Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in verses twenty-two through thirty-eight of the thirty-sixth chapter. “Therefore say unto the house of Israel.” This is how this particular portion of the chapter begins and opens, which reveals a specific word that was to be released unto the nation and people of Israel directly. I absolutely love these words which were spoken by the Lord, for despite the fact that His people had been carried away captive and removed from their land, they were still His people. What’s more, is that I believe there is an even deeper meaning that surrounds and is contained within these words. I am firmly convinced that within, through and by these words, the Lord was retaining the identity of His people within and upon the earth. If you read the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Daniel, you get the sense that Nebuchadnezzar—when he carried away as captive and removed individuals from their own nation and land—he sought to completely indoctrinate them with the culture and character of Babylon. Scripture brings us face to face with this reality in the prophetic book of Daniel—unlike any other book—for within the prophetic book of Daniel we find certain key events that seem to point to the reality of causing those who were carried away as captives to forget their land—to forget where they came from. I believe this is what is so significant in what we read in the Old Testament book of the Psalms—specifically in the one-hundred and thirty-seventh chapter. It is there within this passage that we find a description of those who found themselves in a strange and foreign land that was not their own. “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted up required of us mirth, saying, sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:1-6).
The words we find recorded in this particular passage reveal something incredible powerful—something that I would dare say countless men and women struggled with as they sat there by the rivers of Babylon. I believe with everything inside of me that when those who were removed and carried away as captives from the land of Judah entered into the land of the Chaldeans—specifically the city of Babylon itself—they were inundated and immersed with the sights, the sounds, and perhaps even the smells that radiated from and permeated within the city itself. I am convinced that when those who were carried away as captives entered into the land of the Chaldeans, they immediately found themselves experiencing somewhat of a culture shock, as everything within and everything about Babylon was vastly different than what they knew and experienced within the land of Judah, and within the city of Jerusalem. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what went through the hearts and minds of those individuals who were carried away as captives from the land of Judah as they embarked upon the journey from the land of Judah to the land of the Chaldeans. Even more than this—and with that being said—there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what all those who were carried away as captives thought as they neared the city of Babylon, and would pass through the gate of the city. You have just been removed from the land of your inheritance and possession, you have just been removed from your home—perhaps even witnessed its destruction—and you have now entered into a strange and foreign land. Not only have you entered a strange and foreign land, but you have also entered into a strange and foreign city that is completely different from Jerusalem. You have entered into a city that is void of and absent the Temple which Solomon had built in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and everything now becomes real. What do you do in that moment when your captivity becomes real? What do you do in that moment when the journey to your captivity has ended, and you now find yourself entering the city that would become your place of residence—even if it was decreed for severely years? How do you respond when you enter into the vast city of Babylon with its distinct culture and appearance—perhaps thinking and believing within your heart and mind that you will never see Jerusalem again? It’s one thing to embark on the journey from Jerusalem to Babylon, but everything becomes real the minute you approach the gate of the city and pass through. EMBARKING ON THE JOURNEY TO YOUR CAPTIVITY! PASS THROUGH THE GATE OF YOUR CAPTIVITY! There were three distinct waves of those who were carried away as captives from and out of the land of Judah, and caused to live within the land of the Chaldeans, and within the city of Babylon.
