Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday, February 7th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Exodus 25-26; Psalm 29; Mark 1.
Today's scripture focus is Ezekiel 43:1-12.

Ezekiel 43:1-13

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Glory of the Lord Fills the Temple

43 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.
10 “As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. 11 And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out. 12 This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.

The Altar

13 “These are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): its base shall be one cubit high and one cubit broad, with a rim of one span around its edge. And this shall be the height of the altar:

In his sermon on this passage Rayburn says....
In Ezekiel, the Lord remakes the temple for himself and invites his people to join him there. The initiative is all with the Lord. He was not homesick for his house. He had destroyed it himself as an act of his holy judgment and he rebuilt it himself as an act of his grace and mercy....

the gist of this section in Ezekiel 43 is clear enough. The presence of the Lord, as we have already been told repeatedly in Ezekiel, was lost on account of Israel’s faithlessness and her idolatry. She betrayed the covenant Yahweh had made with her and suffered his just wrath as a result. Jerusalem’s destruction with the destruction of the temple and Israel’s exile were brutal demonstrations that the people had forfeited Yahweh’s presence among them. But that temple is to be rebuilt – in the sense in which we have been taught to understand that rebuilding, which has been our theme over the past few Lord’s Day evenings – and God’s presence is to be restored to his people. As Israel lost that presence for sin, it will be restored as God returns to her and brings her to acknowledge her sin, repent, and worship and serve the Lord in faith and love.

But I want us to get beyond the surface and consider for a few moments what all of this means, what it really means to us. The presence of God, that is what is being promised here, a presence that brings with it and creates holiness among God’s people. Unholiness causes God’s presence to depart; God’s presence is the reward lavished upon a sinful people when they turn to the Lord and follow him in righteousness.  You realize perhaps that few people really believe this. That is why they are not at all concerned about the presence of God. Few people in our culture, if asked, would say that their number one concern is that God be present in their lives. They would not say, because they don’t believe that God’s presence is life and joy and his absence is a very bad and harmful thing. They do not connect their own happiness and the fulfillment of their lives with God’s presence and they make no connection between God’s absence and the failure of their lives to rise to the significance, happiness, and fulfillment they know by instinct human lives ought to experience. They have deep longings; every human being does, but he does not connect those longings with the presence of God.

This is one of the chief reasons, of course, that people don’t want to let go of their sins. They look to their sins for their happiness – such as it is – and fear that if they let go of their sins they would cease to be happy. It is the Devil’s lie and it is everywhere believed. The result, as Christians have been pointing out these thousands of years, is that men continue to look for happiness in all the wrong places, find trouble and misery instead, and never find the deeper, higher, holier fulfillment that every human heart longs for. That can be found with God alone....

You and I hardly know what is being said to us when the Lord says here, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” You and I have been made for God. Our nature is made to thrive in the presence of God.

You may at some time have thought about this. It is an interesting and revealing observation, I think. We have the capacity to be awestruck. Some of us remember moments in our lives when we were awestruck. We stood before the Grand Canyon or the Swiss Alps; we watched the sunset over the ocean; or we were caught in a great storm; or we watched our baby being born; or we entered a great European cathedral. We were given the capacity to be overwhelmed by magnificent things. But we hardly ever use it. We are very rarely awestruck; struck dumb; only a few times in our lives do we encounter something so grand, so beautiful, so majestic that it overpowers us. But we have been given that capacity because we will one day employ it every day all day, at least we will who have a part in this glorious future with God. What will that be like? Wonderful beyond words.

When the Lord promises us here a future dominated by his presence, he is promising us everything: human life in its complete and perfect fulfillment; human happiness, joy, and satisfaction so complete that we can scarcely imagine it. And this one thing more, we will be holy. We will not sin. And we can scarcely imagine what it will be like to be a human being without sin, without sin in the heart, in the attitudes, in the thoughts, in the words, or in the deeds. Love, purity, goodness all the way down and all the way out.That, my friends, is something to look forward to!

And what better way to look forward to it and to have more anticipations of it now than simply to strive as hard as we can to live now the way we are going to live then. It is highly likely, it is law of God’s kingdom and of his mercy, that those who strive to do that will also experience more now of what they will experience then. And since that experience is going to be everything that we long for, every little bit of it we can enjoy now is worth whatever effort it requires.

Tomorrow's scripture focusEzekiel 43:13-46:24
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Exodus 27-28
Sunday's passage: Exodus 29-30
Monday's passage: Exodus 31-32, Psalm 30, Mark 2

No comments: