The Departure and Return of God’s Glory
In Ezekiel 10, Ezekiel saw the vision of God’s glory departing from the temple – the most shocking visions that God showed him while he was in exile! Most of the visions and prophesies that God gave to Ezekiel, was about how the temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed. This is in more than half the book of Ezekiel.
This was the explanation of why God allowed the temple of Jerusalem to be destroyed, and His holy people to be taken away in exile. Ezekiel came to understand that it was because God’s glory departed from the temple!
Later in Ezekiel 43, Ezekiel had another vision where this glory of God returns to the temple. Ezekiel must have been smiling and exuberant after seeing this!
1. The reason why the glory of God departed from the temple
The temple is distinguished because of God’s spirit, if the spirit of God is not in the church, it is only another building. Also, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Let us think of a few examples in the bible to see what causes God’s spirit to depart.
(i) The time of Noah (Genesis 6:3)
God said, I will withdraw My breath from mankind.
• Genesis 1, God created and God sanctified and separated.
• Genesis 2 God created mankind from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
• Genesis 3 talks about how mankind rejected God.
• Genesis 4 speaks about the result of that fall.
• Genesis 5 gives us a great hope, it begins with Adam being created in God’s likeness and image. He had a son Seth in his own likeness. That genealogy in Genesis 5 from Adam to Noah shows how that seed of God was passed down.
• Genesis 6 But the sons of God (who have the seed of God) loved the daughters of men (who belonged to mankind). God was so upset because of this.
The seed that God promised to Adam is the seed of the woman. Adam and his descendants have the task to carry on that seed! The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11 NKJ). Later after Jesus comes, this transmitting of faith and covenant became worldwide. Those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:7-9). We do not have Jewish blood, yet we are all still children of God because of this. In Noah’s time, everyone forgot about that task. They lived their life according to what they chose, forgetting about the task of passing down the seed of God’s Word. That is why God brought the flood.
(ii) Secondly in the history of the bible, during the time towards the end of the Judges period
This was during the time of Priest Eli when prophet Samuel was a young boy. Then everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25 NKJ). The Ark of the Covenant was at Shiloh and people started to use that ark as a lucky charm to win battles. The people didn’t remember God’s word or His covenant. Even the priests were corrupt and did not preach the Word of God. So God gave a revelation that the glory of God has departed from Israel. (1 Samuel 4:19-22)
(iii) The time of kings during the Babylonian captivity during Ezekiel’s time
They were worshipping idols and putting idols in God’s sanctuary! They forgot about their Sabbath years and everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge of the Word of God. What is our idol today? The love of myself is the greatest idol.
2. The return of God’s Glory
For us to receive the glory of God returning to us, we need to receive His spirit first. The entire History of Redemption tells of how the spirit of God returns to mankind who lost the Word through the fall. Ezekiel’s Temple’s foreshadows the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21. God’s presence will be found there. Ezekiel’s Temple is talking about 2 things, first it is the image of Jesus Christ and secondly, the image we should all become. All the measurements, images and shapes are all talking about the different spiritual aspects we need to have as saints of God.
What happened to Adam? He rejected God’s Word which is His breath, and Adam returned to dust. This breath is “ruach” = the spirit of God. When we receive this spirit, even dry bones will come back to life! (Ezekiel 37:5-6) As long as we receive the spirit, God will renew us and give us life.
When Jesus came He said, “I am that temple, I am that Spirit. If you receive Me, you will receive the Spirit of life. I am the door. I am the life. I am that water that flows down from heaven.” But people did not understand during Jesus’ time. When we have the heart to receive His Word, God sends us the Spirit so that we may come to understand and truly become sons of God. Until today, the whole creation is longing for the appearance of the sons of God (Romans 8:19-20 NKJ). Wherever we go today, we’ve to take the Spirit of God with us. So that we can do the task to evangelise our unbelieving family members and friends, and to share the seed of God’s Word! Amen.