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THE VISION OF THE RESTORED TEMPLE AND THE REINHABITED LAND (Chaps. 40–48)
This is a development of the promise contained in Ezekiel 37:27. The subject of the closing chapters of Ezekiel is the restitution of the kingdom of God. This is expressed by a vision in which are displayed not only a rebuilt Temple, but also by a reformed priesthood, reorganised services, a restored monarchy, a reapportioned territory, a renewed people, and, as a consequence, the diffusion of fertility and plenty over the whole earth. The return from Babylon was indeed the beginning of this work, but only a beginning, introductory to the future kingdom of God, first upon earth, finally in heaven. The vision must therefore be viewed as strictly symbolical, the symbols employed being the Mosaic ordinances. These ordinances had indeed in themselves a hidden meaning. The Tabernacle in the midst of the tents of the tribes, and afterwards the Temple in the capital of the land of inheritance, was intended to signify the dwelling of Jehovah among His people; the priesthood was to denote the mediation between God and man; the monarchy the sovereignty of God, the people the saints of God, the territory their inheritance. So that the symbols here employed have an essential propriety; yet they are truly symbols, and as such they are to be regarded.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
THE VISION OF THE HOLY WATERS ISSUING FROM THE TEMPLE. (Chap. 47)
EXEGETICAL NOTES.—Ezekiel 47:1. “The house eastward.” The house is the Temple itself; the waters issued from beneath the south-east corner and flowed along the south of the porch which projected into the inner court.
Ezekiel 47:2. “There ran out waters on the right side.” “The waters flow eastward—towards the Kedron, thence towards the Jordan, and so along the Ghor to the Dead Sea. The main point in the picture is the rapid augmentation from a petty stream into a mighty river, not by the influx of side-streams, but by its own self-supply from the sacred miraculous source in the Temple.”—Henderson.
Ezekiel 47:3. “To the ankles.” This may coincide with the step gained in the baptism of Cornelius (Acts 10:0) and the opening of the Church to the Gentiles.
Ezekiel 47:4. “To the knees—loins.” The mission of St Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-4) is another marked epoch in the Church’s history; and the time of St Paul’s martyrdom denotes an increase in the Gentile Church, which corresponds with the waters reaching to the loins.
Ezekiel 47:5. “Waters to swim in.” “When under Constantine the Roman Empire had become Christian, the Church may be contemplated as the full river, to flow on throughout time to the final completion of Isaiah’s prophecy, Ezekiel 11:9.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
Ezekiel 47:7. “Very many trees.” Trees were the natural consequence of abundance of water (Psalms 1:3; Revelation 22:2). The luxuriant fertility of the ground on the shore of the Dead Sea under the fresh springs of Engedi well illustrate this.
Ezekiel 47:8. “Into the sea, the waters shall be healed.” The Dead Sea, covering the guilty cities, Sodom and Gomorrah. In its bituminous waters no vegetable or animal life is said to be found. But now death is to give place to life in Judea and throughout the world, as symbolised by the healing of these death-pervaded waters (John 4:14; Revelation 22:2-3).
Ezekiel 47:9. “Whithersoever the rivers shall come.” Heb., “the two rivers.” This new river is to come into the Dead Sea through the same plain as the Jordan. The Jordan always flowed, but now, when another river comes in and two rivers flow into the sea, the waters shall be healed. Hengstenberg interprets the two rivers as meaning strong river.
Ezekiel 47:10. “From Engedi unto Eneglaim.” Engedi, now Ain-Jidy, west of the Dead Sea, David’s place of refuge. En-eglaim, on the confines of Moab, near where the Jordan enters the Dead Sea. These limits comprise between them the whole Dead Sea. “Their fish shall be according to their kinds.” “Jerome quotes an ancient theory that there are 153 kinds of fishes, all of which were taken by the apostles (John 21:11), and not one remained uncaptured, signifying that both the noble and base-born, the rich and the poor, and every class, are being drawn out of the sea of the world to salvation.”—Fausset.
