Series: Thru the Bible
Message: The temple revealed to Ezekiel
Ezekiel, prophesy to the land
Now before we get into the rest of this book I need to lay down a decent backdrop for it.
The rest of the book of Ezekiel seems to be focused upon God’s future plans for Israel and that is where the difficulty begins in interpreting the remainder of this book.
These following chapters speak of a temple – a new temple which does not conform to the pattern of the mobile one in the wilderness, nor of the more permanent structure built by Solomon – which is the same temple of Ezekiel’s time which lay in ruins from the attack of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
It is also significant that this temple never was built and there are very good reasons for that fact which we will address in a little while. What remains is a question as to whether it was ever in God’s design or desire to see this temple physically realized in the first place or if it was simply intended to serve as an allegorical teaching to Israel.
You see, this New temple, in some ways, seems to defy logic in that it does not seem possible to build IN Jerusalem, since its dimensions are nearly the same as that of Jerusalem itself. If the temple was to be IN Jerusalem, yet its size is equal to Jerusalem, then where would Jerusalem be? It is patently impossible to place a temple within the boundaries of the greater city of Jerusalem if the temple size itself could barely fit within that space.
So there are ways in which it seems reasonable to assume this temple was metaphorical and was to teach and instruct Israel rather than be a structure they were to physically build. That does not however, make it impossible, just unlikely.
You see, the land given to the tribes by lot was sovereign, so God would not have taken land from say Benjamin’s tribe just to increase Judah. However, Judah was a decent sized tribe and Jerusalem was simply one of its cities, so it is possible that God would simply increase the size of Jerusalem within Judah to accommodate this larger temple design.
Interpreting God’s Purposes
We know that God often makes declarations which are conditional. Overwhelmingly these conditions are rarely met, which means God is letting His people know two things:
1st – His plans and purposes which WILL eventually be accomplished, though not necessarily the WAY He wanted them to come about.
2nd – His preferred way(-s) in which He desires to realize those plans and purposes.
I will offer two examples – one within another, to illustrate this truth which is already familiar to you. Then we will move on to apply these truths to these remaining chapters of Ezekiel.
As you know God established the particular man who was Pharaoh during the time of Israel’s exodus.
According to scripture, God rose this particular man to power in order to make His Own name famous and cause His great power to be known in that part of the world. THAT was God’s plan and purpose in order to establish Israel as a godly nation upon whom the eyes of all the surrounding nations would be focused.
Now concerning Pharoah, God wanted to save Egypt as well. It is NOT God’s desire that ANY perish. Pharaoh, as we know, resisted the influence of God through the warning of His prophet Moses and so was destroyed. God in turn used that destruction to further His plans and purposes. For NOBODY escaped Egypt’s mighty hand. So if Pharaoh HAD LET THEM GO of his own volition then that would speak to God’s power, and would make His name famous… however, if pharoah resisted and had to be destroyed to release Israel that too would accomplish God’s ends.
At the same time God was attempting to accomplish His overall plans and purposes with Israel which was for Israel to love and serve Him and thus be a light to the nations. A light which drew all men to Him.
Now we know that God WILL eventually get this very thing, because it is His plan and purpose, but He did NOT realize it in those who came out of Egypt, nor in the Israel who came out of any of her future captivities, nor in the Israel who saw their Messiah. And now, Israel has been laid to one side for a time, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Just like in Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast. Those who had been invited (namely Israel) refused to come, so they went to the streets to invite anyone who would, to come – namely the Gentiles. God is using this time to provoke Israel to jealousy. Then God will see His plan and purpose accomplished in Israel during the Millenial reign of Christ.
Now God desired each of these opportunities in succession to be the one Israel chose to obey, He desired this even though He knew they would not do it. Just like God desires all people to be saved and gives them all the opportunity even though He knows the greatest number of them will refuse. God does things like this out of His justice. He continually gives opportunities time and again so that no one can claim that they didn’t accomplish God’s plan and purpose because they lacked the chance and opportunity.
These final chapters of Ezekiel are another PRIME example of this and we see it in chapter 43 which we will not get to tonight, but I am offering you a preview into that chapter because it sets the pace for understanding the rest of this book and why it seems so confusing at first glance.
