Posts Tagged ‘New Jerusalem’

Exodus 23:1-9: We are God’s Dwelling Place

Saturday, November 30, 2019

You shall not repeat a false report.

Do not join the wicked in putting your hand, as an unjust witness, to anyone.  Neither shall you allege the example of the many for an excuse for doing wrong.

Nor shall you  . . . side with the many in perverting justice.

When you come upon your enemy’s ox or ass going astray, see to it that it is returned to him.

When you notice the ass of one who hates you lying prostrate under its burden . . . help him to raise it.

You shall not deny one of your needy fellow-men his rights in a lawsuit.

You shall keep away from anything dishonest.

You shall not put the innocent or just to death . . . You shall not acquit a guilty man.

Never take a bribe.  Bribes blind even the most clear-sighted and twist the words even of the just.

You shall not oppress an alien . . . since you were once aliens yourselves.

If we might only heed these oh so old words . . . there would be oh so much less strife among us!

Paul reminds us that Christ fulfills this old Mosaic Law, telling us that he even comes to supersede it. He also reminds us that we are significant members of God’s family.

You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the capstone.  Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22)

John of Patmos has a vision of the New Earth and the New Jerusalem in which he reports a loud voice from the throne saying: Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.  He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God].  (Revelation 21:3)

Jesus is not God’s Plan B.  He does not arrive to live among us as an afterthought or as a fixative for something that has gone wrong.  He has always been and will always be the thought and action of God among us . . . The Word.  It was always intended that we live peaceably side by side, helping one another with our troubles, lifting one another to new levels of spiritual maturity, coaxing, exhorting and encouraging one another over the hurdles we encounter in our journey.  Yet even as we are a collective, we also have the individual responsibility to see to our own growth, to gather around us friends who live by the Mosaic and Christian codes, to rebuke one another, to listen to one another, and to love one another.  We might look back from our twenty-first century vantage point to see the pieces fall into place.  We can see that from the earliest stages of our development as peoples, God was abiding with us.  We can also see that he abides with us still.  Let us praise God!  Let us sweep the floors clean . . . renew the old and new rules . . . and welcome him into the dwelling place of our hearts.

Written on November 9, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://wau.org/resources/article/re_gods_dwelling_place/ and http://life-in-a-jiffy.blogspot.com/2011/06/nature-hearts.html

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Ezekiel 45The Sacred

Thursday, January 10, 2019


I am wondering how our days and nights might change if we were to set aside a portion of land as a sacred tract When we read about the size of this apportionment we realize that it is not meant to be small; rather, the territory is to have significant dimensions.  The prince is to have a portion alongside as are the people – the whole house of Israel.  We can imagine that in this vision of Ezekiel’s we see how the plan provides enough land for all . . . so that the princes of Israel will no longer oppress my people, says the Lord God, but will leave the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.  In this vision of the New Jerusalem there is equal access to resources.  Can we imagine how that might look?

I am wondering how our weeks and years might change if we were to use honest weights and measures in our interactions with one another.  When we read about the Lord God’s opinion on this subject we can see that, of course, he is quite aware of the human tendency to hoard and store up . . . even at the expense of others.  Enough you princes of Israel!  Put away violence and oppression, and do what is right and just!  Stop evicting my people! Says the Lord God.  You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah and an honest liquid measure.  In this description of the New Jerusalem there is honesty.  Can we imagine how that might feel?

I am wondering how our future might change if we all agreed to remember God’s covenant and providence by celebrating memories of the good God has brought to our lives.  Thus says the Lord God: On the first day of the first month . . . you shall remember and celebrate the Passover . . . you shall make offerings to remember my goodness and patience.  When we worship God well we indicate that we understand our proper relationship with him and all of creation.  We demonstrate our appreciation for our place in God’s story; we express our desire to fulfill our role as God’s adopted children.  In this description of the New Temple there is reverence and balance.  Can we imagine how that might soften hearts and un-bend stiff necks?

Ezekiel tells us what the Lord God says as he describes the vibrant details of a life he wishes for all of us.  There is no mistaking the qualities of sacred living.  In this and in the following chapters we are told what to expect so that there will be no surprises.  When we live with God we live in a sacred space.  When we act in God we act with integrity.   When we worship God we give our problems and anxieties over to him, and we fully trust that the Lord God has the common good in mind.

A Booth or Sekkakh

The Feast of Booths is to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, making offerings and holocausts to the Lord God.  This feast of remembering asks us to keep in mind that . . .