Ezekiel 47:11. “Not be healed; given to salt.” “Those districts in which the salt-deposits proper were formerly found shall henceforth be waste places. The thought is this—Only those who bar themselves against the gracious stream of Divine love and are unwilling to regain health are henceforth to be given over to the curse, continuing to exist as monuments thereof.”—Hävernick. What is given to salt is entirely forfeited to death.
Ezekiel 47:12. “Shall grow all trees for meat”—trees of life-giving and life-restoring virtue shall bloom, similar in properties to and exceeding in number the tree of life in Eden (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2; Revelation 22:14). “Whose leaf shall not fade”—expressing not only the unfailing character of the heavenly medicine of the tree of life, but also that the graces of the believer, which are the leaves, and his deeds, which are the fruits that flow from those graces, are immortal (Psalms 1:3; Jeremiah 17:8; Matthew 10:42; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
Ezekiel 47:13. “This shall be the border.” Substantially the same as Numbers 34:0; there the description begins with the south, here with the north. “Joseph shall have two portions”—according to the original promise of Jacob to Joseph (Genesis 48:5; Genesis 48:22; Joshua 14:4.) Joseph’s sons were given the birthright forfeited by Reuben, the first-born (1 Chronicles 5:5). The special mention of Joseph’s portions was to express that the twelve portions were to be exclusive of Levi’s land, which was to be provided out of the oblation.
Ezekiel 47:14. “One as well as another.” Ezekiel is speaking of tribes, not individuals. Each tribe is to have an equal breadth of land assigned to it.
Ezekiel 47:15. “The way of Hethlon to Zedad”—on the north boundary of Canaan. Names of places in the actual northern border are given, not to mark exact geographical position, but to show that the original promise will be fulfilled.
Ezekiel 47:16. “Hamath”—at the foot of Mount Hermon, on the Orontes. “Berothah”—probably the same as Berothai, a city in Syria conquered by David (2 Samuel 8:8). “Hazarhatticon”—the middle Hazar, to distinguish it from Hazar-enan. “Hauran”—Auranitis, a tract in Syria, south of Damascus.
Ezekiel 47:18. “Unto the east sea”—the Dead Sea.
Ezekiel 47:19. “From Tamar”—a village near the southern end of the Dead Sea. “To Kadesh”—on the borders of the Wilderness of Sin, where the children of Israel strove with Moses. “The river to the great sea.” Literally, “riverward to the great sea.” By the river is meant a torrent-stream entering the Mediterranean near Rhinocolura, now El Arish. This is the river of Egypt mentioned in Numbers 34:5.
Ezekiel 47:22. “And to the strangers that sojourn among you.” Here is quite a new feature in the distribution of the land. Not only the Israelites by descent, but those who join themselves to Israel by allegiance to the true God, shall have a right of inheritance. The difference which existed under the old covenant between Jew and Gentile is now at last done away (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).
THE RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE
I. Has its source in the Temple of God (Ezekiel 47:1-2). Not from the Temple as such, but from the presence and activity of Him whose glory filled theTemple. All the spiritual blessings that now enrich the world appear to issue from the Church of God, and so they do; but not from the Church as an organisation, but from Him who gives life, form, and stability to the organisation itself. This important fact is liable to be overlooked. Ezekiel had gone round the Temple repeatedly, prospecting, measuring, admiring, until his soul was filled with amazement at its colossal proportions and gorgeous ritual; but not till it was specially revealed to him did he see the waters issuing from under the threshold of the house, and became aware of their mysterious and Divine source. So we are apt to be so absorbed in contemplating the outward structure and vast movements of the Church as to lose sight for the time of the Divine power that gives vitality and meaning to the whole. It is a blessed moment for us when we are brought by the Spirit to “the door of the house”and shown the secret of all this mighty energy. It is our wisdom frequently to wait in meditation and prayer at the threshold of God’s house, the fountain-head of all blessing, until our souls are penetrated with the thought that the excellency of the power in Temple-work is not of man, but of God. Then we can say with David, “All my springs are in Thee” (Psalms 87:7).
