Ezekiel 40-48

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 17, 2005


We now enter a new section in the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel will be taken in a vision to the future and will be given a detailed preview of a new Temple.

Keep in mind that Ezekiel was a priest. More than most people, Ezekiel will understand what he’s looking at.

Ezekiel 40

:1-5 New City and Temple

:1 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.

It’s April, 573 BC. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed 13 years earlier.

:2 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.

:3 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.

It would appear that this is an angel. Some have suggested this is “The Angel of the Lord”, or, the Lord Himself. In Eze. 44:2, it’s possible that this same person is speaking, but is called “The LORD”.

The line of flax will act like a measuring tape, the rod like a yardstick.

:4 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."

Ezekiel is supposed to pay attention and record everything that happens.

:5 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.

cubit – normally a cubit is equivalent to 1 ½ feet. But these cubits are going to be a bit bigger, closer to 1 ¾ feet.

The temple

Keep in mind that there is no longer a Temple in Ezekiel’s day.

It could be that this is meant to be an encouragement that God is not finished with His people.

Which Temple is Ezekiel describing?

Is it Solomon’s Temple?
The dimensions that Ezekiel will give are for a much larger temple.
Is it Zerubbabel’s Temple?
Zerubbabel will be the chief person behind the rebuilding of the Temple after the Babylonian captivity. Yet there is no record that they even paid attention to these instructions. Herod’s Temple was Zerubbabel’s temple, but re-modeled.
Is it symbolic?
Some have suggested that this section is all symbolic and it doesn’t represent the Temple, but the church.
The problem with this is the passage itself. There are several chapters that get very detailed giving dimensions of a literal, physical, building. It will describe staircases, paving, rooms, wood paneling, all things that speak of a literal building.
Is it future?
We believe it is something still in the future – and there are one or two Temples that will still be built.
The Tribulation Temple

By all indications in prophecy, there will have to be a Temple in existence during the Tribulation. The antichrist will have to enter the Temple, stop the sacrifices, and claim to be God. This is the event known as the “abomination of desolation” (Mat. 24:15). We believe this is the Temple that John saw in Revelation 11. It is unique in that it’s Outer Court has been “given over to the Gentiles”. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Ezekiel’s Temple.

The Millennial Temple

The best possibility is that this is the Temple that will exist during the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. This may be a completely unique Temple, or a re-modeled version of the Tribulation Temple.

:6-16 Eastern Gateway

At this point Ezekiel starts describing this future Temple. It seems that he must be following the angel around and as the angel measures each part of the Temple complex, Ezekiel records what is being described.

In this section, Ezekiel records the measurements of the gateway that faces east. He describes stairs, vestibules, gateposts that are decorated with palm trees, rooms that line the walls, and beveled windows in the rooms.

:6 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.

:7 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.

:8 He also measured the vestibule of the inside gate, one rod.

:9 Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and the gateposts, two cubits. The vestibule of the gate was on the inside.

:10 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.

:11 He measured the width of the entrance to the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits.

:12 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.

:13 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.

:14 He measured the gateposts, sixty cubits high, and the court all around the gateway extended to the gatepost.

:15 From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the vestibule of the inner gate was fifty cubits.

:16 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.

:17-19  The Outer Court

Then Ezekiel makes his way into the “Outer Court”, where he describes the pavement and the rooms that surround the courtyard.

:17 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.

:18 The pavement was by the side of the gateways, corresponding to the length of the gateways; this was the lower pavement.

:19 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.

:20-27 North and South Gate

Ezekiel moves to describe the two gateways, one that faces north and the other that faces south. He describes the measurements, along with the archways, gateposts decorated with palm trees, and the stairs leading to the gate.

:20 On the outer court was also a gateway facing north, and he measured its length and its width.

:21 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.

:22 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.

:23 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.

:24 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.

:25 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.

:26 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.

:27 There was also a gateway on the inner court, facing south; and he measured from gateway to gateway toward the south, one hundred cubits.

:28-37 Into the Inner Court

Ezekiel is then taken into the inner court from the south. The inner court is where the sacrifices are performed.

