Friday, October 31, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 2, 2014

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GOD’S DIVINE GLORY RETURNS
(We can see GOD’s glory when we follow HIM)
(Ezekiel 43)

In Ezekiel chapters 8-11 Ezekiel described how GOD’s glory left the Temple that King Solomon had constructed. HIS withdrawal symbolized HIS temporary removal of protection from the city of Jerusalem, and, from the Israelite people in general. Here in Ezekiel 43, the “angelic being” in Ezekiel’s vision brings him back around to the East Gateway of the Temple area. It is there that the glory of the LORD suddenly appears before Ezekiel just at it had before, at the Kebar River, and again, when GOD came to destroy Jerusalem. The sounds of HIS coming were like the roar of rushing water, and the whole landscape shone brightly when HE arrived, and came in through the East Gateway of the temple (Vs.1-4). Then the HOLY SPIRIT took Ezekiel into the inner courtyard as the glory of the LORD then filled the Temple itself. As the angelic being, who was assigned by GOD to measure the temple area, stood beside Ezekiel, a voice spoke to Ezekiel from inside the Temple saying;

“Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place where I will rest my feet. I will live here forever among the people of Israel. They and their kings will not defile my holy name any longer by their adulterous worship of other gods or by honoring the relics of their kings who have died.  They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me. They defiled my holy name by such detestable sin, so I consumed them in my anger.  Now let them stop worshiping other gods and honoring the relics of their kings, and I will live among them forever” (Vs.7-9) (NLT).

And so GOD would “conditionally” bring HIS divine glory back into the Temple in Jerusalem after the exiles returned, and HE would reside there once again among HIS people. However, in verses 10-12, GOD tells Ezekiel to describe the Temple plans, that, HE had shown him, to the people of Israel, and, to do it in such a way that, it would bring to remembrance, the shame of all of their past sins. GOD wanted the people to feel the shame for all of the “profane things” that they had done in HIS Holy Place, the old Temple, and let it serve as a deterrent from re-visiting those same old trespasses again, after they begin to assemble in the new Temple. And only if the people repent of their past behavior, was Ezekiel to describe the specifications of the construction of the new Temple.
GOD wanted HIS people to be able to see HIS grace through HIS promise of restoration, and be led to repent. Here HE stressed one basic primary law of the new Temple that must be adhered to at all times, and that is; ABSOLUTE HOLINESS! In fact, GOD says that the entire top of the hill where the Temple is built will be holy! And the Temple itself must be adorned with holiness, not human ideals and ingenuity.
Ezekiel was allowed by GOD to see the same glory that had once adorned the Temple of old in Jerusalem. Now GOD would be coming back to Jerusalem, and resting in a rebuilt glorified physical edifice, where HE would also restore the Israelites relationship of friendship with HIM, and fulfill the covenant that HE had made with Abraham.
As Ezekiel’s prophecies continue to waver back and forward between pre-exilic, post exilic, and eschatological times, here in the passage of Ezekiel 43, verses 13-27, we find perhaps one of the more stronger arguments that the prophet’s foretelling of the coming post-exilic Temple, may not be descriptions of a “yet to come” future, eschatological restoration of Israel.
Beginning in verse 13 of this chapter, we see the detailed description of plans for a “sacrificial alter” to be built in the new Temple. Here we can see that there is a theologically based problem with this being an eschatological reference, instead of a post-exilic one, since CHRIST JESUS is the once-and-for-all-time sacrifice that won us our salvation. Therefore, this passage begs the question, “Why will we need a sacrificial altar in the “Millennial Kingdom Temple?” And the answer is that, we won’t. Here in this passage Ezekiel is clearly prophesying of the Temple that was built by the exiles (led by Ezra, Zerrubabel, & Nehemiah) who would return to Israel from Babylon.
In the Millennial Kingdom Temple there will be no need for a sacrifice altar or Levitical priests of the family of Zadok to minister before the LORD on behalf of the people for their sin, simply because there will be no sinning in the Millennial Kingdom here on earth, under the direct rule of CHRIST JESUS. GOD will have already cleansed us of our “sin nature and filth” by then, and we will only have the desire to live like CHRIST, going forward (Ezekiel 36:26-29). There will be no sinful desires in the Millennial Kingdom, as satan, sin, and death, will all be locked away for a thousand years (Revelations 20:1-6), and we’ll be able to see GOD’s Glory, because we will earnestly be following HIM in everything we do, and, in every thought that we have. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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