Fishermen Will Stand

by LA UBF   11/16/2008     0 reads



  Fishermen Will Stand

[The Biblical Paradigm for Revival]

Ezekiel 40:1-47:23

Key Verse 47:10

Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. 

This passage teaches us the divine paradigm (or principles) for spiritual revivals. The Israelites were in a period of spiritual decline, but through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord revealed to them a vision for great revivals which are still continuing among nations. We can apply the same principles to our ministry in the years to come for a great revival to arise. 

First, a floor plan of the temple (41:1-42:20; 43:10-11)

In Chapters 40-42 the Lord sent a servant to show a floor plan of the temple. In this passage the word “temple” or "measured" is repeated throughout. This repetition indicates that God is the God of planning and purpose. He does not do anything at random. In order to get something done he first establishes a purpose. Then he comes up with a plan that fits the purpose. 

What is the purpose? In Exodus 19:1-6 God expressed his purpose, that is, to establish the Israelites as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. At first glance it looked as though the Lord changed his mind, for by the time Ezekiel spoke a significant number of Jewish people had been deported to Babylon as captives, and the Jerusalem temple was about to be destroyed. But God does not change his purpose. He still desires to use his people. 

God’s people had abandoned his purpose. The Lord God now plans a revival through his people. What is God’s plan of revival? God’s plan is to show the Israelites the Lord’s temple. He describes for them the laws, rules, and regulations of the temple. The Lord commanded Ezekiel to tell everything he saw (on the house) (40:4), so that by seeing what Ezekiel had been shown the people would be ashamed of their sins, come back to their senses, and serve God’s purpose again. Look at Ezekiel 43:10-11. “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.”

The temple described in Chapters 40 and 42 represent a shadow of the reality to come, that is, Jesus Christ. About two thousand years ago Jesus came to the land of Israel. During his public ministry he declared that he himself is the temple. As a living temple, Jesus led a great revival. Some revival movements come with lots of noise but no tangible fruit. But Jesus was different. By the time he finished his ministry, Jesus produced tangible fruit, that is, disciples numbering about 120. One of the 120 disciples was the Apostle Peter who in turn inspired many to repent and turn to God. 

After rising from the dead Jesus made another disciple named Paul. His old name was Saul. Saul means “a great man.” But after he met the risen Jesus he changed his name from Saul to Paul which means “a small servant.” The Apostle Paul led great revivals among the Gentiles. How could Paul bear so much fruit? He too followed the same plan, that is, Jesus the living temple. Speaking of the secret of revival, Paul said to his disciples, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

So the first thing we need to do for a great revival is to take a look at God’s plan, that is, Jesus Christ, for included in the life of Jesus are the specs, designs, floor plans, and all other details of the laws, rules, and regulations for revival after revival. In fact, Jesus is the source of revival without a limit. So I would encourage everyone to write a testimony on the passage. The food for thought in writing the testimony is to compare my life and your life with that of Jesus and find repentance topics. Remember what the Lord says to Ezekiel: “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan.If you compare yourself with your neighbor or Christians attending other church organizations you might find reasons to feel good about yourself. But if you compare your life with Jesus the true specimen for our reformation and revival, you will find a lot to be ashamed of. So let us consider Jesus “the plan,” so that we may be “faithful to its design” and follow his example. 

Second, his voice was like the roar of rushing waters (43:1-6).

Let us read 43:1-6. This passage begins with the glory of the Lord filling the temple. This glory is the essence of God’s being manifested in the Holy Spirit. God’s glory came with a voice which was like the roar of rushing waters—then the land was radiant with his glory. Ezekiel heard someone speaking to him from inside the temple. The "roar" refers to the greatness of the strength, power, and force generated from the power source. “Rushing waters” are symbolic of the manifold power of the word of God in motion. This indicates that we need to proclaim the word of God in such a way that it would be like a roar from above. 

