Today’s reading: Ezekiel 43-45.
On Palm Sunday Jesus Christ rode a donkey from the Mount of Olives down through the Kidron Valley and up into Jerusalem through the east-facing Golden Gate. Within forty years the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem with its walls and gates, but Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt them in the 1500’s. As you can see in the picture, Suleiman closed up the Eastern Gate, perhaps because of Jewish beliefs that the Messiah would return through that entrance.
Centuries before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Ezekiel saw a vision of a future temple with surrounding walls and an Eastern Gate. The size of the visionary temple indicates it won’t be built until the topography of Palestine is drastically altered at Jesus’ second coming. When this future temple is completed, the glory of the LORD returns through the Eastern Gate just as it departed before the Babylonians destroyed the city. Then the gate is shut.
Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The LORD said to me, “This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it. The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the LORD. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way.” Ezekiel 44:1-3
Suleiman’s gate is closed for now, but when Jesus returns a geological cataclysm will wipe away his gate and prepare the way for a new temple and gate. God’s shekinah glory will enter through that millennial gate and then the gate will be closed once more. A prince will rule over this millennial temple and city, but only as regent for the ruling King, Jesus Christ.Throughout the millennium, he and his successors will administer the city and its priests as throngs of Jewish believers from around the world come to the temple. God’s promises to the Jewish nation will be fulfilled and they will worship him in spirit and truth.
But this temple isn’t everlasting. At the end of the millennium, after the final defeat of Satan, God creates a new heaven and earth. The Holy City, New Jerusalem, comes down out of heaven, God dwells with men, and there is no temple in the city, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.”
One more temple needs to be mentioned, the temple that stands right now, the temple that exists within each believer. Let’s worship there today. Purify yourselves from your sin, come before God with praise, and give thanks for his loving kindness that endures forever.
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 2 Corinthian 6:16
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 1 Corinthians 3:16
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Image by Nikodem Nijaki on Wikimedia Commons, CC by-sa 3.0