Ezekiel 40 – Measuring the Courts of the New Temple
A. The vision of the new temple.
1. (1-2) Ezekiel is taken to Jerusalem in a vision.
In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the LORD was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.
a. In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity: This final, great vision of Ezekiel is recorded in Ezekiel 40-48. It is almost the last prophecy dated, and many years after the fall of Jerusalem (the fourteenth year after the city was captured).
i. “These visions were given to the prophet some twelve years after the latest of those already considered except the brief one concerning the overcoming of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar (Ezekiel 29:17-20), which was incorporated with the burdens of the nations.” (Morgan)
ii. “If the preceding salvation oracles are to be dated shortly after the fall of the city (cf. Ezekiel 33:21–22), more than a decade separates this prophetic experience from the preceding oracles.” (Block)
b. The beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month: It is not clear if Ezekiel intended the civil or the religious calendar of Israel. If it was the religious calendar, then it was the day on Israel’s calendar when they were to begin preparation for the Passover (10 Nisan).
i. “Whether they actually observed the Passover or not in exile, surely they would be contemplating Israel’s redemption out of Egypt and the creation of their nation. This vision, then, would be an encouragement that the Lord would complete his purposes for the nation in the messianic kingdom.” (Alexander)
c. The hand of the LORD was upon me: Ezekiel insisted the source of this extended prophecy was God. Yahweh was the source of the minute and sometimes strange detail of this prophecy.
d. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain: We are not told the name of the mountain, but from the description that follows we gather that Ezekiel could, in his vision, see Jerusalem.
i. Significantly, the last time Ezekiel visited Jerusalem in a vision was far back in Ezekiel 8-11. In that vision, he saw the temple profaned by God’s people and the glory of God departing from the temple. What Ezekiel saw in the previous vision was real. It was presented in a condensed and dramatic form but described real sins and desecrations of the people. The departure of God’s glory from the temple was spiritual, yet real.
ii. In this visionary visit to Jerusalem at the end of his ministry, what Ezekiel the prophet saw was real. He saw an actual temple and the glory of God restored in a real and powerful way. These were visions of God, but described real things.
iii. Ezekiel went in a vision, but to a real land. “Why the prophet’s destination should be identified as eres yisa’el, ‘the land of Israel,’ [used elsewhere only in Ezekiel 27:17 and Ezekiel 47:18] rather than Ezekiel’s generally preferred admat yisra’el is not clear. Whether intentional or not, it orients the reader toward the territorial interests that will characterize later chapters.” (Block)
iv. A very high mountain: “Mount Moriah, the mount on which Solomon’s temple was built, 2 Chronicles 3:1.” (Clarke)
e. Something like the structure of a city: The vision of the temple unfolding in the following chapters really was something…like a city. It was large and surrounded by massive walls just like an ancient city.
i. Like the structure of a city: “So the temple seemed to him, for its many courts, walls, towers, gates.” (Trapp)
2. (3) The man with the measuring rod.
He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway.
a. There was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze: As Yahweh led Ezekiel to Jerusalem, He also appointed a guide for the prophet. This man was likely an angelic being, indicated by his radiant appearance (bronze). Some regard him as the angel of the LORD, but this is not specifically stated.
i. “Like bright polished brass, which strongly reflected the rays of light. Probably he had what we would term a nimbus or glory round his head. This was either an angel; or, as some think, a personal appearance of our blessed Lord.” (Clarke)
b. He had a line of flax and a measuring rod: The angelic being had two instruments for measuring. One was some kind of rope or string, and the other was a solid rod.
c. He stood in the gateway: The supernatural guide was waiting for Ezekiel.
3. (4) The man with the measuring rod speaks to Ezekiel.
