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…
In the allotment of the land to the tribes, and the construction and naming of the city with which this closing vision is taken up, there may be several local and temporary significations. It may be that, as in some other of the visions, there is first of all reference to the rapidly-nearing national and religious restoration of the Jews under the leadership of Zerubbabel, and Ezra, and Nehemiah. But the spirit-stirring events that are associated with the names of these patient heroes, while they fulfil very much that Ezekiel foresaw, could not have exhausted the meaning of these predictions. For such a city was never built, the blessedness here described was never perfectly enjoyed by the Jews at any time after their captivity. There may be a further literal fulfilment of the prophecy in the connection of the incarnate Christ with Jerusalem. When Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms in the temple, when the sacred Boy of twelve inquired in that temple, — indeed, in every incident of His life and death connected with Jerusalem, — we have a revelation of what is meant by "Jehovah-shammah." But that was not perpetual. That city knew not the day of its visitation, and Jehovah Himself was as a wayfaring man and stranger to it. Others find further fulfilment of the prophecy in some future restoration of Israel. Without again noting the difficulties that seem to stand in the way of the literal interpretation of this, as of the earlier visions, we simply and gladly insist that, if there be such national restoration, the glory and blessedness of the people of its city will be in a special manifestation and abiding consciousness of the presence of God.
I. CHRISTLY MEN HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE IN THE CHURCH. Any Church that may not truly be called by that name, "Jehovah-shammah," that has not in its worship, and its activities, its social fellowships and philanthropic labours, God's manifested presence, is no Church at all. An ecclesiastical society, it may be, a kindly club, a political institution; but a Church it is not. To the Church belongs by special, inalienable right, this name, "Jehovah-shammah," for the Saviour has promised, "Lo, I am with you all days, even unto the end of the world."
II. CHRISTLY MEN HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE IN THE AGE. They see this name inscribed
1. On human affairs generally. In all the movements of the time towards liberty and light, in all that tends to lessen human woe and to increase human joy; in a word, in all that is true in art, science, exploration, civilisation, as well as in what is termed religion, God is felt to be moving. There is to the Christly man a keen interest and deep sacredness, for "the Lord is there."
2. In all that concerns individual life. "All things work together for good."
III. CHRISTLY MEN HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE IN NATURE. Every reader of the Prophets and of the Psalms has often felt that to the ear of Hebrew piety, nature was eloquent with the voice of God. Even Greek thought, as it peopled the groves and streams and mountains with divinities, was evidently groping after "the unknown God," whose power upholds all, whose character is revealed in all, whose presence fills all, for "in Him we live and move and have our being." To the Christly man who dwells much and earnestly on Christ's teaching, who inbreathes Christ's spirit, who imitates, however humbly, Christ's life, the world, not only in its stars, in the skies that span it, or in its seas that roll around it, but in its sparrows and its lilies and its common grass, tells of God. To such a man "every common bush is on fire with God."
IV. CHRISTLY MEN WILL HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE PERFECTLY IN HEAVEN. In heaven, consciousness of the devil will be known no more; the consciousness of others, that through their sin and sorrow and our weakness is often overpoweringly oppressive, will have given way to a happy and strong brotherhood; and consciousness of self, which is born of sin, and is the darkest and most inseparable shadow of Our selfishness, will be known no more. God dwells there in an effulgence of love from which none shrink. Christ is the centre of the city, and is so seen that in seeing Him all become like Him.
(U. R. Thomas.)
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].