“In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the Lord was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city”(Ezekiel 40:1-2).
During the course of his ministry, Ezekiel had to hear the news of the destruction of the beloved capital city of God’s people, Jerusalem (Ezekiel 33:21). Jerusalem’s destruction was God’s judgment upon Israel because of her sins (Ezekiel 4:1-6:14). It was distressing news and caused many among God’s people to lose all hope for the future. They had said, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off” (Ezekiel 37:11).
However, towards the end of his ministry, God shows Ezekiel great glimpses of hope regarding the future of God’s people. He shows him a valley filled with dry bones which are brought back to life indicating how God is going to restore life to His people (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Furthermore, God shows Ezekiel how spiritually the divided nation of Israel will come together as one nation and will serve under one King, Jesus Christ (Ezekiel 37:15-25). God has accomplished this today in His Son’s Kingdom, the church (Matthew 16:18-19; John 18:36; Colossians 1:13). Finally, as the opening verses above indicate, 14 years following Jerusalem’s capture by the Babylonians, the Lord shows Ezekiel the New Jerusalem which He was going to build for His people (Ezekiel 40:1-2).
The majority of the last 8 chapters of the book of Ezekiel are devoted to graphic, detailed descriptions of the New Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40:1-48:35). It can be cumbersome to read all these details. Why did God go into such a detailed description of this New Jerusalem?
Throughout the first part of the book of Ezekiel, God had spent much time breaking down His people by pointing out their sins and abominations. Because they had been engrossed in sins, God needed to humble His people. Following the destruction of their beloved Jerusalem, I believe God knew His people now needed to be build up and encouraged. It would be very encouraging for them to hear how each gate of the city, the court, and the temple was going to be rebuilt. Although I believe the city described applies spiritually to the church and not to a literal physical city, it would fill God’s people with hope that all was not lost. A bright future awaited them!
It is interesting that before the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel sees a vision of God’s glory departing from the temple at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 10:4, 18; 11:23). Now, in his vision of the temple at New Jerusalem, Ezekiel sees God’s glory returning (Ezekiel 43:1-5). God’s people are warned not to transgress according to their former abominations (Ezekiel 44:5-6). Then Ezekiel’s ministry ends as he closes his book with a beautiful, encouraging, and hopeful description regarding the name of the city: “and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezekiel 48:35).
It is encouraging for us to know that the Lord is with us today in the church (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Lord is there! God has not abandoned us to live life on our own and by our own strength. Today, I will cling in hope to the assurance that God is with me today as I face whatever challenges come my way, and I look forward to being with Him forever in Heaven in His presence!
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God’ ” (Revelation 21:3).