Ezekiel 45 – Regarding the Priests of Ezekiel’s Temple
A. The land for the priests.
1. (1-5) The portion for the Levites.
“Moreover, when you divide the land by lot into inheritance, you shall set apart a district for the LORD, a holy section of the land; its length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits, and the width ten thousand. It shall be holy throughout its territory all around. Of this there shall be a square plot for the sanctuary, five hundred by five hundred rods, with fifty cubits around it for an open space. So this is the district you shall measure: twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide; in it shall be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. It shall be a holy section of the land, belonging to the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the LORD; it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. An area twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide shall belong to the Levites, the ministers of the temple; they shall have twenty chambers as a possession.
a. You shall set apart a district for the LORD: There will be a real distribution of land in the time of Ezekiel’s temple. As part of the distribution among the tribes of Israel, there would be a special district for the LORD, to be a holy section of the land. It would be a large area of land. Length means from east to west, and width from north to south.
i. You shall set apart: “Although Yahweh identifies the land to be set aside for himself, the use of the second person implies the involvement of the Israelites in the process.” (Block)
ii. “The division of the land among the various tribes is the subject of Ezekiel 47-48. Here the text deals with only one part of the land: the location of the temple and the holy city. This land belongs directly to the Lord, while the rest of the land is the inheritance of the tribes.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
iii. “The student of Ezekiel’s prophecy is struck again and again with the mass of details and particulars that characterize the last nine chapters of the book. This is the strongest and most irrefutable argument against taking these chapters in an allegorical or symbolical or spiritualizing sense.” (Feinberg)
b. Of this there shall be a square plot for the sanctuary: The temple (and Jerusalem) will be in the special district for Yahweh.
c. Belonging to the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary: The district will be directly managed and governed by the previously mentioned priests, also with areas to belong to the Levites.
i. “The land belonging to God directly is approximately 166 square kilometers (64 square miles). Three parts comprise this area. The northernmost portion comprising some 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) belonged to the Levites. Next came a strip of the same size that was available to the priests. It also was the site of the sanctuary. The last strip, which was about 34 square kilometers (13 square miles), was for the city itself. The land to the east and west of this sacral land was for the prince. The rest of the land of Israel belonged to the tribes.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. John B. Taylor has one of the better maps or diagrams of the allotment of the sacred portion of land described in Ezekiel 45:1-8.
iii. “During the old dispensation, the Levites were allowed to own land but were scattered throughout Israel so they could minister to the people (Joshua 21). Genesis 49:5–7; 34:25–31 suggests that this scattering was also a form of discipline.” (Wiersbe)
2. (6) The portion for the whole house of Israel.
“You shall appoint as the property of the city an area five thousand cubits wide and twenty-five thousand long, adjacent to the district of the holy section; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel.
a. Appoint as the property of the city: The city of Jerusalem will have an appointed portion.
b. It shall belong to the whole house of Israel: The city of Jerusalem itself will be the heritage of all Israel, not any one particular tribe.
3. (7-8) The portion of the prince.
“The prince shall have a section on one side and the other of the holy district and the city’s property; and bordering on the holy district and the city’s property, extending westward on the west side and eastward on the east side, the length shall be side by side with one of the tribal portions, from the west border to the east border. The land shall be his possession in Israel; and My princes shall no more oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel, according to their tribes.”
a. The prince shall have a section on one side: The prince previously mentioned in Ezekiel 44:1-3 will have his own appointed portion of land.
b. My princes shall no longer oppress My people: The period of time connected to Ezekiel’s temple will be a time of righteousness and just rulership among God’s leaders.
i. “The princes of Israel abandon the sins which their privileged position of influence makes possible and give their attention to their real duty, the promotion of righteousness in the land.” (Taylor)
ii. “The most notable case is found in 1 Kings 21 where Ahab confiscated the vineyard of Naboth (cf. also Numbers 36:7-9; Isaiah 5:8; Hosea 5:10, ASV; Micah 2:1-2). No one will be deprived of his rightful possession in that era of righteousness and justice under Messiah’s benevolent reign.” (Feinberg)
B. The offerings of the temple priests.
1. (9-12) A call for justice and fairness.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people,” says the Lord GOD. “You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah, and an honest bath. The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, so that the bath contains one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; their measure shall be according to the homer. The shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your mina.
