corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.20.01.28
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books
Ezekiel 40

 

 

Verses 1-49

Chapter Forty

The Vision From The Mountain-Top

A careful comparison of this new portion of our book with Revelation 21:9-27; Rev_22:1-5 will give us a better understanding of the true character of the chapter now before us. In the book of The Revelation the climax is reached when the holy city, the new Jerusalem, is seen coming down from God out of heaven. This is a symbolic picture of the future of the Church of this dispensation, of all who have died in Christ during past ages, and in the tribulation period -all these will have their part in the heavenly city. We read in Revelation 21:9, “There came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” Then we are told, “He carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (21:10). In Ezekiel 40 the prophet tells us that in the visions he was taken up into a very high mountain, and there he beheld the frame of a city on the south. This, it seems to me, should make it clear that we are not to take Ezekiel’s vision too literally, but just as the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem is very largely symbolic, so is the vision of the earthly Jerusalem given in these chapters.

Our comments will be necessarily brief, for there is much in connection with the vision which we frankly admit we do not understand fully; nevertheless, there are certain outstanding things that demand our attention, and which were intended by God to speak to the hearts and consciences of His people of old as well as to us. We would remind ourselves again that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. Therefore, these chapters are not lacking in importance for us today even though we may not be able to trace all that is in them in the way that restored Israel will be able to do in the coming day.

“In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day, the hand of Jehovah was upon me, and He brought me thither. In the visions of God brought He me into the land of Israel, and set me down upon a very high mountain, whereon was as it were the frame of a city on the south. And He brought me thither; and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee; for, to the intent that I may show them unto thee, art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel”-vers. 1-4.

The last dated prophecy was that found in chapter 32:17, the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the twelfth month (ver. 1). The present prophecy was given thirteen years later, in the five-and-twentieth year of Israel’s captivity, fourteen years after Jerusalem had fallen. Many stirring events had taken place in the meantime, and thousands who had heard the previous prophecies had now passed away; but Ezekiel was still preserved of God and once more called upon to give a message from the Lord. This time it was in connection with the coming glory when Jehovah’s worship would be re-established in the land, and the Lord Himself would manifest His presence among His people. In the visions of God, Ezekiel, who was dwelling in Babylon, was brought into the land of Israel, and he found himself upon a very high mountain; possibly Mount Hermon is meant, though there is no definite identification. As Ezekiel looked down he saw the frame of a city on the south. A man of brilliant appearance like burnished brass, stood by with a line of flax and a measuring reed in his hand. This recalls the vision of Zechariah (2:1) where he saw a man with a measuring line in his hand about to measure Jerusalem, and also that of John (Revelation 11:1) where a reed was given to him like unto a rod that he might measure the temple of God and the altar and them that worship therein. Then in Revelation 21:15 John beheld an angel with a golden reed with which to measure the new Jerusalem, its gates and walls. The suggestion of course in each instance is the recognition of that which belongs to God, whether for earth or for heaven.

The man with the reed said to the prophet, “Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thy heart upon all that I shall show thee; for, to the intent that I may show them unto thee, art thou brought hither.” It is very evident, then, that there was something of great importance in the vision which he was to behold and which he was to declare to the house of Israel.

“And, behold, a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed six cubits long, of a cubit and a handbreadth each: so he measured the thickness of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the steps thereof: and he measured the threshold of the gate, one reed broad; and the other threshold, one reed broad. And every lodge was one reed long, and one reed broad; and the space between the lodges was five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate toward the house was one reed. He measured also the porch of the gate toward the house, one reed. Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was toward the house. And the lodges of the gate eastward were three on this side, and three on that side; they three were of one measure: and the posts had one measure on this side and on that side. And he measured the breadth of the opening of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits; and a border before the lodges, one cubit on this side, and a border, one cubit on that side; and the lodges, six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side. And he measured the gate from the roof of the one lodge to the roof of the other, a breadth of five and twenty cubits; door against door. He made also posts, threescore cubits; and the court reached unto the posts, round about the gate. And from the forefront of the gate at the entrance unto the forefront of the inner porch of the gate were fifty cubits. And there were closed windows to the lodges, and to their posts within the gate round about, and likewise to the arches; and windows were round about inward; and upon each post were palm-trees”-vers. 5-16.

To the average reader all this detailed information in regard to the wall and gates of the temple of Jehovah is of very little interest no doubt; but when we remember that there is something significant in all the numbers of Scripture, and that God has not permitted anything to enter into His Bible which is not for edification, we shall realize that there is much here worthy of our careful study, even though we may not comprehend all its import.

Mr. John Bloore, an architect, has shown that everything here and in the chapters that follow can be reproduced according to scale in such a way that any architect or master-builder could follow every detail of it on a blueprint, and thus produce a magnificent building worthy of the object for which it would be erected: namely, a sanctuary for Jehovah. Whether or not the future temple in Jerusalem will be built according to these specifications we do not pretend to say, but if we think of it all as symbolic, still it must impress our hearts with the wonder and the glory of the temple that God has in mind for the future. As we study, remembering that Jehovah’s sanctuary on earth is a type of the sanctuary above, we may get a better understanding of our Lord’s words, “In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2).

The various chambers mentioned here and in the following chapters were intended for the accommodation of the priests officiating at given periods in the temple service. It is of these our Lord speaks as typifying places of rest in the Father’s house above. The ornamentation of palm-trees suggests victory over every evil force, for the vision looks on to the time when Jehovah will be supreme throughout all the earth, and all the world will recognize His matchless power.

“Then brought he me into the outer court; and, lo, there were chambers, and a pavement made for the court round about: thirty-chambers were upon the pavement. And the pavement was by the side of the gates, answerable unto the length of the gates, even the lower pavement. Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate unto the forefront of the inner court without, a hundred cubits, both on the east and on the north”-vers. 17-19.

Comment on these verses is almost needless as they simply give forth information in regard to the thirty chambers for the priests, to which we have referred above. As we read on, however, we will find ourselves more and more impressed with the glory and the grandeur of the vision. As Ezekiel gazed upon it, it must have been to him a marvelous picture indeed of that which Jehovah had in store for His people.

“And the gate of the outer court whose prospect is toward the north, he measured the length thereof and the breadth thereof. And the lodges thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate: the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And the windows thereof, and the arches thereof, and the palm-trees thereof, were after the measure of the gate whose prospect is toward the east; and they went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof were before them. And there was a gate to the inner court over against the other gate, both on the north and on the east; and he measured from gate to gate a hundred cubits”-vers. 20-23.

The prophet’s gaze was directed to the gate of the outer court looking toward the north. As he looked upon it and meditated on its size and prospect he saw emphasized the windows and the palm-trees. Next, his attention was focused upon the gate whose prospect is toward the east, which is the place of the sunrising, from thence the glory was to appear and enter the temple, consecrating it to Jehovah.

“And he led me toward the south; and, behold, a gate toward the south: and he measured the posts thereof and the arches thereof according to these measures. And there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches thereof were before them; and it had palm-trees, one on this side, and another on that side, upon the posts thereof. And there was a gate to the inner court toward the south: and he measured from gate to gate toward the south a hundred cubits”-vers. 24-27.

Turning next toward the south, Ezekiel beheld another gate, and his guide measured the posts and the arches, directing his attention to the windows and the ascent, particularly noting again the palm-trees, symbol of victory, and thus impressed upon Ezekiel the spaciousness of the temple area, which was intended to signify the link yet to be established between Jehovah and the entire world. Further details are given in verses 28 to 31.

“Then he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he measured the south gate according to these measures; and the lodges thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according to these measures: and there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about; it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad. And there were arches round about, five and twenty cubits long, and five cubits broad. And the arches thereof were toward the outer court; and palm-trees were upon the posts thereof: and the ascent to it had eight steps”-vers. 28-31.

As we ponder these words we are impressed with the magnificence of the cloisters in which we can almost see by sanctified imagination the white-robed priests of the Lord, walking about.

