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With Ezekiel 40, the final section of the book begins. After the restoration of Israel to its land (Ezekiel 36-37) and the extermination of its last enemies (Ezekiel 38-39), the realm of peace can be established in all its glory. While almost all the other prophets go no further than mentioning the realm of peace, sometimes with a brief description of that peace, Ezekiel goes into detail in these final chapters (Ezekiel 40-48) about the new temple, the new priesthood, and the new division of the land in the realm of peace.
After all the struggles, there is finally complete rest everywhere on earth. The center of that rest is the sanctuary – mentioned briefly in Ezekiel 37 (Ezekiel 37:26; Ezekiel 37:28) – where the LORD dwells and is served.
Ezekiel 40-48 can be subdivided as follows:
1. First, Ezekiel gives a description of the sanctuary (Ezekiel 40:1-42:20), in which the glory of the LORD returns.
2. Then he describes the altar and its dedication and the priestly service that takes place in the sanctuary (Ezekiel 43:1-47:12). He can give this description because the LORD gives him a picture of the sanctuary and its statutes in a vision.
3. In the last section (Ezekiel 47:13-48:35) we see the new inhabitants of the land and the division of the land among the twelve tribes.
Note: The explanation of this last section of the book of Ezekiel is not always easy. Interpreters have pointed out the following problems for its interpretation and application:
1. The description is not complete.
2. There are differences in the Hebrew manuscripts, sometimes including distinctions between what is written and what is read.
3. The text of the Septuagint (LXX) is in some cases clearer than the Hebrew text (and sometimes tacitly adopted by translators).
4. The specific architectural terms used, the meaning of which is unknown even in the time of the LXX. [End of note]
The description of the sanctuary that Ezekiel sees in the vision is not complete. For example, most of the height measurements are missing. Also mostly missing is the mention of the materials needed in the construction of the sanctuary. When Moses built the tabernacle and when Solomon built the temple, those materials were mentioned.
The absence of the enumeration of materials seems to imply that this description is primarily concerned with the presence and use of the temple, its existence and purpose. However, it is mentioned elsewhere that the materials will be supplied by kings of various nations (Psalms 68:29), from which people will also come to help with the construction (Zechariah 6:15).
The description of the tabernacle is also not given in detail. But what is lacking in that description is not an insurmountable defect when Moses built and erected it. For Moses saw the example of the tabernacle on the mountain (Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5). Something similar applies to Solomon’s temple, for Solomon received the design of the temple from his father David in writing (1 Chronicles 28:19).
The temple that Ezekiel sees will be built by the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus (Zechariah 6:12). We may have for our idea now an incomplete description of that temple, insufficient to replicate it in detail. The Lord Jesus as the Builder is the guarantee that that temple will be perfect in every detail. Nothing will be lacking. Every part and every room will be in the right place and of the right dimensions. They will be in perfect harmony with and in proper proportion to all other parts and rooms.
The rather dry enumeration of dimensions looks rather technical. As a result, the description – as with the tabernacle – seems to give little food for the heart. But all who have learned that God has had every word written down in His Word because He considers it important for us, will long to know what He also has to say to us through this description. For “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-Esther :).
Even though we do not know the exact meaning or place of some of the details, it is clear that God is working in an orderly fashion, according to a well-defined plan. This is reminiscent of the order that He also desires to see maintained in the church, His house in this age (1 Corinthians 14:40; Colossians 2:5). When it comes to the service of worshiping God – and that is the emphasis at this sanctuary – He indicates at length and precisely how He wants His people to perform that service. This is also true for us in this day and age, as the Lord Jesus says, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-Jeremiah :).
The Old Testament describes four dwellings of God. The first is the tabernacle. This is the (movable) dwelling place of God with His people in the wilderness. The second is the temple, the permanent dwelling place of God in the land. This was built by Solomon and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. This is the first temple. The third dwelling place of God is the temple built by Zerubbabel after the return to the land of a remnant from the Babylonian exile. This temple was later enlarged by Herod and destroyed by the Romans in the year 70. This is the second temple. The temple that Ezekiel sees and describes for us is the third temple, that of the realm of peace.