And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything I show you; for you were brought here so that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.”
a. Look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything: The radiant man told Ezekiel to focus his senses, paying close attention. If the description of the temple that follows was merely spiritual or symbolic, there would be no need to so carefully note the details.
i. “Ezekiel is to concentrate on what the guide is about to show him. After all, he is not simply a tourist visiting an historical site, or even a worshiper on a pilgrimage to a shrine. He is a mediator of divine revelation.” (Block)
b. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see: The audience for this vision was primarily the house of Israel. It was most relevant to them as part of God’s promised future restoration. What Ezekiel saw, as recorded in Ezekiel 40-48, has been the subject of much dispute, and is something of a dividing line for Biblical interpreters.
i. In his commentary, John B. Taylor listed four different interpretive approaches to these chapters:
· Literal prophetic: Ezekiel 40-48 describes a temple that he expected would be built by the returning exiles in their restoration to the land. For example, Adam Clarke believed that Ezekiel simply gave the plan of Solomon’s temple from memory, and set it here as an encouragement to the exiles that they would in fact be restored to Jerusalem and the temple would be rebuilt.
· Symbolic Christian: Ezekiel 40-48 symbolically describes the Christian church. Smith described this perspective: “The best approach is to see these chapters as illustrative of spiritual truths. The main points thus symbolized in these chapters are these: God would provide for his people a Temple, a priesthood and a worship system related to, but different from, that which they had formerly known. A united people, including Gentiles, would occupy the inheritance which God had promised to their forefathers.”
· Dispensationalist: Ezekiel 40-48 describes a temple of features of a coming millennial age. This future temple belongs not so much to the eternal age (as in Revelation 21:22) but to the period of a literal thousand-year reign of Jesus over this earth. Especially for the Jewish people in the millennium, Ezekiel’s temple will bring to remembrance and memorialize God’s gracious work for Israel and the rich types and ceremonies that looked forward to the perfect work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This view “declares that the prediction speaks of the restoration and establishment of the people of Israel in their own land in the last days of their national history, their conversion to the Lord through faith in their long-rejected Messiah, and the manifest presence and glory of the Lord in their midst.” (Feinberg)
· Apocalyptic: Ezekiel 40-48 present symbolic and fantastic images of a coming age, connected to images and ideas popular in the pagan world of that day. “Ezekiel 40–48 replace the conventional prophecies of Ezekiel 33–37 with imagery that is primarily mythic. The prophet chooses to speak about Jerusalem’s future by recasting imagery deriving from the ancient Near Eastern mythic motif of the ‘cosmic mountain.’” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. This commentary will examine these chapters primarily under the dispensationalist framework. The reader must decide whether to favor a more literal approach or a more figurative and spiritual approach. Though there are things to be said for and against each approach, in the author’s opinion the best approach is to regard this temple as real, yet to be fulfilled in a future phase of God’s unfolding plan of the ages.
· The fundamental weakness of the literal prophetic approach is that it was not fulfilled. The temple rebuilt in the days of Ezra and Zerubbabel did not answer to this description. “It does not correspond to the one that was built after the return, nor to Herod’s Temple.” (Wright)
· The fundamental weakness of the symbolic approach is that the entire tone of Ezekiel’s record points to this temple as something real, not spiritualized. Significantly, the radiant being did not say much to Ezekiel, probably only calling out the measurements. There was no explanation of or pointing towards a symbolic interpretation of the temple, only a detailed tour and specific dimensions. The message is that this temple is real, not metaphorical. It is visionary and prophetic, yet real. This symbolic view was “favored by the church Fathers and the Reformers. They saw in these chapters Christ and the spiritual endowments of the church in the Christian era. This is entirely too subjective and would mean nothing for either Ezekiel or his contemporaries.” (Feinberg) Alexander adds, “The figurative or ‘spiritualizing’ interpretative approach does not seem to solve any of the problems of Ezekiel 40-48; it tends to create new ones. When the interpreter abandons a normal grammatical-historical hermeneutic because the passage does not seem to make sense taken that way and opts for an interpretative procedure by which he can allegorize, symbolize, or ‘spiritualize,’ the interpretations become subjective. Different aspects of a passage mean whatever the interpreter desires.”
