"Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand.Ezekiel 37:17(NASB)
Many of the prophecies Ezekiel gave to Israel were delivered through mime or by means of play-acting. On one occasion, Ezekiel wrote on a clay tablet and on another occasion, he shaved his head. One prophecy was illustrated by baking his bread over dung, and another by lying on his side for an extended period of time. Other prophetic illustrations included him packing his bags, quivering and shaking, preaching to the forest, and refusing to mourn for the death of his wife.
In chapter 37, the prophet gives more revelation to Israel, from the Lord. The first is a vision of a valley filled with dry bones, representing the dead nation of Israel being resurrected into new life, while the second prophecy is a symbolic act, where the prophet used two sticks to relay God's message to His people. It spoke of the reunification of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel into one united kingdom, under one sovereign king.
Following the reigns of David and Solomon, the single kingdom of Israel was divided into two camps. Those in the northern kingdom followed after Jereboam, an Ephraimite, who was one of Solomon's former officials. They had their headquarters in Samaria and comprised of ten of the tribes of Israel. Those from the southern kingdom were led by Rehoboam - one of Solomon’s sons, who became king of Judah, in the south.
The southern kingdom kept their headquarters in Jerusalem and consisted of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the half of the tribe of Ephraim. Individuals from other tribes, who preferred to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, also aligned themselves with Judah, rather than using substitute places of worship that were erected in Samaria.
The two kingdoms remained divided until the northern kingdom was enslaved and dispersed by the Assyrians, while the people of the southern kingdom were deported to Babylon, as punishment for their apostasy and idolatry. Sadly, both kingdoms had wandered far from the Lord and both had to be punished for their sin. Even to this day, Israel remains a divided kingdom, who are dead in their sin and estranged from the Lord.
Ezekiel was instructed by God, "take for yourself one stick and write on it, 'For Judah and for the sons of Israel and his companions'. And take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, and his companions.'" Then Ezekiel was instructed to, "join the sticks together into a single stick so that they become one stick in your hand."
What a beautiful yet simple picture of the future restoration and reunification of the two divided and dispersed houses - Israel and Judah, into one, spiritually alive, united kingdom - with ONE fold and with ONE Shepherd. What a straightforward illustration of a divided people being unified. The United Kingdom of Israel, in preparation for their coming King and Messiah - Jesus, their God, their King, and their Redeemer.
For two thousand years, the divided nation of Israel has been blinded in part to the truth of the glorious gospel of grace. There are members of 'The Circumcision' who have been born from above and have become part of the Church - 'the One New Man in Christ'. But the majority of God's chosen people are impervious to the truth and do not accept that their Messiah died on Calvary, two thousand years ago, and is risen from the grave, seated in heavenly places at the right hand of God the Father, and is coming again to rule and reign on the throne of his earthly father, David, forever.
There are those that declare that God has finished with Israel and that the Church has taken over the promises that the Lord gave to His people Israel... but that is a false gospel that contradicts Scripture and is an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Today God is working through the Church - 'spiritual Israel', but the day is coming when He will once again work through His chosen nation - 'the Israel of God'.
God is faithful and has not abandoned His people, even though Israel strayed into apostasy and idolatry, and the Lord will not abandon His Church either. Thank GOD that our salvation and heavenly privileges, as well as Israel's restoration, redemption, reunification, and earthly kingdom, stands fast on the Word of God and not on our actions or attitudes.
Heavenly Father, You are a good and gracious God, Whose promises to Israel as well as to those in the Church, stand fast forever and ever. Thank You that Your faithful promises to all Your people, are rooted and grounded on Your faithfulness and long-suffering mercy, and do not rest on what we have done, or failed to do. I pray for Your people Israel, that many would come to recognise Jesus as Lord and their Messiah as Saviour, during this Church Age, and thank You that a day is coming when the dead bones of that nation will be resurrected into a United Kingdom of Israel, where Jesus reigns on David's throne, as Lord and King. Thank You that I am a member of Christ's body, and I pray that I would live and work for Your greater glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.