“And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”
Reflection: Christ: Temple, River, and City
By John Tillman
Ezekiel spends a huge amount of his text describing the terrors, the corruption, and injustice of the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. Then, in his final chapters, he gives us a vision of a new temple, a river, and a city to come.
This temple and city Ezekiel describes bear little resemblance to the temple he knew or the temples to come in the future. In just one example, in chapter 47, Ezekiel describes a river that flows from the restored Temple. The river grows deeper and wider, until it can no longer be crossed. When this river meets the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea, it makes it alive again, bringing back to life not only the aquatic life, but the entire ecological system.
Just because God’s city and temple have only been seen by visionaries and prophets, doesn’t mean they aren’t real or accessible to us today. John and Ezekiel may not intend to show us a physical temple or city that we will ever see on earth, but rather something else entirely.
Perhaps the temple of Ezekiel has never been seen on Earth because it is not a temple built by human hands. Perhaps the temple Ezekiel sees is the same one Christ told the Pharisees could be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.
Christ himself is our temple. He is the gate, the doorway, through which we enter to worship. He is our priest, he is the offerer of the only sacrifice capable of covering our sin and our only mediator before God.
Christ is our river, flowing as the Holy Spirit into our lives, into our cities, into our dead, dry, and poisoned environments. His river-like spirit brings life to what is dead and healing to what is sickened by the waste products of our sins’ industrious and destructive revolution.
We say, “amen” to these visions.
May we regularly enter the peace of this city, be nourished by this river, and be made righteous in this temple.
May the temple, the city, and the river of these visions come.
May we dwell in the city called, “The Lord is there.”
Prayer: The Request for Presence
Let those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say forever, “Great is the Lord!” — Psalm 70.4
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
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We can rest in the security of knowing that our eternal priest ,Jesus the Christ, is forever working for the salvation of those who seek him and he is alive to intercede before God on our behalf.
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Our great high priest Jesus has provided each of us with access to God’s throne of grace in any time of need. May we live our lives in faithfulness and gratitude for the great high priest who redeems.
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