Ezekiel’s vision of the new temple was God’s language of love to the Jews who had been exiled from Israel and whose glorious temple had been destroyed. The first thirty-eight chapters of the Book of Ezekiel were filled with visions condemning Israel for their faithlessness. Ezekiel’s latter prophecies were intended to bring hope to the Israelites still in exile – hope in God’s promise that He will return in all His glory to His people, His temple, and His land. Ezekiel’s earlier visions brought meaning to the suffering, but God was not done with Israel. Hope blazed anew with God’s measuring out the beautiful restoration of His dwelling place among Israel. Yet the temple painstakingly described by Ezekiel was never built.
I read an article by Dr. Solomon B. Freehof who pointed out that the Book of Ezekiel initiated acceptance of national and individual responsibility (social ethics) with ritual ceremony (Temple worship). He said, “Because it was Ezekiel who pioneered the principle that ritual and righteousness need not compete for the soul of the true worshiper of God, and that priest and prophet can teach together, one may well say that he, more than any other [Old Testament prophets], was responsible for the fact that at every Jewish public worship service, on every Sabbath and holiday, a reading from the prophets always follows the reading from the Torah.” Dr. Solomon B. Freehof, Author at My Jewish Learning(opens in a new tab)myjewishlearning.com/author/dr-solomon-b-freehof/
Not being Jewish, I cannot speak to the impact the Book of Ezekiel has on modern Jews of faith. However, I get the tension between addressing the suffering with social responsibility and giving all one’s devotion to spiritual matters. Some say that Christianity is a private matter that needs not be discussed outside of the Sunday church service. Others proclaim social responsibility and denounce the ‘pie in the sky’ focus. The great leveler, however, is when tribulation and adversity rains down, and they will – on all of us.
Then we look to the heavens and ask, “Why, God?! Why me? Why now?” If no answer comes, we may lose our faith, lose our hope, and neglect to worship God. Our focus is on fairness (is this not what we expect in being socially responsible) and frustration when we do not get our fair share. Disappointment thwarts our worship and spiritual devotion. At those times, we may need an Ezekiel to remind us that God is good and that His hand that stretches out to correct is also the hand that pulls us back to Him and the hope of His blessings. And not because of who we are or what we have done.
Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, we are always in Your hands. Our hope is in looking to You for rescue, restoration, and forgiveness. Through worship we understand Your faithfulness and Your mercy. For You alone are with us and for us. All for love. So, we sing Hallelujah.