River from the House

In Ezekiel 47, the prophet is shown a vision of a rebuilt temple. A river flows from the throne of Yahweh, under the threshold on the east of the house, and out to the land. As it flows, is makes the land fruitful, and when it reaches the Dead Sea it turns the salt water fresh.

It’s a river of cleansing water. And for that very reason it is a river of life-giving water. Impurity is death; purification is resurrection.

The following chapter, which ends the book of Ezekiel, envisions a restored land. Renewing water has flowed from the house of Yahweh to renew the land. It’s a restoration of Eden, the first world, when waters flowed from the garden to the corners of the earth.

Before he sees the river, Ezekiel is given a thorough tour of the temple, guided by a man with a measuring rod. For several chapters, he gives us a detailed description of the inner sanctuary, the gates and guard quarters, the chambers and altar (chs. 40-43).

But a temple without people is a shell. No water will flow unless priests carry out their services (ch. 44) and the prince offers his required offerings (chs. 45-46).

Adherence to liturgical rubrics isn’t enough. The whole point of the detailed measurements is to turn the people to repentance (43:6-12). Embedded in a description of the prince’s personal allotment and required sacrifices is an exhortation to practice justice (45:9-12).

Resurrection life flows from the house of the Lord, but only insofar as the residents of the house worship and live righteously.

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