The final movement of thought and the close of the vision are the first rays of hope in the ominous prophecies of Ezekiel. It is primarily a word of comfort to the prophet: the word of Jehovah came unto me. Even before the final destruction of the city, and before more complete prophecies of the restoration were disclosed to the prophet (Ezek. 33–48), God showed him the secret of the future.
Verse 15, addressed to Ezekiel as Son of man, may be paraphrased, “Thy true brethren (emphatic repetition) are the men with whom you are associated, even all the house of Israel unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said.…” The remnant with whom God was going to deal was the group of exiles already in Babylon. They were the good figs mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer. 24). Although they were despised by those who dwelt in Jerusalem, God had future plans for their restoration and blessing.
Verses 16–20 set forth three divine promises to the true brethren of the prophet. Verse 16 depicts what God will be: yet will I be to them a sanctuary. Although He had forsaken the temple in Jerusalem, He will be a personal temple in the land of exile. For a little while implies that the days of exile will be brief. Verse 17 tells what God will do: I will gather you … and I will give you the land of Israel. The promise of restoration is clear. Those in Jerusalem had said, “The land is ours” (v. 15), but God’s plan was different; the land will belong to those of the exile, the spiritual remnant who will return and take away all the detestable things thereof. After the exile the remnant was cured of polytheistic idolatry. They worshiped Jehovah alone. Verse 18 promises what God will give: And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. The gift of grace will make them new creatures. In this message of hope, God points to the near and the distant future. He will be a sanctuary in Babylon; in the restoration of 536 b.c., He will gather the exiles in the land; in the coming of Jesus He will lay the basis for a new heart and a new spirit.
In the provisions of the New Covenant God will put in the new spirit and take out the stony heart (Jer. 32:38). Moral renewal comes through the expulsive power of a new affection. Sanctification is both positive and negative. God gives a new affection as he takes out self-love: I will put … within … I will take … out. When God renews the inner recesses of the soul, man will be enabled to walk in the divine way and will be privileged to enjoy the divine fellowship. Maturity grows out of purity. Promised by the prophets and established in Jesus Christ, the Wesleyan message of heart purity is rooted in the New Covenant.
Verse 21 suggests that some will not partake of the divine blessings. The choice belongs to man. A rebellious heart clinging to the idols of self and sin will reap the reward of its way. Ezekiel was keenly aware of the great truth of personal responsibility.
The closing paragraph (vv. 22–25) brings the vision to a close and records the prophet’s transportation back to Tel-abib.
Seated in the heavenly chariot, the divine presence left the city and for a while stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city, the Mount of Olives. The scene represents the last lingering look at Jerusalem; from this time on God was to be wherever His people were found. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). Jerusalem would soon be gone, but God would always remain.
Verse 24 is a fitting conclusion to the vision that began in 8:1–4. Ezekiel had been transported to future times and saw actions and symbols of what was going to take place. It is natural that he would relate these things to those of the captivity. The elders came to him for counsel, Ezekiel gave them God’s message.
Hall, B. H. (1969). The Book of Ezekiel. In Isaiah-Malachi (Vol. 3, pp. 396–397). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.