Beginning in chapter 40, God began to give Ezekiel a vision and either He Himself or an angel was taking Ezekiel through it and explaining all of it to him. That is where we still are when we arrive at chapter 43…
“(1) Then he brought me to the gate that faced toward the east. (2) I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east; the sound was like that of rushing water; and the earth radiated His glory. (3) It was like the vision I saw when he came to destroy the city, and the vision I saw by the Kebar River. I threw myself face down.
(4) The glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate that faces east. (5) Then a wind lifted me up and brought me to the inner court; I watched the glory of the LORD filling the temple.
(6) I heard someone speaking to me from the temple, while the man was standing beside me. (7) He said to me:
“Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place for the soles of My feet, where I will live among the people of Israel forever.
The house of Israel will no longer profane My holy name, neither they nor their kings, by their spiritual prostitution or by the pillars of their kings set up when they die. (8) When they placed their threshold by My threshold and their doorpost by My doorpost, with only the wall between Me and them, they profaned My holy name by the abominable deeds they committed. So I consumed them in My anger.
(9) Now they must put away their spiritual prostitution and the pillars of their kings far from Me, and then I will live among them forever.
(10) “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they will be ashamed of their sins and measure the pattern.
(11) When they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its pattern, its exits and entrances, and its whole design – all its statutes, its entire design, and all its laws; write it all down in their sight, so that they may observe its entire design and all its statutes and do them.
(12) “This is the law of the temple: The entire area on top of the mountain all around will be most holy. Indeed, this is the law of the temple.”
So we see that this revelation of the Temple had a condition to be met. Israel was to be given the dimensions ONLY WHEN they are ashamed of all they have done!
I am glad now that we covered the books in the order that we have so you can recall how Israel responded to the end of their Babylonian captivity. If you remember, Cyrus the Great had been raised to power by God to conquer Babylon and set Israel free to return to their home land.
Who remembers what Israel’s response was to this freedom to return?
It is estimated that at the time of their exile, Judah was about 150,000 people strong. No doubt after the exile that number would be greater not only because of one generation passing but also because traditionally God always caused Israel to increase in number while in captivity. Being conservative however we will assume their numbers remained the same. It is a matter of history that initially only 50,000 returned. That is only 1/3rd of the families who left. This is NOT a rousing response to their freedom, but rather a passive response. It is a proof of the heart condition of these Israelites. The people had grown comfortable where they were. They felt safe where they were, had established new lives where they were and in fact, many had chosen the worship of other gods where they were. One thing is certain, they clearly desired other things more than the worship and honor of God in returning to the land given them by Him. As a result I think it could be easily and rightly argued that this is NOT the necessary response for being given the details of the temple, its new laws and statutes which God required.
So THAT alone may be why these plans Ezekiel was given in these next chapters never were constructed.
The remaining question is – will God desire it to be constructed in the future? We will explore various possible answers to this as we move forward.
One thing is certain, there is as always, at very least a dual reference to all that is being said here and they blend together homogeneously so that only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to properly discern one from the other.
All the way through the book of Ezekiel we see God’s ultimate plan and purpose for Israel. A future in which, “all Israel will be saved”.
We know that time has not yet come and God knew and predicted its late fulfillment. We remember in Daniel where God foretold that Israel would fulfill their place in God’s plans at the time of the very end. So none of this should be a surprise. As such, the book of Ezekiel mentions things which we now know could only apply to the Millennial Kingdom OR the Perfect Age.
Ezekiel 34:23-25, “(24) I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken. “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.”
Ezekiel 37:24-26, “(24) David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.”
As such these next three chapters are quite possibly ALL allegorical in that they seem to describe a temple with dimensions quite different than the one Solomon built. And we need to remember that the temple Solomon built is the very one which was destroyed and lay in ruins in Jerusalem as thess prophecies are being given to Ezekiel.
As such, we know by way of history it is the future temple of Ezra and Nehemiah’s time is the same dimensions as that of the one Solomon built NOT the one described by Ezekiel. It too was ruined and was restored one last time by Herod. That was the same Temple Jesus knew and saw.
