BEING ONE PEOPLE
Lord, grant unity in Your church worldwide.
Read EZEKIEL 37:15–28
One Nation Under One King
15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding,[a] and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
24 “‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”
a Ezekiel 37:23 Many Hebrew manuscripts (see also Septuagint); most Hebrew manuscripts all their dwelling places where they sinned
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“O God, you created us for love and by your love. For your love in caring for us, for your love in providing for us… thanks and praise” (David Adam, Walking in the Light, 36).
Ezekiel has just been shown a picture of God’s power to restore the nation fully and fill his people with his Spirit. Now Ezekiel shows the people once again through symbolic actions that the old divisions between Israel and Judah will one day cease. A new nation will encompass the remnants of both people in one land and under one shepherd king. The same longing for the healing of divisions between the two appears in other prophecies (Isa. 11:13; Jer. 3:18; Hos. 1:11). “Yahweh is not only the God of life; he is also the God of unity. If death can be reversed, so can division” (Christopher Wright, The Message of Ezekiel, 313). There was only one covenant people ever in God’s eyes. This is what he intends to restore, notwithstanding the alternative goal that the nations should know who God really is.
The Hebrew text, more strongly than contemporary translations, emphasizes oneness. The word for “one” (echad) occurs eleven times between verses 16 and 24, often translated as “another” or “together.” This is not about merely restoring their fortunes. Rather, here is a Messianic vision (24,25) demonstrating that God will create for himself one nation with his presence at its center, in a thriving covenant relationship with his people. In this setting their experience will be one of blessing in every area of life.
This emphasis upon the unity of God’s people has much to say to Christians today. Its fundamental importance is stressed by Jesus in his prayer for us and later underlined by Paul (John 17:20–23; Rom. 15:5,6; 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 4:3–6). There has been a tendency to prioritize structural unity, which has its place. However, what is of greater importance is the collective embrace of our common identity as children of God, intentionally regarding one another in ways that demonstrate to an observant world what God is really like.
Prayerfully consider how you could work with other Christians for the blessing of your village, town or city. See www.movementday.com and other countries’ Movement Day websites.
Lord, Your people await the day when Your very sanctuary will be placed in our midst forevermore, in Israel and in all the world.