Restoring the Vision of the Sanctuary

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the first twelve verses of the forty-third chapter. This particular passage of Scripture is utterly and completely packed with a tremendous amount of revelation and truth concerning the Temple of the Lord, concerning the glory of the Lord, and concerning the people of Israel themselves. As you begin studying this portion of Scripture, you will quickly discover that indeed yet another vision was given to the prophet Ezekiel—this time, it was not simply a vision about the Temple of the Lord, but a vision of the glory of the Lord God of Israel. The chapter opens up and begins with the Lord leading Ezekiel to the gate, the gate facing toward the east. It was in this place—this gate which faced toward the east—that Ezekiel beheld the glory of the God of Israel coming from the way of the east. Moreover, Ezekiel heard the voice of the God of Israel, and His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. Oh, I am wonderfully and powerfully convinced that it is incredibly significant that the glory of the God of Israel came from the east. If you study the way the sun which illuminates the earth during the day, you will discover that it rises in the east, and it sets in the west. When the sun first begins to rise upon the earth, it first appears upon the horizon in the east, and then as the day progresses, its light begins to cover the entire face of the earth. Consider the reality that there may be a specific point in the day when the light from the sun covers the entire earth—although it is not possible for that light to remain covering the entire earth at one point in time. For the glory of the Lord to come from the way of the east, it suggests that the glory of the Lord was coming up upon the Temple of the Lord the same way the sun rises upon the earth. If you read the final book of the New Testament—the book of the Revelation of Scripture—you will find that there is no need for the sun in heaven and in eternity, for the glory of Almighty God is the light which shines and radiates in heaven.

I believe this is significant, for the glory of the Lord coming from the way of the east suggests that the glory of the Lord was rising once more in the same manner as the sun which rises upon the earth. I would dare say that in this vision which the prophet Ezekiel saw, the Lord God of Israel was elevating and exalting His glory far above the light which radiates from the sun and illuminates the earth during the day. It is the light of the sun which governs the day, and in like manner, it is the glory of the God of Israel which will govern the people of Israel, the land of Israel, and the Temple of the Lord. I am reminded of the words of the prophet Habakkuk in the second chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name—“Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:13-14). These words are recorded elsewhere in Scripture, and are found in the fifth verse of the fifty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms—“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth” (Psalm 57:5). It is abundantly clear from these two passages [and potentially others] that the glory of the Lord coming by way of the east is a powerful picture of the glory of the Lord rising in the east and spreading across the entire face of the earth. When the glory of the Lord rises in and comes from the east, it is a powerful picture of the tremendous impact that glory is going to have upon the earth. The glory coming by way of the east means that the glory of the Lord was going to rise upon the earth in the same manner as the sun when it rises in the morning, and that His glory was going to illuminate and cover the whole earth as the light of the sun does throughout the course of the day. What’s more, is that the glory of the Lord was going to come by way of the east, and was going to make its way through the earth until it rested upon and came to the Temple of the Lord which would once more rest in the city of Jerusalem. What a powerful prophetic picture it is that the glory of the Lord would come by way of the east, and would move throughout and upon the earth until it came to, rested upon and filled the Temple of the Lord.

Oh, we must pay close attention to the glory of the God of Israel coming by way of the east, for it contains yet another significant prophetic message concerning the house of Israel itself. In order to understand this more fully and completely, it is imperative that you turn your attention to the eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel. It is in this chapter where the Spirit of the Lord provides for Ezekiel a vision of the abominations that were present within the Temple of the Lord. As you progress through the chapter, you will come to the sixteenth verse, where you will find a very specific abomination that was found in the Temple of the Lord. “And He brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the Temple of the Lord, AND THEIR FACES TOWARD THE EAST, WORSHIPPING THE SUN TOWARD THE EAST.. Then He said to me, Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act it my wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ear with a loud voice, I will not hear them” (Ezekiel 8:16-18). Please don’t miss the significance of the twenty-five men with their backs to the Temple of the Lord, nor the direction in which they were facing. These twenty-five men not only had their backs to the Temple of the Lord, but they had their faces toward the east, worshipping the sun toward the east. In other words, there were those who engaged in idolatrous worship between the porch and the altar—between the place of sacrifice and entering in—and who did so facing toward the east, and worshipping the sun. There is a tremendous and powerful significance in the glory of the Lord coming by way of the east, for this glory would have come from the same direction which those men who worshipped the sun faced.

