Random Reflections on Life, Theology, and the Bible
Ezekiel 40-42 – A New House for the LORD
40:1-4 – A new vision. The date given in verse one marks the twenty-fifth year of the exile of Jehoiachin and the fourteenth year since the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem (April 28, 573BC). The twenty-five year mark may be given in particular to suggest the turning point towards the fifty year Jubilee (Block NICOT II:512). The tenth day of the first month (likely Nissan for the religious calendar and not Tishri of the civil calendar) would be the commencement of the Passover festival (Exo.12:3) though Ezekiel curiously does not mention this. It has been proposed that Ezekiel may be giving a counter to the Babylonian New Year’s celebration (Akk. akītu) which was celebrated on the same day and wherein Marduk their chief deity was annually re-enthroned (see Block NICOT II:513). Where might “the very high mountain” be located and what does this mountain represent? (cf. Eze.17:22; 20:40; Isa. 2:2-3; Mic.4:1; Rev.21:10) What does Ezekiel see from the south side of the mountain? The man who appears to Ezekiel acts as a guide and will reveal to Ezekiel particular dimensions of the visionary temple in order for Ezekiel to share this with Israel.
40:5-27 – The outer gates and the outer court. What is the purpose of the wall surrounding the temple? The measurement tool of the visionary guide follows the royal cubit instead of the common cubit and measures approximately 1 and ¾ feet long and so his “rod” is approximately 3 ½ yards (or 10 ½ feet) long. This would make the wall about 10 feet thick and 10 feet tall (though almost no other height measurements are listed anywhere else). Why did Ezekiel approach from the east first? Note the many rooms for guards in the massive gate. Why would there need to be so many guards and security? Take note of the many measurements that are multiples of 25 throughout this visionary temple and the very simple carvings. Who accessed the “outer court”? Note the dimensions of the gates and the outer court. Also, the steps from to the gates are seven.
By A. Gaebelein “The Prophet Ezekiel” (1918) A. The Temple House B. Altar of Burnt Offering C. Inner Court D. Gates to Inner Court E. Separate Place F. Hinder Building G. Priest’s Kitchens H. Chambers for Priests I. Chambers K. People’s Kitchen L. Gates into Outer Court M. Pavement N. Chambers in Outer Court (30) O. Outer Court
40:28-47 – The inner gates and the inner court. Note the dimensions and decorations of the inner court and the eight steps which led up into it. Each of the gates are identical (both outer with each other and the inner with each other respectively). The furniture of the inner court is specifically only for the various sacrifices – burnt (Heb. ‘ōlâh;cf. Lev.1:3), sin (Heb. hāttā’t;cf. Lev.4:2-3, 13) and guilt (Heb. ’āŝam;cf. Lev.5:6; 6:6; 7:1-2) – whether tables, hooks (?), or utensils. The guards were apparently Zadokite Levites responsible for all of the temple precincts security and priestly ministry (Block NICOT II:537-9; cf. Num.18:1-7; 2 Sam.8:17; 2 Kings 11:4-7). Note the place of the altar in relation to the temple proper.
40:48-41:26 – The temple proper. The temple was again located higher (10 steps up) than the inner court (eight steps up) which had been higher than the outer court (seven steps up) – leading to a total of twenty-five steps. It is also set up higher so as to protect the holy from the profane and the profane from the holy. While Ezekiel is taken through much of the wider building(s), he is only informed about the dimensions of the “Most Holy Place” of the temple. The doors of each level also get progressively smaller and there are fewer and fewer that are permitted beyond each. The decorations of the temple itself are cherubim and palm trees, which is considerably less ornate than Solomon’s temple or even the tabernacle of Moses. The wooden table in the holy place just in front of the most holy place was likely for showbread (though there is not specific mention of its purpose here).
42:1-20 – Rooms for the priests of the temple. Rooms stacked three stories high were built along the north and south sides of the temple proper in order to provide sacred space for the priests to eat the special offerings and to change out of their priestly garments. Why should they change their clothes or eat in the sacred areas? What are the dimensions of the whole complex as shown to Ezekiel?
Some Questions and Comments Concerning This Temple – What does a comparison and contrast of this temple demonstrate with regard to the tabernacle of Moses, the temple of Solomon and the “New Jerusalem” of Revelation 21-22? Note that while many dimensions are given for this temple of Ezekiel there are no materials mentioned other than with regard to the altars and tables. Also, while there is great detail provided for dimensions there is no instruction to Ezekiel (or even through Ezekiel to Israel) to build such a temple. The temple that was constructed under Ezra’s leadership nev
er did fit the description of Ezekiel’s vision, nor does there appear to have been any attempt to even try. Why is this? What might this temple point to? Is this temple representative of something or will it (as according to typical Dispensational beliefs) be built in a millennial reign of Christ? If it would be built in such a time, why should there be continued sacrifices offered and what does this make of the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps the best way forward is not to view this temple as prescribed to be built at some future time, but simply as indicative of the utter holiness with which God dwells. Also, how might we understand this temple in light of Jesus claim of being the “temple” (John 2:19-21) and of Paul’s later comments regarding the individuals of the Church (1 Cor.3:16-17; 6:19) as well as the Church corporately being the “temple” (2 Cor.6:16)?