Scripture Focus: Ezekiel 40.4
4 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.”
Reflection: A Temple for Exiles
By John Tillman
It would be difficult to find an event shocking enough to us that would compare to how the Israelites felt about the razing of Jerusalem’s temple. Perhaps the fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame would come close. Perhaps the collapse of the twin towers on 911 would approach it.
There is more, however, to the fall of the temple than it being a place of worship or an extraordinary costly loss. What made it most shocking was that the people thought it was invulnerable. They thought it was such a holy place that God would not allow it to fall.
The irony is that the very people who were banking on God protecting the temple because it was holy were the ones making the temple an unholy place. The worship there was annoying to God in its myopic hypocrisy and selfishness. (Isaiah 1.13-15)
Fourteen years after the destruction of the Temple and twenty-five years into his exile, Ezekiel is given a vision of the temple and the city restored.
The city is described in minute detail, being measured out by a figure whose appearance is “like bronze.” Bronze is often used as a metaphor for strength and spiritual beings are often depicted as having bodies “like bronze.” Christ appearing to John on Patmos, the angel who visits Daniel, and Ezekiel’s measuring man all have features or portions of their bodies described in this way. (Ezekiel 1.5-8; 40.3; Daniel 7.19; 10.6; Revelation 1.15; 2.18)
This temple’s measurements do not match the one Ezra would build nor do they match Herod’s renovation that Jesus would visit, cleanse, and teach in. This temple is for the exiles.
Watching this new, improved temple being measured must have been an incredibly moving experience for Ezekiel. It must have brought joy and hope to those who followed Ezekiel’s teaching.
This temple, not made by human hands, also may have been inspiring to the followers of Jesus who envisioned the New Testament church as God’s new temple and believers as priests. The church is a temple for exiles. (Matthew 21.12-16)
God is measuring out a temple of living stones which rest upon the chief cornerstone of Christ. (Psalm 118.22)
May we, in priestly humility, draw close to worship him even amidst our exile.
May zeal for this living temple, exceed our zeal for earthly kingdoms. (John 2.14-17; Psalm 69.9)
May we, living stones, cry out praise to him.
May we be a house of prayer for all nations.
May we be a temple for exiles.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The same stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. — Psalm 118.22
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Ezekiel 40 (Listen – 8:21)
Psalm 91 (Listen – 1:39)
Read more about Treasuring Our Temples
It is difficult to overstate how confident Judah was that God treasured the Temple and, for the sake of his name, would never allow it to be defiled or harmed.
Read more about Comfortable Prophecies
O God, help us not be misled by false prophets offering comfort instead of truth.