After Ezekiel has patiently surveyed the temple of God, the greatest glory of this earth, he is admitted to a higher form, and honoured with a sight of the glories of the upper world; it is said to him, Come up hither. He has seen the temple, and sees it to be very spacious and splendid; but, till the glory of God comes into it, it is but like the dead bodies he had seen in vision (Ezek. 37:1-28), that had no breath till the Spirit of life entered into them. Here therefore he sees the house filled with God’s glory.
I. He has a vision of the glory of God (Ezek. 43:2), the glory of the God of Israel, that God who is in covenant with Israel, and whom they serve and worship. The idols of the heathen have no glory but what they owe to the goldsmith or the painter; but this is the glory of the God of Israel. This glory came from the way of the east, and therefore he was brought to the gate that leads towards the east, to expect the appearance and approach of it. Christ’s star was seen in the east, and he is that other angel that ascends out of the east, Rev. 7:2. For he is the morning star, he is the sun of righteousness. Two things he observed in this appearance of the glory of God:—1. The power of his word which he heard: His voice was like a noise of many waters, which is heard very far, and makes impressions; the noise of purling streams is grateful, of a roaring sea dreadful, Rev. 1:15; 14:2. Christ’s gospel, in the glory of which he shines, was to be proclaimed aloud, the report of it to be heard far; to some it is a savour of life, to others of death, according as they are. 2. The brightness of his appearance which he saw: The earth shone with his glory; for God is light, and none can bear the lustre of his light, none has seen nor can see it. Note, That glory of God which shines in the church shines on the world. When God appeared for David the brightness that was before him dispersed the clouds, Ps. 18:12. This appearance of the glory of God to Ezekiel he observed to be the same with the vision he saw when he first received his commission (Ezek. 1:4), according to that by the river Chebar (Ezek. 43:3); because God is the same, he was pleased to manifest himself in the same manner, for with him is no variableness. “It was the same” (says he) “as that which I saw when I came to destroy the city, that is, to foretel the city’s destruction,” which he did with such authority and efficacy, and the event did so certainly answer the prediction, that he might be said to destroy it. As a judge, in God’s name, he passed a sentence upon it, which was soon executed. God appeared in the same manner when he sent him to speak words of terror and when he sent him to speak words of comfort; for in both God is and will be glorified. He kills and he makes alive; he wounds and he heals, Deut. 32:39. To the same hand that destroyed we must look for deliverance. He has smitten, and he will bind up. Una eademque manus vulnus opemque tulit—The same hand inflicted the wound and healed it.
II. He has a vision of the entrance of this glory into the temple. When he saw this glory he fell upon his face (Ezek. 43:3), as not able to bear the lustre of God’s glory, or rather as one willing to give him the glory of it by a humble and reverent adoration. But the Spirit took him up (Ezek. 43:5) when the glory of the Lord had come into the house (Ezek. 43:4), that he might see how the house was filled with it. He saw how the glory of the Lord in this same appearance departed from the temple, because it was profaned, to his great grief; now he shall see it return to the temple to his great satisfaction. See Ezek. 10:18, 19; 11:23. Note, Though God may forsake his people for a small moment, he will return with everlasting loving-kindness. God’s glory filled the house as it had filled the tabernacle which Moses set up and the temple of Solomon, Exod. 40:34; 1 Kgs. 8:10. Now we do not find that ever the Shechinah did in that manner take possession of the second temple, and therefore this was to have its accomplishment in that glory of the divine grace which shines so brightly in the gospel church, and fills it. Here is no mention of a cloud filling the house as formerly, for we now with open face behold the glory of the Lord, in the face of Christ, and not as of old through the cloud of types.
III. He receives instructions more immediately from the glory of the Lord, as Moses did when God had taken possession of the tabernacle (Lev. 1:1): I heard him speaking to me out of the house, Ezek. 43:6. God’s glory shining in the church, we must thence expect to receive divine oracles. The man stood by me; we could not bear to hear the voice of God any more than to see the face of God if Jesus Christ did not stand by us as Mediator. Or, if this was a created angel, it is observable that when God began to speak to Ezekiel he stood by and gave way, having no more to say. Nay, he stood by the prophet, as a learner with him; for to the principalities and powers, to the angels themselves, who desire to look into these things, is known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. 3:10. The man stood by him to conduct him thither where he might receive further discoveries, Ezek. 44:1.