II. Widens and deepens in its progressive outflow (Ezekiel 47:3-5). Beginning as a small rill of water at the Temple threshold, the river, within a little more than a mile’s space, rapidly widens and deepens so as to be unfordable, and this not by the aid of contributary streams, but from itself. Here we see the miraculous character of the river and its evident ideal teaching, as a stream rising at the top of a mountain, feeding itself and so quickly augmenting, is at variance with all known natural laws. It is a type of the River of the Water of Life, flowing in Gospel channels, and spreading and deepening among the nations of the earth. What a suggestive study to trace the course of this river in its steady advances through the world! In many places the wilderness has been transformed into a garden of Eden. Our knowledge of Divine truth, like the waters of the Sanctuary, is shallow at first, but should grow in depth and preciousness with the years. So in our experience of spiritual things: there should be constant progress from grace to grace.
III. Imparts fertility and blessing wherever it flows (Ezekiel 47:6-12). This mystic river produced extraordinary effects. Wherever it circulated vegetation was quickened, trees remarkable for fruitfulness and medicinal properties sprang up on its banks, and the bituminous waters of the Dead Sea, cured of their deadly poison, swarmed with fish. Barrenness gives place to fertility and abundance, and the river-course is a scene of animation and increasing activity. So the Gospel—the River of the Water of Life—brings life, health, beauty, and fruitfulness wherever it comes. Dead souls are quickened into life, diseased souls healed, feeble souls strengthened, and the spiritual life of believers is made more intense and productive. Like the fabled goddess whose pathway was beautified with flowers which sprang up wherever she set her feet, so the course of the Gospel river may be distinctly traced by the flowers and fruits of grace that adorn and enrich its banks.
1. Christ is the source and His Word the channel of soul-refreshing life.
2. Wherever the Gospel spreads it produces life and fruitfulness.
3. True religion is progressive, and flourishes best by disseminatiny itself.
THE VISION OF THE WATERS
We take the holy waters to be the emblems of the Gospel—that wondrous scheme of mercy, perfected by the atonement of Christ, made vital by the everlasting Spirit and adapted to the salvation of the world.
I. The source of the holy waters. While through the Temple come to us the tidings of our peace, the blessing itself does not originate there, but is conveyed to it from a source invisible and afar. In God’s great provision for the restoration of the fallen race there are both instrumental and efficient agencies. He has appointed means, and a Divine and perpetual resident to infuse those means with life. They who love the river of the Temple are the likeliest, walking on its banks, to find its source issuing from the throne. While we thus appreciate the uses of the Temple as an instrumentality of blessing, and rejoice in the waters as they flow, we must remember always that they issue from the foundation of the house and have their springs in the everlasting hills; in other words, that God is the one source of life. Though the Saviour has ascended up on high, He has shed forth His Spirit. That Spirit lives on earth, the perpetuator of the Gospel impression, the inspirer of all thought that is holy, the great and living agent in the conversion of mankind. Men say the truth is power, but it is not, alone. It is feeble as the pliant osier or the bruised reed against the malignant enmity of evil. But let the Spirit animate it, and it shall overcome all hostility, and be brave and mighty to prevail.
