The last time Ezekiel was at the east gate of the temple, the main entrance, was nineteen years earlier. The vision he saw then was awesome and troubling. Fundamentally, it amounted to the glory of the Lord getting ready to depart from the temple. It was a slow leave. The magnificent vision of the Cherubim, wheels within wheels, rose from the south side of the temple and moved to the front door – the east gate. There, joined by the glory of the Lord, they moved from the threshold to the steps of the temple. The leaders of the temple were prophesying that the bad times would soon be over and happy days would return. To them the Lord says: “ You have killed many people in this city and filled its streets with the dead. 7 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: The bodies you have thrown there are the meat and this city is the pot, but I will drive you out of it. 8 You fear the sword, and the sword is what I will bring against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 I will drive you out of the city and deliver you into the hands of foreigners and inflict punishment on you. 10 You will fall by the sword, and I will execute judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
Then, the Lord and His entourage of Cherubim moved out of the temple to mountain east of Jerusalem.
Now, nearly twenty years later, in chapter forty-three, the Lord is signaling His return to His people.
In a way, it foreshadows the return of the Jews to the land of promise a few years afterward in the time of the Persian king Cyrus. But here’s an important matter: The Cherubim in the Bible always mark the presence of God. When they move away, God moves away. Later, in chapter 16 and 36, God promises to return, but when He does, he promises a return of His Spirit – a gift that will motivate His people to live correctly and help them do it.
This doesn’t actually happen until Pentecost in the New Testament, and so the fulfillment of this text points toward that grand event.