Restored to Glory
Read Ezekiel 37:24-28 (ESV)
My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.
What is the most amazing restoration that you’ve ever witnessed? An old fixer upper restored to its former glory? A wayward friend or family member brought back to the Lord? A transformation in your own life?
Everybody loves a good restoration story. TV networks know this and they’ve capitalized on it with shows that take the old, the rundown, and the broken and bring them back to life. In the end, the finished product is not just as good as new but often even better than new. Doesn’t that sound like the Gospel? Hope in this restoration is the main theme of the book of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was just a young man when he was carried off to Babylon in the second wave of deportations (597 B.C.) before the final destruction of Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 1-3, God commissioned him to be a prophet and gave Ezekiel visions of His glory and sovereignty. Ezekiel’s ministry coincided with the later years of Jeremiah’s ministry and the very beginning of Daniel’s.
The first part of Ezekiel’s ministry was spent condemning Judah’s sins and trying to convince the exiles already in Babylon that further judgment was coming on the people of Judah (Ezekiel 4 - 24). But even though Judah would receive just punishment for disobedience to God, Ezekiel 16:60,62-63 promised that God would graciously remember His covenant with His people.
Here we see the Scarlet Thread of redemption: “...and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant…and you shall know that I am the LORD…when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD”. This future, everlasting covenant is not based on works but solely on God’s grace. Which is truly good news because the nation of Israel repeatedly showed their inability to keep God’s covenant. And we can’t keep God’s law either. We need a Savior.
During Babylon’s siege of the city (Ezekiel 25-32), Ezekiel prophesied about the coming judgments on the Gentile nations. God is perfectly just and impartial. All of us are sinners deserving punishment. Even though the Gentiles gloated over the misfortunes of God’s chosen people, God would eventually punish them for their sins as well.
After 586 B.C., the temple was destroyed and Jerusalem was completely sacked. Ezekiel shifted gears in chapters 33-48 to focus on the good news—God will restore His people. We see even more Scarlet Threads of redemption in these chapters. For example, in chapter 34, Ezekiel spoke of God’s judgment on the “false shepherds,” the leaders of the nation, that exploited and harmed their own sheep. Then he prophesied that God Himself would be a Good Shepherd to His people and we see a picture of Jesus, the Messiah in the prophecy: “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd” (Ezekiel 34:23).
When God says “my servant David” here, He is referring to the promised king in David’s line, the Messiah, not actually to David himself, who was long dead. In today’s verses, Ezekiel had more to say about his “servant David.” Ezekiel prophesied that His Servant would be king and shepherd over God’s people, that the people would finally obey God (no more sin), and that they would live peacefully forever in the Promised Land with God’s very presence among them.
In the book of Ezekiel, we see layers of restoration prophesied. God did bring His people back to the Promised Land after a 70-year captivity and a new temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem. Israel was restored. And yet, so much of Ezekiel’s visions and prophecies seem to point even farther ahead. Many of these are Messianic and even “end times” prophecies.
Friends, God did bring historical restoration to His people after their punishment by Babylon. But he has also spiritually restored us through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He delivered us from sin and death and restored our relationship with God. Now, He’s restoring and transforming our lives. And yet, He’s not done yet. His ultimate act of restoration is yet to come. At that time, all of creation will be restored to glory. He’ll be our Good Shepherd and we’ll be the sheep of His peaceful pasture. He’ll be our God and He will dwell among us forever.
Lord, thank You for being a God of restoration. Yes, You allow discipline. But You’ve also promised that those of us who follow Your Good Shepherd will experience restoration. Thank You for saving me and transforming my life. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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