From Tent to Temple - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 4 - THE TEMPLE OF EZEKIEL'S VISION
The Temple that Ezekiel saw in his vision, and the description of which occupies much of his prophecy, was never built according to the pattern that Ezekiel was given. Nor did God ever promise it would be, unless there was genuine national repentance and a turning toward God by the sinful nation. God's promise was conditional:
"Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof" (Ezek. 43:10-11).
The obstacles in understanding Ezekiel's prophecy must have been as insurmountable to the teachers of Israel in his day, as they have been to those who have studied his prophecies all down through the ages, and even unto this day. We are not told whether any attempt had ever been made to build the Temple that Ezekiel saw. But even if it had been built, it would still have been but a type and shadow of the real Temple "not made with hands." It would still have to go the way of all the other temples, and eventually come to desolation, to make way for the "true tabernacle that the Lord pitched and not man." All we have concerning Solomon's Temple is the word concerning it; and we have the word concerning Ezekiel's Temple, and this is all we require. Ezekiel, like all the other prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, spoke of "these days" following the resurrection of Christ. (See Acts 3:24) Unto them it was revealed "that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you" (1 Pet. 1:12).
The life of Solomon presents us with one of the greatest tragedies mentioned in the Bible. Here was a man filled with wisdom and understanding such as no king in Israel had ever known; and loving God with all his heart in his youth. Then in his later years he forsook the God whom he had loved and served so well, to worship the false deities of the nations about him. He even erected idolatrous high places for them right near Jerusalem; and the scriptures do not tell us whether or not he died with a heart alienated from God and engrossed in idolatrous practices. It was not long after his death that his kingdom was divided. Soon apostasy set it in, and idolatrous worship became rampant. Yet all through this time of apostasy God was faithful to send prophets, whose burden it was to turn the hearts of the people back to God. There were seasons of revival, and then a turning away from God, as ungodly rulers succeeded those whose hearts were right with God. The time came when God gave the nation over to judgment, and permitted the great empires surrounding them to harass them, and take some of the people into captivity. There had been several deportations from both Israel and Judah before the final desolation of Jerusalem and the plundering of the Temple by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. It was during one of these deportations that Ezekiel was taken captive from Judah, and found himself in a settlement with other captives near the river Chebar. But there in his captivity God raised him up to be a "watchman" to warn the nation of impending judgments. Repeatedly God told Ezekiel that his mandate was not to bring a word against the foreign nations around him, but to "the House of Israel." "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me" (Ezek. 3:17). Apostasy seems almost to have been the norm in the history of God's people, whether it be in the Old Testament or in the New, But as we have often pointed out, in every hour of abomination God begins to prepare a remnant through whom He will fulfill His purposes, and bring a new thing into being. Let us observe in Ezekiel's writings how the glory of God surely, but reluctantly, withdrew from His habitation, and returned to His place in the heavens. And yet in and through it all gave us a promise that He would return again in the fullness of time, take up His habitation in a new Temple not made with the hands of men, and send forth a River of Life that would bring healing to the nations. But first Ezekiel must see the glory of God, and literally "eat the book"--the Word must become a vital part of His very being, before he could bring forth a clear and meaningful Word to the people of God. He must move in total union and harmony with the Kingdom of Heaven, and those spiritual powers that emanate from the Throne of God.
The Cherubim Of Glory
In the Tabernacle of Moses and in Solomon's Temple what we have seen is primarily type and shadow: embroidered figures of the cherubim, or cherubim carved from olive wood, etc. But in Ezekiel and in the book of Revelation we have a glimpse into the realities of the heavenly realm. Ezekiel saw the heavens opened, and saw things as they really were. Of course, even then God must show us things in the likeness of things on earth... for how else could He relate to us in a language we can understand? It was somewhat different in the case of Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were "not lawful for a man to utter." We cannot even surmise how and in what form He saw these things. But both Ezekiel and John were given a commission to take what they had seen and show it to the people... and so these heavenly realities have been depicted in some kind of form that men can relate to.
From the very beginning the Cherubim have been associated with man. And therefore we may expect in the hour of consummation they will once again be associated with man. Immediately after the Fall, God "placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). Therefore in redemption, when man is once again brought back into the presence of God's the cherubim are again involved. But this time it is to open up the way for man that he might return to the tree of life. Their presence in the holy place, and in the most holy place, is God Word to us that they are thoroughly identified with man in God glorious plan of redemption.
