This is our last day studying the book of Ezekiel - I've really enjoyed our study and I hope you have too!
Division of the Land13 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.
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 City30 “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....
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