1 Kings 13; Philippians 4; Ezekiel 43; Psalms 95-96
ALMOST TWENTY YEARS HAVE elapsed since the visionary experience in which Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord abandoning the temple (Ezek. 10:18-22; 11:22-24). Here in Ezekiel 43:1-12 he witnesses the Lord’s return.
Numerous phrases and clauses remind us that the glory Ezekiel now sees is to be identified with the glory he first saw in the mobile throne vision in Ezekiel 1-3, and with the glory that abandoned the temple and the city in the vision of chapters 8-11. Ezekiel makes the point explicit: “The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown” (Ezek. 43:3).
Within the symbol-structure of the vision, this means that God is manifesting himself among his people once more. They are to respond by being ashamed of their sins (Ezek. 43:10-11) and by conforming perfectly to whatever he prescribes (Ezek. 43:11).
The culmination of this vision within the book of Ezekiel is found in the last verse of the book: “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE” (Ezek. 48:35). That is wonderful. Wherever the Lord is, is holy. “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 Pet. 1:13-16). John saw a vision of “the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). The voice cried, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).
We must always remember that: The Gospel is not admired in Scripture primarily because of the social transformation it effects, but because it reconciles men and women to a holy God. Its purpose is not that we might feel fulfilled, but that we might be reconciled to the living and holy God. The consummation is delightful to the transformed people of God, not simply because the environment of the new heaven and the new earth is pleasing, but because we forever live and work and worship in the unshielded radiance of the presence of our holy Maker and Redeemer. That prospect must shape how the church lives and serves, and determine the pulse of its ministry. The only alternative is high-sounding but self-serving idolatry.