December 2 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.” ~Ezekiel 47:8

OLD TESTAMENT

In Ezekiel’s final, detailed vision, God’s people are fully restored. The city of Jerusalem is at the center of a utopian community and a beautiful temple sits atop a mountain like a medieval castle. A river flows out of the temple, like the river Bruinen from Tolkien’s Rivendell, growing wider on its course to pour into the sea. It is a constant source of life. The people of God are given generous portions of land where they live in peace, safety, and prosperity. The city is called “The Lord is There,” perhaps a beloved nickname for New Jerusalem in the same way that New York is also “the Big Apple.”

When one compares Ezekiel’s vision of the future in chapters 40 through 48 with John’s vision of the future in Revelation 21 through 22, there are differences and similarities. John’s vision is much larger and worship is not confined to the temple. Most interpreters conclude that both John and Ezekiel are talking about the same thing but using language their audiences would understand. If this is the proper interpretive approach (and I lean in this direction), then together the visions give us a more accurate image of our future life on the new earth.

Both envision restoration. Both envision a real new earth containing some of the things familiar to inhabitants of this earth like rivers and trees. Both envision a restored city—the New Jerusalem. Both envision worship. Both envision God dwelling with His people. Both envision the “the saved” living in peace, safety, and prosperity. In summary, both envision the restoration of the people of God on this restored earth, where they are glorifying God and enjoying Him—and each other—forever. It may be that Ezekiel’s vision was an ancient miniature of the future given in such a way that it would actually be believable.

If over the last few days I have stretched your imagination with my references to fantasy writers J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, this is intentional. Tolkien and Lewis believed that mythologies (even pagan mythologies) are man’s attempt to imagine a world that has been lost. This dynamic literary duo did in fact believe that Eden would be recovered and that a great river would flow once again to bring life to a real but fanciful world. As Lewis remarked, “We want something else that can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”[1]

A world that can hardly be put into words awaits us. It is a real world. The capital city will be the New Jerusalem, but we’ll often call it “The Lord is There.” We will worship and enjoy Him—and each other—forever. This is the hope for every exile.

Thus ends the book of Ezekiel.

[1] C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, as quoted in Heaven by Randy Alcorn, p 245.

NEW TESTAMENT

The book of 1 John is a letter about the marks of a real Christian. In chapter 1, John tells us that real Christians sin. They are not perfect, and those who deny their sinfulness, deny the truth. However, real Christians confess their sin and walk in the light because walking in the light exposes our sin and struggles. When we are in Christ—and in community—we cannot help but see our own failures. In that situation, we want to confess our failures and live differently. The life of a true Christian is not one of perfection, but rather of confession and progression.


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.