II. The progress of the holy waters. You observe that in the context the progress of these waters is said to have been gradual and constant. The prophet saw them first reaching to the ankles, then to the knees, then to the loins, and then they became a river too deep to be forded, even a river to swim in. There was no ceasing in the flow, there was no ebbing of the waters; they flowed gradually and constantly in the ever-deepening stream. And this is only a description of the progress of the Gospel of Christ. Small and feeble in its beginnings—those trembling but earnest fishermen, its earliest preachers—with wealth and rank and patronage and power all arrayed against its progress—with Cæsars conspiring to strangle it, and armies marched out against its fugitive sons—how marvellous was its triumph! And though after the establishment of Christianity there was a seeming eclipse of faith, and corruptions blemished the comeliness of the bride of Christ, the gradual progress among the nations did not cease. One after another they received her teachings and submitted to her sway. Insensibly she moulded the institutions of society and stamped upon them her own image. Sanguinary codes were relaxed; unholy traffic terminated; cruelty had her arm paralysed and her sword blunted; fraud and lust and drunkenness became no longer things of glorying, but of shame; there was a gradual uplifting in the moral health, as if there flowed around the people the bracing air-waves of a purer atmosphere; and men wondered whence the healing came. The river had done it all: flowing on, now through the darkling brake, and now over the open plain; now fertilising the swards upon its banks; now rejoicing in the depth of its own channel—imperceptible almost in the increasing volume of its waters to those who continually beheld it, and yet, to those that gazed only at intervals, seemed to have both widened and deepened every day. And it is rolling on still. Perhaps there never was an age of such quickened religious activity as the one in which we are privileged to live. There are two thoughts suggested by this gradual and constant progress of the Gospel. The first encourages our faith; the second reminds us of our responsibility. If we believe, with all the firmness of a settled conviction, that the Gospel is of God, we may rest in the assurance that it must and will prevail; and this hearty faith in its triumphant destiny will save us from the extremes of feeling—from undue elation in seasons of unusual promise, and from unusual depression in seasons of peculiar languor. The other thought addresses itself solemnly to ourselves. It is quite impossible for us to live in times like ours, when not only the ordinary religious privileges exist and are enjoyed, but when there is so much of special unction with the Word, and such large and manifest workings of the Holy Ghost, without entailing an added amount of responsibility. Beware of attributing the Holy Spirit’s work to evil agency. That is marvellously like the sin that has no forgiveness. Beware of setting yourselves in an attitude of resistance to good influences. The waters wear the stones, but do not change their nature. Beware of delaying yourselves into hardness of heart. The waters petrify sometimes, and there are some moral petrifactions, alas! which cannot be broken even by the hammer of the Word.
III. The efficacy of the holy waters. How complete and how effectual the healing! “Everything shall live whither the river cometh.” And this is true of the Gospel. Not only can it reach every man, but each part of every man. Life for the understanding, that it may no longer be smitten by error—life for the imagination, that its strange fires may be quenched and a purer flame be kindled in their stead—life for the memory, that it may no longer be haunted by the wraiths of ghostly sins—life for the affections, that they may revel in a pure attachment which is not idolatry, ever increasing and yet ever satisfied—life for the whole nature, that it may not be dead in trespasses and sins—life for the destiny, that it may not even be sullied by the shadow of death, but exult in an ever-brightening inheritance through an eternal day. It shall flow into the desert, and love to God shall be implanted where was formerly enmity, and the whole nature shall be turned about to serve Him. It shall flow into the sea, and though the proud waves shall resist its entrance, it shall overcome their frantic waters and heal them of their plague. Some of you have seen, as I have, a very fine illustration of this, so far as earthly things can illustrate heavenly in nature’s bounteous kingdom. I stood last summer at the point of confluence, near the fair city of Geneva, where two great rivers meet but do not mingle. Here the Rhone, “the arrowy Rhone,” rapid and beautiful, pours on, its waters of that heavenly blue which it is almost worth a pilgrimage to see; there the Arve, turbid and muddy, partly from the glaciers from which it is so largely fed, and partly from the clayey soil which it upheaves in its impetnous path, brawls hoarsely in its passionate course; and for a long distance beyond the point of junction they roll side by side with no barrier between them but their own innate repulsions, each making now and then an encroachment upon the other, but beaten back again into its own domain. Like mighty rival forces of good and evil do they seem, and for a long time the issue is doubtful. But far down the long valley, if you look again, you find that the frantic Arve is mastered, and the Rhone has coloured the entire surface of the stream with its own emblematic and beautiful blue. I thought, as I gazed upon it, that it symbolised the long-protracted conflict between truth and error; but in meditating upon the flowing of these healing waters, and reading that they shall flow into the sea and heal it, the vision of the scene rose up before me, fresh and vivid as the facts of yesterday.”—W. Morley Punshon, D.D.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
Ezekiel 47:1-12. “The effect of the establishment of the mountain of the house of the Lord on the top of mountains, or of Christianity generally, is a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit signified by these waters. As they were not to be seen before the issue of the man with the measuring-line, they are to accompany the preaching of the Word by the ministers of Christ, and the operations of the Spirit shall become the more admirable and profound as they proceed in their spread over all the world, as is signified by their increasing depth. By them shall the evil influences of the world be healed and everlasting life conveyed to all that will receive them. Still, some shall harden even then under its influence, and become more rank and nauseous in sin than before, as is signified by the unhealed bays.”—M‘Farlan.
