Saturday

“They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children and their children’s children shall live there for ever, and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them for evermore.” (vv. 25-26)

Ezekiel 37:24-28 Saturday 4 March 2017

Psalm: Psalm 118:19-29


Background

These words of Ezekiel must have been music to the ears of avanquished and exiled people. It was essentially a vision of autopian future, which would have been everything that their presentwas not.

The king of Judah had rebelled against his overlord, the king ofBabylon, who, in response, had destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.The exiles had no home, no shrine, no king, and seemingly nofuture. But God had plans for them.

God promised them, first of all, a king. Not just any king, butKing David. This harked back to the heyday of Israel's life, whenDavid was on the throne, and looked forward to another great kingof his lineage. This Davidic king might be literally descended fromDavid, but more crucially would be the same kind of ruler, rulingaccording to the same kind of principles. This was highlighted bythe image of the shepherd; just as David was taken from tending thesheep, to shepherd the nation, so the nation would again beprotected by "one shepherd" (v. 24).

Secondly, God promised them their land - "the land that I gaveto my servant Jacob" (v. 25) - to live in for ever, under theDavidic, messianic king.

The third promise is for the renewal of their covenant with God,again with the commitment that it would last for ever. This is aninteresting promise, as it was the people, not God, who had brokenthe covenant. God seems to be promising that the people would befaithful. Perhaps this should be seen as a promise of grace andsanctification - that is, God would give them the gift of holinessand worship.

Which brings us to the fourth promise - the temple (God'sdwelling). Once again, there would be a place of worship andritual, a centre for the cultic, religious life of Israel. Aboveall, the temple represents God's presence in their midst. If, inexile, they felt far from God, in the promised future they would beclose to God, and the relationship would be close and lasting.


To Ponder

  • How might this passage be read sensitively, in the context ofmodern day conflicts and competing claims surrounding the HolyLand?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future, and inparticular for your relationship with God?
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