Driven from the Sanctuary

Not sure what to do with it . . . but to hover over it . . . and to wonder at it . . . and be filled with dread because of it. The Spirit falls upon Ezekiel in Ezekiel 8. The prophet looks and sees “a form that had the appearance of a man.” The description of the Man’s appearance has the flavor of the vision John the Revelator had on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation 1. Thinking this is one of those theophanies, a pre-incarnate appearance of the Son of God, the Christ. And if I’m reading it right, He comes to take the prophet on a behind the scenes tour.

He takes Ezekiel, through a vision, to the temple in Jerusalem, where the depths of His peoples’ spiritual infidelity is laid bare though they said, “The LORD does not see us.” He sees first, at the entrance to the inner court, something called “the image of jealousy” . . . don’t know exactly what that is, but you gotta know it isn’t good. Digging through the wall of the outer temple, idolatrous images engraved in the temple walls are shown to Ezekiel . . . and before them, 70 elders of Israel engage in pagan worship. At the entrance of the north gate the prophet is shown women weeping before a foreign deity. And then, in the inner court, 25 men have their back to the place where the glory dwells so that they might turn their faces to the east and worship the sun.

What was it for Ezekiel to witness such flagrant rebellion and spiritual adultery. And what of the Man who accompanied Him on this “abomination tour” . . . how it must have grieved the heart of the King and provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel.

And He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive Me far from My sanctuary?” (Ezekiel 8:6 ESV)

I know it’s coming . . . that tragic account of the glory departing the temple. But this verse in Ezekiel sends chills down my spine . . . for the glory didn’t just decide to leave, it was driven from the sanctuary.

The people were sending it far away. What started as delusional belief that they could worship both the God of Abraham and the gods of this world ends with the defilement of the sanctuary and eviction of God’s presence from the place where He desired His glory to dwell. Not sure what to do with it. But it’s written for my instruction.

Certainly, I need to recognize that today there is a temple being made of living stones, Christ Himself being the cornerstone, “in whom the whole structure,being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). That those who seek to follow Christ are being made into a spiritual house to offer acceptable spiritual sacrifices (1Pet. 2:5). And recognizing that, how I need to be on guard against mixing pagan practice with holy worship.

But there’s something about Ezekiel’s escort being the pre-incarnate Christ . . . the Son of God . . . the Builder of a future temple, which captures my imagination. In the wrath and judgment, is there also an anticipation of His glory returning to that yet to be birthed living temple? Is there an expectancy of completing the work which will take people dead in sin and convert them into living material suitable as a house where His presence might again dwell on earth? Don’t know.

Not sure what to do with it . . . but to hover over it . . . and to wonder at it . . .


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