Ezekiel 47

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 8, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Water Flowing from the Temple
  • Division of the Land


The chapter opens with Ezekiel being brought back to the door of the temple and seeing that water was “issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east” (Ezek. 47:1). By its correlation with the book of Revelation, Ezek. 47–48 addresses the consummation of all human history. This is perhaps best seen in this river of life flowing from God’s temple to bring healing to the land (Ezek. 47:1–12). In Gen. 2:8–10 God provided a river that gave life to the land. When sin entered, the garden and its river were hidden or withdrawn, but when God concludes his redemptive program and brings full salvation to humankind with eternal life through Jesus Christ, the river of eternal life will again flow to provide healing for the earth.

Ezek. 47:3-6a is the measuring of the water. Ezekiel is led to measure the depth of the water by increments of 1000 cubits. At each measurement, the depth increased exponentially: 1) ankle deep, 2) knee deep, 3) waist deep and finally 4) too deep to pass through.

In Ezek. 47:6b-12, Ezekiel is led back to the bank of the river and sees many trees on its sides. The river is described to Ezekiel as a freshwater source, flowing in to the sea (the Dead Sea) and making it fresh (Ezek. 47:8). The high concentration of salt in the Dead Sea prevents all life. This incoming river will restore the water’s ability to sustain plant and animal life. The banks of the river will be plentiful with “all kinds of trees for food” whose leaves “will not wither, nor their fruit” but “bear fresh fruit every month”. This will be “because the water for them flows from the sanctuary” (Ezek. 47:12). The trees resemble those in Eden that remain green and supply a constant source of food (Gen. 2:15-17). Their fruit will be for food but their leaves will be for healing (ref. Zech. 13:1; Rev. 22:1-2)

The final section of the chapter (Ezek. 47:13-23), shifts focus to the division of the land for inheritance. Boundary descriptions begin with the north side then proceed to east, south and west sides. The land is to be divided among both the Israelite tribes and the sojourners that reside among them. Sojourners (aliens in the CSB) will be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. No matter which tribe the resident alien lives in, that will be his inheritance. While God had always instructed the Israelites to care for resident aliens (Lev. 19:33–34; Lev. 24:22; Num. 15:29), they will have even greater status in the coming age (Isaiah 56:3–8). The distinctions between resident aliens and Israelites will be eliminated.


Ezekiel is shown a river that was flowing out of the threshold of the temple toward the east. Wherever it went, there was thriving plant life with “fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary” (Ezek. 47:12). The land was also to be divided among the tribes of Israel for their inheritance. Not to be excluded were the sojourners who were to share in the inheritance wherever they reside.

A couple big things caught my eye today. First was the river and the abundance of life it provided. The source of the river was the sanctuary, God’s dwelling place among His people, and thus all life can be traced to this source. Wherever the river goes, freshness and life can be found (Ezek. 47:9). The trees closest to the river enjoyed the greatest intensity of life-sustaining nourishment. What a picture of our need to draw close to the Lord!

The other helpful concept conveyed in this chapter is the idea that sojourners will share in the inheritance. The Israelites were God’s chosen people, a nation He selected to represent His grace and provision. But this exclusivity was never meant to be permanent. There would come a day where all would have an opportunity to repent of sin, turn toward Him in faith and obtain their seat at the right hand of God. For “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

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