Ez 43:1-7; Ps 85:9-14; Mt 23:1-12
“Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him.”
He is near. His salvation is near. The LORD of Glory dwells in our land. In the midst of his awestruck and fearful apostles on Easter morning the Risen Christ proclaimed, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give to you.” When the LORD dwells with his people, there is glory dwelling in our land. Near indeed is the LORD’s salvation to those who fear him. The Apostles are not afraid, but they live in the fear of the LORD. Wonders never cease. Justice and peace shall kiss; enemies become friends and true justice makes the world a peace-filled place. Truth springs up from the good soil and seedbed of the Kingdom; justice looks down from the splendor of the heavenly courts. The LORD supplies our every need and delights the souls of those who seek him. Everything we plant yields a hundred, twenty, and ten fold. Our benefactor is God himself. The land delights to yield such a blessing. We walk before him; we walk with justice and salvation all along the way of his steps. Through the dark vales and on the stormy waters, we walk without a trembling heart. Indeed, as the Prophet Ezekiel hears a voice like the roaring of many waters, we, too, hear a familiar voice calling us by name. Indeed, like believers before us we listen as the Master Jesus speaks to our humble hearts. A humble and contrite heart the Lord never rejects, and just such a heart has room to receive the self-gift of the Lord of Glory.
Brighter than the rising sun is the glory of God that comes from the east. The coming glory of God is so bright because it is impossible to hide from his light. With the Prophet Ezekiel we see the Lord and hear the roaring of many waters. The LORD comes to destroy the city and judge the nations. He comes to destroy that which is destructive in the city and that which is unjust among the nations. This divine appearance was like that he had seen by the river Chebar. Again Ezekiel sees the wheel within the wheel; his eyes behold the total freedom of the Spirit of the LORD. The Breath of God blows where it will, and we know not whence it comes or wither it goes. Like the earliest of the prophets, Elijah, we feel the tiny whispering wind upon our faces, and we know that the LORD is near. Like the Prophet Ezekiel, we fall prone as the glory of LORD enters His Temple. As he enters he lifts us up and brings us to the inner court, and there we wait for his word. There at the center of the holy of holies we hear the voice of the Son of man saying, “This is where my throne shall be; this is where I will set the soles of my feet; here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.” We are the New Israel, and the voice of the Lord makes a promise that is fulfilled in great splendor at the Altar of the Cross. Again the throne of his glory is the ignominious gibbet, and his wounded feet walk into our midst in the liturgy, and he dwells among the children who trust in his promise. He comes to purify and heal. His salvation is near. Glory dwelling in our land.
The holiness demanded of the crowds and the disciples is beyond the witness of the scribes and Pharisees. Those who have taken a seat on the chair of Moses have not the shining brightness of Moses. They preach constantly and practice seldom. The only public witness they give is to a desire to be seen. So they make their presence much more noticeable with wider phylacteries and longer tassels. These men use the trappings of religion to gain social recognition. They refuse to respond to someone in need unless they hear their favorite title, Rabbi, father, or Master. Without proper respect they have no time for anyone’s questions or concerns. The Lord Jesus has a clear and severe challenge for those who occupy the seat of the Prophet Moses. The same challenge has survived in its clarity and severity because the attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees in the days of Jesus public ministry have survived among the leaders of the Church. The witness of those washed in the Blood of the Lamb must be unique and bold because it must change the face of the earth. True greatness is found only in true humility. The great ones among us are those who serve everyone, without regard for that person’s status or importance. The only reason to serve someone is because that person needs your help. Any community that reveals the humility of Christ will be the source of a true revolution in the history of the world and a new humanity upon the face of the earth. Indeed, those who follow the humble and meek Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, will find the strength to humble self and exalt those who need, those desperate to love and to live in the abundance of his glory. These will be exalted, with Christ upon the Cross, the throne of glory dwelling in our land.