Ezekiel then records measurements and describes the courtyard, how it’s lined with arches and rooms, gateposts decorated with palm trees, the rooms have windows.

:28 Then he brought me to the inner court through the southern gateway; he measured the southern gateway according to these same measurements.

:29 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.

:30 There were archways all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide.

:31 Its archways faced the outer court, palm trees were on its gateposts, and going up to it were eight steps.

:32 And he brought me into the inner court facing east; he measured the gateway according to these same measurements.

:33 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.

:34 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.

:35 Then he brought me to the north gateway and measured it according to these same measurements;

:36 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.

:37 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.

:38-43 Inner Court Specifics

Then Ezekiel begins to describe some of the specific things in the inner court where the sacrifices are made. He describes the placement of the tables where animals are slaughtered for the various sacrifices. At least some of the tables (vs. 42) are made of stone (it makes me think of the C.S. Lewis book, The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, where Aslan is slain on a stone table). On some of the tables he sees some of the knives and other instruments used for the sacrifices. He describes hooks where the meat is hung. He sees animal flesh on the tables.

:38 There was a chamber and its entrance by the gateposts of the gateway, where they washed the burnt offering.

:39 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.

:40 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.

:41 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.

:42 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.

:43 Inside were hooks, a handbreadth wide, fastened all around; and the flesh of the sacrifices was on the tables.

:44-46 Rooms Assignments

Then Ezekiel describes what some of the rooms are to be used for. Some of the rooms are for the singers in the temple. Other rooms are for the priests who are in charge of the temple. Other rooms are for the priests who are in charge of what happens on the altar.

:44 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.

:45 Then he said to me, "This chamber which faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple.

:46 "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."

:47-49 Court and porch measurements

Then Ezekiel records the dimensions of the inner court (100 cubits x 100 cubits) and describes the porch (or, vestibule) leading up into the Temple itself. There are steps going up to the Temple and pillars on either side of the doorposts. Solomon’s Temple had two huge bronze pillars outside its doors.

:47 And he measured the court, one hundred cubits long and one hundred cubits wide, foursquare. The altar was in front of the temple.

:48 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.

:49 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.

Ezekiel 41

:1-4 Sanctuary Entrance

Then Ezekiel measures the doorway into the Temple and the Holy of Holies. In Solomon’s Temple, the Holy of Holies was 20 cubits x 20 cubits. This one is the same, except these cubits are apparently larger than normal cubits (Eze. 40:5).

:1 Then he brought me into the sanctuary and measured the doorposts, six cubits wide on one side and six cubits wide on the other side; the width of the tabernacle.

:2 The width of the entryway was ten cubits, and the side walls of the entrance were five cubits on this side and five cubits on the other side; and he measured its length, forty cubits, and its width, twenty cubits.

:3 Also he went inside and measured the doorposts, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits high; and the width of the entrance, seven cubits.

:4 He measured the length, twenty cubits; and the width, twenty cubits, beyond the sanctuary; and he said to me, "This is the Most Holy Place."

:5-11 Rooms on the wall

Then Ezekiel describes a group of rooms that are built onto the Temple wall. Apparently the wall gets narrower the higher it gets, almost like a stairway. The rooms are built onto this stairway-like structure and as the wall gets narrower the higher it goes, the rooms get wider the higher they go. There are thirty of these rooms, built in three stories.

:5 Next, he measured the wall of the temple, six cubits. The width of each side chamber all around the temple was four cubits on every side.

:6 The side chambers were in three stories, one above the other, thirty chambers in each story; they rested on ledges which were for the side chambers all around, that they might be supported, but not fastened to the wall of the temple.

:7 As one went up from story to story, the side chambers became wider all around, because their supporting ledges in the wall of the temple ascended like steps; therefore the width of the structure increased as one went up from the lowest story to the highest by way of the middle one.

:8 I also saw an elevation all around the temple; it was the foundation of the side chambers, a full rod, that is, six cubits high.

