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Ezekiel 47:1 He brought me back to the door of the house; and see, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward (for the front of the house was toward the east); and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, on the south of the altar- The holy waters start from the altar- not from the threshold of the house, as Henry Sulley's view  requires. His claim that the city will be built 30 miles away from the temple is another example of pure imagination which just doesn't fit the text. This is the situation of Joel 3:18 “a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD”. Joel's kingdom prophecies likewise could have had some fulfilment in the restoration from Babylon. See on Ez. 43:7,9. So far in the temple prophecies, we have been given the impression of a very human situation. Much detail has just been given about the kitchens, regulations limiting the prince from abusing the people and about his children, of priests who sweat and must therefore wear appropriate clothing, of guardhouses with crash barriers to enable the smooth flow of people through the temple etc. Now in Ez. 47 and 48 we have prophecies which are clearly more miraculous in nature. They are alluded to in Revelation and John's Gospel and given a clearly figurative application, and yet the material is clearly based upon a literal depiction of a situation replete with fishermen fishing, a healed Dead Sea etc. I suggest that had Judah been obedient to the vision and repented as required, then these more miraculous things such as a river of living water would also have come about. The description of the course of the new river requires that the temple structure be built to accommodate it, but there is no evidence that Judah even attempted this at the rebuilding under Ezra and Nehemiah. And so again, the great possibilities in the Divine program for the restored exiles didn't come about. But the prophecies were not thereby falsified; in spiritual essence, they will come true at the Lord's return and even in this life, although maybe not in every literal, physical detail.

The enigmatic Jn. 7:38 alludes here: "He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly ("innermost being", NIV) shall flow rivers of living (Gk. spring) water". What "scripture" did the Lord have in mind? Surely Ez. 47:1,9, the prophecy of how in the restored Kingdom, rivers of spring water would come out from Zion and bring life to the world; and perhaps too the references to spring water being used to cleanse men from leprosy and death (Lev. 14:5; 15:13; Num. 19:16). The water originated from the sanctuary; and that most holy place is now the "innermost being" of the believer. The literal possibilities in Ez. 40-48 didn't come about, but the essence of it all, although not the physical detail, will be fulfilled in spiritual terms. Out of the innermost being of the true believer, the spring(ing) water of the Gospel will  naturally spring up and go out to heal men, both now and more fully in the Kingdom, aided then by the Spirit gifts. The believer, every  believer, whoever  believes, will preach the word to others from his innermost being, both now and in the Kingdom - without the need for preaching committees or special efforts (not that in themselves I'm decrying them). The tendency is to delegate our responsibilities to these committees. There is no essential difference between faith and works. If we believe, we will do the works of witness, quite spontaneously. And note how the water that sprung out of the Lord’s smitten side is to be compared with the bride that came out of the smitten side of Adam. We, the bride, are the water; thanks to the inspiration of the cross, we go forth in witness, the water of life to this hard land in which we walk.

Ezekiel 47:2 Then he brought me out by the way of the north gate, and led me round by the way outside to the outer gate, to the gate that looks toward the east; and, there ran out waters on the right side- The same words are translated "prepare the way" in Mal. 3:1 and Is. 40:3 (see too Ez. 43:1; 44:1). The way  is 'prepared' or 'looks' eastward. This was the way or road over which the glory was to re-enter the restored temple. But Judah didn't rebuild that temple as specified and as Malachi often demonstrates, the priests failed to act as commanded in Ez. 40-48. And so the messenger of the covenant who was to prepare that way likewise failed; but finally the essence of the prophecies will come true through the work of the Elijah prophet and John the Baptist [also a priest] preparing the way of the Lord Jesus, so that His glory and Spirit could enter a spiritual temple of restored people.

Ezekiel 47:3 When the man went forth eastward with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the ankles- This man with the measuring line is the same Angel of Zech. 2:1, who was enabling the restoration of Zion at the time of the returned exiles; but they refused to make use of the potential.

Ezekiel 47:4 Again he measured one thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the knees. Again he measured one thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the waist- As explained on :1, there is a miraculous element in this. A water course does not increase in depth so consistently unless other rivers or sources of water enter into it. But these waters increase in depth in a miraculous way. For this was to be no ordinary water, which always naturally finds a consistent level. The idea is that the water is not water as we know it, but has unique properties.

Ezekiel 47:5 Afterward he measured one thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass through; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed through- "Passed through" is the term used in Is. 33:21 of how no ship or boat would pass through or along the new "broad rivers and streams" in the restored Kingdom. But the returning exiles could miraculously pass through this river with God's miraculous help (s.w. Is. 43:2).

Ezekiel 47:6 He said to me, Son of man, have you seen this? Then he brought me and caused me to return to the bank of the river- The question seems to imply that Ezekiel had failed to notice something, and so he had to return to the riverbank.

