Would You Dare Have Church Without Presence? 










Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the forty-first chapter. The forty-first chapter continues a prophetic discourse concerning a Temple that would once more stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. If there is one thing we must remember when considering the reality and concept of a rebuilt Temple within the city of Jerusalem, it’s that in order for there to be a rebuilding, there must first be a releasing and a returning. Before there can be a rebuilding of the Temple within the city of Jerusalem, the people of God would need to first be released from their captivity and exile, and upon their release, would need to return to the land of their inheritance. The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both prophesied of a release from captivity and exile, and both promised and foretold of a returning to their own land. Both Hebrew prophets prophesied of a restoration of the people of God to and a restoration of the people of God within the land which was sworn on oath to their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One of the greatest truths we must recognize and consider when seeking to understand the reality of a Temple being rebuilt within city of Jerusalem, it’s that the people themselves would need to be gathered from all the nations and countries in which they had been scattered, and returned unto their own land. According to the prophetic writing of Ezekiel, we not only notice the return and restoration of the people of God to their own land, but we also notice that prior to the rebuilding of the Temple in their midst, there would first be a tremendous conflict that would ensue. Between the thirty-seventh chapter, which is the famous “vision of the valley of dry bones” and chapter forty and beyond, there are two distinct chapters which describe a conflict that has yet to take place. Chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine describe and outline the single greatest conflict the Hebrew people have ever and will ever face, as the beautiful land is utterly and completely invaded by Gog and the vast army behind him. It is true that the prophet Ezekiel prophesies and foretells of a Temple and sanctuary that would once more stand in the midst of Jerusalem, yet prior to and before that Temple could be completed in their midst, there would be a tremendous conflict. What’s interesting to note is that the conflict which Ezekiel prophesies concerning takes place from the place of restoration. CONFLICT FROM THE PLACE OF RESTORATION! It was true the Hebrew people would be restored to the land of their inheritance, yet it would be from that place of restoration they would experience conflict in the earth. The Temple and sanctuary of the Lord would most certainly be found once more within the city of Jerusalem, yet in order for that Temple to be rebuilt, the people had to be restored to and within the land, and they had to be brought through and out of the greatest conflict they had ever and would ever face.

 One thing we must notice concerning the presence of the Temple within the city of Jerusalem, it’s that the Temple could only and would only be built after tremendous conflict and struggle. The Tabernacle—the portable sanctuary of the Lord of hosts in the wilderness—was given unto the children of Israel after they had endured four-hundred years in slavery, bondage and oppression, and after they had been experienced the salvation of the Lord at the Red Sea. What’s more, is that the Tabernacle was not given unto the children of Israel until after they had faced the Amalekites in battle in the wilderness after passing through the waters of the Red Sea. When speaking of the Temple of Solomon, it’s important that we note that the Temple which Solomon built came during a time of peace—a peace that was produced and manifested in the midst of the land after his father David had fought and waged countless wars against the adversaries and enemies of Israel. The Temple which Solomon built was built during a time of tremendous peace and rest for the people of God, for the Lord had given David rest from all his enemies round about him. The entire twenty-second chapter of the book of Second Samuel, as well as the entire eighteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms describes how the Lord had delivered David out of and from the hands of all his enemies, and how the Lord had delivered David from the hand of Saul who sought to kill him. The Temple which Solomon had built would eventually be destroyed and burned to the ground by the Babylonians, and would lie in ruins for seventy years. A second Jewish Temple would once again stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, yet it would not come until after the Jewish people had endured seventy years of captivity and exile in the land of the Chaldeans, and had been restored into and to their own land. There would be a Temple that would be present during the days and time of Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God, and Jesus Himself would frequent the Temple during His three and a half years of public ministry. It’s worth noting that Jesus was first brought to the Temple when He was only eight days old, for it was customary after a child was eight days old to be presented unto the Lord. Twelve years later Jesus would return to the Temple with Mary and Joseph, yet would linger behind carrying on a dialogue and discourse with the priests and teachers of the Law. Eighteen years later we find Jesus once more coming to the Temple, and would frequent the Temple during His three and a half years of public ministry. That Temple which Jesus visited during His earthly ministry would eventually be destroyed nearly thirty-seven years later, as the Roman army invaded Judea and Samaria, would devastate the city of Jerusalem, and would destroy the second Jewish Temple. Up until the year 70 A.D. there were two Jewish Temples which would stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and both Temples would be destroyed by fire as the enemy would burn both Temples to the ground.

