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The Sanctuary Of Jehovah
The man with the measuring reed now proceeds to direct the prophet’s attention particularly to the sanctuary itself, which according to the description given would be a most magnificent building, and yet differing in many respects from the temple which Solomon erected of old to the glory of the God of Israel.
“And be brought me to the temple, and measured the posts, six cubits broad on the one side, and six cubits broad on the other side, which was the breadth of the tabernacle. And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits; and the sides of the entrance were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other side: and he measured the length thereof, forty cubits, and the breadth, twenty cubits. Then went he inward, and measured each post of the entrance, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits; and the breadth of the entrance, seven cubits. And he measured the length thereof, twenty cubits, and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple: and he said unto me, This is the most holy place”-vers. 1-4.
It will be observed that the dimensions given for the inner sanctuary are the same as those of Solomon’s temple and just double the size of the tabernacle in the wilderness. That all the numbers here have definite significance we do not question, but others have taken this up very fully, and it will not be my task to go into it in this place.
The sanctuary consists of two rooms as of old, the holy and the most holy places. It is noticeable that into the second the prophet apparently does not enter. The man with the measuring reed alone passes into this sacred enclosure while Ezekiel looks on.
Details as to the building itself are given in the verses that follow:
“Then he measured the wall of the house, six cubits; and the breadth of every side-chamber, four cubits, round about the house on every side. And the side-chambers were in three stories, one over another, and thirty in order; and they entered into the wall which belonged to the house for the side-chambers round about, that they might have hold therein, and not have hold in the wall of the house. And the side-chambers were broader as they encompassed the house higher and higher; for the encompassing of the house went higher and higher round about the house: therefore the breadth of the house continued upward; and so one went up from the lowest chamber to the highest by the middle chamber. I saw also that the house had a raised basement round about: the foundations of the side-chambers were a full reed of six great cubits. The thickness of the wall, which was for the side-chambers, on the outside, was five cubits: and that which was left was the place of the side-chambers that belonged to the house. And between the chambers was a breadth of twenty cubits round about the house on every side. And the doors of the side-chambers were toward the place that was left, one door toward the north, and another door toward the south: and the breadth of the place that was left was five cubits round about”-vers. 5-11.
As we read this passage, whether or not our minds fully grasp the architectural arrangement, we cannot help but recognize a suggestion of hallowed fellowship between the priests of the Lord whose dwelling was to be in these side chambers and Jehovah Himself whose glory was to fill the house. God delights to have His people near Him. All His saints today are priests, and He would have them enter into the blessedness of intimate communion as those who abide constantly in the sanctuary. In Israel of old the priests were a separate family devoted especially to the things of the temple, and it would seem as though this will be the case again when the present dispensation comes to an end and millennial conditions are ushered in. While Israel as a whole will be a priestly nation, nevertheless a separated priesthood comes before us as those who are designated to represent the people before God and to carry on the service of the sanctuary. Anything like this in our dispensation is a reverting to Judaism and fails to take into account the present relation of the saints to Christ. In other words, there is no such distinction now made in Scripture as a clergy and laity such as we see in some of the great ecclesiastical organizations of our day. The idea of a distinctive priesthood apart from that of all believers is foreign to the genius of Christianity; whereas it had its rightful place in Israel before the cross, and it will have a special place again when Israel shall be restored nationally to the Lord.
In addition to the temple itself it is evident that another great building was pictured as standing upon the mount of God’s holiness. This is indicated in the following verses.
“And the building that was before the separate place at the side toward the west was seventy cubits broad; and the wall of the building was five cubits thick round about, and the length thereof ninety cubits. So he measured the house, a hundred cubits long; and the separate place, and the building, with the walls thereof, a hundred cubits long; also the breadth of the face of the house, and of the separate place toward the east, a hundred cubits”-vers. 12-14.
While it is difficult to follow the description of the house so as to visualize each part distinctly, our minds are impressed with the fact that it is of magnificent dimensions and wondrous beauty, lined with cedar which speaks of the incorruptible Humanity of our Lord, and adorned with cherubim and palm-trees, emphasizing the victory of righteousness and the blessings to be enjoyed under the divine government when the once-rejected Jesus reigns as King over all the earth.
“And he measured the length of the building before the separate place which was at the back thereof, and the galleries thereof on the one side and on the other side, a hundred cubits; and the inner temple, and the porches of the court; the thresholds, and the closed windows, and the galleries round about on their three stories, over against the threshold, ceiled with wood round about, and from the ground up to the windows (now the windows were covered), to the space above the door, even unto the inner house, and without, and by all the wall round about within and without, by measure. And it was made with cherubim and palm-trees; and a palm-tree was between cherub and cherub, and every cherub had two faces; so that there was the face of a man toward the palm-tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm-tree on the other side. Thus was it made through all the house round about: from the ground unto above the door were cherubim and palm-trees made; thus was the wall of the temple”-vers. 15-20.
The cherubim, as we have seen in our consideration of the earlier chapters of this book, symbolized the divine government-God’s ways with men and particularly with His people Israel. The palm-tree is the recognized symbol both of righteousness and of victory, as indicated in the 92nd Psalm where the righteous are said to flourish as the palm-tree, and in the last book of the Bible where we see the triumphant overcomers who have won the victory over the beast and his satellite, standing before God with palms in their hands.
As we read this description of the house, therefore, we are impressed with the fact that the day will come when in Jehovah’s righteous government, all iniquity will be put down, and a King shall reign in righteousness, triumphant over all the powers of evil.
We turn again to consider the temple as indicated in vers. 21 to 26.
“As for the temple, the doorposts were squared; and as for the face of the sanctuary, the appearance thereof was as the appearance of the temple. The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood: and he said unto me, This is the table that is before Jehovah. And the temple and the sanctuary had two doors. And the doors had two leaves apiece, two turning leaves: two leaves for the one door, and two leaves for the other. And there were made on them, on the doors of the temple, cherubim and palm-trees, like as were made upon the walls; and there was a threshold of wood upon the face of the porch without. And there were closed windows and palm-trees on the one side and on the other side, on the sides of the porch: thus were the Side-chambers of the house, and the thresholds”-vers. 21-26.
The altar referred to here is the altar inside the sanctuary, the altar of incense, and is not to be confounded with the great altar upon which sacrifices were offered outside in the court. This altar was of wood, speaking of the Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and is called “the table that is before Jehovah,” for in Christ, God finds His satisfaction. As to His people, He it is who presents their prayers and praises before God, taking from them all imperfection and adding to them His own gracious intercession.
We forbear attempting any further comment on these verses as we dread mere human speculation in regard to divine things, and we confess to a lack of understanding as to the marvelous details here given.
NOTE: For a much fuller and more satisfactory exposition of this great vision as a whole, it is a pleasure to refer the inquiring student to John Bloore’s comments in The Numerical Bible. One complete volume is occupied with the book of Ezekiel. The late F. W. Grant was called home to be with Christ after he had written the comments on Ezekiel as far as chapter 37. The manuscript lay unpublished for some years, when it was taken up and edited by Mr. Bloore, who wrote on chapters 38 to 48 in a most illuminating and satisfactory manner. This volume can be had from the same publishers, and we are glad to commend it to those who are anxious for a better understanding of these chapters.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 41". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12