Friday, November 7, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 9, 2014

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THE ALTAR, A SIGN OF HOPE
(Redemption comes according to GOD’s blueprint, not ours)
(Ezekiel 43:13-21)

After GOD decides to return HIS divine glory back into the Temple in Jerusalem, and reside there once again among HIS people, HE 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 the old Temple, and let it be a deterrent from re-visiting those same old trespasses again, after they begin to assemble in the new Temple. Only if the people repent of their past behavior, was he to describe the specifications of the construction of the new Temple to them.
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.
Here, and in Ezekiel 44:5-9, GOD is demanding “absolute holiness” from his people, the people who call themselves by HIS name, and in today’s society, that means “Christians”. The only way that man can be holy is by closely adhering to the Word, wisdom, and directives of GOD at all times, especially in the Temple. Man has already proven that he will not adhere to GOD’s holy standards when given a chance to administer his own human ingenuity into GOD’s program in the Church. Eventually he will began to totally favor his own program and religious ideas, and began to ignore GOD altogether.
We must turn from the practice of allowing people to minister in the Temple, who do not exhibit through their behavior, that they really have a heart for GOD. There is to be no hiring of people to work on staff who are not firmly rooted in the word of GOD, and who have not first proven themselves by testing (dedokimasmetha), to be free of worldly ideas that can be used to profane the Temple.
Only those who have experienced a “spiritual circumcision” of the heart, and exhibits such through their behavior at all times, may be able to minister in the Temple. This is something that Ezra, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and the returning exiles heavily stressed when they began to put GOD’s plan, that, was given to Ezekiel, into practice (Ezra 4:1-3, Nehemiah 13:1-9).

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 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 because there will be no sinning in the Millennial times here on earth under the direct rule of CHRIST. GOD will have already cleansed us of our sin nature and filth and we will only have the desire to live like CHRIST (Ezekiel 36:26-29). There will be no sinful desires in the Millennial Kingdom as satan, sin, and death will be locked away for a thousand years. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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