 CONFLICT MAKES ROOM FOR THE SANCTUARY! CONFLICT MAKES ROOM FOR THE ALTAR! CONFLICT MAKES ROOM FOR THE COURTS OF THE LORD! It was conflict, the wars, the battles, the struggles David and the army of Israel fought and faced that would produce the rest, the peace and the security that would be needed for the Temple to be built during the days of Solomon. What’s interesting to note, is that while the first Jewish Temple would be built during a time of peace and rest—peace and rest that had come from years of conflict, battle and struggle—the temple which Ezekiel saw in visions of God was not as such. If you read the opening set of verses in the thirty-eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, you will read of the land of Israel, and how it was a land without walls, without bars, and without gates. Thus, what the prophet Ezekiel saw was the people of God living securely within their own, and enjoying rest and security round about them. Now naturally, one would expect the Temple and sanctuary of the Lord to be built during that time. One would expect and anticipate the sanctuary and courts of the Lord to be built during a time of peace, during a time of rest, and during a time of security. It’s worth noting and pointing out that it wasn’t the Temple that was first experienced within and from that place of rest, peace and security. Before the Temple which Ezekiel saw would and could be manifested in the earth, there first had to come the tremendous conflict that was the war of Gog and Magog. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if there are men and women who are expecting the Temple and sanctuary to be built—or perhaps even rebuilt—within their lives, yet they are waiting for the Temple to be rebuilt, when what truly lies before them is a conflict and struggle. I would dare say there are many men and women who are waiting for the Temple and sanctuary to be built or rebuilt within their lives when the Lord is actually preparing them to enter into and experience a conflict—perhaps even a conflict unlike nothing they have ever faced before. Oh, there would be a third Jewish Temple that would stand in the midst of Jerusalem once more, yet before that Temple could be built by the people of God, the people first needed to experience and endure the single greatest conflict and struggle they have ever faced. The prophet Haggai describes how the latter glory of the rebuilt Temple would be greater than the former glory of the first Temple, and I would dare say that the greater the conflict, the great the glory. I am utterly and completely convinced that conflict prepares us to encounter and experience glory, and that the greater the conflict we experience within our lives, the greater the glory we can and will experience.

 One of the greatest realities I absolutely love about the concept of a Temple and sanctuary being built once more within the city of Jerusalem, and in the midst of the people of God, is that it is the presence of the rebuilt Temple that signifies the Lord is willing to dwell in the midst of His people once more. When the first Jewish Temple was built by Solomon, fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice upon the altar, and glory filled the house, thus signifying and suggesting the fact that the Lord was indeed willing to dwell in the midst of His people. This same reality was evident and manifested in the wilderness when the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, and as fire came forth from the Lord and not only ignited the altar, but consumed the sacrifice. The very fact that the Temple and sanctuary of the Lord would be rebuilt in the midst of the city of Jerusalem suggests that the Lord was once more willing to dwell in the midst of His people. What’s more, is that with the rebuilt Temple would also come the presence of the altar. The presence of the altar in the midst of the court of the Lord signifies and suggests that the people could once more draw near and approach the living God. The presence of the altar in the courts of the Lord suggested that the people could once more bring their sacrifices and offerings before and unto the Lord of hosts. The presence of the Temple suggests the reality that the Lord was willing to once more dwell in the midst of His people, and the presence of the altar suggests that the people could once more draw near to the Lord in worship and praise. With that being said, it’s imperative that we understand that the presence of the Temple upon mount Moriah in the midst of Jerusalem wasn’t simply about the Jewish people who lived and dwelt within the land. The Temple of the Lord which stood in the midst of Jerusalem was intended to draw men, women and children from all the nations which surrounded Israel round about. The Temple of the Lord wasn’t meant to be enjoyed and experienced by the Jewish people alone, for the Lord placed Jerusalem in the midst of the nations in order that from Jerusalem His law, His dominion, His government and His authority might go forth among the nations. Also included in this concept is the fact that Jerusalem was set in the center of the nations in order that the symbol of the glory and presence of the Lord might be placed in the very center of all nations. The Lord set Jerusalem in the midst of all the nations, and set the Temple in the midst of Jerusalem so at the very heart and center of all the nations would be the Temple and sanctuary of the Lord.

