Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wednesday, February 12th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 35-36, Psalm 32, Mark 4
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 47:13-48:35

This is our last day studying the book of Ezekiel - I've really enjoyed our study and I hope you have too!

Ezekiel 47:13-48:35

English Standard Version (ESV)

Division of the Land

13 Thus says the Lord God: “This is the boundary by which you shall divide the land for inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. 14 And you shall divide equally what I swore to give to your fathers. This land shall fall to you as your inheritance.
15 “This shall be the boundary of the land: On the north side, from the Great Sea by way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, and on to Zedad, 16 Berothah, Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer-hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. 17 So the boundary shall run from the sea to Hazar-enan, which is on the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This shall be the north side.
18 “On the east side, the boundary shall run between Hauran and Damascus; along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel; to the eastern sea and as far as Tamar. This shall be the east side.
19 “On the south side, it shall run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah-kadesh, from there along the Brook of Egyptto the Great Sea. This shall be the south side.
20 “On the west side, the Great Sea shall be the boundary to a point opposite Lebo-hamath. This shall be the west side.
21 “So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord God.
48 “These are the names of the tribes: Beginning at the northern extreme, beside the way of Hethlon to Lebo-hamath, as far as Hazar-enan (which is on the northern border of Damascus over against Hamath), and extending from the east side to the west, Dan, one portion. Adjoining the territory of Dan, from the east side to the west, Asher, one portion.Adjoining the territory of Asher, from the east side to the west, Naphtali, one portion. Adjoining the territory of Naphtali, from the east side to the west, Manasseh, one portion. Adjoining the territory of Manasseh, from the east side to the west, Ephraim, one portion. Adjoining the territory of Ephraim, from the east side to the west, Reuben, one portion. Adjoining the territory of Reuben, from the east side to the west, Judah, one portion.
“Adjoining the territory of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the portion which you shall set apart, 25,000 cubits in breadth, and in length equal to one of the tribal portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the midst of it. The portion that you shall set apart for the Lord shall be 25,000 cubits in length, and 20,000 in breadth.10 These shall be the allotments of the holy portion: the priests shall have an allotment measuring 25,000 cubits on the northern side, 10,000 cubits in breadth on the western side, 10,000 in breadth on the eastern side, and 25,000 in length on the southern side, with the sanctuary of the Lord in the midst of it. 11 This shall be for the consecrated priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept my charge, who did not go astray when the people of Israel went astray, as the Levites did. 12 And it shall belong to them as a special portion from the holy portion of the land, a most holy place, adjoining the territory of the Levites.13 And alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites shall have an allotment 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in breadth. The whole length shall be 25,000 cubits and the breadth 20,000. 14 They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to the Lord.
15 “The remainder, 5,000 cubits in breadth and 25,000 in length, shall be for common use for the city, for dwellings and foropen country. In the midst of it shall be the city, 16 and these shall be its measurements: the north side 4,500 cubits, the south side 4,500, the east side 4,500, and the west side 4,500. 17 And the city shall have open land: on the north 250 cubits, on the south 250, on the east 250, and on the west 250. 18 The remainder of the length alongside the holy portion shall be 10,000 cubits to the east, and 10,000 to the west, and it shall be alongside the holy portion. Its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. 19 And the workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall till it. 20 The whole portion that you shall set apart shall be 25,000 cubits square, that is, the holy portion together with the property of the city.
21 “What remains on both sides of the holy portion and of the property of the city shall belong to the prince. Extending from the 25,000 cubits of the holy portion to the east border, and westward from the 25,000 cubits to the west border, parallel to the tribal portions, it shall belong to the prince. The holy portion with the sanctuary of the temple shall be in its midst. 22 It shall be separate from the property of the Levites and the property of the city, which are in the midst of that which belongs to the prince. The portion of the prince shall lie between the territory of Judah and the territory of Benjamin.
23 “As for the rest of the tribes: from the east side to the west, Benjamin, one portion. 24 Adjoining the territory of Benjamin, from the east side to the west, Simeon, one portion. 25 Adjoining the territory of Simeon, from the east side to the west, Issachar, one portion. 26 Adjoining the territory of Issachar, from the east side to the west, Zebulun, one portion.27 Adjoining the territory of Zebulun, from the east side to the west, Gad, one portion. 28 And adjoining the territory of Gad to the south, the boundary shall run from Tamar to the waters of Meribah-kadesh, from there along the Brook of Egypt to the Great Sea. 29 This is the land that you shall allot as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions, declares the Lord God.

The Gates of the City

30 “These shall be the exits of the city: On the north side, which is to be 4,500 cubits by measure, 31 three gates, the gate ofReuben, the gate of Judah, and the gate of Levi, the gates of the city being named after the tribes of Israel. 32 On the east side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin, and the gate of Dan. 33 On the south side, which is to be 4,500 cubits by measure, three gates, the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar, and the gate of Zebulun.34 On the west side, which is to be 4,500 cubits, three gates, the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher, and the gate of Naphtali.35 The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.”