In other words, picture these twenty-five men engaged in idolatrous worship of the sun facing toward the east, and their seeing something far superior and far brighter and far more glorious than the light of the sun coming by way of the east. Oh, what’s more, is that I am convinced the glory of the Lord coming by way of the east is a powerful prophetic declaration to those engaged in idolatrous worship that there is a true and real glory that will arise and come from the east. The glory of the Lord coming by way of the east was a powerful indictment and condemnation of the false and idolatrous worship that was found in the midst of the land. The glory of the Lord coming by way of the east would rise upon the land of Israel, and upon the city of Jerusalem, and would confound all those who were steeped and engaged in their idolatrous worship before the Lord. Oh that the glory of the Lord would rise in the east in this generation, and that it would rise upon the earth in such a way that fills and radiates upon the entire earth. Oh that the glory of the Lord would come by way of the east and would confound and convict all those engaged in idolatrous worship. Oh that the glory of the Lord would rise upon the earth as the light of the sun does, and that it would make its way over, upon, and throughout the earth, and that all men might see such a glory. The glory of the Lord coming by way of the east suggests the powerful truth and reality that there is something far greater than the light, the magnificence, and the power of the sun, which these twenty-five men worshipped. These men worshipped that which rose upon the earth in the east and which provided light to the entire earth, yet there was something far greater that would arise in and come from the east, which would illuminate the entire earth, and would rest upon and fill the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Oh that we would in these days and in this generation have a fresh vision of the glory of the Lord, and that we would encounter the glory of the God of Israel in our lives. Oh that the glory of the Lord would rise by way of the east in our lives, and that it would rise upon our lives as the light of the sun rises upon the earth in the east.

As you continue reading this particular chapter in the prophetic book of Ezekiel, you will find in verse four that the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east, and that the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east. In other words, the glory of the Lord entered through the Eastern (or Golden) Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem, thus sanctifying, consecrating and making that gate holy. If you study the history of this particular gate in the city of Jerusalem, you will find that of all the gates in the city of Jerusalem, this is the only gate in the city which remains shut. This particular gate is the oldest of the current gates in Jerusalem’s Old City walls, and according to Jewish tradition (and according to Scripture), the Shekinah (divine presence) glory used to appear through this gate. The glory of the Lord coming coming by way of the east and entering through the eastern gate was a picture and a foreshadowing of the Messiah who would enter through that gate, and would come to the Temple of the Lord. It was the glory of the God of Israel which sanctified this particular gate in the city of Jerusalem, and I would even dare say and suggest that at His first coming, Jesus the Christ and Lord entered the city of Jerusalem by way of this gate. I can’t help but wonder if at His triumphal entry, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem by way of this gate. Suffice it to say, this gate is presently sealed, and has been sealed since the year 1541. It was the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who sealed this gate, and he may have done so for defensive reasons. It may also be suggested that Suleiman the Magnificent heard that it would be through this gate that the Messiah would enter the city of Jerusalem, and in order to prevent the Messiah from coming to the city of Jerusalem, he fastened and sealed the gate. This may have very well been a prophetic fulfillment of the words which the Lord spoke to the prophet Ezekiel in the very next chapter of this prophetic book: “Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And He said to me, This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way” (Ezekiel 44:1-3). It becomes quite clear that this gate was to remain shut until that appointed time when it would once again be opened, for the Lord Himself, the God of Israel has entered by it. The glory of the Lord came by way of the east, for He would make His way to the Temple of the Lord, and would enter in by way of the Eastern Gate.

The glory of the God of Israel entered this gate which faces toward the east, and the Messiah Himself actually entered the gate around 30 A.D. when He came down from the Mount of Olives and entered into the Temple. This gate was sanctified and consecrated and made holy by the Lord God of Israel, and would not be entered again until the prince (the Messiah) would enter the Temple by way of it. How absolutely incredible it is that in the forty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, the glory of the God of Israel entered the Temple by way of the gate which faces the east, and in the very next chapter, the Lord declares that this gate would remain shut because the glory of the God of Israel entered by way of it. It was the glory of the Lord which sanctified this gate, and the Lord was unwilling to allow this gate to be profaned and polluted by Gentiles. The glory of the Lord entered the Temple of the Lord by way of the eastern gate, and I am convinced that this particular gate was reserved for the Messiah alone to enter through in order to come to the Temple. Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem by way of this gate, and went up to the Temple of the Lord after coming down from the Mount of Olives, and this gate has been sealed for more than four-hundred years. Oh that would understand that the glory of the Lord both consecrates and makes holy, for it was the glory of the Lord which consecrated and sanctified this gate, and as a result, the Lord was unwilling that any imposters enter by way of this gate. Oh that we would recognize and understand those places and those areas within our lives that the glory of the Lord has entered and passed through, and that we would understand that the glory of the Lord sanctifies and makes holy such places. The prophet Ezekiel not only saw the glory of the God of Israel enter by way of the Eastern Gate, but the prophet Ezekiel also saw this same gate shut by command of the Lord, in order that none but the Messiah would enter by way of the gate. When Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives and entered by way of the Eastern Gate and came to the Temple of the Lord, I am convinced that it was a prophetic reenactment and prophetic fulfillment of the glory of the God of Israel which entered by way of the same gate centuries earlier. What a truly powerful picture it is to see that when Jesus entered by way of this gate which faces the east, it was symbolic of the glory of the Lord once more entering through the gate, and coming to the Temple of the Lord. When Jesus entered through this gate and came to the Temple, it was a New Testament picture of the glory of the Lord once more coming to Temple of the Lord within the city of Jerusalem. WHEN THE GLORY OF THE LORD ENTERS BY WAY OF THOSE AREAS IN OUR LIVES, WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO GUARD AND PRESERVE AND PROTECT THOSE AREAS, FOR WE MUST NOT ALLOW ANYTHING ELSE TO ENTER INTO OUR LIVES BY WAY OF THOSE PLACES. WHEN THE GLORY OF THE LORD ENTERS BY WAY OF SUCH AREAS IN OUR LIVES AND COMES TO OUR TEMPLE, WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT SUCH PLACES ARE CONSECRATED, AND WE MUST NOT ALLOW ANYTHING THAT WOULD POLLUTE, DEFILE OR CORRUPT OUR TEMPLE TO ENTER BY THE SAME WAY.

