Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the Cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord." What Ezekiel, in vision, observed upon the inauguration of the ideal temple was therefore in agreement with what had taken place upon two of the most memorable occasions in the history of the Jewish Church.
I. THIS WAS A RESTORED GLORY.
1. The prophet had seen the glory of the Lord depart from the temple by the way of the east, towards the Mount of Olives. In consequence of the sin of the people and the defilement of the sacred building, the holy Presence had been removed. The idolatry by which the temple and the city had been profaned had caused the withdrawal of the Divine favor. Man was constituted to be the temple of the Eternal; by his sin he alienated and repelled "the Divine Inhabitant."
2. The purification of the temple was the occasion of the return of the lost favor and glory. The presence of the Most High is represented as returning by the way by which it had departed. When man's nature is cleansed, when the way is made open for the restoration of relations long suspended, then the glory of God is once again displayed, and his favor once again enjoyed.
II. THIS WAS AN IMPRESSIVE GLORY.
1. As described in itself it is characterized by majesty. The figurative language employed is drawn from those sources by which the senses are chiefly impressed. When we read that the voice was as the sound of many waters, and that the earth shone with the splendor, we are assured that the spiritual majesty which such figures are employed to set forth was nothing ordinary.
2. And this assurance is deepened as we are led to recognize the manner in which the manifestation affected the prophet himself: he "fell upon his face," overcome with the grandeur of the spectacle. It is not every nature that is so affected by great spiritual realities. Yet there is nothing in the world so deserving of reverence, so truly fitted to call out emotions of awe, as the spiritual presence of the Eternal in his Church. It is only because men are so carnal, so insensible to true grandeur, that they can know of the Divine nearness and yet remain unmoved.
III. THIS WAS A DIFFUSED GLORY. In simple and sublime language the prophet relates what followed the marvelous return of Deity: "The glory of the Lord filled the house." How wonderfully does the Statement express the universal pervasion of the Church by the Divine presence and splendor! How fitted is such a representation to remove our misconceptions and our prejudices! There is no member of Christ's Church however lowly, there is no work in Christ's Church however unobtrusive, there is no section of Christ's Church however lacking in learning, wealth, refinement, or power, which is not full of the glory of the Lord - of that glory which is spiritual, which is apprehended by human minds when quickened and enlightened by the Spirit of God.
IV. THIS WAS A PERMANENT GLORY. The glory of the temple at Jerusalem passed away. In the appointed time the building perished, and not one stone was left upon another. But the temple which Ezekiel saw in his vision was a spiritual, and therefore an abiding, temple, whose walls shall never be taken down, whose ministrations and offerings shall never cease, and which shall ever echo with ten thousand voices uttering the high praises of our redeeming God. - T.
p with God: — The Spirit took Ezekiel up and brought him into the inner court, I want you to observe that while the prophet was in the inner court he saw the glory of God and heard God speaking to him. That inner court represents to us the innermost fellowship with God.
The glory of the Lord filled the house.
( M. Henry.)
I. IN THE INNER COURT HE SAW THE GLORY OF GOD. You stand outside some great cathedral, looking at the large stained-glass window that is said to be of such immense value and noted for its exquisite loveliness. You have heard of its beautiful design, of its rich colouring and delicate shadings. But you are disappointed. All you can see is a dim, dull easement, blotched here and there. But that is because you have been judging it from the standpoint of the exterior of the building. In that position you can see no glory. Get into the interior, — into the inner court, and your opinion will suddenly change. The scientist, if an unbeliever, cannot see the glory of God in Nature as can the man who has been brought into the inner court of fellowship with God. The man in the outer court may see a great deal of beauty in natural phenomena, and a wonderful design in "the operations and effects of natural laws"; but there are beauties in Nature to the believer that far surpass those. Jonathan Edwards, speaking of his own experience of having enjoyed a wonderful sense of God's pardoning mercy, said, "The wisdom, purity, and love of God seemed to appear in everything: in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water and all nature, which greatly fixed my mind. I beheld the sweet glory of God in all these things, and in the meantime sang with a low voice my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer." As with Nature, so with Revelation. The Bible has been called a glorious temple. "When He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth." There our Lord indicates the faculty of spiritual perception and interpretation. How little of the glory of God we have seen! How seldom, as by a mystic hand, are we led beyond the vestibule into the inner sanctuary of the Most High! There was a time when God, maintaining strict reserve, dwelt in a peculiar way in the Holy of Holies of the ancient Temple. On the mercy seat was the Shekinah — the great symbol of His presence and unapproachable glory — which burned and glowed perpetually in bright and vivid splendour. Before this was hung the closely woven veil. There was no admission save for the High Priest, and he might pass within but once a year. But now we have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh." The High Priest of old could not look at the glory without seeing the blood that was sprinkled on the mercy seat. "The same blood, the same atonement by which we draw near to God, is the same by which we must remain in communion with God." "And," says the prophet Ezekiel, "the man stood by me." Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the glory of God. "God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The Holy Spirit is the light of God that we may see Him.
II. WHILE EZEKIEL WAS IN THE INNER COURT, GOD SPAKE TO HIM. Few live in the higher condition of perpetual fellowship with the Father and the Son; but it is in that higher condition that the noblest faculties of the soul are brought into use, Habakkuk said, "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me" (Habakkuk 2:1). He would get above the crush and clamour of worldly things. As he who stands upon some eminence of cliff is not disturbed by the murmuring wavelets channelling the sands beneath, so the "lifted up" spirit, liberated from a narrow, mundane view, is unaffected by the carking cares which annoy and the anxieties which absorb the many, — the frettings which disturb serenity and scare away peace. We want to live above the corroding, cloying, flippant, superficial pleasures of time. We must get into a calm atmosphere, — the "sphere of silence," — the unbroken solitudes of "the heavenlies," if we are to hear His voice. Professor Smythe was engaged for some weeks in making astronomical observations on the Rock of Teneriffe. When he and his party descended from the height, they were surprised to find that a storm had been raging of which they had heard and seen nothing.
(A. W. Welch.)
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