The hour

Jesus described his appointment with death as an opportunity for his divine character to be manifested to the world. He told his disciples, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23). Even though he knew he would be brutally murdered, Jesus thought of his death as a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation. He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). The picture Jesus created of a seed being planted in the ground portrayed his death as a source of new life. The reason Jesus said the seed would abide alone unless it died was to convey the point that his sinless life entitled him to entrance into heaven, but there would be no one there with him unless he paid the penalty for the sins of everyone else.

Jesus told his disciples, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25). Jesus’ message was probably intended to motivate his followers to make a sacrifice similar to his own. The idea that they would lose their life by trying to hang on to it, was Jesus’ way of saying that the temporal pleasures of this world were incomparable to what they had to look forward to in heaven. Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy for his disciples to continue believing in him after he was crucified, but wanted them to understand that his only purpose in coming to this world was to make a way for them to be with him later. He said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour: but for this cause I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

The hour Jesus referred to was the appointed time for him to leave Earth and return to his Father in heaven (John 13:1). So that his disciples would know that there was no mistake in what was happening, Jesus said:

“Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel spoke to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be case out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.(John 12:28-33)

Jesus’ intention in dying for the sins of the world was not to bring glory to himself. His identification with God was specifically linked to the glorification of his Father. “As the glory of God is the revelation and manifestation of all that He has and is,” so Jesus’ life was a “Self-revelation” in which God manifested all the goodness that he wanted to give to the world (G1392). It was because Jesus willingly gave up his life on Earth that he was able to picture the hour of his death as a seed being planted in the ground. The fruit that he expected to come from it was human immortality.

Outward appearances

A discouraging aspect of the rebuilt temple was that it didn’t measure up to the same standard that the first temple had. Solomon’s temple was magnificent. Its outward appearance was stunning. Before his death, King David had laid out plans and stored up materials for the temple’s construction. In one of his last speeches to the people of Israel, David said, “Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries” (1 Chronicles 22:5). In essence, David was saying that God’s temple had to be more impressive than any other building on earth. The words David used to describe the temple’s outward appearance, fame (8034) and glory (8597), suggest that David wanted God’s earthly home to be the epitome of his divine character.

In his second message to the people that had returned from exile in Babylon, the prophet Haggai focused on their delay in rebuilding God’s temple. Haggai asked them, “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” (Haggai 2:3). The people knew they could not replicate the awesome appearance of God’s first temple and probably felt it was a wasted effort for them to even try to build something that wouldn’t measure up to the previous temple’s standard, but God encouraged them to go forward. He said, “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:4). The Hebrew word translated work, asah is associated with creation and could indicate a partnership between God and his people in constructing the temple. At the very least, God was telling the people that their effort was necessary for his work to be completed.

God’s people were probably shocked when they learned that the reconstructed temple would surpass the former one in its glory. Haggai told them, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace” (Haggai 2:9). The reason the reconstructed temple would be more glorious than the first one was not because of its outward appearance, but because Jesus would be there. When Christ came to the earthy temple, God’s presence was evident as it had never been before (note on Haggai 2:7). The Apostle John declared, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,” full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God’s temple was supposed to make it possible for him to dwell among his people. In actuality, the purpose of the temple was to remind the people that he was not there.

Understanding

Daniel’s understanding of events that were to take place hundreds, and in some instances, thousands of years in the future was the result of a spiritual gift he received from the angel Gabriel. It talks about Daniel’s encounter with Gabriel in Daniel 9:22-23, where it says, “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.” Prior to this, Daniel had already demonstrated his ability to interpret dreams, so the gift of understanding he received from Gabriel must have been a type of supernatural awareness or divine discernment that went beyond Daniel’s human capability of perception.

The best way to describe Daniel’s understanding would probably be to say he had God’s perspective of things. Daniel was able to comprehend what God intended to do with and for his people in the future. Through divine revelation, Daniel was able to see Jesus Christ in a similar form to what was recorded by the apostle John in Revelation  1:12-16. Daniel said, “Then I lift up mine eyes, and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude” (Daniel 10:5-6). Daniel does not say who the person was that he saw. He does not even let on that he had actually seen the face of God. Daniel’s miraculous vision had such an impact on him that he was left speechless.

