TODAY’S READING: Ezekiel 40–42
Eternity past was perfect as eternity future will be. Other than the first chapters of Genesis and the last chapter of Revelation, the Bible deals with the ramifications of what went wrong and how God will fix it. In the first Adam all men sinned and in the second Adam all peoples of earth have opportunity for redemption. We are in the “middle-earth” period between the perfections of eternity past and future. The prophetic voice of Ezekiel deals both with the ramifications of the fall and the hope of perfection one day. His vision of the temple simply is a looking and longing for that unending day when all is perfect, beautiful, holy, and orderly again, when all peoples of earth are represented before the King of heaven, home at last.
Missionaries and missionary-minded disciples as prophetic voices are bearers of news. The bad news does not make sense outside of the grieved understanding of the loss of perfection in eternity past. The good news does not make sense outside of the future hope for perfection eternally. Thus, it is imperative in our message that we offer both the sobriety of paradise lost and the joyful promise of paradise found again and gained. When we sit with those broken by sin, lost in rebellion, crushed by evil, and blinded by lies to communicate the gospel, it must be with both eternities in mind. We must grieve what is lost with the unconverted in order to fully appreciate what is promised.
F. W. Boreham broke the news to a mother that her beloved son was slain in battle. For a while he sat in her parlor in silence letting the silence speak. He wrote:
In the fading light of the summer evening, I watched the shadow creeping over her face—the reflection of the deeper shadow coming over her heart. I saw her anxiety growing more acute as her suspicion deepened. Then rising and coming towards me quietly: “You have come to bring us bad news?” There was no need for reply. I took her hand and led her back to her chair. She buried her face in her hands and the merciful relief of tears was richly ministered to her.
The good news of the gospel starts with the bad news and God’s prophetic, missionary people must be adept at breaking both. We must cry together before we dance together.
If paradise was once lost, you may wonder what will keep us from losing it again. If Adam from the first Eden fell, how will we not follow in that tragic course? What will keep us in the Eden to come? The horrific consequences of the fall gave us one priceless and enduring lesson in the collective. Now we know the difference. Before the fall Adam had no reference for how good perfection was and how bad sin is. Together we now bear the painful scars that help us see the difference between eternal life and eternal death.
Because Ezekiel knew what a desecrated, despoiled temple looked like, he had a greater appreciation and longing for a perfected one. Beauty in its purest earthly form is a regret of the lost glory of eternity past and a relish of the coming glory of eternity future. Man has an innate certainty within him that all things are meant to be good, pure, beautiful, and perfect. When we encounter the effects of our fall, it is an acknowledgement that what is broken was once beautifully whole, and one day soon shall again be.
 F. W. Boreham. Wisps of Wildfire. London: The Epworth Press, 1924. 46.