You Have Multiplied Your Slain In This City

I’m looking at how Ezekiel 11 opens with the inviolability of Zion (“the protective caldron”) and then the glory begins moving slowly from the temple, finally leaving the city to rest on the Mount of Olives. Then I came across a note that, according to rabbinic tradition, the glory rested on the Mt. of Olives for 3 1/2 years hoping for repentance before it finally left.

Is Ezekiel seeing through the crisis of 586, the last 3 1/2 years when the glory shields a newly rebuild temple for a while, then finally leaves the city over to destruction for 3 1/2 years? The 3 1/2 years and the fact that Jesus re-enters the city (the glory coming back) from the Mt. of Olives seems to point to a greater fulfillment than what Ezekiel would have imagined.

I do notice the remarkable parallel to those of the coming time who will reassure their compatriots that it is time to build houses in Jerusalem, believing the day of reckoning to be a long way off if at all. Significantly, those who will be slain will be called, “their slain.” God lays responsibility for their death at the feet of the false prophets that promised sanctuary in the city marked for destruction when they should have been warning them to flee. Sound familiar? Of course, in the modern context, the time for flight assumes that one has discerned the time. It will not be critical to flee Jerusalem before the approach of the signal events, so there are both similarities and differences in that respect. For Ezekiel’s hearers, the time was immediately at hand.

In my view, the temple that will be built will not host the glory, not even in the sense of forebearance. Though built again, it remains a house left desolate. The glory will fill the latter house, whereas this house is given to be desecrated and burned Isa 63:18; 64:10-11), because of the iniquity of the Land.

Though we know that none can escape the power of self delusion apart from the powerful drawing work of the Spirit, still, God justly holds Israel accountable to know better, though such knowledge would indeed be a miracle of grace. That is the paradox of covenant responsibility. But it is also why we must uphold the judgment of scripture that the final discipline is as much aimed at the religious iniquity of a Christ rejecting religious humanism as the secular sins of the impious.

It is particularly religious Judaism that is manifestly reaching its pinnacle of success when the proverbial rug is pulled out from under a religious confidence that has now reached to heaven by reason of its apparent success, to the momentary chagrin of the prophets that have warned of imminent judgment. For a moment, it will appear that all the apocalyptic doomsayers will have egg on their face.

On the one hand, it is the presence of the holy temple of God in a miraculously restored and preserved modern Israel that makes the invasion of Antichrist so much more especially provocative of God’s wrath. On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that the final discipline comes just when it appears that Judaism’s progressive view of religious man has been vindicated by God Himself through the amazing circumstance of a regained temple and sacrifice, ‘against all odds’. Significantly, it is just then that the final discipline comes to bring down and purge away this false approach to righteousness forever.

It is contrary to our humanistic approach to ethics to regard the filthy rags of a righteousness that has its source in man as equal, if not indeed greater than the common filth of human depravity for the principal cause of divine provocation. Therefore, the end of the covenant is the bringing in of an “everlasting righteousness” that is nothing of man. That is the great divide between eternal life and eternal death and the greatest point of divine contention. Wouldn’t you say? Lord grant skill and wisdom to use the acknowledged parameters of the covenant to crowd men and women to Christ.

Reggie

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