· The fundamental weakness of the apocalyptic approach is that this text lacks many of the generally understood aspects of apocalyptic literature.
iii. The idea that this temple and various aspects regarding it should be understood as fulfilled in a future phase of God’s unfolding plan of the ages has its own problems. Perhaps the plainest and commonly made objection is that since Jesus made a perfect and final sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28, 10:10 and other similar passages) it is unthinkable that God would establish or sanction any kind of sacrificial system or ceremony. There are several ways to answer this objection.
· We would never think that the Old Covenant system of sacrifice and ritual would be restored for believers as a ground of their approach to God or their righteousness (Galatians 3:23-25 and Colossians 2:16-17).
· We would never think that animal sacrifice could atone for or take away sin, something accomplished only by what Jesus did on the cross (as in Hebrews 9:11-15, 10:1-14, 18). Yet it must be recognized that animal sacrifices never took away sin; they only looked forward to the perfect sacrifice God would provide through the Messiah, fulfilled at the cross of Jesus.
· God does sanction memorials and ceremonial remembrance of the work of Jesus on the cross. “Just as the Old Testament sacrifices could have value in pointing forward to the death of Christ, why may they not have equal value in pointing back to the death of Christ as an accomplished fact? The celebration of the Lord’s Supper through the Christian centuries has added not one infinitesimal particle to the efficacy of the work of Christ on the cross, but who will dare to deny that it has value for the believer, since it is enjoined upon us as a memorial?” (Feinberg)
· Jesus specifically said that He would observe the Lord’s Supper in the age to come (Luke 22:18). There will be active, even ceremonial remembrance of the sacrificial work of Jesus in the age to come. It is reasonable to think it could also include the temple services and sacrifices described here. “If the Lord’s Table is a memorial and the sacrifices of the Ezekiel system are memorials, the two should not in any way conflict with each other but should be able to coexist.” (Alexander)
· Apparently the first Christians (including the Apostle Paul) were more comfortable with some kind of participation with temple services and rituals than we might think. Paul’s participation with and sponsorship of Christians fulfilling vows at the temple seemingly connected with some kind of sacrifice speaks to this (Acts 21:23-24, 21:26-27).
· “Even in our day we see the spiritual value and great avenue of worship for church believers as they celebrate the Passover service.… It does not enter their minds that they are saved by the observance of this service; but the celebration is an extremely instructive, vivid picture lesson of the death of the Lamb of God.” (Alexander)
iv. In many ways, the description of Ezekiel’s temple is presented in a way appropriate for a period after the finished work of Jesus Christ. Though there is a literal temple and animal sacrifice, many other features of the Old Testament order as given through Moses are not mentioned.
· There is no mention of Pentecost, though other feasts are mentioned: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ezekiel 45:21-24), Tabernacles (Ezekiel 45:25), and Firstfruits (Ezekiel 44:30). Pentecost is not mentioned because it was fulfilled in the church (Acts 2).
· There is no mention of a veil because since the work of Jesus such a separation is no longer necessary.
· There is no mention of the ark of the covenant because the work of Jesus at the cross fulfilled the place of atonement and propitiation.
· There is no mention of a high priest because Jesus is the high priest.
· There is no mention of a king because Jesus is the king of kings.
· There is no mention of silver and gold, because in a millennial age those things do not have the same value.
v. “Ezekiel isn’t the only prophet who said there would be a holy temple during the Kingdom Age. You find a kingdom temple and kingdom worship mentioned in Isaiah 2:1–5, 60:7, 13; Jeremiah 33:18; Joel 3:18; Micah 4:2; Haggai 2:7–9; and Zechariah 6:12–15, 14:16, 20–21. Ezekiel 37:24–28 records God’s promise to His people that He would put His sanctuary among them. ‘My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” (Wiersbe)
vi. “It seems, therefore, that Ezekiel 40–48 may be primarily describing the millennial temple, its regulations for worship, and the tribal allotments. The Millennium is only a beginning, sort of a microcosm, of the eternal state and a transition into it. Consequently, to observe reflections of Ezekiel 40–48 in the picture of the eternal state revealed in Revelation 21–22 should be expected and should not surprise the reader.” (Alexander)
vii. “The temple will be a place of learning for both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 2:1–3), and no doubt the worshipers will study the Old Testament law and learn more about Jesus. They will study the New Testament as well and see the deeper significance of the sacrifices and the feasts.” (Wiersbe)
c. Everything you see: What follows is a tour of the temple complex, led by this radiant man and recorded by Ezekiel. The tour is filled with measurements and descriptions. The details of Ezekiel’s vision only become manageable with diagrams, which are readily available from a variety of searchable sources.
