By Benjamin H. Liles
Tonight, as it's still Christmas in America I feel as though God desires me to do something a bit different in studying Ezekiel. But before I do I want to show and share why God desires a temple among us, His people, not just with Israel (the apple of His eye), with all people of the earth. He doesn't want to simply dwell with us, not just to some or even with others but you, He wants to be with us--to be ever near us. Here it is in this simplest form on this issue: "He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ" (Ephesians 1:9, Berean Study).
Before I dive into this it stands that as we've traveled the road of Ezekiel, keeping in mind God's holiness has a place in and with us, that He wants us turned toward Him. He tells us, "Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31, Holman Christian Standard).
God shows us even in Genesis, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:26-27, Berean Study). And then we see here, "From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:15, American King James).
In other words, God has desired to be among His people, Israel and the world. "'For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,' says the LORD of Hosts" (Malachi 1:11, Holman Christian Standard).
With that said we dive into this forty-third chapter of Ezekiel. When we're told by Ezekiel, "Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw—like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. And the glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east" (Ezekiel 43:1-4, New King James).
Considering all the information that God dispossessed His presence of Israel to foreign nations since they served idols over Him, this is a stark contrast showing His desire is to be back with His people. Why would He do this? (read Ezekiel 43:7-9). Does it stand to reason why God wants to be next to them even though they sinned grievously against them? (Ezekiel 43:8). What does God ask and require them to do? (Ezekiel 43:9).
God has a pattern in place for all of us and not just for Israel. He is to be our standard, our banner--Jehovah Nissi--by which we measure ourselves to Him. As we have seen with Moses when God encountered Him after having come from Egypt He says to Moses, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exodus 3:5-6, New King James).
Why does God want Ezekiel to tell Israel about the description of the temple? (Ezekiel 43:10). What is the house of Israel to do once they acknowledge their shame for what they have done to their Lord? (Ezekiel 43:11). How ought we all be before the Lord of Hosts in terms of His holy ground, His standard? (Ezekiel 43:12).
Later on in the New Testament, after Jesus Christ has been crucified, buried and resurrected we're told that God wanted a better and new covenant with all His people, not simply Israel, but all nations, tribes and tongues. We read, "This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My Laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds" (Hebrews 10:!6, Berean Study).
We're given a description of the measurement and how the alter is laid out and facing. What can we gather from Ezekiel 43:13-17? Does it stand to reason we ought to see how we have fallen short of His holiness, His laws, His beauty and love? It seems that God is telling us the description of the altar so we can make an acceptable sacrifice before Him. Ezekiel 43:18-27 shows us God has a divine purpose in store for this re-dedication of the altar.
I find this part of the chapter both interesting to read and a little hard to understand. One on hand we have this command by God to make an acceptable sacrifice, to as God puts it, "take the bull of the sin offering, and burn it in the appointed place of the temple, outside the sanctuary" (Ezekiel 43:21). What are all of us called to do to satisfy the commands of God? (Ezekiel 43:18-19). After this as His people, His children we are called to "cleanse it and make atonement for it," why do we do this? (Ezekiel 43:27).
When I look at scripture on the whole I see how Jesus Christ is as one of the apostles said, "Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2, King James 2000). Paul even said, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21, New American Standard). I, therefore, come to the conclusion that the temple the Lord God desires to reside in isn't just the future temple which will be made new, but is also in our hearts. I truly hope and pray this part of this Bible Study on Ezekiel shows how much God truly loves each and every one of you. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.