Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looks toward the east:…
The prophet had witnessed in sadness the departure of the glory of the Lord (see Ezekiel 10:18, 19; Ezekiel 11:23). He has now a happy vision of its return; and of that return he gives a very graphic description. It affected him. With solemn awe (ver. 3) as well as with sacred joy. He found himself transported to the place where, as a priest, he had an official right to stand (ver. 5), and there he saw the brightness of Jehovah's presence filling the sanctuary, while he heard the voice of the Lord communicating his holy will. The departure and the return of the Divine glory have various illustrations beside those which were witnessed in connection with the temple at Jerusalem. We may find this in relation to -
I. THE HUMAN WORLD When man was sinless he enjoyed the very near presence and the very close fellowship of his Divine Maker; and even after he sinned, before the world was utterly corrupted by its iniquity, men possessed not a little of the near presence and of the communications of God. But as sin advanced God retired and there came to be no converse between earth and heaven. Then the glory of the Lord had departed. But "in the fullness of time" God manifested himself to the world - he came in redeeming grace to raise and restore our fallen race. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory" (John 1:14); we had "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). As men looked upon him, as they heard his words, as they witnessed his life, as they beheld the glories of his goodness and his power, they had a nobler vision of the glory of the Lord than that of Ezekiel, as here described.
II. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. The glory of the Church is the presence of its Divine Lord - that presence as manifested by the indwelling and the action of his Holy Spirit. Great was its glory when that Divine presence was manifested on the day of Pentecost, not only (nor indeed chiefly) by the tongues of flame or the rushing mighty wind, but by the conversion of "three thousand souls." But there may come, as there often has come, a time when the glory of Christ has departed. When a Church sinks down into a condition of unbelief, or of spiritual pride and fancied independence, or of indulgence and (it may be) immorality, or of worldliness and prayerlessness, then might the prophet of the Lord, with inward eye, see the glory of the Lord "on the threshold" or on the summit of the mountain, no longer "filling the house." But when the sacred and the blessed hour of penitence and of prayer, of humility and of faith, arrives, then may be had another and happier vision - that of the Lord's return. Christ will come again, and he will reveal the glory of his goodness and his grace, imparting the blessings which once were lost, which had taken flight, and are now renewed; bringing with him power, beauty, joy, life, victory.
III. THE INDIVIDUAL SOUL. All outward pomps and all human distinctions are as nothing to the human soul compared with the glorious presence of the Divine Spirit in the heart of man. But though God comes to us thus and dwells with us, he will not abide with us if we do not retain our purity, our moral and spiritual integrity (see 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Yet may there be, in individual experience, a blessed return of the glory of the Lord. If there be a sincere and deep humility; if there be an earnest seeking after God in prayer; if there be a cordial reconsecration of the heart and life to the Divine Redeemer; - then will there be a gracious and a glorious return of his presence and of his blessing to the soul. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: