The Good News of EzekielDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
The circumference of the city is 5.1 miles. As of today, the name of the city is The LORD Is There.
For the past three months, we have been walking slowing through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. If you've joined me for this journey, you know that this collection of prophecies abounds with bad news. In many and various ways, Ezekiel announces God's judgment upon his people because of their persistent, unfaithful idolatry. They have rejected God so often that God is going to discipline them severely by using the nation of Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and drive many of the Jews into exile. Though Ezekiel contains an occasional oasis of hope, mostly it is a long, hard road to travel.
Yet, it ends with extraordinary good news. After mentioning that the circumference of Jerusalem will be 5.1 miles (literally, 18,000 cubits), the prophet adds, "As of today, the name of the city is The LORD Is There" (48:35). The LORD Is There! Think of it. Earlier in Ezekiel, the Lord withdrew his glorious presence from Jerusalem and its Temple. He took away his protection and blessing from his people. Yet this was not the end of the story, but rather a sad chapter in the middle. At the end, God will once again live in the midst of his people. They will be his, and he will be their God.
The final words of Ezekiel point forward in time to a day when God will dwell with his people. This began to happen over five centuries later when God became human in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate. Jesus lived on earth to reveal the fullness of life offered by God and, through dying, to open up to us the way into that life. Following his resurrection and ascension, God came to dwell in and among his people through the Holy Spirit. Where God's people are, The LORD is There.
Yet, Christians believe, like Ezekiel, that God will one day be even more fully present among us. In the second-to-last chapter of the Revelation of John we read: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, 'Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away' " (Rev. 21:1-4). What a marvelous hope! Not only will God dwell fully among us, but also he will renew heaven and earth. He will take away sorrow and abolish death. All things will have become new in his presence.
Today, we live with the assurance that God is with us through the Spirit. Yet we also live with hope of a new day that is coming, a day when God's justice and peace will cover the earth. This vision empowers us to live each day for the Lord, serving him in all that we do, whether at work or at home, whether in our cities or our churches. Because God is with us now, we know we can do all things by his power. And because God will one day dwell fully among us, we have hope. In light of this hope, we wipe away tears from the eyes of those who grieve, sharing the good news of what God has done and is doing through Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When are you most aware of God being with you? How might you live differently if you were fully and regularly confident of God's presence in your life?
PRAYER: Almighty, merciful God, thank you for the closing promise of Ezekiel. Thank you for the fact that one day you will dwell fully among us.
In the meanwhile, thank you for your presence with us through your Spirit. Thank you for healing us, teaching us, binding us together as your people, and empowering us to serve you in the world. May we do so faithfully, confident in your presence and inspired by the hope of your future.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, O God, Immanuel, God with us! Amen.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.