:9 The thickness of the outer wall of the side chambers was five cubits, and so also the remaining terrace by the place of the side chambers of the temple.

:10 And between it and the wall chambers was a width of twenty cubits all around the temple on every side.

:11 The doors of the side chambers opened on the terrace, one door toward the north and another toward the south; and the width of the terrace was five cubits all around.

:12 Neighbor building

There is a large building that Ezekiel sees to the west of the Temple.

:12 The building that faced the separating courtyard at its western end was seventy cubits wide; the wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length ninety cubits.

:13-26 General Temple Description

Ezekiel records the overall measurements of the Temple (100 cubits, or, 175 feet) and the various courtyards. Ezekiel notes that the inside of the Temple is all paneled with wood, and the window frames are also made of wood. He notes that there’s a decoration theme inside the Temple with alternating cherubim and palm trees. Each cherub is described as having two faces, one face of a man and one face of a lion.

It seems that there is only one piece of furniture inside the Temple (vs. 22), an altar that’s 3 ½ feet square and 5 ¼ feet high. It’s possible this is the altar of incense.

The doors into the Temple are made of two wooden folding panels each, also decorated with the cherubim/palm tree theme.

:13 So he measured the temple, one hundred cubits long; and the separating courtyard with the building and its walls was one hundred cubits long;

:14 also the width of the eastern face of the temple, including the separating courtyard, was one hundred cubits.

:15 He measured the length of the building behind it, facing the separating courtyard, with its galleries on the one side and on the other side, one hundred cubits, as well as the inner temple and the porches of the court,

:16 their doorposts and the beveled window frames. And the galleries all around their three stories opposite the threshold were paneled with wood from the ground to the windows; the windows were covered;

:17 from the space above the door, even to the inner room, as well as outside, and on every wall all around, inside and outside, by measure.

:18 And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces,

:19 so that the face of a man was toward a palm tree on one side, and the face of a young lion toward a palm tree on the other side; thus it was made throughout the temple all around.

:20 From the floor to the space above the door, and on the wall of the sanctuary, cherubim and palm trees were carved.

:21 The doorposts of the temple were square, as was the front of the sanctuary; their appearance was similar.

:22 The altar was of wood, three cubits high, and its length two cubits. Its corners, its length, and its sides were of wood; and he said to me, "This is the table that is before the LORD."

:23 The temple and the sanctuary had two doors.

:24 The doors had two panels apiece, two folding panels: two panels for one door and two panels for the other door.

:25 Cherubim and palm trees were carved on the doors of the temple just as they were carved on the walls. A wooden canopy was on the front of the vestibule outside.

:26 There were beveled window frames and palm trees on one side and on the other, on the sides of the vestibule; also on the side chambers of the temple and on the canopies.

Ezekiel 42

:1-14 Rooms for Priests

Ezekiel the priest then describes the rooms that are built into the Temple for the priests. It seems he goes into a little more detail in measuring and describing these rooms (perhaps because he is a priest?). These rooms are where the priests are to eat their portions of the sacrifices.

When a priest performed a sacrifice, sometimes the priest was given a special portion of the sacrifice as a sort of payment for his services, depending upon the sacrifice. With some of these priestly portions, the priest couldn’t just take the food home or sell it in the market place. Instead he was to eat it in “a holy place”. That’s where these rooms come in – they were holy places where their portion of the sacrifices were eaten (Lev. 6:16).

:1 Then he brought me out into the outer court, by the way toward the north; and he brought me into the chamber which was opposite the separating courtyard, and which was opposite the building toward the north.

:2 Facing the length, which was one hundred cubits (the width was fifty cubits), was the north door.

:3 Opposite the inner court of twenty cubits, and opposite the pavement of the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories.

:4 In front of the chambers, toward the inside, was a walk ten cubits wide, at a distance of one cubit; and their doors faced north.

:5 Now the upper chambers were shorter, because the galleries took away space from them more than from the lower and middle stories of the building.

:6 For they were in three stories and did not have pillars like the pillars of the courts; therefore the upper level was shortened more than the lower and middle levels from the ground up.

