Ezekiel 43:4–5 As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
When Ezekiel was given a vision of a new temple. His heart must’ve skipped a beat. The temple was where the presence of God dwelled. For someone in exile that was everything. For a people who were taken from their beloved Jerusalem, whose temple had been destroyed, the promise of a new temple was a promise of an end to exile, and a new beginning. Little did everyone know his vision would ultimately be fulfilled, not in a place, but in a person.
“Temples were built to hold together the divine realm, “heaven,” and the human realm, “Earth”. Jerusalem’s temple, like the wilderness Tabernacle before, was designed as a small working model of the entire cosmos. This was where the one God of creation would live, dwelling in the midst of his people. When the temple was destroyed, this vision was shattered, but the prophets declared that God would one day return.” (1)
Centuries later He did. A new temple appeared. “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us,” (2) Just as it had happened in Ezekiel’s vision. “When he entered Jerusalem —-Jesus entered the temple, “(3). Jesus’ triumphal entry began at the Mt of Olives, which means Jesus entered by way of the eastern gate, just as Ezekiel saw it. “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. “ (4).
Jesus fulfilled the vision of Ezekiel. He was the long awaited restoration of the true tabernacle of God. But because Israel was looking for one thing, they missed it. I wonder how many times we miss the comings and goings of Jesus in our lives because we’re looking for one things and He shows up as something else.
Beware of tunnel vision. Missing the forest for the trees. If Palm Sunday reveals anything it’s how quickly we can go from hailing Him King, to crying out “crucify Him.” All because He did not show up the way they wanted Him to. The good news is Jesus always shows up the way you need and not necessarily the way you want.
God heard Israel’s prayer for a new temple. He sent his Son, the truest temple; the one all the others pointed too. “One made with no human hands” (5). But because it wasn’t what they expected they missed it. Because they didn’t recognize Him they did to Him what is often done to things we don’t understand. They killed Him. Nailed Him to a tree. Which is why God ripped the veil in the temple. Like some cosmic Oz, “Pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain.” What you’re looking for behind the curtain is up on the cross. Ezekiel said “The glory of the Lord filled the temple” not a place but a person. If you want to see His glory look at the cross. A daily reminder that God is so much bigger, better, than anything we could possibly imagine.
1 Wright, NT (2018). Paul: A Biography (p. 48). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
2 John 1:14
3 Matthew 21:10-12
4 John 2:19–21
5 Mark 14:58