Ezekiel 47 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
The Millennial Temple, its design, location, and worship has been the subject of ch. 40-46. The remaining two chapters look beyond the Temple walls to describe the features of the land of Israel, and the blessings which will flow from the LORD to His people and to all the world, during the Millennial Kingdom.
- The River of Life (v.1-12)
1. Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house;
and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward:
for the forefront of the house [stood toward] the east,
and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south [side] of the altar.
2 Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward,
and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward;
and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.
3 And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward,
he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters [were] to the ankles.
4 Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters [were] to the knees.
Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters [were] to the loins.
5 Afterward he measured a thousand; [and it was] a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.
These waters issue out from the Temple, where the King dwells.
They flow from the south side of the door of the Temple (on the right, as one looks eastward), south of the altar (perhaps beneath the floor of the courts), and emerge from below the outer wall to the south of the eastern gate. From there, the flow of the waters grows ever deeper and wider. A thousand cubits is aproximately one third of a mile. One and a third miles from the outer wall, the waters were too deep to pass through on foot. Yet, the stream continues to deepen and widen.
     Some think this is figurative of spiritual blessings, perhaps in the progressive growth of a believer who is nourished by the Word as he delves deeper into it, in his walk with God. It is true that the man who is rooted in God's Word will be blessed, and that such blessing flows from God's Spirit (eg., Psa 1:1-3; Joh 7:37-39). Yet, these things are clearly taught in many other passages, without the need for any elaborate allegorical illustration.
     Some say the widening river describes the spread and acceptance of the Gospel throughout the world. Yet, Scripture does not teach that the Gospel will fill the world with peace and cure all of its problems. The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation, but only for those who believe it (Rom 1:16). During the Church Age, the Gospel is being proclaimed to all, but the Seed (God's Word) often falls on unreceptive soil. Many, who do receive it, eventually fall away or remain unfruitful due to worldly entanglements (see the Book Notes on Matthew ch. 13). The Savior warned us, that the world which rejected Him, will persecute His followers (Mat 10:34-38; Joh 15:18-20; 16:33). As the age of Grace draws to its conclusion, the church will be overtaken by deception, error and apostasy, so that, at Christ's return, there will be relatively few true believers (Mat 24:4,5; Luk 18:7,8; 2The 2:3; 2Tim 3:13). The Lord's foreview of the weakening church does not fit the ever increasing flow, as foreseen by Ezekiel.
     The visions given to Ezekiel concerning the Millennial Temple and Kingdom will be literally fulfilled, just as his prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of her people have become facts of history. As the next paragraph shows clearly, these waters nourish and heal physical life on earth, which has long been under the curse due to sin, and which will have barely survived the terrible years of the Tribulation period (Mat 24:21,22). This physical watering and restoration of the land is foretold in numerous OT passages (eg., Isa 35:1,2,7; 43:19; 55:13; Joel 3:18, Zech 14:8). In the NT, we are told that the physical restoration of the creation awaits the day when Christ completes the redemption of the physical bodies of God's children (Rom 8:19-25). Today, believers have not yet received that physical restoration, even though the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and assures us of the validity of our expectation. Church age believers will realize their transformation at the Rapture (when Christ returns in the air), while the restoration of the earth will await the Millennial Kingdom (when Christ returns to the earth).
6 And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen [this]?
Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.
7 Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river
[were] very many trees on the one side and on the other.
8 Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country,
and go down into the desert, and go into the sea:
[which being] brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
9 And it shall come to pass, [that] every thing that liveth, which moveth,
whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live:
and there shall be a very great multitude of fish,
because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed;
and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.
10 And it shall come to pass,
[that] the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim;
they shall be a [place] to spread forth nets;
their fish shall be according to their kinds,
as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.
11 But the miry places thereof and the marishes
{ie., marshes} thereof
shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side,
shall grow all trees for meat
{ie., food}, whose leaf shall not fade,
neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed
{ie., waste away}:
it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months,
because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary:
and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.
These waters flow eastward into the desert {HB='arabah, plain, sterility; ie., the plain of Jordan} and into the sea {ie., the Dead Sea}.
Critics say this is impossible, because rock ridges east of Jerusalem would interrupt the flow. But they forget that, during the closing days of the Tribulation, God will cause catastrophic geographical changes with a great earthquake. The land will be reconfigured to correspond with His prophetic Word (Zech 14:4-8). According to Zech 14:8, the living waters from the Temple will flow, half to the Mediterranean Sea and half to the Dead Sea. In that day, Jerusalem will be elevated (Eze 40:2) and the waters will flow down from its heights, to the east and also to the west.
...and every thing shall live whither the river cometh...
The "arabah" is a place of death. Vegetation cannot thrive on the barren land and fish cannot live in the extremely salty waters.
  • Psa 68:4 has this word "Arabah;" in the Authorized Version it is translated "heavens." It is in the plural, "Araboth"--"Cast up the way for him that rideth in Araboth"--the places of death. Christ is seen prophetically as the Conqueror of death and Sheol.
