As we continue this series, remember that Ezekiel chapters 40 through 42 have been describing a vision of this temple, with details about its design. In chapter 43, God’s glory would return, but He wasn’t restoring the Israelites because they had been particularly righteous. Instead, God was working for His own Name, and keeping His promises.
In verses 10-11, we find that the description of the temple had a purpose for the people who would hear about it:
“Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.
Ezekiel 43:10-11 NIV
Ezekiel is to tell these details to the Israelites (see Ezekiel 40:4), not just as some sort of Science Channel episode or a fact sheet, but so that they can appreciate – what I interpret as – its perfection and holiness.
Here, I think that the Lookout (cited below) says it well:
“God’s perfection, evident in the temple, causes the people to see their unholiness. His mere presence in the temple compelled the people to be ashamed of their sins. His “otherliness” caused the people to sense their sinfulness.”
In contrast to this amazing description of a temple, the people’s past behavior would be pretty ugly by comparison. Their sins – of idolatry, faithlessness, etc. – aren’t just bad, they are even worse in light of the glory and perfection that was to be found in God’s temple. And, isn’t that the way things are for us? We might think that we’re “pretty good” or that we don’t sin “much”, but when we compare our lives to Jesus Christ (and perhaps to others who are more practiced along that path that we are), we find that “good enough” isn’t even close to God’s holiness. Even one sin is enough to corrupt us, tarnishing us beyond the ability to live in God’s presence (on our own, that is).
Of course, we are not saved by how few times that we sin. However, for those whose sins are completely paid for by the sacrifice that Jesus Christ gave of Himself for us, the purpose for which God has created us is still obedience and adherence to His loving instructions.
However, for the Israelites in the time of Ezekiel, note this: while the details of this temple appear to be the cause of their shame for their sins, it seems that this vision is also a source of hope for redemption from those sins. God has promised to restore His people: not just back to wandering with a mobile tent (like the tabernacle), but to a city having a magnificent temple to God. With that opportunity comes a responsibility: the people must adhere to the laws of the temple.
We can look at this law of the temple more in the next article, but in the meantime, in light of Leviticus 19:1-2 (which I encourage you to read on your own), let us remember to respect God’s holiness, and to keep ourselves holy as well. His glory may convict us of our own sins, but – if we accept it into our lives – His grace gives us confidence in His salvation.
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.