In Ezekiel 47:1-12 we read about the vision of water flowing from an eschatological temple. The water flows toward the east, nourishing the part of the world most in need of it (v. 1). Ezekiel is brought outside and led along the water, which gradually gets deeper and deeper (vv. 2–6). Eventually the water becomes “a river that could not be passed through” (v. 5). Drawing on the language of creation in Genesis 1–2, the text here describes the lush vegetation, trees, and teeming wildlife (vv. 7–9).
This vision of a river flowing from the temple goes not only back, but also forward. The influence of these fruitful waters are picked up in Zechariah 14:8, which speaks of the coming day of the Lord by saying, “On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem.” Jesus picks up the theme, saying that the Old Testament speaks of rivers of living water flowing out from the heart of the one who believes in him—yet not identifying or making transparently clear which Old Testament text he is speaking of (John 7:38). And at the end of all things we see Ezekiel’s watering temple in the new earth (Rev. 22:1–2). Just as in Ezekiel 47:7, 12, in Revelation 22:2 a river (now flowing from the throne of God instead of the temple, since no more sacrifices for sin needs to be made) produces trees growing on both sides of the river, bearing leaves “for the healing of the nations.”
In every case, the waters point to the true refreshment that comes ultimately only in Jesus (John 7:37–39). And, as these life-giving waters flow from the place of atonement (the temple and the throne of the Redeemer), they grow wider and deeper, making eternal life possible for the worst of sinners and for all the nations of the world.
When we come to the last five verses of the book of Ezekiel (48:30-35) we see the reverse of the initial prophecy in the book. In chapter 4, the prophet built siege works around a model of the city and set his face against it, even putting an iron barrier between it and himself to symbolize God’s determination to destroy the city in his righteous wrath. Now, by the close of the book, all is reversed. The city is safe and secure, and the horrifying image of God’s glory departing from the temple is replaced by the glorious new name of the city, in the very last words of Ezekiel—“The LORD Is There” (48:35).
This journey from exile from God’s presence to gracious return through the Messiah traces the story of the entire Bible. Because of their sin, human beings were banished from God’s presence, cast out of the garden of Eden and barred from returning. By his grace and because of his love, however, God acted through Jesus Christ to reconcile his people to himself and bring them back into his presence.
What better name for this city than the one Ezekiel gives it? “The LORD Is There.”
* Adapted from ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.
This week’s bible reading schedule:
|☐||Monday: Ezekiel 46||☐||Thursday: Haggai 1-2|
|☐||Tuesday: Ezekiel 47||☐||Friday: Lamentations 1|
|☐||Wednesday: Ezekiel 48||☐||Saturday: Lamentations 2|