Chapter 25-31 (ESV) - I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.
Question to consider: What is this covenant of peace declared by the Lord to Ezekiel?
I consider the book of Hebrews to be the Rosetta Stone of the Old Testament, for through it you can better understand the covenant and land promises in passages like this one. The “covenant of peace” declared by the Lord to Ezekiel in today’s passage is the same as the one the Lord declared to Jeremiah, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 31:31)
This covenant is the one Jesus inaugurated at the Last Supper and ratified in His blood, and it is why we call the books of the Bible from Matthew to Revelation the New Testament. Testament is just a word that describes a covenant which goes into effect upon the death of the one who established it. This covenant went into effect for the house of Israel and the house of Judah at Pentecost, and after the stoning of Stephen in Acts, it was extended to the Samaritans and Gentiles who were grafted into the line of Israel through Christ. People try to refer to this as “replacement theology”, but Israel was not replaced. We just became part of the family. The writer of Hebrews spent the whole book proving that this new covenant in Christ is better than the old covenant given to Moses and that to go back to the old covenant sacrifices was tantamount to crucifying Jesus all over again. There is no other covenant that needs to be established because this one in which Christ is the mediator is unbreakable and everlasting.
I often appeal to Hebrews 12:18-22 which contrasts the physical mountain of Moses with that of the heavenly Mount Zion in the New Jerusalem in which we approach King Jesus today. I do this because it is one of the clearest passages in scripture that describes the reality of “the places all around my hill” mentioned above.
When the Lord wrote that He would break the bars of their yoke, He was referring to the yoke of the Law. It was common for rabbis to refer to the Law as a yoke because it kept people walking in step with each other along the path to God like a yoke kept oxen in step to plow a straight line. However, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he called the Law a yoke of slavery (from Galatians 5:1) because it enslaved us to sin and had no means of giving us life. Christ broke this yoke by fulfilling the Law and giving us freedom from it by clothing us in His righteousness. This is why Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Dear heavenly father, please open our eyes to Your word that we may understand Your promises in light of their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. Help us to be a beacon of hope to those who haven’t recognized their Messiah and proclaim Your grace to all who call upon the name of the Lord. Amen.