The Law of the Temple

by Joseph Franks

Ezekiel had seen the temple of Solomon arrayed in all its glory. It was a magnificent edifice, custom-designed by God, and most impressive to the watching world.

Additionally, Ezekiel had seen the house of the Lord violated, plundered, desecrated, and destroyed. One can only imagine how devastated he was to see the holy sanctuary, dedicated to the worship and glory of Yahweh, sacrilegiously defiled. How could God allow something so beautiful, holy, and spiritually useful to suffer such a tragic end?

One can then imagine the joy within Ezekiel as he received another vision from the Lord, and in this vision he witnessed a rebuilt temple. (Ezekiel 40-44)  This second temple included a massive wall, stately gates, a fantastic courtyard, and costly decorum. Found within were the sacred utensils, prescribed furniture, the golden altar, and the Holy of Holies. Faithful priests were offering the prescribed ceremonial sacrifices which were required under the Old Covenant of Grace. And most importantly, “… The glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.” (Ezek. 43:2)  It was not just another empty, religious house.

In response to the Lord’s entering and filling the sacred sanctuary, Ezekiel fell on his face. He then heard the following command from the Lord:

As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out. This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.     (Ezek. 43:10-12)

Clearly, from the divine vision and prophetic sermon of Ezekiel, the people of God were to understand five points:

  • God purposely destroyed his holy temple due to the iniquities of his people.
  • God planned to rebuild or resurrect his holy temple in his own time.
  • God planned to utilize his holy temple as the place in which he would reconcile and commune with his people.
  • God prescribed repentance and godly sorrow as a necessary response from his people.
  • God prescribed obedience as the required characteristic of those who received his free mercy and grace. Such was the “Law of the Temple.”

God not only gave Ezekiel a heavenly vision, but God ultimately fulfilled the visionary promise given to his prophet. Some years later, God utilized Cyrus, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah in this process. The Chosen People were regathered in the Promised Land; Jerusalem was rebuilt; and the temple was resurrected. And through this reestablished temple God gracioulsy communed with his sinful people. Through this temple, the children of God expressed their repentance, godly sorrow, and trust in an atoning sacrifice. And through this temple, the redeemed were encouraged by God’s ministers to walk in obedience according to God’s revealed principles. Sinners, saved by grace, were encouraged to keep the “Law of the Temple.”

Can’t you see the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this text?

Jesus Christ was the perfect dwelling place of God with man. He came to earth, lived a holy life, and was so beautiful. He was the Fountain of Water, the Bread of Life, the Great Physician, and the Wonderful Counselor. Unceasing worship flowed from his soul; he was of immense benefit to those who worshiped about him.

However, despite his beautiful character, conduct, and spiritual usefulness, Jesus was oppressed, afflicted, arrested, tortured, desecrated, and destroyed. God used sinful men to humiliate him. Ultimately, he was damned because of the iniquities of God’s chosen race. One can only image how devastated were the created angels and perfected saints upon seeing the Son of God so sacrilegiously defiled. How could God allow one so beautiful, holy, and spiritually useful to suffer such a tragic end? How could God treat his Holy Temple so?

One can then imagine the joy found within the disciples on earth, the saints in heaven, and the created angels as the Son of God (God’s Sacred Temple) was resurrected on the third day. His stoop of humiliation was completed forever; the eternal day of exaltation was at hand. 

And in like manner, as the Lord spoke to Ezekiel, so he speaks to us in the New Covenant of Grace. No longer are we to offer sacrifices as required under the Old Covenant of Grace, but we are to keep the “Law of the Temple.” Regularly, we are to gather around Christ and recognize his free mercy and grace. In response, we are to regularly express our faith, repentance, godly sorrow, and trust in his atoning sacrifice. And then, aided by God’s ministers, we are to recommit ourselves to walk in loving obedience. God’s grace is to be followed by man’s gratitude. We are to be “living sacrifices.” We are to be “holy and acceptable unto God.” We are “not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies.” We are to “let our light shine before men that we others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.” We are not to be “hearers only, but doers of the Word of God.” We are to be “holy as he is holy.” Such continues to be the “Law of the Temple.”

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