Who are They? It is evident from the scriptures that they are a very high order of celestial beings, and not just ordinary angels. They are always identified with the presence of God... particularly pertaining to His awesomeness, His holiness, and His majesty. Because redeemed man is to occupy such an intimate place with God, a place that is far above that of any other created being, God has therefore commissioned the highest of His heavenly creation to identify with the sons of God. Man's relationship with the celestial order is accompanied with a lot of mystery, and we do not seek to inquire above that which is written; but it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth, according as we need it.
From Daniel we understand that there is a close identity with spiritual powers in the heavens and their counterparts in the earth. When Daniel's prayers were hindered, it was because of opposition from "the prince of the kingdom of Persia" (Dan. 10:13). The archangel Michael (who stands up for the people of God in Daniel 12:1) came and joined the fray, and the Prince of Persia was defeated. The battle lasted 21 days. Then having delivered the message to Daniel he returned "to fight with the prince of Persia," and suggested that he may also have warfare with "the prince of Grecia" (Dan. 10:20). So it is evident there was a spiritual counterpart of the earthly kings of Persia and Grecia. This explains why "the prince of Tyrus" is spoken of, not only as a man trafficking in "gold and silver"--as earthly kings and rulers do--but also as a celestial being, "full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty," who was "in Eden the garden of God," and who had the title "the anointed cherub that covereth." (See Ezek. 28:1-15.) So he was one of the cherubim, connected with the throne of God, till "iniquity was found in him" and he was cast out as "profane" from the Mountain of God, "from the midst of the stones of fire." From this point on he becomes God's "adversary"; and this is the meaning of the word "Satan." The king of Babylon was a real man, who oppressed the nations; but in prophetic insight, as Isaiah prophesied concerning the "king of Babylon" (Isa. 14:4), suddenly he sees the situation as something that originated in the heavens:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning" (vs. 12).
So Isaiah clearly identifies the "king of Babylon" with "Lucifer, son of the morning"; for it was Lucifer that was working behind the scenes, through the earthly king of Babylon, to oppress the earth and God's people. The one who said in ages past, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the Most High" (Isa. 14:13-14). There is an earthly king of Babylon; but there is his spiritual counterpart ("the god of this world", "the prince of the power of the air"), who rules over the corrupt political, economic, and religious systems of the world.
As the heirs of salvation, what a comfort it is to know that we have angels (or ministering spirits) sent from God to minister on our behalf. (See Heb. 1:14.) There are many who have actually seen these ministering angels. But as a corporate people of God we also have the Cherubim as our spiritual allies, and this is what we want to consider in greater detail.
A Corporate Four-Faced Man
The "heavens were opened" to Ezekiel as he sat with the captives by the river of Chebar, and this is what he saw: "And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it... also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings" (Ezek. 1:4-6). John on Patmos saw the same creatures, which he described in almost identical language: "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts [living ones] full of eyes before and behind, And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle" (Rev. 4:5-7). These creatures were not animals as we know them. But with our feeble understanding God has seen fit to relate heavenly realities to us in language we can understand so we might know the significance of what He is saying. The sons of Israel are spoken of as having certain animal characteristics: one tribe has the symbol of the lion, another of the adder, or a strong ass, a serpent, a hind let loose, or a wolf. John speaks of Jesus as the Iamb of God. And Jesus likens His own to "sheep," the hypocrisy of the Pharisees to "serpents" or "vipers," the craftiness of Herod to a "fox." Knowing the nature of these animals we understand why these illustrations were used.
And so here in Ezekiel, and in the book of Revelation, the prophets saw the likeness of a man. Remember this. They saw these four faces of certain animals, but Ezekiel said the cherubim had the likeness of a man (1:5). And in their four faces we are reminded of the character of Christ Himself:
The Face of a Man.For He was Man in every sense of the word: acquainted with human suffering and aware of human need; tempted, tried, and approved in the crucible of human life; and conquering as Man.
The Face of a Lion.Fearless, powerful, strong, the king of beasts; relentless in pursuit of his prey; sudden and devastating in his attack on the enemy; one who rules and reigns in power and authority.
The Face of an Ox.Faithful, laborious, unassuming, unseeking, submissive, teachable; content with a handful of corn as he treads out the grain on the threshing floor; and finally giving up his life when his days of usefulness are over.
The Face of an Eagle.Watchful; detached from earthly pursuits and activities; oriented to heavenly places; disdainful of the cares and pursuits of mankind; having a free and soaring spirit.
Now God has found such a Man in His only begotten Son; but He will have others like Him. And the Cherubim are there in the heavens as our spiritual counterpart, and commissioned to minister on behalf of those whom He has chosen for this high calling, just as they were once commissioned to "keep the way of the tree of life" and to bar sinful man from the presence of God. Jesus the perfect Son of Man is beautifully portrayed with these four faces, in the four Gospels:
Matthew.Here we see Him as the Lion. He is King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And as we would expect for a King, His genealogy is carefully traced right back to David, whose kingdom was to be eternal; and to Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel.
Mark.Here we have the Ox. Christ is portrayed here as a servant, the obedient One. The keyword in Mark is "straightway." He is ever about His Father's business. He is just a servant. Mark recounts no genealogy. Who cares about the genealogy of a servant?
Luke.Here we see the Man, the ideal Man. His genealogy is traced right back to the first man, because the Second Man must come forth from the First Man in order to bring about our redemption. But the Second Man came to begin a new race of beings like Himself. This is therefore the last genealogy in the Bible; for in Christ all genealogy has come to a complete and final end. He is the Last Adam... the last of that old race. How then could there be another genealogy? You do injustice to the One Who fulfilled all genealogy if you go about trying to establish another one, or to perpetuate the genealogy that came to an end when Christ died on the cross. And so the apostle tells us to ignore "endless genealogies." They serve no purpose. They only minister "questions," disputes that lead to strife, rather than "godly edifying." (Paul classifies "genealogies" along with "fables." See 1 Tim. 1:4.) We must find our genealogy in union with the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, or we remain under the curse of the first man.
John.Here we see the Eagle. Once again there is no genealogy; for John's Gospel is about the Logos, the Word that was "with God" and "was God." His was a timeless beginning. He is the Divine One. And so it is John who speaks about the Word of Life, the Light of Life, the Water of Life, the Bread of Life, the Resurrection and the Life. His is a free and soaring spirit. He lives in the heavenlies. Even on earth He was the "Son of man which is in heaven" as He walked in union with the Father.
Now Jesus came from heaven to earth that as Man He might walk in the pathway of sonship and be made "perfect through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10); and some Christians think because we are men we must go to heaven to enter into that kind of perfect obedience. It is here on earth that the Lord would teach us His way, and cause us to walk in the pathway that has for its intention the reproduction of the Christ-life within us. Therefore we are exhorted to "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery [or, 'a thing to be grasped after'] to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation [or, 'he emptied himself']" (Phil. 2:5-7).
This is the pathway to the throne. It is far, far from the way of Lucifer, who said: "I will ascend... I will be like the Most High."
Rather, the Son of God said, "I will go down... I will become a man... I will become a servant. . . I will become a slave..."
Notice these four faces of the Cherubim in the passage we have quoted:
He was in the form of God... the Eagle.
He emptied Himself and became... the Man.
He humbled Himself, as a slave... the Ox.
Wherefore God hath exalted Him... the Lion.
We must always recognize that we "see through a glass darkly" and that we only "know in part." But it is evident from the scriptures that these living creatures in the heavens have been commissioned of the Lord to minister to His people in the earth. Notice that these characteristics are opposites, and only in union with Christ do we know this blending of meekness with strength: of the lowliness of true manhood with the nature and character of God. And so we find these four faces in pairs: the Eagle opposite the Man, and the Lion opposite the Ox. Without this difficult yet glorious combination, we could become very much one-faced and one-sided, making for an improper balance: strong as a lion, bold, powerful, unrelenting... but so unlike Christ without the humility and meekness of the ox. Or we might be humble, hard-working, unassuming, submissive... all of which are very commendable. But there are times when along with this character we need to stand unfalteringly in the face of the foe when an assault is made against God's people. With the Lion-face we might say, "I certainly will not stand for that," and take matters into our own hands. But with the Ox-face we might say, "Just pray about it... God will work it out," when there is need for bold action. It is just not natural for the Lion and the Ox to work together, to live together, to be together... to agree. But God must have these two faces in one.
