TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 47-48
“The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time shall, The Lord Is There.” – Ezekiel 48:35
This is closing verse of Ezekiel. In a sense, we could say this closing sentence is everything that Ezekiel is pointing towards.
So, how do we Jesus in what Ezekiel is pointing towards? And, what do the names of the tribes, the allotment of the land, and the gates of the city have to do with seeing Jesus in Ezekiel’s closing statement?
We know that in the last verse of Ezekiel that the city being referred to is Jerusalem. More properly, given everything the vision Ezekiel had, we should think of this city as the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:2-3 says, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
So, the new Jerusalem, the holy city, is likened to a bride. This city is the dwelling place of God with man. God himself will be with his people there. Indeed, the Lord is there.
We are even told about the gates of the new Jerusalem. Revelation 22:12-13 says, “It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed – on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.” This connects back to Ezekiel because this is exactly what Ezekiel said about the city he saw in his vision.
This it the city that Abraham was looking for when obeyed God and left the land and household of his father. Hebrews 11:10 says, “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
All of this points to the city in Ezekiel’s closing sentence as not a physical city but to Jesus. Specifically, Jesus dwelling with his bride.
We read in Revelation that the city had 12 gates with the names of the tribes of Israel on them. And, this is the case in Ezekiel. But, to get the full meaning of Ezekiel, we need to take a step back. For this city was in the land of Israel that was allotted to the 12 tribes.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the meaning of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the names of Manasseh and Ephraim in The Story of Jesus and Israel through the 12 Tribes and The Story of Jesus and Israel Is Incomplete without Manasseh and Ephraim. Throughout the Bible, the 12 tribes, which are actually 13 tribes, are listed in different orders. When we consider the order of the tribes and the meanings of their names, we can discern something about what God is trying to say in that particular passage of scripture.
In Ezekiel 48:1-29, when we read of how the land was allotted, the order of the tribes are:
So, if we took the sentences spoken at each of the births of the son that fathered these tribes, then we would have a paragraph like the following:
God has judged me and heard my voice. Happy I am for women have called me happy. With many wrestlings I have wrestled and prevailed. For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house. For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, my husband will love me. I will praise the Lord. The son of my right hand, the highly regarded son. Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband. God has endowed me with a good endowment and now my husband will honor me. Good fortune has come.
Now, remember that this was how the land was allotted. So, we are not in the city, the dwelling place of the Lord, at this point.
So, notice how the paragraph seems to start with us. We were judged. We wrestled. We forget our hardship. We became fruitful in the land of our affliction.
But, it is not until the middle of this paragraph that we begin to see Jesus. My husband will love me. I will praise the Lord, the son of his right hand, the highly regarded son.
And, by the end we know the good that God has endowed us with. Good has come to us.
While Levi did not receive an inheritance, an allotment, in the land, he is inserted into the middle of the tribes and the description of their allotment. This is interesting because the Levites were the priests. The function of the priests is to mediate the presence of God to the people. That is, they are to join God and the people.
This is exactly the sentence spoken over Levi at his birth. “This time my husband will be attached to me.” In the paragraph above, Levi is their to join the people to God.
Notice where Levi falls in the description of the allotment of the land – between Judah and Benjamin. Judah means “I will praise the Lord.” Benjamin means “the son of my right hand, the highly regarded son.” So, it is in the midst of praising the Lord, Jesus Christ, the son of God’s right hand, that we are joined to God.
It’s also interesting that Levi does not fall exactly in the middle of the allotment of the tribes. In other words, there are not six tribes on one side Levi and six tribes on the other. Since Levi falls between Judah and Benjamin, there are seven tribes before Levi and five tribes after.
Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. As we progress to being joined with the Lord we are spiritually perfected or matured.
Five is the number of grace. Having been joined to the Lord through spiritual perfection or maturity, we truly experience God’s grace.