When I read the words contained in the one-hundred and thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Psalms, I can’t help but consider the reality that these were words which were written by one who had perhaps experienced some form of weeping within their own life. This passage of Scripture opens with the author of this passage describing how they sat by the rivers of Babylon, and there by the rivers of Babylon, they wept, when they remembered Zion. What happens when you’re captive in a strange and foreign land, yet all you seem to think about is Zion within the inheritance and possession? What happens when you arrive in Babylon, and the first thing you do is sit down by the rivers there within the midst of it? The author of this particular chapter describes how when and as they sat down by the rivers of Babylon, they didn’t merely weep in the place of their captivity. The author of this particular passage describes how it was there from and within that place of sitting and weeping that they hung their harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. There was not only a sitting down, there was not only a weeping, but there was also the hanging of harps—the hanging up of those instruments which were perhaps at one point used to make sweet music and sound before and in the presence of the Lord. It was there by the rivers of Babylon that the captives were asked and required to sing a song, as well as to bring forth mirth in the midst of the land. The author goes on to ask a very specific question regarding the request that was made unto them, for the author asks how they can sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? This question is actually quite telling and revealing, for I can’t help but wonder if one of the first things to go within the hearts and lives of those who were carried away as captives was the ability to sing the song of the Lord in the midst of the land. I can’t help but wonder if their singing had given way to, and had been replaced by weeping. WHEN MUSIC IS NO LONGER PLAYED AND SONGS ARE NO LONGER SUNG! I must pause for a minute right here and emphatically declare that I am convinced there are men and women who right now are living in, and have found themselves in the place where they are not longer able to sing the song of the Lord. There are men and women right now who seem to have lost their will, their desire, their passage, their ability to make music before and unto the Lord. There are men and women who right now have lost any and all motivation, desire and will to not only make music, but also sing before the Lord. There are men and women right now who find themselves sitting beside their own rivers, and not only are they unable to sing the song of the Lord in and from that place, but they are completely unable to play and make music before and unto the Lord.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR SONG IS GONE? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR SOUND IS GONE? WHEN THE SOUND AND SONG HAVE BEEN REMOVED! The more I read the prophetic book of Ezekiel, the more I consider this particular passage within the book of the Psalms, and the more I consider the captivity of the children of Israel within the land of the Chaldeans, the more I can’t help but think that there were many of of them who experienced the complete silencing of both the sound and the song within their hearts and lives. There were countless men and women who sat down by the rivers of Babylon who had not only lost the song which they once sung, but they also lost the sound they once made before the Lord. It was with their lips and from their mouths that they once sang the songs of Zion, and it was with and from their harps and instruments they made music before the Lord and produced a sound within the earth. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are recorded in the thirty-third chapter of the book of the Psalms—“Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:1-4). I must also consider these words which were written in the eighty-first chapter of the same Old Testament book—“Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbres, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. For this was a salute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1-4). What about these words within the ninety-second chapter of the same book—“IT is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands” (Psalm 92:1-4). Consider these words in the one-hundred and forty-ninth chapter of the book of Psalms—“Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbres and harp. For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people: he will beauty the meek in salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-deed sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all His saints. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 149:1-9). Finally, I am reminded of the words which are written and recorded in the one-hundred and fiftieth book of the Psalms—“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for His mighty acts: praise him according to His excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbres and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:1-6).
The reason I chose to mention and include these passage of Scripture is because each of these passage deal specifically and exclusively with an invitation to not only sing, but to also make music before and unto the Lord. The psalmists who wrote each of these Psalms wrote them to encourage those who would read them to join together, and to enter into corporate worship before the true and living God. These passages speak to the reality of the sound and the song we are invited to make and offer up before the true and living God. These passages are a stark contrast to what we read in the one-hundred and thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Psalms, for within that chapter we not only find the song drying up, but we also find the sound drying up. Those who sat down by the rivers of Babylon could neither play music from, upon and with their harps, nor could they sing the song of the Lord in a strange land. Their captivity had effectively crushed their spirit when it came to making music before the Lord of hosts, and singing unto Him songs He deserves to sing. The captivity of the children of Israel was something that was actually truly unique, for there is a huge part of me that believes that it was there in the midst of their captivity that the songs of Zion and the song of the Lord were effectively removed from their lips. I can’t help but be reminded of one of the greatest songs that was sung by the children of Israel—a song that is recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Exodus—“I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he throne into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains are also drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentences forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congregated in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Thout stretchedest out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased” (Exodus 15:1-16).
There by the rivers of Babylon, their harps were hung upon their willows, thus effectively rendering them unable to make music before and unto the Lord. There by the rivers of Babylon, they voices were silenced, as they could not sing the song of the Lord in a strange and foreign land. Oh, I firmly believe there are a number of men and women who right now have found themselves in the place where not only has the sound within, the sound from, and the sound of their lives been silenced, but also their song has been silenced as well. There are men and women who have passed through the gate of their captivity, and there by the rivers within the captivity, their sound and song have effectively dried up and dissipated. Can I be honest with you right now and declare that this is one of the greatest tactics and strategies of the enemy and adversary within your life? It’s not enough for the enemy to merely carry you captive away from and out of the place of your. Inheritance and possession, but the enemy and adversary also wants to destroy the sound and song that was once produced from your life. One of the single greatest reasons and purposes for your captivity is so the enemy and adversary can effectively steal, kill and destroy your sound and song. Did you know that you were created to have a song within and upon the earth? Did you know that you were created to have a sound within and upon the earth? Did you know that your life was intended to be a sound and song within the earth before and unto the Lord? There are men and women right now whom the Spirit of the Lord desires to restore the song and sound from, and the song and sound within their hearts and lives. Just because you find yourself, and just because you have found yourself sitting by the rivers of your captivity, that doesn’t mean that your sound and your song have to be gone and removed forever. Those who sat by the rivers of Babylon sat down and wept when they remembered Zion, and I am convinced that their single greatest memory and remembrance of Zion was that it was a place of worship before and unto the Lord. They sat down by the rivers and wept because they had been removed from that place where the songs of Zion and the song of the Lord once filled the atmosphere and the air. They hung their harps and silenced their voices because they couldn’t bring themselves to bring forth the sound, and sing the song of the Lord within that strange and foreign land. What is so incredibly powerful about this, is that even though they sat down by the rivers and wept, they seemed to be unable to forget Zion and the city of Jerusalem. The author of the psalm even spoke of and declared that if or should they forget Jerusalem, may their left hand forget its cunning, and may their tongue cleave to the roof of their mouth. Even though they sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept, they could not cease thinking about Zion, they could not stop thinking about the city of Jerusalem where the Temple and courts of the Lord were present.