Then there is the Eagle and Man combination. We have those in the Church who are very human, very down to earth in their approach to life and ministry. They are concerned about human need: do what they can to alleviate human suffering, become involved in works of charity to help the poor and needy. And of course this is part of following Christ. But very often we do not find these people in the least concerned about making God their supreme quest in life, or walking in intimate fellowship with Him, or in fact even desiring to know anything more about the deeper life--the life that is hid with Christ in God. They are just too busy working for God. And they make sly jokes about the man who is "so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good"--a slogan that has been quoted so much, some almost think it is a scripture. But of course we can go to the other extreme: completely withdraw from human associations in order to draw near to God... become involved with deeper truths... always seeking to fellowship with God on a higher plane, and to press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling, And in pursuing all this there may be no concern for human need... no real sense of responsibility... and no thought of getting involved with mankind and their problems. It is a simple case of the Man and the Eagle refusing to associate. It is just not natural to do so. Man loves the city life, while the eagle disdains it; he wants the loneliness of the mountain tops, and the freedom of the heavens. But God in His plan for His people would work in us the nature of Christ, so as to have at one and the same time, the face of the Man and the face of the Eagle together with the face of the Ox and the face of the Lion. Not a two-faced man but a four-faced man--each face walking straight forward! "They turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward" (Ezek. 1:9). Now this is just impossible! Faces on four sides, and each face going straight forward! "Whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went" (vs. 12). Impossible! But this is what Ezekiel saw. And this is what God has designed... for His Son, and for those who come into union with Him.
The Wheels Of God's Purposes
We have caught a glimpse of the heavenly scene... but here we are on earth. How can we identify with it? Well, Ezekiel saw a connecting link with the earth. "Behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces" (Ezek. 1:15). The age-long prayer of the Church has been, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven..." God has set in motion in the heavens those spiritual forces and operations that are necessary to combat the powers of darkness, and to bring His chosen ones in the earth the help and the support that they need to be totally victorious. By faith and obedience and submission to the will of God we are able to strengthen our bonds with the Kingdom of Heaven; and by simply walking in the Spirit we find ourselves walking in total harmony and union with the armies of heaven. So, as the living creatures stand before the throne, and surround the throne--immersed in light, and reverberating the commands of God--here on earth "the wheels of the Cherubim" begin to move and rotate in perfect union with their counterparts in the heavens. In Psalm 18 we have a beautiful picture of an incident in David's life that caused the LORD of Hosts to mobilize all the armies of heaven on his behalf. David was in great trouble and he cried unto God, and look what happened:
"In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried unto my God:
He heard my voice out of his temple,
And my cry came before him,
Even into his ears.
Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations also of the hills moved
And were shaken,
Because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
And fire out of his mouth devoured:
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down:
And darkness was under his feet.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly:
Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind"
It sounds like a total mobilization of the armies of heaven... and it was set in motion when a man of God in the midst of great distress called upon the LORD, and God heard his cry. As we come into union with Christ and walk in harmony with God, we are going to find ourselves in complete accord with the movements of the heavenly realm. "And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up... for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them" (Ezek. 1:19-21). What perfect harmony and coordination!
A Wheel Within A Wheel
"And their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel" (Ezek. 1:16).
Everything that God does is but a part of a far greater work that He has in mind. We see the one wheel in motion and we cannot reconcile it with our understanding because there is another wheel going in an opposite direction. But in God's plan and purpose there is no disharmony. It is just that we cannot understand. The inner wheel seems to be moving right, and then we look without and the outer wheel seems to be contrary. There are so many opposites in our lives that we often wonder if we are going in the right direction. If we see the Ox going straightforward, then surely the Lion must be backing up. Or if we see the Man walking straight forward, then surely the Eagle must be flying backwards. But no! Each face moves straight forward. Paul speaks of these opposites, and shows how it takes the opposites to bring forth the life that is approved in God's sight:
"By the armour of righteousness
On the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour,
By evil report and good report:
As deceivers, and yet true;
As unknown, and yet well known;
As dying, and, behold we live;
As chastened, and not killed;
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing;
As poor, yet making many rich;
As having nothing, and yet possessing all things"
(2 Cor. 6:7-10).
