This is the last article in a series on the book of Ezekiel as it relates to the small church.

  1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw—like the vision which I saw when I[a] came to destroy the city. The visions werelike the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 4 And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. 5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.  Ezekiel 43:1-5 NKJV

  In Ezekiel 9-11 the glory of God departs from the temple, leaving the holy city because of the sins of the people.  They had been warned by the prophets but chose their own way and so the Spirit left.

  Many churches are in this predicament today.  The people have sinned.  They have been warned by pastors and evangelists to repent, but have chosen their own ways.  As a result, the Spirit has left them.  These congregations have had "Ichabod" written over the door and many would write them off at this point.

  But to do so is to ignore what happens in Ezekiel 43--the glory of God returns!  This should be a message of hope and gladness to pastors of churches where the glory of God has departed.  What had to occur for the glory to return?

1. God's punishment had to be served.  Because of their sin, God sent the Israelites into Babylonian captivity for 70 years.  He did not allow this time to be cut short or refined in any way.  The penalty for sin had to be paid. 

  For the glory of God to return to your church His sentence will have to be served out.  It may be a great thing or small--that is up to Him.  But it must be paid if your church is to be restored.

2. A repentant spirit had to be restored.  In the books of Daniel and Nehemiah you can read how these men of God prayed great prayers of repentance seeking the forgiveness of God for the nation and seeking His restoration.

  You cannot have business as usual if you want the glory of God to return to your church.  People are going to have to repent--turn from their wicked ways and seek God's restoration with all their hearts.  You would be surprised how God will work in a congregation when everyone unites with one heart to repent.

3. The work of the temple must be restored.  You can argue this one if you like, but the fact is that the glory did not return until the temple was built and all was in place to restore the right worship of God.

  If you want the Spirit of God in your church, you must do the work that the Spirit blesses.  You must get all in readiness to worship the Lord.  Remember that God inhabits the praises of His people.

4. One final thing required for the return of the glory--God Himself must decide to return.  It was according to His plan and desire that the temple was rebuilt.  It was His decision to restore the glory.

  And He must decide to restore your church as well.  There are some things that are beyond our control.  We cannot save anyone.  We cannot convict anyone.  We cannot make people worship from their hearts.  And we cannot make God return.  It is His decision, not ours.  The good news is that God wants His people to be close to Him, to have His Spirit dwell among us.  That means that although there is no guarantee that the glory will be restored to your church, it very well may be if you seek Him with all your heart.

  There are so many of our small churches with discouraged leaders who feel that things can never be the same, that the glory days of the church are past.  But Ezekiel begs to differ.  Take heart pastor and begin the process that may lead to the return of the Lord.