The glory of the Lord is with His people, in His dwelling place, but when there are idols in the house of God, the glory of God withdraws step by step, leaving first the temple, then the city, and finally the people. Ezekiel witnessed this.
The history of the glory of God being with His people starts in Exodus, when Moses and the children of Israel finished building the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle; also, God’s speaking was present with His people.
Then later, after Solomon finished building the temple, the glory of God filled it, and everyone witnessed it. However, at the time of Ezekiel, because of the idols in the temple, the glory of God withdrew from the temple step by step – it left first the temple, then the city and finally the people.
God’s glory cannot co-exist with idols, and God cannot manifest His glory when His people go after idols and leave God as the fountain of living waters.
God’s desire is to have a dwelling place with man on earth, and the goal of His salvation is the building of His dwelling place on earth. When the house of God is built and He has a dwelling place on earth, He can come in and reveal His glory, that is, He can be expressed and manifested among His people.
He, the God of the heavens, wants to live on the earth, and His dwelling place today is the church. The church today is the place of God’s throne and the place of the soles of His feet, the dwelling place of God with man. In the church the Lord can carry out God’s government and administration, and the church is the kingdom of God today.
In the built-up church God can have a free way to move, and the church cooperates with the Lord for His move on earth. Only the built-up church gives the Lord the standing to administrate His government and to move on earth, and only such a church is His dwelling place for His rest and satisfaction.
May the Lord gain such a built-up church in all the local churches on earth, so that He may be expressed through man and thus manifest His glory.
And may we stay with the Lord, be one with Him, enjoy Him, experience Him, and never leave Him to worship idols, so that His glory would remain with us in the church. His presence is everything to us, and we desire to have His glory manifested among us and through us.
The Glory of God cannot Co-exist with idols; God’s Glory Leaves when His People worship idols
God’s glory cannot coexist with idols; the glory of God is versus idols. In Ezek. 8:3 the Spirit brought Ezekiel to Jerusalem in the visions of God, to the entrance of the gate of the inner court that faces north, where the seat of the idol of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy.
The people of Israel still had the temple, but on the walls there were images of the idols, which they worshipped. The glory of the Lord could not tolerate the images of the idols; these images were provoking God to jealousy.
Our God is a jealous God – He does not tolerate idols; He loves His people, and wants His people to have Him as the unique God. When God’s people worship idols, God’s glory withdraws step by step, leaving first the temple, then the city, and finally the people.
The last step of the leaving of the glory of God from Israel was the Mount of Olives on the east side of the city (Ezek. 11:23), the same place where the Lord Jesus ascended to the heavens. There, the glory of God waited for a little, as if it wanted to return if His people repented, but eventually it left that mountain and went back to the heavens.
Ezekiel observed all this; it seemed that the glory of God really didn’t want to leave, for it was lingering there, first in the house, then the city, and then the people. The Lord had to judge His people according to His glory, and His glory was gradually removed from them, until the temple and the city were devoid of God’s glory.
Later the Lord Jesus, when He was on earth, said to the religionists, Your temple is left to you, there’s no glory there.
This is the religious system in today’s Christianity – a system with many works for God and in the name of God, but there’s no glory there. In the system of today’s religious Christianity there are many idols; in the Roman Catholic church there are physical idols, and in the other denominations there are different kinds of idols, many things and persons that replace God.
Even when there’s someone singing at the mic “to God be the glory”, this person has to be an attractive one, with a good voice, in the way of performance…this kind of singing glorifies the self, and not the Lord.
We need to realize that, whenever there’s something or someone who replaces the Lord, that is an idol, and when we have idols, the glory of God cannot be there. The departing of the glory of the Lord signifies the departing of God’s manifestation from the church (see Rev. 2:5; cf. 1 Tim. 3:15-16; 1 Cor. 14:25).
The normal situation in the church should be that God’s presence is with us, and when others come in, they see God manifested in the flesh, and they are convicted.
