BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple” (Ezek 9:3, NLT).
The glory of the Lord has departed from the Temple! This is not an exciting piece of news because the Temple is, above any other place, the most appropriate place for the glory of the Lord to dwell. If the glory of the Lord is absent everywhere else, one will expect the glory of the Lord to be present in His Temple.
But alas, the experience of the children of Israel was sad. The glory of the Lord actually departed from the inner court of the Temple, moved to the entrance of the Temple, moved out of Jerusalem and moved out of Judah as a prelude to the destruction of the land. This was the vision that God showed Prophet Ezekiel.
Gradual departure of the glory
The departure of the glory of God from the Temple was a gradual departure and that is what happens in a life, a ministry or a church. The glory of God does not depart suddenly; it is usually a gradual departure caused by a life of sin – mostly secret sins that reflect in the enthronement of self and a replacement of God’s presence with worldly glamour instead of divine glory.
That’s why there are many religious places today that the initial glory of God there has departed, and has been replaced with glamour – all that is being celebrated is glamour and not the glory of God. And glamour cannot be a defence to a church; only the glory of God can. In fact, glamour will rather expose glory-empty believers to danger and the attack of the enemy. That is why Isa 4:5 says, “And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence” (KJV).
God wants His people to carry His glory and not the world’s glamour. When Jesus returns, he will not come for a glamorous church but for a glorious church. Talking about how Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, Eph 5:27 says, “that he might present the church to himself a glorious (church), not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (ASV). A glorious church – not a glamorous church.
But in the Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel saw a vision of the gradual departure of the glory of God from the Temple, Jerusalem and then Judah. The glory was first in the inner court of the temple. “He put out what seemed to be a hand and took me by the hair. Then the Spirit lifted me up into the sky and transported me in a vision of God to Jerusalem. I was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple, where there is a large idol that has made the LORD very angry. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel was there, just as I had seen it before in the valley” (Eze 8:3-4, NLT). There in verse 4, we see the reason the glory of God would depart from the Temple. Idolatry!
There in the Temple was a large idol that had made the LORD very angry. The glory of God would not co-habit with an idol. It is either the idol is removed or God leaves. God chose to leave since the people were not ready to repent of their idolatry. If someone begins to engage in idolatry – not limited to graven images but anything that is worshiped apart from God – no matter the glory of God that such a person carries, it will depart.
So the glory of God left the inner court and moved to the door – the entrance of the Temple. “Then the glory of the God of Israel rose up from between the cherubim, where it had rested, and moved to the entrance of the Temple” (Ezek 9:3, NLT). Those who still worship and work in the Temple must still be busy doing what they were used to doing not aware that the glory has already departed the inner court. It was still business as usual. The same happens to lives or churches that the glory of God has departed from. They hardly know immediately. And even when they eventually know, rather than bowing than their faces in true repentance and seek with tears the return of the glory, they begin to look for a replacement for it – a counterfeit replacement. What a deception!
After leaving the door, the glory of God moved next to the south end of the Temple. “The cherubim were standing at the south end of the Temple when the man went in, and the cloud of glory filled the inner courtyard.Then the glory of the LORD rose up from above the cherubim and went over to the door of the Temple. The Temple was filled with this cloud of glory, and the Temple courtyard glowed brightly with the glory of the LORD” (Ezek 10:3-4, NLT). After that, the glory of God moved to the eastern gate of the Temple. “Then the glory of the LORD moved from the door of the Temple and hovered above the cherubim. And as I watched, the cherubim flew with their wheels to the east gate of the LORD’s Temple. And the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them” (Ezek 10:18-19, NLT). Ezekiel was seeing all this in his vision; other Israelites were obviously not aware of what was happening. That is exactly what happens in real life. Not many are sensitive enough to know that the glory of the Lord is departing. It’s business as usual for many until they lose completely God’s glory.
The final place the glory of God moved to was the mountain east of the Temple. “Then the cherubim lifted their wings and rose into the air with their wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the city and stopped above the mountain to the east” (Ezek 11:22-23, NLT).
The return of the glory!
