5 April 2011

Ezekiel 47:1-12

"Going on eastward with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle deep." (v.3)


Ezekiel's vision of the river is for me one of the most striking images in the Bible. Having been called to preach to God's people and warn them in uncompromising terms of their failings, Ezekiel is then given the gift of this all encompassing vision of God's power and the privilege of sharing that vision with all who will listen. The vision follows a detailed description of the temple which begins in chapter 40 and describes a river which will flow from the temple to what is now known as the Dead Sea. In verse 10 En-gedi and En-eglaim are thought to be rivers on the west shore of the Dead Sea and the "Great Sea" is likely to refer to the Mediterranean.

The "Arabah" in verse 8 is also a reference to the Dead Sea and the fact that the river of God's power should be depicted as cleansing such uniquely salty water and causing growth stresses that this is a vision of God's renewing power. In this most arid of places there will be an abundance of fish and living creatures and it will be a place where "everything will live where the river goes" (verse 9). The river and the vision of the trees in verse 12 points forward to John's vision of heaven (Revelation 22:1-2) and the promise of monthly crops shows not only God's healing and sustaining power, but also stresses the eternal, ongoing nature of the promises.

Perhaps the most interesting image within this vision is that of Ezekiel being led into the river. It is a moment of great trust and tenderness between the prophet and the God he seeks to proclaim. One wonders whether Ezekiel would have seen the vision at all if he had not been willing to wade into deeper waters.

To Ponder

Where do you feel God may be leading you?

Where do you feel you need God's transforming and renewing power in your life?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Pryde

Jenny Pryde studied at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham. She is stationed to the United North East Circuit and was ordained in July 2009.