 Lest you read those words and consider to yourself that I have somehow forgotten, or somehow don’t know what I am talking about, I would present to you a passage found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. If you journey back to the prophetic book of Isaiah—specifically to the second chapter—you will discover a prophetic word that was released through the prophet concerning the mountain of the Lord which would stand in the midst of the earth. Consider if you will the words which are recorded in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah—“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, TO THE HOUSE OF THE GOD OF JACOB; and He will teach us of His ways, and we sill walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:1-4). Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord speaks of a time that would come during the last days when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of these words, for there is coming a day when the mountain of the Lord’s house—mount Moriah in the mist of Jerusalem—will be exalted above all other mountains within the earth. Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord declared that the mountain of the Lord’s house would be established in the top of the mountains, and that it would be exalted above the hills. What’s more, is the Lord goes on to declare that all nation would flow unto it, many people would come and say, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.” It has always been the desire, the will, the purpose of the Lord to set the mountain of His house in the midst of the nations, and to cause all the nations of the earth to flow unto that mountain. Consider how many countless millions flow to the Temple Mount in this generation—and even in recent generations—to see the famous Dome of the Rock which sits atop and upon the mount. Countless men, women, children and families flock to the Temple Mount hoping to catch a glimpse of the Dome of the Rock, which is one of the holiest sites in all of Islam. There are countless nations, peoples, languages, tribes and tongues which flow unto the mountain of the house of the Lord right now, yet it’s not to go to the house of the God of Jacob.

 As I’m sitting here this evening contemplating the concept of the nations of the earth flowing unto the mountain of the house of the Lord in previous generations, I can’t help but consider the reality that the Lord mighty very well be setting the stage for the nations of the earth to gather together unto His sanctuary and house which will once more stand in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Right now there is a structure that sits atop the Temple Mount, and it is a structure which has attracted, and still attracts countless thousands—if not millions—of tourists each year to either catch a glimpse of it, or to worship at and before it. The city of Jerusalem is home to the world’s three largest mono-theistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Right now countless millions of Muslims come to the Temple Mount each year to worship before Allah in this sacred and holy site according to all Muslims. The Temple Mount has perhaps been the single greatest piece of real estate within and upon the entire face of the earth that has been surrounded by and steeped in so much controversy and conflict. For several centuries there has been a structure that has sat atop the Temple Mount, yet it is not the sanctuary and house of the Lord which men and women gather together to worship at. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder that the Dome of the Rock which sits atop the Temple Mount is the dragon’s attempt to set up and establish his place of worship within and upon the earth. I can’t help but wonder if for the past several centuries the Lord of hosts has actually permitted and allowed the dragon to have his sanctuary and house of worship upon and in the very same place where the very Temple and sanctuary of the Lord once stood. There have been two Jewish Temples which stood upon the Temple Mount throughout history, and yet for several centuries now, there has been a different structure that has been situated upon that very sacred piece of ground. That place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and that place where David offered a sacrifice unto the Lord in the wake of the devastation of the angel of the Lord within Jerusalem would be the very place where the Jewish Temples would stand, yet has been for several centuries the place where Islam’s second holiest site has presided. Oh, there are countless nations, tribes, languages and peoples which come into the Temple Mount each and every year to worship, yet they have not come, nor are the coming to worship at the sanctuary and Temple of the Lord of hosts. The Temple Mount is and has been a tremendous place of worship for countless Muslims throughout the earth for several centuries now, and has been a tremendous place of tourism. How absolutely incredible it is that the Temple Mount—the very place where two Jewish Temples once stood—is not only a place of worship in the earth, but is also a place of tourism. WHEN THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD BECOMES A PLACE OF TOURISM AND WORSHIP!