:7 And a wall which was outside ran parallel to the chambers, at the front of the chambers, toward the outer court; its length was fifty cubits.

:8 The length of the chambers toward the outer court was fifty cubits, whereas that facing the temple was one hundred cubits.

:9 At the lower chambers was the entrance on the east side, as one goes into them from the outer court.

:10 Also there were chambers in the thickness of the wall of the court toward the east, opposite the separating courtyard and opposite the building.

:11 There was a walk in front of them also, and their appearance was like the chambers which were toward the north; they were as long and as wide as the others, and all their exits and entrances were according to plan.

:12 And corresponding to the doors of the chambers that were facing south, as one enters them, there was a door in front of the walk, the way directly in front of the wall toward the east.

:13 Then he said to me, "The north chambers and the south chambers, which are opposite the separating courtyard, are the holy chambers where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings. There they shall lay the most holy offerings; the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; for the place is holy.

:14 "When the priests enter them, they shall not go out of the holy chamber into the outer court; but there they shall leave their garments in which they minister, for they are holy. They shall put on other garments; then they may approach that which is for the people."

:15-20 Temple plot dimensions

Ezekiel is now taken outside the Temple where the angel measures the plot of land that the Temple is sitting on. The plot is 875 x 875 feet, roughly three football fields long …

:15 Now when he had finished measuring the inner temple, he brought me out through the gateway that faces toward the east, and measured it all around.

:16 He measured the east side with the measuring rod, five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around.

:17 He measured the north side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around.

:18 He measured the south side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod.

:19 He came around to the west side and measured five hundred rods by the measuring rod.

:20 He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common.

Ezekiel 43

:1-12 God’s glory returns

:1 Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east.

:2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.

:3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw; like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face.

:4 And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east.

In the beginning of the book of Ezekiel (chapters 1,10), Ezekiel had seen a vision of the throne of God with fire, cherubim, wheels, an altar, and coals of fire. In his visions, he saw God’s glory depart from the city of Jerusalem, a precursor to the destruction that was going to come on Jerusalem through the Babylonian invasion.

The glory of God had departed from the eastern side of Jerusalem (Eze. 11:23)

I think it’s interesting to note that the “mountain” to the east of Jerusalem is the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended into heaven, and where Jesus will also return (Acts 1:11-12).

:5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

I was thinking of that move, “The Field of Dreams” and the line that goes, “If you build it He will come …”

Ezekiel has described the Temple, but now the best part comes, God inhabits the Temple.

This same thing happened when Moses built the Tabernacle and when Solomon finished his Temple.

:6 Then I heard Him speaking to me from the temple, while a man stood beside me.

:7 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 children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places.

:8 "When they set their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost by My doorpost, with a wall between them and Me, they defiled My holy name by the abominations which they committed; therefore I have consumed them in My anger.

:9 "Now let them put their harlotry and the carcasses of their kings far away from Me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.

This new Temple will be different from the one that Ezekiel grew up around in Jerusalem.  This one will be “holy”.


A Holy Temple

There is a sense in which we can draw some application from this Temple because the Bible tells us that our bodies are also “Temples”.
(1 Cor 6:15-20 NKJV) Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! {16} Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh." {17} But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. {18} Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. {19} Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? {20} For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
When we came to trust in Jesus, God put His Holy Spirit inside of us, making our bodies the “Temple” of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit living inside us makes us “holy”.  That means that we have now been “set apart” for God’s special use.

It’s like your toothbrush.  Most of us have our own, specific, toothbrush.  Most of us would get grossed out if someone else would use our toothbrush.  How would you feel if your toothbrush fell into the toilet?

Yet that’s what it’s like when allow our “holy” bodies to be used in a way they were not designed to be used.

God wants to be honored in the place that He calls His “house”.

:10 "Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern.

Somehow this description of the Temple is supposed to provoke Israel to shame over their iniquities.

Perhaps they will think about what they’ve lost because of their sin through in the previous captivities.

Perhaps they will be convicted by knowing that despite their sin, God will one day gloriously restore them? God’s kindness leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4)

:11 "And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them.

