Notes on Ezekiel 48

Ezekiel 48  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
 
It must be evident to every dispassionate mind that the distribution of the tribes in the land, from Joshua to the ruin of the kingdom, wholly differs from what is here predicted, and that nothing answering to the prophecy can be alleged since. Thus Dan is in the extreme north, not Naphtali, as of old; next Asher, and, not till then, Naphtali. Again Manasseh, instead of being divided by the Jordan, is altogether like the other tribes, with Ephraim to the south, and Reuben no longer to the east of the Jordan but following, and Judah immediately before the holy oblation. South of the oblation is first of all Benjamin's portion reversing their ancient order, in which the former was north and the latter south. Simeon comes next, and Issachar (instead of its old position, south-west of the sea of Galilee and north of Samaria) follows Simeon. Then succeeds Zebulun, which of old was north of Issachar; and Gad, instead of its ancient locality in the east, is found the most southern of all.
“Now these [are] the names of the tribes: from the north end to the coast of the way to Hethlon, to the entering in of Hamath, Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus northward to the coast of Hamath; and these are the sides thereof east [and] west; Dan, one. And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side; Asher, one. And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side; Naphtali, one. And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side; Manasseh, one. And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side; Ephraim, one. And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side even unto the west side; Reuben, one. And by the border of Reuben, from the east side unto the west side; Judah, one. And by the border of Judah, from the east side to the west side, shall be the oblation which ye shall offer, five and twenty thousand in breadth, and in length as one of the parts, from the east side to the west side; and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it. The oblation that ye shall offer unto Jehovah [shall be] of five and twenty thousand in length, and of ten thousand in breadth. And for them, [even] for the priests, shall be [this] holy oblation; toward the north five and twenty thousand [in length], and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length: and the sanctuary of Jehovah shall be in the midst thereof. [It shall be] for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept My charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray. And [this] oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites. And over against the border of the priests the Levites [shall have] five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth: all the length [shall be] five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand. And they shall, not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land; for [it is] holy unto Jehovah. And the five thousand, that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand, shall be a profane [place] for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs: and the city shall be in the midst thereof. And these [shall be] the measures thereof: the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred. And the suburbs of the city shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty, and toward the south two hundred and fifty, and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty. And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy [portion shall be] ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward: and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy [portion]; and the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city. And they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel. All the oblation [shall be] five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city. And the residue [shall be] for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house [shall be] in the midst thereof. Moreover, from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, [being] in the midst [of that] which is the prince's, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince. As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side unto the west side; Benjamin, one. And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side; Simeon, one. And by the border of Simeon, from the east side unto the west side; Issachar, one. And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side; Zebulun, one. And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side; Gad, one. And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar [unto] the waters of strife [in] Kadesh, [and] to the river toward the great sea. This [is] the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these [are] their portions, saith the Lord Jehovah” (vss. 1-29).
It will be observed that, as in the days of Joshua, the land was divided by lot; so it will be in the day when a greater than he takes the kingdom. The oblation is a wholly new feature of this redistribution of Israel, when He comes whose right is the crown, and whose prime care is the sanctuary of Jehovah. Prince, Priests, and Levites shall be there, each in due place in relation to the city and the sanctuary. For it is no question here of heaven or the heavenly city, new Jerusalem, that comes down out of heaven from God, but of the earth and the land. The temple is as marked here as it is emphatically absent in Revelation 21. So there are not, nor could be, priests or Levites, feasts or sacrifices, in the heavenly city of the Apocalypse, any more than in Christianity now. In Ezekiel there are essential and indelible traits, which are only intelligible to those who, believing the prophets, look for the age to come before eternity, and the fulfillment of prophecy in the blessing of Israel and the Gentiles under the reign of the Lord Jesus, when He shall have come with all His saints in glory. Unbelief of the truth is natural, and reasoning against it is not difficult; but the word of God remains as plain and sure as ever; and blessed are they who, confessing the future joy and rest which await Israel on earth, converted in the grace and faithfulness of God, are the more free to await the Son of God from heaven, our Deliverer from the coming wrath. To see with distinctness the place of the earthly people, first under the old legal responsibility, next under the Messiah and the new covenant, helps greatly those who through grace now believe against the efforts of Satan, who would darken and destroy, if possible, their intelligence and enjoyment of their own proper blessedness and calling on high, as the body of Christ and bride of the Lamb. Mysticism is thus avoided; and scripture received in simple faith.
One more section leads us to the close of the prophecy. “And these [are] the goings forth of the city: on the north side four thousand and five hundred measures; and the gates of the city [shall be] according to the names of the tribes of Israel; three gates northward, one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi. And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan. And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun. At the west side four thousand and five hundred, [with] their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali. [It was] round about eighteen thousand [measures]; and the name of the city from [that] day [shall be], Jehovah [is] there” (vss. 30-35).
This then is the last and chief glory—the presence of Jehovah in the city of His choice. In this Israel shall boast above all their privileges; and justly, for it is the complement, and crown of all. How bright an end of their long wanderings, and of their manifold sorrows! How worthy of His redeeming grace, who will cleanse away the guilt which shed it, when they turn to Him in faith, discerning and owning at length their self-destructive folly, in the light of His love, who never wavered, but died for them, so many centuries before they broke down in shame and contrition before Him!