a. Enough, O princes of Israel: In the previous lines God spoke of the coming righteous age connected to Ezekiel’s temple, and said it would be a time when princes shall no more oppress the people of God (Ezekiel 45:8). That vision of a future righteousness could inspire the leaders (princes) of Ezekiel’s day to remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing God’s people in their own day.
b. You shall have honest scales: God cares greatly about simple honestly and integrity among men. Scales and every measure should be righteous and fair.
i. “The ephah was the dry measure equal to about eight or nine gallons or one bushel, divided into sixths for calculation purposes. The bath was a liquid measure equal to about nine gallons or ninety-one pints, divided into tenths. A hin was the sixth part of a bath.” (Feinberg)
ii. Honest scales: “Leviticus 19:35-36, Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Proverbs 20:10; Proverbs 20:23, Micah 6:10-11.” (Trapp)
2. (13-17) The offering of the prince.
“This is the offering which you shall offer: you shall give one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of wheat, and one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of barley. The ordinance concerning oil, the bath of oil, is one-tenth of a bath from a kor. A kor is a homer or ten baths, for ten baths are a homer. And one lamb shall be given from a flock of two hundred, from the rich pastures of Israel. These shall be for grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them,” says the Lord GOD. “All the people of the land shall give this offering for the prince in Israel. Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.”
a. This is the offering which you shall offer: God listed a variety of things to be used for offering at Ezekiel’s temple. They included items for grain offerings (wheat, barley, and oil) and for animal sacrifice (lamb).
i. “The people have a responsibility for contributing to the maintenance of the public worship of God. Ezekiel also assumes that one of the prince’s duties is to administer the contributions made by the people.” (Vawter and Hoppe)
ii. To make atonement: “These rituals of atonement were commemorative of the complete and finished work of Christ for sin through the sacrifice of himself. They were in no way efficacious. They were picture-lessons and reminders to the people of their Messiah’s marvelous saving work. What praise and worship they would give to the Lord for his gracious provision for sin as they viewed these sacrificial reminders in worship (cf. Revelation 5:7-14)!” (Alexander)
b. All the people of the land shall give this offering to the prince in Israel: God’s appointed leader (likely David, according to Ezekiel 34:23-25, 37:25; Isaiah 55:3-4; Jeremiah 30:8-9; Hosea 3:5) would receive these offerings of the people so that he could offer them to the LORD on their behalf.
3. (18-20) Atonement for sins done in ignorance.
‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gateposts of the gate of the inner court. And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance. Thus you shall make atonement for the temple.
a. You shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary: Ezekiel described the cleansing sacrifices for the temple.
i. “There is nothing of this in the Mosaic law; it seems to have been a new ceremony. An annual purification of the sanctuary may be intended.” (Clarke)
ii. “Even the temple needs to be ‘cleansed’ once a year (Ezekiel 45:18-19, cf. Hebrews 9:23) because its ministers are human and sinful, and even though they have kept from deliberate sin, there is much that contaminates (Ezekiel 45:20, cf. Psalm 19:12).” (Wright)
b. So you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance: These will be the memorial sacrifices to recognize the ongoing need for cleansing and the separation between the holy and the profane.
i. “Twice a year the sacred ceremony of cleansing the sanctuary was to be performed, on the first day of the first month, and on the first day of the seventh month.” (Morgan)
ii. “There is no special Day of Atonement in the Millennium. That special day had its full fruition in the special day of efficacious atonement provided by Christ on the cross.” (Alexander)
iii. Unintentionally or in ignorance: The King James translates this the erring and the simple. “There was to be special thought of the erring and simple; for these two characters a special offering was made. Perhaps the erring were too hardened and the simple too obtuse to bring an offering for themselves; but they were not forgotten… Whenever we draw around the altar of God, whether in the home or church, we should remember the erring and simple.” (Meyer)
4. (21-25) The Passover offering.
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And on that day the prince shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering. On the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the LORD, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, daily for seven days, and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. And he shall prepare a grain offering of one ephah for each bull and one ephah for each ram, together with a hin of oil for each ephah. “In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall do likewise for seven days, according to the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the oil.”
a. You shall observe the Passover: Among the feasts celebrated at Ezekiel’s future temple will be Passover. God’s redemption of Israel from Egypt and His greater redemption through the work of Jesus on the cross will always be remembered.
b. A feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten: The feast of unleavened bread was connected with Passover and will also be celebrated.