Rayburn's commentary on these verses in his sermon on this passage was really fascinating and I'd encourage you to read or listen to it all yourself.  A few things jumped out at me that I wanted to share.

In this passage there is no distinction made, as far as land ownership goes, between the foreigner and the native Israelite.  The Gentile becomes an Israelite - just like the New Testament emphasizing the Gentile and the Israelite believer together forming the Israel of God.

The land allotments are completely different than those described in Joshua, where each tribe was given a different size allotment based on size and topography.  This is a picture of an idealized Promised Land and the allotments are now fair and square paying no heed to topography whatsoever.  Even though everything is basically "fair and square" there are still some difference, even inequities.  Some are closer to the city and sanctuary than others.  It's interesting to note that the ones that are closest are the tribes from the true wives of Jacob (Leah and Rachel).  It's also interesting that Judah is placed with the northern tribes, perhaps symbolizing the overcoming of the animosity that had long existed between Judah and Israel during the days of the divided kingdom.  Fascinating!

We have, in this passage, an idealized picture of the Promised Land to come.  What an encouragement!

Everything back and better than ever before. The Holy Land restored, from east to west and north to south, the same basic dimensions it had had in its ideal form when first defined to them and before Israel entered the Promised Land under Joshua. All of it back in the hands of the people of God. Brotherhood reigning again, all the tribes in unity with one another. The worship of God in a perfect temple being supported by all the people. A prince to lead them. And, supremely, God present among them once more to bless them.

How is this meaningful to us?  In several ways!  First, the promise of the OT Promised Land is enlarged to become the promise of the world in the NT.
“The meek shall inherit the land in Psalm 37:11 becomes “The meek shall inherit the earth in Matthew 5:5. The promise that Abraham would inherit the land in Gen. 12:1 becomes the promise that Abraham would inherit the world in Rom. 4:13. And the promise that faithful children would live a long life in the land, in the fifth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 becomes a promise of long life on the earth in Ephesians 6:3

The believing world, as a whole, will eventually come under God's grace. What a promise!

This is a joyful description of the amazing future ahead for the people of God - salvation both here on earth and in heaven to come.

If you could imagine the most wonderful day, spent in the most wonderful place, with the most wonderful people you know to the make the experience the best one you could imagine - that will not even compare to the glory of heaven.  Rayburn encouraged this imaginative exercise and then said....
Did not God furnish you with this extraordinary power of imagination because a large part of what we must do if we are to live rightly in this world is to keep in our mind’s eye (another word, another phrase for that power of imagination) on the wonderful world and the wonderful life that lies ahead of us because Jesus Christ has gone ahead to prepare a place for us so that where he is we may be also.

It has sometimes been alleged that people who are always thinking about heaven are “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” ...... But, the fact is, you can’t be too heavenly minded. No one can. To be heavenly minded is to understand rightly the life you are living here in this world. To be heavenly minded is to understand what it means to live life as a person should and to know how that life is to be lived. The end, the destination determines the meaning of the trip and shapes the way in which we think about our traveling. Indeed it shapes the way we travel.

In the Bible the reality of this grand future, the prospect of the unending fulfillment of human life, of a place, a time, a people, a way of life that is in fact the fulfillment of the longing of every human heart, all of that is meant to encourage us, to strengthen, to nerve, to steel us, to face the trials, difficulties, challenges and the temptations of life in this world with calm and with resolve. If life becomes hard, well, we are going to a place where all difficulties will soon be forgotten and if you can see that place in your mind’s eye, undergoing difficulties now is not so difficult. If we must do without, well the time is coming when we shall have everything and that forever and if you can see that place in your mind’s eye, doing without for a time seems not so great a sacrifice to you after all. If we must make sacrifices to live for Christ, well, as he did, we make them willingly for the joy set before us...

We are to live with an eye open to that glorious world and if we do it will, it must change the way we think, and speak, and act here and now. That is the whole point.

Have you ever read CS Lewis Chronicles of Narnia and thought to yourself - I don't want to live in this world, I want to live in Narnia?  The happy truth is - one day we will! And it will be infinitely better than Narnia could ever be.

Do we anticipate the passage into heaven with eagerness and joy?  Indeed, one of the greatest testimonies we will ever give is the attitude we have if/when we receive news or our impending and certain death.  Of course we enjoy our lives here on earth, and of course we should seek medical help when we fall ill, and of course we look forward to seeing our children and grandchildren grow up.  But we need to always remember that this world is not our home.  We need to focus on the glorious Promised Land that is ours, and when we receive the news that we will be there soon we should receive it with rejoicing!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Titus 1:1-4
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 37-38, Psalm 33, Mark 5

1 comment:

Miriam said...

I've enjoyed studying this book more than I expected. Great post!