Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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While the previous chapter described the overall boundaries of the new Israel, chapter 48 continues by giving the details of how the land is to be apportioned to the 12 tribes. We should note that all tribes are assigned land. The tribes of the northern kingdom, which had ceased to exist since the Assyrian conquest, get their land back. All the tribes get a fresh start with their portion decided on by lot. In the middle of the tribes there is a special or holy section of land. This middle area contains the Temple at its center with a place around it for priests and Levites. Flanking that section is the territory allotted to the prince.  For Israel this part of their land was the center of their life. Have we placed God at the center of our life?

The new city in the central area is to have 12 gates named after the 12 tribes, similar to the holy city described in the book of Revelation 21:12. Ezekiel climaxes his description with the revelation of the name of the city. One might expect it to be “new Jerusalem” but this is not the case. It is called “the Lord is here.” The theme of the book concerns the presence of God. In the beginning of the book of Ezekiel, Israel’s sin drives the presence of God away and judgment comes. Now God reveals through Ezekiel that He will return to His restored city and Temple and His presence will bring all kinds of blessings.

How appropriate to name the restored city “Yahweh is there.”  In fact, this one statement is the theme of the whole Bible. In Genesis, the sin of Adam and Eve separated us from God. The rest of the Bible shows God at work to restore His presence among us.  This climaxes in the book of Revelation when God declares that He will be with us again (Revelation 21:3).  All believers can look forward to living in that wonderful restored city graced by the eternal presence of God.

Jon Dybdahl
Walla Walla University
United States