 Perhaps one of the greatest passages that helps reveal the mountain of the Lord drawing attention from those from other nations, lands, and countries is found in the ninth chapter of the book of Second Chronicles. It is within this chapter we read of the famous Queen of Sheba, and her visit to the city of Jerusalem. “And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: and there was nothing hid from Solomon which he told her not. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cup bearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report which I heard in mine own land of thine acts, and of thy wisdom: Howbeit I believed not their words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me: for thou exceeded the fame that I heard. Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord t hit God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices great abundance, and precious stones; neither was there any such apiece as the Queen of Sheba gave king Solomon” (2 Chronicles 9:1-9). If you want to catch an additional glimpse of what this looks like on New Testament pages of Scripture, you need to turn and direct your attention to the second chapter of the book of Acts. It is within the second chapter of the book of Acts we discover the description of the events which unfolded on the Day of Pentecost, and what that day looked like in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?” (Acts 2:1-7).

 It is clear from the passage in Second Chronicles, as well as the passage in the book of Acts that the mountain of the house of the Lord experienced times when it was indeed established above all mountains of the earth. Even now as the Dome of the Rock sits atop the Temple Mount, the mountain of the house of the Lord is still exalted and elevated above all the mountains of the earth. Despite the fact that a false religion’s holy site sits atop the mountain of the house of the Lord, the mountain of the house of the Lord is still exalted within and upon the earth. I am utterly and completely convinced that the Lord is somehow setting the stage for that breakout and break through moment when it is no more the Dome of the Rock which sits atop the mountain in Jerusalem, but the Temple of the Lord of hosts. Consider how many countless millions of men and women have journeyed thousands of miles to come unto the Temple Mount in order to see and witness the famous Dome of the Rock. If the Temple Mount—the mountain of the house of the Lord—has directly connected to it this much attention, just imagine how much more can and will be found in that day when the Temple of the Lord sits atop the mountain of the Lord. Men and women flock to the Temple Mount right now as tourists and spectators to a sacred site to a false religion, yet I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when men and women from all nations come to the mountain of the house of the Lord to worship before the Lord of hosts. Not only will men and women come unto the mountain of the house of the Lord to worship before the Lord, but they will come to this sacred and holy mountain in order to be taught the ways of the Lord, and to walk in His paths. The prophet Isaiah declares that out of Zion would go forth the law of the Lord, and the word of the Lord would go forth from Jerusalem. For the past several centuries neither the law, nor the word of the Lord have gone out from Jerusalem, yet on that day when the Temple of the Lord stands atop and stands upon the mountain of the Lord in the midst of Jerusalem, all that will change. There is coming a day when the mountain of the house of the Lord will once more be home to the Temple and sanctuary of the Lord, and when men and women from all nations, languages and tribes will come unto the mountain to worship the Lord. I do not believe for one moment the Temple of the Lord was for the Jews only—this despite the fact that it was given unto them along with the sacrifices and offerings. The Temple of the Lord did indeed stand in the midst of Jerusalem, yet the Temple was present in the earth to draw every nation, every tribe, every language, every people to the mountain of the house of the Lord. The Temple of the Lord of hosts is for all the people of the earth, and the days are coming when the mountain of the house of the Lord can and will be exalted in all the earth.

 When I read the forty-first chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, I can’t help but be excited at the prospect and concept of a third Jewish Temple standing upon the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if I will even witness the Temple of the Lord being built within the city of Jerusalem, and what events would need to unfold in the earth in order to bring that to pass. I do believe that before the Temple can be built, the Great War and conflict of Gog and Magog needs to take place in the earth, and it is from that conflict the stage will be set for the Temple of the Lord to once more be built in the earth. What is so absolutely amazing about the text we read in the forty-first chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is that the Lord reveals to Ezekiel the specs of the Temple which would stand in the earth. The Lord spoke and revealed unto Ezekiel the pattern, the layout, the design of the Temple within the earth, and if you study this passage, you will notice that the Lord not only speaks of “the most holy place,” but the Lord also speaks of “the separate place.” The Lord spoke and revealed unto Ezekiel the pattern of a Temple that would stand in the earth, and how that Temple would contain the most holy place—that place where the glory and presence of the Lord would reside. One thing that strikes me as incredibly fascinating when reading of the Temple is that the Temple of the Lord seems to be just like the corpses which may have had flesh, sinews and skin upon bones which came together, yet until the breath of the Spirit of life was breathed into them, they were nothing more than lifeless corpses. Adam was nothing more than a figure formed from the dust of the ground until the breath of God was breathed into His nostrils. The dry bones which had come together bone to his bone, and which had flesh, sinews and skin come upon them were nothing more than lifeless corpses until the breath of God was breathed into them. This same reality might very well be said of both the Tabernacle and the Temple, as they were nothing more than structures existing within and upon the earth until the glory and the presence of God entered them. Notice that upon the completion of both the Tabernacle and the Temple that the glory of the Lord filled both houses, and how fire would come down from heaven upon the altar. UNTIL AND UNLESS THE BREATH OF GOD ENTERS THE TEMPLE, IT IS NOTHING MORE THAN A BUILDING AND STRUCTURE! If you continue reading the prophetic book of Ezekiel, you will come to the passage that reveals and speaks of the glory of the Lord returning once more to the Temple which would stand upon the mountain of the house of the Lord. The glory of the Lord of hosts filled the first Jewish Temple which Solomon built, and the second Jewish Temple which was known as Herod’s Temple would experience God Himself in the form of human flesh entering and coming unto the Temple. It is this third and final Jewish Temple that would experience the glory of the Lord once more entering into and filling the house.

 THE TABERNACLE WITHOUT THE GLORY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A TENT! THE TEMPLE WITHOUT THE GLORY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A BUILDING! ADAM APART FROM THE BREATH IS NOTHING MORE THAN A FIGURE OF DUST! THE DRY BONES IN EZEKIEL’S VISION WERE NOTHING MORE THAN LIFELESS CORPSES WITHOU AND APART FROM THE BREATH OF ALMIGHTY GOD! This particular section within the prophetic book of Ezekiel describes the pattern and the layout of the Temple that would once more stand within the city of Jerusalem, and Ezekiel first brings us face to face with the pattern, the layout and the design of this Temple. Oh that we would recognize and understand that any congregation without and apart from the breath of the Spirit of God is nothing more than a group of people. A house of worship and church without and apart from the breath and presence of the Spirit of God is nothing more than a building and structure within the earth. Tell me—what good is a figure formed from dust if it can’t become a living soul according to the breath of life? What good is a Tabernacle in the wilderness without the glory of the Lord entering into and filling it, and the fire of God coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifice upon the altar? What good are lifeless corpses—even if they were made up of dry bones which came together and had flesh, skin and sinews come upon them—if they are absent the breath of the Spirit of the Lord? What good is the Temple of the Lord without and apart from the breath, power and presence of the Spirit of the living God? Oh that we would read this passage with an understanding within our hearts and spirits that any church building without and apart from the breath, the presence and the power of the Spirit of the living God is nothing more than an empty and hollow structure in the earth—even if men and women gather together within that building each and every Sunday. What good is gathering together week in and week out if you can’t and don’t experience the divine breath of the Spirit of the living God within your midst? Oh that the mountain of the house of the Lord would be exalted in the earth once more! Oh that the law of the Lord, and the word of the Lord would once more go forth within and upon the earth. Oh that the presence and power of the Spirit of the living God would breathe upon these slain that they might live. Oh that the glory of the Lord would fill the Temple, and that fire would once more come down upon the altar and consume the sacrifices upon it.

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