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God has left the building (Wk 8 Ezekiel)

[This week’s lesson by Robert was based on Ezekiel 8 - 11]

There are many places I don’t want to be right now:
•    in a tribal area of Afghanistan
•    caught in a snowstorm in the Rockies
•    in a boat with pirates off the coast of Somalia

But the # 1 place I don’t want to be: wherever God is NOT.

The other places would be difficult, frightening, even deadly. But even in those places, God would be with me (Psalm 139:7-10).

In Ezekiel 10, a very spooky thing happens: God packs up and departs the Holy of Holies once-holy, now-desecrated temple. The idolatry had grown too detestable.

In chapter 8, Ezekiel tells how the Spirit lifted him up to show him the horrid scene. “Look, Son of man. You think this is bad? Wait until you see what’s next…” (Eze 8:6)

One sight after another. Idols in the temple; idolatry scribbled on the walls; elders of the house of Israel worshiping at the pagan shrines; women mourning over the Babylonian fertility god Tammuz; men turning opposite the temple in nature worship.

These were no trivial matters (Eze 8:17). 

As sometimes happens, those people nearest the heart of religious activity (in this case the Jews in the temple at Jerusalem) can be the most repugnant to the Lord. Who are we more repelled by? The chronic alcoholic who drinks one more night? Or the pious televangelist having affairs as he preaches about faithfulness to one wife? 

Sin is sin. It’s all bad. But spitting in the face of God seems particularly vile. And those in Ezekiel’s times were doing just that.

So God left the building. As Robert phrased it for us, the temple was about to be hell because God was no longer in it. You don’t want to be where God is not. There is no protection there. No goodness. No love.

Separated. From God. It’s the most dangerous place to be.

But thankfully, we don’t have to be. Ezekiel related God’s promised return of Israel (Ezekiel 11). God would gather the scattered exiles and put a new spirit in them, replacing hearts of stones with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19). They would be his people, and he would be their God (v 20).

Man’s sin had separated, as it always does. Sin drives God away. Separation is painful. But God can clean it up.

Now, with Jesus as the cornerstone of God’s new spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-6), he has chosen to live in believers as his temple. This temple is also holy because God’s Spirit dwells in it (1 Cor 3:16-17).

We serve as holy priests in his temple. There is no greater honor.

God may have left the building, but he returned in our hearts. That’s where I want him to stay. Because wherever he is, is the best place to be.

* * *

Or do you not know that your body is a temple
of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?
You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

(The Message) 
. . . God is building a home. He's using us all--irrespective of how
we got here--in what he is building. 
He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.
Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick,
stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone
that holds all the parts together.
We see it taking shape day after day--
a holy temple built by God, 
all of us built into it,
a temple in which God is quite at home.

Ephesians 2:19-22 (The Message)

* * *

NEXT: Week 9, Purification
          Ezekiel 24

More Ezekiel notes
Class outline


1 comment:

Unknown said...

In the "cleft of the rock" passage (Exodus 33) that many of us should be familiar with from the lyrics ins "A Wonderful Savior" there is also an interesting phrase in verse 15 which relates to what you've shared here. Moses, speaking to God, requests, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here."


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