By Mike and Sharon Rusten
Ezekiel was a priest and prophet who had been taken into captivity in Jerusalem and brought to Babylon in 597 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar. In Babylon Ezekiel had seen a vision in which the glory of God departed from the temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed (Ezekiel 10:1-22). Then in 586 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in and took most of the remaining residents captive to Babylon.
Ezekiel encouraged his fellow exiles with six messages proclaiming the hope of their restoration to Israel (33:21-39:29). Some of these prophecies looked beyond their return from Babylon to their return from exile throughout the world before the final consummation of history. For example, God says through Ezekiel: “I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your faith will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command” (36:24-27).
The prophet Zechariah gives more details about this future time when God will put his Spirit in the Jewish people. The Lord says through him, “I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on all the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son” (Zechariah 12:10). The book of Revelation quotes this verse from Zechariah and applies it to Jesus’ second coming: “Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the earth will weep because of him” (Revelation 1:7). In other words, when Jesus returns, the Jews living on earth at that time will literally “look on [Jesus] whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son.” This is when God gives them his Holy Spirit and they are converted, receiving “a new obedient heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). The apostle Paul writes: “So all Israel will be saved. Do you remember what the prophets said about this? A Deliverer will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel from all ungodliness. And then I will keep my covenant with them and take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27).
Since King Solomon’s time when the Jewish people were under God’s blessing, they had a Temple in Jerusalem in which to worship. This will again be true in the millennial age following the second coming of Christ.
Then on April 28, 573 B.C., God took Ezekiel from Babylon back to Jerusalem by means of a vision in which he showed him the final glorious temple that is to come. More important, just as Ezekiel had had a vision of God’s glory leaving the temple in his day, now he sees the glory of the Lord returning to the future temple: “Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east…And the glory of the Lord came into the Temple through the east gate-way…And the glory of the Lord filled the Temple…And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne’” (Ezekiel 43:2-7).
Does it surprise you that Israel will be converted to Christ in the future and will again have a temple in Jerusalem filled with the glory of the Lord?
It is easy to accept Bible prophecies that have already been fulfilled and ignore those that are still in the future. But these future prophecies will be fulfilled just as surely as the earlier ones.
Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). They have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the April 28th entry in their fascinating book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.