Love Came Down with Heaven’s Metrics

measurementHave you ever felt you just didn’t measure up to a person’s expectations or standards?   From failed interviews to missed pitches,  to wrong formulas, to missed appointments,  we have all choked down disappointment when  we missed the mark.

Yet what happens when a nation blows it?  When God is viewed from such a  distance, hopelessness prevails.  Fear invades as reality that stretches empty wide across a godless expanse. Think barren.  Acrid, a land littered with shoulds, woulds and if onlys.  Welcome to Ezekiel’s nation of Judah, post Babylon’s invasion.

Fourteen years after Jerusalem fell to enemy forces, agonizing years without temple sacrifice or atonement, long past dreams for life in Judah to resume, Ezekiel experienced a magnificent encounter with heaven:

In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel, and made me rest on a very high mountain. And it went up, as the structure of the city on the south. And He brought me there, and behold, a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, and a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed. And he stood in the gate. And the man said to me, Son of man, behold with your eyes and hear with your ears, and set your heart on all that I shall show you. For you are brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.(Ezek. 40:1-4)

‘Set your heart on all I show you’, the Lord whispers to heartbroken Ezekiel. ‘Don’t let your heart clog that sight or blind your eyes.  These dreams are for your nation to marvel over and son, I am showing you first.’

For forty long chapters, we witness Ezekiel suffer humiliation and scorn as a prophet. Even his cherished wife’s death became an object lesson for Judah, when Ezekiel is denied the right to grieve, a profound warning that when Jerusalem fell, not one citizen would have the privilege of compassion at the hands of the Babylonians.

Twenty five years into ministry as prophet to the nation, Ezekiel reached a depth of intimacy with God Almighty many of us long for:  God showed His boy, Zeke, a temple built according to heaven’s specs.  The new palatial structure made Solomon’s temple look like a toy model.

heaven pillarsThis place of worship was massive, more than eight miles long and eight miles wide in property.  One metric after another, a heavenly carpenter, with rod and flax plumbline, showed Ezekiel three dimensional measurements as they walked through the rooms, gates and porches of the temple. The surrounding walls were ten feet high and ten feet thick. First gates were measured, then pillars, followed by kitchens and chambers for the priests. The sanctuary was visited.  Economics were reviewed, as were priestly practices. Great emphasis was placed on the Prince, who would enter the east gate and worship at the gate’s threshold.  The River of God was encountered, as was the Glory of the Lord.

Step by step, the Lord revealed a heavenly blueprint in 3D to Ezekiel, which culminated with the final line from the Lord: “From now on the name of the city will be YAHWEH-SHAMMAH: “GOD-IS-THERE.” (Ezek. 48: 35).  The whole point of the temple was that Love could come down. Forever.

I can only imagine God’s glee as He walked out the blueprint for this temple with his faithful servant Ezekiel:  See this area? That’s for the priests.  See those tables?  That is for the sacrifices.  See those carvings?  Lion/Prince Cherubs  followed by palm trees. Make sure they are everywhere in the Sanctuary.   The Prince should be all over this temple. Magnificent was an understatement.

Beyond the glory of the vision, beyond the incredible imagery of the river, with ever bearing fruit trees, healing waters in overflow from the throne of the temple, there is this marvelous interplay of intimacy as Father God stoops down in love with heaven’s metrics to beloved Ezekiel. This scene of Father/son revelation touches me deeper than words.

father's whisperI long to catch Father’s whispered dreams, to witness the immensity of heaven’s design, to worship the mastery of the Master as I wait for specifications, and pause my puny plans. God’s designs are principle driven, efficient and generous.  As you study the temple, the expanse and abundance may shift the heart, as God had intended.  For God required Ezekiel to do more than just witness the property:

Son of man, tell the people of Israel all about the Temple so they’ll be dismayed by their wayward lives. Get them to go over the layout. That will bring them up short. Show them the whole plan of the Temple, its ins and outs, the proportions, the regulations, and the laws. Draw a picture so they can see the design and meaning and live by its design and intent. “This is the law of the Temple: As it radiates from the top of the mountain, everything around it becomes holy ground. Yes, this is law, the meaning, of the Temple. (Ezek. 43:10-12, MSG)

Ezekiel was commanded to list heaven’s specs and build out a blueprint of a temple so glorious, that the nation who had dished God for gods they could boss around would wail in dismay at their loss.  Like a centrifuge, the temple was designed to be a place of such encounter and power, that all earth would be changed, as glory spun out from worship, spattering everyone with the undeniable reality of God eternal, framed by the ongoing sacrifice of His attending priests.

The temple Ezekiel experienced has not yet been built.  Babylon demolished Solomon’s temple and Rome razed Herod’s to the ground.  Only one temple wall remains, a place of ruins, where Orthodox Jews wail in petition, even as terrorism and politics dominates the landscape of Jerusalem.

IMG_0109Perhaps you may be surprised that God’s temple on earth is now you and I.  Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah and Prince of Peace, died to build a new temple with breathtaking dimension and design. Paul startles me every time I read this:

Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.   (1 Cor 6: 19-20 MSG)

When I think of us Christians as living temples of the Holy Spirit, I worship in wonder and writhe in shame.  What trust God has placed in us, His kids, to carry those dreams He whispered to Ezekiel long ago, where the Kingdom glory of heaven radiates outward and touches earth.  I weep as I consider the vulnerability of our Father’s heart, as He patiently revealed His metric of love and compassion, His Son stretched wide between heaven and earth, building an eternal temple through the blood sacrifice of His perfect obedient sinless Son.

Heaven’s metric shatters any expectations, standards and measures we may have of ourselves or others.  It demolishes disappointment in our performance, makes a mockery of our personal standards of holiness and lays bare Christ’s arms of love which stretch wide in eternal embrace to us, His children.  Love has come down.  We cannot miss the mark.  His marks are what counts.   Through Christ, God’s whispered dreams to Ezekiel may be seen through us all.

sunsetLet’s Pray:  Father, in faith in Christ Jesus, we are Your sons.  Drop the plumbline of righteousness that we may be established according to Your metric and design, O Master Jesus.  Holy Spirit, by Your grace,  may we celebrate our unique design as Your temple and may You lead us into daily delighted discovery of  our Father’s mastery. Let Your Kingdom come and Your will be done, in our lives this day. Amen.

This Week’s Reading:  Ezekiel 36-48

Next Week’s Reading:  Daniel 1-12

Study Questions:

  1.  Can you see Father God’s design in your life?  Don’t know where to look?  Follow your trail of joy….that shouts God’s unique design for you in multiple dimensions and experiences.
  2. How does this theology of being the temple of the Holy Spirit affect you?  Does it make you feel loved or ashamed? Can you see the incredible intimacy and trust of God’s latest temple design, that we would carry His Spirit?  How does this reality shape your thoughts, words, actions?
  3. What do you think Ezekiel did with this temple design?  Do you think he shared it immediately or built a model to scale?  Do you think it shifted his heart for the future?  What are you doing with God’s design for your temple?  Who do you think might have insight on this?
  4. The temple God showed Ezekiel was immense in proportions.  What principles have you discovered from studying this temple?
  5. Each of us reveal God uniquely through the design of our lives.  How does celebrating your design, celebrate your Father, the Son and/or the Holy Spirit?  How can you celebrate your design today?  For further resources on this topic, head to theslg.com.  I extend heartfelt thanks to Arthur Burk and his team for their continued ministry to the Body of Christ on this crucial issue of identity and worship of our King.

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