The Name Of The City
Ezekiel was a prophet to the people of God during the terrible captivity of the Babylonian empire. He himself was among the prisoners by the River Chebar when the Lord sent numerous visions to him. His book is filled with vibrant pictures of the glory of the heavenly visions. The last portion of his message is a description of a new city and a new temple. His purpose was to instill in the children of God a hope that salvation would come from the Lord. The captivity would last for seventy years as punishment for their refusal to return to the Lord. Hope was given through the prophets that God would not retain His anger forever and they would return to the promised land.
The vision of the new city began in Ezekiel 40. It is a marvelous vision of unbelievable grandeur and beauty. By the grace of God, joy would return to another generation of Jews when the Lord dwells among them again. What is particularly significant is the very last thing Ezekiel writes in his book of vision. The allusion to the name of the city would show the everlasting mercy of the Lord toward His rebellious people. No longer would the city be known as the city of peace (Jerusalem) but a new name exalting the glory of the longsuffering Lord – “The Lord Is There.”
Beyond the symbolic meaning of Ezekiel’s vision to the remnant of Israel, the wonderful message of God’s eternal grace is found in the promise to never leave man hopeless. The people are crushed under the weight of the Babylonian might and hope seems to have faded. The reason for the imprisonment is because of their own doing but the Lord always offers hope in the darkest hour. They are His special people, the apple of His eye. His anger will not last, His wrath will subside and His love will be seen. When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, God allowed them to desecrate the holy Temple. That is because the Lord withdrew His presence from the people because of their sin. Following the chastening of His anger, the Lord promises to show kindness to the people. His mercy declared that He would be among the people again. He would be there in the midst of a forgiven people.
The people of God struggle with sin. There will be times of chastening when the Lord sends His anger against the rebellion in our lives. One of the greatest joys in serving Jesus Christ is knowing that while our hearts may fail to be faithful to the Lord – He is always faithful to forgive. Repentance comes from a broken heart. It may seem as if the Lord has abandoned us to our own failing but He also promises that when we repent HE WILL DWELL AMONG US AGAIN. There is no way to define the forgiveness of God. He will never desert us or fail us. His mercy is everlasting. He forgives so many times we could never count the number of times His grace has saved us. The joy of living each day is knowing that God will never leave us. Thank you Lord God for your kind hand of mercy upon sinful man and that YOU will always BE THERE for me.
Grace is the germ of glory; it has the potencies of the beatific vision within it. (Fulton J. Sheen, Religion Without God, 1928)