beautiful castle September 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Ezekiel 40:1-43:17

Amazing Grace

For the sake of today's Bible study, 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 are imprisoned for life for breaking the law. Time after time your partner sends people to try to talk some sense into you, but you will not listen. Now there is no hope. You have lost everything—your reputation, family, children, job, and your house. Nothing is left.

One day your spouse comes to visit you. You are offered complete forgiveness. In addition, your marriage partner talks about building you a castle, taking you home and offering you a glorious future. You could live in a palace with ornate furnishings and wonderful gardens on a beautiful, peaceful estate, without fear of any trouble. Only one thing is required—true repentance. You may have all these things if you are genuinely sorry and turn away from your sins to God for His forgiveness.

This situation is similar to what Israel experienced. Assyria and Babylon conquered Israel and Judah and exiled them to their lands. By this time, most of Judah had been in exile for twenty-five years and Israel for over one-hundred and sixty years (first under Assyria and now under Babylon). They were to serve a life sentence of seventy years in Babylon for their endless idolatry (prostitution) and wickedness. God promises after these years He will restore her.

Now, after only twenty-five years, the LORD is already making plans for Israel’s glorious future. A person knows when he is forgiven when wonderful plans are being made which include him. This is mercy and grace. Only one thing is required for God to share those plans with Israel—genuine repentance (Ezekiel 43:9-11). Apparently, Israel does repent, because we have the plans for Israel’s new temple written in our Bibles.

What will the new temple be like? We know the size and the layout and some of its contents (see pictures and diagrams of the temple and altar). This will be a glorious temple because God will dwell there with His people (Ezekiel 43:5). There will be no need for the Ark of the Covenant to represent God’s presence because He and His throne will be there (Ezekiel 43:7).

When will Ezekiel's temple be built?

There is a question among 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.

The Present Day View

Some Bible scholars believe the plans for Ezekiel's temple were potential and conditional upon her repentance and complete obedience (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., edited by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.1309). In Ezekiel's record, there is a great amount of specific details with present day names, which seem to indicate a near fulfillment.

Later, Israel does repent, but many Jewish exiles don't return to their land, even when given three opportunities. For this, Israel accepts God’s second best—the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple, and Ezekiel's glorious temple will be built in a future day. We know a temple will be present during the Millennial reign of Christ because sacrifices will be offered there (see Zechariah 14:7-21). This is probably Ezekiel's temple.

The Millennial View

One might ask, if the plans are for a millennial temple, why does God share it with the Israelites now? 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, Solomon's rebuilt temple serves as a present hope and the plans for Ezekiel's temple serve as their glorious hope.

Israel was in exile and despair. Whichever view is true, the sharing of this plan brings them encouragement. God has not cast His people aside forever, and He has not forgotten them—He is making plans for their future. Friend, God has not forgotten us, either; for everyone that genuinely repents and believes 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 turn to Him from our sins (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.

Focus Verses

1Peter 1:3-5 (NIV)

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.

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A Look Ahead: It's a New Day for Israel in our Next Lesson when she turns to God from her sins. We can have forgiveness, too, and experience a new day. Find out more in our Next Lesson.

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