Lesson 17 | Sabbath, 22 October 2022
“And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.” Haggai 1:14.
Images of animals in the temple
- Less than four centuries after the temple was rebuilt, what were people doing in God’s house? According to what was shown to Ezekiel, what stood at the temple entrance?
Ezekiel 8:3, 5, 6 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy…. 5Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. 6He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
“While Jeremiah continued to bear his testimony in the land of Judah, the prophet Ezekiel was raised up from among the captives in Babylon, to warn and tocomfort the exiles, and also to confirm the word of the Lord that was being spoken through Jeremiah. During the years that remained of Zedekiah’s reign, Ezekiel made very plain the folly of trusting to the false predictions of those who were causing the captives to hope for an early return to Jerusalem. He was also instructed to foretell, by means of a variety of symbols and solemn messages, the siege and utter destruction of Jerusalem.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 448.
- What was carved into the wall? In addition to the leaders of Israel, who else bowed to and worshiped the idols?
Ezekiel 8:9-12 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. 10So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. 11And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
“In the sixth year of the reign of Zedekiah, the Lord revealed to Ezekiel in vision some of the abominations that were being practiced in Jerusalem, and within the gate of the Lord’s house, and even in the inner court. The chambers of images, and the pictured idols, ‘every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel’–all these in rapid succession passed before the astonished gaze of the prophet. Ezekiel 8:10.
“Those who should have been spiritual leaders among the people, ‘the ancients of the house of Israel,’ to the number of seventy, were seen offering incense before the idolatrous representations that had been introduced into hidden chambers within the sacred precincts of the temple court. ‘The Lord seeth us not,’ the men of Judah flattered themselves as they engaged in their heathenish practices; ‘the Lord hath forsaken the earth,’ they blasphemously declared. Verses 11, 12.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 448.
The sun was worshiped
- What were women doing at the building’s entrance? What were men doing in the courtyard? How was it possible for the spiritual condition of God’s chosen people to become so degraded ?
Ezekiel 8:13-16 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. 14Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. 15Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. 16And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
“And now the glorious Being who accompanied Ezekiel throughout this astonishing vision of wickedness in high places in the land of Judah, inquired of the prophet: ‘Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke Me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.’ Verses 17, 18.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 449.
- Because of such desecration, what departed from the temple? Then, how would it be possible for God’s blessings to come to the people? How might this relate to weekly church services today?
Ezekiel 9:3; 10:4, 18, 19 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side…. 10:4Then 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…. 18Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. 19And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.
“Men cannot with impunity reject the warning which God in mercy sends them. A message was sent from heaven to the world in Noah’s day, and their salvationdepended upon the manner in which they treated that message. Because they rejected the warning, the Spirit of God was withdrawn from the sinful race, and they perished in the waters of the Flood. In the time of Abraham, mercy ceased to plead with the guilty inhabitants of Sodom, and all but Lot with his wife and two daughters were consumed by the fire sent down from heaven. So in the days of Christ. The Son of God declared to the unbelieving Jews of that generation: ‘Your house is left unto you desolate.’ Matthew 23:38. Looking down to the last days, the same Infinite Power declares, concerning those who ‘received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved’: ‘For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’ 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. As they reject the teachings of His word, God withdraws His Spirit and leaves them to the deceptions which they love.” –The Great Controversy, p. 431.
The ark removed from the temple
- What happened to the ark of the covenant when Jerusalem and the temple fell into the Babylonians’ hands? When the temple was rebuilt, what was in the Most Holy Place?
Jeremiah 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.
“Because of Israel’s transgression of the commandments of God and their wicked acts, God suffered them to go into captivity, to humble and punish them. Before the temple was destroyed, God made known to a few of His faithful servants the fate of the temple, which was the pride of Israel, and which they regarded with idolatry, while they were sinning against God. He also revealed to them the captivity of Israel. These righteous men, just before the destruction of the temple, removed the sacred ark containing the tables of stone, and with mourning and sadness secreted it in a cave where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 195.
“The precious record of the law was placed in the ark of the testament and is still there, safely hidden from the human family. But in God’s appointed time He will bring forth these tables of stone to be a testimony to all the world against the disregard of His commandments and against the idolatrous worship of a counterfeit Sabbath.” –(Manuscript 122, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1109.
- In B.C. 586, what happened to the glorious temple that Solomon had built? What do we learn from the fact that such a wonderful, blessed building ended in complete devastation?
2 Chronicles 36:17-19 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 18And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. 19And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
“After the settlement of the Hebrews in Canaan, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple of Solomon, which, though a permanent structure and upon a larger scale, observed the same proportions, and was similarly furnished. In this form the sanctuary existed–except while it lay in ruins in Daniel’s time–until its destruction by the Romans, in A.D. 70.” –The Great Controversy, p. 412.
“The fact that they, the worshipers of Jehovah, were captives to Babylon; that the vessels of God’s house had been placed in the temple of the gods of Babylon; that the king of Israel was himself a prisoner in the hands of the Babylonians, was boastfully cited by the victors as evidence that their religion and customs were superior to the religion and customs of the Hebrews. Under such circumstances, through the very humiliations that Israel’s departure from His commandments had invited, God gave to Babylon evidence of His supremacy, of the holiness of His requirements, and of the sure result of obedience. And this testimony He gave, as alone it could be given, through those who still held fast their loyalty.” –Education, p. 54.
God’s command to rebuild His house
- Whom did the Lord use to rebuild the temple? How is every child of God also responsible for constructing sacred houses for Him in differentplaces?
2 Chronicles 36:23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.
Ezra 1:3; 5:1; 6:14, first part Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem…. 5:1Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them…. 6:14And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.
“They saw enough to make them praise God. They saw that the Lord had visited them after He had scattered them for their ingratitude and disloyalty to His commandments. He had moved upon the heart of Cyrus to aid those who were appointed to rebuild His house. But those who were easily discouraged did not walk by faith. They entertained discouraging sentiments, that were not a savor of life unto good works.” –(Manuscript 116, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1134.
“This was a time of wonderful opportunity for the Jews. The highest agencies of heaven were working on the hearts of kings, and it was for the people of God to labor with the utmost activity to carry out the decree of Cyrus. They should have spared no effort to restore the temple and its services, and to re-establish themselves in their Judean homes. But in the day of God’s power many proved unwilling. The opposition of their enemies was strong and determined, and gradually the builders lost heart.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 572.
- Who were present when the foundation for the rebuilt temple of the Lord was laid? How can you be one of the builders of God’s “house”?
Ezra 3:8-11; 6:14, last part, 15 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Sheal- tiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the Lord. 9Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 10And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid…. 6:14And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artax- erxes king of Persia. 15And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
“The house that was about to be rebuilt had been the subject of many prophecies concerning the favor that God desired to show Zion, and all who were present at the laying of the cornerstone should have entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 563.
“This praise and thanksgiving, we have no need to say, was entirely appropriate. The house upon which their eyes rested was of sufficient consequence for the Lord to send His word again and again to encourage the builders. The Lord gives His servants words to speak; and this gratitude all should have … expressed when they saw that the foundation of the house … was laid.” –(Manuscript 116, 1897) Seventh- day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1133.
Built up as a spiritual house
“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, anholy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.” 1 Peter 2:4-6.