Now it is significant that these four dwelling places of God are all in fact one and the same dwelling place. The Scriptures make that clear. To begin with, we see that what is true of the tabernacle is also true of the temple. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of the tabernacle as it speaks of the service in the temple (Hebrews 9:1-Judges :). The arrangement of and service in the tabernacle is, so to speak, interchangeable with the arrangement of and service in the temple.
This identification continues in the three temples. We learn this from the prophet Haggai. Haggai speaks to the people who have returned from exile in the land of God and have rebuilt the temple. He says of the just rebuilt house of God to all who stand by it: “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?” (Haggai 2:4). He speaks emphatically of “this temple in its former glory”. By this he refers to the temple that Solomon built. They have rebuilt that temple – “this temple” – though without the splendor that that temple had.
Haggai also prophesies of the future temple, the temple of Ezekiel. That too is not a new dwelling place of God, but a renewal and enlargement of its original glory. God says: “I will fill this house with glory” (Haggai 2:7). Again, “this house”! He adds: “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former” (Haggai 2:9).
In Ezekiel 40-42 we have the actual description of the house. In a vision, the prophet walks with a Man Who gives him a tour through the entire temple. This tour happens, except for a few interruptions, silently. All kinds of architectural aspects come to attention. While Ezekiel watches in silence, the Man also takes all kinds of measurements.
The Man breaks silence several times to explain something to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40:4; Ezekiel 40:45Ezekiel 41:4; Ezekiel 41:22Ezekiel 42:13; Ezekiel 43:18). Later He speaks a few more times (Ezekiel 46:20; Ezekiel 47:6Ezekiel 47:8). The LORD Himself also speaks, when His glory returns to the temple and He instructs Ezekiel to pass on the message of the house he saw (Ezekiel 43:6-2 Kings :).
SOME TOOLS to Help Understanding the Description of the Temple
Several models have been made based on the biblical data. Some of the models are depicted at https://www.christipedia.nl/wiki/Tempel_van_Ezechi%C3%ABl That web page also contains some animations:
1. Animation of the messianic temple according to the Jew Chaim Clorfene. Duration: 1 min 55 sec. English spoken. Author: Chaim Clorfene.com. Uploaded on Youtu-be.com Jun 12, 2012: https://youtu.be/M58fM2ae7Zw
2. Verse by verse animation of Ezekiel 40. At the top left of the animanie is the verse number. Duration: 6 min. 1 sec. English text in the illustrations. Author: Bibli-aprints.com. Upload on Youtube.com Aug 30, 2012: https://youtu.be/YNmERZkT6JM
3. Verse by verse animation of Ezekiel 42-43. At the top left of the animation is the verse number. Duration: 3 min 28 sec. English text in the illustrations. Author: Bibli-aprints.com. Upload on Youtube.com Sept 11, 2012: https://youtu.be/oQRegCrJHzk
Ezekiel in Visions Brought into Israel
Ezekiel is shown the vision of the new temple when he has been in exile for twenty-five years (Ezekiel 40:1), which is in the year 573 BC. He does not speak of ‘my exile’ but of “our exile” (cf. Ezekiel 33:21), indicating that he does not place himself outside or above the people who have been taken into exile, but is part of them. He suffers as a righteous with the unrighteous.
The date is specified. It is “at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month”. By “the tenth of the month” is meant the tenth of the month of Abib (Exodus 13:4), the first month of the religious calendar. The tenth day of that month is the day on which the paschal lamb for the Passover was to be chosen (Exodus 12:2-Leviticus :). Thus, it is the day when the paschal lamb was to be meticulously dealt with in view of delivering the people and securing the firstborn behind the blood of the lamb.
The fact that the LORD gives the temple vision on this very day connects the deliverance of the people from the bondage of Egypt with the future deliverance and security of the people under the protection of the LORD by virtue of the blood of the true Paschal Lamb, the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:7). Just as God delivered His people to dwell with them then, He will do so again in the (now near) future.
This is also a comforting thought regarding the fall of Jerusalem, which is also mentioned in the dating. It is “the fourteenth year after the city was taken”. The city will rise again as the city of the great King, Who as the Paschal Lamb Himself laid the foundation for it. He will then dwell in the midst of His people in His temple.
