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Author: Ron Graham

Ezekiel

Ezekiel Chapters 40, 41, and 42
—Outline and Notes

On this page, chapters 40, 41, and 42 of Ezekiel are outlined and analysed. These chapters are about Ezekiel's vision of an ideal temple being carefully measured.

1 Context Overview

For much of their history the Israelites practised idolatry and all the immorality and wickedness that went with it. They “played the harlot” as God put it. They were unfaithful to the LORD. Even when they worshiped him their hearts were far from him.

God finally gave the Israelites over to be conquered by the Assyrians. Later Judah was punished by means of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty king of Babylon and Chaldea. But when the Medes and Persians took over, a remnant of the Israelites, who had been scattered among the nations, returned and resettled the land.

Ezekiel’s prophecies looked forward to the return which took place decades later when leaders like Ezra and Nehemiah, encouraged the Israelites to live holy lives. The temple was rebuilt and its sacrifices restored. It was not as grand a temple as the one Ezekiel sees in his vision; nevertheless, the people based their lives on the temple and its laws and sacrifices. Furthermore, Ezekiel’s vision encouraged God’s people to live in hope for the kingdom of Heaven, the glorious and heavenly Israel to come.

2 Outline of Ezekiel 40‑41‑42

25th YEAR (Ezekiel 40:1).

The Man with a Measuring Rod

The Three Gates (facing east, north, south)

Matching Gates of the Inner Court

Inside the Inner Court

Measuring the Temple

3 Notes on Ezekiel 40, 41, and 42

No gold or precious materials. Although Ezekiel saw a grand temple, nowhere in its description was anything said about gold, precious stones, or precious materials. The temple was made of stone and wood. Perhaps this would help the Israelites to focus on the glory of the LORD rather than on material things.

God still had in mind a temple in Jerusalem. These three chapters are perhaps tedious for us to read, but they would have encouraged the house of Israel still captive in Babylon. Firstly the vision showed that God still had in mind a temple in Jerusalem, a temple built of stone and wood where sacrifices could be offered. This was fulfilled in the reigns of the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius.

A dual fulfillment However this is an example of a class of prophecies in the Old Testament which appear to have a dual fulfillment, that is to say they predict something to take place in the nearer future which relates to something greater that will take place in the distant future. Thus some elements of the prophecy apply to the nearer event, others to the distant event, and some elements may apply to both events. The nearer event is usually the more "earthly" whilst the distant event is more "heavenly".

The nearer fulfillment. With stops and starts, a stone and wood temple was built under Zerubbabel and those who returned with him. First they built an altar and offered sacrifices. Religious reform was implemented by Ezra when more people returned with him. This temple, however, was inferior to the temple of Ezekiel’s vision.

The distant fulfillment. As with many Bible prophecies, there is a second more distant fulfillment in the time of Messiah. Jesus made one sacrifice for sin once and for all. He entered the Most Holy Place in "the greater and more perfect tabernacle" which is not a physical building (Hebrews 9:11-12, 10:19-22). This is symbolised by the temple of Ezekiel’s vision, greater and more perfect than the one actually built.

No ark in the Most Holy Place. There was no ark of the covenant in the temple of Ezekiel’s vision. Only the glory of the LORD filled it. This indicates that Messiah (Christ) would mediate a new and better covenant and abolish the old. His covenant and Holy Spirit would live in human hearts.

Whole numbers in measurements. The man equipped with the measuring rod and line measured everything and every measurement registered whole cubits. There were no fractions except in two instances of a half cubit in the measurement. The stone tables for the burnt offering were one and a half cubits in width and height (Ezekiel 40:42). The altar had a rim of half a cubit (Ezekiel 43:17). This may be a subtle sign that the burnt offerings fall short of providing complete forgiveness. Only the sacrifice of Christ can provide that.

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