Series: Thru the Bible
Message: The temple revealed to Ezekiel Pt. 2
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The temple revealed to Ezekiel Part 2
“(1) He led me to the gate, the one that faces east, (2) and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of mighty waters, and the earth shone with His glory.
Whether this has immediate significance to this text or not, way back in the 11th chapter of Ezekiel, the glory of the Lord had departed from the temple and headed east settling on Mount Olivet and it was from this direction that the glory returned to enter the temple once more.
Ezekiel 11:22-23, “(22) Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, lifted their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. (23) The glory of the LORD rose up from within the city and stood on the mountain east of the city.”
“(3) The vision I saw was like the one I had seen when He came to destroy the city, and like the ones I had seen by the Chebar Canal. I fell facedown.
(4) The glory of the LORD entered the temple by way of the gate that faced east.
(5) Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”
Remember that the inner court (also known as the tabernacle of meeting) was for priests only, of which Ezekiel was one.
In all of the real and functional temples of the Old Covenant this area contained the Showbread table, the Menorah and the Altar of Incense.
It seems significant therefore that in the vision given to Ezekiel regarding the temple, while there was a description of the altar of sacrifice just outside the tabernacle and the Altar of Incense (referred to as the table that stands before the Lord – Ezekiel 41:22) the there was no description of these Showbread table nor the Menorah within the tabernacle of meeting. NOR does there appear to be any curtain described which ALWAYS separated the inner court from the Holy of holies.
Finally, there is NO description of the Ark of the Covenant itself.
This is almost certainly a proof of this temple being illustrative of the relationship Israel will have with God after the New Covenant – whether during or after the church age – though most likely the later.
It sounds very much in keeping with the prophetic word of Jeremiah at this same time of Ezekiel which said,
Jeremiah 3:14-17, “(14) Return, you faithless children”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“for I am your Master, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
(15) I will give you shepherds who are loyal to Me, and they will shepherd you with knowledge and skill. (16) When you multiply and increase in the land, in those days”–the LORD’s declaration–“no one will say any longer: The ark of the LORD’s covenant. It will never come to mind, and no one will remember or miss it. It will never again be made.
(17) At that time Jerusalem will be called, The LORD’s Throne, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD in Jerusalem. They will cease to follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.”
“(6) While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from the temple.”
Since technically Ezekiel was IN the temple at this time this has to mean that the voice came from the Holy of holies. (See The Most Holy Place & The Ark of the Covenant Pt. 1, 2 & 3)
“(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 dwell among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel and their kings will no longer defile My holy name by their religious prostitution and by the corpses of their kings at their high places.
(8) Whenever they placed their threshold next to My threshold and their doorposts beside My doorposts, with only a wall between Me and them, they were defiling My holy name by the abominations they committed. So I destroyed them in My anger.
(9) Now let them remove their prostitution and the corpses of their kings far from Me, and I will dwell among them forever.
(10) “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. Let them measure its pattern, (11) and they will be ashamed of all that they have done. Reveal the design of the temple to them–its layout with its exits and entrances–its complete design along with all its statutes, design specifications, and LAWS. Write it down in their sight so that they may observe its complete design and all its statutes and may carry them out.
12) THIS IS THE LAW OF THE TEMPLE: all its surrounding territory on top of the mountain will be especially holy. Yes, this is the law of the temple.
(13) “These are the measurements of the altar in units of length (each unit being the standard length plus three inches): the gutter is 21 inches deep and 21 inches wide, with a rim of nine inches around its edge. This is the base of the altar. (14) The distance from the gutter on the ground to the lower ledge is three and a half feet, and the width of the ledge is 21 inches. There are seven feet from the small ledge to the large ledge, whose width is also 21 inches.
(15) The altar hearth is seven feet high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. (16) The hearth is square, 21 feet long by 21 feet wide. (17) The ledge is 24 and a half feet long by 24 and a half feet wide, with four equal sides. The rim all around it is 10 and a half inches, and its gutter is 21 inches all around it. The altar’s steps face east.”
