Friday, September 4, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday September 6, 2015

(Boundaries and division of the land)
Ezekiel 47-48

In Ezekiel 47, verses 1-12 we see depicted, an eschatological “river of healing” that will flow from beneath, and through, the Temple at Jerusalem, as Ezekiel’s vision now moves far into the future once again. Here the prophet describes a river that is clearly not the “New Jerusalem” river that is described by the Apostle John in Revelations 22. However, it is also clearly not the kidron brook that flowed through the Temple in post-exilic times, because here Ezekiel tells us that this stream of water will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea into “fresh water” like in a typical lake. And so that is something that still has not happened, even to this day, as the Dead Sea remains at least “six times saltier” than all of the oceans of the world.
In this passage the angelic being brings Ezekiel back to the entrance of the Temple where he saw a stream of water flowing pass the right (south side) of the altar. The angelic being then brought him outside the wall through the north gateway and led him around to the eastern entrance of the Temple. There Ezekiel could see the stream flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
The angelic being then led Ezekiel along the stream, and he took measurements as they went. First he measured off a distance of 1750 feet and told Ezekiel to cross over the water at that point, to the other side. As Ezekiel waded across the water, it only came up to his ankles. The angelic being then measured off a distance of another 1750 feet and instructed the prophet to cross over again. This time the water had risen up to his knees. The angelic being then took a third measurement of 1750 feet and when Ezekiel crossed the water this time it had risen up to his waist. Then the angelic being measured off a fourth and final distance of 1750 feet, and this time, Ezekiel had to swim across to get to the other side (Vs.3-5).
The angelic being instructed Ezekiel to keep in mind what he had seen, and then, he led him back along the riverbank. As they walked along, Ezekiel, much to his surprise, noticed that many trees and vegetation had sprung up along both sides if the river. Then the angelic being said to him, “this river flows east through the desert into the Jordan Valley where it then enters the Dead Sea”. He also tells Ezekiel that the waters from this stream will heal the salty waters of the Dead Sea, and make them fresh and pure, and not only that, everything that touches the waters of this stream will live. Every kind of fish will abound in the Dead Sea, something that has never happened before, and fishermen will stand on the shores and fish all the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim. The shores will be covered with fish nets drying in the sun, just as it was along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (Vs.6-10).
The angelic being told Ezekiel that the marshes and swamps would remain salty, and in fact, would become an important source of salt. And all the fruit trees along the banks of the river will continue to bear fruit all year round, and the leaves will remain green. There will be a new crop every month, without fail, because they are watered by the waters flowing from the holy Temple, and the leaves on these trees will be used for healing (Vs.11-12). Now that’s real “Holy Water”.
The life-giving waters talked about here in this passage presents a lovely picture of how the life-giving blood of JESUS symbolizes the only thing that can satisfy the thirst that GOD has put inside of each of us, innately, from birth. In fact, GOD, as our CREATOR, has continued to offer us this free “living water” that is needed for life itself here on earth, and, for eternal life with HIM in Heaven.
The living water of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST that is offered by HIM to each of us personally, right now at this moment, will cleanse us from all sickness and death, and brings us into eternal life with HIM, starting in HIS Millennial Kingdom here on earth, and carrying on into the new Heaven and earth (Revelations 21), talked about by the Apostle John in the book of Revelations.
In Ezekiel 47, verses 13-23, we see laid out by GOD, the instructions for the division of the land Canaan between the twelve tribes of Israel, which now included two shares for the tribe of Joseph, one for each of the tribes of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It also lays out in detail, exactly where the boundaries will be in every direction in verses 15-20.

15 “These are the boundaries of the land: The northern border will run from the Mediterranean toward Hethlon, then on through Lebo-hamath to Zedad; 16 then it will run to Berothah and Sibraim, which are on the border between Damascus and Hamath, and finally to Hazer-hatticon, on the border of Hauran. 17 So the northern border will run from the Mediterranean to Hazar-enan, on the border between Hamath to the north and Damascus to the south.
18 “The eastern border starts at a point between Hauran and Damascus and runs south along the Jordan River between Israel and Gilead, past the Dead Sea and as far south as Tamar. This will be the eastern border.
19 “The southern border will go west from Tamar to the waters of Meribah at Kadesh and then follow the course of the Brook of Egypt to the Mediterranean. This will be the southern border.
20 “On the west side, the Mediterranean itself will be your border from the southern border to the point where the northern border begins, opposite Lebo-hamath” - (NLT).

