10 January 2015Ezekiel 43:1-5
“The glory of the Lord filled the temple” (v. 5b)
Psalm: Psalm 103
The prophet Ezekiel lived as a Jewish exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC and communicated in word and deed - including through dramatic prophetic actions - the Word of God for that time. While much of his prophecy deals with the exile as God's judgement, echoing themes in his contemporary Jeremiah, a substantial part of his teaching also looks towards the future restoration of the people of God.
The passage today occurs in the context of chapters dealing with the future of Israel (chapters 40-48), as part of an extended description of a future temple (Isaiah 40:1 - 43:27). Earlier in Ezekiel we can read of the departure of the glory of the Lord from the temple (Ezekiel 10 - 11) in response to the sins of the people, but here the glory of God re-enters the temple.
The manifestation of the glory of God, coming from the east and making the sound of "mighty waters" (v. 2), causes the prophet to fall to the ground. In the presence of such glory, no other action is possible. The also experience recalls Ezekiel's vision "by the river Chebar" found at the beginning of the book (Ezekiel 1). As the glory fills the temple, the Spirit then lifts up Ezekiel and transports him into the inner court of the temple, where he sees further the glory of God (verse 5).
Ezekiel is a difficult and complex book, and the extended description of the new temple is perhaps hard to apply today. We might remember, however, that the New Testament depicts the Church as the temple of God and - astoundingly - as the place where the Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). The wonder that Ezekiel showed at the glory of God within the temple is perhaps a reminder of the holiness and glory of God in the midst of the Church, a glory that calls us to growth in holiness as followers of Christ.
- Have you ever had a dramatic experience of the "glory of God"? What happened?
- In what ways is it helpful to think of the Church as the 'temple of God' where God's Spirit dwells?