God’s glory departed because of the sin of the nation and never came back until one gets to Ezek 43:1-4 when it returned through the same east gate it departed previously. “After this, the man brought me back around to the east gateway. Suddenly, the glory of the God of Israel appeared from the east. The sound of his coming was like the roar of rushing waters, and the whole landscape shone with his glory. This vision was just like the others I had seen, first by the Kebar River and then when he came to destroy Jerusalem. And I fell down before him with my face in the dust. And the glory of the LORD came into the Temple through the east gateway” (Ezek 43:1-4, NLT).
What a joy Ezekiel had when he saw the vision of the return of the glory of God! That is good news for anyone the glory of God has departed from. The glory can return. Hallelujah! But Ezek 43:9 gives the condition for the return of the glory of God. “Now let them put away their idols and the sacred pillars erected to honor their kings, and I will live among them forever” (NLT). God will not dwell in the midst of sin. He will only dwell where there is holiness for He is a holy God. The glory of God will depart from a life, a church, a ministry, a home because of sin and it will only return when there is genuine repentance and consecration to holy living. “You shall anoint the altar of the burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar. The altar shall be most holy. And you shall anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it” (Ex 40:10-11, NKJV) This was in the Old Testament but it was a shadow of what God expects of us in the New Testament. In this dispensation, God demands holiness and consecration devoid of the rituals of killing animals for offering and the rest.
Eli and Samson
During the period of Eli, it was sin that caused the glory of God to depart from Israel symbolized by the name given to his grandson. “And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, ‘Do not fear, for you have borne a son.’ But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband” (1Sam 4:20-21, NKJV).
After the glory of God departs what follows is the manifestation of his judgment as seen during the time of Eli and in the Book of Ezekiel. The lifting of the glory means the removal of divine defence. The Bible says, “For over all the glory there will be a covering” (Isa 4:5, NKJV). When the glory of God departs a people, they become naked like Adam and Eve after they have disobeyed God. The glory that covered their nakedness hitherto was removed. Shame was the aftermath!
Note that the glory was already departing from the life of Eli as at the time he prayed for Hannah and God still answered him. “Then Eli answered and said, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him’” (1 Sam 1:17, NKJV).
Note also that the glory was already departing from Samson’s life when he was doing all those mighty deeds including removing the gate of a city. He was an unrepentant sinner yet he was walking in an unrivalled power of God. But that did not mean that God approved of his life. And that is the danger. Such a man is deceived by the devil.
When the glory departs
How easy for the glory of God to be departing the life of a man yet people are still celebrating him and flocking around him! He may be deceived to think that all is well after all. But if he is sensitive and sincere enough and same for those close to him, they will know that something is amiss. They may just be keeping up with the form and not have the authentic.
After the glory of God has eventually left, such churches or ministers will have programmes but they won’t have power. The will have organization but they will lack revelation. They could enjoy human participation but they will be denied of heaven’s contribution. What is needed is genuine repentance, withdrawal from public scene and going back to God to ask Him to restore the glory as of old.
Humble yourself, cry to the Lord!
Anyone who has lost the glory always faces the temptation of improvising. And nothing impoverishes a soul as much as improvising the glory of God! Nothing can be an alternative to the glory of God! Don’t replace gold with bronze like King Rehoboam did. “So Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also carried away the gold shields which Solomon had made. Then King Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the LORD, the guard would go and bring them out; then they would take them back into the guardroom. When he humbled himself, the wrath of the LORD turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah” (2 Chron 12:9-12, NKJV).
What a deceit King Rehoboam engaged in! Who is fooling whom? Don’t emulate Rehoboam’s deceit. Humble yourself. Don’t improvise. Return to God and seek His face, plead weeping for the return of His glory into your life, home, ministry, church. Nothing apart from His glory will suffice. The witch of Endor cannot be an alternative to the voice of God which Saul was no longer hearing. “And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her’” (1 Sam 28:6-7, NKJV). He still perished in the battle.
If the glory has not departed, please keep the glory. Refrain from anything that will make the glory depart. Nothing satisfies other than the glory of God!
If you’re not born again, you need to make yourself ready for eternity. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, soul-winning church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523