Ezekiel: Chapter 44
The temple is a very important as the meeting place between the Lord and His people Israel. The various temples that have been, or will be, in Israel's history are shown the following table.
|Name of Temple||Notes||Designed after, or left desolate||The Glory of the Lord is Evident|
|1||Tabernacle||Exodus 25-40||Fashioned after the tabernacle shown to Moses, Exodus 25:9||The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, Exodus 40:34|
|2||The first Temple||The Lord chose Jerusalem that His name might be there, and David to be over His people Israel, 2 Chronicles 6:6||designed by King David and built by King Solomon||The glory of the Lord filled the house, 2 Chronicles 7:1-3|
|3||The rebuilt temple by Ezra||After the foundation of the temple was laid, there was great joy to praise the Lord, and weeping by those who had seen Solomon’s Temple, Ezra 3:11-13|
|4||Herod’s Temple, built to replace Ezra’s Temple||Visited by Jesus during His first visitation, and cleansed twice||The house is left desolate, and Jesus will not be seen again until they say, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, Matthew 23:38-39|
|5||The Tribulation Temple (future)||The Apostle John is given a reed to measure the temple, the altar, and them that worship there Revelation 11:1-2||The court that is without is not to be measured. The temple and the city of Jerusalem are given to the Gentile for the last half of the tribulation to tread under foot|
|6||The Millennial Temple (future)||People around the world will come to build the temple, Zechariah 6:12-15||The plans of the temple are given in Ezekiel 40-48||The glory of the Lord fills the house, Ezekiel 43:1-5|
|7||The Eternal Temple (future)||There was no temple in the New Jerusalem||The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it, Revelation 21:22|
The first four temples have already existed, and the final three, in the yellow fields, have yet to be constructed. The third and fourth temple are actually one in the same. When Ezra led the first wave of exiles from Babylon to return to their land, he led the effort through the Lord's leading, to rebuild the temple. Unlike the tabernacle or King Solomon's dedication of the first temple, the Lord's glory was not evident to the people in Ezra's day. At that time, the Lord was with them as shown in the writings of the prophets.
A distinction is drawn between Ezra's and Herod's temple to draw attention to the Gentile influence over Israel and the temple as its center of worship. Herod, a Gentile, constructed an elegant temple that was built over Ezra's original structure. It was Herod's influence on the temple that gave its appearance during they days of Rome's occupation and rule over Israel. The magnificence of the temple and its grounds during the days of Jesus's first earthly ministry, was commented on by His disciples, giving segue to the Lord to begin his teaching on the end-times in the Olivet Discourse in the gospel according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, see the discussion on this site on the Olivet Discourse. The importance of making a distinction of the Herod's influence over the temple's appearance and outward design, is not that he used this capitol improvement plan to control the Jewish leaders in his day, but it also represented the Gentile's influence over the affairs of Israel in every aspect of their lives. This era over Israel will continue until the days of the Gentiles are fulfilled, as spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ, Luke 21:24, (see the page on this site concerning the times of the Gentiles and the fig tree).
- The topography of the world will have been changed, including the city of Jerusalem, Revelation 16:20
- Jerusalem will be divided into three parts, Revelation 16:18-19
- Though the temple mount is within modern day Jerusalem, during the millennial reign of Christ, the city will be south of the Temple, Ezekiel 40:2
- The Temple will be atop the highest mountain in the area, Ezekiel 40:2
- The temple area was measured with great detail, Ezekiel 40-43
The millennial temple also marks the two advents of the Lord's appearance in this world, among His people Israel.