:12 "This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.

:13-17 Altar Dimensions

Ezekiel then goes back to measuring things. Now he measures the altar of burnt offering out in the courtyard. It’s about 21 feet square and 17 feet high.

:13 "These are the measurements of the altar in cubits (the cubit is one cubit and a handbreadth): the base one cubit high and one cubit wide, with a rim all around its edge of one span. This is the height of the altar:

:14 "from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, two cubits; the width of the ledge, one cubit; from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge, four cubits; and the width of the ledge, one cubit.

:15 "The altar hearth is four cubits high, with four horns extending upward from the hearth.

:16 "The altar hearth is twelve cubits long, twelve wide, square at its four corners;

:17 "the ledge, fourteen cubits long and fourteen wide on its four sides, with a rim of half a cubit around it; its base, one cubit all around; and its steps face toward the east."

:18-27 Altar Consecration

Then Ezekiel describes the rituals that will need to be performed before the altar and the priests can be used for performing sacrifices. The rituals involve the sprinkling of blood, sin offerings and burnt offerings with goats, bulls, and rams. The rituals will last for seven days and on the eighth day the altar and the priests will be ready to perform sacrifices for the people.

:18 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 made, for sacrificing burnt offerings on it, and for sprinkling blood on it.

:19 'You shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priests, the Levites, who are of the seed of Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me,' says the Lord GOD.

:20 'You shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar, on the four corners of the ledge, and on the rim around it; thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it.

:21 'Then you shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and burn it in the appointed place of the temple, outside the sanctuary.

:22 'On the second day you shall offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they cleansed it with the bull.

:23 'When you have finished cleansing it, you shall offer a young bull without blemish, and a ram from the flock without blemish.

:24 'When you offer them before the LORD, the priests shall throw salt on them, and they will offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD.

:25 'Every day for seven days you shall prepare a goat for a sin offering; they shall also prepare a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without blemish.

:26 'Seven days they shall make atonement for the altar and purify it, and so consecrate it.

:27 'When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,' says the Lord GOD."

Ezekiel 44

:1-3 East Gate closed

:1 Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut.

:2 And the LORD said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.

Ezekiel had just recorded how the glory of God had just come through this eastern gate. Now this gate is going to be sealed because God has come through it. No human is going to go through this gate again.

:3 "As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way."

The prince is allowed to eat in the gate, but even he won’t be allowed to go in and out through the gate, he can only get to the gate through the gates foyer.

Who is the “prince”? We’ll look at that when we get to Ezekiel 45.

:4-9 Who can come into the new Temple

Now Ezekiel will talk about who is allowed to go into this new Temple.  Basically, no “foreigners” (vs. 7), no people whose hearts are not right will be allowed into the Temple.

Will that include us?

(Eph 2:13 NKJV) But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

I don’t think we will be considered “foreigners”. We’ve been adopted into God’s family through what Jesus did in dying for us.  He has made us “holy”.  He has made us “accepted” by God.

:10-14 Laws for Levites

The Levites had done things to cause the Israelites to fall away from the Lord, and because of this they won’t be allowed to function as priests. But they will be allowed to continue to serve and help out with the work of the Temple.

:10 "And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity.

:11 "Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, as gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them.

:12 "Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them," says the Lord GOD, "that they shall bear their iniquity.

:13 "And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest, nor come near any of My holy things, nor into the Most Holy Place; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed.

:14 "Nevertheless I will make them keep charge of the temple, for all its work, and for all that has to be done in it.

:15-31 Laws for Priests

Even though these laws are going to be actually aimed at actual, literal priests, descendants of Aaron, descendants of Zadok, there is also a sense in which we can learn from them as well. The Bible tells us that we too function as “priests” before God:

(Rev 1:6 NKJV) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

:15 "But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood," says the Lord GOD.

The fat and the blood were God’s portions of the sacrifice.

The fat was considered “the best” part of the sacrifice.

The blood was considered the “life” of the sacrifice.

