The Lord is There
Ezekiel 48:1-35
Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goes to Hamath, Hazarenan…

Between the fruits of natural and of spiritual religion there will always be considerable apparent resemblance. The amiability and generosity of the natural man will not be distinguished by the superficial observer from the charity of the Christian; nor are we called upon to disparage that which is beautiful and excellent in natural morality. At the same time, while there may be much in the uurenewed heart that is lovely and attractive, we must not shut our eyes to its true state before God, or refuse to recognise the radical deficiency which runs through all systems of natural religion or morality. We may love, we may even admire, but if the heart be really unrenewed, we must own the melancholy fact — the Lord is not there. Again and again, throughout the Word of God, we have it directly asserted, or incidentally implied, that God dwells, by His Holy Spirit, in the hearts of true believers, and that He dwells in them to form within them the New Adam, to develop the nature and spirit of Christ. "Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost," and "Christ is in us, except we be reprobate," and the mystery of our calling is "Christ in us the hope of glory." Do these words mean anything? Can they mean what their natural sense implies? or are they simply high-sounding flights of Eastern rhetoric? I must press on you the question, Can it be truly said of your heart, "The Lord is there"? Does your religion consist only of doctrines and observances, or has a new power entered your soul? and are you conscious of a reverent and sacred intimacy with your Divine Guest? What is religion without this? Take away my Lord, and earth becomes a dreary desert, time a cruel taskmaster, and eternity an abysmal gulf of horrible gloom. But, as it is true of every real Christian that the Lord is there, so it is the law of the life of the unrenewed that the Lord is not there. The man of the world awakes in the morning with no sense of the presence of his God: he may hurry through some form of devotion, but the Lord is not there. The world rushes in with all its thronging cares and busy excitements, and the battle of the day is fought, but the Lord is not there; and when he lays his head on his pillow at night, while he forms his schemes for the future, or congratulates himself on the past, it still remains true the Lord is not there. Years roll on, and the life without God draws towards its close; human nature loses its charms, the affections become paralysed, the genial enthusiasm of youth is a dream of the past, the barren routine of habit has fossilised all the higher faculties of the soul; but while the transient loveliness of humanity fades away, the sad truth still remains, "the Lord is not there." When the last scene comes, there may be weeping friends around the bedside of the dying sinner, and some may speak oft the kindliness of his disposition, and some may tell how he ever did his duty to wife, and child, and friend; but the curtain falls upon the last scene in the sad drama of a wasted life, inscribed with the melancholy sentence, "The Lord is not there!" Follow his receding form, if your inward sight can penetrate so far into the dreary regions of eternal hopelessness, and as you gaze with horror into the blank solitude into which he plunges, can you not catch that distant cry, of agony which wanders like an everlasting echo through the deep night of hell, "The Lord is not here!" "The Lord is not here!" Gladly I turn to the other side of the picture. The prophet Ezekiel had been gazing at a wondrous revelation of future glory, and doubtless the mystic temple and city in every point of their elaborate details had been full of interest and instruction for his delighted soul; but as we raise the cornerstone only when the rest of the entire building is completed, so it was reserved for the last word of the Divine Interpreter to touch the deepest chord of joy within the prophet's heart, and, as it were, to put the crown of glory upon the entire description in those marvellous words which I have read to you. We cannot doubt but that, in a further sense than we at present experience, those words will one day be fulfilled; at the same time, the blessed privileges to which we are heirs under this dispensation justify us in applying the description, and above all the crowning words, to the Christian Church. It, too, is a new Jerusalem that has come down to earth out of heaven, and its greatest glory is that "the Lord is there."

(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath, Hazarenan, the border of Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath; for these are his sides east and west; a portion for Dan.

WEB: Now these are the names of the tribes: From the north end, beside the way of Hethlon to the entrance of Hamath, Hazar Enan at the border of Damascus, northward beside Hamath, (and they shall have their sides east [and] west), Dan, one [portion].

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