In the Garden of Eden Adam neglected having personal Bible study with the Lord. He also neglected teaching the Bible to Eve. Using this loop hole the serpent visited the woman when she was by herself. Then in a private session the serpent tempted the woman to eat the forbidden fruit. So we must begin 1:1 Bible studies in each family and fellowship. 

From Genesis 12 and on we see God serving the work of redemption beginning with one person Abraham. Knowing the importance of one person God gave Abraham 1:1 Bible studies for 25 long years. In the day of Abraham there lived a vast number of people on earth. But instead of relying on mass evangelism he focused on helping one person—and he did it for more than two decades. 

When Jesus came he began his messianic ministry relying mostly on 1:1 relationships. The four gospels present plenty of examples of how the Lord saved souls and made disciples out of them through personal Bible studies. It was through the personal Bible study that Nicodemus became Jesus’ disciple. A Samaritan woman solved her thirst problem through a personal Bible study with Jesus. Simon Peter met Jesus as the Savior when he personally accepted Jesus’ word and obeyed it. Jesus also called John, James, and Andrew in person. Jesus personally visited Levi’s office and invited him to fellowship with him. 

Talk to your neighbor in this room. Ask him how he was brought to Jesus. I can tell you for certain that he or she would certainly say something about God sending someone to lead him or her to Jesus Christ. And it is through accepting some of the word of God that you have become what you are now. Let each of us resolve to be a powerful Bible teacher, as powerful as our Lord Jesus, so that each time we speak the word proclaimed would be like the roar of rushing waters.

In his lecture “Evangelizing the Greeks,” Dr. Scott Lively said that we must make Jews out of Greeks, Christians out of Jews, and Disciples out of Christians. Greeks do not believe in the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. In order to teach them the God of Creation we must teach them the book of Genesis.  Jews believed in the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. But they do not believe in Jesus as the Lord and Savior. So we need to teach them other books of the Bible, such as the four gospels. Not all Christians are disciples. In fact, most of them are merely “Sunday” Christians. So we need to teach them to obey Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations. 

Third, the place of my throne (43:6-9). 

After showing his temple the Lord God told Ezekiel that the temple is the place of the Lord’s throne and the place for the soles of his feet (7). These expressions show us that each of us, as living temples, represent the living chariot, the vessel which carries the glory of the Lord. The expression “soles of his feet” is analogous of each of us being God’s point of contact in this world. God does not have a body like we do. He does not have feet or soles. Yet he used this expression to demonstrate that  just as the soles of our feet touch the earth, the Lord God uses us as his own contact points to reach this world. Just as we move around with our feet, so God uses us as his vehicles in which he himself can move around and come in contact with the people of this world. 

In verses 8-9 the Lord God mentions about the enemies of revival: prostitution, lifeless idols, and detestable practices. Look at verses 6-9. “While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple.  He said: ‘Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places. When they placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by their detestable practices. So I destroyed them in my anger. Now let them put away from me their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings, and I will live among them forever.’”

Prostitution is based on the fact that all believers are in a marriage relationship with God. If you are married to someone, and if your love and loyalty goes to someone else, you are acting like a prostitute. Likewise, we are in a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ. If our love and loyalty goes to someone else, we are acting like a prostitute. Lifeless idols refer to all that do not give life to men. We glibly think that since money can buy things like groceries, money gives life to man. But it does not. It is God who sustains the planet earth, sun, and all others so our life would prosper. So it is God who gives life to man. The same is true with man. Because an employer gives an employee a paycheck it is so easy to think that it is the employer who supports the employee. But this is not true. Actually, it is the Lord God who feeds men. Thus our loyalty should not be divided between God and money or God and visible men. We must set the priority straight. God’s children are called to first serve God. Our loyalty must first go to Jesus Christ our Savior. Who are you serving? Yourself, your wife, your children, your career, your business, or Jesus Christ? Detestable practices are what prostitutes and idol worshipers do, such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, all of which come from materialism and humanistic egotism.  