(18) Then He said to me:
“Son of man, this is what the Lord GOD says: THESE ARE THE STATUTES for the altar on the day it is constructed, so that burnt offerings may be sacrificed on it and blood may be sprinkled on it:
(19) You are to give a bull from the herd as a sin offering to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who approach Me in order to serve Me.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(20) “You must take some of its blood and apply it to the four horns of the altar, the four corners of the ledge, and all around the rim. In this way you will purify the altar and make atonement for it. (21) Then you must take away the bull for the sin offering, and it must be burned outside the sanctuary in the place appointed for the temple.
(22) “On the second day you are to present an unblemished male goat as a sin offering. They will purify the altar just as they did with the bull. (23)
When you have finished the purification, you are to present a young, unblemished bull and an unblemished ram from the flock. (24) You must present them before the LORD; the priests will throw salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the LORD. (25) You will offer a goat for a sin offering each day for seven days. A young bull and a ram from the flock, both unblemished, must also be offered.
(26) For seven days the priests are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it. In this way they will consecrate it (27) and complete the days of purification.
Then on the eighth day and afterwards, the priests will offer your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar, and I will accept you.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.”
This is kind of like what David seemed to pray. A prayer before its time…
“(1) Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. (2) Wash away my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
(3) For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. (4) Against You–You alone–I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.
(5) Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
(6) Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within. (7) Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
(8) Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice. (9) Turn Your face away from my sins and blot out all my guilt.
(10) God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (11) Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. (12) Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. (13) Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
(14) Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. (15) Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
(16) You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. (17) The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
(18) In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. (19) Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.”
Is it not possible that what both David was forseeing in his time of repentance and forgiveness – under the old covenant and what Ezekiel was here describing from his vision was a day when God would make a final sacrifice of blood to redeem priest, cleanse the means of sacrifice once to fall and the people by the seventh day – so that the work of sanctification would be complete once for all – so that one the eighth day, the beginning of a new era might ensue where the sacrifices God really has always desired might be freely given by His people and accepted by Him. These would be whole burnt offerings – representing the totality of their lives spent in passion and obedience to Him and freewill offerings of peace, thanksgiving and such denoting the ongoing love and gratitude of His people to Him forever.
“(1) The man then brought me back toward the sanctuary’s outer gate that faced east, and it was closed. (2) The LORD said to me:
“This gate will remain closed. It will not be opened, and no one will enter through it, because the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered through it. Therefore it will remain closed.”
Indicating the finality of God’s new home in and among His people. Never to leave again as He once did as we read in Ezekiel 11.
Now at this point I believe it is possible that when Ezekiel mentions “the Prince”, it is sometimes referring to Jesus as king. Other times when he refers to “the prince” it may serve as another reference.
“(3) The prince himself will sit in the gateway to eat a meal before the LORD. He must enter by way of the portico of the gate and go out the same way.”
(4) Then the man brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked, and the glory of the LORD filled His temple. And I fell facedown.
(5) The LORD said to me: “Son of man, pay attention; look with your eyes and listen with your ears to everything I tell you about all the statutes and laws of the LORD’s temple. Take careful note of the entrance of the temple along with all the exits of the sanctuary.
(6) “Say to the rebellious people, the house of Israel: This is what the Lord GOD says:
Now this portion of the prophecy was most likely literal and for the time of the return from Babylon to the restored temple and ultimately of the restored Jerusalem as well.
“I have had enough of all your abominations, house of Israel. (7) When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in both heart and flesh, to occupy My sanctuary, you defiled My temple while you offered My food–the fat and the blood. You broke My covenant with all your abominations.
