About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Chapter  40, 41, 42

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ch. 40    ch. 41   ch. 42

Chapter 40


I will not comment on each verse in this section of Scripture.  Many commentators don't even attempt to comment on these chapters because it is hard to figure out. 


The first thing to note is that many, if not most, Bible teachers suggest there is a 13 year period of time in Ezekiel's visions that have taken place between the vision of chapters 38 and 39 to the vision of chapters 40 through 48.


Note verse 1 of chapter 40 gives the reference point to this vision.  It was in the twenty fifth year of Israel's seventy year exile.  Not even half of the time period of the exile had elapsed. 


Note also that this vision was given to Ezekiel fourteen years after the fall of the city.  The city is in reference to Jerusalem.  What we need to understand here is that there were three major times when Babylon took Jews captive to Babylon.  The city did not fall when Babylon first took captives.  There was an eleven year period after that first captivity to the fall of Jerusalem. 


Verse 1 also speaks of "the hand of the Lord being upon " Ezekiel.  What a moment that must have been.  For those Christians who have experienced the presence of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, we might be able to imagine this to a degree, but I believe this was one powerful time in Ezekiel's life, as was the other times we have seen when the hand of the Lord came on him. 


In the first five verses of Ezekiel 40 we see that Ezekiel is taken to Israel in a vision.  We need to note that this was a vision, and not a literal transportation to Israel.   He ends up on a mountain and to the south he sees a city with buildings.  The text does not say the name of the city.  As we read on, I think it is safe to say that what Ezekiel saw was not familiar to him.  If it was, I think he would have noted that.  Ezekiel also saw a man with a measuring stick.  This man told Ezekiel to take careful notes and tell to Israel what he saw in the vision. 


What Ezekiel saw was probably meant to be an encouragement to the Jews who were in the midst of captivity.  They were not in their own land.  They had lost their capital city and the temple.  This vision would show Israel that what they lost, would yet be recovered. 


In the measurements that you will read in these chapters, you will see the word "cubit" mentioned often.  The general consensus is that a cubit is at least 18 inches long, and possibly as long as 24 inches.  Thus the measuring rod that is in the hand of the man in the vision is from 9 to 12 feet long.


What we see in Ezekiel 40, 41, and 42 is a very detailed examination and measuring of a temple.  Three whole chapters are designated to the measurements of all aspects of this temple.  You have to admit that the man showing Ezekiel this temple was very exact, leaving nothing out.  This was the blueprint to some kind of temple. 


The obvious question is, "what does this mean"?  As I've said, many Bible teachers ignore this passage. Others who don't ignore it have differing ideas to the passage's meaning.  Some people take this temple to be symbolic.  For those who see this as symbolic, there are a number of suggestions what this is symbolic of.  The number one symbolism is the church at the end of this age.  The problem with taking any part of Scripture symbolically is that there are countless interpretations to the symbolism.  


I can't see that this temple is meant to be taken symbolically, mainly because of the detailed measurements given.  We have similar details given to build the tabernacle in Moses' day, and it was meant to be built.  I believe this temple is a literal temple.


For those who believe this is a literal temple, the next question is, "what temple is this"?  Some suggest that it is Solomon's Temple , but that can't be because the blueprint to this temple does not match the blueprint to Solomon's Temple.  Some suggest this is the temple that was built after the 70 year exile and then rebuilt by the Roman king named Herod.  That can't be either.  Again, the blueprints don't match up.  Still others see some kind of comparison to the New Jerusalem described at the end of Revelation, but again, the blueprints don't match up.  Some suggest that this temple is built by Jews at the end of this age.  There might be a bit of merit to this, but I question this position.  If you hold to this position, you must realize this temple is not built on the site of the Old Testament temple. It's actually built north of the city as we will see later.   


There is a large number of Bible teachers who see this temple as what they call the "Millennial Temple" that they say will be built in the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth, after the Great Tribulation that ends this age.  I lean towards this thinking.  That being said, there are some difficulties to overcome with this perspective.


I believe we need to realize that Ezekiel's visions throughout this book have been in chronological order, and if that is so, then these chapters must take place after the war of chapters 38 and 39, which could easily put chapters 40 to 48 in the thousand year rule of Christ. 


One of the biggest concerns people have with this temple being the  Millennial Temple is found in chapter 40, verses 38 to 43.  Here we see the measurements of a room the has been designated to kill animals for sacrifices.  The question is thus asked, "why would there be sacrifices in the Millennium when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice once and for all as the Book of Hebrews so often states.  The only real answer that can be given is that these sacrifices are not meant to take away sin, or look forward to the cross of Christ that took away sin, but like Christian communion, is to be a memorial, looking back to the cross of Christ. 


We will see later in chapter 43, verses 10 and 11, that the temple and all that takes place in the temple, including the sacrifices, is to remind Israel of their past sin and cause them to be ashamed of that sin.  Every time a lamb is killed they would feel the shame of sin, turn to the Lord, see what He did on the cross, and fall in worship and thankfulness to Jesus.   


One thing I think we should understand about the Millennium is that during this period of time, Israel will be on earth, living as it was meant to live all along.  That would mean, the dictates of the Law of Moses would be carried out, but not in a sense of looking forward to the cross, but looking backwards to the cross.  Israel would finally obey the Old Testament decrees of the Lord that they were meant to obey. 


You might ask, "where does that leave the Gentile Christian"?  The Gentile Christian was never under the Law of Moses in the first place.  These things probably don't apply to us in the Millennium.  The Gentile Christian, or the church, might well be living the way in which they were meant to live during the age of grace. 


To add to the confusion of this passage we need to note that in the description of these things there are some apparent omissions that would have been in the Old Testament Temple.  We see no high priest mentioned here. Among some other things, there is no arc of the covenant.  One possible explanation is that this temple differs from the Old Testament temple because the Lord Jesus is actually in the midst of His people. 


We see no high priest, but we do see someone who is called a prince, that in my opinion, seems to do some of the duties of the high priest.  That being said, why have a high priest when you have Jesus in your midst.  


A couple of other things to note concerning the temple is that there is no silver or gold in this temple.  Items that were covered in gold are now made of wood only. 


Note in chapter 40, verse 7, that there is an alcove for guards in this temple.  This tells us something.  This temple is not the New Jerusalem on the new earth.  There will be no need for guards then, but apparently there will be need for guards in the thousand year rule of Christ.


Note chapter 40, verse 22, the mention of "palm tree decorations".  This is just one of countless examples of how exact this temple is described.  This can't be a symbolic temple. 


Note in chapter 40, verses 39 and 40 the mention of burnt offerings.  This is what causes many problems for Bible teachers.  Why are there burnt offerings if this is the temple in the thousand year rule of Christ?   As I have stated earlier, the only explanation would be that these offerings are looking back to the cross in memorial.  They are not offerings made to forgive sin.    



Chapter 41


Note chapter 41, verse 5.  The walls of the temple were 6 cubits thick.  That's 9 to 12 feet thick.  These are thick walls, as is most of what is concerned here with the temple.  The temple is built extremely solid, maybe to withstand an attack at the end of the thousand year rule of Jesus, or possibly another earthquake.


Note chapter 41, verse 19.  This verse speaks of carvings of palm trees and cherubim.  Each cherub had two faces, one of a man and one of a lion.  The could well represent Jesus, the man, and the lion of the tribe of Judah, meaning God.  Jesus, as it has been said, "is the God/man".


Chapter 42


Chapter 42 continues with the detailed measurements of the temple and other buildings associated with it.  One thing we need to note about this temple is that there are many other buildings that make up the temple complex.  There is more than one building.  This is one major complex.

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