1 Yahweh reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubim; let the earth be moved.
Encouraging the captives to be faithful
In their sorrow, the exiles yearned for reassurance that God still overshadowed their lives. But there was one who dwelt among them, whose message had already rallied their hearts, and he would do so now in their time of greatest need.
Just as the House of Asaph had sat disconsolate among the captives by the river, so had Ezekiel the priest, 26 his own heart wrung with anguish at the rebellious spirit of the exiles.
His earlier parables and prophecies had reinforced the need for repentance and change, but after Jerusalem fell, his message turned to prophecies of restoration, to encourage the captives in their despair. But throughout his ministry, Ezekiel was also the recipient of visions of God. 27
The last of these was the most dramatic of all, for after twenty-five years in captivity, he saw in vision the city of Jerusalem, and a magnificent new temple fully completed and in service. Even the time of the vision was significant, for it signalled a Jubilee from Josiah's Passover, where the House of Asaph had last sung before the ark. 28
What Ezekiel saw was immensely encouraging to the captives, for it portended not only a return to the land, but a restoration of their worship. But if the people were encouraged by his words, the House of Asaph must have been inspired.
They had celebrated the glory of Yahweh among His people when the ark was placed within the tent David had prepared for it in Jerusalem. 29 Later, when Solomon had built the temple and brought the ark there, they had seen an exhibition of the divine splendour as the glory of Yahweh filled the house. 30
The true tragedy of the exile had been that the glory of God had departed from the Most Holy, a departure which Ezekiel had seen and spoken of to the captivity. But now, his vision of the temple promised a coming of the glory to fill the house again, 31 as it had in Solomon's time.
What Ezekiel saw was another temple, with the presence of God returned, as if the ark itself were in its place again. 32 If the House of Asaph had witnessed the first occasion, then why might they not, of all families, be present to witness this marvellous restitution which Ezekiel had seen?
But in all Ezekiel's vision, there was one thing which inspired the House of Asaph beyond all others. To know that the temple would be restored, that the glory would return, and that the ark would once more be found in the Most Holy, were matters to gladden the hearts of all the captives.
But Ezekiel, meticulous in recording all that he had seen, described an aspect if the building that set the heart of Asaph's family alight. In its inner court, and on its north side, were chambers set aside for rae singers. 33 Chambers for the singers! Here was proof to the House of Asaph that they were destined to return, and that their role would be restored.
It was a bittersweet promise however, for those of the family who had journeyed into exile as adults would never see the temple again, nor sing within its courts. Even some of their children would not live to make the journey home.
Yet they sang as they had always sung, to preserve the heritage ofIsrael's songs. It was a mark of their faithfulness that they continued a work, the fulness of which was to be realised in a generation of their family yet to come. 34
They believed that, one day, some of their household would go back, and with them would return the words and the music of Israel's hymn book.
Their sense of guardianship was profound. No family knew the power of this principle better than the House of Asaph, and it was as well that they did. Who else could be relied upon to preserve so precious a heritage?
From Nebuchadnezzar to Cyrus, the family sang and waited for the moment of the seventy years to be fulfilled. If there was a blessing in this epoch of sorrow, if there was a proof that Yahweh was good, and that His mercy endured for ever, then this family would exhibit it before the nation.
26 Psalm 137:1-3; EzekieI3:15.
27 Ezekiel1:1; 8:3,4; 11:24; 40:1,2.
28 The calculation is summarised in The Temple of Ezekiel's Prophecy (Henry Sulley, pages 27,28).
29 Note the threefold use of the word "glory" (kabowd -1 Chronicles 16:24,28,29). 30 2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:1-3.
31 EzekieI11:22-25; 43:1-5.
32 The expression "the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet" (EzekieI43:7) is a clear allusion to the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:22; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 60:13).
33 EzekieI 40:44.
34 Psalm 78:6,7.
Bro Roger Lewis - The House of Asaph Ch 9