    [footnote on pg. 335, Ezekiel, Arno C. Gaebelein, Fleming H. Revell Co., 1918]
These are supernatural waters, which flow from Him who has Life in Himself, who will then be dwelling in the Millennial Temple (Joh 5:26). Wherever the waters flow, life flourishes, as illustrated by the fruitful trees along the banks and the great variety and size of fish. Towns on the shores of the Dead Sea will become fishing villages. (The named villages, En-Gedi and En-Eglaim, are shown on the map below.)
...but the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.
During the Millennial Kingdom, these dead places will provide additional instruction, to the new generations, concerning the historic curse upon the earth due to man's sin. Prior to the Babylonian captivity, Jerusalem was told that she would not be restored until "Sodom and her daughters" were restored (Eze 16:55). For thousands of years, the barren wasteland which had once been the location of Sodom and her neighboring cities (now under and around the southern end of the Dead Sea) has clearly illustrated the severity of God's judgment upon sin (eg., Deu 29:23). Following the restoration of those cities, a few barren places will remain to bear testimony to the curse. This testimony will correspond with that of the bloody sacrifices, which will bear witness to Him who bore the curse for us. [Regarding the significance of the sacrifices in the Millennial Temple, see the Notes about the altar, at Eze 43:18-27.]
     In the New Heaven and Earth (which follows the Millennial Kingdom), though there will be no Temple, living waters will flow from the same Source (the glorified Lamb), to nourish every corner of the New Earth, for there will be no more curse (Rev 22:1-3).
...by the river... trees for meat... new fruit according to its months...
...the fruit... for meat... the leaf... for medicine. (v.12)
The curse of sin and death, which prevailed upon the earth from the time of Adam, will come to a terrible head in the Tribulation. Life on earth will be on the brink of extinction. But then, Christ will return, exercise judgment upon His enemies, and establish His reign of righteousness. Abundant life will flow from Him to nourish and heal the earth and its war torn inhabitants, both physically and spiritually. eg., Psa 110:5-7
     'Medicine' will be useful in the Millennial Kingdom, because the curse, with its sin, sickness and death, will not yet be eradicated (Isa 65:20). However, in the Eternal Kingdom in the New Heaven and New Earth, there will be no need for medicine or healing (Rev 21:4). The word 'healing,' in Rev 22:2, refers to the sustained 'health' of the nations.
- The Borders of the Land (v.13-23)
13. Thus saith the Lord GOD; This [shall be] the border,
whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel:
Joseph [shall have two] portions.
14 And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another:
[concerning] the which I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers:
and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance.
15 And this [shall be] the border of the land toward the north side,
from the great sea, the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad;
16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which [is] between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath;
Hazarhatticon, which [is] by the coast of Hauran.
17 And the border from the sea shall be Hazarenan, the border of Damascus,
and the north northward, and the border of Hamath.
And [this is] the north side.
18 And the east side ye shall measure from Hauran, and from Damascus, and from Gilead,
and from the land of Israel [by] Jordan, from the border unto the east sea. And [this is] the east side.
19 And the south side southward, from Tamar [even] to the waters of strife [in] Kadesh,
the river to the great sea. And [this is] the south side southward.
20 The west side also [shall be] the great sea from the border,
till a man come over against Hamath. This [is] the west side.
21 So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel.
The twelve tribes of Israel will return as one nation, to dwell in the land which God promised to their forefathers (Eze 37:21,22).
These verses trace, the outer borders of the land of Israel, in the Millennial Kingdom. The exact location of some of the named landmark cities is uncertain. Yet, the information is sufficient to define the territory. The region of Hauran {presently called Golan} is east of the Sea of Galilee. The region of Gilead extends along the eastern banks of the Jordan River. The boundaries are similar to those outlined when Israel entered the land, at the end of the Exodus from Egypt (Num 34:2-12).
     The inheritance of the Jewish people will be divided by lot within these boundaries. (The regions pertaining to each tribe are delineated in ch. 48.) However, according to God's promise to Abraham, Israel will control the area between the Nile and the Euphrates rivers (Gen 15:7,18). Genesis ch. 15 also records the oath by blood covenant, by which the LORD bound Himself, to fulfill His promise to give this land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (..."I lifted up mine hand to give it unto your fathers." v.14; Eze 20:42).
...Joseph shall have two portions... (v.13)
Joseph was the eleventh of the twelve sons of Jacob {Israel}. Jacob adopted Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, as his own sons. Therefore, the two tribes which descended from them are included among the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribe of Levi, being the priestly tribe, will not receive a separate portion of land, because the LORD is their portion. Therefore, the priests and Levites will dwell in the LORD's portion of the land (Eze 44:28; 45:4,5).
22 And it shall come to pass, [that] ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you,
and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you:
and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel;
they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.
23 And it shall come to pass, [that] in what tribe the stranger sojourneth,
there shall ye give [him] his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD.
Gentiles, who worship the LORD, will also be allowed to obtain homesites within Israel, by lot (cp. Lev 19:33,34; Isa 56:6-8).
Israel will no longer be an outcast among the nations, but will be the head of nations. Gentiles will no longer despise the Jews, but will desire to be associated with them, in order to know their God and King (eg., Isa 40:1-10; Zech 2:10-12; 8:23).
[The diagram of the Temple Floor Plan, above, was adapted from TBKC.]
[The Map of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom was adapted from TBKC.]

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