“Therefore thus says the LORD GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name… And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the LORD GOD.” - Ezekiel 39:25 & 29
Ezekiel had been a part of the first wave of 10,000 exiles in 598 B.C., and for twelve of those years he gave witness – from far away – to Jerusalem’s final defeat. He would have watched the next wave of exiles come, settle, take wives and have sons and daughters. For thirteen years, since this last promise of God pouring out His Spirit on the house of Israel, Ezekiel’s pen had been silent.
Today, in the 25th year of exile, the hand of the LORD again is strong upon him. It takes Ezekiel to the land of Israel, to a very high mountain, where there is a structure like a city, and a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. We’ve seen him before. Ezekiel had seen him two decades ago, in the Temple, showing all the evil that men had devised there.
He has a new vision in store. The Temple that had been burned, its treasures carried to Babylon, had been built anew. The abominations, the engravings, the idols of the house of Israel – all have disintegrated. In their place is a new Temple, the throne of the LORD, administered by the sons of Zadok.
Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Ezekiel 40 through 44. Now let’s read it!
Ezekiel 40 - 44
40:1 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me to the city. In visions of God he brought me to the land of Israel, and set me down on a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. When he brought me there, behold, there was a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. And he was standing in the gateway. And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”
And behold, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple area, and the length of the measuring reed in the man's hand was six long cubits, each being a cubit and a handbreadth in length. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one reed; and the height, one reed. Then he went into the gateway facing east, going up its steps, and measured the threshold of the gate, one reed deep. And the side rooms, one reed long and one reed broad; and the space between the side rooms, five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the vestibule of the gate at the inner end, one reed. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, on the inside, one reed. Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and its jambs, two cubits; and the vestibule of the gate was at the inner end. And there were three side rooms on either side of the east gate. The three were of the same size, and the jambs on either side were of the same size. Then he measured the width of the opening of the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gateway, thirteen cubits. There was a barrier before the side rooms, one cubit on either side. And the side rooms were six cubits on either side. Then he measured the gate from the ceiling of the one side room to the ceiling of the other, a breadth of twenty-five cubits; the openings faced each other. He measured also the vestibule, sixty cubits. And around the vestibule of the gateway was the court. From the front of the gate at the entrance to the front of the inner vestibule of the gate was fifty cubits. And the gateway had windows all around, narrowing inwards toward the side rooms and toward their jambs, and likewise the vestibule had windows all around inside, and on the jambs were palm trees.
Then he brought me into the outer court. And behold, there were chambers and a pavement, all around the court. Thirty chambers faced the pavement. And the pavement ran along the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates. This was the lower pavement. Then he measured the distance from the inner front of the lower gate to the outer front of the inner court, a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side.
As for the gate that faced toward the north, belonging to the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth. Its side rooms, three on either side, and its jambs and its vestibule were of the same size as those of the first gate. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. And its windows, its vestibule, and its palm trees were of the same size as those of the gate that faced toward the east. And by seven steps people would go up to it, and find its vestibule before them. And opposite the gate on the north, as on the east, was a gate to the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate, a hundred cubits.
And he led me toward the south, and behold, there was a gate on the south. And he measured its jambs and its vestibule; they had the same size as the others. Both it and its vestibule had windows all around, like the windows of the others. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. And there were seven steps leading up to it, and its vestibule was before them, and it had palm trees on its jambs, one on either side. And there was a gate on the south of the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate toward the south, a hundred cubits.
Then he brought me to the inner court through the south gate, and he measured the south gate. It was of the same size as the others. Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. And there were vestibules all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits broad. Its vestibule faced the outer court, and palm trees were on its jambs, and its stairway had eight steps.
Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side, and he measured the gate. It was of the same size as the others. Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. Its vestibule faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.
Then he brought me to the north gate, and he measured it. It had the same size as the others. Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and it had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. Its vestibule faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.
There was a chamber with its door in the vestibule of the gate, where the burnt offering was to be washed. And in the vestibule of the gate were two tables on either side, on which the burnt offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering were to be slaughtered. And off to the side, on the outside as one goes up to the entrance of the north gate, were two tables; and off to the other side of the vestibule of the gate were two tables. Four tables were on either side of the gate, eight tables, on which to slaughter. And there were four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high, on which the instruments were to be laid with which the burnt offerings and the sacrifices were slaughtered. And hooks, a handbreadth long, were fastened all around within. And on the tables the flesh of the offering was to be laid.
On the outside of the inner gateway there were two chambers in the inner court, one at the side of the north gate facing south, the other at the side of the south gate facing north. And he said to me, “This chamber that faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the chamber that faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who alone among the sons of Levi may come near to the LORD to minister to him.” And he measured the court, a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits broad, a square. And the altar was in front of the temple.
Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the jambs of the vestibule, five cubits on either side. And the breadth of the gate was fourteen cubits, and the sidewalls of the gate were three cubits on either side. The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the breadth twelve cubits, and people would go up to it by ten steps. And there were pillars beside the jambs, one on either side.
41:1 Then he brought me to the nave and measured the jambs. On each side six cubits was the breadth of the jambs. And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits, and the sidewalls of the entrance were five cubits on either side. And he measured the length of the nave, forty cubits, and its breadth, twenty cubits. Then he went into the inner room and measured the jambs of the entrance, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits; and the sidewalls on either side of the entrance, seven cubits. And he measured the length of the room, twenty cubits, and its breadth, twenty cubits, across the nave. And he said to me, “This is the Most Holy Place.”