“On that same day”, accurately marked with date and mentioning the fall of the city not thought possible, “the hand of the LORD” comes upon Ezekiel. By this is meant that the Spirit comes upon him and seizes him. “In the visions of God” he is brought “into the land of Israel”, where he is set by Him “on a very high mountain” (Ezekiel 40:2; cf. Revelation 21:9-2 Samuel :). The word “there” (Ezekiel 40:1) in Hebrew is shamma. With this word shamma, “there”, the book also ends (Ezekiel 48:35).
Led by the hand of the LORD, Ezekiel arrives on the south side of the mountain where was “a structure like a city”, which is the temple complex. He expresses himself in the same vague way he did in Ezekiel 1. That vagueness will disappear more and more as he gets to see everything up close.
Again, it is noted that Ezekiel is brought “there”, shamma (Ezekiel 40:3; Ezekiel 40:1). He sees a Man there. This Man will show him the sanctuary in all its details. This Man is indeed the Angel of the LORD or an appearance of the Son of God (cf. Joshua 5:13; Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 2:1Zechariah 6:12). This is evident in the Man’s appearance, which is “like the appearance of bronze”. Bronze is the picture of the righteousness of God that endures in the fire of God’s judgment (Numbers 16:35-Matthew :). The Man perfectly meets the righteousness of God.
He has two instruments of measurement in His hand: “a line of flax and a measuring rod”. With the line of flax, great distances and round shapes can be measured (Ezekiel 47:3).The measuring rod is practical for measuring the height of something and for measuring flat surfaces, for example, a wall. These instruments of measurement are the ordinary instruments carried by a master builder. That He measures means that He is the Owner (cf. 2 Samuel 8:2; Psalms 16:6; Psalms 78:55; Zechariah 2:1). It is His house and He determines how it will look. He is also the Builder (Hebrews 11:10). The Man stands in the gateway. Often the gate is the place of judgment (Ruth 4:1; Ruth 4:11; Amos 5:10; Amos 5:12Amos 5:15). Here the gateway has more of the idea of a secure and controlled entrance to the temple.
The Man instructs Ezekiel to keep his eyes and ears well open to all that He will show him of the temple (Ezekiel 40:4). Next, Ezekiel is to give attention the teaching connected with it. Finally, the LORD says to him that He has brought him there with the intention of showing him all this. He immediately adds that Ezekiel is to declare all that he sees to “the house of Israel”.
There are four verbs here in the imperative: “see”, “hear”, “give attention”, “declare”. This order is important for anyone who wants to study God’s Word. The order is also important for us as we walk with Ezekiel. Then we must see what he sees and hear what he hears and give attention to it with our hearts. Then we can declare it to others (cf. Ezra 7:10).
The command given to Ezekiel makes it clear that the description of the temple is a message from God to the people of Israel, which they are to take in with their eyes, ears and hearts (Ezekiel 44:5). We may apply that to ourselves when it comes to the spiritual temple in our day, the New Testament church. The future temple that Ezekiel sees will – like the tabernacle and the first temple (of Solomon) and the second temple (of Zerubbabel) – be a picture of the true temple of God in heaven (Revelation 11:19). The temple refers in every detail to the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. He as Man is the complete fulfillment of the temple, He is the true dwelling place of God (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9; John 2:19-Song of Solomon :).
In the description of the temple in Ezekiel, the particular emphasis is on the holiness of the house. The tabernacle and the temple are also holy buildings and a picture of the church as a holy house. But in the temple that Ezekiel describes, the emphasis is very much on the holiness of the house. In addition, the area around the temple is also most holy area because the glory of the LORD has moved into the house (Ezekiel 43:4-Deuteronomy :; Ezekiel 43:12). Thus, on the day of Pentecost, the glory of God has come to dwell in the church when the Holy Spirit is poured out. He fills both the whole house where the believers are gathered and the individual believers (Acts 2:1-Numbers :).
This future, literal, material temple therefore refers in type or example to the church, which in this age of grace is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-Esther :; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-Song of Solomon :). Just as Ezekiel must thoroughly study and speak of the plan of the temple and the service therein, so it is also important for us to be concerned with God’s plan for the spiritual house and to conduct ourselves in accordance with it (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:40). It is also important that all the redeemed be told these things by teaching.