Christ’s first advent
- He came as a servant, as a lamb to be sacrificed, John 1:36, Hebrews 5:7-10, Revelation 5:6
- He was among the people of His day, to converse with, to be touched, John 1:14
- He created all things, when He came into the world, the world knew Him not, John 1:10-13
- He did not enter into the holy place, or the holy of holies, as he was not born into the line of Levi (priests), but of Judah (kings), Hebrews 7:11-14
Christ’s second advent
- He now returns with all His saints as King of kings, Revelation 19:11-16
- His glory fills the new millennial temple, Ezekiel 43:1-5
- He reestablishes sacrificial worship in His temple, Ezekiel 43:18-27
- He is now the high priest after the order of Melchizedek, Psalms 110:1-7
- All survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will go up year after to year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, Zechariah 14:16-19
Further attributions of Christ’s reign
- There will be no end in the increase of His government and peace, the reign of David’s throne, with justice and righteousness, Isaiah 9:7
- Righteous judgment for the needy and poor, and strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, His breath will slay the wicked, He is righteousness and faithfulness, Isaiah 11:4-5
- The righteous branch who reigns wisely, doing what is just and right in the land, the Lord Our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 33:15-16
- He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory, and all nations will be gathered before him, Matthew 25:31-46
- Christ returns with His rewards, i.e., the three servants and the talents, Matthew 25:14-30
A list of attribution concerning the Lord’s reign is further highlighted in Psalms 72:1-20 concerning His:
- Benefits of His reign
- Godly justice, righteousness, prosperity, defend the afflicted, save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor, Psalms 72:1-4
- Length of His reign
- He will endure as long as the sun and moon, and be like the rain and showers, and the righteous will flourish and the extent of prosperity is tied to the existence of the moon, Psalms 72:5-7
- Influence of His reign
- He rules everywhere, the kings of the gentiles will bring tribute, gifts to Him, bow down and serve the Lord, Psalms 72:8-11
- His merciful reign
- He delivers the needy who cry out, the afflicted who are alone, pity on the weak and needy saving the needy from death, and rescue them from oppression and violence, Psalms 72:12-14
- His blessed reign
- Prosperity and fruitfulness, and all nations will be blessed through Him and they will call Him blessed, Psalms 72:15-17
In Ezekiel 44:1-3, the bronze man takes Ezekiel to the east gate between the inner and outer court. Recall that in Ezekiel 43:5, Ezekiel was lifted into the inner court from the outer court by the Holy Spirit; he did not enter into the inner court via a gate. In this chapter, Ezekiel is again lifted into the outer court near the eastern gate that exits the temple area. Ezekiel observes that the door at this gate is shut. The Lord then spoke to Ezekiel from inside the temple, saying that the gate is to remain shut because the Lord had entered through it. Only the prince may sit inside the portico to eat in the presence of the Lord. Whenever the prince appears to make an offering to the Lord, upon completion of the meal, the prince is to exit through the same gates that he entered through to sit before the Lord.
The identification of the prince has been the focus of many debates. One obvious candidate for the prince is King David, who will be resurrected in the land that was promised by God to Abraham, and confirmed to Isaac and Jacob. David is identified as a prince among the children of Israel during the millennial reign of Christ, Ezekiel 34:23-24. There is an interesting intersection with the prince and what Jesus said concerning the twelve apostles, who were told that they would judge the 12 tribes of Israel, Matthew 19:28-30. It is not stated how this will occur, but the administrative structure of that day, the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, will consist with a prince in his natural state, possibly David in his resurrected eternal body, and the resurrected church who will rule and reign with Christ, in addition to the 12 disciples. This is discussed in this site on Matthew chapter 25, and the constituents are identified on Matthew chapter 25 timelines. Considering the existence of the two categories of peoples, those with their resurrected bodies, and those still in their physical state, it is very likely that David is one of two princes, and he will reign over the resurrected Old Testament saints. The other prince being the one who is the representative of those in their physical state.
In Ezekiel 44:4-5, Ezekiel is taken to the north gate in the inner court. There Ezekiel observed the glory of the Lord filling the temple, and in response, he fell upon his face. The Lord spoke to him from the temple, and charged Ezekiel to pay very close attention to see and listen to everything that the Lord will reveal concerning the regulations regarding the temple of the Lord. He is also to pay attention to the entrance of the temple and all the exits to the sanctuary.
The events recorded in Ezekiel 43:1-27 and Ezekiel 44:1-31 reveal that the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ is established according to the order of Melchizedek as revealed in scripture. Melchizedek, who was both a priest and king, first appeared in scripture in Genesis 14:18-20. He gave bread and wine (representative of the communion looking forward to Christ’s work on the cross) to Abram upon his return from battle to free Lot from his captors.