Then he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits thick, and the breadth of the side chambers, four cubits, all around the temple. And the side chambers were in three stories, one over another, thirty in each story. There were offsets all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side chambers, so that they should not be supported by the wall of the temple. And it became broader as it wound upward to the side chambers, because the temple was enclosed upward all around the temple. Thus the temple had a broad area upward, and so one went up from the lowest story to the top story through the middle story. I saw also that the temple had a raised platform all around; the foundations of the side chambers measured a full reed of six long cubits. The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits. The free space between the side chambers of the temple and the other chambers was a breadth of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side. And the doors of the side chambers opened on the free space, one door toward the north, and another door toward the south. And the breadth of the free space was five cubits all around.
The building that was facing the separate yard on the west side was seventy cubits broad, and the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.
Then he measured the temple, a hundred cubits long; and the yard and the building with its walls, a hundred cubits long; also the breadth of the east front of the temple and the yard, a hundred cubits.
Then he measured the length of the building facing the yard that was at the back and its galleries on either side, a hundred cubits.
The inside of the nave and the vestibules of the court, the thresholds and the narrow windows and the galleries all around the three of them, opposite the threshold, were paneled with wood all around, from the floor up to the windows (now the windows were covered), to the space above the door, even to the inner room, and on the outside. And on all the walls all around, inside and outside, was a measured pattern. It was carved of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Every cherub had two faces: a human face toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the whole temple all around. From the floor to above the door, cherubim and palm trees were carved; similarly the wall of the nave.
The doorposts of the nave were squared, and in front of the Holy Place was something resembling an altar of wood, three cubits high, two cubits long, and two cubits broad. Its corners, its base, and its walls were of wood. He said to me, “This is the table that is before the LORD.” The nave and the Holy Place had each a double door. The double doors had two leaves apiece, two swinging leaves for each door. And on the doors of the nave were carved cherubim and palm trees, such as were carved on the walls. And there was a canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside. And there were narrow windows and palm trees on either side, on the sidewalls of the vestibule, the side chambers of the temple, and the canopies.
42:1 Then he led me out into the outer court, toward the north, and he brought me to the chambers that were opposite the separate yard and opposite the building on the north. The length of the building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty cubits. Facing the twenty cubits that belonged to the inner court, and facing the pavement that belonged to the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories. And before the chambers was a passage inward, ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long, and their doors were on the north. Now the upper chambers were narrower, for the galleries took more away from them than from the lower and middle chambers of the building. For they were in three stories, and they had no pillars like the pillars of the courts. Thus the upper chambers were set back from the ground more than the lower and the middle ones. And there was a wall outside parallel to the chambers, toward the outer court, opposite the chambers, fifty cubits long. For the chambers on the outer court were fifty cubits long, while those opposite the nave were a hundred cubits long. Below these chambers was an entrance on the east side, as one enters them from the outer court.
In the thickness of the wall of the court, on the south also, opposite the yard and opposite the building, there were chambers with a passage in front of them. They were similar to the chambers on the north, of the same length and breadth, with the same exits and arrangements and doors, as were the entrances of the chambers on the south. There was an entrance at the beginning of the passage, the passage before the corresponding wall on the east as one enters them.
Then he said to me, “The north chambers and the south chambers opposite the yard are the holy chambers, where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings. There they shall put the most holy offerings—the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering—for the place is holy. When the priests enter the Holy Place, they shall not go out of it into the outer court without laying there the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They shall put on other garments before they go near to that which is for the people.”
Now when he had finished measuring the interior of the temple area, he led me out by the gate that faced east, and measured the temple area all around. He measured the east side with the measuring reed, 500 cubits by the measuring reed all around. He measured the north side, 500 cubits by the measuring reed all around. He measured the south side, 500 cubits by the measuring reed. Then he turned to the west side and measured, 500 cubits by the measuring reed. He measured it on the four sides. It had a wall around it, 500 cubits long and 500 cubits broad, to make a separation between the holy and the common.
43:1 Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.
“As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out. This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.
“These are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): its base shall be one cubit high and one cubit broad, with a rim of one span around its edge. And this shall be the height of the altar: from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, two cubits, with a breadth of one cubit; and from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge, four cubits, with a breadth of one cubit; and the altar hearth, four cubits; and from the altar hearth projecting upward, four horns. The altar hearth shall be square, twelve cubits long by twelve broad. The ledge also shall be square, fourteen cubits long by fourteen broad, with a rim around it half a cubit broad, and its base one cubit all around. The steps of the altar shall face east.”
And he said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: These are the ordinances for the altar: On the day when it is erected for offering burnt offerings upon it and for throwing blood against it, you shall give to the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok, who draw near to me to minister to me, declares the Lord GOD, a bull from the herd for a sin offering. And you shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the ledge and upon the rim all around. Thus you shall purify the altar and make atonement for it. You shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and it shall be burned in the appointed place belonging to the temple, outside the sacred area. And on the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering; and the altar shall be purified, as it was purified with the bull. When you have finished purifying it, you shall offer a bull from the herd without blemish and a ram from the flock without blemish. You shall present them before the LORD, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD. For seven days you shall provide daily a male goat for a sin offering; also, a bull from the herd and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be provided. Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it. And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer on the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, and I will accept you, declares the Lord GOD.”
44:1 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”
Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD. And I fell on my face. And the LORD said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the LORD and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary.
“Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple and ministering in the temple. They shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before the people, to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their punishment. They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my holy things and the things that are most holy, but they shall bear their shame and the abominations that they have committed. Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its service and all that is to be done in it.
“But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me. And they shall stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord GOD. They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge. When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments. They shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers. And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments. They shall not shave their heads or let their locks grow long; they shall surely trim the hair of their heads. No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only virgins of the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. In a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my Sabbaths holy. They shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person. However, for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. After he has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. And on the day that he goes into the Holy Place, into the inner court, to minister in the Holy Place, he shall offer his sin offering, declares the Lord GOD.
“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house. The priests shall not eat of anything, whether bird or beast, that has died of itself or is torn by wild animals.