God's chosen ones are called upon to experience much perplexity as they seek to walk in a pathway that they know the Lord requires, and yet that pathway does not always seem to lead them to the proper goal. They move forward at the command of the Lord, and hoist their sail for the other shore... and then the winds are contrary, and they find themselves getting nowhere, and they fear they will flounder. Then in their distress they cry unto the Lord, and He comes to them in the darkness of the night, walking upon the sea. And when He steps into the boat... there is a great calm!
God help us to "set our affections on those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God." Cause us to know that we are partakers of a heavenly calling, citizens of another world, and that we are under the watch-care of the Lord of Hosts, and the armies of Heaven. For it is only as we become oriented to heavenly realities that we will be able to minister truth and righteousness in the earth, to remove the veil of darkness and unbelief that lies upon the hearts of men, and cause them to see the outshining of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is not true that we can become so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly-good! It is only the heavenly mind, the mind of Christ, that will enable His servants to show forth the Light of the Gospel in a world of sin and darkness.
Abominations In The Temple
With this glorious introduction into the heavenly realm, Ezekiel was carried by the Spirit to the people that were already in captivity, and to Jerusalem itself, to see and to observe the abominations that have defiled God's people, and to warn the people of the judgments that lay before them. His mandate was a very heavy burden for him to bear, and he needed the vision of the Glory of God to know the strength and the assurance that he would move in harmony with the spiritual world, and minister (like the wheels of the Cherubim) in union with the Glory of God. Let us observe briefly how the Glory of God moved in the midst of the captive people along with His servant Ezekiel, and finally returned to His habitation in the heavens.
1. The Glory With The Captivity
"Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels... then I came to them of the captivity" (Ezek. 3:12-13, 15).
There Ezekiel sat down astonished with the other captives. Nothing to say. He was moving in the Spirit. Unless God would speak, nothing he would say would he effective, For seven days he sat dumb. Then God spoke and gave him a commission and a mandate to be "a watchman unto the house of Israel." As a watchman set there in Israel by God, he would be absolutely dumb until God gave him a word. Then when God opened his mouth he would speak. God's prophets must learn that they do not minister to the people because they are prophets. They minister effectually only when God opens their mouth, and gives them the Word from His heart that His people need.
"Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar" (Ezek. 3:23).
2. The Glory At The Inner Gate Of The Temple
"And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there" (Ezek. 8:3-4). Here they had erected an altar to another deity, right at the gate where the priests would enter and depart in their priestly service. God is a jealous God. Jealous is one of His names (Ex. 84:14). Yet He is merciful and in the midst of these abominations He visits His people... to turn them from their evil ways.
Then the Lord took Ezekiel on a tour of the Temple area, and showed him all the abominations that were being perpetrated by an apostate priesthood. There were creeping things in the house of God: abominable beasts... idols portrayed upon the wall... the leader of the elders offering incense to false gods... women at one of the gates weeping over a heathen god (Tammuz) who was believed to have died; and they were in mourning because of this... men worshipping the sun in the location of the brazen sea (between the porch and the altar), where God had intended a washing and a cleansing of His people. Beloved, there are a lot of creeping things in the House of God today... and there are going to be some strong words against it by His anointed servants.
3. The Glory Moves To The Door Of The House
"And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house" (Ezek. 9:3).
God was about to judge His sanctuary. But first He would put a "mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezek. 9:4). God always preserves for Himself a faithful remnant, no matter how great are the abominations. And God will spare them in the day of His wrath. Ezekiel, a true priest and watchman, cried aloud unto God when His judgments began to fall, but it was too late. God said, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not" (Ezek. 9:9).
4. The Glory Fills The House
"Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD's glory" (Ezek. 10:4).
The sound of His glory reverberated throughout the whole Temple, even to the outer court. But first God must judge His sanctuary, and cleanse it. Beloved, let us be assured that His Glory is coming to His Temple once again in this hour, to purge and to purify His people from the abominations that are committed in our midst. And when this happens His Word will go forth "even to the outer court." There are those in the Church who have gone no further than the altar and the sacrifice. Yet even these areas are going to see and behold His Glory when the House is filled with the Lord's brightness. When His Glory comes to His people it will mean cleansing and purifying for the people of God who submit to His dealings... but it will not change the rebellious and obstinate of heart. Jesus has warned us, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
5. The Glory Moves To The Eastern Gate
"Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims... the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD's house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above" (Ezek. 10:18-19).
