Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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Ezekiel 47 continues the story of the restored Temple, city, and land of Israel. In a dry country like Israel, water is a necessity of life in all its aspects. Ezekiel is given a vivid picture of God’s solution to the water issue. In a restored Israel God’s presence is real and supplies all needs including water. What begins as a trickle of water from the east gate of the Temple begins to flow down toward the desert. In the space of a little over a mile the trickling stream becomes a mighty river. That river flows down and freshens the salty Dead Sea. This God-given water brings life. Trees grow and produce fruit month by month. Fish become so abundant that fishermen prosper. All the land is blessed by this water from the presence of God.

Although this literal picture never took place for Israel it is such a powerful image that later Bible writers took up the picture of the water to portray the spiritual blessings that God gives. Jesus mentions it in John 7:37-39. He says that the water refers to the Holy Spirit who will be given to believers. The vision is also taken up by John in Revelation 22:1, 2 in his description of the new earth. What a powerful picture of the blessing which flows from the presence of God.

This chapter also deals with the division of the land among the 12 tribes. The boundaries are very close to the borders given originally in Numbers 34:1-12, but one major difference stands out. Whereas in the book of Numbers only literal Israelites were given land, in Ezekiel’s restored nation strangers or aliens, if they bear children in the land, are to be given property. Non-Israelites get land as well as Israelites, a further example of the grace of God whose example of grace toward others we should follow.

Jon Dybdahl
Walla Walla University
United States