i. “The competent opinion of architects who have studied the plan given here is that all these dimensions could be drawn to scale to produce a beautiful sanctuary of the Lord.” (Feinberg)
ii. “Appreciating the prophet’s excitement about what he saw is difficult for modern readers, who see the temple as nothing more than a building. For Ezekiel and his readers, the temple was the mode of God’s presence in the world.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iii. “Ezekiel’s experience might be likened to a young couple who go frequently to the site of their future dream home. They step off the dimensions of the home, perhaps sketch in the dust its configuration. They relish every moment of the anticipation. In their minds they can visualize that home in all its grandeur.” (Smith)
B. The outer court of the new temple.
1. (5) The wall outside the temple.
Now there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth; and he measured the width of the wall structure, one rod; and the height, one rod.
a. There was a wall all around the outside of the temple: This wall around the temple compound is what helped to make the whole scene look something like a city (as in Ezekiel 40:2).
b. In the man’s hand was a measuring rod six cubits long, each being a cubit and a handbreadth: Here Ezekiel defined the approximate size of the measures. The cubit was what was sometimes known as the long cubit, about 20.5 inches (52 centimeters) long. A rod was six of these measures, about 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 meters).
i. “He is given a shining heavenly guide, who carries a measuring rod of about 10 feet 4 inches. (The so-called ‘long cubit’ of Ezekiel 40:5 was 20.679 inches, as opposed to the ordinary cubit of about 17.5 inches.)” (Wright)
ii. “Ezekiel is using the long cubit for all his measurements, i.e. approximately 20½ ins, as against the customary cubit of 17½ ins. The angel’s measuring-rod would thus be about 10 feet 3 inches long.” (Taylor)
c. He measured the width of the wall structure: The surrounding walls were therefore about ten feet (3.12 meters) tall and wide. We note that he measured; the radiant being did the measuring work and told Ezekiel the results.
i. He measured: Ezekiel didn’t measure the temple and its courts, because they don’t belong to him. Through His representative, God measures the temple and its courts. They belong to Him.
ii. “To measure property is symbolic of claiming it for yourself.” (Wiersbe)
iii. In the man’s hand: “The prophet is called to see and hear, but the standard is not put into his hand.” (Poole)
2. (6-10) The eastern gateway.
Then he went to the gateway which faced east; and he went up its stairs and measured the threshold of the gateway, which was one rod wide, and the other threshold was one rod wide. Each gate chamber was one rod long and one rod wide; between the gate chambers was a space of five cubits; and the threshold of the gateway by the vestibule of the inside gate was one rod. He also measured the vestibule of the inside gate, one rod. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and the gateposts, two cubits. The vestibule of the gate was on the inside. In the eastern gateway were three gate chambers on one side and three on the other; the three were all the same size; also the gateposts were of the same size on this side and that side.
a. Then he went to the gateway which faced east: Ezekiel’s tour of the temple started on the east side of the temple grounds. It was the eastern gate which directly led to the entrance of the temple, so this was a logical place to begin.
i. “It is significant that the entrance into the temple is from the east, since it was toward the east that God left the temple according to Ezekiel 11:23.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
b. Threshold of the gateway… gate chamber: The gate was actually something of a tower, with rooms and compartments known as gate chambers. For a better representation of the size and dimensions, one may consult diagrams which are readily available from a variety of searchable sources.
i. Gate chambers: “These chambers were for the priests and Levites to lodge in during their ministration, according to their courses in the temple, where they kept watch continually night and day. The whole was framed in very great harmony and just proportions.” (Poole)
ii. “In Ezekiel 40:10 reference was made again to the eastward gate, which was in some ways the most important of all, for through it the glory of God would return to the sanctuary (Ezekiel 43).” (Feinberg)
3. (11-16) The entrance to the eastern gateway.