I wrote concerning the Lord not only speaking to Israel, but also speaking to them as Israel, for despite the fact that they were living as captives in the midst of a strange and foreign land, they did not lose their identity. How absolutely incredible it is to think that even though they were removed and carried away as captive from their land, they did not lose their identity in the midst of that captivity. This is actually quite remarkable, for as I have already alluded to, there were specific accounts in the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel that reveal how the king of Babylon sought to completely immerse and saturate all those who entered into the land of the Chaldeans with the doctrine, the teaching, the culture, the worship, the belief, the gods, and the like within Babylon. Consider what is recorded in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel concerning Daniel’s being brought among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans. “In the hatred year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake. Unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourshing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs. And the prince of the eunuchs said unto Daniel, I fear my lord the king, who hath appointed your meat and your drink: for why should he see your faces worse liking than the children which are of your sort? Then shall ye make me endanger my head to the king. Then said Daniel to Melzar, whom the prince of the eunuchs had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king’s meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants” (Daniel 1:1-13).
IN the third chapter of the same prophetic book of Daniel, we find another account and example of the attempt to indoctrinate all those who had been carried away as captives from the midst of the their land and brought into the land of the Chaldeans. “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he st it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: and whoso falleth. Not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of the fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up” (daniel 3:1-7). Please don’t lose sight of and miss the significance and importance of these words, for not only within this passage of Scripture is there an image which was set up—an image which Nebuchadnezzar demanded all nations, tribes, languages and peoples to worship, but we also read concerning a certain sound that was heard within the land. Please don’t miss the importance of this sound, for it was a sound that was vastly different from that which was heard within Jerusalem. Within Jerusalem there was a sound that was heard—a sound of harps, lyres, flutes, trumpets, harps, psalteries, tambourines, and the like making sweet music before and unto the Lord. Within the city of Jerusalem there was the sound of voices gathering and coming together to exalt, lift up, and worship the name of the most High God. IN the city of Babylon, however, there was a different sound that was heard—it was the sound of music and instruments playing, but not all sounds of music are the same. Did you catch that? Please don’t miss it. NOT ALL SOUNDS ARE THE SAME! NOT ALL SOUNDS OF MUSIC ARE THE SAME! The sound of the instruments, and the sound of music that was heard in the midst of Babylon was a sound that called, demanded and required men and women of all nations, languages, tribes and tongues to worship a golden image—to forsake the god(s) of their lands, and to bow down before and worship the image which had been set up. Oh that we would possess within ourselves discernment enough to distinguish between the different sounds that are being made within the earth, and understand those sounds which are calling and drawing men and women to worship the true and living God, and those sounds which are calling men and women to worship the false gods of this age.