(8) You have not kept charge of My holy things but have appointed others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you. (9) “This is what the Lord GOD says:
No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, may enter My sanctuary, not even a foreigner who is among the Israelites. (10) Surely the Levites who wandered away from Me when Israel went astray, and who strayed from Me after their idols, will bear the consequences of their sin. (11) Yet they will occupy My sanctuary, serving as guards at the temple gates and ministering at the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. (12) Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a sinful stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath against them”–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–“that they would bear the consequences of their sin. (13) They must not approach Me to serve Me as priests or come near any of My holy things or the most holy things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the abominations they committed. (14) Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the temple–for all its work and everything done in it.”
Keil & Delitzsch in their very clear commentary on these verse, said pretty succinctly what I thought so I thought I’d just borrow from their words.
“In order that all desecration may be kept at a distance from the new sanctuary, foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh are not to be admitted into it; and even of the Levites appointed for the service of the sanctuary according to the Mosaic law, all who took part in the falling away of the people into idolatry are to be excluded from investiture with the priests’ office as a punishment for their departure from the Lord, and only to be allowed to perform subordinate duties in connection with the worship of God.
On the other hand, the descendants of Zadok, who kept themselves free from all straying into idolatry, are to perform the specifically priestly service at the altar and in the sanctuary, and they alone.
Not only are foreigners who are estranged from God to be prevented from coming into the sanctuary, but even the Levites, who fell into idolatry at the time of the apostasy of the Israelites, are to bear their guilt, i.e., are to be punished for it by exclusion from the rights of the priesthood. They are to be degraded to the performance of the inferior duties in the temple and at divine worship. The guilt with which they are charged is that they forsook Jehovah when the people strayed into idolatry. Forsaking Jehovah involves both passive and active participation in idolatry (see Jeremiah 2:5). This wandering of the Israelites from Jehovah took place during the whole time that the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple were in existence, though at different periods and with varying force and extent.
Bearing the guilt is more minutely defined in verses 11-13. The Levitical priests who have forsaken the Lord are to lose the dignity and rights of the priesthood; they are not, indeed, to be entirely deprived of the prerogative conferred upon the tribe of Levi by virtue of its election to the service of the sanctuary in the place of the first-born of the whole nation, but henceforth they are merely to be employed in the performance of the lower duties, as guards at the gates of the temple, and as servants of the people at the sacrificial worship, when they are to slaughter the animals for the people, which every one who offered sacrifice was also able to do for himself. Because they have already served the people before their idols, i.e., have helped them in their idolatry, they shall also serve the people in time to come in the worship of God, though not as priests, but simply in non-priestly occupations.
In verse 14 it is once more stated in a comprehensive manner in what the bearing of the guilt and shame was to consist: God would make them keepers of the temple with regard to the inferior acts of service. They were restricted to the inferior acts of service, for performance of the heavy duties performed by the Merarites and Gershonites as described in Numbers 3:20-26; 4:23-47. This was in distinction from that of the Kohathites, which consisted in the duties involving the Ark of the Covenant, the Menorah, the altars, the table of showbread and the utensils accompanying these as is described in Numbers 3:28-31 & 4:1-20.
The priestly service at the altar and in the sanctuary, on the other hand, was to be performed by the sons of Zadok alone, because when the people went astray they kept the charge of the sanctuary, i.e., performed the duties of the priestly office with fidelity.
Zadok was the son of Ahitub, of the line of Eleazar (1 Chron. 5:34; 1Chron. 6:37-38), who remained faithful to King David at the rebellion of Absalom (2Samuel 15:24), and also anointed Solomon as king in opposition to Adonijah the pretender (1Kings 1:32); whereas the high priest Abiathar, of the line of Ithamar, took part with Adonijah (1Kings 1:7, 25), and was deposed from his office by Solomon in consequence, so that now the high-priesthood was in the sole possession of Zadok and his descendants (1Kings 2:26-27, 35). From this attitude of Zadok toward David, the prince given by the Lord to His people, it may be seen at once that he not only kept aloof from the wandering of the people, but offered a decided opposition thereto, and attended to his office in a manner that was well-pleasing to God. As he received the high-priesthood from Solomon in the place of Abiathar for this fidelity of his, so shall his descendants only be invested with the priestly office in the new temple. For the correct explanation of the words in these verses, however, we must pay particular regard to the clause, “who have kept the charge of my sanctuary.” This implies, for example, that lineal descent from Zadok alone was not sufficient, but that fidelity in the service of the Lord must also be added as an indispensable requisite. In Ezekiel 44:15,16 the priestly service is described according to its principal functions at the altar of burnt-offering, and in the holy place at the altar of incense.”
