1 – Note the similarity of chapters 36 & 37 to Jeremiah 31. The promise of God’s great work in restoring, sending the Spirit especially, and giving them new hearts so that their obedience is note an obedience of rote, but of a new heart – desiring new things. These are great and exceedingly precious promises. These are the substance of the New Covenant – the unbreakable one that surpasses the one made with Moses. The one Christ inaugurated. The one we enter into in Christ. For He IS the covenant, the absolute fulfillment of all of God’s promises to those who believe.
2 – “ “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:22-23, ESV)
RAF: The issues begun in Eden are never far from us. The defaming of God’s name, the obscuring of His goodness and grace, is a personal affront to Him, and the most damaging thing which can be done to our fellow man. Thus sin always has these two aspects to it – the hindering of God’s glory which is our sin against Him personally, and has the effect of obscuring His goodness from the rest of mankind. These are what Christ must deal with in His incarnation, death, burial, resurrection and return. This is why we are a people set aside for His praise. To vindicate Him against the lies of the Enemy and of man, and to make Him known to men for their eternal good.
3 – “Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.” (Ezekiel 36:31, ESV)
RAF: There is a proper use of self-loathing. It is a deep remorse, that considers how wicked our thoughts and actions have been, in light of having been created in the image of God (such things are unimaginably below our created dignity) and in light of the eternal dignity of the One sinned against.
4 – “They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat.” (Ezekiel 44:18, ESV)
RAF: When service to God is set right, it is not labor, it is joy. The curse upon man was to get his food from the earth by the sweat of his brow. The restoration of God is that redeemed men shall be priests, who are sustained from the sacrifice of Christ, into whose labors we do not enter, but merely partake and enjoy.
5 – “While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever. “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.” (Ezekiel 43:6-12, ESV)
RAF: Chapters 40-48 are difficult to interpret well. They comprise one last vision of Ezekiel. Now, more that 12 years after the destruction of the Temple, there is a vision of a Temple the like of which had never been conceived before.
Some have theorized this is to be a Temple yet to be built even in our future. One built for the millennial reign of Christ. The problem with that interpretation is that all of the sacrificial offerings under the Mosaic economy were fulfilled in the death of Christ. Blood sacrifices can have no place now that He has come. That would be a return to types and shadows. This seems hardly reasonable given the New Testament departures from those things. Such a Temple now, with Christ having come, can only be an abomination. Arguments that the reinstatement of such sacrifices would be acceptable if they were only for the purposes of thanksgiving and praise, and not in reference to sin seem negated by 40:39 which states these will be burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings.
Perhaps it might be better understood as God setting before Israel a hope and goal to be pursued after their return from the Babylonian captivity. 43:6-12 would seem to intimate this is a charge for them. If they have really learned the depths of their sin, if their hearts are really after Me, then they need to be about this work – this is the Temple the Messiah should find when He arrives. Instead, like the fig tree which had leaves, but no fruit, when He finally did arrive, they had a Temple, but not the one He had set them about the business of building. And thus it was cursed from the roots up.
Ezekiel ends with: “ And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.”” (Ezekiel 48:35b, ESV) But when Christ was crucified, and the veil of the Temple was split – the glory of the Lord had already departed. He was not there in that economy. Yet His promise remains true. For He makes His people His Temple. And He does indeed dwell there, forever.