The New City
Open Your Bible
Ezekiel 48:1-35, Zechariah 2:10, Revelation 21:3, Revelation 21:10-22
I’m from a small town in Indiana where cornfields and railroad tracks are the distinguishing features. I’ve lived in a few, much bigger places since then, but one thing I’ve learned for certain: I’m not a big city girl. I prefer wide-open spaces over skyscrapers, trees to block the sun rather than buildings, and don’t even get me started about my love for cows over crowded city streets. It’s the familiarity that draws me in. I feel at home in the suburbs, and even more so in the country, the very places I’ve spent a lifetime growing accustomed to.
As we draw to a close after six full, rich weeks of Ezekiel, we reach what many consider to be the climax: the new city. In this final chapter, Ezekiel describes God’s promise for His people’s return to the restored land, the very place they had been exiled from. Alongside Ezekiel, Revelation 21 details John’s strikingly similar vision—a fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy made over 500 years before.
Whereas Ezekiel’s vision centers on the use of the city, John’s pays careful attention to the makeup and architecture. The details, though they are enough to stop us in our tracks, are not the climax of these visions. In Ezekiel’s, the central location and focus of the city is the temple—the center of worship, the place of God’s presence. Yet as John, a Jewish man familiar with the temple’s importance, looked for the temple in his vision, he couldn’t find it—because “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Revelation 21:22). The temple has been replaced—God’s presence has overtaken the city.
Whether it’s crowded city streets or a calm countryside, it’s easy to feel at home in what’s familiar. While it will appear more brilliant and unique than anything we have experienced, this new city won’t be entirely new to us. More important than all its stunning features, this city will be the home we were always intended for—the very presence of God.
“The name of the city from that day on will be The LORD Is There.” —Ezekiel 48:35
For the exiles who had witnessed the departure of God’s presence (Ezekiel 10–11), the hope of this new city brought the security of His presence forever. As a people living in between Jesus’s first and second coming, it can be easy to read this prophecy assuming its hope doesn’t translate. After all, we still live in the broken cities of this world. It’s here, in the in-between, that we get to join John in looking to the very city in his vision. This Lenten season, because of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, we can cling to the hope that we will one day be home forever. This is the hope secured in Christ that we will read about this Holy Week.
The book of Ezekiel has reminded me that what’s most important is not whether God’s eternal kingdom looks more like a bustling city or a quiet countryside; what I desire is the presence of God—that’s where we were meant to feel at home.