He measured the width of the entrance to the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits. There was a space in front of the gate chambers, one cubit on this side and one cubit on that side; the gate chambers were six cubits on this side and six cubits on that side. Then he measured the gateway from the roof of one gate chamber to the roof of the other; the width was twenty-five cubits, as door faces door. He measured the gateposts, sixty cubits high, and the court all around the gateway extended to the gatepost. From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the vestibule of the inner gate was fifty cubits. There were beveled window frames in the gate chambers and in their intervening archways on the inside of the gateway all around, and likewise in the vestibules. There were windows all around on the inside. And on each gatepost were palm trees.
a. He measured the width of the entrance to the gateway: Again, this describes something more than an entrance to the temple area. This was a building in itself, of substantial size and with chambers and rooms of its own.
i. “In antiquity, gates to cities or to important buildings were elaborate structures in their own right. They had small rooms that opened on the passageway. Some had a vestibule on the outside that provided a transition space between the outside world and the structure that one was entering.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. As door faces door: “The phrase, from door to door, suggests that a door led from each of the side rooms on to the outer court, a reasonable probability to allow the Levitical door-keepers to get to their stations to control the crowds who would throng through the gateways at festival time.” (Taylor)
b. He measured the gateposts, sixty cubits high: The tower-like structure of the eastern gate (and the other gates) was some 100 feet (31.5 meters) tall.
i. “We cannot find a spiritual significance in every measurement, but we note the symmetry of the temple and its precincts.” (Wright)
c. Beveled window frames…on each gatepost were palm trees: Ezekiel described the structure in some detail, including decorative features.
i. “All the terminology is not clear in the Hebrew language since some words are used only in this context. Therefore, the exact meaning of each item and the corresponding relationship of each dimension cannot always be certain.” (Alexander)
ii. Palm trees: “Engraven with curious art for beauty, and whose upper branches spreading themselves along under the arches seemed to bear up the arches.” (Poole)
4. (17-19) The pavement of the outer court.
Then he brought me into the outer court; and there were chambers and a pavement made all around the court; thirty chambers faced the pavement. The pavement was by the side of the gateways, corresponding to the length of the gateways; this was the lower pavement. Then he measured the width from the front of the lower gateway to the front of the inner court exterior, one hundred cubits toward the east and the north.
a. He brought me into the outer court: Having entered through the eastern gate, now Ezekiel saw the outer court. There was a lower pavement, meaning that there were at least two levels to the outer court.
b. One hundred cubits toward the east and the north: The outer court was a generous expanse of space.
5. (20-23) The northern gateway.
On the outer court was also a gateway facing north, and he measured its length and its width. Its gate chambers, three on this side and three on that side, its gateposts and its archways, had the same measurements as the first gate; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Its windows and those of its archways, and also its palm trees, had the same measurements as the gateway facing east; it was ascended by seven steps, and its archway was in front of it. A gate of the inner court was opposite the northern gateway, just as the eastern gateway; and he measured from gateway to gateway, one hundred cubits.
a. On the outer court was also a gateway facing north: Coming from the east, Ezekiel’s guide directed him to the right toward the northern gateway. It had the same measurements as the first gate.
b. He measured gateway to gateway, one hundred cubits: Again, the general dimensions point to a large temple area.
6. (24-27) The southern gateway.
