Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 40-41, Job 15:1-16, John 11:38-44, 1 John 4:1-6
Matthew Henry, of famous reputation, says this is “justly looked upon to be one of the most difficult portions of scripture in all the book of God. The Jews will not allow any to read it till they are thirty years old, and tell those who do read it that, though they cannot understand every thing in it, ‘when Elias comes he will explain it.’” We are then verging on matters that have perplexed the brilliant, and caused plentiful head scratching among the learned.
What shall we make of this vision? To begin with, we should be prosaic. The most obvious answer to the question is that Ezekiel is encouraging the exiles with a vision of the temple—a vision that for them would have seemed strange, after so long away from the former temple. It is practical, in that it gives dimension and aspects of building, for those who had forgotten, or at the very least been unfamiliar with the previous. It is also pastoral, in the sense that Ezekiel, under God’s inspiration, is here encouraging God’s people, when they return, to pick up trowel and basin, tool and axe, to build, and keep on building—as Nehemiah and Ezra must in actual terms so encourage them to keep on building later.
But there is more than the merely obvious prosaic. We should not forget that the latter chapters of Revelation relate to this vision, and (as Matthew Henry also persuasively observes) the dimensions of this temple are so large as to make it impossible to think that a purely literal temple is intended. No, instead, it is a gospel vision of the kingdom of God, whereby the “temple,” so often foreshadowed and announced and prefigured, would now in a spiritual sense (fulfilled in Christ) be established among the nations through the proclamation of the gospel, and finally fulfilled in the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Such is the message; what is the meaning? Simply this, that we too should be encouraged to be up and busy and active in building God’s kingdom, and extending his temple rule throughout the world.
To receive God Centered Bible devotionals directly in your inbox, sign up here.