The temple is also a picture of the body of the believer in this age of grace (1 Corinthians 6:19). Therefore, there are important spiritual lessons also for the individual believer to learn from Ezekiel’s description of the temple.
The Wall on the Outside
The first thing Ezekiel sees is “a wall on the outside of the temple [literally “house”]” (Ezekiel 40:5). With this he begins the description. This wall runs around the entire temple complex, including the two courts. The Man measures the wall with “a measuring rod” that He has in His hand. The length of the measuring rod is “six cubits”. This “cubit” is not the usual cubit of six handbreadths, which is 45 cm, but a “cubit and a handbreadth” (i.e., seven handbreadths), which is also called ‘the royal cubit’. This cubit is the standard length measurement for this temple.
According to various interpreters, about 52.5 cm should be counted for this cubit (assuming a hand width of 7.5 cm). The measuring rod (“one rod”) in the Man’s hand is six cubits and is 3.15 m (= 6 x 52.5 cm) in this calculation. The wall is therefore 3.15 m wide and 3.15 m high.
That the measuring begins with the wall indicates that everything within the wall has a place specially set apart for God in relation to the area outside the wall. Whatever is inside the wall is set apart for or dedicated to God. It can be compared to sanctifying the seventh day as a day that God sets apart from the other six days to be special to Him (Genesis 2:3). We also see this with the wall around Jerusalem (Nehemiah 12:27). Also, the wall ensures that evil, sin, does not have access. The wall separates the holy from the profane (Ezekiel 42:20).
Right at the beginning of the description of the temple, we see of how great importance these two aspects – dedication to God and the keeping out of sin – are. They are the conditions that must be met if God is to dwell in the midst of His people, for “Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore” (Psalms 93:5).
The Outer East Gate
After measuring the wall, the Man comes to “the gate which faced east” (Ezekiel 40:6). In the wall, the symbol of separation, which ensures that sin stays out, are three gates. The gates give access to the dwelling place of God. They speak of God inviting His people to come to Him. The description of the east gate – which also applies to the other gates – shows what God sets as conditions for coming to Him.
Because the main entrance to the temple complex faces east – as with tabernacle and Solomon’s temple – the description begins with that gate. No less than eleven verses are devoted to that description. The east gate is also the gate through which the glory of the LORD departed (Ezekiel 10:19; Ezekiel 11:23). This gate is special because of the entry and exit of the glory of God (Ezekiel 43:2; Ezekiel 43:4).
The east is the side of the rising of the sun and the side from which the Lord Jesus will come (Matthew 24:27). The description of the east gate is repeated when describing the north gate (Ezekiel 40:20-Isaiah :) and the south gate (Ezekiel 40:24-Daniel :). Each gate is long and resembles a short tunnel or a kind of passage. Also, as we will see in a moment, there are also guardrooms, which also makes the gate look like a small house. The outer gate has a total length of fifty cubits (Ezekiel 40:15).
By way of a staircase the Man comes – while Ezekiel follows Him closely and we as readers with him – into the porch of the gate that gives access to the outer court. It does not say here how many steps the staircase has, but it does say how many steps it has for the north gate and the south gate (Ezekiel 40:22; Ezekiel 40:26). That there are steps to climb implies that the outer court where one comes after passing through the gate is higher than the ground before the gate outside around the wall. The man measures the width of the threshold of the gate. It is one rod or 3.15 m. There is a second threshold, which is equally wide.
In the gate are guardrooms one rod long and one rod wide, that is 3.15 m square (Ezekiel 40:7). These guardrooms are for the gatekeepers (cf. Ezekiel 44:11; 1 Kings 14:28; 2 Chronicles 12:11). Between the guardrooms is a distance of five cubits. On the other side of the gate, on the side of the other porch, the last room before stepping out of the gate into the outer court, is a threshold one rod long.
After the threshold, He measures the porch of the gate facing inward (Ezekiel 40:8). The porch is an additional room after the guardrooms. It is located after the last guardroom and next to the opening at the end of the gate through which one enters the outer court. The width of the porch is one rod, that is 3.15 m, which is as wide as the guardroom. Then He measured the length of the porch. It is eight cubits (Ezekiel 40:9), that is 4.20 m. The thickness of the side pillars of the opening is two cubits, that is 1.05 m. Then it is mentioned again that the porch of the gate faces inward.
