30 July 2011

"My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (v. 27)


Ezekiel looks to a future with a king like David ruling over a united people who are themselves living lives according to the will and way of God (verse 26). The prophet envisages a future in which the people are gathered back to the land of their forebears and live there forever from generation to generation (verse 25). This vision is tied up with unity, and faithful obedience to the ways and laws of God, under one shepherd/servant/king figure.

Key to this is the establishment of God's "sanctuary among them" (v. 26). The temple has been destroyed and here a "sanctuary" and "dwelling place" (v. 27) is spoken of. (Later in chapter 40 a more detailed vision of a new temple, complete with measurements, is given.) For the moment that new temple is described in terms of God's being in the midst of the people, of a dwelling place, of a guarantee of God's presence with God's own people.

God's dwelling among the people comes about as a consequence of the sanctifying (purifying, cleansing, purging) activity of God (verse 28) and this shall be seen and known by the nations. The future God speaks of through Ezekiel is not one without profound consequences for Israel. Their past failure, disobedience and apostasies (verse 23) have brought about the absolute desolation referred to in the early part of chapter 37, and now the prophecy of hope and a very different future will require a people sanctified by God and the presence of God among them.

To Ponder

What do people see and know about God when they observe the Church?

What does or would it mean to live with a sense of God dwelling among us?

Bible notes author: The Revd Peter Barber

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