But when we have idols and we love other things or people more than the Lord, on the one hand the glory of God cannot be there, and on the other, the Lord has to judge those idols according to His glory. We need to tell the Lord in all honesty,
Lord Jesus, we love You, we worship You, and we hold You as our only Lord, King, Savior, and God. Rekindle our love for You, and expose any idols in our being and in our living. Lord, may we leave and forsake any other source and return to You as the unique fountain of living water to drink of You, worship You, and enjoy You! May the glory of God be among us and remain with us. May we never leave God for idols, so that the glory of God would never be removed from us! Amen, Lord, we treasure the manifestation of God in the church!
Learning from History to Forsake Idols and be Built Together to have the Glory of God
The saddest thing is to have only the outward appearance of a church yet without the presence and glory of God filling it. We need to learn from the history of the people of Israel to never have idols but worship only God so that we may have His presence and His glory among us.
The departing of the glory of Jehovah from Israel in the time of Ezekiel was a result of God’s judgment (Ezek. 14:21), and this is not the first time this happened.
At Mount Sinai, when the tabernacle was erected, the glory of God filled the tabernacle (see Exo. 40:34). This was such a glorious and wonderful scene: God has gained a dwelling place on earth among His people, and therefore God’s glory was physically manifested among them.
God’s glory is simply God expressed. Whenever there’s a group of God’s children who are truly willing to learn to mutually coordinate in the life of God and be joined with one another and built together to be the Body as God’s spiritual habitation so that God could rest in it, God’s glory is manifested among them.
When God gains a built-up dwelling place, a built-up church, God is expressed and glorified among them. Later, however, when the Ark was captured by the Philistines at the time of Eli, the glory of the Lord left the tabernacle; this means that God gave up the tabernacle (see 1 Sam. 4).
When the temple was built at the time of Solomon, the glory of the Lord returned to fill the temple (see 1 Kings 8:10-11), and the glory of God remained in the temple until the time when Ezekiel saw it departing (Ezek. 9:3; 10:10; 11:23).
Ezekiel saw the glory of God departing the people of Israel, first leaving the temple and the city, resting on Mount of Olives, and finally returning tot he heavens; this was the departure of the glory of the Lord.
Ezekiel had to witness this and speak to the people concerning this; it is a heart-breaking thing to be in such a situation.
It is a very sad situation to have only the physical structure of God’s dwelling place yet without the presence of God or the glory of God.
We see this also in the New Testament in Rev. 2:5, where the Lord warns the church in Ephesus that He will remove the lampstand from them unless she repents.
The reality of the church is that we should be the testimony of the Triune God, but if we don’t have God’s glory and His manifestation, we are an empty assembly.
In some localities it is possible to have an empty local church, because some of the saints there may not allow the Lord to do what is on His heart; in such a situation, the rest of the saints are suffering, and the Lord’s glory is not among them. Oh Lord Jesus!
We need to be built up together, forsake any idols, and let the Lord be manifested among us. May we be those who learn from the history of the children of Israel and from the history of the church to forsake any idols, worship God, be built up together, and have the glory of God manifested among us!
Lord Jesus, we want to learn from the history of Israel and from the history of the church to never have idols but rather worship God, be built together, and allow God to manifest Himself among us! Lord, we treasure Your manifestation among us. Do not remove the lampstand from us. We want to forsake any idols and let You shine to expose anything or anyone we love more than You. Oh Lord, we worship only You, we love only You, and we yearn to be built together with the saints into Your house, Your dwelling place, so that You may be manifested among us!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ron Kangas for this week, and portions from, The Vision of the Building of the Church, ch. 5 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-study of Ezekiel (2), msg. 12 (week 24 in the HWMR), The Return of the Glory of God to the House of God.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Be strong, be strong, God’s dwelling place to build! / The Lord of hosts is with us, with His glory ’twill be filled! / Be strong, be strong, and work in one accord, / That all the nations may behold the temple of the Lord. (Hymns #1254)
# Draw and win and fill completely, / Till the cup o’erflow the brim; / What have we to do with idols / Who have companied with Him? (Hymns #437)
# O Lord, appear to us today; / We see this is the only way. / The idols to forsake / And Canaan land partake, / O Lord, appear to us today. (Hymns #1190)
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