There are six guardrooms in the gate (Ezekiel 40:10). Of these, three are on one side and three on the other side of the corridor. They are all the same size and so are the side pillars. A gate serves to protect the temple. Someone who wants to enter must go through the gate and past the guards. Thus there is constant control of who enters and who leaves the temple. The gate is there to determine that someone is entering sacred ground through the gate.
The three guardrooms with gatekeepers recall the principle we encounter in both the Old and New Testaments that two or three witnesses are needed to give an acceptable testimony (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; 1 John 5:7-Ruth :). Again, the acceptance of a stranger into a church occurs not only on the basis of his own testimony, but also on the basis of that of other believers (John 5:31; Acts 9:26-Daniel :; Acts 18:27; Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1; Colossians 4:10).
The Man then measures the width of the gateway (Ezekiel 40:11). It is ten cubits or 5.25 m. That is also the width of the entire gateway. The length of the gate is thirteen cubits. In front of the guardrooms there is an additional space of one cubit (Ezekiel 40:12), possibly as a kind of “security area” because the guardrooms have no door. The waiting areas are six cubits long and six cubits wide.
The roof is also measured (Ezekiel 40:13). The measurement is made in connection with the guardrooms below. The roof is twenty-five cubits wide. A roof provides protection from weather effects from above. In the spiritual application the roof provides protection from demonic powers in the heavenly places. It should be noted that the entrances to the guardrooms are directly opposite each other. One entrance is not wider or narrower than the other. God’s standards are always the same when it comes to welcoming His people into His house. He does not change as times change and does not adjust as people change.
The side pillars He also measures (Ezekiel 40:14). They are “sixty cubits [high]”. The pillars are added to the gate as a reinforcing part. That it is added “the gate [extended] round about to the side pillar of the courtyard” seems to indicate that the side pillars as the front part of the gate are not in front of, but as the only part of the gate are on the court. The length of the gate, from the entrance gate to the opening of the porch which is on the side of the outer court, is fifty cubits (Ezekiel 40:15), which is twice its width (Ezekiel 40:13).
In the gate, where the guardrooms are, and at the side pillars, are shuttered windows (Ezekiel 40:16). The windows are beveled inwards, they face inward, that is, they are narrow on the outside and wide on the inside, that is, in the guardroom itself. The windows illuminate the guardrooms with sunlight shining in and provide fresh air. There are also windows in the pillars of the front halls at the front and back of the gate.
In the spiritual application, we see that New Testament gatekeepers, such as overseers or shepherds, believers with a supervisory task, do not have light within themselves for the proper performance of their function, but that this light must come “from outside”, from God’s Word and God’s Spirit. In that light they can see who has access to the church and who does not.
On the side pillars are “palm tree ornaments”. They are mentioned in the same breath as the windows. Among other things, a palm tree speaks of kingship and victory (John 12:13; Revelation 7:9). The connection with the windows brings to mind that victory is the result or a fruit of living in the light.
We see this connection in what Paul says to the Ephesians: “The fruit of the Light [consists] in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9). The manifestation of this fruit in a believer’s life means that victories of faith have been won over darkness. The church is a place for people who know what it is to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints and are victorious in that contention (Jude 1:3).
What we read about the gates in Psalm 118 connects to this in a beautiful way. This psalm is what can be called a “thanksgiving after victory”. We read the following in this psalm about the gates in connection with righteousness: “Open to me the gates of righteousness, I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it” (Psalms 118:19-Proverbs :). What is also nice to point out in this context is that the righteous is compared to a palm tree: “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree” (Psalms 92:12).
Pavement and Thirty Chambers
After measuring the east gate and all that is with it and in it, the Man brings Ezekiel into the outer court (Ezekiel 40:17). The phrase “then he brought me” occurs seven times (Ezekiel 40:17; Ezekiel 40:28Ezekiel 40:32; Ezekiel 40:35Ezekiel 41:1; Ezekiel 44:4Ezekiel 46:19). This outer court is entered after passing through the entire gate from the first porch, along the guardrooms and the second porch. The outer court is the area that surrounds the actual temple building. As we see in Ezekiel 40:28-2 Corinthians :, the temple building has its own much smaller court, the inner court, to which the three inner gates give access.
