August 17, 2021
"Now the glory of the Lord left the threshold of the house and halted above the cherubim. The cherubim lifted their wings and rose off the earth..."
“Now the glory of the Lord left the threshold of the house and halted above the cherubim. The cherubim lifted their wings and rose off the earth – I was watching as they went off with the wheels next to them. They paused at the entrance of the East gate of the Lord’s house, with the glory of the God of Israel over them from above.” Ezekiel 10:18-19
At one time, I lived in a neighborhood where the homes were built in the 1950s, so I know that termites eventually make their way into every residence. One morning, on my way to a coffeehouse where I studied my Bible, I noticed a house in my neighborhood had been “tented” by an exterminating company. When termites are discovered, the worst-case scenario is that the owners must evacuate the structure for a weekend while exterminators cover the home with a tent and fill the house with potent gaseous pesticides. After the smoke clears (literally), the occupants may return home.
This is a good picture of what today’s chapter is communicating. Because of the nagging destructive presence of sin in His house, God is leaving home for a God-sized weekend while His “exterminators” get to work. What needs to be grasped is that this is worse than any of God’s judgments thus far. The presence of a God who judges, however terrible His rebuke, is indeed preferable to the absence of God and His mercy!!
God’s presence is His most treasured gift. It is at the heart of His promises, i.e., He “covenants” to His people. “You are with me,” David says in Psalm 23:4, and we get the sense that it was the truth that David cherished most. Other Bible writers echoed that thought: God is with us (Matthew 28:20), around us (Psalm 34:7; 139:5), in us (John 14:7), in the midst of us (Psalm 46:5), underneath us (Deuteronomy 33:27), near us (Psalm 148:14) and before us (John 10:4).
Most importantly, He promises never to leave or forsake His faithful children:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5
In essence, because God is everywhere, He can never really leave. Even so, some aspects of God’s presence may well be withdrawn, even from God’s people. He may remove all perception of visibility so that, even though He is present, we may not feel it. He may decide to withdraw His help – as Samson discovered with Delilah. But what happens here in Ezekiel 10 is of a different order. Here, God is withdrawing from His “Temple,” the place where the people went for comfort.
Today’s chapter gives us better insight as to the seriousness of God’s warnings in Revelation 3:12-17, where God threatens to fight against the Pergamum church because of their moral and spiritual deviances, and in Revelation 3:14-22, where He threatens to “spit” the Laodicean church out of His mouth. Not all who say, “Lord! Lord!” follow Him as He requires, as it pertains to salvation. (Matthew 7:21) God clearly distinguishes between His true Church and the “synagogues of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9). In such cases, where the congregation ceases to be “His” in their practices, Ichabod, God departs.