beautiful castle September 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Ezekiel 40:1-43:17

Amazing Grace

For the sake of our lesson today, imagine that you are an unfaithful marriage partner. You have hurt your spouse over and over again by running to your many lovers. You add criminal acts to your insatiable lust. Now you have been imprisoned for life for breaking the law. Time after time your spouse sent people to you to try to talk some sense into you, but you would not listen. Now there is no hope for you. You have lost everything: your reputation, your family, your children, your job, and your house. Nothing is left. One day your spouse comes to visit you. You are offered complete forgiveness. In addition, your spouse talks about building you a castle, taking you home and offering you a glorious future. You could live in a castle with ornate furnishings and wonderful gardens, on a beautiful, peaceful site, without fear of any trouble. Only one thing is required: genuine repentance. You may have all these things if you genuinely repent.

This situation described is similar to what Israel experienced. The people of Israel and Judah (sister nations) were in Babylon. By this time most of Judah had been in exile for twenty-five years and for Israel it had been over 160 years (first to Assyria and now to Babylon). They were to serve a life sentence of seventy years in Babylon for their endless idolatry (prostitution) and wickedness. God had promised that after these years he would restore her. Now, after only twenty-five years, God was already making plans for Israel’s glorious future. A person knows when he is forgiven when glorious plans are being made which include him. This is mercy and grace. Only one thing was required for God to share those plans with Israel: genuine repentance (Ezekiel 43:9-11). Apparently, Israel did repent (at least temporarily), because we have the plans for Israel’s new temple written in our Bibles.

What would the new temple be like? We know the size and the layout of the temple and some of its contents (to see pictures and diagrams of the temple and altar, go to more…). This would be a glorious temple because God would dwell there amongst his people (Ezekiel 43:5). There would be no need for the Ark of the Covenant to represent God’s presence because he himself would be there and his throne would be there (Ezekiel 43:7).

There is a question amongst theologians as to whether this temple was intended to be built by the Israelites upon their return after seventy years of captivity or whether it will be built in the one thousand year reign of Christ on this earth when he returns. If it is a future temple, why did God share with the Israelites the hope of a millennial temple and not just a temple to be rebuilt after their exile? In Bible prophecy a future hope is often linked with a present hope. A present prophecy is partially fulfilled with the hope of a future glorious fulfillment. In this view the second rebuilt temple would serve as a present hope and Ezekiel's temple would serve as their glorious hope. Some Bible scholars, however, believe that Ezekiel's temple was a potential temple that God would have had Israel build, conditional upon her repentance (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1309). However, as we will soon see in future Bible studies, many of the Jewish exiles got comfortable in their captivity, lacked faith in God, and did not return to the land. Israel accepted God’s second best for now – the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple. Though not mentioned in these Scriptures, in forty-five years God would work to restore Israel to her land and let her rebuild her temple and the Jerusalem walls under an edict by King Cyrus of Persia.

Israel was in exile and in despair. Whichever view is true (and there are good arguments for either one) the sharing of this plan should have brought them encouragement. God had not cast his people aside forever, and he had not forgotten them; he was making plans for their future. Friend, God has not forgotten us, either; for everyone that genuinely repents and believes that he has provided forgiveness through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ, on his behalf, he, too, will have a glorious future (more...)

Lessons to live by:

  • God’s grace is amazing. No matter how bad we have sinned, he promises forgiveness and a heavenly kingdom if we will repent (Ephesians 1:18-19; John 14:1-3) Are we at the end of our rope like Israel? What is our future? Do we want a glorious hope with a glorious inheritance, or will we die in our sin? God offers forgiveness, peace and spiritual life (more...)
  • To obtain God’s full blessings in this life we must be fully obedient. Let’s not be only partially obedient and accept his second best.

Today’s Bible memory verses: 1Peter 1:3-5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (NIV)

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