When Ezekiel stands in the outer court, he sees thirty chambers. The chambers lie on a pavement that surrounds the court. This pavement is next to the three gates and is as wide as the gates are long (Ezekiel 40:18), that is, fifty cubits (Ezekiel 40:15). It is further noted that this is “the lower pavement”, because the inner court, which is higher, also has a pavement.
It is not mentioned, how these chambers are distributed over the pavement. It is obvious that they are equally distributed over the whole pavement on the three sides with the three gates. There will be ten chambers on the south side, ten on the east side and ten on the north side, thirty in total. As a further distribution, we can imagine that there will be five chambers to the left and five to the right of each of the three gates.
Nor is there any mention of the purpose of these chambers. It can be assumed that sacrificial meals were held there by the people or that they were used as repositories of revenue for the temple. In the temple rebuilt by Zerubbabel after the return from exile, such a chamber was given to an enemy of God’s people. Nehemiah is outraged by this and throws that enemy out (Nehemiah 13:4-1 Samuel :).
The Man also takes the measure of the outer court (Ezekiel 40:19). In doing so, he starts from the “lower gate”, that is, the outer gate, which is lower than the inner gate. He calculates from the gate side that is directly adjacent to the outer court to the outer side of the inner court. Its width is exactly one hundred cubits. The same is true of the east gate and the north gate (Ezekiel 40:23).
The Outer North Gate
After the east gate, it is the north gate’s turn to be measured (Ezekiel 40:20). The description here is done globally, because this gate is exactly the same as the east gate in dimensions and layout (Ezekiel 40:21-Song of Solomon :). A new detail is that the stairs to this gate have “seven steps”.
The description concludes with the measure of the outer court, but counting from the gate of the inner court (Ezekiel 40:23). As already indicated in Ezekiel 40:19, the distance from gate to gate is one hundred cubits.
The Outer South Gate
The Man leads Ezekiel in a southern direction (Ezekiel 40:24). There he sees a gate in the direction of the south. The measurements taken by the Man give the same results as the measurements of the two previous gates. The composition of the south gate is also the same as that of the other gates, as is the length of the outer court that lies between the outer and inner south gates (Ezekiel 40:25-Daniel :).
The Inner South Gate
From the outer south gate, the Man together with Ezekiel crosses the outer court to the inner south gate directly opposite, which gives access to the inner court (Ezekiel 40:28). This gate forms the connection between the outer and inner court. That inner south gate has the same dimensions as the outer south gate. The layout is also the same (Ezekiel 40:29-Amos :).
Yet there are also some differences between the two gates. A first difference is the location of the porch of the gate (Ezekiel 40:31). The porch of the inner gate is not adjacent to the inner court, but to the outer court. Thus, the inner gate is a mirror image of the outer gate, because at the outer gate the porch is on the side of the outer court and not on the side where one enters the gate. In other words, the porch of the outer gate (the lower gate) and the porch of the inner gate are both adjacent to the same space, namely the outer court.
Another difference with the outer gate is that the staircase to the inner gate has eight steps, while the staircase to the outer gate has seven steps. Thus, because of the staircase, the temple building is even higher than the outer court, and the outer court is again higher than what borders it on the outside. That a staircase with eight steps leads up to the temple indicates that a new area is being entered. The number eight speaks of a new beginning without end, after the finishing of something that is complete, of which the number seven speaks. That fits in with where we are now: in the direct presence of God, so at the highest level.
The Inner East Gate
After the south gate, Ezekiel is taken by the Man to the east gate. As with the outer gates, the east gate is also here the main entrance. The measurement of that gate shows that it has exactly the same dimensions and layout as the south gate just measured.
The Inner North Gate
Then Ezekiel is taken by the Man to the north gate, where the measurements and layout give the same result as of the previous gates.
Objects for Sacrificial Service
Ezekiel is here at the north gate at the inner court (Ezekiel 40:40), which is near the place where, according to Leviticus 1, the burnt offering from the flock is to be slaughtered (Leviticus 1:11). Near the side pillar of the (inner) gate on the north side is a chamber for rinsing the burnt offering (Ezekiel 40:38; cf. Leviticus 1:9; 2 Chronicles 4:6). In the porch of the gate, where one comes after climbing the eight-step staircase, there are two tables on each side (Ezekiel 40:39). On them the burnt offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering can be slaughtered.
