Hope, like a muscle,
will not be strong if it goes unused.
— Douglas J. Moo (The Epistle to the Romans)
Planning is a creative event. Anyone who has built something significant knows the possibilities that a good designer can bring to the table.
At New Life, we have just finished adding a gymnasium on our facility. The entire process took about three years. Planning was the most difficult, but also the most rewarding part of the process. On a number of occasions, the blueprints were examined and reconsidered. There is an extra room that exists upstairs at the front of the gym now because of that process.
Drawing up plans calls things into existence before they’re there. This is the task that the man who shone like bronze led Ezekiel through.
. . .
In order to understand the significance of this passage, it’s important to remember Ezekiel’s context. He has been exiled from Jerusalem, the city that contained God’s Temple, for 25 years. Jerusalem was razed to the ground, along with the temple, 14 years earlier. Ezekiel had few reasons to hope.
Twenty-five years after leaving the Temple, half way toward a Jubilee year, God gave Ezekiel specific plans for the a Temple that didn’t yet exist. Indeed, it would be hard for anyone to even conceive of it existing at that point in their collective history!
. . .
The man who shone like bronze didn’t start measuring at the Temple. Instead he started with a city wall (about 10 feet wide and 10 feet high if you’re interested). The restoration that God had in mind would involve the entire community. All God’s people would be restored and sanctified.
From there, the man took Ezekiel around and showed him what the exterior walls and gates of the Temple would look like. They follow the sort of plan you would expect from the architecture of that era, complete with guard rooms along the entrances to protect the Temple from people who would want to destroy it.
. . .
One of my favourite lines in this passage comes at the end of v. 16:
On the pilasters were palm trees. (NRSV)
It’s a small detail that speaks volumes. God wanted to give Ezekiel hope so badly, he included the sort of detail that would help him to visualize the future.
I wonder if we need to take more time visualizing what our future could be like. I’m not interested in wishful thinking, or the power of positive thinking à la “Secret”. I want the hope that comes when God works with my imagination to create the future he desires.
The sort of future where the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our God and of his Messiah.
The sort of future where God’s will is done as quickly and easily on earth as it is in heaven.
The sort of future only the God of Israel—the deity who releases slaves to call them children—could offer.
. . .
Lord God, help me to visualize the future you have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.