Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pastoral Ponderings ~ The Gateway to God’s Glory

          I smiled when I read this Scripture this morning, “Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east.”[1] It was one of those times when I had been reading a passage over numerous times over a few days, but this time something stood out I hadn’t noticed. God was up to something, so he led Ezekiel into position, putting him right where he wanted him to be.

          The central thought in this sentence is, “he led me”. The connection between “he” and “me” is “led”. The activity of God in relation to a child of God is that the Father leads the child, the Shepherd leads the lamb, the head leads the body, the Firstborn leads his brothers. There is no way to have a different relationship than this, for it is the very nature of God being God, and us being man, that God is the one who leads.

          The rest of this sentence is specific to the event. However, it is based on a constant in God, that he leads his children. It is just what he does. He led Ezekiel to the gate to see the further activity of God, but he led Joseph through slavery and imprisonment to see something that God alone could do. He led Israel safely, but through the wilderness. He led Daniel safely, but through a lions’ den. He led Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego safely, but through the fiery furnace. Everything about God is that he leads us to places that are central to his will, central to his plans and purposes for his people.

          The significance of where God led Ezekiel, “to the gate, the gate facing east”, is whatever activity of God was going to happen there. In other words, God doesn’t lead us only for the sake of leading us, but he leads us for the sake of working something out for his glory, and for our good.

          In this case, it is what follows this description that explains why God led Ezekiel to this particular gate. God had already drawn Ezekiel’s attention to the north gate, where the priests were desecrating the temple of God with the addition of worship and sacrifice to idols.[2] God had already revealed that his presence had left the city of Jerusalem,[3] and that his glory was resting on “the mountain that is on the east side of the city”.[4]

          Paying attention to these directions helps us appreciate what else takes place. It also helps us appreciate that God is coordinating our present directions in keeping with past directions. As God let Joseph be sold as a slave, face false charges and the subsequent imprisonment, endure being forgotten in prison for two extra years, and then made him prime minister of Egypt so he could save his own family; and as God deliberately led Israel up to the Red Sea in order to glorify his name by delivering Israel and drowning Egypt in one fell swoop, as they say, so we can be sure that God’s present direction of activity fits into all his previous directions of activity.

          In this situation, God led Ezekiel to the gate facing east because that is where his glory was resting, on the mountain to the east of the city.[5] There is hope in this because God always knows where his glory is resting. Even if he has left one denomination or another because they have resisted, grieved, and quenched his Spirit, or left a location where a once vibrant church has lost its first love, his glory is somewhere, still working in the world, still inviting children of faith to keep in step with his Holy Spirit.

          This is clearly seen in the last of the letters to the seven churches. Jesus had rebuked the Laodicean church for being lukewarm. The church was proud of itself, as though it was a successful, prosperous church, when Jesus saw it as quite the opposite, a lukewarm church he was about to spew out of his mouth.[6] His glory had left the church some time back, and no one had noticed that they had replaced God’s glory with their own, with the idol of man-centered complacency.

          While Jesus calls the whole church to repentance, he leaves this invitation to his glory, something that any one of the people in that church could experience even if they alone were willing. In fact, Jesus told the church where his glory was. With his invitation he was leading them to the gate, actually, to the door that was facing in the direction of his glory. This is what he said: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.[7]

          Where was Jesus’ glory? On the other side of the church door. His words led people to that door, to their side of the door, to the inside of the door that kept Jesus on the outside. His glory would not enter an unwilling church, and so he knocked at their hearts. He sent words that could be heard by the heart of listening sheep.[8] He led them to the gate, the gate facing east (figuratively speaking), and showed them where his glory was resting after leaving their lukewarmness.

          For Ezekiel, the identification of God’s glory on the mountain to the east of the city was to invite him to see the rest of the picture: “And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east.”[9]God wanted Ezekiel to see that the glory that had left was making its return. While there was judgment and woe on the horizon, it would be followed by the return of God’s glory.

          For the Laodicean church, the identification of God’s glory on the other side of the door was to invite them into the rest of the picture, that anyone could hear Jesus’ voice, open the door, and experience restored fellowship with their Savior.

          This is the wonder of God’s grace: he shows us where he is in his leaving so he can show us where he is in his coming. Whether this is showing a sinful people where he is after he moved away from their self-centered idolatry, or showing his confused disciples where he was going in his ascension, so that they knew where to look for him in his return, the grace of God continuously tells us where to find the glory of God.

          It does not matter whether we must come to Jesus in repentance for turning to the world, the flesh and the devil, or we must come to him in perseverance as we seek to keep in step with his Spirit, we know that God wants us to live every day in “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[10]No wonder the Psalmist would write, You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek.’”[11]  

          The conclusion of the matter seems to be this: that if God leads us somewhere to see where his glory went, that we would want to be there to watch his glory return. If his glory left because of sin, then visiting and repenting of that sin would be the place to be so his glory will return. If his glory left because of worldly distractions (idolatry), then demolishing those idols would seem to be the best place to be right now, seeking the return of God’s glory to our hearts, or our churches. This has been the story of revivals, where people humbled themselves to find out why God’s glory was no longer among them, repented of all that God brought to mind, and experienced the activity of God blessing them once again.

          For each of us today, God’s word calls us to pay attention to whatever he is revealing about his glory. There is glory in the gospel, but it requires us to receive it. There is glory in the church, but it requires us to enter it. There is Christ in us, the hope of glory,[12] but we must receive Christ into us in order to enter into his glory.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.[13]

          From my heart,



© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Ezekiel 34:1
[2] “3 He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. 4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.
5 Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.’ So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy.” (Ezekiel 8)
[3] Ezekiel 11
[4] 22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. 23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. 24 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 And I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me.” (Ezekiel 11)
[5] And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. (Ezekiel 11:23)
[6] 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Revelation 3)
[7] Revelation 3:20
[8]My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
[9] Ezekiel 43:2
[10] II Corinthians 4:6
[11] Psalm 27:8
[12] Colossians 1:27
[13] John 10:7-9

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