September 19, 2021
"After this, he brought me to the gate facing east. There I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. His voice was like the sound of rushing water..."
“After this, he brought me to the gate facing east. There I saw the glory of the God of Israel approaching from the east. His voice was like the sound of rushing water and the earth shone with all His glory. The vision seemed like the vision I had seen when I came to destroy the city; also the visions were like the vision I had seen by the K’var River; and I fell on my face. The Lord’s glory entered the house through the gate facing east.” Ezekiel 43:1-4
One of the saddest moments in Israel’s history occurred when the Ark of the Covenant was taken into Philistine hands, and Israel was left deprived of the symbol of God’s help. When Eli heard of the consequential death of his two sons, he fell backward and broke his neck. In the shock of all the events, his daughter-in-law gave premature birth, dying in the process. Before she died, she gasped out that the child should be called “Ichabod,” meaning, “The glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4).
Israel’s condition in Ezekiel 43 was a similar “low point.” The collapse of Jerusalem and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple symbolized the idea that God had departed from His Holy City. (Of course, we know God never truly leaves.) Ezekiel had been taken to Jerusalem in a vision in chapter 10 to see God depart! That was in 592 B.C. Almost 20 years had passed since that awful day. Nothing could be worse than that. If the description of the new Temple in Ezekiel’s vision is to hold any significance (other than for architects), the essential nature of its glory has to be underlined. This involves the return of God to dwell in His Temple again. This is what these verses now describe.
Ezekiel is brought to the east gate of the temple complex; this gate leads directly to the Temple area. It was from this gate that God’s glory had departed in chapter 10. In chapter 43, we have the reverse of chapter 10: God is going to come back through the same gate by which He left. What Ezekiel sees, he tells us, is a reminder of the glory of God that he first encountered in the opening chapters: a vision of glory in chapter 1 and a vision of God coming to destroy the city in chapter 9 (43:3). Ezekiel, for the third time in this book, has come face-to-face with the living God.
If sin had driven the Lord from His Temple, then it will be the holy pursuit of His people that will keep Him there - holiness, which is unobtainable by men within the confines of their sinful flesh. But that is the power of the “good news” of the gospel. Jesus has accomplished what we could not. He paid a debt we could not pay, a debt He did not owe, all because He loves us and desires to make us whole and holy.