God had purged the sanctuary; for His judgments must always begin at the house of God. Now He would begin to deal with Jerusalem the people who had no part in the priesthood but who were nevertheless a part of the nation. As Ezekiel prophesied to them concerning the impending judgments of God one of the princes of the people fell down dead. Beloved, when the Glory of God returns to His people we are going to witness some very severe judgments. In the early Church we are told "no man durst join himself" to this company of believers, because of the fear of God in their midst. No need to advertise the meetings in those days. The people will know all about it, and will stay away, unless they are prepared to come face-to-face with God in His holy Temple. It was not Peter that slew Ananias and Sapphira. It was the glory of God that was in their midst and cleansing and judging His Temple.
When the prince of the people fell down dead, Ezekiel fell on his face before God and cried aloud for God to have mercy. We feel greatly concerned and fearful for God's ministers who boast, or secretly rejoice, in the judgments of God that have fallen on those who opposed them. God's true priests will lament such drastic dealings, and cry unto God for mercy.
And now in the midst of a heavy word of judgment, God brings forth the promise of a New Covenant:
"I will give them one heart,
And I will put a new spirit within you;
And I will take the stony heart out of their flesh,
And will give them an heart of flesh"
Ezekiel has much to say about the New Covenant. When the law has fulfilled its purpose, and man has recognized his total failure before God, God reveals a New Covenant that cannot fail, because it is entirely the work of His own Spirit living in the hearts of men. God did not promise Israel a New Covenant because of any worthiness in them, but in spite of their sin and rebellion. God emphasizes this: "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen" (Ezek. 36:22). We need to remember this, when we get to wondering how we could ever have a revival of God's glory. God is not doing it for our sakes, but for His holy Name's sake! He is jealous for His holy Name's sake. He will not tolerate His holy Name being polluted in the earth because of those who are called by His Name, and He is going to do something about it! He is going to have a holy and a cleansed people in the earth, for His own Name's sake!
6. The Glory Moves To The Mountain On The East
"And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city" (Ezek. 11:23).
And so Jesus, the Glory of God in human form, led His disciples out as far as Bethany, on the east of Jerusalem, and from there returned unto the bosom of the Father. But as surely as the Glory of God departs, He will come again, And on the Day of Pentecost, just 50 days after His resurrection, He came back again in the fullness of His Presence and Glory. Once again there was a "voice of a great rushing" that Ezekiel heard. Once again the glory of the LORD was in "His place" (Ezek. 3:12). "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2). Where were they sitting? Not in an upper room, but in the "house." No doubt in the old Temple that was devoid of the glory, for we are told that the disciples, after the ascension of Jesus, "were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God" (Lk. 24:53). And right there in that old temple--which had served its purpose--God was bringing forth a new Temple, the Church of the living God, one "not made with hands," but "living stones" of a far greater Temple, "a habitation of God through the Spirit." Jesus went away from Bethany, which means "house of figs" or "dates." And He will come back to Bethany, before He is seen of the world. He comes to the fruitful people. He comes for the perfect fruit. "Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (Jas. 5:7).
The Great High Priest In The Heavenly Sanctuary
"But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. 8:6).
Our High Priest is faithfully performing His ministry in the heavens... which is "more excellent" than any earthly ministry could ever be. He is mediating the New Covenant that God promised lie would fulfill in His people. And as Ezekiel tells us, it is for His holy Name's sake that He must have this cleansed and holy Temple in the earth. Too long has His Name been blasphemed among the nations. His glory will yet come back to His Temple... and this cleansed and sanctified Temple occupies much of the latter part of Ezekiel's prophecy.
"And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory" (Ezek. 43:2).
Daniel saw the same One: "His face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude" (Dan. 10:6).
John saw Him also: "In the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as aflame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:13-15).
As we compare these scriptures we can't avoid recognizing that these prophets are describing the same awesome Man, though perhaps in different settings.