In the immensity of God’s heart there is a home for each of us.  Let us take the time to provide a sacred tract within our own hearts for the Lord God to inhabit and make his own

In the infinity of God’s mind there is a plan for each of us.  Let us make ourselves as honest and constant as possible so that the Lord God will recognize us as his own. 

In the eternity of God’s love there is deliverance for each of us.  Let us make the offering of ourselves to the Lord God and prepare to recognize him as the redeemer of our souls. 

Let us prepare to live a life that is dedicated to the sacred. 

A re-post from January 10, 2012.

Images from: http://bible-truth.org/Feasts-Tabernacles.html and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/55408-nof1.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/z_page-8-weights-011.jpg

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Revelation 21:1-5: God’s Home

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2016

John of Patmos, the writer of the Book of revelation, watches the descent of the New Jerusalem: 14th Centry tapestry: La nouvelle Jérusalem

John of Patmos, the writer of the Book of revelation, watches the descent of New Jerusalem                         14th Century tapestry: La nouvelle Jérusalem

I saw Heaven and earth new-created . . .

These familiar verses might be overlooked. We have heard all of this before, we tell ourselves, and so we move on too quickly.

I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

These familiar words continue to sound strange. We have read all of this before, we say to ourselves, and the words still do not make sense. Again we move on without thinking.

Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. 

This familiar metaphor still eludes our understanding. We have seen this passage before, we say to others, and it still makes no sense. Yet again we move on without pausing.

Yes, we say, we know. God wipes tears from every eye . . . yet we do not see this in our world.

Yes, we acknowledge, God will bring about a new order and a new way . . . and this will be in a distant, foggy future that we cannot imagine.

Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.

god-is-in-our-midstStill . . . a small voice at the periphery of our awareness speaks to us: What if this were so?

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

Yes, we say to ourselves. There is a possibility that all of this is true, today, here, now.

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

Yes, we say to others. This Jesus who was betrayed by a companion with a false kiss, this Jesus is still among us.

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

jesus-walkingYes, we say to anyone who will listen. God’s home is with God’s people.

Let us act as if we believe. For we are Easter people.

When we use the scripture link and the drop down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we become more aware of how Jesus continues to make his home among us. We are better able to see that Jesus continues to show us The Way.

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Ezekiel 48:35: The Lord is Here – Part III

Saturday, April 9, 2016Empty-Tomb

We have celebrated Easter Week, an eight-day celebration of the resurrection of the crucified Christ, and as we move forward through Eastertide, we continue to explore the doubt we might have about the resurrection miracle. We continue to ask the familiar question in the face of violence and tragedy: Where is God?  And Ezekiel, the prophet who lives in exile from the physical place in which he believes God resides, gives us a simple answer to this simple question: God resides everywhere. As Easter people who celebrate the miracle of Easter renewal, we see God best in the new temple of the Christ’s body.  We see God best when we all strive toward creating the New Jerusalem here among us, a place where differences are anticipated and respected, a place where every voice is heard, a place where reparations are made and accepted, a place of healing and restoration.  A place of ultimate and intense truth.  A place of purity and of fire and of healing.

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that God is a paradox.  He tells us that the Temple and God’s presence must be central to our lives.  He tells us that God is awesome – “reaching far beyond human relationships and human explanations”.  (Senior RG 339) He tells us that as individuals we are responsible for our own adherence to the Law and that no matter our ancestry or our misfortunes, we cannot scapegoat our circumstances.  “Each person lives or dies according to his or her wicked or virtuous way of life”.  (Senior RG 340) Ezekiel transforms the art of prophecy, bringing it to a new level and setting the stage for the entrance of the Messiah and the New Testament.  He also lays the foundation for the Second Coming – when the Lord returns and sends his angels among the living to separate the sheep from the goats.

Mikhail Nesterov: The Empty Tomb

Mikhail Nesterov: The Empty Tomb

All of this is too terrible, too wonderful, too much to believe – and yet there is nothing else to believe.  All other thought pales and hence the paradox.  What we first see and hear we want to believe but do not, thinking that this New Jerusalem is impossible.  Yet through living, suffering, hoping, believing and loving we arrive at no other spot. We have no choice but to believe that indeed, the Lord is Here. 

When we spend time with this prophecy today, we have the opportunity to feel the presence of God as we remember and reflect . . . we are Easter People . . . visited by the risen Christ . . . and so the Lord is among us.

Click on the image above of linens in the empty tomb to read “Rising Isn’t Optional,” a post by youth minster Lindsay Williams, visit: http://blogs.nd.edu/oblation/2012/11/29/rising-isnt-optional/ 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 337. Print.   

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 15, 2007.


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Ezekiel 48:35: The Lord is Here – Part I

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Michaelangelo: The Prophet Ezekiel (The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

Michelangelo: The Prophet Ezekiel (The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

We have looked at the book of Ezekiel perhaps a dozen times but today we focus on the last four words of this prophecy that describes the New Jerusalem in the New Kingdom:  The Lord is here.

Ezekiel’s prophecy tells us that there is hope after judgment.  The prophet, a priest who was carted away to Babylon with the early exiles, uses the sharp contrast between the destruction of the defiled earth-bound temple and the restoration of the purified divine temple – which we now understand through the New Testament story to be Jesus and then ultimately all of us as Jesus’ mystical body. Ezekiel also uses the beautiful imagery of the watchman calling in the darkness to announce the New Jerusalem, along with four visions and five parables.  His story is filled with symmetry, “hammering repetitions and . . . non-traditional prose”.  (ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 1213) And all of this he does to get our attention, and to bring us to focus on the last words of his prophecy: The Lord is Here.  And we ask: where?

In the flurry of international, national and local news, we might well wonder, where is the Lord? In the rush of heavy schedules, hectic days and anxious nights, we might well ask, where is the Lord? In our private and public lives, in our bodies, hearts and minds, we feel the worries and hopes of a waiting world, and we might well voice the question, where is the Lord? And in each circumstance, in every life, Ezekiel reminds us with his compelling verses, the Lord is here.

When we spend time with this prophecy today, we have the opportunity to feel the presence of God as we remember and reflect . . . we are Easter People . . . and the Lord is among us.

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 15, 2007. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1312. Print.

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Luke 21:5-6Destruction of the TempleGods-own-heart

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that Jesus replaces the Jerusalem Temple, and that Jesus invites us to be stones in this temple.  He describes the coming destruction of this house where God abides; but although they have ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to comprehend and live this message, the people do not understand what Jesus tells them.

Nor do we.

Each time we focus on our own needs and fears rather than placing faith in the Creator, we have ears but do not hear.

Each time we lust after our own outcomes rather than the hope delivered to us by the Redeemer, we have eyes but do not see.

Each time we sink into revenge rather than rise in petition for our persecutors, we have hearts but do not love.

Each time we gnash our teeth and pull out our hair about what we perceive as a stone in our path, we reject the nurturing care of the Holy Spirit.

From yesterday’s Noontime Reflection:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple?

Do you not know that God’s spirit lives in you? 

You are not your own.

You were bought at a price. 

You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  

And so we pray.

Good and great and wonderful God, guide us in understanding that we are a diverse people with diverse views and diverse voices coming together in your everlasting sacred heart.  Help us to see that the new temple rises from the lessons learned in the destruction of the old. Walk with us as we go up to the New Jerusalem knowing that we are gifts to one another and to you, knowing that we are a collection of pearls purchased at a great price by Christ, believing that we are not our own, living in your Spirit of grace, and peace and joy. We ask this of you today and all days. Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 11, 2008.

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stempleFriday, July 11, 2014

2 Chronicles 4

The Altar of Our Lives – Part I

What does it mean to lay our sacrifices upon God’s altar? What good does takes place when we lay our lives upon the Lord’s altar when we see little or no good coming from our sacrifice? Today’s Gospel reading tells us the answers to these questions . . . we do not need to fully comprehend God’s plan in order to do well in this plan . . . we only need to follow the one who goes before us. The Christ tells us how to find ourselves in God.

In John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 several verses stand out for us.

Jesus . . . did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

“I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true”.

So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

In our Noontime journey we have reflected on Ezekiel 43 and the construction of the altar in the New Temple in the New Jerusalem. Today we read about the actual altar built in the temple completed by Solomon in 960 B.C.E. The following sites show us a picture and give us an idea of the enormity of this task.



When we think of how much time we spend in building our physical world – the clothes we wear, the house we live in, the food we buy and consume, the car we drive, the acquisitions with which we fill our lives – we see that we invest a great deal of time in what surrounds us.

When we think of the family we form, the friends we gather, the work colleagues with whom we interact – we can see the importance we place on the people in our lives and the influences we allow ourselves to experience.

When we think of how much thought we give to the formation of our prayer life, the sincerity with which we enter into our promises, the fashioning of our devotion to God, we can see how much we bring back to God, how much energy and thought we devote to the building of the altar on which we lay our true lives.

Tomorrow, taking time for a summer reflection.

Adapted from a reflection written in March 27, 2009.

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