Ezekiel 42

Ezekiel 42
by Pastor Mark Hudson

See the devotional on Ez. 40 for a clear and concise overview of the last few chapters in Ezekiel.   This is the 25th year of the exile of the Jews in Babylon in the first of the year.  This was 14 years after the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.  Ezekiel saw a vision.  (40:1).  Ezekiel had seen visions previously.  In Ez. 3:15, he was in silence after his first vision.  He was ‘overwhelmed’ by this first vision.  Then in chapter 8 and following he sees more unsettling visions.  Most of his ministry was difficult. Just think of losing your spouse and not being allowed to grieve. That must have been so painful.

He is seeing visions on a very high mountain which is where God often gives visions to His people.  Ezekiel is ushered around by an angel ‘whose appearance was like bronze, will a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand.’  He speaks rarely.  Once in the beginning (40:4), four times during the tour (40:45-46; 41;4, 22; 42:13-4; 43:10-12).  This individual shows more things than speaks.

I will admit that I would not pick these sections as my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Is that because of my own lack of sanctification?  Probably has a part in it.  We do not think of the temple as a symbol of the presence of God or any physical place as that symbol.  We believe God dwells within believers.  We are the temple of God.  Yet, the temple speaks to the people that God is with them.

What we are reading is a person looking into the future by looking through the same paradigm of the past.  Ezekiel was not a futurist in the way we use that term.  In the future was a renewed past.  In fact Christopher Wright writes, “There are three major themes that are interwoven in these chapters: the temple; the sacrificial system; and the division of the land.  . . . Fundamentally, Ezekiel is concerned, first, that Yahweh should dwell again among his people in a cleansed sanctuary.  So he is granted a visionary tour of a temple  of perfectly symmetrical dimensions.  Secondly, he is concerned that the people’s relationship with Yahweh should from now on be sustained by a full and proper implementation of the sacrificial rituals and priestly duties, through which forgiveness, fellowship and covenant inclusion could continue without threat.  So he is given instructions relating to the restoration of the priestly and sacrificial system.  And thirdly, he longs to see the unruly, and incorrigible wickedness of Israel, which had made the exile so inevitable and so deserved, replaced by a nation living in well-ordered peace and harmony on the land”  (p. 328).

The other purpose of this vision of is to give hope to Ezekiel’s audience. They deserved the beatdown God through Ezekiel gives them, yet Ezekiel’s ministry was hard on Ezekiel and difficult to hear.  And to think of God’s grief and sorrow over His sheep’s refusal to repent and live for His honor.  So after Ezekiel’s long ministry and these chapters which can be difficult to read, it is encouraging to hear that a grand reversal is about to take place.

For so many years, God’s people thought, acted, and lived like the people they replaced.  They were, in fact, worse than the Canaanites because they had God’s laws and God’s presence.  So, if they turned into God’s enemies, God would treat them accordingly.  Now, Israel was being renewed, restored, and returned to the land. But more than that, all believers will be glorified, that is, free from sin when we see Christ.  We will be one with God and unified with every believer in the world.  Ezekiel is seeing the future, explaining that future to his audience and we, as readers, are peering over Ezekiel’s shoulders.  We attempt to make sense of Ezekiel’s vision as well as compare and contrast with what we know of the future.  Granted, we ‘see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face’ (I Corin 13:12).  We have a limited knowledge of our future.  For every believer, our future is full of God’s eternal grace, forgiveness, and love.  Heaven is a world of love as Jonathan Edwards liked to say.

Lord, there is so much we do not understand about what You have in store for us. Open our spiritual eyes wide so we can see how heinous sin is and how damaging and belittling sin is.  Help us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to think deeply about the horrors of hell and the beauty and loveliness of heaven.  Draw us closer to You and to strive for more holiness, love, and humility.  We ask You to help us understand and love the Scripture more each day.  You restore to us the years the locust has eaten.  As bad as we have been in our sinful rebellion, You still want to forgive us welcome us into Your family and adopt us as Your children.  We praise Your glorious Name.  In Christ’s gracious name.  Amen.