Friday, December 17, 2010

The Promise of His Coming (17)

The prophet Ezekiel continues to proclaim the promises of the Lord's coming, and today's focuses on the unity of God's people through their coming king.

Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with the Old Testament will realise that the people of God were divided and separated shortly after the monarchy had been established. Following Saul's death, the house of Judah crowned David as their king, while the house of Israel (at least for a short period) had Ish-bosheth. David eventually was crowned king of all Israel, but due to the folly of Rehoboam, Solomon's son, the two parts of the people were permanently separated. Judah's kings continued to be the sons of David, while Israel had a mishmash of dynasties, with more coups than a dairy farm. (Sorry...)

Both Israel and Judah have been in exile, but now Ezekiel declares that a new day is coming, and in his prophetic action, a new unity is being promised:

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah and the people of Israel associated with him'; then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him'. And join them one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand." (Ezekiel 37:15-17)

Two sticks become one stick, as the scattered people are brought together. The stick is a bit like a staff, the equipment of a shepherd, the symbol of a ruler, and so again we find that bound up with this unity comes the one prince, the one king over God's people:

My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes. They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Ezekiel 37:24-27)

Again, there's this promise of David - not actual David, but the son of David, great David's greater son, who will reign over his united people - so that God dwells in their midst. As John would say (in the Message translation): 'The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.' What was true of when Jesus walked among us is even more so when Jesus will return, and heaven comes to earth forever. Come, O uniting shepherd king.

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