So, either this temple described to Ezekiel has yet to be built or it was never intended to be built, it was only to serve the purpose of illustration for Israel and we will discuss this more as we go.
Now, the timing of this vision was clearly planned by God to help deliver the full weight of His revelation to Israel through Ezekiel. For we begin this chapter with the words…
“(1) In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month in the fourteenth year after Jerusalem had been captured, on that very day the LORD’s hand was on me, and He brought me there.”
The tenth day of this month was the day of preparations for Passover and is therefore quite appropriate for this revelation of the coming kingdom of God under the new covenant.
The remaining chapters, the fortieth through forty-eighth, give an ideal picture of the restored Jewish temple.
The arrangements as to the land and the temple are, in many particulars, different from those subsisting before the captivity.
There are things in it so improbable physically as to preclude a purely literal interpretation.
The ideal temple exhibits, under Old Testament forms (used as being those then familiar to the men whom Ezekiel, a priest himself, and one who delighted in sacrificial images, addresses), not the precise literal outline, but the essential character of the worship of Messiah as it shall be when He shall exercise sway in Jerusalem among His own people, the Jews, and thence to the ends of the earth.
The description involves things which, taken literally, almost involve natural impossibilities. The square of the temple, in Ezekiel 42:20, is six times as large as the circuit of the wall enclosing the old temple, and larger than all the earthly Jerusalem.
Ezekiel gives three and a half miles and one hundred forty yards to his temple square.
The boundaries of the ancient city were about two and a half miles.
Again, the city in Ezekiel has an area between three or four thousand square miles, including the holy ground set apart for the prince, priests, and Levites. This is nearly as large as the whole of Judea west of the Jordan.
As Zion lay in the center of the ideal city, the one-half of the sacred portion extended to nearly thirty miles south of Jerusalem, that is, covered nearly the whole southern territory, which reached only to the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:19), and yet five tribes were to have their inheritance on that side of Jerusalem, beyond the sacred portion (Ezekiel 48:23-28). Where was land to be found for them there? A breadth of but four or five miles apiece would be left. As the boundaries of the land are given the same as under Moses, these incongruities cannot be explained away by supposing physical changes about to be effected in the land such as will meet the difficulties of the purely literal interpretation.
The distribution of the land is in equal portions among the twelve tribes, without respect to their relative numbers, and the parallel sections running from east to west.
Lastly, the catholicity of the Christian dispensation, and the spirituality of its worship, seem incompatible with a return to the local narrowness and “beggarly elements” of the Jewish ritual and carnal ordinances, disannulled “because of the unprofitableness thereof” [Fairbairn], (Gal. 4:3,9; Gal. 5:1; Heb. 9:10; 10:18).
“A temple with sacrifices now would be a denial of the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ. He who sacrificed before confessed the Messiah. He who should sacrifice now would solemnly deny Him” [Douglas].
These difficulties, however, may be all seeming, not real.
Faith accepts God’s Word as it is, waits for the event, sure that it will clear up all such difficulties. Perhaps, as some think, the beauty of the ideal of a sacred commonwealth is given according to the then existing pattern of temple services, which would be the imagery most familiar to the prophet and his hearers at the time.
The minute particularizing of details is in accordance with Ezekiel’s style, even in describing purely ideal scenes.
The old temple embodied in visible forms and rites spiritual truths affecting the people even when absent from it. So this ideal temple is made in the absence of the outward temple to serve by description the same purpose of symbolical instruction as the old literal temple did by forms and acts.
As in the beginning God promised to be a “sanctuary” (Ezekiel 11:16) to the captives at the Chebar, so now at the close is promised a complete restoration and realization of the theocratic worship and polity under Messiah in its noblest ideal (compare Jer. 31:38-40).
In Rev. 21:22 “no temple” is seen, as in the perfection of the new dispensation the accidents of place and form are no longer needed to realize to Christians what Ezekiel imparts to Jewish minds by the imagery familiar to them.
