“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
These chapters record the first of Ezekiel’s two “temple visions.”
Remember… Ezekiel has been prophesying against Jerusalem while he is in exile in Babylon. He isn’t in Jerusalem to see the extent of the abominations performed against God in his own house.
So, through the Spirit, Ezekiel is somehow transported to Jerusalem where he is able to see the temple. The text reads, “the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem” (8:3).
What Ezekiel sees is breathtaking. It’s as if someone has drawn back a curtain and all things that were invisible are now made visible.
He sees the spiritual realm existing right alongside the earthly realm. He sees leaders worshipping idols in the temple surrounded by the Glory of the Lord. And then tragically, Ezekiel records the slow exodus of the Glory from the temple…
Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house (Ezekiel 9:3).
The Glory is no longer in the Holy of Holies but has moved to the threshold of the house – the gate, the exit.
As the vision continues, we see God’s brutal execution of judgment, but we also see God’s glory inch away from his sinful people…
Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:18).
God didn’t just… leave. He inched. It’s almost as if Ezekiel’s vision mirrors the longsuffering of God – the longing for repentance, the waiting for repentance. It is only, as the-most-last-resort, that God finally leaves.
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city (Ezekiel 11:22-23).
And just like that. He is gone.
Just before He left, He made a promise. That he will gather the exiles from the ends of the earth, and give them a heart of flesh…“And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 11:17-20).
God’s covenant promises are based on nothing but the character of God. His promise to “be our God” is not based on OUR ability to be righteous but based on HIS kindness, HIS goodness, and HIS righteousness.
God’s wrath has been poured out. His wrath has been satisfied. We are no longer objects of His wrath – but recipients of His grace!
Later in the book of Ezekiel, he has a second “temple vision.” But this vision is not of God leaving His people – but of Him gathering His people and establishing a New Jerusalem. What a day that will be!! I. Can’t. Wait!