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The Return Of The Glory
In earlier chapters we have seen how the Shekinah Glory, the uncreated light that rested above the mercy-seat, moved slowly from the temple of Solomon, rising from its place between the cherubim, passing on to the door of the temple, then on to the gate in the east and thence to the Mount of Olives, from which the prophet saw it ascending to heaven; all of which is distinctly typical of our blessed Lord’s giving up of Israel when they knew not the time of their visitation. But that glory which departed is yet to return when Israel shall be restored to the Lord, and it is of this the present chapter treats.
In vision the prophet sees the divine chariot, the glory which he had beheld by the river Chebar, now returning to take its place in the magnificent structure which he saw spread before him as he looked down from the top of the mountain.
“Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shined with His glory. And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city; and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. And the glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the East. And the Spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the house”-vers. 1-5.
Ezekiel was brought by the man with the measuring rod to the east gate, and there as he looked up he beheld the glory of the God of Israel coming from the way of the sunrising, and he heard a voice like the sound of many waters. So marvelous was the sight that the earth shone with the brilliance of the Shekinah. The prophet recognized it at once as the same glory which he had seen departing when God announced that the destruction of the city was near at hand. Reverently Ezekiel fell upon his face as a worshipper as he beheld the glory enter by way of the east gate, and then as he looked up he saw that it filled the entire house.
“And I heard one speaking unto me out of the house; and a Man stood by me. And He said unto me, Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile My holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, and by the dead bodies of their kings in their high places; in their setting of their threshold by My threshold, and their door-post beside My door-post, and there was but the wall between Me and them; and they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in Mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the dead bodies of their kings, far from Me; and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever”-vers. 6-9.
A voice came from out of the house, and a Man hitherto unseen stood by Ezekiel. The voice announced, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever.” When the glory returns it will not be a question of whether the people themselves are deserving of blessing, but it will be a manifestation of the grace of God as set forth in the new covenant. The Lord Himself will see to it that the house of Israel shall never again defile His holy name nor bring dishonor upon His sanctuary by departing from Him and taking up with unclean and unholy practices. In that day His law will be written upon the hearts of His people so that they will delight to do His will. Idolatry will never again rear its hateful head in all the land of Palestine. No more will the priests of Baal and kindred systems set their thresholds by that of Jehovah as in the past when His house was often rendered unclean by the setting up of their images in or near to its courts. All this will be forever past, and God Himself will dwell in the midst of His people.
“Thou, son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, make known unto them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the egresses thereof, and the entrances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof; and write it in their sight; that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house: upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house”-vers. 10-12.
The tenth verse gives the real key to the entire vision, the reason for which God gave it. He said to Ezekiel, “Thou, son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.” As they thus dwelt upon the glory they might be moved for the time being, and they would loathe themselves as they realized that their iniquities had separated between them and their God. If conscience were inactive, of course, all this would have no effect upon them. But. Jehovah said that if they were ashamed of all they had done, then the prophet was to make known the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, the exits and the entrances, and everything connected with the service and its laws, in order that they might yield glad-hearted obedience to all that God asked of them.
It is noticeable that the law of the house was really the way of holiness, for we are told in ver. 12, “This is the law of the house: upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.” God makes Himself known to those who walk before Him in holiness and righteousness. We do not learn truth simply through the intellect; we learn it through the conscience. When the conscience is tender and responsive to the Word of God, then His truth is opened up to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we are enabled to understand His mind and find our delight in doing His will. So will it be with Israel when the many prophecies concerning their future regeneration shall have been fulfilled.
The measures of the altar are given in the verses that follow:
“And these are the measures of the altar by cubits (the cubit is a cubit and a handbreadth): the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about a span; and this shall be the base of the altar. And from the bottom upon the ground to the lower ledge shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser ledge to the greater ledge shall be four cubits, and the breadth a cubit. And the upper altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar hearth and upward there shall be four horns. And the altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve broad, square in the four sides thereof. And the ledge shall be fourteen cubits long by fourteen broad in the four sides thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit round about; and the steps thereof shall look toward the east”-vers. 13-17.
It is noticeable here that the altar is measured not by ordinary cubits but by a cubit and a span. The ordinary cubit was approximately the measure from a man’s elbow to the tip of his fingers, about eighteen inches; the span added to it would make it about twenty-one or twenty-two inches. It is by this longer cubit that the altar is measured, as though to remind us that the work of the cross is not to be measured by man’s standards but by those that God Himself appoints. The altar here is, of course, the altar of sacrifice; and it speaks of the work of the cross.
It might seem as we read on in the chapter that sacrifices and offerings are to be presented to the Lord on this altar in millennial days, and, as we have mentioned previously, there have been many who have believed this in the past, and there are still numbers of very godly teachers who consider that the sacrifices will be reinstituted, but as memorials not as actually having any atoning value. It seems clear, however, that prior to the work of the cross there could be no other way of presenting that work prophetically than by directing attention to such offerings as the people understood, but when Christ fulfilled all the types on the cross and exclaimed, “It is finished,” these sacrifices were done away forever, so that the ordinances of the altar which are spoken of in the closing verses of the chapter, all picture, I have no doubt, the way in which the people will enter into and appreciate the work of our Lord Jesus Christ when at last He is revealed to them.
“And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord Jehovah: These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt-offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. Thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that are of the seed of Zadok, who are near unto Me, to minister unto Me, saith the Lord Jehovah, a young bullock for a sin-offering. And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse it and make atonement for it. Thou shalt also take the bullock of the sin-offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary. And on the second day thou shalt offer a he-goat without blemish for a sin-offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. And thou shalt bring them near before Jehovah, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt-offering unto Jehovah. Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin-offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it. And when they have accomplished the days, it shall be that upon the eighth day, and forward, the priests shall make your burnt-offerings upon the altar, and your peace-offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord Jehovah”-vers. 18-27.
Everything here speaks of Christ as the burnt offering, who offered Himself without spot unto God, a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor. He is the true sin offering, who, though He was sinless, was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Israel has never yet entered into the reality of this, but in that coming day they will see how Christ is the fulfilment of all these types, and so they will reach the place where, in holy fellowship with the Lord, they will enjoy Christ as the peace offering, who has brought God and man together, and made them as He has made those of us, both Jew and Gentile, who believe, to be accepted in the Beloved.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 43". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent