Ezekiel 36:11 “I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
This passage reads a little strangely to most people, because God is speaking not to people but to the land itself. We don’t usually do that! However, Isaiah speaks of the land rejoicing and trees “clapping their hands,” (Isaiah 55:12) so this isn’t too strange. Paul speaks of “all creation groaning,” (Romans 8:22) so this sort of anthropomorphizing is found throughout the Bible. I don’t think the Bible is claiming that everything is sentient, but rather that everything is God’s creation and therefore part of and subject to His plans. That should make us careful in our stewardship, but not to the point of placing ecology (however we define it) above people, as some seem to do. Even Jesus was clear that people are worth far more than animals, for example. (Matthew 10:31) However, needlessly or thoughtlessly being destructive of anything is reprehensible before God.
This particular verse clicks for me because we minister in Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. Lord Sumitada Omura was the first Christian daimyo (feudal lord) in the country, back in the 16th Century, and he was the one who gave the port of Nagasaki to the Jesuits to benefit their efforts to spread the Gospel. In his day, Omura flourished to the point of provoking the jealousy of the government in Edo (now Tokyo) and contributed to the crackdown against Christians that came right after Sumitada died. Omura was a Christian center, not just for the nation but for the whole Far East. Sadly, the persecution that followed was the must successful (from the viewpoint of the persecutors) in the history of the Church. Not only were many thousands killed, the remainder were driven underground to a degree unparalleled elsewhere. The Lord has given our church a vision of Omura again being the foremost Christian city in the nation, actively advancing the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth, but that looks like even less than a pipe dream to the natural eye. God’s words to the hills of Judea could apply to the land in Omura. This area where our church stands was listed as a samurai residence back in the days of Sumitada Omura, which means almost certainly that those who lived there were Christians. I believe our presence here is prophetic, and God is indeed going to increase the numbers of His people in the land, to even more than before, just as He says in this verse. That’s humanly impossible, but nothing is impossible for God.
Father, thank You for this Word of encouragement. Thank you also for the Coaching seminar I’m attending, and for the affirmation You’ve been giving me here. I pray that all of Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule, not only for our church but for each person at this seminar and the churches they represent, for the salvation of this nation and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!