Psalm 110:1-7 shows that the Lord Jesus Christ is being given dominion as King by the Father. Psalm 110:1-3 shows the Lord conquering His enemies. Psalm 110:4 shows the Lord being identified as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. In Hebrews, it is written that unlike the priestly reign of man through the tribe of Levi continued until that priest’s death, Christ’s priestly duties are eternal since there is no more death, and the Lord is that priest after the order of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:13-17, and Hebrews 7:24-28.
In Ezekiel 44:6-9, the sins of Israel are reviewed against the house of the Lord. Israel is to cease with her detestable practices. In her history, Israel brought foreigners, the uncircumcised in heart, and flesh into God’s sanctuary. Even after the first two conquests of King Nebuchadnezzar against Judah and Jerusalem, and many of the captives (including Daniel and Ezekiel), remained in the land and desecrated God’s temple. At the same time they were giving offerings to the Lord of food, fat and blood sacrifices, breaking God’s covenant with them, Ezekiel 14:1-5. Instead of carrying out their duty to the holy things of God, they hired it out to others. Even after the return of Israel into the land of Israel, their hearts had not changed totally toward the Lord. Nehemiah observed these very acts, in defiance of what was written here in Ezekiel, Nehemiah 13:4-9. The Lord states that His millennial temple will not be desecrated, and that even foreigners, who live among the Israelites, will not be allowed into the God’s sanctuary if they are uncircumcised in heart and flesh, Exodus 12:48-49, and Jeremiah 9:25-26
In Ezekiel 44:10-14, the sins of the Levite's are reviewed against the house of the Lord. Aaron and his sons were tasked by God to distinguish between the holy and common, the unclean and the clean, and to teach the house of Israel all the decrees the Lord had given them through Moses, Leviticus 10:8-11. The consequences that the Levites suffered for not fulfilling what the Lord tasked them to do were:
- They were no longer allowed to enjoy the closeness in the worship and ministry to the Lord
- They are assigned lesser roles in the service of the Lord
- The line of Zadok would gain the privilege of being the ministers to the Lord throughout the millennial reign of Christ
The situation of the Levites is applicable to today’s Christian. The positional distinction of the line of Zadok relative to the rest of the tribe of Levi, can be correlated with the rewards that Christians are promised as we appear before Christ, after the rapture of the Church, Colossians 3:23-24, 1Corinthians 3:12-15, 2Corinthians 5:6-10. Teachers of the law in Christ’s days were warned by Him for the ill practices toward the people that they exercised, Luke 20:46-47. Similarly, preachers and teachers of the Lord will be judged more strictly than others, James 3:1. Not only is there the warning to the preachers and teachers, the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ have been warned on numerous occasions in the New Testament to be aware of false teachers, 2John 1:7-11. They also share in the responsibility to evaluate and check the information presented by visiting teachers, such as the Bereans did with Paul when he appeared among them after being forced out of Thessalonica, Acts 17:10-12.
In Ezekiel 44:15-16, it is noteworthy that God calls out a family of the tribe of Levi who will serve as the priests to minister unto the Lord who are from the line of Zadok. They do not serve as high priest, nor does anyone else since the Lord is the High Priest. To explore the reason for this segregation requires looking back during the time of King Solomon. At that time, one of the two lines of priests to minister before the Lord was removed from that service. During a revolt against King Solomon, a line of priests were not faithful to the king concerning his right to ascend to the throne of David. The decision of King Solomon against one of the family lines of Levi fulfilled the prophecy given generations earlier to Eli. To aptly cover this situation requires a review of Israel's history, back to the days of the judges in the land of Israel, and it will take a moment to develop the picture.
Because the house of Eli had become so corrupt and Eli would not correct his sons, the Lord came against Eli and his family line. The Lord sent a man of God to Eli, and swore that the house of Eli would not partake of the future priestly office for the sins of his house, 1Samuel 2:27-30, 1Samuel 2:35-36.
