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The Christadelphian | October 2015

In the magazine this month:

  • Editorial No other way
  • Letters to the Editor
  • Sunday morning Foot washing | Simon Evans
  • The seven last sayings of Christ (4) | Paul Cresswell
  • Eden in Ezekiel’s temple | Sam Thomas
  • The Bible and textual criticism | Rob Lawson
  • Archaeology in focus Barcelona baptistery | James Andrews
  • Creation or Evolution – implications for the atonement | Stephen Palmer
  • 100 years ago
  • An A-Z of discipleship ‘D’ for Decisions | Amy Parkin
  • Christadelphian Conference: Use it or lose it! | David Nightingale
  • Family Bible Fair | Meriden (CT, USA) Preaching Committee
  • Faith Alive! What Ezekiel saw | David Simpson
  • Book Review Journey through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers | John Boulton
  • Signs of the times The changing face of Humanism | Geoff Cave
  • Israel and their Land A close relationship | Roger Long
  • Epilogue “He went up … to pray” | David Caudery
  • The brotherhood near and far

A sample article from this edition:

Eden in Ezekiel’s temple

This article draws attention to some remarkable links as we look forward to the time when God will dwell with man forever.

Ezekiel’s vision of a temple is much more than a list of measurements. It is full of remarkable and beautiful links to the Garden of Eden and the restoration of Israel. Some wonderfully encouraging lessons may be drawn from these links about the consistency of God’s purpose, His faithfulness to the children of Israel and our place in His plan and purpose today.

Why study Ezekiel’s temple?

The vision recorded in Ezekiel 40‑48 gives valuable insight into the purpose of God. Recall the words of Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Ezekiel’s temple gave the children of Israel a vision when they were exiled from their land and seemingly rejected. The vision was perfectly timed to build hope in their future acceptance. The Jews again find themselves in this situation today, with many people claiming they have been cast off forever. God’s purpose does not change. When Eden is restored, His people will be given an opportunity of restoration. This purpose is embodied in Ezekiel’s temple and the city called “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35), and sits alongside our own ‘vision’ as the temple of the living God, the New Jerusalem. For “if the fall of them be the riches of the world … how much more their fulness?” (Romans 11:12).

Echoes of Eden

Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden with the task “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Ezekiel’s vision of a temple was given with a similar command to “keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof’’ (Ezekiel 43:11). Adam failed to keep the Garden of Eden and its ordinances and was cast out. Israel had likewise failed to keep the first temple and its ordinances and had been exiled.

Despite these failures, there is a message of hope for both the children of Adam and the children of Israel.

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” (Isaiah 51:3)

At first we see the poetry of waste places becoming green like a garden, yet there are deeper ideas running through this promise that show us the restoration of the Garden of Eden and the reconciliation of Israel in Ezekiel’s temple.

The form thereof

Hidden within the form of Ezekiel’s temple and the city called “The LORD is there” is the following information: access for worshippers will be from north to south, and vice versa (Ezekiel 46:9); a river of water will flow from beneath the altar (47:1); God’s people will be accepted (43:27); God will walk with man (48:35); there will be a tree of life beside the river (47:7; Revelation 22:2); people are given the charge to dress (literally serve) and keep it (Ezekiel 44:15; 48:18,19); and the way from the east is shut at first (44:1,2) with cherubim at the doors (41:25).

We immediately see parallels with the Garden of Eden. Rivers flowed from the garden (Genesis 2:10), God walked with man (3:8), the tree of life was in the midst of the garden (2:9), Adam was told to dress (literally serve) and keep it (2:15), the way from the east was shut and cherubim were stationed there (3:24).

In Jeremiah 31 we read the same language about the reconciliation of Israel. The people call “Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God”. They journey from north to south (31:6-8), they walk by rivers of water (verse 9) and the souls of God’s people shall be as a watered garden (verse 12).

We also read a remarkably similar description of the bride in Song of Solomon:

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed … A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” (4:12-16)

The temple seen by Ezekiel along with the city called “The LORD is there” will be places where the Garden of Eden will be seen restored, the people of Israel will be given the opportunity to join the bride of Christ and be reconciled to God, all nations will flow to worship and God will dwell with man once more.

A better Garden of Eden

There are also contrasts between Ezekiel’s vision and Eden:

Eden: the eastern door was shut upon Adam.

Ezekiel: he sees the closed door opened to the Prince and the glory of God (Ezekiel 43:4; 44:3).

Eden: there was a serpent that lied.

The new city: there will be no unclean thing (Revelation 21:27): the serpent will be cast into a lake of fire (20:10).

Eden: man failed to dress and keep the garden and was cut off from the tree of life.

Ezekiel: he sees the sons of Zadok (righteousness) keep their charge (Ezekiel 44:15) and the tree of life is made available (Revelation 22:2,14).

The temple and city that Ezekiel sees are a restoration of Eden as it would have been had Adam and Eve not turned from the commandment of God. Israel will be accepted in this temple in preparation for the time when God will dwell with man. However, it is not within the garden temple that God will finally dwell with man. Instead it is within the separate garden city called “The LORD is there”, the New Jerusalem, where Jew and Gentile are united, where there is no temple for “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22).

We can trust in God’s purpose

Eden was the original place that God created where He would meet with man and we see this place recreated in Ezekiel’s vision. We can also see throughout the rest of scripture (see table) that this act of planting a garden and of building a house is consistently repeated until that final temple and city are complete.

The Garden of Eden Genesis 2-4 The tabernacle Exodus 25-40
Tree of life The lampstand, Aaron’s rod, the manna and the testimony
Rivers The brass laver
God walks in the cool of the day The cloud and fire, God’s glory rests
Midst of the garden Most holy place
Cherubim at the East after Adam and Eve cast out Cherubim on the Veil, door and screen (East facing)
Adam to dress and keep the garden Priests to serve and keep the service of the tabernacle
Cain and Abel offer sacrifices by “the door” after being cast out Sacrifices by the door and altar
The temple 1 Kings 5-9, 2 Chronicles 1-7 Ezekiel’s temple Ezekiel 40-48
The lampstand, Aaron’s rod, the manna and the testimony Trees of life
The brass laver (south-east of the altar) River of life (south-east of the altar)
God’s glory rests God’s glory enters
Most holy place Most holy place, top of the mountain
Cherubim on the Veil Cherubim on the door, East gate shut
Priests to serve and keep the service of the temple Sons of Zadok keep the charge
Sacrifices by the door and altar Sacrifices on the altar
The city “The LORD is there” Ezekiel 48 New Jerusalem Revelation 21-22
Trees of life Tree of life
River of life flows south from the temple Living waters issue from the throne
“The LORD is there” God will dwell with man
The holy oblation The holy city
Names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the gates At the twelve gates, twelve angels and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The gates shall not be shut
The people go up to serve the city  
   

Every time God has provided a place where He may dwell with man, we have failed in our charge and it has been destroyed. Despite this, the visions of Ezekiel’s temple and New Jerusalem stand as reminders of God’s unchanging purpose. Truly His mercy endures forever. Through Christ, the Prince, Eden will be restored and God will dwell with man. When we read Ezekiel’s vision, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem and determine to keep the form of Eden in our ecclesias, serving each other and keeping the way. By God’s grace, when Christ returns we shall be made part of that happy man (Proverbs 29:18) with whom God will dwell.

Sam Thomas

 

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