—“Issuing as this stream does from the threshold of the Temple, from the very foot of the throne of God, it must be, like all the special manifestations of God to His Church, itself of a spiritual nature, and only in its effects productive of outward material good. It is the efflux of that infinite fulness of life and blessing which is treasured up in His spiritual Temple, and continually pours itself forth as the operations of His grace proceed among men. It is emphatically a river of life. Wherever it is experienced, the barren soil of nature fructifies, the dead live again, the soul is replenished with joy and gladness. Instead of spending itself, like the streams of nature, as it advances through the moral deserts of the world, it multiplies and grows, until corruption is changed into incorruption, mortality is swallowed up of life, and the earth, which God had cursed for man’s sin, is transformed into the inheritance of the saints in light.”—Fairbairn.
Ezekiel 47:1-5. “Ezekiel’s Temple, with its ritual, ministers, and congregation, symbolises the presence of Jehovah in the midst of a loyal people. The waters are the blessings which flow from this source to animate and refresh all the inhabitants of the earth. The deepening of the waters in their course shows the continual deepening of spiritual life and multiplication of spiritual blessings in the growth of the Kingdom of God.”—Speaker’s Commentary.
—“In the Kingdom of God things proceed from little to great: in the kingdoms of the world often from great to little. Satan begins his things with lofty impetuosity, but finally they end in nothing and everything comes to disgrace.”—Hafenreffer.
Ezekiel 47:1-2. The Progress of Truth. “
1. As it is Christ who makes known the things of the Temple, so He makes known some at one time, some at another.
2. The waters of the Gospel, the gifts and graces of the Spirit, flow from Zion.
3. These spiritual waters, although they flow from Zion, Christ is the fountain and original of them.
4. Sanctuary waters are not common but choice mercies; they are right-side mercies, south-side blessings.”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 47:1. The Gradualness of Divine Revelation—
1. Accommodated to our imperfect faculties.
2. Suited to our varying circumstances.
3. Educative in its process.
4. Enables us more clearly to grasp the meaning and grandeur of the truths unfolded.
Ezekiel 47:3-9. “The Atheistic Idea. It is affirmed that Christianity is waning because of the advancement of science. The business of the scientist is with matter. There is something back of matter—a force beneath life. No painter, there is no picture: no God, there is no nature. What doctrine has science demolished?
1. Has science done away with the Incarnation? The scientist knows that the sum of the history of nature is made up by the entrances at epochs of higher types of being. Are not all these appearances prophecies of the grand entrance of the Higher Being?
2. Has science done away with the Atonement? The law everywhere manifest is the dependence of one creature on another.
3. Has science done away with sin? Sin is as much a fact, a phenomenon of human life, as the circulation of the blood.
4. Where is Christianity waning? In Germany? Compare this century with the last. A short time ago thousands of students flocked to the great universities to hear the doctrines of Fichte, Hegel, Kant, and the Rationalists of Tubingen. Now scarcely a class of twenty can be collected for that purpose. In France? Compare this century with the times when a deluge of blood followed the blasphemies of Rousseau, D’Alembert, Diderot, and Voltaire. In England? Compare the Britain of to-day with the Britain of yesterday, when Chubb, Hume, and Bolingbroke could sneer at the story of the Cross—when the clergy were immoral. In America? Compare it with the time when the students in our colleges called themselves by the names of leading French atheists. Where will you find such a college to-day?
5. What is the motive-power of science? Compare the ages of faith and the ages of scepticism and see the results. How high has science lifted the shadows that rest on the human heart? It is only this blessed religion, this radiance from the throne of God, that can lighten the gloom.”—Homiletic Monthly.
Ezekiel 47:3-5. The Temple-River emblematic of Religion in the different stages of Human Life.