:16 "They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge.

they shall come near My table to minister to Me – the Temple had stone tables for the sacrifices. Perhaps this is a picture of a dining table with the priests serving God His dinner.

We too have a “table” we come to, the table that Jesus reclined at during the Last Supper.

God wants us to “minister to Him”. Isn’t it amazing to think that God could be “ministered” to by anything that we could do?

One of the ways we “minister” to God is through prayer and worship.
(Heb 13:15-16 NKJV) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. {16} But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
The early church “ministered” to the Lord…
(Acts 13:1-3 NKJV) Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. {2} As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." {3} Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

And God responded by speaking to them, giving them guidance, and sending them off into ministry.

:17 "And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house.

:18 "They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat.

There is a sense that when we serve the Lord, it is indeed work. Paul talks about Epaphras “laboring” in prayer (Col. 4:12). Paul talks “laboring night and day” (1Th. 2:9) in order to not be a burden to others.

But there is also a sense in which our ministry to the Lord should not be a “labor”. Ministry should be about “inspiration” and not “perspiration”.

In the Tabernacle, everything was to be “anointed” with the special oil, a picture that the Holy Spirit was to be involved in everything that was done.

(Psa 127:1 NKJV) Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

:19 "When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people.

:20 "They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long; but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.

Priests were to have good grooming habits.  It’s good for Christians to have good grooming habits, which reminds me of a story …


Lengthy Sermon

A pastor, known for his lengthy sermons, noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his message. The man returned just before the conclusion of the service. Afterwards the pastor asked the man where he had gone. “I went to get a haircut,” was the reply. “But,” said the pastor, “why didn’t you do that before the service?” “Because,” the gentleman said, “I didn’t need one then.”

:21 "No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court.



Lev. 10 – Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu got into trouble and offered “strange fire” before the Lord and ended up being “toasted”.  Later on we get the impression that they had been tipping the bottle a bit before they were doing their job as priests.
We know that it’s dangerous to drink and drive.
It’s also dangerous to drink and to relate to people:
A drunk is sitting in a bar when a BIG blonde woman sits next to him.  The drunk says, “Hey, ya wanna hear a blond joke?” The blonde says, “Look, I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m not only blonde, I’m over 6’ tall and I weigh over 200 lbs.  In addition to that I’m a member of the police force and a martial arts instructor.  My blonde friend on my left is the first successful female graduate of Navy SEAL training...she’s also blonde.  And our friend to her left is nearly 6 feet 6 inches tall, weighs nearly 300 pounds, is a women’s professional boxer and body builder.  Now, do you still want to tell that joke?” The drunk looks at her incredulously and says, “Nah!  Not if I have to explain three times!”
As much as you think that was a “blonde joke”, if you pay attention to it, the real joke wasn’t on the blonde gals, it was on the drunk.  People do VERY stupid things when they are drunk.
God wants us as priests to have a clear head.
We have a great alternative to drinking:
(Eph 5:18 NKJV)  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

:22-27 Various rules

Various rules are given (actually reiterated from the Law of Moses) concerning the priests, about who they are to marry, how they are to act as the judges over the nation, and how they are not to defile themselves with dead people…

:28 "It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.

:29 "They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs.

:30 "The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest's; also you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house.

:31 "The priests shall not eat anything, bird or beast, that died naturally or was torn by wild beasts.


The best gifts

Priests were supposed to get the best of the firstfruits (vs. 30).  They got the best gifts.
That’s just like the Lord.  He always gives us the best gifts.
Think about these verses:
(Mat 21:22 NKJV)  "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
(John 16:24 NKJV)  "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
(Psa 84:11 NKJV)  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
(Rom 8:31-32 NKJV)  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? {32} He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Now what if you were to ask for something, and you are really trusting that God is able to give it to you, yet you don’t receive it?  What went wrong?
Could it be possible that what you asked for is not the “good thing” (Psa. 84:11)?
What if you feel that God is giving you difficulties?
Could it be possible that those difficulties might be the “good thing” for you?

(Rom 5:3 NLT)  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure.

God gives good gifts.