Ezekiel 43-46
(Return of the Glory of the LORD)
September 8th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Then he led me to the gate facing east, and there was the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east! His voice was like the roar of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.

The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the vision I had seen by the river Chebar—I fell on my face.

- Ezekiel 43:1-3 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

These chapters continue the story of Ezekiel’s visionary visit to the temple. Chapter 43 begins with a vision of the return of the Glory of the LORD through the East Gate, thus reversing the course recorded earlier in Ezekiel. Then, Ezekiel records that the Spirit of the LORD brought him into the inner temple where he heard God’s voice. God explained that he will live there forever and will never again allow it to be defiled. He told Ezekiel to explain to the people the details of the design so that they could faithfully build it and follow the rules of the temple.

The LORD described the dimensions of the altar and the requirements for sacrifice. In chapter 44 he described one gate reserved for the prince:

    Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.

    Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.

    It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.

    - Ezekiel 44:1-3 (King James Version)

The LORD explained the special privileges of the descendents of Zadok, who had remained faithful. By contrast, the other Levites had sinned and strayed. They would be allowed to serve in the temple, but not at the sacrificial table. The Zadoks were given special rules for their uniforms and grooming. The whole set of priests were given additional roles as judges and had special requirements for marriage.

In chapter 45, the LORD describes the division of the land in the city. The LORD commanded the princes of Israel to use accurate weights and measures and to fulfill sacrifices according to specific instructions. The LORD also described requirements for monthly and annual sacrifices.

Chapter 46 describes additional rules for the opening of the gates and other offerings. At the end of the chapter the LORD showed Ezekiel the kitchens where the priests would prepare sacrifices.

Reflection and Application

Some themes in this book seem clearer than others. On the clear side is the growth in responsibility for Ezekiel and the Zadoks, who were loyal to God over the long term and received their rewards on earth. Ezekiel had the honor of participating in several key visions such as the one described here and the Zadoks were given the role of facing God with the sacrifices.

In his eponymous book Ezekiel appears to have lived a flawless life, but he probably had his shortcomings, just like the rest of us. Nevertheless, he always did what God commanded (except when he negotiated minor changes to the command). He even had to put aside his need to mourn his beloved wife in order to do the LORD’s work. We may not be as flawless as Ezekiel, but we can seek to do our best to listen for God and do whatever he tells us.

The Zadoks persisted in their righteous lives even when everyone else was joining the popular crowd that sinned and rebelled against God. We too face peer pressure and can remember the persistence of the Zadoks and their reward.

On the more nebulous side is the statement from the LORD that the Temple will never again be defiled or destroyed and that the LORD will live there forever: “ ‘He said: “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever’ (Ezekiel 43:7 - NIV).” Students of the Bible and history know that the surviving remnant of Israelites who returned to Jerusalem built a new Temple after returning from exile, but it was eventually destroyed by the Romans. Present day visitors to Jerusalem can observe that the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the site of the Temple centuries after the destruction of the Temple. The Muslims believe this is the location from which Muhammad rose to heaven. It is one of the most holy sites in Islam.

How do we reconcile these historical and present-day facts with the statements in Ezekiel’s vision? One explanation is that the people did not fulfill their part of the deal - again. Therefore, the LORD's presence did not persist. Another explanation is that God was describing a Temple that is yet to be built – one that is built at the end of times. At that time the Messiah will come through the East Gate.

The East gate was considered sacred because it is the one that the LORD came through. Only the prince could go through it on certain occasions – but not on every day. What can we apply from this observation? When the LORD forbids us to do something (go through a doorway in our lives) we must hold firm, because he knows what will happen.

For additional reflection on this vision of Ezekiel, we recommend an essay by Steven Coxhead, visiting lecturer in Hebrew and the Old Testament at the Sydney Missionary and Bible College. Vision of the New Temple

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. In what types of rebuilding projects have you been involved?
    2. What assignments is God asking you to carry out today?
    3. How would you explain the meaning of these passages?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven we know you reign forever in heaven and earth. Help us to worship you always.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Historians and Archeologists

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Ezekiel 47-48 (Conclusion of Ezekiel)

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