“‘I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
~Ezekiel 37:26-28 (NIV).
Chapter 37 of Ezekiel is a most famous prophetic juncture over the landscape of the Old Testament—indeed, it’s a very hinge in Ezekiel itself, summing up oracles of hope (chapters 34–37) and beyond, past the ‘final convulsion of evil’ in chapters 38–39, into chapters 40–48.
This piece of Scripture absolutely reeks of Jesus Christ and him crucified for our unification.
The New Covenant is ushered in—party to the death and raising of Jesus to be at the right hand of the Father—cataclysmically; it throws its echo far back into the Centuries of the Prophets, and even beforehand, and of course, into the indefinite future.
God with Us – Emmanuel
We know this via Isaiah 7:14, that Jesus is prophesied, coming to earth, to live with us. He becomes the heavenly Substitute—him for our sin.
What is happening here in Ezekiel is the heralding of the time forward some six centuries—catapulted beyond the uncharacteristically-God-quiet Intertestamental period.
God is promising here to be with us—firstly in the Person of Jesus, and then finally and ultimately via the gift of the Holy Spirit which God sent on receipt of Jesus in the heavens. This speaks of Sanctuary.
God’s sanctuary is with us, in us, amongst us; forever. It is all through the earth, dividing never-so indiscriminately, finding its way through our beings and into all of our believing circumstances.
The whole concept of Sanctuary is compelling; not to simply a physical place—but it’s a Spiritual place where God makes his Presence and Rest available within us.
This concept attracts us in unity. As God is One so are we to be one—the body of Christ pulling together—beyond the constrains of racial and ethical concern. Sanctuary and Unity: two concepts held together as one in God.
Two Sticks and Unification
The imagery of Ezekiel’s two sticks is clearly pointing us to the unification of the then disparate Southern and Northern kingdoms of Judah and Israel.
The New International Version heads Ezekiel 37:15ff with the title, One Nation Under One King. This is the certain prophesy of Jesus’ coming—bringing together what will never again be separated.
And for us...
Whenever we meet another human being—without regard for colour, creed, ethnicity, background or anything else—by virtue that they’re children of God like we are—he is our brother and she is our sister! No ifs, no buts. Love and grace is to pervade the space between us.
For those who already call Christ their Saviour: UNITY and holiness in God’s Name—it’s a simple charge to be worked out in us all as per Paul’s appeal in 1 Corinthians 1:10:
“I’ll put this as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.” (Msg)
If that is not a command to love one another I don’t know what is.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
General Reference: Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel – The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), pp. 434-42.