“And he brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he measured the gate according to these measures; and the lodges thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according to these measures: and there were windows therein and in the arches thereof round about; it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad. And the arches thereof were toward the outer court; and palm-trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side: and the ascent to it had eight steps”-vers. 32-34.

It is now the inner court to the east which is before Ezekiel’s eyes, and there, too, he beholds places for the lodging of the priests, spacious and adorned with palm-trees as in the other parts of the great building.

“And he brought me to the north gate: and he measured it according to these measures; the lodges thereof, the posts thereof, and the arches thereof: and there were windows therein round about; the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. And the posts thereof were toward the outer court; and the palm-trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side-and the ascent to it had eight steps”-vers. 35-37.

Again the guide turns to the north gate and takes the measurements of different parts of the building in that section. That all these measurements have a certain mystical significance I think is unquestionable, although it may not be easy to see always just what that significance is; but we cannot help but notice the frequent use of the number fifty, and of five and twenty. These numbers are connected with responsibility: fifty, of course, is the jubilee number; the fives and twenties that make it up point to the fulfilment of responsibility toward God-a responsibility which no one has ever completely been able to meet, but which has been met for us in all its fulness by our blessed Lord.

“And a chamber with the door thereof was by the posts at the gates; there they washed the burnt-offering. And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side, and two tables on that side, to slay thereon the burnt-offering and the sin-offering and the trespass-offering. And on the one side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the gate toward the north, were two tables; and on the other side, which belongeth to the porch of the gate, were two tables. Four tables were on this side, and four tables on that side, by the side of the gate; eight tables, whereupon they slew the sacrifices. And there were four tables for the burnt-offering, of hewn stone, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high; whereupon they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt-offering and the sacrifice. And the hooks, a handbreadth long, were fastened within round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the oblation”-vers. 38-43.

These verses raise a question which has perplexed many, and which perhaps may never be satisfactorily settled until the day when the full meaning of the vision is made known. The question is, Are sacrifices and offerings to be reinstituted at Jerusalem in the coming day? That this will be the case during the great tribulation there can be, I think, no question; otherwise there would be no meaning to the words referring to the compact with the Beast, that “in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (Daniel 9:27). But will these sacrifices be renewed in the millennial temple, and will they be carried on throughout the kingdom age? I cannot conceive of such a possibility. The truth revealed in the Epistle to the Hebrews will not be lost sight of in that age. The one offering of our Lord Jesus Christ has set aside completely all the offerings of the legal dispensation: therefore, may we not take it for granted that in this vision of Ezekiel, while it was necessary to picture spiritual realities in connection with the redemptive work of Christ by the sacrifices such as were still being offered at that time, yet when the fulfilment of all prophecy takes place Israel will understand for the first time the real meaning of the work of Christ and see how it answers antitypically to all the offerings that were prescribed under the law.

“And without the inner gate were chambers for the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south; one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north. And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house; and the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok, who from among the sons of Levi come near to Jehovah to minister unto Him. And he measured the court, a hundred cubits long, and a hundred cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar was before the house”-vers. 44-47.

The outstanding thought in the present section is that in the day of Israel’s future blessing there will be, as in the time when Solomon’s temple was built, a special group who will be appointed to lead the praises of the people of God: therefore, we have certain cham- bers for the singers in the inner court. It is a blessed thing, even in this age, when the singers find their place of residence in the inner court. Alas, so often it is otherwise. People may sing like angels and yet know little of dwelling in the presence of the Lord.

The sons of Zadok, who are pictured as having charge of the altar, will be leaders in spiritual things in that coming age, in accordance with the promise that God made so long ago when He set aside the family of Eli and promised He would raise up a faithful priest whom He found among the sons of Zadok.

“Then he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side: and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side. The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits; even by the steps whereby they went up to it: and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side”-vers. 48, 49.

The last verses have to do with the porch of the house and its posts or pillars, also the stairway ascending to it. On this we have no special comment to make. A deeper understanding of divine things might lead us to expound more fully what the Spirit of God has hidden here, but we do not pretend to have that apprehension at present.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Ezekiel 40:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/ezekiel-40.html. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology