Prophecies of Return

Abraham Leaves Canaan for The Promise Land Artist Unknown

Abraham Leaves Canaan for The Promise Land Artist Unknown


One of the unconditional covenants that God made with Israel was the promise of their own land.  The Abrahamic Covenant promised a seed, land, and blessings. The three major promises of this covenant were personal promises to Abraham, national promises to Israel and universal promises to all the people of the earth. God promised that He would bless him and make him a blessing to others, to make his name great, to give him many descendants, to make him the father of a multitude of nations, to give him the land of Canaan for always and to bless them that blessed Abraham and to curse them that cursed him (Genesis 12; 13; 15 & 17). God also made national promises concerning Israel. These are to make a great nation of his descendants, to give land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates to his covenanted descendants forever, and to give the Abrahamic covenant to his descendants forever. Finally, God made a universal covenant to Abraham that would be a blessing to everybody on the earth.

Parts of the covenant have already been fulfilled. For example God did bless Abraham with wealth. His name is great and Israel is a great nation with a portion of the Land that was guaranteed. The blessings to the people of the earth have been given through the oracles of God received by the Jews and their bringing forth the Messiah.  The promise of the land has not been completely fulfilled yet. His descendants are indeed in the land, but in unbelief, and do not have all the boundaries promised by God in Scripture yet.

The Land Covenant is introduced within the Abrahamic Covenant and refers to the land the Jews will occupy at their final restoration. The two facets of it refer to the boundaries and productivity of the land. The promise that God made to Abraham was clear in describing the land to be possessed by Abraham personally, and what his seed would possess in the future. At the time of the giving of the boundaries (Genesis 15) God laid out the future history of his progeny prior to their initial possession of the land. God sealed the covenant and described the borders of the Promised Land to include the eastern edge of the delta of the river of Egypt in the south and the river Euphrates in the north. Abraham never lived in all of this property during his time on earth. The covenant was reconfirmed with Isaac, his son. It was then reconfirmed again with Jacob, his grandson. In order for this covenant to be fulfilled Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will have to be resurrected to realize the promise and Israel will have to be restored to the land.  This is developed in a number of scriptures including Leviticus 26:40-45; Deuteronomy 30:5; Isaiah 27:12; 35:1-2; 65:21-24; Jeremiah 31:1-6 & 11-14; Ezekiel 20:42-44 & 28:25-26; 34:25-31; 36:8-15 & 28-38; Joel 2:18-27 & 3:18; Amos 9:13. In the future Israel will possess the land and the land will greatly increase its productivity and be well watered. For now though they are in the Land in a state of unbelief regarding their Messiah, who is Jesus.

During the second Babylonian invasion of Israel in 597 B.C. a Hebrew priest named Ezekiel was carried away to Babylon as a prison of war. He recorded the visions he received from God revealing future corrections coming on the nation Israel in the Book of Ezekiel. He also wrote of the prophecies, which God gave him of far future events that revealed a return to the Land Israel by the wandering Jews. He began the book with vaihee, or “once upon a time”. Ezekiel was given a vision of the glory of God being lifted by the Cherubim out of the Temple in Jerusalem where He could no longer reside due to Israel’s sinful practices and disassociation with Him. He would not return for another five hundred ninety seven years embodied in the Incarnation as the baby Christ who was dedicated in the second Temple on the eighth day of His life.

 Specific Biblical Prophecies Regarding Israel’s Return

The prophet Ezekiel received prophecies regarding the future for Israel in the last days. Some of these focused on the period after the Great Tribulation such as the thirty-seventh chapter when they would be restored to the Land because then they will have believed in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. [i] This is commonly referred to as the “valley of dry bones” prophecy. Other prophecies he received made it quite clear that they would be in the Land as a nation before they experienced a national repentance and restoration. Two of these will be examined as well as one from the book of Zechariah.

Ezekiel 20: 33-38

33As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you: 34and I will bring you out from the peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; 35and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. 36Like as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, saith the Lord Jehovah. 37And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah (ASV 1901).

