The river makes me very excited: Life, freshness and abundance; fruit for food and leaves for healing (47:12; see also Revelation 22:2), all originating from the temple. The LORD has always been, and will forevermore be, the SOURCE of all life and abundance. Anyone who has ever been to the dead sea will tell you how incredible it would have to be to make it a fresh, life producing area. There’s no vegetation even close to it.
The gates are named after the twelve tribes of Israel (48:31-34; see also Revelation 21:12). As you see, there are many parallels between this description and the end of Revelation, but the dimensions of the city are quite different. While Ezekiel’s city is of normal size (1.14 kilometers squared, which–side note–is about as large as Viterbo’s walled historical center), the one in Revelation is larger than life! Not only 1,500 miles long, but equally high and wide (roughly the length of the west coast of the United States).
It’s hard to know what parts of this are figurative, and what exactly we will one day physically see. The most important fixture is that, “The LORD is there.” (47:35) and “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” (Revelation 21:3)
Also, as a Gentile, I am delighted to notice:
“You shall divide it by lot for an inheritance among yourselves and among the aliens who stay in your midst, who bring forth sons in your midst. And they shall be to you as the native-born among the sons of Israel; they shall be allotted an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.” (47:22)
We are brought in, included, able to live in proximity to the LORD.
It always floors me when I think about what the LORD is accomplishing here, and what He is actually promising at the end of Ezekiel. Right when all hope feels lost, the LORD gives a glimpse into a dazzling future. As they ask the question of whether the LORD can, or ever will, save Israel, He responds with a promise to save both them and the rest of the world. Incredible.
His scope is infinitely wider. His healing is infinitely deeper. His reach is infinitely further. Our hopes and dreams are not too big, but far too small. He is not swayed, He will accomplish His work in bringing LIFE back into this dying world.
On that note, we start Revelation tomorrow. Hopefully this meditation along with the coronavirus (which, right as I typed that sentence, my phone’s local news app notified me of four new cases in my area–Ha!) won’t spiral anyone into a doomsday prep mode. We still have so much to look forward to–like a tree who’s leaves heal the nations–and that’s a promise.