The Israelites were to divide the land within these boundaries among the tribes as an inheritance for themselves and the Gentiles who had joined them, and were raising their families among them, under the rules of the GOD of Israel. Those who were once foreigners would be treated just like native-born Jews, and would be given land within the specified territory with whatever tribe they resided among in the family of Israel, after their return from Babylon (Vs.21-23).
The land, as it was, had been divided among the tribes of Israel by Joshua (Joshua chapters 13-21), but had never really been under the exclusive control of its people. Some of the tribes, because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness to GOD, never conquered the specified lands of their inheritance. And even though David and Solomon seized a bit more of those lands during their respective reigns, the Israelites continued rebellion against GOD led to their ultimate losing of, first, northern Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C., and then later, the remainder of the nation to Babylon in 586 B.C.
Here in Ezekiel 47, GOD tells his prophet, in no uncertain terms, that the land was still all under HIS control, and now HE was ready to return it back to HIS people, and, to the Gentiles who dwelled among them. It would be considered a new beginning, not because they deserved it, but rather, because GOD remained faithful to HIS promise to Abraham and David, and HE also wanted to restore honor to HIS OWN name, which had been damaged considerably by HIS chosen people, while they were having an adulterous love affair with the world.
In Ezekiel 48, verse 1, we see a list of the tribes of Israel and how the territory would be divided in the post-exile. GOD split the northern territory between seven of the twelve tribes, beginning with the tribe of Dan, the first son of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah, whom she gave to Jacob as a wife. They were placed the farthest north. Its borders ran along the Hethlon road all the way to Lebo-hamath and then over to Hazar-enan on the border of Damascus. Dan, as well as the territories of all the other tribes, would extend all the way across the land of Canaan from east to west.
Immediately to the south of Dan was the land that was allotted to the tribe of Asher, the second son of Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant, whom she gave to Jacob as a wife. Next was the land given to the tribe of Naptali, the second son of Bilhah. The land given to Manasseh, the tribe of the first son of Joseph, Jacob’ favorite son, and Ephraim, the tribe of the second son of Joseph, was located south of Naphtali. Just south of Ephraim, there was the inheritance of the tribe of Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and Leah. And then finally, the seventh plot of land in the northern section went to Judah, the “royal tribe” of the fourth son of Jacob and Leah (Vs.2-7).
In Ezekiel 45, verses 1-7, and here in verses 8-22, the LORD tells Ezekiel that when the Israelites divide the land after their return from Babylon, they must first set aside a section for HIM as HIS holy portion. This piece of land must measure 8 1/3 miles long and 6 2/3 miles wide. A section of this land measuring 875 feet square was to be set aside for the Temple itself, with an additional strip of land 87 ½ feet wide left empty all the way around the Temple area (Ezekiel 45:1-2).
Within this sacred plot of land, GOD instructed HIS prophet that there will be measured out, a strip of land 8 1/3 miles long and 3 1/3 miles wide, and within it, is where the Most Holy Place will be located. It is there that the holy priests will minister to the LORD in the sanctuary (Ezekiel 45:3-4a). The priests will use this space for their homes, and the Temple will be located there also (v.4b).
The remaining strip of land next to the priests and the Temple (8 1/3 miles long and 3 1/3 miles wide) would be used as a living area for the Levites who worked in the Temple. They were to build their towns and villages there. Adjacent to the larger sacred area of land will be a somewhat smaller strip of land, 8 1/3 miles long and 1 1/3 miles wide, where anyone in Israel can come to live (Ezekiel 45:5-6).
And then there would be two special sections of land set apart for the prince. One of those sections will share a border with the east side of the sacred land and city, and the other section would share a border with the west side. Therefore, this strip of land would extend along the east side of the Jordan River, and on the west side of the Mediterranean Sea (Ezekiel 45:7-8).
Here in Ezekiel 48, verses 23-29, the territories south of the temple area are allotted to the remaining five tribes of Israel. The tribe of Benjamin, the second son of Jacob and Rachel, would occupy the first strip of land located south of the sacred plot of land that would be occupied by the Temple itself, the priests and Levites, and the prince. 
The next plot of land south of the sacred land would belong to the tribe of Simeon, the second son of Jacob and Leah. The third strip of land is given to the tribe Issachar, the fifth son of Jacob and Leah (Leah became pregnant with Issachar after trading some mandrake roots to Rachel in exchange for giving up her night with their husband Jacob to her, so that she could sleep with him instead - Genesis 30:16-18).
The next plot of land went to the tribe of Zebulun, the sixth son of Jacob and Leah, and finally, the fifth plot of land to the south went to the tribe of Gad, the second son of Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant. The southern border of Gad ran from Tamar to the bitter waters of Meribah at Kadesh, and then ran along the brook of Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
Verses 30-35 details the exit gates to the city, as there would be twelve gates in all, three on each of the four sides of the wall around Jerusalem. The wall measured 1 ½ miles on each side, 6 miles in total around the city. The three gates closest to the sanctuary, which are on the north wall, would be named for Reuben, the tribe of Jacob’s eldest son, Judah, “the royal tribe of JESUS”, and Levi, “the tribe of the priesthood”. All three were children of Leah, Jacob’s first wife.
The gates on the east side of the city were named for the tribes of Joseph and Benjamin, the two sons of Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel, and the tribe of Dan, the first son of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were combined in the tribe of Joseph.
The south gates were named for the tribes of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun, descendants of the remaining three sons of Leah. Ironically, their gates faced their inheritance of land to the south. And finally, the gates on the west side of Jerusalem were named for the tribes of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, all of whom were the descendants of the maidservants of Leah and Rachel, Zilpah (the mother of Gad and Asher), and Bilhah (the mother of Naphtali). And Ezekiel says that, in those days, Jerusalem will be called “The LORD is there”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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