“‘And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD is There.’” (Ezekiel 48:35b)
After a multitude of prophecies concerning Israel’s imminent punishment, the foretold consequences for their sin occurred. The city of Jerusalem was attacked by the Babylonians, and after a lengthy siege, the enemy conquered Judah and led most of its people into captivity. For seventy years, the people of Israel were doomed to a life of exile in Babylon, mourning over their lost home… and over their lost relationship with God. Suddenly, everything the prophets had told them made sense. They had indeed sinned against God, and they were now reaping the fruits of their actions. In desperation and repentance, they finally cried out to God for mercy, begging Him to end their exile.
And God heard them. In that time, Ezekiel’s messages to the people changed, going from warnings to encouragement. This exile would not last forever, he promised. In due time, they would return home, once again a people in whom God delighted. If they claimed Him as their God, then He would take them back as His people. Looking even further into the future, God promised that one day, He would dwell among His people. He gave Ezekiel plans for a temple and a great city, the name of which will be “The LORD is There.”
After all the Israelites had put themselves through, after all their rebellion and utter disrespect for God’s laws, God was still eager to live among them. Even today, He is eager to dwell with us. He created us all to be in fellowship with Him, and His desire is that everyone will come to know Him. He wants to live among us, and we have no greater purpose than to worship and honor Him. One day, we will live with Him in that city that bears His name, and we will never be separated from Him again. He will be there—and that will be all that we need.