As the book of Ezekiel comes to a close today, we are the beneficiaries of one more fantastic vision. This is one that the Israelite people could sink their teeth into. If wheels and soup pots and dry bones didn’t capture their imagination, an elaborate description of the rebuilding of the Temple would surely get their attention.
Ever since its construction in Jerusalem, the Temple had been the sign of God’s enduring presence with Israel. For this symbol of national pride to be ransacked by the Babylonians had crushed the spirit of the people. What better way for Ezekiel to rebuild hope than to create anticipation for a home for God and a place of worship for God’s people that will be even better than before! It is the culmination of his project of hope and gives the people a tangible sign for the future.
Containing both the architectural plans as well as the protocol for worship, Ezekiel’s final vision reveals that God’s plan is not only for the rebuilding of an edifice but also the rebuilding of community. Note the description in Ezekiel 46:9-10–the people will not simply come in, make their offering, then turn around and leave. Those who come in from the south will leave by the north and vice versa, allowing them to interact with their brothers and sisters from tribes who live on the other side of the “holy square.” Not only that. . .the prince will also join them when they come. The new temple will be the place where they bind themselves in love both to God and to one another.