1. Childhood. “The waters were to the ankles” (Ezekiel 47:3). Religion may be shallow and yet genuine.
2. Youth. “The waters were to the knees” (Ezekiel 47:4). Still exposed to much of the world and its attractions, yet standing in the truth.
3. Manhood. “The waters were to the loins” (Ezekiel 47:4). In the midway of life’s struggle, but deepening in piety.
4. Old age. “Waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over” (Ezekiel 47:5). A more prolonged and profound study of the truth revealing its unfathomable vastness and prompting the strongest veteran-swimmer to exclaim, “Oh, the depth of the riches!” (Romans 11:33).
—“Holy Scripture and its revelations also resemble these sacred waters, in that whosoever searches into them will find some parts intelligible to all who sincerely desire to know them. Other parts require a deeper investigation; others a deeper still; and others are beyond our depth, and in respect to these, we can only adore the infinitude of God’s unsearchable wisdom, and humbly wait for His own time of revealing their now hidden meaning. The growth of grace in the individual soul, similarly, is a progressive work, beginning with but a small stream from the fountain-head, but sure to go on increasing until it is expanded into the boundless and unfathomable river of heavenly pleasures (Psalms 36:8).”—Fausset.
—“This vision may be applied—
1. To the gradual discoveries of the plan of salvation.
(1.) In the patriarchal ages.
(2.) In the giving of the Law.
(3.) In the ministry of John the Baptist.
(4.) In the full manifestation of Christ by the Holy Ghost.
2. To the growth of a believer in the grace and knowledge of God.
(1.) The seed of the Kingdom.
(2.) The blade from that seed.
(3.) The ear out of that blade.
(4.) The full corn in that ear.
3. To the discoveries a penitent believer receives of the mercy of God in his salvation.
(1.) A little child, born of God, he begins to taste and feed on the heavenly food.
(2.) He grows up and increases in stature and strength, and becomes a young man.
(3.) He becomes matured in the Divine life, and has his spiritual senses exercised so as to become a father in Christ.
4. To the progress of Christianity.
(1.) A few poor fishermen.
(2.) Afterwards many Jews.
(3.) Then the Gentiles of Asia Minor and Greece.
(4.) The continent and isles of Europe.
(5.) Now spreading through Africa, Asia, and America, at present these waters are no longer a river, but an immense sea; and the Gospel-fishers are daily bringing multitudes of souls to God.”—A. Clarke.
—The Spread of the Gospel. “
1. Christ is the architect and measurer of all things belonging to His Church. 2. The motion of Sanctuary waters is not accidental, but according to Divine appointment.
3. The doctrine of the Gospel is never rightly understood unless taught by Christ.
4. The doctrine of the Gospel, the conversion of sinners, and the graces of the Spirit proceed gradually.
5. The Gospel has depths and mysteries no human understanding can comprehend.
6. Sanctuary waters afford comfort to the saints in their deepest distresses.”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 47:5. “There was no such natural course of waters in the place, nor is it imaginable that in three miles or thereabouts the waters should so rise; but it is emblematical, hath a deep mysterious meaning, and includes spiritual things and their wonderful growth from small beginnings, and these from the Temple.”—Pool.
—“This marks the rich and overflowing grace which God designs to shed down on the earth in the Gospel age and in the glory of the latter day; and it apprises believers that they should not remain in a loitering state, trampling the shallow waters of grace, but go on to a deeper baptism of the Spirit till they can swim in the abounding streams.”—Sutcliffe.
—“Representing the fathomless depth of the Scriptures, which is such that we may well do by it as the Romans did by a lake, the depth whereof they could not sound, and dedicated it to Victory: also the abundance of spiritual graces in the Church, the love of Christ which passeth all knowledge, and the over-abounding goodness of God. Speaking of this subject, Chrysostom said: ‘I am like a man digging in a deep spring; I stand here, and the water rises upon me; I stand there, and still the water rises upon me. It is indeed a sea that has neither bank nor bottom.’ ”—Trapp.
