Ezekiel 47:13, 14, 22, 23
Thus said the Lord GOD; This shall be the border, whereby you shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel…
To the Jews exiled in Chaldea restoration to Palestine seemed a lesser heaven. To regain their land, their ancestral estates, their temple, their priesthood, was the goal of present ambition, was a steppingstone to yet higher good. The prophetic pictures of Ezekiel were designed to tempt their thoughts to loftier soarings. A better thing than Canaan was in store for them, but as yet they could not appreciate it, therefore could not perceive it. So, by slow and patient steps, God leads us upward. We know but little as yet, realize little as yet, of our great inheritance. The soul is under bondage to the flesh. The eye is veiled with material things.
I. HEAVEN IS ASSIGNED AS THE INHERITANCE OF THE TRUE ISRAEL. It is an undoubted fact that the natural Israel is the type of the faithful in every land. It is a fact that the earthly Canaan is described in the New Testament as the type of the heavenly. "If we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." "We are come," says St. Paul, "to the heavenly Jerusalem." To the eye of the exiled John the architecture of the heavenly city was formed of materials borrowed from the earthly Jerusalem. Hence we still "seek a country, that is, a heavenly." It is provided for us by God; it is in course of preparation for our use. His house must be furnished with guests, and the guests are being prepared for the place. "The redeemed shall dwell there." "The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell among them." "He is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has provided for them a city."
II. THIS INHERITANCE GOD HAS SECURED BY OATH UNTO ALL THE HEIRS. The title-deed is signed and sealed. It is writ in lines of blood - the blood of Christ.
"Signed when our Redeemer died, Sealed when he was glorified." To all other guarantees God has added this, viz. his solemn oath. "Concerning the which I lifted up mine hand to give it." As men will accept transference of property and testimony in general, done under the sanction of an oath, when they would not accept it as final and unalterable without the oath, so God has condescended to our infirmities - condescends to act according to human customs. A single promise from him suffices; a single word is enough. When he created, a word was ample: "He spake, and it was done." He said, "Let light be and light was!" So, in securing to us the inheritance of heaven, a word from him is full security. His promise is as good as his performance. Yet he stoops to employ human methods and human expedients in order to quell our doubts and satisfy our faith. Not a loophole for doubt is left. As firmly established as Jehovah's throne is the gift: "Ye shall inherit it, one as well as another." 'Tis not a matter of purchase; it is his spontaneous gift. "I am Jehovah; therefore I change not."
III. THIS INHERITANCE COMPRISES DISTINCT REWARDS FOR FAITHFUL SERVICE. "Joseph shall have two portions." It would be a serious mistake to suppose that heaven contained equal measures of honor and of joy for all. In all likelihood there is greater diversity in eminence and in joy than on earth. From the lips of the unerring Judge the verdicts fall, "Be thou ruler over ten cities Be thou ruler over five cities." The place of honor on Christ's right hand shall be given to him "for whom it is prepared." In proportion to fidelity here shall be reward there. Even Jesus Christ himself tastes a richer joy as the result of his suffering. "For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross;" "Therefore cloth my Father love me, because I lay down my life for the sheep." For some there is in store "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
IV. THE HEAVENLY INHERITANCE HAS A PLACE FOR SPIRITUAL AFFINITIES. The favored occupants still dwell according to their tribes. In St. John's enumeration of the redeemed he reads the muster-roll of the tribes. Each tribe had its tale complete - it numbered twelve thousand. To the same effect Jesus affirmed, "In my Father's house are many mansions." The demarcations made by family and social lines on earth will be obliterated; but instead, new associations, new affinities, will appear. The denizens will be drawn closer together, or less close, according to spiritual tastes and proclivities. "He that doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." There will be emulation, and a measure of seemly rivalry, while envy and jealousy will be unknown.
V. THE HEAVENLY INHERITANCE WILL BE COMPREHENSIVE IN CITIZENSHIP. "Ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you... they shall be unto you as born in the country." The old spirit of exclusiveness shall cease. Earthly nationality is an accident, which possesses in itself no excellence. Concerning Greek, or Barbarian, or Hebrew, "God is no respecter of persons." In Christ Jesus "neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but simply a new creature." The distinction in God's kingdom is character. Demarcation is between the excellent and the vile. He who has in his breast the faith of Abraham will receive a welcome, while he who inherits only Abraham's blood will be excluded. No matter in what clime a man is born, no matter what the color of his skin, if he chooses God to be his God and Sovereign and Friend, he shall find a place among the citizens; he shall obtain a lot among one of the tribes. "Wherefore," saith God, "separate yourselves from the evil, and be ye clean, and I will receive you:! will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." The simple term of citizenship is a "new birth." "Except ye be converted, and become as a little child " - such is the condition to Jew and Gentile alike - "ye cannot enter the kingdom of God." "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." There is world-wide comprehensiveness, coupled with self-imposed exclusiveness. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD; This shall be the border, whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel: Joseph shall have two portions.