There are also two tables on each side of the staircase of eight steps that leads to the inner gate (Ezekiel 40:40-Mark :). There are thus eight tables that serve to slaughter the sacrifices. It is noteworthy that the staircase is not mentioned as such, but that it is spoken of “as one went up to the gateway toward the north”. Furthermore, there are four tables on which the utensils are placed with which the burnt offering and the sacrifice are slaughtered (Ezekiel 40:42). Of these tables, the material is mentioned: they are “of hewn stones”. Their dimensions are also mentioned: a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and one cubit high.
Another thing that seems to relate to the sacrificial service are “the double hooks, one handbreadth in length” installed in the house all around (Ezekiel 40:43). These hooks are probably intended to hang the slaughtered sacrifices on them so that the blood can run out.
The sacrifices offered in the realm of peace are a remembrance of Christ’s work, a reflection on it. They do not diminish the perfection of Christ’s sacrifice and the complete forgiveness of sins on the basis of His sacrifice. Everything that is said about the sacrifices, the preparation, the place of sacrifice, and the utensils reminds believers of the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus made for them. He hung on the cross, outside the gate, to open the way for His own into the presence of God. The believers of the church remember this during the Christian era in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at the Table of the Lord.
Chambers for the Singers and the Priests
Immediately following what has to do with the sacrifices is a description of the chambers of the singers and the priests (Ezekiel 40:44-1 Corinthians :). This indicates that sacrificial service is accompanied by praise and is done by priests (cf. Hebrews 13:15). Of the chambers we are given only the location. No measurements are given. The chambers of the singers are located “from the outside to the inner gate” (Ezekiel 40:44). The chambers at the north gate are on the south side of it.
The Man and Ezekiel are now standing in the inner court near the north gate. There the Man breaks the silence for the first time (Ezekiel 40:45). He explains to Ezekiel that the chamber “which faces toward the south” is for the priests. Here, for the first time, the priests are mentioned. Of them, the Man still mentions that they “keep charge of the temple”.
The front of this chamber faces south. Another chamber, the front of which faces toward the north, is for the priests “who keep charge of the altar” (Ezekiel 40:46). One chamber is connected to the temple and the other to the altar. We see here how temple and altar belong together.
For this priestly service the LORD has destined “the sons of Zadok”. They may draw near to Him to minister to Him as priests. They are given this wonderful ministry as a reward for their faithfulness to David (2 Samuel 15:24; 1 Kings 1:8-2 Samuel :; 1 Kings 2:35; cf. Ezekiel 44:15; Ezekiel 43:19Ezekiel 48:11).
Then the Man measures the (inner) court (Ezekiel 40:47). In the middle of it is the altar. The court is a square one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide. Emphasis is placed on the location of the altar: it is in front of the house or the temple. Only by way the altar is there a view of and access to the house or the temple.
The inner court forms the center of the complex. Together with the inner gates, this center is eight steps higher than the outer court with the outer gates. The altar is exactly in the center of the center. In turn, the outer court and outer gates are seven steps higher than the area outside the temple complex which, according to Ezekiel 45 is open space or pasture land (Ezekiel 45:2).
*The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, writes twelve here. This seems to be the correct reading when we consider the total length of the house which is one hundred cubits (cf. Ezekiel 41:13).
The Man now takes Ezekiel to the porch of the temple or the house (Ezekiel 40:48). Here begins the description of the actual temple building, the house in which the glory of God will dwell. The porch of the temple is the front porch of the holy place. The Man begins by measuring a side pillar of the porch. The side pillar is five cubits thick on both sides and three cubits deep.
The porch behind the side pillars is twenty cubits long and eleven (twelve) cubits wide (Ezekiel 40:49). To get to the porch a staircase must be climbed. Near the side pillars are two columns. These columns are very reminiscent of the two pillars in Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 3:17), one called Boaz (meaning “in Him is strength”) and the other Jachin (meaning “He will confirm”). The pillars here have no name, but their (symbolic) function is clear: the temple and the service in it are sustained by the strength of the LORD and are a confirmation of His promise that He dwells in the midst of His people.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 40". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany