Doesn’t Ezekiel 37 speak of the restoration of Israel before Jesus’ return?
I read your criticism of the article “Eight Compelling Reasons why Christ is Coming Very Soon” with somewhat amused interest since from the outset it was obvious where you were going. I understand why. However, you challenged the article on a point that I want to take up a little time on – the fact that the writer failed to cite Biblical indications of the restoration of Israel in their land as a promise of the End Times.
As far a prophecy that predicts the Jews returning out of the nations where they were so thoroughly scattered while the nation was not in existence, Ezekiel 37 foretells of a time in the future of Ezekiel when the Jews would be gathered back out of the land, and restored as a unified nation with one leader over them. then they God would begin dealing with them about their spiritual apostasy and cleanse them of their unrighteousness. This indicates they God would bring them back in unbelief even in Him and begin working to convert them back to Him. So, there you have it, if you want to accept it, that the people in Israel nowadays are the same people that God promised the Land to, and who would be a sign to the Gentiles and who still have an important role to play in future events which are about to break on the world.
The above note was quite a bit longer, even though the author stated he would focus on just one point. Almost all of it misused prophecy by applying fulfilled prophecies to future events, ignoring that God has already done as He promised. I didn't want to be distracted by the many examples and so I eliminated all but the one the author stated at the outset he was going to present. The others can be addressed in the same fashion, but it would make this answer far too long.
The book of Ezekiel was written during the days of Judah's captivity in Babylon, starting from the fifth year (Ezekiel 1:2) and going to the twenty-fifth year (Ezekiel 40:1). The book of Ezekiel is actually a collection of prophecies made by the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel 37 is among a set of undated prophecies that most likely were made shortly after the fall of Jerusalem, somewhere around the twelfth year of captivity. (See the class notes on Ezekiel 33, "The Responsibilities of a Prophet" for details.)
Ezekiel 37 is commonly titled the Prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones. The class notes on Ezekiel 37, "The Valley of Dry Bones" deals with the details of this prophecy, including its fulfillment. The valley of dry bones represents Israel's then-current captivity and the apparent hopelessness of their situation. "Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'" (Ezekiel 37:11). Their situation was a fulfillment of earlier prophecy (Isaiah 49:14; Psalm 77:7-9).
The restoration of the bones to life was to illustrate that God can do what seems impossible to man. Israel understood as a nation its hopeless situation, but God promised to restore them. Just as He had promised earlier. "When you see this, your heart shall rejoice, And your bones shall flourish like grass; The hand of the LORD shall be known to His servants, And His indignation to His enemies" (Isaiah 66:14).
Another prophecy in this same chapter states that both Israel (the ten tribes taken in the Assyrian captivity) and Judah (the remaining tribes taken in the Babylonian captivity) would be restored to the land and would return to being one nation (Ezekiel 37:15-28). This too was prophesied earlier (Isaiah 11:11-16; Jeremiah 30:3; 33:7; Zechariah 10:6). Israel had been divided since the days of King Rehoboam, but God promised that it would end (Isaiah 11:13; Jeremiah 3:18; 50:4; Hosea 1:1). This all happened with the Israelites' return from captivity. See "Were the Ten Lost Tribes Really Lost?" for more details.
After this rejoining of Israel, God stated that He would set up a descendant of David over them to be their king. This is a reference to Jesus, the Messiah. "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David" (Luke 1:32; see also Jeremiah 23:5; 30:9; Micah 5:2,4). As prophesied, Jesus brought all the nations of the earth into one kingdom, the church (Ephesians 2:11-22). Along with this was the promise of a new covenant (Ezekiel 37:26; Jeremiah 31:31-33; 32:40). This too was fulfilled in our New Testament (Hebrews 8:13).
Just as the New Testament shows that the promised kingdom was not physical, but a spiritual one (John 18:36), the promised land is also a prophecy with spiritual fulfillment. "For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me," says the LORD, "So shall your descendants and your name remain" (Isaiah 66:22). The promised land is heaven, where faithful Christians go to dwell with their Lord and Savior. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (II Peter 3:13).
What happens is that the author denies that God kept His promises and instead insists that these promises remain to be fulfilled in the future. Unlike the prophets of old who admitted they often did not know what they were speaking about (I Peter 1:10-12), this person insists he knows what God had in mind. "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (II Corinthians 2:11).
I prefer to remain with God's explanation of His own words than the fruitless speculations of men.