The Lord is giving this prophecy to Israel and using the Exodus as an illustration to compare what He is going to do in the future to what He did in the past. Sometime after Joseph died a pharaoh came to power that had no positive relationship with the Jews. He initiated a persecution of all the Hebrews up to and including killing their newborn babies to stop their population from expanding. God led them out from under this persecution and restored them into Canaan from where they originally came. They were rebellious in the desert as they left Egypt and, as a result, wandered for forty years. They were so rebellious that only two men who came out of Egypt made it into the destined promise land. All the rest died out in the desert. This was a judgment God placed upon them. So a new generation of Jews that did not know the Egypt experiences but were born in the desert came into the land that would become the nation Israel under General Joshua and his colleague Caleb. Much in the same way God led them out of the persecution by the Egyptians and moved them into the Promised Land He declared He would do it again. Looking back in time and remembering that this prophecy was given in the sixth century before Christ it is clear that He has already done that prior to this day (2012).

This time though, God interestingly says that He will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries (plural) wherein they have been. Since 586 B.C. they have been scattered throughout the countries of the world. He began regathering them out of all the countries in the world in the late 1800’s, which became known as the Zionist movement. The Ezekiel text says that they will be gathered out of wrath and for wrath. They were persecuted in many of the nations in which they lived and wanted a safe homeland. The judgment described must be significant in order to make it into the biblical text. The most serious judgment He brought on them was the Nazi holocaust when six million Jews were destroyed in the Nazi’s genocide of the Jews. This set the stage for world sympathy, which led to them becoming a nation. The regathering though was in unbelief. We can see in the passage cited above that this regathering, is with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. This is God saying to the nation Israel, and repeating it twice that he gathers them out of wrath and for wrath. The term outstretched arm means that God is exercising His wrath. Consider the imagery of a fist on His outstretched arm not an open hand offering peace. This is coming from wrath and then going into wrath. The wrath that He leads them from is the Nazi persecution. He brought them into the Land as a sovereign nation while still in unbelief. They will live as a nation for a while in unbelief until the Great Tribulation where the Antichrist will declare himself god and initiate the worst persecution the Jews will have ever seen. After that final wrath they will turn to Him and accept Christ as their Messiah. But from the Nazi Holocaust to the Great Tribulation there will be a period where they will have residence in the Land but not be regenerated as a nation. In other words God will not be their God and Christ will not be their Messiah. Never the less God loves them. Because He loves them and made promises to their ancestors the Patriarch’s, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob He will give them the Land they have been guaranteed. God’s promises are always kept; there are no exceptions to this.

The second passage is found in Ezekiel chapter twenty-two and further enhances the issue of being in the Land but in unbelief.

Ezekiel 22: 17-22

17And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 18Son of man, the house of Israel is become dross unto me: all of them are brass and tin and iron and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are the dross of silver. 19Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because ye are all become dross, therefore, behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20As they gather silver and brass and iron and lead and tin into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my wrath, and I will lay you there, and melt you. 21Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you with the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. 22As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I, Jehovah, have poured out my wrath upon you (ASV 1901).

In this passage the prophet Ezekiel is given God’s Word describing a regathering of the Jews to Jerusalem. Here He describes the fact that they are far from Him as He characterizes their spiritual condition like the impurities in metallurgical processing. Dross is the burn off of the undesirables while the metal is purified through the consistent application of a high temperature fire. Fire is used in the Bible to refer to the refinement process God uses to bring those that He has chosen into submission to His will. This is exactly how He describes what He will do to them in the future for the purpose of purifying them. But for the purposes of identification and setting the chronology of this verse, it is when they have gathered in the land and before the judgment. So today they in the Land regathered from the various nations throughout the world and Jerusalem is their capital. This is where the final judgment will take place. So they are back in the Land in unbelief not realizing that their judgment is coming. Although there are several more passages that could be cited to confirm that God has brought them back into the Land in unbelief the last passage that will be referenced is located in Zephaniah chapter two.

Zephaniah 2: 1-2

1 Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation that hath no shame; 2 before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of Jehovah come upon you, before the day of Jehovah’s anger come upon you (ASV 1901).

Again the text says that they are gathering together as a nation but they have no shame. This means that they are not recognizing their sinful ways. Therefore, they are gathered together but in unbelief. They will receive the judgment meted out by the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation referred to here as the “day of Jehovah”. This is the most common form of reference to the Great Tribulation in the Old Testament. The Tribulation will begin with the signing of a seven-year covenant between the Antichrist and the nation Israel. So this being before the Tribulation assumes that there are Jewish political leaders in a Jewish State. The Jewish State does exist, they are back in the Land in unbelief, and they don’t realize it now, but their judgment and refinement is nearing its time.

[i] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G., The Footsteps of the Messiah, revised Edition Ariel Ministries Publisher San Antonio, TX 1982 pp.99

Daniel E. Woodhed