Ezekiel 47:6. “Hast thou seen this?” A Suggestive Question—
1. As asked by the well-informed. He knows more than I do, or why the question?
2. As addressed to the anxious inquirer. This may meet my case.
3. As addressed to the thoughtless and indifferent. There is a world of knowledge hitherto closed to him.
4. Indicates there is much we miss for want of a keener insight into truth.
Ezekiel 47:7-10. Fishers in Gospel Waters. “
1. The waters of the Gospel have their own course.
2. That people without the Gospel are like the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:8).
3. The waters of the Sanctuary have curing and quickening virtue (Ezekiel 47:8-9).
4. The preachers of the Gospel are fishers (Ezekiel 47:10).
5. These Gospel-fishers catch fish of all sorts (Ezekiel 47:10).”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 47:8; Ezekiel 47:11. The Power of the Gospel—
1. Seen in its penetrating the most unlikely places. “The desert—the Dead Sea” (Ezekiel 47:8).
2. Efficacious in giving life and healing to all who accept it. “The waters shall be healed” (Ezekiel 47:8).
3. Inefficacious where it is resisted and rejected. “The miry places and marshes shall be given to salt” (Ezekiel 47:11).
Ezekiel 47:8. “God’s Sanctuary a well-spring of life for the Dead Sea of the world (Psalms 87:7). God’s thoughts of peace over the abysses of the world’s wretchedness. In other cases a clear and wholesome stream which flows into a muddy and putrid lake becomes corrupt: it is otherwise with the Gospel, which brings recovery and health to the earthly-minded heart. It is a power of God, but man will not let the power work.”—Lange.
Ezekiel 47:11. “Those whom the Gospel waters of life do not reach, through their own indolence and carnality, shall be given over to everlasting barrenness; nor can any more awful punishment be imagined than that the sinner should be given up to the unrestricted and everlasting workings of his own sin, bitterness, and filthiness.”—Fausset.
—The Hebrew language often expresses irremediable barrenness and unprofitableness by being given up to salt, salt being equivalent to barrenness in that language. When Abimelech destroyed Shechem he sowed the ground whereon it stood with salt, to denote that it should never be cultivated or inhabited again (Judges 9:45).
—“Unsound, rotten parts, neither sea nor yet sound ground, an emblem of hypocrites. Low land, sopped with the overflowings of unhealthful waters, neither fit to breed fish as the sea, nor bear trees as the land.”—Pool.
Ezekiel 47:9-12. Spiritual Influence—
1. Vitalises all it touches (Ezekiel 47:9).
2. The active principle of fertility and plenty (Ezekiel 47:9-10; Ezekiel 47:12).
3. Cannot be resisted without disaster (Ezekiel 47:11).
4. Is ever flowing from the Divine Temple. “Because they issued out of the sanctuary” (Ezekiel 47:12).
5. Is both the food and medicine of the soul. “The fruit shall be for meat, and the leaf for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12).
Ezekiel 47:10. “The ministers of the Church are compared to fishers because of the contempt with which they are regarded by the rich and powerful of this world; because of their labour by day and night, in heat and cold; because of the fruitlessness of their labour at times—‘We have caught nothing;’ because of the dangers they incur in stormy weather; because of their confidence, which, as in the case of the husbandman, must rest on God; because of the various kinds of implements they use. They rescue souls from the abyss.”—Starck.
Ezekiel 47:11-12. Moral Barrenness and Fruitfulness. “
1. Those places and persons to which the waters of the Sanctuary come, or coming do not heal, are designed to barrenness and destruction (Ezekiel 47:11).
2. True Christians are fruitful (Ezekiel 47:12).
3. The cause of fruitfulness is the doctrine and grace of the Gospel (Ezekiel 47:12).
4. The holy examples of true saints are medicinal (Ezekiel 47:12).”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 47:12. Never-ending Spring. “The text a promise and picture of a neverfading spring. Goodness and spiritual beauty are eternal.
1. The everlasting youthfulness of a Christly soul.
2. The everlasting fruitfulness of a Christly soul.
3. The explanation of the glorious phenomenon is in this—‘Because their waters issued out of the sanctuary.’ A sacred place, a pure sanctuary, a holy fountain where the soul may cleanse itself from the dust and stains of the world. Fruit for meat and leaves for medicine. A healthy inner life ensures a fruitful outer life. A Christly soul is always young and beautiful.”—Homiletic Monthly.
