For the week of December 26, 1998 / 7 Tevet 5759
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 44:18-47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15 - 37:28

The World Will Know

Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy
when my sanctuary is among them forever (37:28).

This week's portion speaks of dramatic changes that God plans to make to the nation of Israel. It is interesting that these changes would be such that the other nations of the world would take notice. We will briefly look at some of those changes.

National Unity

At the time of Ezekiel, Israel's condition as a nation was dismal to say the least. For many years they had been a nation divided. The North and South each were under their own respective king. By Ezekiel's time, the Northern Kingdom had been overthrown and dispersed by the Assyrians. The South was currently under Babylonian domination with many of the people taken into exile.

And yet Ezekiel foretells the day that the nation would not only return to the Land, but would once again be one nation.

Many nations throughout history have known great internal divisions. Such strife is so hard for the people affected. Disunity is often looked at with disdain on the part of other nations. To witness the resolving of differences, to see the coming together of a people, grabs the attention of the world.

Spiritual and Moral Renewal

It is extremely rare for a nation once it has experienced spiritual and moral decline to find its way to a place of purity and strength again. But God can and will do just that: "I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them" (37:23).

Immorality seems to naturally feed on itself. Once a nation gives into it, its people begin to believe that engaging in immorality (of course they don't call it that) is what is inevitable and expected. As deeds of this nature are practiced, they are hardly noticed, until someone takes a moral stand.

This works similarly on a global scale. If one nation would experience a moral and spiritual turn around, the whole world would be affected.

The Presence of God

The above becomes even more dramatic as God himself is personally involved: "My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God" (37:27). It is the presence of God with the nation of Israel that makes the big difference.

Israel is a nation whose very existence begins with God. But for so many people this is just a story - no different than Greek mythology to its people. And even many who believe in the historicity of the biblical events have trouble grasping its reality.

But it will not always be this way. God promises that he will be very present with his people, and their lives will be brought into line with who he is.

As Israel has so often been in the forefront of world attention, so when this occurs, the world will notice. The world will know once and for all that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who sent his Son into the world, - the God of the Scriptures - is the true God.

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