Ezekiel 43 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
Ezekiel's vision of the future Milliennial Kingdom continues. The previous chapters (ch. 40 - 42) have provided a detailed foreview of the Millennial Temple. Thus far, the focus has been on the physical design or pattern of this place. In this chapter, we begin to see the purpose of the place, and we are introduced to the altar of sacrifice and its order of service.
- The Return of the Glory of the God of Israel (v.1-12)
1. Afterward he brought me to the gate,
[even] the gate that looketh toward the east:
2 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east:
and his voice [was] like a noise of many waters:
and the earth shined with his glory.
3 And [it was] according to the appearance of the vision which I saw,
[even] according to the vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city:
and the visions [were] like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar;
and I fell upon my face.
4 And the glory of the LORD came into the house
by the way of the gate whose prospect [is] toward the east.
5 So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court;
and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
6 And I heard [him] speaking unto me out of the house;
and the man stood by me.
...Behold, the Glory of the God of Israel came... and I fell upon my face...
Ezekiel recognized that the approaching Glory of God was the same as in his previous visions...
  1. when he was called and commissioned near the river Chebar (Eze 1:4-28).
    At that time, as here, Ezekiel fell to the ground, overwhelmed before the LORD's appearance and voice (1:28; 3:23).
  2. when he was prepared to prophesy the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and its cause (ch. 8-11; eg., Eze 8:1-6; 9:1,5).
    At that time, he had watched as the Glory of God departed from the Temple, and from the city, through the eastern gate (Eze 10:4,18-19; 11:22,23).
...the glory of the LORD came into the house by way of the gate... toward the east.
The Glory of the LORD returned in the same way that He had departed. (cp. Acts 1:10-12)
...the glory of the LORD filled the house. (cp. Eze 44:4)
Such is possible only when the house is sanctified for His use, as it was at the dedication of the Tabernacle and also the first Temple (Ex 40:34,35; 1Kin 8:10,11; 2Chr 5:13,14; 7:1-3).
     The Glory of God did not fill the second Temple in this way, at its dedication. However, later, the Glory of God was present in the second Temple, in the Person of Christ. But the people and place were not prepared for Him. Therefore, His visible Glory did not fill the house, in the same sense. Rather, His zeal was observed as He took issue with its uncleanness (cp. Hag 2:6-9; Joh 2:13-17).
[See the Book Notes on Haggai 2:6-9. Use the Book Notes button to return to Ezekiel ch. 43.]
     Yet, at His first coming, Christ "by Himself purged our sins" (Heb 1:3). It was sin which caused the departure of God's Glory. When Israel receives the cleansing which He has provided, the Glory of God will return to dwell in the midst of the people whom He has purified. cp. Isa 40:2,5; 59:20- 60:3
...I heard him speaking unto me out of the house... and the man stood by me.
'The man' {lit., a man} is the angel who served as Ezekiel's guide, in bringing him to this place (v.1; Eze 40:3).
The angelic messenger waited silently, as the LORD spoke to Ezekiel...
7. And he said unto me, Son of man,
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 for ever,
and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, [neither] they, nor their kings,
by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.
8 In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds,
and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them,
they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed:
wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.
9 Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me,
and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
...the place of my throne... the place of the soles of my feet...
Long ago, the LORD chose Jerusalem as the place for His Name, and promised that a time would come, when He would dwell there forever. eg., Psa 132:11-17; Jer 3:17; Zech 2:10-12; 8:3,8
     His Presence will be physical (not merely spiritual, for spirits have no feet), in the Person of the Son of Man who is the root and offspring of David (Isa 11:10; 60:13; Rev 22:16).
...where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever.
For a short time, following the original sanctification of the Tabernacle, the LORD did dwell among His people (Ex 29:44-46). But Israel had separated themselves from Him, by their persistent sinful rebellion and apostasy.
     When He comes again, everything about His people and city will be "holiness unto the LORD." Zech 14:20,21
...my holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile... (v.7; cp. Eze 39:7)
This requires a radical transformation of the people who previously defiled His name...
  • by their whoredom...
    Their 'whoredom' refers to Israel's spiritual adultery, in seeking the favor of the false gods and ungodly political powers of the nations. Eze 23:1-4,36-39
  • ...by the carcases of their kings in their high places... in their setting of their threshold by my thresholds... their post by my posts...
    Israel had made room for heathen idols, in the LORD's Temple. eg., Eze 5:11; 8:3-16; 2Kin 21:4-7
       "The carcases {HB=peger, limp, lifeless} of their kings" may refer to the bodies of ungodly kings buried in honor within Jerusalem, or more likely, to the lifeless idols to which the nation had submitted themselves (cp. Lev 26:30; Isa 26:13,14). The name of the idol, Molech, means 'king.'
       The LORD could not dwell in the midst of such a corrupt people. Therefore, He would first cleanse them of all impurity (Joel 3:17,21). This requires truly deep cleansing, for the corrupt 'life of the flesh' is 'in the blood' of every sinner. The old sinful nature cannot be cured. It must be destroyed. This could be accomplished by nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who bore our sin, and its penalty (Mat 26:28; Rom 6:3-10).
...now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings...
...and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
This, like the statement in v.7b ('my holy name shall they no more defile...'), is not a command, but a promise {ie., 'now shall they put away...'}. The fulfillment of this promise does not rest upon Israel's ability to obey, but rather, upon God's Grace by which He will place His Spirit in the new hearts which He will give them, when they recognize and receive their Messiah (Eze 36:24-28).
     These things will be realized, at the end of Daniel's seventieth week (the Tribulation period), when Israel's iniquity will be finished, reconciled, and exchanged for true righteousness. Then, the Most Holy Place in the Temple will be anointed with the Glory of the LORD's Presence (Dan 9:24).
10 Thou son of man, shew the house {ie., the Temple}
to the house
{ie., the nation} of Israel,
that they may be ashamed of their iniquities:
and let them measure the pattern.
11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done,
shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof,
and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof,
and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof,
and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof:
and write [it] in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof,
and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.
12 This [is] the law of the house;
Upon the top of the mountain
the whole limit thereof round about [shall be] most holy.
Behold, this [is] the law of the house.
...shew the house {ie., the Temple} to... Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.
For repentant Israel {ie., those who are ashamed of their former perversity}, the pattern of this Temple will be instructive. This word for 'pattern' is broader than the word that is used elsewhere in describing the physical characteristics of the Tabernacle or Temple (eg., in Ex 25:9,40 and 1Chr 28:11,12,18,19, 'pattern' is HB=tabniyth, design, structure). Here, the word is HB=tokniyth, sum, consummation. This word occurs only here and in Eze 28:12 {translated 'sum'}.
     The 'sum' of this Temple includes, not only the physical design, but also all that takes place within it, as listed in v.11. In that verse, the word 'form' occurs four times. The basic meaning of this word is 'rock' {HB=tsooraw, rock, fem.}. The lessons which the people will learn, by observing the features of this Temple and its worship, are founded upon the smitten Rock (Ex 17:6 is the first occurrence of this word {HB=tsoor, rock, masc.}), and are meant to cause His people to rest fully upon Him, for He is the Rock of their salvation (see 'rock' in Deu 32:4,13,15,18,30,31,37).
The "Law of the House" is distinct from the Law of Moses.
  • The moral Law of Moses declared the holiness of God
    and the exclusion of sinners from His Presence,
    because sinful men fall short of His righteousness (Rom 3:19,20,23).
  • The ceremonial Law of Moses identified the penalty for sin (death),
    and pointed to the remedy (the death of a substitute, for the remission of sins).
    Those sacrifices temporarily covered, but could not take away sin. They foreshadowed a greater sacrifice. Lev 17:11; Heb 10:4-7; Rom 3:21-26
  • The Law of this House {the Millennial Temple} declares the sum (the total sufficiency)
    of the Grace of God, which has brought salvation,
    teaching us to live for Him who died for us (eg., Titus 2:11-13; Gal 2:20).
    God's Grace is declared in the details of the structure, in the service of worship, in that which proceeds from this place, in those who enter into it, and in all of its ordinances {ie., statutes, decrees}.
       The Law of the House is summarized in v.12. Everything about this place, including the people who worship there, will be 'most holy' {lit., 'holy holy'}, because He by Himself purged away sin (Heb 1:3). A reminder, of His historic and completed work, is at the very center of this place.
- The Pattern of the Altar of Burnt Offerings (v.13-17)
13. And these [are] the measures of the altar after the cubits:
The cubit [is] a cubit and an hand breadth;
even the bottom [shall be] a cubit, and the breadth a cubit,
and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about [shall be] a span:
and this [shall be] the higher place of the altar.
14 And from the bottom [upon] the ground [even] to the lower settle
[shall be] two cubits, and the breadth one cubit;
and from the lesser settle [even] to the greater settle
[shall be] four cubits, and the breadth [one] cubit.
15 So the altar [shall be] four cubits;
and from the altar and upward [shall be] four horns.
16 And the altar [shall be] twelve [cubits] long, twelve broad,
square in the four squares thereof.
17 And the settle [shall be] fourteen [cubits] long
and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof;
and the border about it [shall be] half a cubit;
and the bottom thereof [shall be] a cubit about;
and his stairs shall look toward the east.
This Altar is much larger than the portable altar built by Moses for the Tabernacle (Ex 27:1-8),
and about the same size (at its base, but twice the height) as the altar which Solomon made for the Temple (2Chr 4:1). Those altars were made of brass (or, wood covered with brass). But here, the materials are not specified. Therefore, some speculate that it will be made of stone.
The above description of the pattern of the altar employs three different words for 'altar.'
  • HB=mizbeach, a raised place of slaughter (in v.13, also in v.18,26,27, below).
    This is the usual word for the altar of burnt sacrifice. It is the word used in Ex 27 and 2Chr 4, cited above.
  • HB=harel, lit., mount of God (v.15)
    In v.15, the first occurrence of 'altar' {'altar hearth' in NASB} is translated from two words together {'ariel harel}. Neither word is used elsewhere in relation to an altar. These two words, together, identify 'the hearth of the mount of God'.
  • HB='ariel, hearth, or, lit., 'lion of God' (v.15,16)
    (in v.16 and also the second occurrence of 'altar' in v.15, the word 'ariel, by itself, refers to the 'hearth' or 'altar'.)
    In Isa 29:1,2, this word occurs four times. The city, which had been 'Ariel (the lion of God), became the hearth of God, in the heat of His wrath against their sin.
       The altar in the Millennial Temple will declare that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is the Lamb of God. In Him, the fire of God's righteous wrath consumed and put away sin. Because of His sacrifice, Jerusalem will again become the holy mount of God, where He can dwell among His holy people forever. Joh 1:29; Rev 5:5-6,9-10
This Altar's central location, orientation and ascent, all speak of Christ's sacrifice.
In the Tabernacle and First and Second Temples, the altar...
  • ...did not occupy the perfect center of the compound, as it will in the Millennial Temple.
    • In the Tabernacle, the altar was placed at the door of the outer court,
      indicating that approach to the Holy God begins with the execution of the penalty for sin (death).
    • At the first and second Temples, the altar was placed before the door of the Temple building, near the center of the 'Court of Israel.'
      But because the temple platform included additional courts and porches, the altar was offset from the physical center. While it was of central importance to Israel's worship, many peripheral activities often obscured its essential purpose. eg., Joh 2:13-17; Mat 21:12,13
  • ...was approached from the south via a ramp, but in that future Temple, it will be ascended from the East via steps {v.17, HB=ma'alech, ascents, incline, stairs (as in Ex 20:26); the same root word is translated 'ascend' in Psa 24:3-5}.
    Only the King of Glory, the One who departed to the east, and who will return from there, could ascend that hill to obtain our salvation (Psa 24:7-10).
- The Preparation and Purpose of the Altar of Burnt Offerings (v.18-27)
18 And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD;
These [are] the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it,
to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon.
19 And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok,
which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD,
a young bullock for a sin offering.
20 And thou shalt take of the blood thereof,
and put [it] on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle,
and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it.
21 Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering,
and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
22 And on the second day
thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering;
and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse [it] with the bullock.
23 When thou hast made an end of cleansing [it],
thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish,
and a ram out of the flock without blemish.
24 And thou shalt offer them before the LORD,
and the priests shall cast salt upon them,
{Lev 2:13}
and they shall offer them up [for] a burnt offering unto the LORD.
25 Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat [for] a sin offering:
they shall also prepare a young bullock,
and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.
26 Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it;
and they shall consecrate themselves.
27 And when these days are expired, it shall be,
[that] upon the eighth day, and [so] forward,
the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar,
and your peace offerings;
and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.
...the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok...
In the Millennial Temple, the privilege and responsibility of offering sacrifices, will belong to the sons of Zadok {meaning 'just' or 'righteous'} (Eze 40:46; 44:15,16; 48:11). This position, of honor, will be given to them because of their faithfulness to the LORD, during times of spiritual decline and apostasy (eg., 1Sam 2:27-36; 1Kin 2:26,27,35). This will be discussed further in the notes at Eze 44:15,16.
...the altar... to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon...
The thought, that bloody sacrifices will again be offered during Christ's Millennial Kingdom, has confounded many Christians. The Scriptures clearly teach that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin (Heb 10:4), and that Christ has offered Himself as the one sufficient sacrifice for sins, once for all (Heb 10:11-14). Because, in Him, the remission of sin has been accomplished, no additional offering for sin is required (Heb 10:18). Moreover, those who reject the sufficiency of Christ's finished work, and seek self-justification through the Law, are without an effective sacrifice for sin, and are under the judgment of God (Heb 10:26-29). How then, can bloody sacrifice be a part of future Temple worship?
     Yet, OT Scripture plainly teaches that animal sacrifices will be offered in the future, at two distinct periods.
  1. In the Tribulation Temple -
    This Temple will be rebuilt and its worship renewed, according to the Mosaic Law, as allowed (for a brief time) by the covenant established 'with many' by the Antichrist (Dan 9:27). This period is described in Isa 66:1-4. The LORD will regard those sacrifices as 'abominations,' because the worshippers have rejected the sacrifice of His Son. Rather than believing His Word and receiving the righteousness which He has provided (in Christ), many will deceive themselves with their chosen way (cp. 2The 2:11,12).
       Yet, there will be some, who refuse to follow that error, because they believe God's Word. At that time, those true believers will be mocked (for their expectation of Christ's return in glory) and will suffer persecution, even from their Jewish brethren (Isa 66:5). When Christ does return, their persecutors will be judged severely, and they will enter into His Millennial Kingdom with joy (Isa 66:6-14-f).
  2. In the Millennial Temple -
    During the Millennial Kingdom, God will accept the bloody sacrifices offered upon His altar. (v.27; See Eze 20:40,41; Isa 56:6-8; 60:7; Jer 33:15-18; Zech 14:16-21 - None of these prophecies were fulfilled in the second Temple. All await the Millennial Temple.)
       These sacrifices will not be offered to secure the remission of sins. Rather, they will be offered in remembrance of the one sufficient sacrifice, offered once for all, by Christ at His first coming. In OT times, the sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle and in the first and second Temples looked forward to that sacrifice. In the church age, while there is no continuing sacrifice (Hos 3:4), believers remember His sacrificial death, at the Lord's Table (1Cor 11:23-26). In the Millennial Kingdom, sacrifices will be offered in memorial of His finished work of salvation.
       Why will this memorial be necessary, when Christ Himself will be present among His people? Consider these reasons:
    1. Christ will be present in great Glory.
      His own glory will obscure the depth of His former humiliation and the weight of the price which He paid to redeem His people. The blood upon this altar, in the very center of the Temple complex, will continually remind worshippers that His costly sacrifice is the basis of their salvation (Isaiah 53).
    2. Children, born into Adam's race during the Millennial Kingdom, will be sinners in need of the new birth (Joh 3:3-7).
      Yet, they will grow up in an era when sin and its consequences are muted, by Christ's reign of righteousness (Isa 65:19-25). Death, the wages of sin, will only rarely raise its ugly face. To that generation, the bloody sacrifices will declare and illustrate the price of sin and the necessity of personally receiving God's provision of redemption, through faith in Christ, our Redeemer.
...seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall 'consecrate themselves' {lit., 'fill its hand,' ie., consecrate it}...
Seven is the number of completion or perfection. After seven days of purging, the altar would be totally cleansed and purified, and set apart for its holy service to the LORD. The altar in the Tabernacle and in Solomon's Temple were also prepared with similar seven day dedication ceremonies (Ex 29:35-37,44; 2Chr 7:8,9).
     Of those two altars, greater detail is provided regarding the consecration of the altar in the Tabernacle (see Lev 8:14-35). A comparison of that cermony with the one presented here (v.18-27) reveals similarities and differences.
  1. Similarities -
    • Seven days duration.
    • Prescribed sacrifices include: a sin offering and a burnt offering (in that order) every day for seven days.
  2. Differences -
    • In Leviticus ch. 8, the priests and the altar were consecrated together.
      Here, the altar alone is being consecrated. (The sanctification of the priests will be discussed in ch. 44.)
    • In Leviticus, there is a third type of sacrifice for the consecration of the priests, a portion of which was eaten by the priests. (The procedure was similar to that prescribed for the peace offering.) This signified personal acceptance before God and communion with Him.
      Here, there is no similar offering, because the altar is not a person.
    • In Leviticus, three sacrifices are offered on each of the seven days
      (a bullock for a sin offering, a ram for a burnt offering, a second ram for a consecration offering).
      Here, the sin offering is doubled on days one and two, with additional animals.
      Also, on all seven days, two burnt offerings are offered.
      • on the first day, a bullock for a sin offering, v.21
      • on the second day, a kid of the goats for a sin offering, v.22
      • all seven days: a goat for a sin offering, and a young bullock and a ram for a burnt offering (v.23-25)
      The sin offering typifies Christ, who took our sin and its penalty upon Himself.
      The burnt offering typifies Christ, who gave Himself entirely to do the Father's will.
         The 'doubling' of sacrifices may emphasize the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, to satisfy the guilt of His people (eg., Isa 40:1,2). Any additional significance, in the number of offerings and the animals chosen, will be clearly understood in that day. (Meanwhile, we will avoid speculation.)
...upon the eighth day, and so forward... your burnt offerings... and your peace offerings;
and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.
Here is another very significant difference. Compare v.27 with Lev 9:1-4.
After seven days, the altar was fully consecrated and prepared for its purpose. The eighth day marked its entrance into regular service.
  • In Leviticus, the altar of the Tabernacle would be used from that day onward,
    for sin offerings, burnt offerings and peace offerings.
  • But the altar of the Millennial Temple will be for 'burnt offerings' and 'peace offerings.'
    There is no further need for a sin offering, because Christ's one sacrifice has taken away sin. The believer is 'accepted' before the Father, in His beloved Son (Eph 1:6,7). The sacrifices in the Millennial Temple will be in remembrance and thanksgiving for what He has accomplished for His people, rather than to obtain 'atonement' {ie., covering} for sin.
       Yet, as we will see in ch. 44-45, some 'sin offerings' will be offered during the Millennial Kingdom. These sacrifices will not be efficacious. Rather, as the sacrifices of OT times were symbolically prospective {forward looking}, these sacrifices will be symbolically retrospective of Christ's one effective sacrifice for sin. Such 'sin offerings' will be expressions of worship and thanksgiving, for the Lamb of God who took away our sin, completely.
[For an overview of the various types of OT sacrifices, see the study on Christ in the Tabernacle, Lesson 5 - The Offerings. (This study is also accessible through the Resource Menu.)]
[The diagram of the Altar, above, was adapted from TBKC.]
[The original source is unknown for the oblique view of the Temple. This diagram has been edited.]

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