—“The blessed growth close by the river of life. Evergreen leaves, yet not leaves merely, but also fruit! Thus it is with life from God’s Sanctuary.”—Lange.
THE INHERITANCE OF THE GOOD
I. Is secured by Divine promise (Ezekiel 47:14). That promise was declared and ratified in the most solemn manner—“Concerning the which I lifted up Mine hand.” Though the inheritance is not in possession, and all appearances are against the realisation of the promise, yet it is enough that the promise is made. Israel is kingless and portionless, bereft of Temple and all its imposing ceremonials, fretting in slavery and sorrow, moaning in poverty and ruin, and with no prospect of immediate deliverance, yet the inheritance is sure, for God hath promised. The Divine Word is more valid than the best-authenticated legal document.
II. Is explicitly defined (Ezekiel 47:15-20). To show that it is no baseless hope, no Utopian dream, but a substantial, blessed reality. Its boundaries are clearly described and exactly measured to show that every inch of its frontiers is guarded with the presence and power of Jehovah, and to inspire an unwavering assurance of its realisation and enjoyment. The Lord deals in neither false measures nor false promises.
III. Is enjoyed by the obedient irrespective of nationality (Ezekiel 47:21-23). The distinction between Jew and Gentile is abolished. The inheritance is made free for all nations. Whoever fears God and works righteousness unites himself to the true Israel, the perfect Church of the Messiah, shall enjoy the same privileges as the faithful and obedient descendants of Abraham. Tribes, classes, nations, are absorbed and lost in the spiritual unity of an imperishable brotherhood. Christ is all and in all.
1. The Divine promise never fails.
2. The faithful servants of Jehovah have a rich inheritance here and hereafter.
3. National strifes and jealousies will be unknown in the heavenly Kingdom.
GERM NOTES ON THE VERSES
Ezekiel 47:13-23. “A people settled in the inheritance of their God is the proper result of the re-establishment of the covenant and the renewal of their souls after its principles of righteousness. There is no more reason for understanding this portion according to the letter than those which went before. The whole vision is of a piece—a pictorial representation of the future things of God’s Kingdom under the image of the past, yet so altered and adjusted as to indicate the vast superiority of what was to come compared with what hitherto had been.”—Fairbairn.
—The Heritage of the Faithful. “
1. Here we have the great extent of the Church under Christ.
2. The state of Christians in the Church and all their spiritual blessings are of free grace.
3. The one and same inheritance belongs to the believing Jew and Gentile.”—Greenhill.
Ezekiel 47:13-14. The Divine Faithfulness—“
1. Is not impaired by the lapse of time, or by the fickleness of man.
2. Is solemnly declared. ‘Concerning which I lifted up mine hand.’
3. Seen in the kindness shown to succeeding generations. ‘To give unto your fathers: this land shall fall unto you for inheritance.”
4. Should elicit an exclusive and unwavering confidence.
Ezekiel 47:13. “Who can define the boundaries of the Church, especially in the last days? But as here the boundaries of Canaan are defined, so the boundaries of the Church are faith and life in the Scriptures of the apostles and prophets, which accordingly no one is to overpass (Galatians 6:16). God gives to His children very differently; from him to whom a double portion has been given a corresponding return is required.”—Starck.
Ezekiel 47:22-23. The Impartiality of God—
1. Seen in His equitable treatment of the faithful in all ages and nations.
2. Is continually promoting the spiritual unity of the human race.
3. Will be terribly evident in His punishment of the finally impenitent.
Ezekiel 47:22. “It is not birth, but the new birth, that makes men children of God. Here under earthly figures the Jerusalem that is above with her children is typified, and the calling of the Gentiles from east and west and the utmost bounds of the earth is described. God here opens to all the holy gates of His Church, and prescribes to the Church herself the commandment of meekness, love, and brotherly kindness.”—Lange.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Ezekiel 47". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26