Sunday, October 04, 2009

The All and In All

In his third vision, Ezekiel sees all things made new. The old temple—into which was gathered all Israel’s sinfulness—is no more. Instead, there is a new temple, made without hands, purged of all idolatry (Ezek. 40-43). The people of Israel are new, as is their relationship with the Lord: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name…by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings….” (Ezek. 43:7). There is a new priesthood—the sons of Zadok (meaning, “Sons of righteousness”)—free of the unfaithfulness which characterized the priesthood of man (Ezek. 44:10-16). A new inheritance awaits the people of God (45:1-8, 47:13-48:29), and a new city whose name is “THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezek. 45:6, 48:15-22, 48:30-35). Here, all things are new, & all things are of God (2 Cor. 5:17, 18). This is reality in Christ. Through the cross (the destruction of the temple in Ezekiel’s second vision), old things were put away. No vestige of those things remain, just as Ezekiel sees no resemblance between the Israel in his vision & the Israel in captivity. We can remain in captivity through unbelief, or we can accept the overwhelming grace of God—all things have been made new in Jesus. By showing Ezekiel these things, God is hoping to draw his people—including those reading Ezekiel today—out of captivity. For we are captives to the extent we do not abide where all things are made new and are of God.

When we say all things are new, what do we mean? Let’s put it this way: imagine a world where every last thing is Christ: every river, every stone, every blade of grass. This is something like what Ezekiel’s third vision shows us. Christ is the temple and the glory within. He is the altar, He is the offering, He is the priest presenting the offering, He is the sacrificial flesh eaten by those who minister. He is the land and each inheritance marked out. He is the 12 tribes and the nation of Israel. The prince spoken of is the Prince of Peace. His Spirit is the river that makes everything live as it flows past trees of all kinds, which trees He is. “Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11). There is nothing in what Ezekiel sees that is not Christ. And this is where God has placed us. This is the One into which we have been baptized (1 Cor. 1:30, 12:13). Despite the conditions through which we sojourn, despite the lack of Christ we see around us and in us every day, God would have us know that our reality, the place where we live and move and have our being, is precisely this place where there is nothing but Christ, where Christ is the elemental composition of everything, where He is the length, the height, the breadth, and the depth (Eph. 3:18). “Christ is all, and is in all.”