We concluded last section with some pretty bad news regarding Jerusalem that had fallen siege to Babylon. God’s chosen people who were called to love, obey and follow His laws had turned away from Him and continued in their evil ways being too stubborn to repent. So they were given over to their enemies.
However as we continue the journey into the the latter part of the book of Ezekiel, we see words of hope and comfort arising. Only the Almighty God is capable of doing this. The same God who was forced to mete out His punishment is now also speaking new life and restoration.
We see hope being spoken specifically to the fallen nation of Israel and it also extends to other nations and to all of creation. And these chapters filled with promises of restoration using some of the most vivid imagery.
Here are a few examples:
In chapter 34 the message of hope is kicked off with the promise of the Lord becoming Israel’s shepherd – not as the false leaders of Israel who abused their authority over God’s people. The Lord promises to Himself search for and find the lost sheep of Israel (34:11-17) committing to provide them a place of safety. The end purpose for this is that the people will once again know that God is their Lord.
As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
Another powerful imagery is a promise to take the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Only the Lord God can transform hearts which gives yield to all actions.
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.
Breath of Life in Dead Bones
In chapter 37, we see Ezekial being brought before a whole valley of dead bones that were very dry. Yet as Ezekial prophesies to those bones, they grew tendons, flesh, skin and eventually they have the very breath of life arising to form a whole vast army. This is the ultimate message of hope where people who are utterly dead with hopelessness and living in such hopeless circumstances can still experience life when the Spirit of God enter them and breathes life over them.
I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.
Having spoken these words of hope, promise and encouragement for the nation of Israel, we see in the next couple of chapters (38-39) the sovereignty of God being spoken over all nations. God’s rule and reign is not limited to the nation of Israel but once again we see His desire for all nations to come to Him (39:7-8).
“‘I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel.
Finally in the last eight chapters of the book we see further promises of restoration being spoken. The central aspect of this the restoration of the Temple of God. As we know from our previous readings, the temple is not just about the physical structure but an embodiment of the presence of God. A place set aside for God to make His dwelling among His people here on earth.
But due to the sins of the people, that sanctuary also experienced destruction.
However, when it is time for restoration of people’s lives the first thing that must be restored is that place where God can once again dwell among His people. And God in His mercy initiates this process and reveals it to His prophet Ezekial.
It begins with a process of first measuring the various parts of the temple (ch. 40-42) followed by the the glory of God returning and filling the temple in a most awesome way (43: 1-5). Then comes the declaration that this dwelling of God among the Israelites is forever (43:7).
What hope! What joy! What restoration!!!
Then we go on to read about the restoration of the altar, the priesthood and eventually all of Israel. Some very specific instructions are also provided for all the steps to be taken In entering the temple and bringing offerings and sacrifices before the Lord (ch. 43-46).
Now that the temple life has been re-established among God’s people, Ezekial then witnesses and experiences another most awesome vision. Water of life comes flowing out of the temple threshold that keeps rising becoming a river teeming with life and bringing life wherever it goes. Life and new life is birthed out of this river. Fruit trees grow whose leaves will never wither.
Now this is the vision of ultimate hope.
And this message of hope is not just for Ezekial and the Israelites of his day but it is also relevant for us today. When we allow the presence of the Holy God to dwell in us (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17; 6:19-20), He will ensure that His Living Water brings everlasting life to us (John 14:14). The water that flows and flows such that it cannot be contained within the boundaries of the temple but which flows out all around bringing hope and life to all in the path of the surging river.
Out of utter hopelessness and devastation, God speaks works of hope and restoration calling His people out of darkness into His presence from which flows the river of life.
Weekly Reading Plan
And now here is the weekly plan for you to read through the second part of Ezekial.
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Use the above schedule to read through all of the text
- Read 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17; 6:19-20 and Romans 12:1-2 and reflect on how your body is the temple of God. Given what you read in Ezekial about God’s presence inhabiting the temple, what implications do you think it has for you personally?
- Optional (if you really want to read through the Bible in a year): Read Psalms 82-84
And that is it for week 29!
Happy Bible Learning!