The more I read the prophetic description of the Temple of the Lord and the vision which the prophet Ezekiel was given, the more I am completely amazed at the prophetic significance that is contained within it. Ezekiel not only saw the Temple of the Lord standing once more in the city of Jerusalem, but He actually saw the glory of the Lord entering into that Temple once more. Ezekiel didn’t merely see a vision of a Temple that would be rebuilt in the city of Jerusalem, but he saw a Temple that would be filled with the glory of the Lord. Oh, when Jesus came to and entered the Temple of the Lord around 30 A.D., it was symbolic and a prophetic picture of the glory of the God of Israel once more coming to and entering the Temple. A rebuilt Temple in the city of Jerusalem would mean that worship, sacrifices and offerings would once more be found among the people of Israel within the land to which they were returned and restored. The glory of the Lord filling the Temple of the Lord suggests that the Lord Himself was going to dwell in the midst of His people once more. “And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house.” Pause for a moment and consider that reality—THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE HOUSE. It reminds me of the vision which the prophet Isaiah saw, which is recorded for us in the sixth chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory. And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of Him who called, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isaiah 6:1-4). The glory was found in the Temple earlier on, for after the Temple was completed, and dedicated to the Lord in prayer, we read of a powerful supernatural and divine encounter that took place within it. “As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the Temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3). Oh, the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord departing from the Temple of the Lord earlier on in the course of his prophetic ministry, but he now saw a rebuilt Jewish Temple standing in Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord once more filling the house of the Lord. THE GLORY OF THE LATTER HOUSE SHALL BE GREATER THAN THE GLORY OF THE FORMER! Oh that the glory of the Lord would enter into and fill His sanctuaries and His Temples once more in this generation. Oh, there are many churches, sanctuaries, and houses of worship where “Ichabod” has been pronounced—“The glory of the Lord has departed”—yet we must desperately cry out for the glory of the Lord to fill His house(s) once more.

When you come to the end of this particular portion of Scripture, you will find the purpose and reason for the vision and the revelation of the Temple of the Lord. “As for you, son of man, describe the Temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them. This is the law of the house: its entire area on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house” (Ezekiel 43:10-12). The purpose for the revelation of the design and pattern of the Temple was to cause the house of Israel to be ashamed of their abominations and iniquities. Ezekiel was given the pattern and design for this rebuilt Temple in the midst of Jerusalem, for it would be the concept of a rebuilt Temple in the city once more that would bring such conviction and repentance to the hearts of the house of Israel. What’s more, is that Ezekiel was to make known to the house of Israel the design of the house and its structure and laws if they were ashamed of all that they have done. In other words, this Temple would only be made known, and would only be built by those who were ashamed of their abominations and iniquities, and had truly repented of their actions and deeds before the Lord. Oh, only those who are sanctified, consecrated and made holy before the Lord can build (and in this case rebuild) the Temple of the Lord. The pattern and design of the Temple was to be described to the house of Israel in order that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. WHEN THE PATTERN OF THE TEMPLE BRINGS REPENTANCE AND CONTRITION! Oh that the reality of the sanctuary and house of the Lord would bring repentance, conviction and contrition within us in this generation. Oh that the Temple of the Lord would be rebuilt in the earth once more. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it will be like in the city of Jerusalem, and among the Jewish people when the Temple of the Lord is being rebuilt in their midst once more. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like once the Temple has been completed, and men and women are once more able to come from all over the earth to worship the Lord. Oh that the Lord would rebuild His Temple which has fallen in various places within the earth. Oh that we would be ashamed of our iniquities and our abominations, and that we would rise up and rebuild the house of the Lord in our midst once more.

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