Today we complete the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel is still being given a vision of the new Temple. At the east gate (which was shut to all except for the Prince – see 44:1-3) a river flows out of the Temple from within (47:1). The water gets deeper the further away from the Temple the heavenly figure takes Ezekiel (vv. 3-5). The water is life giving, as we see from the trees that grow alongside it (v. 7 – see Rev 22:1-2). The river ends at the Dead Sea (v. 8). But it makes the waters – the most bitter waters in the world! – fresh and life giving. The river does this “wherever is goes” (v. 9). We see that the life the river gives is everlasting (v. 12 – again, see Rev 22:1-2). This is God making the wasteland inhabitable (see Isa 35:1-2). God is permanently reversing the curse!
The rest of the chapter is devoted to the boundaries of the land – the new Israel. This is symbolic of God keeping His promise to give spiritual Israel the land. This (along with the river of life and the multiple trees of life) represents the New Heaven and the New Earth. Then, in chapter 48, God gives the tribal allotments. This is the rejoining of Judah and Israel (see 37:15-19). In their midst is the holy district and the Temple (v. 10), given for the holy sons of Zadok (v. 11 – see 40:46), and yet belonging to the Prince (v. 21). We see that the gates of the city (symbolizing the spiritual people of God) are named for the twelve tribes (vv. 30-34 – see Rev 21:12-13). Note that the name of the city is “YHWH is There.” This is His and our permanent dwelling place, together. Come, Lord Jesus!