After that he brought me toward the south, and there a gateway was facing south; and he measured its gateposts and archways according to these same measurements. There were windows in it and in its archways all around like those windows; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Seven steps led up to it, and its archway was in front of them; and it had palm trees on its gateposts, one on this side and one on that side. There was also a gateway on the inner court, facing south; and he measured from gateway to gateway toward the south, one hundred cubits.
a. He brought me toward the south: Ezekiel’s guide then directed him across the court to the southern gate. As the guide measured, it had the same measurements as the east and the southern gates. There was no gate on the western side since the temple was situated closer to the western wall.
b. Its archway was in front of them; and it had palm trees on the gateposts: As before, Ezekiel noted not only the dimensions but some of the details of the design.
C. The inner court of the new temple.
1. (28-37) The gateways of the inner court.
Then he brought me to the inner court through the southern gateway; he measured the southern gateway according to these same measurements. Also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways were according to these same measurements; there were windows in it and in its archways all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. There were archways all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide. Its archways faced the outer court, palm trees were on its gateposts, and going up to it were eight steps.
And he brought me into the inner court facing east; he measured the gateway according to these same measurements. Also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways were according to these same measurements; and there were windows in it and in its archways all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its archways faced the outer court, and palm trees were on its gateposts on this side and on that side; and going up to it were eight steps.
Then he brought me to the north gateway and measured it according to these same measurements— also its gate chambers, its gateposts, and its archways. It had windows all around; its length was fifty cubits and its width twenty-five cubits. Its gateposts faced the outer court, palm trees were on its gateposts on this side and on that side, and going up to it were eight steps.
a. He brought me to the inner court: In his vision and directed by his guide, Ezekiel came to the inner court of the temple structure. There is no mention made of a specific court of the Gentiles or court of the women.
b. There were archways all around…going up to it were eight steps: Accessible from the south, east, and north, the inner court was raised eight steps above the outer court. As before, palm trees were on its gateposts.
2. (38-43) The chamber for sacrifices.
There was a chamber and its entrance by the gateposts of the gateway, where they washed the burnt offering. In the vestibule of the gateway were two tables on this side and two tables on that side, on which to slay the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. At the outer side of the vestibule, as one goes up to the entrance of the northern gateway, were two tables; and on the other side of the vestibule of the gateway were two tables. Four tables were on this side and four tables on that side, by the side of the gateway, eight tables on which they slaughtered the sacrifices. There were also four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, one cubit and a half long, one cubit and a half wide, and one cubit high; on these they laid the instruments with which they slaughtered the burnt offering and the sacrifice. Inside were hooks, a handbreadth wide, fastened all around; and the flesh of the sacrifices was on the tables.
a. There was a chamber and its entrance by the gateposts: Coming into the inner court, there were rooms holding tables for the preparation and performance of sacrifices. Specifically mentioned are the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering.
i. It is not necessary that the emphasis of each of these offerings be for the atonement of sin. Though they sometimes had that association, they also were used with the emphasis of complete consecration and purification.
· “The ritual of the burnt offering involved the total consumption of the offering by fire; no portion was ever eaten by humans.” (Block)
· “Purification offerings functioned only to decontaminate sacred objects and places (cf. Ezekiel 43:19–27).” (Block)
· Guilt offering: “In principle the offering is perceived as restitution, reparation, for sullying a sacred object or person.” (Block)
ii. “The sin and guilt offerings, therefore, reminded the Israelite that he was sinful and that he needed the Messiah’s innocent blood, typified in the animal, to cleanse him of his sin and to bring forgiveness from God.” (Alexander)
b. The flesh of the sacrifice was on the tables: Coming from a priestly background, this would be of special interest to Ezekiel. For many Bible students and teachers, the presence of such sacrifices makes it unthinkable that this could describe a literal temple with literal sacrifices, sanctioned and established by God after the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.
i. Yet, as noted before, these may be fairly regarded as memorials pointing back to the work of Jesus. Animal sacrifices were never actually effective for the cleansing of sin, only as representations and shadows of the future reality fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah in His crucifixion. Even so, the literal presence of these sacrifices does not mean that they should or could be regarded as effective for the cleansing of sin. Much as the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Table is a powerful spiritual representation and memorial of Jesus’ work on the cross, these sacrifices can be regarded in a similar way.