“(15) “But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from Me, will approach Me to serve Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me fat and blood.”
As it turns out, Ezra, who was the one who returned to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the Temple during the reigns of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, was of the sons of Zadok.
“(1) Now after these things had happened, during the reign of King Artaxerxes of Persia, Ezra came up from Babylon.
Ezra was the son of Seraiah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Hilkiah, (2) who was the son of Shallum, who was the son of Zadok, who was the son of Ahitub, (3) who was the son of Amariah, who was the son of Azariah, who was the son of Meraioth, (4) who was the son of Zerahiah, who was the son of Uzzi, who was the son of Bukki, (5) who was the son of Abishua, who was the son of Phinehas, who was the son of Eleazar, who was the son of Aaron the chief priest.
(6) This Ezra is the one who came up from Babylon.
He was a scribe who was skilled in the law of Moses which the LORD God of Israel had given. The king supplied him with everything he requested, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
(7) In the seventh year of King Artaxerxes, Ezra brought up to Jerusalem some of the Israelites and some of the priests, the Levites, the attendants, the gatekeepers, and the temple servants.
(8) He entered Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(16) “They are the ones who may enter My sanctuary and draw near to My table to serve Me. They will keep My mandate. (17) When they enter the gates of the inner court they must wear linen garments; they must not have on them anything made of wool when they minister at the gates of the inner court and within it. (18) They must wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They are not to put on anything that makes them sweat.
(19) Before they go out to the outer court, to the people, they must take off the clothes they have been ministering in, leave them in the holy chambers, and dress in other clothes so that they do not transmit holiness to the people through their clothes.
(20) “They may not shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but must carefully trim their hair. (21) No priest may drink wine before he enters the inner court. (22) He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but must marry a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.
(23) They must teach My people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.
(24) “In a dispute, they will officiate as judges and decide the case according to My ordinances. They must observe My laws and statutes regarding all My appointed festivals, and keep My Sabbaths holy.”
This also was overseen by Ezra when he returned to Jerusalem and led in the rebuilding and restoration of the temple. He oversaw the whole project and was also involved in this area of officiating over issues of justice. In this way, it seems that this prophecy of Ezekiel was fulfilled in a literal way, though not in the temple described to Ezekiel representing the Millennial age, but in the rebuilt and restored temple at the close of the Babylonian captivity.
Ezra 47:25, “Now you, Ezra, in keeping with the wisdom of your God which you possess, appoint judges and court officials who can arbitrate cases on behalf of all the people who are in Trans–Euphrates who know the laws of your God. Those who do not know this law should be taught.”
The rest of these laws are very much in keeping with those given by Moses in the wilderness (See Lev. 21).
“(25) A priest may not come near a dead person so that he becomes defiled. However, he may defile himself for a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, or an unmarried sister. (26) After he is cleansed, he is to count off seven days for himself. (27) On the day he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he must present his sin offering.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(28) “This will be their inheritance: I am their inheritance. You are to give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession. (29) They will eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the restitution offering. Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated to the LORD will belong to them. (30) The best of all the firstfruits of every kind and contribution of every kind from all your gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give your first batch of dough to the priest so that a blessing may rest on your homes. (31) The priests may not eat any bird or animal that died naturally or was mauled by wild beasts.”
“(1) When you divide the land by lot as an inheritance, you must set aside a donation to the LORD, a holy portion of the land, eight and one-third miles long and six and two-thirds miles wide. This entire tract of land will be holy.
