By Bethany Golding
I have been reading through the One Year Chronological Bible this year, and lately I have been reading through the prophets. The book of Ezekiel stood out to me this year like it never has before. During the time of Ezekiel, the fear of God was long gone among the citizens of Judah. Detestable sin was everywhere they turned. God’s holy temple was being defiled by idols – the temple, of all places! Ezekiel was the man whom God sent to prophesy to the Israelites in Judah. They turned a deaf ear to him. This sin of idolatry continued, and in Ezekiel 10, God’s glory departed from the temple that was built for Him. That is a weighty statement that we need to let sink in. God’s glory departed. Glory is God’s manifest presence. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in any situation where God’s glory departs. Yet, I find myself in that situation every time I am living life in a way that grieves the Holy Spirit because His manifest presence cannot dwell where sin is present. I set my Bible aside to fill my soul with worldly entertainment. I trade time spent in prayer for cheap thrills that the world has to offer.
The interesting thing about the way God’s glory left the temple in the book of Ezekiel is that it did not vanish all at once. It gradually left. Isn’t that how we see it happen in our own lives when we grieve the Holy Spirit? Small choices made in the flesh, day by day, end up being the things that gradually stop the Holy Spirit from flowing through us as His vessels. In referencing the glory of God leaving the temple, Henrietta Mears says, “Young Christians, this is just what can happen to us. We can grieve the Holy Spirit and resist Him until He is quenched and our heart becomes like a ruined temple bereft of its glory. There are so many blighted Christian lives from which the radiance has gone through disobedience.” How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? Henrietta Mears goes on to say, “We grieve the Spirit when we do not allow ourselves time to read the Word or pray. We limit the Spirit when we refuse to be clean vessels through which He can work. We resist Him by allowing idols to be in our hearts.”
1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, God’s presence resided in the temple where sacrifices were made. Only the high priest had access to the inner court, and the only reason that God’s holiness did not kill the high priest was because of the blood from the animal sacrifices and the strict rules that the priest had to follow before entering into the Holy of Holies. The good news for us is that we are on the other side of the cross! The veil to the inner court/Holy of Holies was torn when Jesus died on the cross. Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us, “…since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Is this not an amazing reality to grasp? The same holiness that could kill a priest who did not enter the Holy of Holies in the right manner lives in my body that is now the temple of the Holy Spirit! The only reason that the Holy Spirit in me does not smite my wicked self is because the blood of Jesus covers me as the ultimate sacrifice. When we really understand this, we realize the seriousness of sin and the way it separates us from God. Oh how I long to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and live in a way that does not grieve Him!
When the glory left the temple, the radiance of the Lord was gone. Henrietta Mears goes on to ask, “Does His presence glow in your life?” When we spend time in the Word and prayer, our countenance changes. We have a certain glow or radiance about us that the world knows nothing of but so badly desires to have.
I have recently experienced this truth in my own life. After having a baby, my time with the Lord was sporadic at best. As my daughter got older, I realized that I did not have any excuse to not be spending time regularly in God’s Word and in prayer. I had grieved the Holy Spirit in my life by not spending regular time with the Lord, and I was placing idols like family, friends, hobbies, and other earthly things above Him. I so badly wanted to get back to a place where I yearned to dig into His Word every day. I begged the Lord to make me like the deer in Psalm 42:1 that says, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” And oh, did the Lord answer, as He is always faithful to do. I became more faithful with my Bible reading, and I did not want to miss a day. Just as thirsty animals crave streams of water, my soul needs the Fountain of Living Water and the Bread of Life, which is Jesus! Friends, He is the only sustenance that truly satisfies.
It is not always easy to stay disciplined in reading God’s Word, to stay in a state of prayer, and to make sure we do not have idols on the throne of our heart replacing the Lord. However, it is a fight that is beyond worth it. He has prepared a feast for us more lovely than the riches of this world. Come and taste, friends. His glory is always good.
Bethany Golding is from Gardendale, Alabama and moved to Memphis, Tennessee when she was in 7th grade. She thought her life was ruined when she had to move, but everything turned out great because Memphis is where she met her high school sweetheart, who she fell in love with and married! Bethany has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education from Union University, and she taught the sweetest first grade babies for two years. Now she is staying home with her daughter, who was born in October. She loves middle school and high school girls and is currently discipling the sweetest 7th graders on the planet. She enjoys hanging out with her husband, spending time with family and friends, eating Mexican food, singing, reading, and traveling. She firmly believes that mornings should be off limit, and in a perfect world she would sleep until noon everyday.