Chapter 37 of Ezekiel is a highly symbolic chapter. In verses 1‑14, Ezekiel deals with the symbol of the dry bones, which pictures Israel as a regathered nation in a state of unbelief. Verses 15-28 deals with the sign of the two sticks, which pictures the reunification of the divided kingdom. The historical background to this passage is found in I Kings 12 and II Chronicles 10.
In verse 15, the word of Jehovah comes to Ezekiel and a new prophecy is announced in verse 16. Ezekiel’s instructions are twofold: first, he is to take one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions. The phrase the children of Israel included the tribes that were allied with Judah: Benjamin and Simeon. Here, the words his companions refer to Judah’s companions. The first stick represents the Kingdom of Judah. Next, Ezekiel is instructed to take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. The phrase the stick of Ephraim refers to the most prominent son of Joseph, who fathered the Tribe of Ephraim, the most prominent tribe of the northern kingdom. The phrase all the house of Israel refers to the other nine tribes that were allies with Ephraim; these are his companions. The second stick represents the Kingdom of Israel. The actual joining of the sticks is in verse 17. When Ezekiel joins the two sticks together, they appear to be one in his hand.
Ezekiel’s actions caused the people to ask for an explanation of this symbolic act in verse 18. The question raised in the minds of Ezekiel’s people, the Jewish people, was “Will you not show us what you mean by these things?” This shows that there has been a change of attitude toward Ezekiel on the part of the people. Instead of poking fun at him or simply ignoring him, he is now taken quite seriously when he performs this symbolic act with the two sticks. Ezekiel answers that God declares: Behold, I, meaning that God Himself will bring Judah and Israel together so that they will once again be one nation. God then explains how they shall be one in my hand. Note that the expression in my hand means God’s hand; it is God who is going to bring this about, not Ezekiel.
The application of the sign is specifically to the people of Israel and Ezekiel emphasizes three things. (1) God will re-gather the Jewish people, (2) the people will be re-unified (cp. 1 Chron 17:21), and (3) God promises a future cleansing from idols, detestable things, and transgressions.
Two of David’s offices are revealed in this verse: king and shepherd. The first office is that of a king. In the governmental system of the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will rule as King over the whole world. Under Him, there will be two branches of government: the Gentile branch and the Jewish branch. The Gentile branch of government will be comprised of the Church saints and Tribulation saints, who are destined to co‑reign with the Messiah over the Gentile nations. The resurrected David is destined to co‑reign with Jesus over the Jewish branch. From the viewpoint of the Messiah, David is His servant; but from the viewpoint of Israel, David will be their king. The second office of David is that of a shepherd. As a shepherd, he will guide Israel and he will feed Israel. Never again will Israel have a leader who will lead them astray. Under David’s leadership and shepherding as king, the Jewish nation will walk in the ordinances of God and they will observe God’s statutes in the Millennial Kingdom.
Ezekiel brings out two thoughts in this verse, God will give them the Land of Israel; and secondly, they will occupy the Land for generations. The word they refers to the first generation that enters the Kingdom. The phrase their children, and their children’s children refers to the succeeding generations who are born in the Kingdom. The Hebrew word used here for for ever is ad olam, which means “until an age,” not “an eternity.” There is no classical Hebrew word that actually means “eternity.” The closest that Hebrew can come to that concept would be an expression like “without end.” That is, in fact, how God is described. Although the word for ever is very often found in English translations, the Hebrew word is either le olam, which means “unto an age,” or ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, once they are brought into the Land, they will continually possess the Land throughout the Kingdom Age. At no point during the thousand years of the Kingdom will they be dispossessed of the Land or scattered out of the Land again. Whereas earlier he was called king and shepherd, now he is called prince. From the viewpoint of Israel, he will be their king; but from the viewpoint of the Messiah, he will be a prince, because He will be under authority of King Messiah. He will be their prince for ever, but again, the Hebrew word used here is ad olam, which means “until an age.” In other words, this will be David’s office throughout the Messianic Kingdom; he will not be deposed from this position whatsoever.
The Millennial Temple will be built in the Millennial Kingdom and will be the Fourth Temple spoken of in Scripture. Ezekiel later details this Millennial Temple that God will erect in the Messianic Kingdom in chapters 40‑48. The basis of the Millennial Temple will be the New Covenant, a covenant of peace and it is an everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 31:31‑34).
Ezekiel makes three points. (1) God Himself will place them in the Land; not only will they have the right of possession, they will actually be dwelling in the Land, (2) Once they have settled, God will multiply them; there will be an increase of the Jewish population, (3) God will set His sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
In this relationship, God states: My tabernacle also shall be with them. The Hebrew word used here for tabernacle means “My Presence‑dwelling” or “My Shechinah Glory.” In verse 26, the emphasis on the word sanctuary was on the holiness of the Fourth Temple, but in this verse, the emphasis on the word tabernacle is that the new Temple will be the dwelling place of the Shechinah Glory. When will the nations, meaning “the Gentiles,” know that Jehovah is the One who sanctifies Israel? God’s answer is: when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. The Gentile nations will recognize that this restoration and reunification of Israel, with God’s Temple in the midst of them, means that Israel’s God is indeed the only true God. Ezekiel’s vision of the two sticks concludes with the promise that God will set up His dwelling‑place in the midst of the children of Israel.
 This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.