The Prophet is in this, and all the succeeding Chapters, to the end of his prophecy, wholly dealing in vision. He describes in these visions of God, the appearance of One like the Son of Man; who delivers to the Prophet an account of a splendid and immense City.
There is somewhat very striking in the Prophet's method of describing this vision: the hand of the Lord (he saith) was upon him. And certain it is, that whosoever reads this Chapter, and all the remainder of Ezekiel's vision, with an understanding suitable to its importance, must also, like the Prophet, have the hand of the Lord upon him. For no one, either ancient or modern, seemed to have entered into a clear apprehension of its meaning. Reader! we shall do well, as we enter upon the subject, to look up for divine instructions concerning it: for none but He, who gave it to the Prophet by vision, can explain it to the soul's joy. Lord! be thou our instructor!
The place to which the Prophet was brought by vision, no doubt was Jerusalem. Here is nothing said of a Temple, but of a city: but from what follows in this Chapter, and the several succeeding ones, the whole of the city is considered as a temple. Now I pray the Reader to mark, with me, the singularity of this account. The visions which John the beloved Apostle had of the new Jerusalem, were, that there was no temple there: but of this, whatever city it might be, there is nothing described but of a temple. Revelation 21:22. Who is this man spoken of, unless it be the Lord Jesus Christ? Him whom John saw, and which we know was Christ, John describes in similar language, that his feet were like unto fine brass. Revelation 1:11. Supposing that this was the Lord Jesus Christ, (as it should seem very evidently to be,) by his being appointed to show the Prophet, and to measure the dimensions of this city, perhaps was intended to say, that Christ, as the Christ of God, was both the founder of the Temple, and the sum and substance of it. Zechariah 6:13; John 14:6. And the object, and design, it should seem, for which Ezekiel was introduced into these visions of God, was not for curiosity, but for use, and that of the highest nature; namely, to show to the whole house of Israel. All that ministers are, and all the gifts given them, are not for themselves, but for the people.
The Reader will form a better calculation of the extent of this wonderful city, by considering what its dimensions were. A cubit for the sanctuary measurement, was one foot and nine inches; and if the Reader will mark down the whole measurement, he will be able to ascertain the out-grounds of this place. But leaving this part of the subject to his leisure, I really beg his present attention to some of the spiritual things, which we may humbly venture to suppose, were intended in what is here said. May we not imagine, that what is said of the steps of ascent, is intended to show how souls redeemed by grace, go up by Jesus's leading, as he here taught and led the Prophet to God? And are not those Palm trees in allusion to what is said of believers flourishing like Palm trees in the house of God? Psalms 92:1. The gates are already explained by what John was taught to inform the Church of the twelve Apostles. Revelation 21:14. And the tables, and porch, and place for sacrifice, and sons of Levi, to minister in divine things; all these are very plain representations of what the Gospel Church, in the after ages, set forth, when Christ became both the Table of offering, the Porch, or way to the throne; the Sacrifice; the Sacrificer; and the New Testament Altar; on whom, and in whom, and through whom alone, all offerings were to be made! The Prophet having been thus led to the measurement thus far, the Chapter is closed, and the subject is reserved, to be continued in the following Chapter.
In following the Prophet in these visions of God, we have now much advantage from the gospel light which the after ages of the Church, through Grace, were blessed with; so that explaining Old Testament scripture, by the New Testament revelation, we are enabled to see more of the Lord's gracious designs, than our fathers in the earlier dispensations could attain. Evidently, these solemn scriptures pointed to the day of gospel grace; and we cannot sufficiently bless God for the discovery he hath been pleased to make of himself, in, and by the Person, work, and grace, and salvation, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes! blessed Lord Jesus! whatever City, Church, or Temple, the Prophet saw, in thee we now in open glass behold the accomplishment of the whole. Thou art indeed the goodly Mountain of Lebanon! Thou, and thou alone, the foundation-stone Jehovah hath laid in Zion, on whom is built, both of Apostles and Prophets, that temple on which all rest, and in whom all are made secure, and eternally happy. Lord! hasten the glorious hour, when all thy Church, founded on thee, shall fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea, and all nations shall flow to it. Amen!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany