IMMANUEL – “God with Us” – will be our FUTURE REALITY
September 10 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 46-48
"These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward...on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates...on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates...on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates. All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE." (Ezek. 48:30-35)
The book of Ezekiel ends with a brief description of the future eternal city of New Jerusalem that God is preparing for His redeemed children. Just as the apostle John saw the New Jerusalem descending from heaven (Rev. 21), even so, the prophet Ezekiel envisioned the day when the city of God would finally be made perfect and complete in every way. Both prophets saw twelve gates facing the four corners of the earth (Ezek. 48:31–34; Rev. 21:12–13), an indication of accessibility for everyone. Inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, the gates suggest inclusion, restoration, and fulfillment of all that God has promised His covenant people many times in the past!
In his book "Ezekiel" the Hebrew theologian/scholar Charles L. Feinberg has summed up this prophetical book with these words: "This incomparable prophecy began with a vision of the glory of God and concludes with a description of the glory of the Lord in the glorified city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel concluded, as John in the Revelation, with God dwelling with man in holiness and glory. Beyond this there is no greater goal of history and God’s dealings with man."
In describing the gates of the city of New Jerusalem, Ezekiel brought the city ‘full circle’ from what it was at the beginning of his book. This city was doomed for destruction, but now will be restored to glory. The new city of Jerusalem will have twelve gates, three on each side, and they are named according to the twelve sons of Israel (Rev. 21:12–14). It is interesting to note that Levi has a place (vs. 31) in the list, as does Joseph (vs. 32). Joseph replaces Ephraim and Manasseh, thus keeping the number twelve. In John’s vision, this image is strengthened by the fact that these gates never shut (21:25).
But the most remarkable aspect of this city will be the continual presence of God. God’s glory had departed from the city as a prelude to its judgment (chapters 10–11), and His return will signal Jerusalem’s blessing. This fact so impressed Ezekiel that he wrote that the city will be given a new name: “THE LORD IS THERE” (Hebrew: Yahweh Shammah: see Isa. 60:14; 62:2–4, 12; Jer. 3:17; 33:15, 16). God’s people shall live so that God can dwell among them, sanctifying them with His presence. Ezekiel foresees the return of God in all His glory to His people, His temple, and His land. This divine glory will never again depart from the Temple and the New Jerusalem!
Th name (“THE LORD IS THERE”) reminds us of what was always in the heart of God: He loves His children so much that He had always planned to have them close to Himself. From the beginning of the Old Testament, God had revealed His intention to be with His people. He walked and spoke with them in the Garden of Eden, and dwelled in sanctuaries built in their midst. The promise of a child named Immanuel pointed to a day when God would be “with us” (Is. 7:14), which was temporarily fulfilled with the birth of His Son in Bethlehem (Matt. 1:21-23). However, Jesus Christ had to return to His Father’s home in order to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3), and He has sent the Holy Spirit to take His place (John 16:5-7). However, as the prophet Ezekiel had stated repeatedly, God will return to dwell with His people. “Immanuel” – God with Us –will be our future reality!
Are we looking by faith for that future city where God will dwell with us forever, and we will never be separated from Him again? This is a wonderful hope we can look forward to with great anticipation. Right now, we may sometimes feel distant from God, perhaps alone and confused and wondering whether He even knows who we are. The assurance of Scripture is that someday we will no longer wonder where God is; we will be with Him—forever! Let’s keep the same eager expectation and anticipation that was held by many God’s people described below: