UNDERSTAND the SIGNIFICANCE of the 'GLORY of GOD': "Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them." (Ezek. 10:18-19)
The above passage is part of the narration that the prophet Ezekiel is giving to the rebels in Jerusalem concerning his vision in which he describes the throne-chariot, the living creatures (cherubim), and the glory of God. However, the real story in this passage is the departure of the glory of God (v. 18) from the temple as a prelude to its final destruction in 586 BC. This temple was earlier designed by David and built by Solomon to be the “house of the Lord” (2 Chr. 5:1). When it was completed, God had blessed the magnificent structure by filling it with His glory and presence (5:14). From then on, the temple was regarded as a hallowed symbol that stood for God’s dwelling place among His people (6:20). Given the history and significance of the temple, nothing could be more tragic than when the glory of God left the temple!
The meaning of the word ‘glory’ (taken from the Hebrew word 'kabod') describes that which is ‘weighty’ or important. The glory of God gives us a proper understanding of His greatness by providing us with a glimpse into His beauty, brilliance, effulgence, and radiance. In his vision, the prophet Ezekiel saw God departing His own temple where He had indwelled all this time. Why did God make such a move? The reason is that the Israelites had turned the “house of the Lord” into a ‘house of idolatrous abominations’.
Let us understand that God will not share His glory with idols (Isa. 42:8), and therefore, He had to abandon His house and go ‘far away’ from His people (8:5–17; compare 11:23). The departure of God is described in stages, as though He were reluctant to leave. Though His holiness had been rejected so that He would not stay, He left with sorrow over the fate His people had brought upon themselves. Once God passed from the gate, the name Ichabod (“the glory has departed”) could have been applied to Jerusalem just as it had been applied earlier to Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:21–22).
This explains how in 586 B.C., the Babylonian army under King Nebuchadnezzar was able to destroy the temple completely, including the Holy of Holies, without any repercussions. Clearly, the destruction of Judah was imminent without the abiding presence of Jehovah God to protect them! The glory of God could have returned to Israel at the first advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, but they rejected Him again (Matt. 23:37–39; Luke 19:44).
However, the vision of Ezekiel extends to the future when we see the glory of the Lord returning to the millennial Temple (see 43:1–12). Ultimately all of God’s children will enjoy His presence and glory throughout all eternity (Rev. 21:2, 3). Just as “the glory of the Lord had filled” both the tabernacle and the temple during their inauguration; in the similar manner, the Holy Spirit came in visible power to the church at its inception (Acts 2:1–4).
Let’s understand the significance of the glory of God in our lives today! Ezekiel’s vision teaches us never to lose the awesome presence, power, and majesty of our God. However, if our lives reflect a willful, long-term commitment to sin and rebellion, then Ezekiel’s vision should serve as a warning for us and an appeal to repentance. Nothing can be worse than to drive God away when He longs to bless us with His presence (Heb. 6:4–12). Let us pray that that we do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5), nor quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) through any of our words and action. Rather, let’s have the fullness of the Holy Spirit as we resonate His glory each and every day (Eph. 5:18).