The Lord is There

Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 48.35
“And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”

Reflection: The Lord is There
By John Tillman

All the architectural details and the descriptions of artistic embellishments in the temple, lead to one final detail that would have excited Ezekiel’s exiled audience. “The name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.” 

We might at first be confused. Ezekiel, after all, has been transported in a vision back to Israel to “a high mountain”. The city is Jerusalem, right? Why would God change the name of the city?

Names in the scripture are vitally important and God often changes someone’s or something’s name when significant happens. He adds to Abram and Sarai’s names, making them Abraham and Sarah indicating their closeness to his Spirit. He changes Jacob’s name to Israel, going from a negative of grasping for status to a positive of holding tight to God. Names tell a story. The name God gives this city is a truth that the exiles needed and a truth that we need today. Where God’s people are, God is there. Where God is worshiped, God is there.

God’s presence, in a theological sense, is a given. He’s omnipresent. Even if we wanted to flee from God’s presence we could not. But in a spiritual and psychological sense, we need reminders. 

Some of those reminders can be physical. In a church building, the architecture of the space or the architecture of the liturgy can remind us. In a familiar spot—a favorite chair, the kitchen table, our seat on the bus, a bench in the park—familiarity and history can remind us. A physical activity or posture—kneeling, closing our eyes, raising our hands, dancing, singing, hiking, running, or stretching—can remind us.

We can even remind ourselves of God’s presence through specific mental exercises, such as the Prayer of Examen or Christian meditation practices.

Whether through physical or mental means, remind yourself regularly that God is with you. The temple Ezekiel describes was never built. Jesus, however, builds his temple in and through us. The City and Temple with the name “the Lord is there” is the church and wherever Christians are gathered, Jesus is among us.

Wherever you go, as a Christian, you take with you the spirit of the city of God. Practice remembering that “the Lord is there.” Walk like it. Talk like it. Treat people like the God who loves them is standing with you. Because he is.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me… — Psalm 101.6 – From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Ezekiel 48(Listen 6:15)
2 Timothy 3(Listen 2:21

Read more about Time Tested Devotion
Pray the Examen regularly and it will tutor you in practicing the presence of God.

Read more about The Practice of Meditation — Tea
The tea analogy is helpful to explain the contrast between Christian meditation and other meditative practices.

Christ our Temple, River, and City

Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 48.35
“And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.”

Reflection: Christ our 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.

If Ezekiel’s visions sound familiar, it may be because, in Revelation, John’s visions of God’s city and the river flowing from it are remarkably similar.

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.

Christ is our city.
He is our refuge and rest—our strong tower and protected place—our park of peace in the midst of a frantic and fracturing world.

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.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. — Psalm 86.4

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Ezekiel 48  (Listen – 6:15)
Psalm 104 (Listen – 3:37)

Read More about Last Priest Standing
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.

Read More about Hope Among the Traumatized
This river of living water from the Temple changes the entire environment, bringing life even to the Dead Sea.