Ezekiel 48:30-35 tells us about the gates of the city. When we come to the 12 gates of the city, the order of the tribes is different. Not only is the order of the tribes different, but the tribes themselves are different. Here is their order:
And, here is the paragraph we get from the meanings of these names.
Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, my husband will love me. I will praise the Lord. This time my husband will be attached to me. God has taken away my reproach. May the Lord add to me another son. The son of my right hand. The highly regard son. God has judged me and heard my voice. Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband. God has endowed me with a good endowment and now my husband will honor me. Good fortune has come. Happy am I for women have called me happy. With many wrestlings I have wrestled and prevailed.
When I read this paragraph, I see it starting with Jesus and the cross instead of me. My husband will love me, which we only know because of the cross. My husband will be attached to me, which we only know because asked the Father to forgive us from the cross. God has taken away my reproach through Jesus’ death on the cross.
In the middle of this paragraph, we focus on the son. The Lord adds a son. The son of his right hand, the highly regarded son. I have been judged by this son. But, the judgment of the son from the cross is forgiveness.
By the end of the paragraph, we are extolling what God has done. A good endowment. Good fortune, Happiness or joy.
But, notice that when we get to the city, when we want to enter the city, that Manasseh and Ephraim have been dropped from the list.
Manasseh means “God has made me forget all my hardship all my father’s house.” Truly, when we enter the city where the Lord is, we forget all of our hardships, all of our struggles, and our father’s house that we had to leave, like Abraham, to reach the city whose builder and maker is God.
Ephraim means “For God has made me fruitful in the land of affliction.” When we enter the city, no longer are fruitful in the land of our affliction, a strange land. Now we are fruitful in the city where the Lord is.
Instead of Manasseh and Ephraim we have Levi and Joseph. We are joined or attached to the Lord because of another son, Jesus. We are the bride of Jesus. Therefore, in Revelation, John describes the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God in heaven, as a bride, the bride of Jesus.
And, this brings to Ezekiel’s closing sentence.
The only way to enter the city was through the gates of 12 tribes. In other words, as the paragraph above shows, the only way to enter the city was through the work, the cross, of Christ.
The circumference of the city that contained these gates was 18,000 cubits.
Why is this significant?
The Hebrew word life has a numerical value of 18.
And, 1,000 is 10 cubed. The number 10 symbolizes orderly perfection. But, when a number is cubed it magnifies and intensifies the meaning of the number.
So, in the number 18,000 we have the magnification or intensification of the orderly perfection of life. Since this is the circumference of the city, when we enter the city we are surrounded by the intensity of life.
Also, it is interesting that the numerical value of the Hebrews words for 18,000 is 1,071.
What else has the value of 1,071?
In the Hebrew, the phrase “the righteous shall inherit the land” has a value of 1,071.
In the Greek, the phrase “white robes” and the words “joint-heirs” and “sinless” all have the numerical value of 1,071. Those in the city have put on the white robes of righteousness. They are sinless. They are joint-heirs with Christ.
The number 1,071 is interesting because it is 7 x 153. Seven, as I have said, is the number of spiritual perfection. And, 153 is that seemingly oh so strange number of fish that John records the disciples catching out of the sea after Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus told them to drop the net. So, the city is filled with the spiritual perfection of the lives saved by the gospel.
And, this city is name The Lord is There. In the Hebrew, this name has a numerical value of 371. The number 371 is 7 x 53. As, I just said, seven is the number of spiritual perfection.
But, what about the number 53?
Here are some of the words in Hebrew and Greek that have a numerical value of 53: stone, prophecy, message, the jubilee.
These aren’t just random words. These are all words that related to Jesus. Jesus is the stone that builders rejected. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. Jesus gave us the message that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.
As the cornerstone, Jesus is the foundation of the city that Abraham was looking for. Paul says that the foundation that has been laid is Christ and that no other foundation can be laid. So, when we enter into the city whose name is The Lord Is There, we have come to the true spiritual understanding of who Jesus is and the message who came to give us.