20–26 November 2016.
The Book of Ezekiel began with prophecies telling the people of Jerusalem how they had ruined everything. God’s presence had been with them there in the city, God’s glory had rested in the temple. But because of the people’s many sins, they had made the land unclean, and forced God to leave Jerusalem.
But here now at the end, the prophet turns his eyes to the future and describes the beautiful hope of God’s glory one day returning to Jerusalem, and especially to the temple. He envisions the temple being rebuilt and re-dedicated. He dreams of it once again being made into a place that could welcome God’s glory.
So in these last chapters of Ezekiel, the writer describes his vision of the restored temple. It seems strange to us that he uses so many chapters to do this, and that he describes the temple in such great detail. But the detail is important. That’s because the design of each part of the temple symbolized something about the glory and nature of God.
Today, instead of having a temple built with stones, God lives with us in our lives. But even though the shape of this “temple” has changed, the same design principle still exists. When the ancient Israelites looked at the temple, it pointed them to God. In the same way, our hope as Christians is that when people look at us, the shape and design of our lives will also point to God.
Hands that care for others point to the great compassion of God. Eyes that see the problems going on in the world, and refuse to ignore them, point to the justice of God. A mouth that speaks what is right and good points to the truth of God. And a heart that feels for others and reaches out to them points to the wonderful love of God that also reaches out to us.
Sometimes when we visit great and ancient churches, our hearts really feel the presence of God there. But how wonderful would it be if people could say to us that when they are close to us or look at our lives, that they too feel the presence of God. Then we would know that our bodies really have become true temples of the living God!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis