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Go to Bible: Ezekiel 42
“the way of the north gate.” That is, the way that led from the inner court to the outer court through the north gate. The angel could have used the east gate or south gate, but used the north gate.
“set of rooms.” The Hebrew is more literally “room,” but here it is a collective singular.(top)
|Eze 42:2||- (top)|
“a gallery facing a gallery in three stories.” Exactly how this is structured and looks is debated, but there are 30 sets of three stories of rooms, one on top of the other, for a total of 90 rooms. The purpose of these rooms is not described, but it seems they could be for the priests who minister there.(top)
“on the inside.” The text is not clear about this. “On the inside” of what? The courtyard? Or the text could be saying “on the inner side” (cp. NRSV).(top)
|Eze 42:5||- (top)|
|Eze 42:6||- (top)|
“And there was a wall that ran outside in front of the rooms.” Although the purpose of this wall in front of the rooms is not stated, it is likely that it screened the rooms from worshipers and gave some privacy to the priests in the rooms.(top)
“For the length of the rooms.” This is the length of all the rooms, not the length of one room.(top)
|Eze 42:9||- (top)|
“At the beginning of the wall of the court toward the south.” This is the reading of the Septuagint, which makes good sense and is accepted by many scholars and is in some English versions (cp. NAB; NET; NIV; NLT; RSV. The NRSV put the rooms in the passageway, but not in the wall). The Masoretic Hebrew text became corrupted in copying and reads “In the width of the wall of the court toward the east.” However, it does not seem that the wall would have been wide enough to have rooms in it, but more to the point is that Ezekiel 42:11-12 mentions the rooms to the south, while no other verse mentions rooms that were in the wall, and from the context, the wall ran north-south, so “east” does not seem to fit well either.(top)
|Eze 42:11||- (top)|
“on the east side.” This entrance allowed people to enter the passageway from the east side.(top)
“eat the most holy things...the grain offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering.” In the Millennial Kingdom, the Temple and its practices will be restored. There will again be a physical Temple with Jesus as High Priest, and there will be other priests and Levites, and sacrifices and offerings.
The exact reason for the restoration of the Temple system and the sacrifices that go with it is never explained in the Bible, but the text is clear that it is restored (cp. Ezek. 43:18-27; 44:15, 27; 45:17-25; 46:2-24; ). But since Jesus is the one-time offering for sin for all time (Heb. 7:26-27; 9:11-14, 22-28; 10:11-14), it is unclear why the offerings for sin are restored. There will be “natural people” in the Millennial Kingdom, and they will sin and need to be forgiven, but that happens today without Levitical priests and physical sacrifices, so why would those physical sacrifices be reestablished?
Scholars have set forth some theories, such as the sacrifices might be memorial offerings, and that might be the case if the offerings are correctly understood. Until the death and resurrection of Christ, when the Temple and sacrificial system were superseded by the work of Christ, animal sacrifices prefigured the work of Christ and provided a temporary covering for sin. However, it is important to understand that the offerings and sacrifices were never sufficient in and of themselves to take away sin. The sacrifices had to be offered in sincerity of heart and with trust in God to be accepted. That sincerity and trust were represented by the salt of the covenant, which was offered along with every offering (Lev. 2:13), and which was a way of proclaiming, “What I am saying and doing is true and sincere.” In the same way, therefore, it could possibly be in the Millennium that the sacrifices and sin offerings will be a way of demonstrating one’s trust in God that Jesus’ sacrifice could and did take away sin (although salt will be used on at least some of the Millennial sacrifices as well; Ezek. 43:24).
It could be that the sin offerings in the Millennial Kingdom will be a way of restoring the fellowship relationship between the sinner and Jesus Christ. Although today we do not offer a sin offering when we sin, we do have to confess our sin to be cleansed from sin and thus have our relationship with the Lord fully restored. It is important for the restoration of our relationship with God and Jesus that we confess our sin (1 John 1:9). In the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus Christ will be personally present and the presence and blessings of God abundantly clear all over the earth. If a person sins in those conditions, it seems logical that the Lord would want more from the sinner than simply saying, “I’m sorry,” although that would be necessary also. If a person sinned, having to sacrifice a sin offering would be costly in both time and the cost of the animal, and almost surely make the person think hard about sinning again, and the sacrifice would also point to the value of the completed work of Christ, who saves from sin.
Another possible reason that God is going to restore the system of sacrifices and offerings is that it was the primary way that the priests and Levites had always lived and eaten. As we see in Ezekiel 42:13 and Ezekiel 44:29-31, the priests will eat of the offerings and sacrifices just as they had always done since the Mosaic Law had established the priestly system. So it seems that if God is going to reestablish the Temple, priests, and Levites, which the Bible says He is going to do, then He must either change the way the priests and Levites will be sustained and fed, or reestablish the system of offerings and sacrifices as it had always been. Verses such as Ezekiel 42:13 show us that God is going to reestablish the sacrificial system and that the priests will at least in part live off that system just as they have always done. Thus, the Bible lets us know that one function of the sacrificial system in the Millennial Kingdom will be to sustain the priests and Levites. The priests eating meat in the Millennial Kingdom will not be unusual. People will eat meat in the Millennial Kingdom (Isa. 25:6).
However, although we know that the priests and Levites will be at least sustained in part by the sacrificial system, that does not tell us why God reestablished it in the first place. We know that God says in a number of places, not just in Ezekiel, that there will be a physical Temple in the Millennial Kingdom and Jesus will be the High Priest (cp. Isa. 56:7; Zech. 6:12-15; Ps. 110:4), but since there is no Temple now and people are forgiven and saved, why reestablish the Temple system? The Bible does not tell us, so we can offer logical possibilities, but we do not know for sure.
[For more on the Millennial Temple being a literal temple, see commentary on Ezek. 40:5. For more information about salt being offered with the sacrifices, see commentary on Lev. 2:13. For more information on the sacrifices of wicked people being of no value, see commentary on Amos 5:22. For more information about the natural people being in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Matt. 25:32, which is about the “Sheep and Goat Judgment”].(top)
“they must not go out of the holy place into the outer court.” The priests who ministered in the Temple and in the inner courtyard were not to go into the outer courtyard with the clothes they ministered in, but were to leave them in the sacred space of the inner courtyard, no doubt in one of the buildings there.
“the area that is for the people.” The Hebrew reads more literally, “that which is for the people,” but it is speaking of going out of the inner court into the area of the outer court of the Temple, where all the people are.(top)
“the inner house.” That is, the Temple building itself, not including the area around it, the outer court. The angel takes Ezekiel through the outer court to exit the Temple complex, but the outer court is not mentioned in Ezekiel 42:15, it is not important in this context. Here, as often, the Temple is called the “house.” It is the house of Yahweh.
“he brought me out.” Now the angel takes Ezekiel out of the Temple complex so that the entire Temple complex can be measured, and it is 500 cubits (875 feet; c. 267 meters) on each side.
“the gate that faced toward the east.” The east gate was the most important gate in the Temple, the sunrise shone through it.(top)
“He measured on the east side with the measuring reed, 500 cubits.” The distance on each side of the Temple is 500 royal cubits (about 285 yards or 260 meters), and thus almost 3 football fields long on each side (for more on measurements in the Millennial Kingdom, see commentary on Ezek. 48:8). It is interesting that the angel does not start with the outer wall of the Temple and give its total dimensions at the beginning of the tour. This shows us that what is important is getting an understanding of inside the Temple, where the activity is, and only secondarily understanding exactly how the Temple looks. We also get that idea from the fact that we have no heights of what is in the Temple. With the exception of the height of the outer wall, we do not know the height of any of the inner structures, including the inner Temple itself.
The angel used the measuring rod to measure the outer wall, but the total measurement is given in cubits. The scholars disagree about whether or not the internal measurements of the Temple match the 500 cubits, but we can assume it does, and Daniel Block (NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel) shows how that can be done: Depth of the Eastern exterior gate, 50 cubits. Distance between the exterior and inner gates, 100 cubits. Depth of the inner Eastern gate, 50 cubits. Depth of the inner Temple court 100 cubits. Length of the temple with auxiliary structures, 100 cubits. Depth of the restricted area at the rear of the temple 20 cubits. Depth of the binyān (inclusive of the walls), 80 cubits. Total distance east to west 500 cubits.(top)
“500 cubits.” The distance on each side of the Temple is 500 cubits (875 feet; c. 267 meters).(top)
|Eze 42:18||- (top)|
“Then he turned around to the west side.” The west side was the least important side of the Temple. Unlike the north, east, and south sides, it had no gates leading to it and the back of the Temple faced to the west.(top)
“500 cubits.” The distance on each side of the Temple is 500 cubits (875 feet; c. 267 meters), almost 3 football fields (900 feet) on each side. In this closing statement about the measurements of the Temple, the text is not interested in repeating all the measurements it had given earlier, but simply repeating that the length and width of the Temple compound were the same, as had been stated earlier. What is important is the closing statement, that the Temple compound had a wall around it to separate the holy areas from the common areas outside the wall.(top)