Ezekiel’s Temple and the Members (2)
Updated: Sep 6
Special Lecture on Ezekiel’s Temple (3)
Speaker: Reverend Philip Lee
Service: Moriah, 2nd Service
Date: August 30, 2020
Members of the body
Ezekiel’s temple foreshadows New Jerusalem which we must enter, and the names appearing in Ezekiel’s temple are intimately related to the names of our body parts which are called “members of our body.” Jesus is the head of the church and the church is the body of Jesus Christ (Col 1:18, 25; Eph 1:23). Therefore, the saints are the members of the body of Jesus Christ (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 6:15).
When one member of our body is hurting, our entire body aches. Thus, as the members of the body of Jesus Christ, we must care and cherish one another.
So today, we will focus on the altar of burnt offering which has many expressions that relate to our body parts.
The “base” of the altar of burnt offering
The “base” of the altar of burnt offering is equivalent to the “bosom” of our body (Ezek 43:13). The word “base” in Hebrew is חֵיק (cheq) meaning “bosom.” Thus the altar of burnt offering represents and signifies the atoning cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrates the burning love and the “bosom” of our Father God that redeemed us through the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The base is hollowed, caved in, and a cavity formed by a fold which the altar of burnt offering sits within the “bosom” or in the arms of God. Therefore in the Bible, “bosom” refers to the bosom that carries us to the “kingdom of God” which is portrayed as the “bosom of Abraham,” the father of faith where the beggar Lazarus went to (Luke 16:22-23). Abraham’s bosom signifies the bosom of “Father God” and the kingdom of God (Matt 8:11). Just as parents embrace their children in their arms, that is the way our father God will carry us in his bosom to the kingdom of God. Secondly, this “bosom” refers to the bosom that forgives all sins. The prodigal son left the bosom of the father, departed and took all of his inheritance and portions. He plundered all of his wealth away with prostitutes and the pleasures of the world and ended up eating the food of swine. The son was humbled. He repented and returned to his father who was waiting for him while he was still ways off. The father ran to his son, embraced and kissed him, and allowed his son to be in his bosom again (Luke 15:20). Here, the father’s embrace signifies that he has forgiven all the sins of his son. This teaches us that human beings are to forgive and care for one another. However, it is very difficult to forgive and love until the end; only Jesus can love us until the very end, even on the cross (Luke 23:34). Even Moses said, “How can I embrace this people who are rebellious” (Num 11:12). God described the base of the altar of burnt offering as the “bosom” because He, in His burning love towards us, forgives all of our sins (Isa 40:10-11). Thirdly, the “bosom” refers to the “bosom of love and protection.” Among the 12 disciples of Jesus, there was a disciple whom Jesus loved the most that reclined in the bosom of Jesus. Thus, we must be those people who receive such love (John 13:23; 21:20). This is the “bosom” that loves and protects the disciple. We must never leave the bosom of our God and as long as we are in the bosom of God we see His never-ending love and protection. Jesus lamented over Jerusalem and yearned to gather His children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Matt 23:37). We must take great joy in being gathered under His arms. Likewise, such love and protection are portrayed as the “bosom” of God.
The “edge” around the altar of burnt offering
The “edge” around the altar of burnt offering is known as the “lips.” The word “edge” in Hebrew is שָׂפָה (saphah), referring to the “lips” on our bodies. Our lips are protruding which is the outer edge of our mouth, thus they are curved and protruding upward. Likewise, the outer edge of the altar of burnt offering is protruding upward and so the word saphah is used. Our lips must be the “lips of pleasing” to God in order to enter into Ezekiel’s temple for they have been forgiven by the bloodshed of our Lord Jesus on the cross. So first, “deceitful lips” are what we must stay away from. A person who always lies cannot enter into Ezekiel’s temple (Psa 120:2). The serpent through deceitful lips deceived the woman to eat from the forbidden tree which led to destruction. Therefore lying lips are only for a moment and an abomination to the Lord (Prov 12:19, 22). Therefore, we must be a people that is not hated by God but loved by God like the apostle John was.
Secondly, we must stay away from “flattery lips.” These are people who make up words to impress others for their own advantage. They are people with divided hearts, very deceitful and crafty and God will cut them off in the end (Psa 12:2-3).
Thirdly, we must stay away from the lips that “kill other people” which are “murderous lips.” If after reading the deep Word of God, if that message cannot transform our lives then we will continue to “kill” others with our words which is like poison and a flashing sword that kills others (Rom 3:13; Isa 59:7). Before we speak we must ask ourselves, “Are these words of flattery, deceit, lies, or words that will end up killing a person?” (Psa 141:3; Prov 21:23). In order to guard our souls, we must guard our lips.
Conclusion: On the contrary, there are “lips that are pleasing to God.” First, God loves the lips that praises. This means that Jesus redeemed us by His love and therefore, our lips must praise this salvation (Psa 51:15). Secondly, we must have “lips that speak of good things” (Prov 8:6). Thirdly, we must have “lips that speak of the words of the living waters.”
To the prophet Ezekiel, God showed him how the living waters flowed out from the outer gate facing the east and how this living water gradually became a great river that no man could ford. God led Ezekiel to the bank of the river which is like the “lips” (saphah) of the river of living water. This teaches us that if we drink the river of living waters, our lips must continuously flow with this living water which is to proclaim the Word of life, the Word of Redemptive History which is near and in our mouth and hearts (Rom 10:8). We must share with others; when we do this, we are serving our role as the “lips” by the riverside of the river of life in Ezekiel’s temple bearing fruit all year round (Ezek 47:6-7, 12). Let us be the “spiritual lips” of the bank of the river of life so that we can take the lead of spreading the word of life to the rest of the world.