Question: I have questions about Ecclesiastes 12:7 and Ezekiel 29:12. In the first passage, what does it mean "the spirit returns to God who gave it"? And in the second, can you explain whether this dispersion of Egyptians and 40 years of depopulation actually happened or whether it is prophetic?
Response: Ecclesiastes 12:7 shows that God is indeed the One who gives us our human spirit, man's immaterial part (see The Satanic Rebellion, part 3, "The Purpose, Creation, and Fall of Man, section II.3, "The Human Spirit"). When we die, our present bodies deteriorate, but our spirit is taken to heaven to be with our dear Lord Jesus (Jn.14:3; cf. Lk.16:22). As creatures who have always had and will always have both a material and immaterial part, we will even then "not be found naked" but will have an interim body which we shall inhabit until the day of the resurrection (2Cor.5:3 in the Greek - the first half of this verse is consistently mistranslated in the English versions):
For we know that if our earthly tent-dwelling (i.e., our physical body) be struck, we have an abode [that comes] from God, a dwelling made without human agency, eternal in the heavens (i.e., the resurrection body). For indeed we do groan in this one, desiring to put on our habitation which comes from heaven. And [even] if we do put off this present one, at any rate, we (i.e., our spirits) will not be found naked (i.e., "body-less"; for we will enjoy an interim body in the meantime: cf. Lk.16:19-31; Rev.6:9-10; Rev.7:9-17).
2nd Corinthians 5:1-3
Please see also the following links for more details:
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
Life Begins at Birth
The Human Spirit (in BB 3A)
On Ezek.29:12, Nebuchadnezzar did indeed conquer and subdue Egypt. The secular records of this period are not particularly helpful vis-a-vis the biblical comment here about the exiles, but this was in the ancient world and still continues to be in the modern world a very typical phenomenon when a nation is conquered (a flood of expatriates who only return, if ever, when political conditions change). The Babylonian captivity of Israel lasted seventy years, beginning in 570 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt in ca. 568. Cyrus the Great and the Persian empire conquered Babylon in ca. 538, and Egypt came under their control sometime thereafter. Following its fall to Babylon, Egypt of the Pharaoh's never did again assert itself. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in the fourth century and became a great kingdom under the Ptolemies, but that was really a Greek kingdom. Today, Egypt is an Arabic speaking nation of Islamic culture. So on the one hand, this prophecy of forty years will fit nicely into what we know of the contemporary historical situation of that early time.
The prophecy of the dispersion of the Egyptians in Ezekiel 29:12 is repeated at Ezekiel 30:23-26. These verses do also have end-times application, for the Egypt of the future will be the focal point of the southern alliance which opposes antichrist during the first half of the Tribulation. It too will be humbled at that time, and be a "lowly nation" at the beginning of the Millennium (cf. Is.19). Therefore we should see Nebuchadnezzar here not only as the historical king of Babylon but also as a type of antichrist who will conquer and plunder Egypt during the Tribulation, and will also be responsible for this dispersion. Please see the links:
Prophetic types of the beast (in CT 3B)
Nebuchadnezzar as a type of antichrist (in CT 3B)
The Second Campaign against the South (in CT 3B)
In Jesus Christ,