(2) In this area there will be a square section for the sanctuary, 875 by 875 feet, with 87 and a half feet of open space all around it.
(3) From this holy portion, you will measure off an area eight and one-third miles long and three and one-third miles wide, in which the sanctuary, the most holy place, will stand.
(4) It will be a holy area of the land to be used by the priests who minister in the sanctuary, who draw near to serve the LORD. It will be a place for their houses, as well as a holy area for the sanctuary.
(5) There will be another area eight and one-third miles long and three and one-third miles wide for the Levites who minister in the temple; it will be their possession for towns to live in.
(6) “As the property of the city, you must set aside an area one and two-thirds of a mile wide and eight and one-third miles long, adjacent to the holy donation of land. It will be for the whole house of Israel. (7) And the prince will have the area on each side of the holy donation of land and the city’s property, adjacent to the holy donation and the city’s property, stretching to the west on the west side and to the east on the east side.
Its length will correspond to one of the tribal portions from the western boundary to the eastern boundary. (8) This will be his land as a possession in Israel.
My princes will no longer oppress My people but give the rest of the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.
(9) “This is what the Lord GOD says: You have gone too far, princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Put an end to your evictions of My people.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(10) “You must have honest balances, an honest dry measure, and an honest liquid measure. (11) The dry measure and the liquid measure will be uniform, with the liquid measure containing five and a half gallons and the dry measure holding half a bushel. Their measurement will be one-tenth of the standard larger capacity measure.
(12) The shekel will weigh 20 gerahs. Your mina will equal 60 shekels. (13) “This is the contribution you are to offer: Three quarts from five bushels of wheat and three quarts from five bushels of barley. (14) The quota of oil in liquid measures will be one percent of every cor. The cor equals 10 liquid measures or one standard larger capacity measure, since 10 liquid measures equal one standard larger capacity measure. (15) And the quota from the flock is one animal out of every 200 from the well-watered pastures of Israel.
These are for the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings, to make atonement for the people.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(16) “All the people of the land must take part in this contribution for the prince in Israel. (17) Then the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings for the festivals, New Moons, and Sabbaths–for all the appointed times of the house of Israel–will be the prince’s responsibility.
He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.
It is a matter of a great number of opinions as to what the following sacrifices and blood applications mean. They to NOT conform to those given to Moses in the Wilderness and as such very likely depict the final application of the Blood of Messiah Himself to the literal heavenly furnishings of the temple of God in Heaven as well as to the temple of the hearts of God’s people, by the application of blood to the posts of the doors.
There seems to be an ongoing sanctification from sins of the people mentioned here which may correspond to the fact that under the New Covenant, once one is born again, their sins are still forgiven as they confess and forsake and that by means of the blood which was once and for all shed for them by the Messiah. In many of these sacrifices, the animal offered was a male goat according to the law of Moses whereas here, what is offered is a bull. Again, perhaps a more noble offering intended to represent Messiah Himself, but how all of this works out as metaphorical pointing to the final work of Messiah is something which is debated upon and to which I will not commit to a specific view or interpretation.
“(18) “This is what the Lord GOD says:
In the first month, on the first day of the month, you are to take a young, unblemished bull and purify the sanctuary. (19) The priest must take some of the blood from the sin offering and apply it to the temple doorposts, the four corners of the altar’s ledge, and the doorposts of the gate to the inner court. (20) You must do the same thing on the seventh day of the month for everyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance. In this way you will make atonement for the temple.
(21) “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you are to celebrate the Passover, a festival of seven days during which unleavened bread will be eaten. (22) On that day the prince will provide a bull as a sin offering on behalf of himself and all the people of the land.
(23) During the seven days of the festival, he will provide seven bulls and seven rams without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD on each of the seven days, along with a male goat each day for a sin offering.
(24) He will also provide a grain offering of half a bushel per bull and half a bushel per ram, along with a gallon of oil for every half bushel.
(25) At the festival that begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, he will provide the same things for seven days–the same sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, and oil.”