By the time we get to chapter 40, Ezekiel was in the ruins for 25 years, he had seen enough devastation. God wanted to reveal a little bit of what’s in store for those who dwell above the ruins and those who would eventually live above the ruins. He told Ezekiel to, “watch and listen and take to heart everything I show you, for you have been brought here so I can show you many things”(Ezekiel 40: 3). Using His linen measuring rod, He outlines the measurements for the city.
God leaves no detached detail. From Genesis to Revelation, we see God revealing Himself, His plans and His purpose in the work of man’s restoration. He took Moses to the top of the mountain and revealed to him the temporal land of promise. He took Ezekiel and revealed to him a glimpse of the eternal land of promise.
The place above the ruins refers to the state of our consciousness of and our communion with God’s Spirit. The place above the ruins is also a real place. It is the heavenly city where God lives and the place He is preparing for us. God used 8 chapters to outline such careful detail and significance of this city in Ezekiel chapters 40 – 47. He left no measurement uncut, no side unmeasured, no height untailored. Everything was perfect, like a square.
As I read, I also thought about Noah; God gave him detailed instructions to build the ark. Those 8 chapters left me wondering, why God laid out such specificity about the city. There was no room for misunderstanding. Every square feet was well calculated. Every corner was accounted for. Every floor had its purpose. Every pillar, passage, pavement, palm tree, every column, every entrance, every exit was important. As I did, you may asking, why?
God tells us why in Ezekiel 43: 4, “this is the basic law of the Temple: Holiness! The entire top of the hill where the Temple is built is holy.” No more corruption. No more idolatry. No more whoredom. No more broken promises. Everything is Holy. Everywhere is Holy. Everyone lives in Holiness. God’s ultimate goal is to eradicate sin.
Here are the highlights from these chapters:
God will vindicate His holiness: God complained that, “The priests have violated my laws and defiled my Temple and my holiness. To them the things of God are no more important than any daily task. They have not taught my people the difference between right and wrong” (Ezekiel 22: 26). His intention, since the first sin in the Garden of Eden, is to reestablish reverence. His work is to destroy sin and its causes forever. His motive is to restore holiness to human hearts so that we not only dwell in holiness but also live in absolute holiness. Moses asked, “Who else is like the Lord among the gods? Who is glorious in holiness like him? Who is so awesome in splendor, A wonder-working God?” (Exodus 15: 11). Although God had devastated Jerusalem, although the elders defiled His earthly temple, He still took time to lay out the details for the restoration of Jerusalem, while also leaving a marked impression about the heavenly city. It was God who brought them to the ruins, only He could bring them out, and as He called them out, he called them to holiness.
God’s uses the ruins to restore us to holiness: This sounds backwards, but He calls in the ruins to reveal our ungodliness and wretchedness. Then, there in the ruins, He gives glimpses of His holiness. He indwells us, then calls us to live in holiness, and not to retreat to ruinous living. Finally, He will live with us while we live in the city. In Ezekiel 46: 8-9, God told Ezekiel “when the people come in through the north passageway to sacrifice during the religious feasts, they must go out through the south passageway. Those coming in from the south must go out by the north. They must never go out the same way they come in, but must always use the opposite passageway.” A genuine and heartfelt communion with God will remove the callous heart. Those who experience glimpses of His holiness, cannot return to the ruins of sinfulness. Rising from the ruins He wants His people to know “the difference between what is holy and what is secular, what is right and what is wrong” (Ezekiel 44: 23).
God’s uses the ruins to remove inessentials and restorations to grant essentials. It is no mistake that a man brings nothing to the grave, because the only thing on earth that we need in heaven is our soul. God tells us that in the city, “I am their inheritance…I am enough.” (Ezekiel 44: 28). All we need in heaven is God Himself. When the people were taken from Jerusalem, they lost everything. The only the source they had left was God. The only help they had was from God. We may lose worldly items while we are in the ruins, but what God offers with the restoration will supersede what we lost. No wonder He says, seek ME first. In the final analysis, our greatest need is Him.
God is calling us out of the ruins, so that eventually we can live with Him in the city above the ruins. He ends the book of Ezekiel with a powerful message. This is the message that He wants to communicate to those whom He has called out of the ruins, “The Lord is there” ( Ezekiel 48: 35). He tells Ezekiel that, “the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.” Some translation says, “The city of God.” Regardless, God used 48 chapters just to tell us that He is Lord. He is Holiness. He is the Law. He wants to indwell us and dwell us forever. He is all that we need.
Artwork: Donald Keefe (Used with Permission)