Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Construction

Therefore say, Thus says the Lord GOD: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone. -- Ezekiel  11:16

When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land they brought with them the tabernacle of Moses, the sanctuary of the Lord.  David desired to build the Lord a permanent dwelling, and Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem.  Toward this temple, the Israelites prayed and to Jerusalem they gathered to celebrate the appointed feast.  This was the habitation of God upon the earth.  Here was the contact point between man and Divinity.  As they sang their songs of ascent, going up toward the temple mount, they could sense the One who inhabited the Most Holy Place within the temple where the golden cherubim stood ever overlooking the Ark of the Covenant. 

Yet, over time, the people of God turned from Him to pursue other interests, other idols.  For chastisement, calamity fell.  They were overrun by enemies, struck by famine and disease and killed by sword and spear or carried into captivity.  In foreign lands, the Jews were cut off from all of the beauties of the temple, from its services and celebrations.  They longed for Jerusalem, but, most of all, they longed for the Presence that dwelt there.  

With no access to the sanctuary, the captives thought there was no way to reach God or experience His pervading peace.  This was not so.  When they could not reach the holy hill of Zion, God came down to them where they were, and He became their sanctuary.  As the chapter concludes, the prophet sees what could hardly be imagined:  Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.  And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city (vv 22-23). 

The city of Jerusalem and the temple itself were doomed to destruction.  The glory of the Lord departed from the Holy of Holies.  The temple was a husk, fit only for the fire.  As long as the glory of God remained behind the veil, the forces of Nebuchadnezzar could not have entered, let alone destroyed His habitation.  The Lord left His shelter to become a Shelter for His scattered people.

Though it was a great catastrophe for the Jews, God’s departure from that man-made dwelling place was another step in the direction of a new kingdom, a New Jerusalem, and a new Temple.  In Christ, this new Tabernacle was seen in great glory.  He is the Chief Cornerstone of a Temple built, not by man, but by the Lord Himself.  It is made not of quarried granite but of living stones like you and me. 

A lot of prophecy experts like to talk about a rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  I don’t know whether that will happen or not, but it is not the Temple I am interested in. 

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)


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