Do you remember when rewind actually meant re-winding something? In the days of streaming and laser-etched discs, the word rewind is a convenience to replay a favorite scene, but it does not mean the same today as it did for the reel-to-reel or even the VHS generation. Some of the old, cheesy films like the Little Rascals would use rewound footage for some of their action scenes. You would watch Chubby jump in the mud puddle and by rewinding the tape he jumps out of the puddle in reverse.
Ezekiel 11 is a rewind scene. What went in is now on its way out, and the tragedy of this rewind scene is the subject—the glory of the Lord. The “celestial coach” with the cherubim and wheels appears again in Ezekiel’s vision. He sees the glory of the Lord hovering over the Temple.
Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory. (Ezekiel 10:4)
As he relays these details, the Israelites would have remembered the account from the Temple dedication service during Solomon’s reign. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:10). However, this will not be a grand and glorious entrance. In Ezekiel’s vision, God’s presence vacates the Temple. “And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city” (Ezekiel 11:23). How devastating? I can hear the words of Moses from long ago, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15).
I am afraid the churches of America and the members of those churches must take heed. We must covet the glory of the Lord to abide within our ministries. The church’s version of this Old Testament scene comes from John’s pen when he wrote, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5). If God is truly working through the church in America, then the Spirit, God’s gift to believers, would “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). However, the world continues to sink deeper into the mire of sin and apathy. If the church is supposed to restrain the works of darkness because of the Spirit’s work, then why has it been getting worse, faster? If all the mega churches and contemporary service churches and the gay affirming churches and the humanitarian churches, if all of these churches were sanctioned by God and empowered by His Spirit, then corruption would only trickle in our present age. Yet, evil is at high tide. The church of America has failed to notice the glory of the Lord departing.
Where are the glory-focused, godly-craving, gospel-preaching churches? Where are the churches which say, “We are no longer of the world”? Where are the churches which exist “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”? Where are the churches who live redeemed “from all iniquity” and “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14)?
May we not mournfully declare, “Ichabod, the glory of the Lord has departed!” Lift up your eyes, Church, for your redemption draws nigh. We must be ever aware of God’s glory. We must crave His presence. Consecration, not compromise, earns the privilege of His glorious presence.