At last we come to Ezekiel’s final chapter, chapter 48. He is about to complete his vision of the restoration of his people, those who are captive under guard in Babylon to their tribal lands in Israel. He sees this as an opportunity to fairly reallocate lands to each tribe, to establish the royal/sacred city, and offer some final comments about the equity of it all. It is a roll-call of all the tribes in Israel and an establishment of their place. To each a name is given, to each a gate is named and given.
This leads Ezekiel to the last sentence of his prophecy – the name of the city: “The Lord is There”. So what’s in a name? It’s just a name, right? In this case, Ezekiel has loaded the name with all kinds of meaning.
By writing the name of the city at the very end, he is indicating that everything else must be accomplished first, and that when everything that has been described in the visions has been faithfully carried out, then the city will receive it’s name. The name itself takes us back to Ezekiel chapter 11 where Ezekiel sorrowfully reports that the Lord has removed himself away from the city and land of Jerusalem. So, by achieving all within the visions which lead up to this last chapter number 48, it is an act of faith inviting the Lord to resume residence in a place made sacred through offering, sacrifice, and prayer – all acts of faith.
This was meant as a final enticement to Ezekiel’s fellow captives, something concrete that they could hold on to as they endured their captivity. This entire vision could be accomplished and they would once again become a holy people. This was an immediate hope, not a hope of someday thousands of years in the future, etc. etc.
Ezekiel writes, “…from that time on…” by which he is indicating that this vision, this restoration of faith, is just a beginning point, not the end goal.
Ezekiel is a book of beginnings, not of the end. It is a book of hope amid destruction and despair. Ezekiel’s writings are a pathway through judgement and condemnation towards cleansing and rededication.
Ezekiel ministered with his entire soul, and desperately carried an arduous vision on behalf of his people so that they might live.