Friday, February 3, 2017

A Wilderness Nation or a Nation in the Wilderness

Ezekiel chapter 20 provides both a historical account of the nation of Israel and its infidelity to their Elohim, and a prophetic word which is yet to be fulfilled. It starts with a scene that occurred on the 10th of the month of Av (itself a very significant date, as on that day siege was laid to Jerusalem by the Babylonians years before the present scene). On that day elders of Israel, yes, banished Israel which had been exiled some 120 years before, came to the prophet to seek a word. The word that they received was not an encouraging one, but a morbid account of Israel’s (and Judah’s) failures and their consequences in spite of the love and grace that Elohim had shown them.

As the prophet continues speaking for Elohim, he embarks on a future scenario, one that may just be relevant for our day and age! If that is so, it behooves us to pay close attention to this passage.

What Ezekiel describes in verses 33-44 of chapter 20 is the ultimate goal that Elohim has for His people, being one of several prophets to have done so. However, in between this future scenario, and the historical account he inserts a few verses in which he lays out a preparatory scene with accompanying conditions required by YHVH. This particular section appears to bear considerable relevance to the current emerging Israelite nation.

“As I live,’ says Adonai YHVH [literal wording], ‘surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.”  And here we get to the crux of the matter: And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,’ says Adonai YHVH.  I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;  I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am YHVH” (emphasis added).  From here on is a description of the goal which follows the testings:  “As for you, O house of Israel,’  thus says Adonai YHVH: ‘Go, serve every one of you his idols -- and hereafter -- if you will not obey me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols.  For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel’ says Adonai YHVH , ‘there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things.  I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers”. Further sanctification is to take place in the land:  “And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,’ says Adonai YHVH” (Ezekiel 20:33-44). 

YHVH declares here, in no uncertain terms, that He WILL rule over His people in His land, but before that can take place the Israelites will be “processed”. This process will entail being brought to what is being called “the wilderness of the peoples” which is where Israel’s Elohim will make His people “pass under the rod and bring them into the bond of the covenant”. Those who will not “pass the test” will remain in that “wilderness” and will be barred from entering the land and living in the Kingdom which He will set up. It seems that at this juncture in history, it is this segment that calls for our attention and focus on what it means to “pass under the rod” and to “enter the bond of the covenant”, so that we will not find ourselves in a perpetual “wilderness of the peoples”.

This “wilderness” is obviously not a geographical location, but a condition and a state of being that many of us have been in for quite some time, and others are being brought into it.  These are the ones who are the strangers and foreigners in their own so-called native lands; strangers to the systems of this world, at odds with the man-made structures and demands around them, and are awaiting their release from these conditions and places. However, this release will not take place before they experience the above-mentioned processing.

The prime model before us is the literal wilderness or desert where our ancestors spent an eventful period of 40 years, after having come out of a considerable time of oppressive slavery. It is for this reason that we will be exploring that journey, trying to learn the lessons that are there for us during our time of “processing” and “preparation”, with view to the destination and destiny that Elohim has for us His people.

 When our Hebrew progenitors were in Egypt they were still looked upon as a nation, as their forefather was called from the womb to be a “goy” - one people, one nation (see Genesis 25:23). However, they were a people living within a nation and governed by that nation.  We see the evidence of this when YHVH had to obtain (via Moses and Aaron) Pharaoh’s ‘legal’ permission to take His people out (e.g. Exodus 6:10-11, 14:17). Yet even in their debased conditions the Hebrews did have elders with some type of governing authority, as is evidenced, for example, by Moses calling the elders together to tell the people about their impending exodus (ref. Exodus 3:16-17).  Then again, just before their departure from Egypt, Moses told every family elder to take a lamb for their respective houses/homes (ref. Exodus 12:21).  But it was only after departing from Egypt that, YHVH recognized and declared Israel’s national identity as a kingdom of priests and a set apart nation (ref. Exodus 19:6), but not without placing conditions upon them. At that point they were still nomads who had no permanent territory or place of residence.  Nevertheless, this declared nation-in-the-making had a recognized governmental administration during its wilderness travels; both civil and religious, as well as already recognizable elders from their time in Egypt, as pointed out above.  The Hebrew word for elder is “za’ken” and means an old person or someone with seniority. The elders were often first born males, or ones who had proven their faithfulness in family and community affairs. This we have seen previously in the family of Jacob (as exemplified by the difference between Reuben and Judah), before the brothers went to Egypt the second time (ref. Genesis 42, 43).

The wilderness nation, or nation in the wilderness, was subject to the dominion and rule of the Almighty, with Moses being His chosen leader who also judged the people’s disputes. The spiritual leadership was soon to be invested in Aaron and the priesthood.  By instating these elders, the initial foundation of a civil administration was laid. Moses, for his part, was responsible for overseeing both offices (administrative and spiritual).

In our day it is Yeshua who is gathering the people of Elohim, restoring our lost identity to us, and anointing us with the Spirit of Holiness. Thus the words of the prophets of old are being rapidly fulfilled, such as the one cited above from Ezekiel, reaffirming that YHVH intends to gather the seed of Israel from all the countries where He sowed them/us and to bring them/us back to the land of promise.

Although our wilderness experience is a ‘condition’ more than a literal wilderness, we, like are ancestors are and will be "sifted" under our given circumstances. In other words, our present time frame is one of preparation, which will no doubt continue to intensify. While “passing under the rod” meticulous attention to our spiritual state is required of us. YHVH even declared that He would bring out the transgressors as well as the rebels from within our ranks, and they will not enter with those who have learned righteousness through obedience. And again, like our forefathers, we also need to consider the setting up of functional administration which pertains to our community life, to the families within those communities, and to our individual relationships with each other and with those outside, that is, those who reside in what has been termed as "the world". 

With much less of a visible reality and structure (when compared to the situation in the wilderness), and being redeemed under the renewed covenant, how does this wilderness pattern as it was experienced then, pertain to us in this day and age in the proverbial, rather than literal, wilderness?

Being measured and tried during this time period and under the given conditions, as well as having the example of Israel’s forty years journey, how do we transition from religious congregational structures and mind set to a community minded life style and mentality (of a nation in preparation), while bearing in mind the fact that we are in a cooperative and individual “under the rod” reality?


  1. very indeed do we transition from a 'religious congregational setting/mind set' to a more community lie style ..... and can we?

  2. Replies
    1. Paul tells us "how" in 2 Philippians 5: "let this mind be in you, which was also in HaMachiach Yeshua.
      Rom 12:1-2: I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of Adonai, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto Elohim which is your reasonable service.
      2.Rom 12:1,2 And be not conformed to this world but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim.

    2. Thank you Joseph for these scriptures, they are all apart of our daily walkout. The flesh will not survive the wilderness journey.

  3. The secret lies in the two commandments that Yeshua left us. The hard part is living it 24/7. More on that in the next article Yah willing.