“‘And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There.’” (Ezekiel 48:35b)
The last few chapters in Ezekiel center on the construction of a new temple. Whether this refers to the temple of Zerubbabel, the temple that will be during the millennial reign, or the temple on the new earth is unclear, but the important thing is that God was renewing His covenant with His people through this temple. At the beginning of every covenant—those with Abraham, Moses, and now the returned exiles—God went through the list of His commandments, reminding His people who they were and how they were to live in light of their status as His chosen nation. But more important than this list of rules was the relationship that God was reestablishing.
In the early chapters of Ezekiel, God showed the prophet a vision of the old temple in Jerusalem. Within its walls, people were sacrificing to false gods and defiling the house of God with their actions. Finally, God had had enough, and His glory departed from the temple. No longer was He the God Who was there; He had left the house that had once been set apart for Him. The people had destroyed their relationship with God.
But it wouldn’t be that way forever. God was going to return and reestablish His relationship with the people of Israel. He revealed all this through His instructions to Ezekiel about the new temple and the new city, and He ended all those instructions with one powerful statement: “the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There.” No longer would Israel be the forsaken nation, the one lost in rebellion and disobedience. They would once again be the people of God, and He would live among them once more, never again to leave. It was a complete reversal of what they had been. Despite all they had done, despite their utter disregard for Him and His ways, God was going to restore them. For those in exile, this was a beautiful promise. Their God had not forgotten them, and when they returned to Him, He would gladly take them back.