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…
The kingdom of God, here symbolized "with such imperfect materials of thought and utterance as then lay within the prophet's reach," was to be one that has not yet been realized; but with the overthrow of many superstitions, the breaking down of much corruption, and the birth and growth (or the revival) of much Christian zeal, it may be said that this fair vision is being fulfilled - that the kingdom of Christ is coming, though it is far from having come. Among its characteristics, as it shall one day be, are -
I. GLORIOUS MAGNITUDE OF DIMENSION. (Ver. 10. See homily on Ezekiel 42:15-20.)
II. IT'S A MIXTURE OF GRACE AND OF REWARD. The distribution of the land seems to have been without much (if any) regard to the meritoriousness of the tribes. Dan, which for its admission of idolatrous dements might have been last placed, comes first of all (ver. 1); on the other hand, marked preference is shown to "the priests... of the sons of Zadok, which have kept my charge, which went not astray," etc. (ver. 11). In the kingdom of Christ there is this same righteous and beneficent admixture.
1. It is of God's grace that all sinful souls are taken back into his favor, and are partakers of eternal life (Ephesians 2:5; Romans 6:23).
2. A large reward is offered to steadfastness and fidelity (Luke 22:28; Matthew 25:21; Romans 2:7; Revelation 2:10).
III. COMMUNION AND CO-OPERATION.
1. The several tribes were so placed that they were as near to one another as could be; they were to be located side by side. And there was to be no barrier of sea or mountain wall, or even deep river between them; there was to be no hindrance to full communion (see vers. 1-8).
2. They were to unite in a common service. All the tribes were to take part in the service required for the city (ver. 19). When in the future the kingdom of God shall be what its Lord would have it, there shall be no separating walls keeping Churches and communities apart; there will be nothing standing in the way of fullest and happiest communion; differences of opinion or of organization will not be sources of division and separation; and while fellowship will be uninterrupted, co-operation for common ends will be common and complete, - all will serve together.
IV. BEAUTY. The aspect presented by this vision is one of symmetry; the sanctuary of the Lord in the midst of it (ver. 10); the sacred city around the sanctuary; and the twelve tribes around the city. Here is the beauty of a symmetrical arrangement. The beauty of the Church will not, indeed, be of this visible, material order. That is quite out of the question. It must necessarily be moral, spiritual, if at all. And that it will be.
1. It will be fair with devotion - constant, systematic, and (withal) spontaneous devotion (see next homily).
2. It will be adorned with an admirable consistency of behavior, shunning the evil and pursuing the good which its Divine Master has either condemned or commended.
3. It will be beautiful with the spirit of a true catholicity, its members having a cordial regard and affection for one another, however they may differ in views and tastes.
4. It will be arrayed in the "beautiful garments" of sympathy and helpfulness. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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].