Some time passed before all that was prophesied came true, but the evidence of this prophecy taking affect upon Eli’s line was evident during King David’s reign as seen in the decline in the numbers of descendants. The initial evidence occurred when King David prepared to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem a second time, following the strict laws of God. The king called both priests Zadok and Abiathar and ordered them to sanctify themselves in preparation to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the city, in accordance with the Laws of Moses, 1Chronicles 15:11-14. Afterwards, King David distributed the duties of the priests, and it was discovered that the sons of Eleazar, from whom Zadok came from, outnumbered the sons of Ithamar who with Eleazar were the sons of Aaron, 1Chronicles 24:1-5.
Much later in time, there was rebellion against King Solomon by his brother Adonijah, in an attempt to prevent him from taking the throne of David his father. Scripture records the final fulfillment of this prophesy against Eli and his family line. Following this failed attempt to revolt against King Solomon, the priest Abiathar, of the line of Eli, was removed from his priestly office, 1 Kings 2:23-27, never to serve in that capacity again. So the Lord has fulfilled His word by placing the seed of Zadok to be the priests out of the line of Levi, to serve before the Lord.
In Ezekiel 44:17-31, This chapter ends with a number of rules that will govern the activities and behaviors of the priests that minister unto the Lord. The Lord is Holy, and all that surrounds Him will be holy, yet sin will be in the world and it will be reckoned with. The priests who minister and approach the Lord must do so in strict obedience to the Word.
- Ezekiel 44:17-18 - When they entered the gates of the inner court they are to wear linen clothes and not woolen garments. They were to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They were not to wear anything that would make them perspire
- Ezekiel 44:19 - When they left the gates of the inner court to the outer court, they were to take off the clothes that they had been ministering before the Lord in, and leave them in sacred rooms. Then they are to put on other clothes when they go to the outer court among the people. Their clothing used in the ministry to the Lord is not to be distracted from the true worship of the Lord, which happened when the Lord judged Israel in the desert during the exodus. In Israel's judgment, God provided a way for healing, a bronze snake on a pole for the people to look upon if they were bitten by the venomous snakes, Numbers 21:6-9. Centuries later, this same instrument was being worshiped by some in Israel, so King Hezekiah had it destroyed, 2Kings 18:4
- Ezekiel 44:20 - They were not to shave their head or let their hair grow long, but to be kept trimmed. A shaved head indicated mourning and they were to remain holy before the Lord, Ezekiel 7:15-18, Leviticus 21:5-6. Long hair indicated a vow of separation to the Lord as a Nazarite, Numbers 6:1-8
- Ezekiel 44:21 - The priests were not to drink wine when they were to enter the inner court. It is interesting that right after the slaying of Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu for offering strange fire before the Lord, that the Lord told Aaron that he and his sons were not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever they went before the Lord, or they would die, Leviticus 10:8-9. To the church today, Paul wrote to Timothy concerning the conduct of the leaders in the church today, not to be given to drunkenness, 1Timothy 3
- Ezekiel 44:22 - They are not to marry widows or divorced women, only virgins of Israelites, or widows of priests
- Ezekiel 44:23 - They were to teach the people the difference between the holy and common, and how to distinguish between the clean and unclean
- Ezekiel 44:24 - They were to judge in any dispute, according to God’s ordinances. They are to keep God’s laws and decrees for all the appointed feasts, and to keep the Sabbaths holy
- Ezekiel 44:25-27 - They were not to defile themselves by going near a dead person Leviticus 21:1-4. There were exceptions for those who were close family members. After having been defiled by the dead, they were to undergo the ritual cleansing process and wait seven days. After the appropriate number of days had elapsed, the priests were to enter the inner court to offer a sin offering for himself
- Ezekiel 44:28-31 - The Lord is the only inheritance for the priests. They are to have no possession in Israel. Instead, they will eat grain offerings, sin offerings, and the guilt offerings. Everything devoted to the Lord will belong to them. The best of the first fruits and all special gifts will belong to the priests, and they are to be given the first portion of the people’s ground meal. They are not to eat anything found dead or torn by wild animals