The glory of the Lord departs the Temple
Last week we kicked off our study of the Book of Ezekiel by considering the call of Ezekiel into God's service.
The most notable thing about Ezekiel's call was that, he, by means of a vision, got to see God in all His Divine glory.
One day we shall have the joy of seeing Christ in all His glory. What a day that shall be for us who know and love the Lord
Today we are going to look at Ezekiel 8-11 together.
-In this passage, Ezekiel, by means of a vision, gets to see God in all his glory again (3rd time for Ezekiel)
-This vision came to Ezekiel 14 months after God's initial call- and roughly coincides with ending of Ezekiel obeying the Lord by lying in the street for 340
days in front of a mock up of the city of Jerusalem-eating bread cooked over cow dung. By this object lesson, Ezekiel depicted the fall of Jerusalem and the
sufferings of the people (which was still yet to come) at the hands of the Babylonians. (See Ezekiel 4ff)
-The vision Ezekiel is privy to- that he shared with the exiles after receiving it- concerns the Temple, the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem, and the
judgment that was going to befall them.
-The significant occurrence of Ezekiel 8-11 is the glory of the Lord (symbolizing His presence, His protection, and His favor) departs the Temple and the
city of Jerusalem
Outline of Ezekiel 8-11
Ezekiel 8 By means of a vision, God takes Ezekiel on a tour of the Temple, showing Ezekiel why He was withdrawing His presence and why He was going
to judge His people and hand them over to the Babylonians.
Ezekiel 9 God depicts the inhabitants of Jerusalem being judged for their rejection of Him, but not before having those who follow Him, marked for
Ezekiel 10 The Cherubim that Ezekiel saw in his first vision of God are seen again. This time they move from the inner room of the Temple to the Temple
threshold and then to the East Gate of the Temple.
What's interesting is that God's presence and glory is not suddenly removed in the vision but progresses by stages "out the door"
Ezekiel 11 The Cherubim spread their wings- with the glory of God above them- and leave the Temple and from there settle above the mountain east of
READ EZEKIEL 8
LESSONS OF THE TEXT
1. WHEN EZEKIEL 8:4 SAYS "THE GLORY OF THE LORD WAS THERE" IT MEANS THAT GOD WAS THERE
Ponder the history of the Israelites:
-When the Israelites came out of Egypt- led by the cloud of His presence by night and pillar of fire by night. God was with them
-At Mount Sinai, God descended upon the mountain: It shook, it was ablaze, there was thunder and lightning- the people were terrified. God was there in
glory and in power
-Consider the tent of Meeting that God had Moses and the people construct. This tent, which housed the Ark of the Covenant went with the people (being
set in the very centre of the tribes as they moved through the wilderness. God was there with them, protecting them and guiding them.
-Then Solomon built the Jerusalem Temple and remember what happened on opening day: The glory of the Lord filled Temple-- it being established as a
house of prayer and worship unto God for all nations. God's presence settled there in a special way: In the inner room of the Temple between 2 fashioned
God with us, that's we want. That's we need.
How interesting that one of Jesus' names is Immanuel: God with us.
For us who are the followers of Christ, God is with us, by His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ in us, we are never abandoned or forsaken. Such is the
promise of Christ to us.
2. GOD NO LONGER WITH THEM: The awful significance of the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple and Jerusalem.
In Ezekiel 10:3-4 it says "Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. Then
the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the temple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of the
radiance of the glory of the LORD"
Note the progress of God's departure in Ezekiel 10:18-19 "Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above
the cherubim. 19 While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They
stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them."
Lastly, note Ezekiel 11:22-23 "Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.
The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it."
Why did God leave?
a. He was deeply offended - note 8:17 "provoked to anger"
b. The people didn't want Him there - Read Ezekiel 8:6
c. It was part of judgment
The significance of God departing
The people were on their own, handed over by God to her enemies, no longer under God's protection, having themselves become objects of His wrath.
Such reminds me of the words of Hebrews 10:31 which says "It is a dreadful to thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
I'm also reminded of the Romans 8:31 which says "If God is for us, who can be against us." While the comfort of this verse is amazing, the opposite is
terrifying- for if God be against you, then your doom is sure.
There is a parallel to Ezekiel 8-11 and God departing in 1 Samuel 4.