The Lord says that prostitution, idol worship, and detestable practices defile God’s holy name. One of the meanings of the word “defile” is to make an instrument dull or ineffective. God’s name is holy. One of the meanings of the word “holy” is “set apart” or “different from.” In what respect is God different? He is different in this: “total freedom” or “true independence.” No one can say, “I am independent,” or, “I am free.” In order for one to be truly independent he should not depend on anyone or anything for the continuation of his being. But God is different. Since God created everything and sustains everything, all are dependent on God. But God himself is not dependent on anyone but himself. It is in this sense that his name is described as “holy.” 

Now, prostitution, lifeless idols, and detestable practices defile God’s holy name. The word “name” stands for his integrity as God, especially his “infinite power.” His love, his life, and his light are all infinitely great. So defiling his holy name means abridging, disrupting, or causing God’s name to become less effective than it is meant to be. Prostitution, lifeless idols, and detestable practices stand in the way of God’s power working in our lives. In order for us to experience a revival we need to purge ourselves of prostitution, lifeless idols and stop all sorts of detestable practices, particularly, laziness, egotism, materialism, and all other sorts of idol worship. When we cleanse ourselves of prostitution, dependence on lifeless idols, and stop detestable practices, we can then see God working powerfully, generating a great revival within us. 

Fourth, the altar (43:13-27).

In 43:13-27 the prophet Ezekiel describes the design and purpose of the altar.  The altar comes with three ledges. In connection with the altar the following terms are noteworthy: 1) hearth; 2) a young bull; 3) a male goat; 4) burnt offerings; 5) sin offering; 6) fellowship offering; 7) purify (or cleanse); and 8) (four) horns.

The three ledges indicate the three levels through which we need to rise and arrive at God's level. This alludes to the call for us to overcome our fleshly desires and get our souls and spirits thoroughly sanctified. The hearth denotes God’s judgment on sin, for sin reduces man's life to a handful of ash. It is symbolic of what awaits all sinners at the end of their life in the body. 

The young bull points to the nature of sin, that is, its bullishness. Sin is bullish. Sin plays a bully on a sinner and in turn causes a sinner to become bullish to others. The male goat shows us another characteristic of sin: like a goat sin makes man obstinate and disobedient. 

These offerings are called burnt offerings, sin offerings, and fellowship offerings. These descriptions teach us the consequences of and remedies for sin. The Lord showed them to Ezekiel to send the message that without solving the problem of sin, no one is allowed to have fellowship with God. Without the fellowship with God becoming constant in his life, no one can expect a spiritual revival to arise. 

The design and purpose of the altar shows us that true repentance resulting in full dedication to God’s purpose is the key to a revival. No wonder that the Apostle Peter said, in his first sermon in Jerusalem, “Repent and turn to God, so that your sins might be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). [The four horns at the top ledge of the altar symbolize the power of revival.] 

Practically repenting and turning to God means dying to oneself and living for God’s purpose. Let us then examine ourselves before God. Let us put ourselves in the position of an animal being ready to be sacrificed on the altar. Ultimately, these animal sacrifices point to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who shed his blood on the altar of God (i.e., the cross on the Mt. Calvary). So let us put ourselves in the shoes of Jesus on the Mt. of Gethsemane. At that time he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Yet through prayer, Jesus withdrew the strength necessary to obey God’s will. He decided to take up the cross. He decided to die for the mission. 

Fifth, the sanctity of the priesthood (44-46)

Chapters 44-46 set forth the rules and regulations: 1) to keep the world "out" of the Lord's sanctuary (44:1-9; 46:1,2, 12); 2) to secure the sanctity of the priesthood (44:10-27); 3) to help the priests better serve their priestly duties (44:28-45:6); 4) for the princes to serve people in kindness and with justice (45:7-12); and 5) for the offerings and holy days (46). 