Daniel was not alone at the time of his vision. His encounter with Jesus was similar to that of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:7). Daniel said, “And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore was I left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:7-8). Daniel was transformed by his experience. The Hebrew word Daniel used, haphak (haw – fak´) is translated turned, but it also means to change (2015) and refers to the transformation of king Saul after his encounter with the Spirit of God in 1 Samuel 10:9. The interesting thing about Daniel’s conversion was that he went from glory to shame. In the presence of Jesus Christ, Daniel understood that he was a dead man. He was completely corrupted and ruined by sin.

The new temple (part 5)

Before Jerusalem and the temple of God were destroyed, Ezekiel recorded the departure of the glory of the LORD (Ezekiel 10:18). The glory of the LORD first entered Solomon’s temple at the time of it’s dedication (1 Kings 8:11). The departure of the glory signified a separation from God that meant he would no longer dwell among his people, but would watch from a distance as he controlled the circumstances surrounding their captivity and deportation to Babylon. The exact amount of time that transpired between the departure of the glory of the LORD (Ezekiel 10:18) and his return (Ezekiel 43:4) is unknown because as far as can be seen in scripture, the return of God’s glory has not actually happened yet.

Ezekiel said of the LORD’s return, “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:2). The LORD’s return to his temple was significant in that there was no expectation that once the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians it would ever be rebuilt. Although the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel after the Israelites’ captivity was completed, the temple did not conform to Ezekiel’s specifications (Ezekiel’s Temple). God referred to the temple specifications as “the law of the house” and he told his people to follow them exactly. He said, “And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (Ezekiel 43:11).

Perhaps the most obvious difference between Solomon’s temple and the one described by Ezekiel was its purpose. After the LORD’s return, the temple became his throne room. Isaiah was the first to describe this throne room and said, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1). Isaiah’s vision was supposed to be of a heavenly throne room, but it may have been the same one that Ezekiel described. Ezekiel said, “So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house. And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood beside me. And he said unto 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 children of Israel for ever” (Ezekiel 43:5-7).

The departure

Similar to the way the Holy Spirit dwells within believers in Jesus Christ, God’s glory was symbolic of his presence over the ark of the Testimony that was kept in the tabernacle, and afterward, the temple of God. The glory of God was not always visible and was intentionally concealed behind a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of God’s temple. After the renewal of his covenant with the Israelites, Moses asked God to show him his glory (Exodus 33:18). God responded, “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee…And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by” (Exodus 33:19, 21-22).

The glory of God was so magnificent that it could not be viewed by just anyone. One of the effects of God’s glory filling his temple was the sanctification or setting apart of the temple for the work of God (6942). Because God’s temple was holy and was intended for the express purpose of providing a sanctuary for him, God’s glory entered into the temple at its dedication and remained there until the temple  was destroyed. Unaware of God’s presence, the priests defiled the temple of God by erecting a statue of Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility, at the gate of the altar (Ezekiel 8:5) and made sacrifices to her, supposing they wouldn’t be discovered (Ezekiel 8:12). At the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, Ezekiel was shown that the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub where it usually remained. It says in Ezekiel 10:4, “Then the glory of the LORD went up from  the cherub and stood over the threshold of the house: and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’s glory.”

What Ezekiel saw was not visible to anyone but him. If the people of Jerusalem had been aware of God’s presence, they would most likely have acted differently. The Apostle Paul said believers were the temple of God and should not defile themselves by having intimate relationships with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:12-14), and yet, believers commit adultery and other such sins like everyone else. God’s glory’s departure symbolized the breaking of the covenant between God and his people. Although he did not end his relationship with the Israelites, God’s glory, and therefore God himself, did not dwell with his people from that point forward.