It was from the eastern gate that the Glory departed from the old temple. And Ezekiel saw Him returning "from the way of the east"... His voice was "like a noise of many waters," because now He is in union with the many springs of water from Zion, joined unto Him in one Body. "And the earth shined with His glory" because this new Temple will be everywhere in the earth, wherever the people of the Lord may dwell:
"And the LORD will create Upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, And upon her assemblies, A cloud and smoke by day, And the shining of a flaming fire by night: For upon all the glory shall be a defence [or, a covering]" (Isa. 4:5).
One Holy City, one Mount Zion... but comprised of many "assemblies" who gather in His Name throughout all the earth, with He the Lord of Glory, the LORD, in their midst.
Rivers Of Water From The Temple
"And, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward... down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar" (Ezek. 47:1).
In a former vision Ezekiel heard the noise of the wings of the cherubim "like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host" (Ezek. 1:24).
Great waters... the voice of the Almighty... the noise of a host! No wonder, for it is the heavenly hosts in union with the earthly hosts... the cherubim and the wheels... the many sons in union with the Only Begotten, and accompanied by all the allied armies of the celestial realm. John saw the One like unto the Son of man, "clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle." He is our great High Priest in the heavens. The Greek word for "paps" here is "mastos", a word that is used only of a woman; for it is Christ in union with His Bride, in one Body. "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow," for the hoary head speaks of maturity and wisdom, For He is the Ancient of Days that Daniel saw, but now joined unto a Body that has come to maturity and full stature--a holy Bride that has become one with Him. "His eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass," for He walks in the fullness of illumination and understanding, discerns all hidden things, walks in purity and holiness and righteousness with feet that have known the judgments of the brazen altar, and the fiery cleansing of the brazen sea. "And the voice of his words was like the voice of a multitude" (Dan. 10:6)... "as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:15). Many, many voices mingling together in the Body of Christ; no longer with the confusion of Babel such as we know today... rather with the flowing harmony of many springs of water that flow together in the great River of God. Ezekiel saw this great river flowing out from the Temple of God, "which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed" (Ezek. 47:8). John saw the same river. "And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1). And the psalmist saw it too...
"There is a river,
The streams whereof shall make glad
The city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacles
Of the most High"
The River of God... full of water... a river that heals the land whithersoever it floweth.
Let us notice the characteristics of this pure River, For the cleansing of the leper in the Old Testament a living bird must be dipped in "living water" (that is, clean flowing water) that contained the blood of a dead bird. The fountain that was opened "to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1), this fountain contains the ingredient of "precious Blood." It is the Spirit of God flowing in the hearts and lives of God's people that washes them in the blood of Christ, and causes them to be "pure, even as He is pure." It is the River of God that flows with pure, clean, refreshing water from the throne of God.
But after the cleansing, there is nourishment from it also... because it also flows with milk... and new wine...
"And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the mountains shall drop down new wine,
And the hills shall flow with milk,
And all the rivers of Judah
Shall flow with waters,
And a fountain shall come forth
Of the house of the LORD,
And shall water the valley of Shittim"
Refreshing waters from the House of the LORD to water the land, to cause fertility and growth, and to bring forth all manner of fruit each season... and with leaves "for the healing of the nations."
And new wine to bring joy instead of mourning, and to gladden the hearts of men.
And the milk of truth to nourish and strengthen the little ones! The "sincere milk of the Word" that God has provided for babes in Christ!
There is so much in Ezekiel's vision that we have not touched upon. But we must comment briefly on this beautiful and almost poetic passage in Ezekiel 41:7:
"And there was an enlarging,
And a winding about still upward
To the side chambers:
For the winding about of the house
Went still upward round about the house:
Therefore the breadth of the house
Was still upward..."
Still upward! Still upward! Still upward! Ours is a "high calling"--an "upward calling."
Oh, how God desires to lift the veil from the eyes of His people, and cause them to know that there are realms in the length and the breadth and the height and the depth of His love that we have never known! "The high calling of God in Christ Jesus" is an upward calling (Phil. 3:14). If we see only the height of the call we would be inclined to say it is too high! But it is an upward calling. We need only to take one step at a time, and follow as He gives more grace.
Chapter 5 - The Temple of Zerubbabel
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