Ezekiel 40:5-27: Audacious Hope

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.

< Ezekiel 40:1-4 | Half Way There

Ezekiel 40:28-46 | In or Out >

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One Response to Ezekiel 40:5-27: Audacious Hope

  1. Robin October 29, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Coming from the future 😉 and reading your entries from the past (seven years ago-nice number 😉 ), I can tell you that God has indeed given you a blueprint for your future.

    When I was younger, I used to roll my eyes when I came to the sections of the Bible that contained long stretches of genealogy, measurement or units of money. I mean, does it really need to contain all that detail? Isn’t this a Book of morality? What does it have to do with concrete, practical things?

    As it says in Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.” Have I ever felt the rod of discipline!

    Anyway, I now realize that the degree of detail and attention to both the great and small within the Word of God is no accident. God takes care of EVERYTHING. The Word of God is not theoretical, it is a history, some of which has not yet taken place, and yet God knows the details. We foolishly think there is plenty of wiggle room for interpretation within many passages in the Bible (e.g. the literal vs. figurative days of creation), yet there is only ONE Truth. We may have all kinds of ideas on how to interpret God’s Word, but there is only ONE that will not pass away and that is the actual Truth, God’s Truth, the I AM.

    Sometimes I wonder why God would care about the dimensions of a temple or about numbers in general. It seems so “fleshly.” Being someone who spurns manmade creations of “wood and stone” (actually, I love wood and stone, but I really mean plastic, concrete, steel, etc.) in favour of the gentle, intricate and beautiful natural creations of God, I just find no appeal in the description of a building with “pavement.” Yuck! Holy city? Um, I’ll take the holy wilderness, thanks. I still don’t know what God sees in 90 degree angles, but I guess that’s something he’s going to have to show me.

    I am excited to know a God who can give specific dimensions for a building (ark, temple, city) in the future. There is nothing vague or uncertain with him. Where he is, it is all already done, and it fills me with confidence that his Word is truth: I can trust him and my future is secure in him.

    Now on to the palm trees. I read parts of Revelation last night and came across this reference to palm branches:

    “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb”” (Revelation 7:9, 10).

    My first thought was, “Those poor palm trees with the branches ripped off of them!” Yeah, I know.

    “The passage in ( Revelation 7:9 ) where the glorified of all nations are described as “clothed with white robes and palms in their hands,” might seem to us a purely classical image;but palm branches were used by the Jews in token of victory and peace. (To these points of comparison may be added, its principle of growth: it is an endogen, and grows from within; its usefulness; the Syrians enumerating 360 different uses to which it may be put; and the statement that it bears its best fruit in old age. –ED.)” (from http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/palm-tree.html).

    “Victory, peace, usefulness and bears fruit in its old age” – sounds like a Covenant. 🙂

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