Ezekiel 47:7 Now when I had returned, see, on the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other- Rev. 22:2 quotes this but in a very symbolic context. This will come true at the Lord's return, but in a figurative sense; for Rev. 22 is not at all literal but symbolic. These things could have literally come about at the restoration from Babylon, as God's miraculous response to their obedience. But they didn't, because Judah were not switched on to the huge Divine potential which there was.

Ezekiel 47:8 Then he said to me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Salt Sea Arabah; and the waters of the sea shall be healed- The healing of saltiness, a symbol of bareness, will not be complete in the area (:11). This seems somehow inappropriate to the Kingdom to be established by the Lord Jesus in the future; but it rings true for a scenario at the restoration whereby Judah's repentant obedience to the plans of Ez. 40-46 would have been rewarded by God making miraculous things happen. The same words are used in 2 Kings 2:21,22 of the healing of salty waters by Elisha. Such things had been done by God's power earlier in human history, and could have been repeated at the restoration.

Ezekiel 47:9 It shall happen, that every living creature which swarms, in every place where the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters have come there, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live wherever the river comes- The plural "rivers" may just be an intensive plural referring to 'the great river'. Malachi had likewise foreseen a situation at the restoration where "in every place" Gentiles would have been spiritually healed and turned to Yahweh (Mal. 1:11). "Every living creature which swarms" is the language of creation, as if a new creation was going to come about in that local area. The river of living water, as explained on :1, refers now to the Spirit which is given to us and flows from us. Wherever we go, there should be healing- not just dissension, theological controversy and factionism, but real healing for those who hitherto had not had spiritual life. The great multitude of fish is again alluded to in John's Gospel, where the miracles of catching fish are used as symbolic of how the Lord's people would "catch men" in the Gospel's net. The physical realities didn't come about at the restoration, but the essence of them now comes true in the lives of Spirit filled believers.

Ezekiel 47:10 It shall happen, that fishermen shall stand by it: from En Gedi even to En Eglaim shall be a place for the spreading of nets; their fish shall be after their species, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many- The two locations mentioned are at the north and south of the Dead Sea. The "fish... after their species" could mean 'every kind of species of fish'. And again we have a connection to the miraculous haul of 153 fishes. As explained on Jn. 21:11, this was the number of species of fish which were then thought to exist. Every species of fish was caught in the net, with the incident clearly speaking of the universal appeal of the Gospel, saving some from all nations. The stress upon "exceeding many", also in :9, connects with the huge number of the seed of Abraham, the converts to the Gospel.

Ezekiel 47:11 But its muddy places and its marshes shall not be healed; they shall be given over to salt- This rings somewhat strangely if we insist this prophecy must have a fulfilment in the Kingdom of God on earth. See on :8. The idea is that not all would respond, even if the water of life came to them. For the marshes and muddy places were clearly reached by the water flowing from the temple.

Ezekiel 47:12 By the river on its banks, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall its fruit fail: it shall bear new fruit every month, because its waters issue out of the sanctuary; and its fruit shall be for food, and its leaf for healing- Rev. 22:2 interprets this in a clearly symbolic way with reference to the situation which will come about at the return of the Lord Jesus to Zion. Perhaps the trees with leaves that don't wither are to be seen as representative of the righteous (Prov. 11:30; Ps. 1:3). Those who respond to the water of life will grow thereby to provide the fruit of the tree of life to others. And that is true in this life too, as Prov. 11:30; Ps. 1:3 make clear.

Ezekiel 47:13 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: This shall be the border, by which you shall divide the land for inheritance according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions- The latter chapters of Ezekiel stress how Israel were to “inherit” the land; yet the same word is used in other restoration prophecies, about Messiah causing Israel to “inherit” the land again after their return from “the north country” (Zech. 2:12; 8:12; Is. 49:8; Jer. 3:18). When Judah returned from the “north country”, then Jerusalem would be the universally recognized “throne of the Lord” (Jer. 3:17,18). The Kingdom could have come when Judah returned from Babylon. It was therefore potentially possible for the returning exiles to inherit all the land outlined in Ez. 47:13-21 and share it out between the 12 tribes. But they grabbed every man for himself, his own farmstead, his own mini-Kingdom. They had no interest in the wider vision, nor in subduing extra land; and the majority of the Jews didn’t even want to inherit it; they preferred the soft life of Babylon, the Kingdom of men rather than the Kingdom of God. And thus the Kingdom made possible was never actually fulfilled at that time.

