Today’s read of Ezekiel 44-48 finishes the prophet’s vision of the beautiful temple that is yet to be built, instructions for the priests and offerings, and details about the surrounding city. Special emphasis is given to the re-allotment of the land, and it these details that make me believe Ezekiel is describing what will happen during the Millennial reign. In the original division of the land, the tribes had portions resembling a jigsaw puzzle, with some receiving larger lots because of the size of their tribe. But this description appears to give equal portions, a strip of land from east to west starting at the northernmost end with Dan, each bordering the other in a row, with a large portion right in the center for the temple and main city where the “prince” will reside, and ending in the south. (I believe this prince is David).
One scholar noted that the original allotment took into account the topography of the land, but Ezekiel’s “plan” is simply drawing straight lines across. Other scriptures tell us that the earth will be reshaped after Christ’s return, and Jerusalem will be the highest place. Perhaps this is why the division of land doesn’t need to account for those topographical differences! Ezekiel also describes a river which flows out from under the temple, that grows deeper and deeper until it actually pours fresh water into the Dead Sea in the south. Trees will grow alongside it bearing different fruit, with “leaves for healing.” Revelation 22:1-2 describes a river coming from the throne of God in the new Jerusalem, and the “leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” Sounds similar, doesn’t it?
We said yesterday that God might have allowed this temple to be built IF the people had truly repented and turned back to Him, but it never came to be. But I can’t believe God would give Ezekiel this much detail and NEVER fulfill it. If they had fully and wholeheartedly followed God, perhaps they would have experienced a closer fulfillment as they returned to the land under Ezra and Nehemiah, but God may always have intended it to be fully realized at the end of the age when Christ returns.
This idea of “partial fulfillment” brings to mind Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:13-14: “In Him [Jesus], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Right now, we have only received a “pledge” or “down payment” of what we will fully experience when we leave these bodies and meet God face to face. We know we belong to Him because the Spirit does indwell us; we are able to communicate through prayer and He communicates to us through His Word and in speaking to our spirits and hearts within us, affirming that we are indeed His children. But that’s only a “taste,” a partial fulfillment, if you will. Oh, what will it be when we experience all that He intends for us! What joy! What peace! What glory!
When Israel read and heard Ezekiel’s description of the restored temple and their land, how their hearts must have longed for it to be fulfilled in completion. May we long for the completion of our full salvation as well, as we anticipate seeing Jesus face to face!