In Ezekiel’s temple holiness stretches over the entire temple, so that in this there is no longer a distinction between the different parts, as in the old temple: parts left undeterminate in the latter obtain now a divine sanction, so that all arbitrariness is excluded. So that it is be a perfect manifestation of the love of God to His covenant-people (Ezekiel 40:1-43:12); and from it, as from a new center of religious life, there gushes forth the fullness of blessings to them, and so to all people (Ezekiel 47:1-23) [Fairbairn and Havernick].
“(2) In visions of God He took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. On its southern slope was a structure resembling a city. (3) He brought me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. He was standing by the gate.
(4) He spoke to me:
“Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see to the house of Israel.”
So first off, this temple complex was so large it looked like a city. As we read the description of its general dimensions we discover it is HUGE and is therefore NOT the same dimensions as the original temple erected by Solomon. Also, this temple of Ezekiel has never literally been constructed. The rebuilding and restoring work of Ezra and Nehemiah were just that – restoring and rebuilding what was built by Solomon. This vision of Ezekiel is larger by orders of magnitude.
That having been said, I believe this description is intended to point to spiritual realities and was never intended to be a literal representation of any physical temple God would ever have built. One reason for this is because some necessary dimensions are not even offered and some are so large that it seems physically impossible since it was supposed to be all located on the southern slope of this high mountain.
It seems most probably that the mountain is referring then to Mount Zion, which does have a physical location, but which also has a spiritual sister – that of the church, the city of the living God which is mentioned in Hebrews 12:18-24,
“(18) For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, (19) to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. (Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, (20) for they could not bear what was commanded: And if even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned! (21) And the appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am terrified and trembling.)
(22) Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, (23) to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, (24) to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.”
“Mount Sion — antitypical Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, of which the spiritual invisible Church (of which the first foundation was laid in literal Zion, John 12:15; 1Peter 2:6) is now the earnest; and of which the restored literal Jerusalem hereafter shall be the earthly representative, to be succeeded by the everlasting and “new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” (Rev. 21:2-27; compare Heb. 11:10).”
All of the following things Ezekiel saw were to be reported to Israel and they would certainly have noticed the difference in dimensions and know something more is being described here.
“(5) Now there was a wall surrounding the outside of the temple. The measuring rod in the man’s hand was six units of 21 inches; each unit was the standard length plus three inches. He measured the thickness of the wall structure; it was about 10 feet, and its height was the same.
(6) Then he came to the gate that faced east and climbed its steps. He measured the threshold of the gate; it was 10 feet deep–the first threshold was 10 feet deep. (7) Each recess was about 10 feet long and 10 feet deep, and there was a space of eight and three-quarter feet between the recesses. The inner threshold of the gate on the temple side next to the gate’s portico was about 10 feet.
(8) Next he measured the portico of the gate; (9) it was 14 feet, and its pilasters were three and a half feet. The portico of the gate was on the temple side.
(10) There were three recesses on each side of the east gate, each with the same measurements, and the pilasters on either side also had the same measurements.
(11) Then he measured the width of the gate’s entrance; it was 17 and a half feet, while the width of the gateway was 22 and three-quarter feet. (12) There was a barrier of 21 inches in front of the recesses on both sides, and the recesses on each side were 10 and a half feet square.
(13) Then he measured the gateway from the roof of one recess to the roof of the opposite one; the distance was 43 and three-quarter feet. The openings of the recesses faced each other.
(14) Next, he measured the pilasters–105 feet. The gate extended around to the pilaster of the court. (15) The distance from the front of the gate at the entrance to the front of the gate’s portico on the inside was 87 and a half feet. (16) The recesses and their pilasters had beveled windows all around the inside of the gateway. The porticos also had windows all around on the inside. Each pilaster was decorated with palm trees.
(17) Then he brought me into the outer court, and there were chambers and a paved surface laid out all around the court. Thirty chambers faced the pavement, (18) which flanked the gates and corresponded to the length of the gates; this was the lower pavement.
(19) Then he measured the distance from the front of the lower gate to the exterior front of the inner court; it was 175 feet. This was the east; next the north is described. (20) He measured the gate of the outer court facing north, both its length and width. (21) Its three recesses on each side, its pilasters, and its portico had the same measurements as the first gate: 87 and a half feet long and 43 and three-quarter feet wide. (22) Its windows, portico, and palm trees had the same measurements as those of the gate that faced east. Seven steps led up to the gate, and its portico was ahead of them.