Because of the peoples sin, God allowed the Philistines to oppress them. The people came up with an idea: Let's take the Ark of the Lord into battle with
us- they thinking that would guarantee their victory. Into battle they went and lo the Ark was captured and the army of Israel defeated. On that day, Eli's -
the priest's- two wicked sons were killed. When news got back to Eli, he, being really fat, old, and nearly blind, fell and broke his neck and died. Then note
what I Samuel 4 says; "His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of
God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains.
As she was dying, the women attending her said, "Don't despair; you have given birth to a son." But she did not respond or pay any attention. She named
the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"-because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her
husband. She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
COUNTER: HOW comforting to know that Jesus has promised to never leave or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:16-20
3. SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE GLORY OF THE LORD STOPPING OVER THE MOUNTAIN- EAST OF THE CITY OF JERUSALEM
In Ezekiel 11:22-23 it says "Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The
glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it."
a. The mountain in question is the Mount of Olives
b. It is from this Mount that Christ ascended into heaven
After rising from the dead and spending 40 days with his disciples- teaching them and proving to them in many different ways that he was alive and had
risen, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives and there before them- he ascended into Heaven. Note also the words of the angels who appeared
"They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said,
"why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen
him go into heaven." Acts 1:10-11
c. According to Zechariah 14:1-5, in the future, God/Christ will descend upon this mountain in power and glory to fight on behalf of His people.
A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be
captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then
the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of
Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving
south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then
the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
4. Do you have the mark that will spare you from the judgment to come?
The Bible teaches very clearly that judgment day is coming. Do you know for sure that you will stand- that you will make it, that you will be welcomed into
Heaven and not cast into Hell?
Ezekiel 9 is a very interesting chapter. After numbering the sins of the Israelites in Ezekiel 8, God, by means of a vision, executes judgment on the people.
Before executing his judgments, God sends out a man through the city with a task "Put on a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over
all the detestable things are being done." Ezekiel 9:4.
Some quick thoughts
As it says in 2 Peter 2:9 "the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their
God knows how to save the righteous. God knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff and the weeds from good plants. The Lord knows those who
are His. He knows how to deliver and He does.
Ezekiel 9:4 reminds me of the last of the 10 plagues on Egypt and how every house marked with the blood of the lamb was spared from seeing their first
born killed by the angel of death. Such is the work of Christ for every follower of His: Spared from the judgment to come because of our being in Christ-
the lamb of God and marked spiritually by His blood shed for us.
Ezekiel 9:4 also reminds us of Revelation 7:1-3 which concerns the future and the days leading up to the return of Christ "After this I saw four angels
standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any
tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been
given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
So: Are you right with God- His way, on His terms: though Christ alone? Are you, by the Scriptures definition, a child of God and member of His kingdom?
Is your name written in the Book of Life?
How to be saved.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Confess your sinfulness. Seek God's forgiveness. Put your faith in Christ as Savior and Lord and then spend the rest of
your days reading God's Word and seeking to obey him- not that you might be saved, but as a response to your having been saved by the grace of God.
5. Ponder afresh the amazing grace of God
In Ezekiel 11:19-20 God says. "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give
them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God."
Direct parallel: Jeremiah 24:7
How amazing is God that He is willing to take sinful people and save them and restore them to Himself.
God is gracious and compassionate. He slow to anger. He is abounding in love. He is merciful to all who turn to Him in spirit and in truth.
In light of the amazing grace of God, hear the invitation of Isaiah 55:6-7 "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the
wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Today, for a second week, we have followed the theme of the glory of the Lord as found in the Book of Ezekiel.
In our first we considered the call of Ezekiel and the incredible vision of God in all His glory that Ezekiel was privy to.
Today, we have considered a vision that God gave to Ezekiel-- a vision in which the glory and presence of the Lord departs the Temple and Jerusalem.
This vision, in part, reminds us that if God is for us- none can stand against us. Conversely, if God be against a person, how terrible them.
Thankfully, for us who have Christ as our Savior and Lord, we have assurance that the judgment to come will not touch us and that we will never
experience what the Israelites did (God leaving them)-- for as Christ has promised us "I will be with you to the very end of the age"
With the amazing grace of God in mind, let us be found faithful taking the good news that because of God's mercy, in and through Christ, one can be
reconciled to God.