd is that He will feed the sheep and they shall not want (Psa 23:1-2). Thus, a true shepherd will lead them to quiet waters and will feed them in the green pastures. This true feeding that is given is speaking of the Word. The David of the past was a shepherd and led his sheep to the green pastures and by quiet waters. However, the true Shepherd Jesus Christ will feed us with the eternal food, that is the Word (John 6:51). This Shepherd will keep the ordnances and statutes of God, which is speaking of the Word of God. Therefore, this Shepherd, who feeds you the true food which is the Word, is the true shepherd that the Bible speaks about.
And finally, this one King is an eternal king. David was not an eternal king; however, the servant of God is a shepherd like David; He is the eternal King, the one Shepherd and the people will keep God’s ordinances and statues which is the Word of God (Ezek 37:24-25). The true Shepherd will feed you with the Word of God and lead you to a world that will not pass away. Thus, when the Lord comes again, this one eternal King, we will be under His rule so we will not die but be fed with eternal life; we will live in the eternal kingdom of heaven forever.
What kind of nation is this unified nation?
This unified nation is a nation that is completely cleansed. This expression "to be cleansed" means to be holy and consecrated, completely cleansed (Ezek 37:23). While we are living in this world, it doesn’t matter how well we believe, for we cannot be completely holy. However, when we are moved to the kingdom of God, we will become completely cleansed (Ezek 37:23).
First, the nation that is fully cleansed is a nation that will no longer defile themselves with their idols, detestable things, and with transgressions. But in that new world, that unified nation, we will no longer defile ourselves because God will deliver us from our dwelling places.
Secondly, this is a nation where God will deliver His people. God led Israel out of the Babylonian exile back to their homeland, the Canaan land. This is the promise of God. Babylon represents the fallen world but God commands us to come out of her and He will move us to the true Canaan, that is the kingdom of God (Rev 18:4). Therefore, the kingdom of God is a nation that is completely cleansed where there is no sin (Ezek 37:23). The capital city of the kingdom of heaven is the New Jerusalem and because this nation is completely cleansed, this New Jerusalem is called the holy city (Rev 21:2, 10, 19). One cannot enter into the New Jerusalem by committing suicide for it is a great sin. We have to enter according to God’s time table and not by our own means.
Conclusion: This unified nation is a nation that is centered on the holy temple where God’s sanctuary and dwelling place is in their midst, meaning the absolute center (Ezek 37:26-28). This signifies a life that is centered on the temple. In today’s terms, it means that we need to live a life that is centered around the church. And it is this kind of person that will be able to enter the completely cleansed nation that has the one King. Thus, we must always live with the church at the center of our lives. This means that thoughts of the church must come first. When we live this kind of life, then it means that you are centered around the church. The Ezekiel temple is always at the center, thus in the midst of all the land we have Ezekiel’s temple (Ezek 48:8, 10). The person who lives with the church at the center of their lives is living a life that is always near God which is a blessed life because God is near to them (Psa 73:28). When we draw near to God, then God will be near to us (James 4:8). This is a life centered on the temple.