(23) The inner court had a gate facing the north gate, like the one on the east. He measured the distance from gate to gate; it was 175 feet. (24) He brought me to the south side, and there was also a gate on the south. He measured its pilasters and portico; they had the same measurements as the others. (25) Both the gate and its portico had windows all around, like the other windows. It was 87 and a half feet long and 43 and three-quarter feet wide. (26) Its stairway had seven steps, and its portico was ahead of them. It had palm trees on its pilasters, one on each side.
(27) The inner court had a gate on the south. He measured from gate to gate on the south; it was 175 feet.
(28) Then he brought me to the inner court through the south gate. When he measured the south gate, it had the same measurements as the others. (29) Its recesses, pilasters, and portico had the same measurements as the others. Both it and its portico had windows all around. It was 87 and a half feet long and 43 and three-quarter feet wide. (30) (There were porticoes all around, 43 and three-quarter feet long and eight and three-quarter feet wide.) (31) Its portico faced the outer court, and its pilasters were decorated with palm trees. Its stairway had eight steps.
(32) Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side. When he measured the gate, it had the same measurements as the others. (33) Its recesses, pilasters, and portico had the same measurements as the others. Both it and its portico had windows all around. It was 87 and a half feet long and 43 and three-quarter feet wide. (34) Its portico faced the outer court, and its pilasters were decorated with palm trees on each side. Its stairway had eight steps.
(35) Then he brought me to the north gate. When he measured it, it had the same measurements as the others, (36) as did its recesses, pilasters, and portico. It also had windows all around. It was 87 and a half feet long and 43 and three-quarter feet wide. (37) Its portico faced the outer court, and its pilasters were decorated with palm trees on each side. Its stairway had eight steps.
(38) There was a chamber whose door opened into the portico of the gate. The burnt offering was to be washed there.
(39) Inside the portico of the gate there were two tables on each side, on which to slaughter the burnt offering, sin offering, and restitution offering.
(40) Outside, as one approaches the entrance of the north gate, there were two tables on one side and two more tables on the other side of the gate’s portico.
(41) So there were four tables inside the gate and four outside, eight tables in all on which the slaughtering was to be done. (42) There were also four tables of cut stone for the burnt offering, each 31 and a half inches long, 31 and a half inches wide, and 21 inches high. The utensils used to slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices were placed on them. (43) There were three-inch hooks fastened all around the inside of the room, and the flesh of the offering was to be laid on the tables.
(44) Outside the inner gate, within the inner court, there were chambers for the singers: one beside the north gate, facing south, and another beside the south gate, facing north.
(45) Then the man said to me:
“This chamber that faces south is for the priests who keep charge of the temple.
(46) The chamber that faces north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, the ones from the sons of Levi who may approach the LORD to serve Him.”
These priests of the family of Zadok, descended from Aaron, and were the oldest house of Aaron, the priesthood belonged to them. The name Zadok signifies “just”, or righteous; and so served as a type for Christ, the holy and just One.
“(47) Next he measured the court. It was square, 175 feet long and 175 feet wide. The altar was in front of the temple.
(48) Then he brought me to the portico of the temple and measured the pilasters of the portico; they were eight and three-quarter feet thick on each side. The width of the gateway was 24 and a half feet, and the sidewalls of the gate were five and a quarter feet wide on each side. (49) The portico was 35 feet across and 21 feet deep, and 10 steps led up to it. There were pillars by the pilasters, one on each side.”
Ezekiel 41:1-26, HCSB
“(1) Next he brought me into the great hall and measured the pilasters; on each side the width of the pilaster was 10 and a half feet. (2) The width of the entrance was 17 and a half feet, and the sidewalls of the entrance were eight and three-quarter feet wide on each side.
He also measured the length of the great hall, 70 feet, and the width, 35 feet. (3) He went inside the next room and measured the pilasters at the entrance; they were three and a half feet wide. The entrance was 10 and a half feet wide, and the width of the entrance’s sidewalls on each side was 12 and a quarter feet.