While the altar refers to the need for our dedication to God, the rules and regulations described in Chapters 44-46 talk about the need to prevent the world from breaking into our inner being, the sanctuary of the living temple. The altar describes what we need to do positively toward God, but the following three chapters talk about what we need to do negatively against the world. We need to secure the sanctity of the priesthood on both accounts. For no matter how much we have strived to dedicate ourselves to God, if we continue to allow the world to break into our lives, our efforts to dedicate ourselves to God will eventually come to nothing. 

Let us think about this point in detail by first reading 44:1-9 responsively. Let us also read 46:1,2, and 12. The main point of these rules is to keep the inside of a Christian holy, so that worldly influence would not seep through. Other rules to keep the sanctity of the priesthood include: 1) Levites who went too far away from the Lord and compromised with the world are not allowed to come close to the Lord but serve the Lord by doing chores at the Lord's temple, such as cutting wood and working as security guards; 2) the priests who proved their faithfulness in serving the Lord alone were allowed to come close to the Lord; 3) the priests were to remember the holy privilege of serving the Lord and standing close to the Lord (priestly garments such as linen clothes rather than woolen garments are symbolic of the holiness of the privilege); 4) the priests were to keep the marriage bed pure, by not being allowed to marry widows or divorced women for obvious reasons; 5) the priests were not allowed to come close to the dead to remind them of the nature of the ministry, that is, serving the Living God who is the source of life (remember that death is the result of sin). They were to live out of offerings. They were to live close to the temple area so that they would always be made available at the Lord's temple on an on call basis 24/7. 

Princes are leaders accorded with privileges such as political authority. Naturally, they are tempted to abuse their power and authority. So the Lord reminded them of the law of God, that is, the need to rule with kindness and justice (meaning without showing favoritism). Offerings and festivals have to do with holy living for the general populace, so that all Israel would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, celebrating the freedom to serve the Lord as a kingdom of priests and holy nation (1Pe 2:9).

Overall the rules of priests, Levites, princes, and regular citizens all go to one point, that is, all of us must work together to protect and uphold the sanctity of the royal priesthood. Revival must be a collective experience achieved through collective efforts, upholding the sanctity of the royal priesthood.  It must take place in every corner and sector of our lives – at home, at school, inside of the church, outside of the church, in my fellowship, and in your fellowship, among parents and children, shepherds and missionaries. 

Sixth, do you see this? (47:1-10) 

Verses 47:1-6a describe water flowing from underneath the altar. This indicates that God pours his Spirit to those who accept his sin-forgiveness through the name of Jesus Christ. Then the man showed Ezekiel: 1) the water (or the river) flowing [from the Lord's temple towards outside of it]; 2) the greater the distance [from the temple] the greater the volumes of the water became; 3) the water rising to different levels: a) ankle deep; b) knee deep; c) waste deep; d) [so deep that Ezekiel] could not cross; and  e) [it became] deep enough to swim in. 

The man then stopped for a moment, and then asked Ezekiel, Son of man, do you see this? Then he took Ezekiel to a river bank and showed him a panoramic view of riparian beauty. Let us open the Bible and read Ezekiel 47:6b-10. The Lord asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, do you see this?” in order to prompt him to consider the spiritual meanings of the scene. So what do they mean? As I mentioned earlier, the water stands for the Spirit of God; the water getting deeper denotes that the greater the physical distance from the Lord's sanctuary, the greater its impact must become (which is indicative of the flow of the Spirit rushing to the four corners of the world, reaching from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth without losing its power or force). The water rising onto to the different levels until one could no longer wade through by regular means indicates that God's servants must completely surrender himself to the Spirit of God to fully experience the full power of the Spirit’s working. This is like a man needing to let his body float on the water in order for him to swim through it without getting exhausted. 