Ezekiel 47:14 You shall inherit it, one as well as another; for I swore to give it to your fathers: and this land shall fall to you for inheritance- This is the language of the tribal lots distributed under Joshua when the people first entered the land from the wilderness journey. It all has deep appropriacy to the giving of the land to the exiles now returning from Babylon, also involving a desert journey. All Judah were  to inherit the land, "one as well as another"; whereas in reality at the restoration, Neh. 5 records how some grabbed the land of others. If the land was for an inheritance there could be the implication that those who were given it would die and then pass it on as an inheritance- again, appropriate to a restored kingdom at the time of the restoration, but not to the day of the eternal Kingdom of the Lord Jesus.

Ezekiel 47:15 This shall be the border of the land: On the north side, from the great sea, by the road to Hethlon, to the entrance of Zedad- Num. 34 and Josh. 15 had defined the land in the order south, west, north, and east. But there the order is north, east, south, west. Perhaps this was because in Joshua's time Israel came from the south into the land; whereas now they were to return from the land of the north. We marvel at God's sensitivity to our contexts and situations on earth. See on :17.

Ezekiel 47:16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer Hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran- The whole style of Ez. 40-48 would appear to be relevant to Ezekiel’s own time- note how the borders of the land are described as “Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus… on the north northward is the border of Hamath” (:17). These geographical notes only made sense in Ezekiel's time.

Ezekiel 47:17 The border from the sea, shall be from the sea to Hazar Enon at the border of Damascus; and on the north northward is the border of Hamath. This is the north side- There appears to be a double reference to the northern border; as explained on :15, perhaps this was because in Joshua's time Israel came from the south into the land; whereas now they were to return from the land of the north. We marvel at God's sensitivity to our contexts and situations on earth.

Ezekiel 47:18 The east side, between Hauran and Damascus and Gilead, and the land of Israel, shall be the Jordan; from the north border to the east sea you shall measure. This is the east side- The Jordan river was to be the eastern border. Yet the territory promised to Abraham extended to the Euphrates. God was making concessions to their weakness by giving them at this stage a more limited area. But the territory in Gilead east of the Jordan river was also envisaged as being possible for their possession (Mic. 7:14; Zech. 10:10). These varying definitions of the promised land are of themselves evidence that God's purpose with His people is elastic. We can be sure that at the return of the Lord Jesus, the full territory promised to Abraham will be given to Israel, right up to the Euphrates; for God's promise to Abraham shall surely be fulfilled. So this scenario here in Ez. 47 is not that of the future Kingdom after Christ's return.

Ezekiel 47:19 The south side southward shall be from Tamar as far as the waters of Meriboth Kadesh, to the brook of Egypt, to the great sea. This is the south side southward- Tamar was apparently at the southern end of the Dead Sea. There would therefore be a diagonal line drawn from there to the "brook of Egypt". As noted on :18, this was a new definition of the promised land. It was intended for the time of the restoration, as in the full Messianic Kingdom, the entire territory promised to Abraham will be inherited.

Ezekiel 47:20 The west side shall be the great sea, from the south border as far as over against the entrance of Hamath. This is the west side- This is the Hamath of :17. This coastal area included the territory possessed by the Philistines which had always been problematic for Israel. It would've all seemed too incredible for the exiles to believe; that powerful local peoples and the empire of Babylon and Persia would not get in the way of these promises being fulfilled. We too can look at present realities and baulk at the possibility of them all being swept away in order to fulfil the promises within the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Israel who returned instead focused on establishing their own farmsteads, getting a reasonable harvest, getting along with the local tribes, and a religion of external obedience, rather than seeing the huge possibilities open to them. We too face this same temptation.

Ezekiel 47:21 So you shall divide this land to you according to the tribes of Israel- Which were twelve tribes according to Ez. 48. The prophecies of the restoration envisaged both the ten tribes and Judah returning together. But most of them preferred to remain in the lands of their captivity.

Ezekiel 47:22 It shall happen, that you shall divide it by lot for an inheritance to you and to the aliens who live among you, who shall father children among you; and they shall be to you as the native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel- This would have been very hard for the exiles to accept. Ezra and Nehemiah document all the conflicts with the local people who "live among you". To give them a place in the new system would run counter to the core of Judah's self perception. The idea of course was that these "aliens" would convert to the God of Israel and become joined to natural Israel as His covenant people. But instead the Jews despised them, later terming them 'Samaritans', refusing to accept them; and initially intermarrying with them and accepting their gods.

Ezekiel 47:23 It shall happen, that in what tribe the foreigner lives, there you shall give him his inheritance, says the Lord Yahweh- T
he commandments about giving the Gentiles inheritance amongst the tribal cantons are understandable in the light of the fact that the Samaritans were living in the land at the time of the restoration. Even within Ezekiel, as well as in Malachi, Israel are criticized for oppressing the stranger / Gentile who lived with them (Ez. 22:7,29); and now they are told that in the new temple system, the stranger must be generously given an inheritance in the land, he must be counted as actually belonging to one of the tribes. But the subsequent history of the returned exiles reveals their development of a xenophobic attitude to Gentiles.