(4) He then measured the length of the room adjacent to the great hall, 35 feet, and the width, 35 feet. And he said to me,
“This is the most holy place.”
(5) Then he measured the wall of the temple; it was 10 and a half feet thick. The width of the side rooms all around the temple was seven feet.
(6) The side rooms were arranged one above another in three stories of 30 rooms each.
There were ledges on the wall of the temple all around to serve as supports for the side rooms, so that the supports would not be in the temple wall itself.
(7) The side rooms surrounding the temple widened at each successive story, for the structure surrounding the temple went up by stages. This was the reason for the temple’s broadness as it rose. And so, one would go up from the lowest story to the highest by means of the middle one.
(8) I saw that the temple had a raised platform surrounding it; this foundation for the side rooms was 10 and a half feet high. (9) The thickness of the outer wall of the side rooms was eight and three-quarter feet. The free space between the side rooms of the temple (10) and the outer chambers was 35 feet wide all around the temple.
(11) The side rooms opened into the free space, one entrance toward the north and another to the south. The area of free space was eight and three-quarter feet wide all around.”
“(12) Now the building that faced the temple yard toward the west was 122 and a half feet wide. The wall of the building was eight and three-quarter feet thick on all sides, and the building’s length was 157 and a half feet.
(13) Then the man measured the temple; it was 175 feet long. In addition, the temple yard and the building, including its walls, were 175 feet long. (14) The width of the front of the temple along with the temple yard to the east was 175 feet.
“(15) Next he measured the length of the building facing the temple yard to the west, with its galleries on each side; it was 175 feet. The interior of the great hall and the porticoes of the court– (16) the thresholds, the beveled windows, and the balconies all around with their three levels opposite the threshold–were overlaid with wood on all sides. They were paneled from the ground to the windows (but the windows were covered), (17) reaching to the top of the entrance, and as far as the inner temple and on the outside. On every wall all around, on the inside and outside, was a pattern (18) carved with cherubim and palm trees.
There was a palm tree between each pair of cherubim. Each cherub had two faces: (19) a human face turned toward the palm tree on one side, and a lion’s face turned toward it on the other. They were carved throughout the temple on all sides.
(20) Cherubim and palm trees were carved from the ground to the top of the entrance and on the wall of the great hall.
(21) The doorposts of the great hall were square, and the front of the sanctuary had the same appearance. (22) The altar was made of wood, five and a quarter feet high and three and a half feet long. It had corners, and its length and sides were of wood.
The man told me, “This is the table that stands before the LORD.”
(23) The great hall and the sanctuary each had a double door, (24) and each of the doors had two swinging panels. There were two panels for one door and two for the other. (25) Cherubim and palm trees were carved on the doors of the great hall like those carved on the walls. There was a wooden canopy outside, in front of the portico. (26) There were beveled windows and palm trees on both sides, on the sidewalls of the portico, the side rooms of the temple, and the canopies.”
Ezekiel 42:1-20, HCSB
“(1) Then the man led me out by way of the north gate into the outer court. He brought me to the group of chambers opposite the temple yard and opposite the building to the north.
(2) Along the length of the chambers, which was 175 feet, there was an entrance on the north; the width was 87 and a half feet. (3) Opposite the 35 foot space belonging to the inner court and opposite the paved surface belonging to the outer court, the structure rose gallery by gallery in three tiers.
(4) In front of the chambers was a walkway toward the inside, 17 and a half feet wide and 175 feet long, and their entrances were on the north. (5) The upper chambers were narrower because the galleries took away more space from them than from the lower and middle stories of the building. (6) For they were arranged in three stories and had no pillars like the pillars of the courts; therefore the upper chambers were set back from the ground more than the lower and middle stories.
(7) A wall on the outside ran in front of the chambers, parallel to them, toward the outer court; it was 87 and a half feet long. (8) For the chambers on the outer court were 87 and a half feet long, while those facing the great hall were 175 feet long.
(9) At the base of these chambers there was an entryway on the east side as one enters them from the outer court. (10) In the thickness of the wall of the court toward the south, there were chambers facing the temple yard and the western building, (11) with a passageway in front of them, just like the chambers that faced north. Their length and width, as well as all their exits, measurements, and entrances, were identical.
