On April 28, during the twenty-fifth year of our captivity—fourteen years after the fall of Jerusalem—the Lord took hold of me. In a vision from God he took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. From there I could see toward the south what appeared to be a city. As he brought me nearer, I saw a man whose face shone like bronze standing beside a gateway entrance. He was holding in his hand a linen measuring cord and a measuring rod.
He said to me, “Son of man, watch and listen. Pay close attention to everything I show you. You have been brought here so I can show you many things. Then you will return to the people of Israel and tell them everything you have seen.” (Ezekiel 40:1-4)
The Temple was built in 520–515 b.c. (see Ezra 5–6), but fell short of Ezekiel’s plan (Haggai 2:3; Zechariah 4:10). This vision of the Temple has been interpreted in four main ways: (1) This is the Temple Zerubbabel should have built in 520–515 b.c. and is the actual blueprint Ezekiel intended. But due to disobedience (Ezekiel 43:2-10), it was never followed. (2) This is a literal Temple to be rebuilt during the millennial reign of Christ. (3) This Temple is symbolic of the true worship of God by the Christian church right now. (4) This Temple is symbolic of the future and eternal reign of God when his presence and blessing fill the earth.
Aided by a heavenly messenger, Ezekiel explained God’s dwelling place in words and images that the people could understand. God wanted them to see the great splendor he had planned for those who lived faithfully. This kind of Temple was never built, but it was a vision intended to typify God’s perfect plan for his people—the centrality of worship, the presence of the Lord, the blessings flowing from it, and the orderliness of worship and worship duties.
The beauty and orderliness of worship in the Temple come through in Ezekiel’s vision, but they weren’t fully realized on earth. This is an analogy of the expectations we may have for worship. We get an idea in our head about what we want it to be like, but sometimes our expectations aren’t met. What are your expectations concerning worship? What aspects of it are priorities? What do you teach your children (if you have any) about the importance of it? How do you sense God’s presence through it?