How does it end?

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:25-27

The book of Ezekiel seems unusual in the way it ends. The first 25 chapters of the book look at God’s judgment over his people and the destruction of Jerusalem. While the second half looks at God’s promised restoration of his people to their former glory. The language throughout has been grand and poetic in its description of God’s power, wonder and judgement. Yet the final chapter, chapter 48, is much more plain in its description of borders and land distribution. It seems almost out of place when we consider the grandness of the rest of the book.  

Chapter 48 is really about the future that is to come and the certainty of God’s restoration of his people. It communicates to us the true reality of God’s restoration in a few ways. Firstly, it moves beyond metaphorical imagery to exact measurements of geographical states to make it clear to us that the restoration of God’s people is a certainty to be expected. The very specific measurements make it clear to the reader that this is not an abstract image or metaphor but a very real certainty of a future to come. Secondly, while the measurements of the land are specific, they do not match the physical landscape of the place that they are describing, indicating to us that this is more than just a physical land restoration and instead something much more unexpected. Thirdly it puts God and his temple at the centre of the land, signifying to us that God will be the centre of all life for his restored people. By putting God’s land and his temple in the very middle, both geographically, and in the text itself, it makes it clear to the reader that the centre of all life is God and the worship of him.

Mark 1:15 makes it clear to us that this expected restoration is brought about by the life and work of Jesus Christ. As we consider Ezekiel 48 in light of Jesus, we can see how we are to live with him in our lives. Firstly, we live in absolute certainty of his power and salvation. We know that through Jesus we have received forgiveness and that nothing can take that away from us. Secondly, we know that God’s kingdom in Christ moves beyond the traditional boundaries of state and unite us all under God (Ephesians 2:14-18). Finally, it lets us know that Christ needs to be at the centre of all we do. Our lives are brought near to God through Christ and now he is to be the centre of all our motivations, actions, and thoughts. 

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

  Tim