(12) The entrance at the beginning of the passageway, the way in front of the corresponding wall as one enters on the east side, was similar to the entrances of the chambers that were on the south side.
(13) Then the man said to me, “The northern and southern chambers that face the temple yard are the holy chambers where the priests who approach the LORD will eat the most holy offerings. There they will deposit the most holy offerings–the grain offerings, sin offerings, and restitution offerings–for the place is holy.
(14) Once the priests have entered, they must not go out from the holy area to the outer court until they have removed the clothes they minister in, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they approach the public area.”
(15) When he finished measuring inside the temple complex, he led me out by way of the gate that faced east and measured all around the complex.”
Reeds vs. cubits
Reeds represent 6 cubits according to Ezekiel 40, so if this chapter is speaking of reeds then we have a problem, because it would wind up being 6 times larger than described in chapter 40. The Septugent has this as cubits, thus reconciling the text.
The Septuigent was the translation the Hebrews made of the Bible into Greek while in captivity in Alexandria, Egypt and was the translation most often used by both Jesus and the apostles. As such I feel rather secure going with that translation.
Another possibility is that there is a second wall which is large enough to encompass the first. If these dimensions are correct, then one could imagine that this outer wall is the actual wall of the city of Jerusalem within which is the temple with its wall.
Those who accept this possibility point to passages like…
Zechariah 1:16-17, HCSB “(1) Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I have graciously returned to Jerusalem; My house will be rebuilt within it”–the declaration of the LORD of Hosts–“and a measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem. (17) “Proclaim further: This is what the LORD of Hosts says: My cities will again overflow with prosperity; the LORD will once more comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”
Psalm 68:29, HCSB “Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring tribute to You.”
Jeremiah 30:16-22, HCSB “(16) Nevertheless, all who devoured you will be devoured, and all your adversaries–all of them–will go off into exile. Your despoilers will become spoil, and all who plunder you will be plundered. (17) But I will bring you health and will heal you of your wounds–this is the LORD’s declaration–for they call you The Outcast, that Zion no one cares about. (18) This is what the LORD says: I will certainly restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and show compassion on his dwellings. Every city will be rebuilt on its mound; every citadel will stand on its proper site. (19) Thanksgiving will come out of them, a sound of celebration. I will multiply them, and they will not decrease; I will honor them, and they will not be insignificant. (20) His children will be as in past days; his congregation will be established in My presence. I will punish all his oppressors. (21) Jacob’s leader will be one of them; his ruler will issue from him. I will invite him to Me, and he will approach Me, for who would otherwise risk his life to approach Me? This is the LORD’s declaration. (22) You will be My people, and I will be your God.”
“(16) He measured the east side with a measuring rod; it was 875 feet by the measuring rod.
(17) He measured the north side;it was 875 feet by the measuring rod.
(18) He measured the south side;it was 875 feet by the measuring rod.
(19) Then he turned to the west side and measured 875 feet by the measuring rod.
(20) He measured the temple complex on all four sides. It had a wall all around it, 875 feet long and 875 feet wide, to separate the holy from the common.”
This makes sense since the plan from the beginning was for God to have a people called out from the world to be His Own. As such they would have to be holy even as He is holy, which is a command we are familiar with.
Something that is holy is “other than” meaning it is not “common” it is “uncommon” and is therefore of use unto God.
In writing to Timothy, Paul puts it this way,
2Timothy 2:19-21, HCSB “(19) Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, having this inscription: The Lord knows those who are His, and Everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness. (20) Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary. (21) So if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
Joel 3:16-18, HCSB “(16) The LORD will roar from Zion and raise His voice from Jerusalem; heaven and earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for His people, a stronghold for the Israelites. (17) Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who dwells in Zion, My holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy, and foreigners will never overrun it again. (18) In that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk. All the streams of Judah will flow with water, and a spring will issue from the LORD’s house, watering the Valley of Acacias.”
Isaiah 52:1, HCSB “Wake up, wake up; put on your strength, Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the Holy City! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer enter you.”