The last line of Ezekiel is profound; Ezk 48:35 reads “And the name of the city from that time on will be: “The Lord is there.””
We are a people who long for peace, for unity, for morality, and justice. When I use the term “people” I am not just referring to Christians, but of humanity. We are fallen creatures, but God put within every heart a longing for what was meant to be. Our God reveals our need and establishes the cure. One of the most thoroughly humbling thoughts when the question is asked of why evil or suffering exist in the world is the fact that we are in the world. The actions of my own sin and pride most often result in evil and suffering. Of course that does not look quite the same as a terrorist attack, but sin is sin – it genuinely hurts others as well as my self. Part of a Christ-follower’s foundation is recognition that sin is not just external but internal…in me. Another part is that there is a longing to not be sinful; there is a longing for God to pour out justice and a prayer that his justice will not include me.
Throughout the book of Ezekiel, the prophet cries out against many nations, including his own. He speaks with the words of the God who is titled “Sovereign Lord.” This name declares that God alone is in control, he alone brings peace, he alone brings unity, he alone determines right and wrong, and he alone serves as judge. For some that name is a refuge, for others it flies in the face of pride. Still others of us swivel our heads back and forth; seeking refuge in God and yet steering ourselves down our own path. We long for what is right while we do what is wrong. All the while we must confess a God who is everywhere at once, the Lord is there. There is nowhere he cannot be and no place he will not prove his glory.
The beauty of Ezekiel is found in how wonderful God is. As Christ followers we have the absolute joy of knowing his righteousness provides for our debt. Ezekiel shows us a splendid city that we cannot build. He paints a picture of beautiful pastureland that we did not harvest. All the while our king leads us into the gates of the city and our shepherd brings us to lie down in green pastures (Ezk 34; Ps 23). We must lean on the grace of God if we are to desire any of the above virtues. That is precisely what the cross teaches us: The Lord is there.
We face trials brought on either by our own or someone else’s sin. We face temptation day in and day out, but the fact of the matter is the Spirit of Christ dwells within the church. Christ himself withstood death, and that same Spirit now dwells in his flock (Romans 8:11; Ephesians 1:19-20). From the time our Lord ascended into the heavens and poured the Spirit upon anyone who takes his name, we have been called to be the city that when someone sees the trials of humanity, the Lord is there.
When someone is dealt a hurtful blow, the Lord is there.
When an atrocity is committed, the Lord is there.
When suffering continues, the Lord is there.
When hurtle is placed before you, higher then you can jump, the Lord is there.
When you feel that you are a failure, the Lord is there.
In those moments of doubt when you are unsure if he is there, the Lord is there.
You are a beacon shining a lightway to the fortress of God because his Spirit is indwelling you and because his name is upon your lips. Today, whatever is troubling you, look into your heart and know that the Lord is there.
Jesus gave us the promise of something greater yet to come. Though the Spirit that raises us from the dead is dwelling with us now, still a day is coming when the people of God will dwell with the throne of the Lamb. A city walled with grace and mercy is not far off, we can know its power now. Jesus even told us that he would never leave us or forsake those who are called by his name. We are to live as people of the city so that one-day everyone will join in knowing the Lord is there.
Today let us praise God that he is there. Let us pray for our church and our community that we would be blessed to represent the grace and glory of God to a people in need of that wonderful city.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com