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God's blueprint for Israel
Ezekiel 40-48

A couple of years ago we added a wheelchair lift, some fire doors, and a wheelchair accessible washroom. To do this work we had to hire an architect. The man we hired drew up some nice blue prints for us. While expensive, they were worth it. We followed these plans and today enjoy the benefits.

In Ezekiel 40-48, God, by means of a vision, delivers to Ezekiel a big set of blueprints. These blue prints included a new Temple, a redistribution of the land of Israel amongst the 12 tribes, a rebuilt city of Jerusalem, and the standards by which God expected His restored people to live by.

In the time that remains, I want to introduce you to Ezekiel 40-48- giving you a big picture overview of the text and leaving you with 3 very important take away applications.

Things to note before reading

1. The Temple that is described and the way the land was to be distributed amongst the 12 tribes is quite different from Solomon's Temple and the way the land was allocated in the time of Joshua (see 1 Chronicles 28-29; 2 Chronicles 2-7, I Kings 5-8)
2. Many are of the persuasion that the Temple that is described pertains to the future period of Christ's millennial reign on Earth
3. While some ascribe the vision of Ezekiel 40-48 to the distant future, others have the perspective that God actually intended for the plans of Ezekiel 40-48 to be carried out by the returning exiles.
4. A fair number of people consider this portion of God's word to be one of the hardest in the Bible
5. Ezekiel 40-48 corresponds to Ezekiel 8-11

In Ezekiel 8-11, Ezekiel, by means of a vision, is given a tour of the Temple (being the most important building on Earth). As He is given this tour he sees the glory of the Lord (representing the person, power, blessings, and presence of the Lord) depart from the Temple. This departure was a big deal for "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Hebrews 10:31

In Ezekiel 40-48 Ezekiel is given a tour of new Temple. In this new vision Ezekiel sees God in all of His glory come and inhabit the new Temple. Such serves as a dynamic picture illustrating that the Israelites were going to be reconciled back to God and restored to Him and that once again God would be with them.

Arguably, the high point of Ezekiel 40-48 is found in Ezekiel 43. In this passage, the glory and presence of the Lord returns to the Temple.

6. A neat passage to read alongside of Ezekiel 40-48 is Jeremiah 29:10-14

This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

READ EZEKIEL 40:1-4; 43:1-12; 45:1-8

3 BIG POINTS OF APPLICATION -regardless of whether you think Ezekiel 40-48 regards the future or should have been followed by the Jews of 539 B.C


1. GOD WITH US. A COMFORTING TRUTH THAT WE MUST NEVER FORGET

"And the name of the city from that time on will be: "The LORD is there" Ezekiel 48:35

One of the things that the Scriptures emphasize to us who are the followers of Christ is this: He's with us. God is with us. He will never leave or forsake us. This is the meaning of Jesus' name "Emmanuel". Also we must not forget His words "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" Matthew 28:20

All to often we forget this core truth, this presence that is meant to encourage us, embolden us, spur us on in our discipleship.

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31


2. GOD IS TO BE AT THE CENTRE OF ALL THAT WE DO

The blueprints that God gave to Ezekiel for the Temple, the organization of the land, and the placement of the city and the government all point to this truth: All of life is meant to be organized around God and His worship and service.

Give out the handout

A diagram of Ezekiel 40-48 illustrates this: God meant for Himself to be at the center of His people and all that they did.

A diagram of Ezekiel 40-48 looks like this: 6 tribes to the north of the temple, 6 tribes to the south, the city of Jerusalem adjacent to the Temple lands, the land of the prince (the head of government) bordering on the East and West of the Temple and it's lands. (MAKE A SIMPLE HANDOUT)
The point: All of life organized around God and His worship (the people worshipping God, the priests being faithful and instructing the people, the Prince/government leading the people in the service of God and dispensing justice). God at the centre.

The implications for us are pretty clear. God comes first. Everything we do needs to be run through God. Our life is to built on our faith and is to be God oriented

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God" is the call of Christ to us.


3. HOLINESS: GOD'S CHIEF ATTRIBUTE AND OUR CALLING

Read Ezekiel 43:6-12 and note the displeasure of God in v.9 and the basic law of the Temple and of God in v.12 "Holiness"

Now imagine if what Ezekiel describes had been built. Think of the worshipper, who lived in the city of Jerusalem, who each week, as they came and crossed over from city onto the land designated as holy. As they they walked across the land set apart for God, think of how their attitudes would have been ever directed towards God. Think of the joy of the heart when they saw the walls of the Temple and then entered in through one of gate ways. It's about the holiness of God. It's about reverencing Him. It's about Him receiving the worship and honor due His name.

Again: Note what God says is the basic law of His temple and life--- It's holiness!

We must hear again God's call: "Be holy, as I am holy"

Holiness is required of us in our speech, as it regards how we drive, how we conduct ourselves when working, in our leisure time, sexually, when it comes to tax time and paying the bills that we should be paying, in being honest.

Holiness is a big deal

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:13-16

CONCLUSION

The exiles, not even half way through their time of captivity, would have found Ezekiel's message to be very encouraging and uplifting. God was going to restore His people. God was their God.

Ezekiel 40-48 does not just contain the blueprints for the Temple of the Lord. It contains the blueprints for how God wanted His people to organize themselves as a whole- upon their deliverance from captivity.

The climactic event of Ezekiel 40-48 is the return of God in all His glory to His Temple (Ezekiel 43). This explains the final verse of Ezekiel "And the name of the city from that time on will be: "The LORD is there"

Whether you think Ezekiel 40-48 refers to the Millennial reign of Christ or not we must not forget these 3 applications

1. God is with us. Christ will never leave or forsake us. We are not to fear or be swayed
2. God is to be at the centre of all that we do. One immediate implication of this is that we will make all our decisions a matter of prayer
3. God's holy, we are to reverence Him as such. We have been called to holiness and so must hear as practical application these words...

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Philippians 4:8

"...set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12


Close: Hosanna, Take my life, Holy Holy Holy, Jesus be the centre