ii. “Just as the Lord’s Supper now detracts not one iota from the glory of the work of Calvary, but rather has been a constant memorial of it for over nineteen hundred years, so the sacrifices of the millennial age will be powerless to diminish the worth of the Saviour’s death on Calvary, but will rather be a continuous memorial of it for a thousand years.” (Feinberg)
iii. “The use of animal sacrifices in the millennial temple no more minimizes or negates the finished work of Christ than these sacrifices did before Jesus died. It appears that the sacrifices will be offered in a memorial sense and as expressions of love and devotion to the Lord (Isaiah 56:5–7; 60:7). They will also bring people together for fellowship and feasting to the glory of the Lord.” (Wiersbe)
iv. “It is important to observe that millennial sacrifices are discussed elsewhere in the OT prophets (Isaiah 56:5–7; 60:7, 13; 66:20–23; Jeremiah 33:15–22; Zechariah 14:16–21). The concept is not unique to Ezekiel.” (Alexander)
v. “Since Israel did not receive their Messiah in His first coming, they have never celebrated a memorial of His redeeming work. Need we begrudge them this in the light of the fact that the Scriptures are so clear that God has appointed the sacrifices for that age, and surely for their commemorative value?” (Feinberg)
vi. Hooks: “Learned conjectures here, as in many other places, perplex more than explain. Hooks, on which the slaughtered sacrifice might be hanged, while they prepared it further, were needful, and the word imports such iron hooks.” (Poole)
3. (44-46) The chambers for the singers and the priests.
Outside the inner gate were the chambers for the singers in the inner court, one facing south at the side of the northern gateway, and the other facing north at the side of the southern gateway. Then he said to me, “This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple. The chamber which faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar; these are the sons of Zadok, from the sons of Levi, who come near the LORD to minister to Him.”
a. The chambers for the singers in the inner court: In Ezekiel’s temple, the priests (or Levites) served not only in the administration of sacrifice but also in the leading of music for worship and praise of God.
b. Priests who have charge of the temple: In addition to the singers, there were also those who guarded and looked over the temple and its administration.
i. Charge of the temple: “While scholars commonly assume that cultic service is involved, this is probably incorrect. The verb samar is primarily a military term, ‘to keep, to guard, to watch,’ from which derives mismeret, which refers fundamentally to military guard duty.” (Block)
c. Priests who have charge of the altar: A third category of workers were those who conducted sacrifice. These are the sons of Zadok, descended from that high priest, who served the people but whose chief job was to come near to the LORD to minister to Him.
i. Zadok:“The high priest, who was put in by Solomon’s depriving of Abiathar, in whose race the high priesthood continued.” (Poole)
ii. “The name Zadok means ‘righteous,’ and in his book, the Prophet Ezekiel emphasizes separation and holiness.” (Wiersbe)
4. (47-49) Measuring the inner court and its passage.
And he measured the court, one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide, foursquare. The altar was in front of the temple. Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the doorposts of the vestibule, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the width of the gateway was three cubits on this side and three cubits on that side. The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the width eleven cubits; and by the steps which led up to it there were pillars by the doorposts, one on this side and another on that side.
a. The altar was in front of the temple: Though there was no mention of the laver for washing or some of the other features of the previous temples, there was an altar to accommodate the sacrifices.
b. Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple: Ezekiel’s guide then brought him to the temple building itself. It also had specific measurements and dimensions, the description of which would be unnecessary and even meaningless in a purely spiritual or symbolic temple.
i. “Ezekiel continued to set forth detail after detail, making it increasingly difficult to interpret the whole in a figurative manner, in which case the abundance of minute details is worthless and meaningless.” (Feinberg)
c. Pillars by the doorposts, one on this side and another on that side: These two pillars remind us of the two pillars in Solomon’s temple named Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21).