IT IS ABOUT THE TEMPLE

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 ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Ps 122:1), says the Psalmist. David who once wrote that ‘it is zeal for your house that has consumed me’ (Ps 69:9)  did not stop there. ‘One thing I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: to live in the  house of the Lord all the days of my  life, to behold the  beauty of  the  Lord, and to inquire in his temple’ (Ps 27:4).

It is  a matter of joy to  go to the    house of the Lord. Spending more time there is even sweeter. If the zeal for the house of the Lord goes down in our  hearts, it is time for us to introspect. God had given  detailed instructions to the Israelites about how to behave in the  temple, what should be done there  and what should not be done. Ezekiel summarizes them in one  sentence. ‘This is the law of the temple; the whole territory on the  top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. This is the law of the temple’ (Eze 43:12).

 Ezekiel was a priest and prophet. He was  allowed a rather lengthy vision (chapters 40 through 44) in which he saw the  plans of the  future temple. At the time of this vision, Ezekiel was  living in exile in Babylon. We know that the  exile in  Babylon was a direct result of the sins of Israel. God permitted this exile after all his  efforts to  turn the Israelites away from the ways of   wickedness failed. A long list of  prophets had  warned them about the  punishment that would consume them unless they repent. Yet they didn’t pay heed and what followed was  an exile  that lasted for seventy years.

It was in the  twenty-fifth year of  exile that  Ezekiel started getting visions about the future temple. God was waiting for  his people to repent and return to  him so that they would be welcomed into the new temple.  One interesting  feature of the  vision is that  even the minutest details were described. Something that  should catch our attention in  the vision is that  Ezekiel  was   instructed to  reveal the full details of the vision to a selected few only. 

‘As for you, mortal, describe the temple to the house of Israel, and let them measure the pattern; and let them be ashamed of their iniquities’ (Eze.43:10). It was  God’s wish that his people should compare the glory of the future  temple with the shame of their own sins and  thus feel  contrite.

It is true that any person who comes face to face with the glory of God will feel a sense of  unworthiness about himself. It is a moment when we  realize the gravity of our iniquities against the   brightness of God’s glory. Isaiah counts himself as most wretched when he was granted a vision of the Lord’s glory.  ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am  a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the  King, the Lord of hosts!’

Even a cursory glance at the pattern and measurements of the temple where the  glory of  God resides is enough for a persona to  repent. And it is in God’s plan that further details about the temple should be  revealed to only those who repent about their sins.

‘When they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the plan of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, and its whole form- all its ordinances and its entire plan and all its laws’ (Eze 43:11). Why should a person who refuses to  repent   know  the glory of God’s temple?

Those who forget  the glory of the temple will  forget to repent about their sins too. They will  heap sin upon sin with their  unclean lips while living among a  people with unclean lips. It is our duty to pray for those who commit sins,  and  offend the  presence of the Almighty God there. Their wicked actions demand proportionate  reparation, and the duty to make this reparation is also on our shoulders.

God led the chosen people who came out of exile to  a new Jerusalem and a new temple. We, ‘who wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home, in accordance with the  promise of the  same  God (2 Pet 3:13), are  on our  journey towards Heavenly Jerusalem where the ‘temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Rev 21:22). We are  warned through John the apostle that ‘nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev 21:27). Ezekiel too said the same thing.

Let us pray for the  grace to repent about our sins and iniquities, so that we may  be considered worthy to   enter the eternal temple that our Heavenly Father has designed for  his children.

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