Ezekiel 48 v 35
‘All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be “THE LORD IS THERE.”
This verse is talking about the incredible vision that Ezekiel had of Jerusalem as it will be in the Millennial Age and of the temple that will be there. The detail is amazing from chapter 40 to 48. He saw a magnificent temple and described it even to its dimensions and detailed measurements. God gave him a guided tour and told him to write down all that he saw. The altar is described in great detail, the gates, the walls, the sacrificial offerings, those who can be admitted, the regulations for the priests, the temple’s place in the new city of Jerusalem, the river which will flow from the temple, the borders of the land and the divisions between the tribes of Israel, the land which will belong to the Prince, and last but not least, the new name to be given to this amazing city; Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is There.
It’s very hard for us to even get our heads around this wonderful vision, and to imagine how it is going to be. Interesting too that in Ezekiel’s vision there doesn’t seem to be anyone around. That is because it is a prophecy of what will be in this period of time that we call the Millennial reign of Christ; the time when Jesus will rule the whole world with a rod of iron. David will be His Prince over the city and it will be the base from which our Lord will rule and reign.
Many Bible scholars don’t believe that this description given to Ezekiel is literal, but attempt to allegorise it by coming up with strange ideas like; as we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, so this temple is a representation of all believers, and that the rooms of the temple are the different nations of the world.
I categorically do not agree with this thinking which I believe cheapens the power of God and His ability to do anything He wills. To spiritualise and allegorise this most important prophetic passage of scripture is like saying that we have to do the same with all other prophecies in the Bible, and what would that mean for the first coming of Jesus?
The Shekinah presence of God has always dwelt with His people, firstly as a pillar of fire and smoke as He led them out of Egypt, then in the Ark of the Covenant and in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, and following the death of King David, in the Temple built by Solomon to his father’s specifications, given to David by God.
When the first Temple was completed, Solomon held a service of dedication to God.
2Chronicles 5 v 11-14, 6 v 12-20, 7 v 1-3 and v12-22 As the people celebrated and sang, ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.’, The Temple was filled with a cloud and the priests could no longer minister. The glory of the Lord filled the house of God. Solomon praised God before all the people and fire from Heaven fell to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices and God’s glory was shown to all who were gathered, and they fell on their faces before Him and worshipped and praised.
The Lord appeared to Solomon that night and spoke to him. “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
BUT if the people turned away from God then He would uproot them from the land and the Temple that was so important to the people would be destroyed.
God’s presence remained in the Temple until that very thing happened. The people forsook God and turned to the worship of idols.
Ezekiel had an earlier vision than the one we have been looking at. He saw the very Temple that Solomon had so faithfully dedicated to the glory of God filled with abominations. Ezekiel’s heart was broken by what God showed him.
Ezekiel 10 v 1-4, v 18-19
‘And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. Then he spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he went in as I watched. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the Temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the Temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory.
Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the Temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.”
God removed His presence from the Temple at the East Gate, and did the priests notice it? Did the people see it? No! They carried on as if nothing had happened.
Interestingly enough, after the exile, when Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilt the city and the Temple, the Temple was dedicated to God, the people repented , the priesthood was re-established and the sacrificial system and the law began again, but nowhere does the Bible say that the Shekinah glory of God returned to the Temple.
Not until the vision of Ezekiel and the Millennial Temple do we read again of the presence of God filling the Temple once again, and when the presence of God does return it will enter the way it left, by the East Gate.
There is an East Gate to Jerusalem today, and it is blocked up. Why? Because of this very reason, to allow the presence of God to return to the third Temple which the Jews will build, and for which the implements are all ready now. You can see them, or copies of them at the Bible Institute in Jerusalem. This third Temple will be the place where the Antichrist will attempt to be worshipped as Messiah. This Temple is NOT the Millennial Temple which I believe will be a miraculous building constructed by God Himself.
So to get back the the third Temple and the East Gate. The Muslims who know of the Jewish expectations of the coming Messiah have placed a cemetery slap bang in front of the blocked up gate. As if anyone could prevent God’s glory from doing what God means it to do.But the Jews and the Muslims have it all wrong! The East Gate, or the Golden Gate as it is often called, which is presently there is not the gate that scripture talks about. The present walls of Jerusalem were built during the time of the Ottoman Empire and are, apart from anything else, many feet higher than they were at the time of the second Temple. As Zechariah tells us, a huge valley will open up and split the Temple Mount wide open from East to West as soon as Jesus descends to the Mount of Olives.
Zechariah 14 v 4-5
No the Shekinah glory will not be in the third Temple, but in the fourth, the Millennial Temple, Jesus Himself will be there.
Zechariah 14 v 9
Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Person of Jesus will rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The Lord Himself will be there. Jehovah Shammah!
As believers in Jesus we are so privileged to have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We can truly say the Lord is there……….the Lord is here!
We know that He will never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13 v 5 We are Temples of the Holy Spirit.
But sadly, the Holy Spirit, God’s precious presence, can and does leave a church, if indeed it can be called a church, where sin is allowed and is prevalent and which is spiritually dead.
As the blinded condition of Judah’s people caused God’s Shekinah glory to leave the Temple without them even noticing it, so the blinded condition of many churchgoers causes God’s Holy Spirit to leave their churches. Apathy, worldliness and outright sin cause God to withdraw His glory from their midst, but do they notice? No! They carry on as usual with their rituals and traditions and don’t even see the need for the Holy Spirit in their presence. Is it any wonder then, that numbers decline as the true church of God sees what is happening and sadly leave as God calls them to be a part of fellowships where there are people who are living and worshipping in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is devastating to know that God is taking His presence away from a precious and loved group of people, especially when those people were once enjoying His presence in their midst and now they do not even realise He has left them high and dry and desiccated and dead.
That is enough to make one weep as I believe Ezekiel wept over Jerusalem and the Temple.
We have something really special awaiting us during the Millennial reign of Christ, so let each one of us make very sure that we are in the right place with God.
There are questions for us to address:
Does the glory of God fill this Temple? (that is ‘me’) Does the Holy Spirit reside within each one is us as individuals?
Would we be aware if the Holy Spirit left our church?
Do we each give God the glory and only Him?
The Lord is There, Jehovah Shammah, is a privilege and a blessing to be realised by each one of us in our individual walk with Him, and I pray that others will be able to see the presence of Jesus in our lives and in our behaviour, as a witness that He is there within us.
May we be willing to proclaim the Name of Jesus wherever we go and whoever we speak to.
Jehovah Shammah is with us?
May I suggest that you read Psalm 139 as a reminder of what an amazing and wonderful God we serve.