Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse
Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages
“The man said to me, “Son of man, look carefully and listen closely and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the people of Israel everything you see.” ~Ezekiel 40:4
The Old Testament readings for today and tomorrow are about as exciting as looking at blueprints. It will help if you envision a short, guided tour to a magnificent cathedral. Then again, if you have a study Bible with a drawing of Ezekiel’s Temple, that will bring the otherwise dull descriptions to life.
Ezekiel sees a vision of a glorious temple magnificently constructed, where a man-like figure (we are not told the figure’s identity) takes him on a guided tour. Scholarly debate swirls around the meaning of Ezekiel’s vision. Is this the temple that will be rebuilt after God’s people return to Jerusalem? Is this a future temple that will be rebuilt upon the Lord’s return? Is this vision to be understood as simply a dream—a dream that points us to something that is real?
It is best, in my view, to accept Ezekiel’s vision as a dream that points to something real and something future. The Jerusalem temple would be rebuilt after the return of the people and be known as the Second Temple or Herod’s Temple, but it would be destroyed in 70 AD. Ezekiel’s vision points forward to a Third Temple Period that awaits the people of God. In this period, the worship of God will be restored perfectly and forever.
The glorious temple yet to come is meant to engender hope in the exiles and in us. Yes, we can worship God here and now, whether our here is ancient Babylon or modern America. God is not spatially challenged. He is present everywhere. However, in our future is breathtaking beauty and worship that electrifies our hearts and sends shivers down our spines. This chapter of Ezekiel is a bit dry for the reading, but imagine what the vision must have been like for the prophet! With a little imagination, I can envision a grand cathedral bigger and more stunning than any I have seen. The architecture is grand and glorious. Inside, Hillsong leads worship along with the Calvary Church worship team. (Sure, I’m a bit biased.) Angels serve communion and sing in the choir.
Even if Ezekiel’s images are symbolic (and it appears that they are), they point to greater realities. The exit ramp sign that points our way home is not to be confused with our real home. It is merely a sign. But there is a real home, and the sign points us there. Ezekiel’s tour points us to a day of great restoration for all of God’s people. As we worship Him now from exile, may we look forward to the exhilarating joys that await us.