Ezekiel 47:6b-10 shows us that the water has a special function, that is, making the bodies of water (such as a river or the Great Sea) “fresh” (or “sweet”), so that the rivers and seas would teem with [large numbers of] fish of "many kinds." Wherever the river flows, the areas turn into fishing spots where fishermen stand, spread their nets and catch a large number of fish. 

Functionally, the river of water symbolically stands for God's word which is the sword of the Spirit of God. The word, which is God-breathed, comes with life-transforming power, able to turn a wash-water-like person into a choice-wine-like person. This envisions the glorious day of the gospel being preached through the work of the Spirit of God, so that many would listen to the gospel, be changed, and turn to the Lord. The “Fishermen” denote those who go out, spread the gospel, and make disciples out of those whom God sends. Notice that God is like Jesus who asked Peter to go into deep water and let down his nets for a catch. As Jesus saw Peter’s obedience, he let fish jump into the nets. But ultimately it is Peter who must let down the nets. This is why the Lord says fishermen will stand along the shore spreading their nets. The “Places” for spreading nets refer to the places where God's Spirit works powerfully. They can be any church congregations, campus fellowships, or nations of the world.  

Ezekiel 47:11-13 adds a remark: that is, unlike the places where the river of water flows into, "the swamps" and "marshes" will "not" become fresh. Swamps are characterized by very slow moving waters. This indicates that God's Spirit works but not as powerfully as it should. The reason is because the area is crowded with stuff that blocks the free flow of the water coming from the river. Marshes are worse. The water level is very shallow and the place is crowded with plants, grass, and reeds. It is difficult to catch fish there. The swamps and marshes refer to those who are spiritually sluggish. They are spiritually sluggish for their relationship with the Lord is not as close as it should be. Their minds are on something else, like making money or building their kingdom in this world. They are largely blind spiritually, for the desires of this world and the desires of their flesh make them to be like a puppy dog. They will be left with salt. 

Look at verse 12. “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” This is the end picture of a spiritual revival to follow. It represents the life-saving and life-giving work becoming prosperous among those who follow the divine paradigm of revival. 

“Son of man, do you see this?” This question calls us to have the “vision of revival”, the vision of fishermen standing in great numbers, fishing a great number of fish!

In conclusion, in one of the darkest moment of Israel’s history the Lord gave his people the vision of spiritual revival, so that the captive Israel would not despair, but repent, turn to God and serve the Lord with the great vision of great revival. In many ways the condition of this nation is as depressing as the day of Ezekiel. But let us not lose hope. Rather let us give thanks to God for giving us the hope of great revival. May the Lord bless us to see a great revival arise in and through us.


One word: fishermen will stand

 Class Exercise


1. Fill the blanks: 1) The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the _________.

2) The Lord preferred to call Ezekiel "son of _____". 

2. Skim through the book of Ezekiel and find the places where the expression "[then] they (or you) will know that I am the Lord" is repeated. What does the repetition indicate about the purpose of the Book?

3. Compare Ezekiel 1:1 with the last verse of the book (Ezekiel 48:35). What do the two verses have in common? ___________________________________________________

4. Ezekiel was told to lie down on his left for _______ days because:

_______________________________________________________________________; he was also told to lie down on his right side for _______ days because:  __________________________

During the ___________ days Ezekiel was told to bake a barley cake for food in the sight of the people using ____________ for fuel.

5. In one evening the Lord took away Ezekiel's wife, and yet asked him not to mourn for her. Why? _________________________

6. Fill the blanks: 1) "Oholah" refers to ___________; 2) "Oholibah" stands for ___________; 3) Oholah and Oholibah became prostitutes in ________

7. Judah's stick and Ephraim’s stick gathered together denotes one ______ under one ______.

8. They [the people of Judah] say, "Our bones are ________ and our hope is _____; we are ______." Therefore the Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy and say to them: ______________________.

9. What do the following have in common?: Gog, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah, Sheba and Dedan. ______________________ 

The end


 Refer to the diagram on the last page for the plan presented in this passage.