When we come to the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find the Lord speaking directly to and addressing Israel, thus reaffirming their identity before Him—even in the midst of their captivity and exile. Even in their captivity and exile the Lord was preserving their identity within the earth, for the time would come when they would be released from the midst of their captivity, and would be permitted to return unto their own inheritance, land and heritage. NEVER FORSAKE YOUR IDENTITY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAPTIVITY! NEVER FORFEIT YOUR IDENTITY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAPTIVITY! NEVER LOSE YOUR IDENTITY IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAPTIVITY! By speaking through the prophet Ezekiel and referring to the people as Israel, the Lord was confirming the reality that neither captivity nor exile could destroy their identity as Israel within the earth. The people would enter into their captivity and exile as israel, and the people would exit their captivity as Israel. What’s more, is that there is a passage also found within the prophetic book of Ezekiel concerning to staffs which Ezekiel was to take and give the appearance of joining together, for it was through this imagery the Lord would declare that even though Israel and Judah entered into captivity separately and divided, they would be brought forth united as one people before the Lord. In all reality—not only did the Lord preserve their Idenity in the midst of their captivity and exile, but He also brought forth their unity through that captivity. I am convinced that one of the greatest side benefits of the captivity and exile of the children of Israel is that when that captivity came to an end, the children of israel could return—not as two distinct nations and kingdoms, but as one unified people. Oh, they might not be the nation they once were during the days of David and Solomon, but they would once more be within the land of their inheritance and possession. How absolutely powerful and wonderful is this reality, and one that we would be incredible wise to pay close attention to. Not only would the Lord preserve their Idenity as the children and people of Israel, but the Lord would also bring about through their captivity their unity, as they would no more be two nations and kingdoms divided from each other, but one people returning to one land. They wouldn’t return—one to the northern kingdom of Israel, and the other to the southern kingdom of Judah—as a divided people, but as a single, unified people before the Lord, as He brought them forth and released them from their captivity and exile.
This passage which we read in the thirty-sixth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is one of the most noted and powerful passages concerning the redemption of the nation and people of Israel. What we must recognize about and concerning this passage, is that this passage comes directly and immediately before Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones. Before and prior to Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, we read how the Lord of hosts was going to sanctify His greatest name, which was profaned among the heathen, which His own people profaned in the midst of them. Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord declared that the heathen would know that He was the Lord, when He would be sanctified before their eyes. The Lord was going to take them from among the heathen, and gather then out of all the countries, and would bring them into their own land. This reality was manifested seventy years after the Babylonian captivity, and this reality would occur a second time nearly seventy years ago, for it was almost seventy years ago when Israel was reborn as a nation among the nations of the earth. Israel has one of the most unique and powerful testimonies of any single nation upon the earth, for not only was Israel a nation that was brought forth from the midst of slavery, bondage and oppression, but Israel was also brought forth from captivity and exile—not once, but twice. ONCE REDEEMED, TWICE RELEASED! The testimony which the nation and people of Israel have within the earth is that they were redeemed of and by the Lord once from their slavery and bondage, yet they were released from their captivity and exile twice. What other nation and people within the earth has the testimony that they were once redeemed and twice released? More than this, is the reality that in the midst of both captivities and exiles, the Lord of hosts preserved both the land and the people, and would unite the people to their land once more. The Lord knew exactly where His people were in the earth, and the Lord would gather them together and bring them back into their own land. The Lord would not permit them to remain in the land and place of their captivity and exile, but would draw them forth with cords of salvation and redemption. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for there is not a single soul upon the face of the earth that can or should dare say that Israel has no right to exist upon the earth. THE LAND BELONGS TO ISRAEL! THE PEOPLE BELONG IN THE LAND! There is no way around this, and this is the way it should be, and this is the way it was always intended on being.
WHAT GOOD IS RETURNING WITHOUT AN EVEN GREATER WORK? As you read this passage of Scripture, you will notice that it wasn’t enough simply to release the people from their captivity and exile, for there was an even deeper and even greater work that needed to be done. THE ACCOMPANYING WORK OF RELEASING AND RETURNING! It is and it was true the Lord would release His people from their captivity and exile, yet they could not return to the land the same way they exited and departed from the land. Consider if you will what is recorded in this passage beginning with the twenty-fifth erase—“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a n heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleanness: and I will cal for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities, I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that p assed by. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feats; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:25-38). SHALL KNOW THAT I THE LORD BUILD THE RUINED PLACES, AND PLANT THAT THAT WAS DESOLATE! How absolutely wonderful and amazing this is, for the Lord is a God who builds the ruined places within our lives, and even plants that which was and has been desolate. One of the greatest truths we must leave this passage with is that the only way to keep the statutes and judgments of the Lord is through and by His Spirit, The Lord emphatically declared that He would put His spirit within them, and cause them to walk in His statutes, and they would keep His judgments. What’s more, is that there is a direct connection between the cleansing of their iniquities, and the causing of them to dwell in the land. Oh that we would this day recognize and understand the tremendous importance of inheritance and obedience, possession and righteousness, inhabiting and holiness before the Lord.