In Ezekiel chapter 43, Ezekiel continues to experience a vision, in which he is brought to an east-facing gate, and he sees the glory of God.
Remember in Ezekiel 9, how there was a vision of six men with weapons and one with a writing kit, and the people in the city were destroyed unless they had been marked as righteous by the last man? In the context of chapters 9 and 10, I’d like to share Ezekiel 11:23:
The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it.
Ezekiel 11:23 NIV
So, in an earlier vision, God’s glory left Jerusalem to the east (and possibly left the temple on the east side per Ezekiel 10:18-10 [as suggested by Asbury, cited below]). From Ezekiel 43:1-5, God’s glory returns from the east. It had left, for reasons that were described earlier in Ezekiel, but it would return. (See also Ezekiel 44:1-3, in this context.)
In Ezekiel 43:4-5, God’s glory enters the temple. Ezekiel is taken to another location within the temple mount and God’s glory fills the temple.
Matthew Henry pointed out a metaphor that I liked: “He [i.e., Ezekiel] has seen the temple, and sees it to be very spacious and splendid; but, till the glory of God comes into it, it is but like the dead bodies he had seen in vision (Ezek. 37:1-28), that had no breath till the Spirit of life entered into them. Here therefore he sees the house filled with God’s glory.”
Let’s look at another verse:
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.
Ezekiel 43:3 NIV
The vision of the destruction of Jerusalem might be the one prophesied in Ezekiel 9, which was studied in an earlier article. The vision by the Kebar River sounds like the one described in Ezekiel chapter 1 through the first part of chapter 3.
Note the natural reaction to God’s glory: Ezekiel doesn’t run up and give God a hug or a high-five or a fist-bump. He doesn’t walk up to God to talk with Him. No, he falls on his face. Even with the redemption that Jesus Christ provided to us, I’m not sure if there’s any other rational reaction to the glory of God.
In fact, when someone tells you that they’ve been over to the other side – that they’ve seen the light of Heaven, perhaps – I encourage you to ask them about what the defining characteristic of their experience was. I suspect that the core attribute of Heaven isn’t just streets of gold or having a new body, or even having a feeling of peace, but rather the glory of God. I’m not saying that some people haven’t experienced a preview of God’s presence, but these accounts should always be tested against what we know to be true from the Bible before we accept them as guidance for our lives.
Regardless of how you’ve experienced God’s glory in the past, though, you might feel like you’re in an environment where God’s glory has left: whether a country that has lost its passion for God (like the Israelites at certain times in their history), a church that seems to no longer reflect the glory of God, a family who has fallen away from a former dedication to God, or just a distance from God that you feel in your own spiritual life. From these passages, be reassured of these things: 1) God’s glory can return, 2) it will return where He has promised that it will, and 3) when we experience the unfiltered glory of God, we won’t be glorifying ourselves.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 25, 2022
- The Lookout, September 25, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.
- Asbury Bible Commentary. Copyright © 1992 by The Zondervan Corporation, via BibleGateway.com.