Today: [Ezekiel 43] Measuring the Altar, Foreshadowing the Coming of Christ. In chapter 42 of Ezekiel the glory of God in the east once more appears to the prophet. The east is almost always associated with the coming of Christ. The purpose of this appearance of God’s glory is to show Ezekiel that this same glory fills the temple (which you are) and then to give dimensions for the altar in the outer court, whose dimensions serve as a predictive timeline for the coming of Christ.
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[Eze 43:1-27 KJV] 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. 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. 10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house 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. 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.
Throughout chapter 41-42 God is describing to Ezekiel what is known as the restoration temple. It is initially revealed by a great mountain (thought to be Mt. Zion) with a wall framed around a large area described as a city but not specifically identified as Jerusalem. The gate that is mentioned in verse 1 of the current chapter could be assumed to be the east gate of this framed city. The east is a direction often associated with the coming of the Lord. Jesus Himself speaks of the manner of His coming as from the east:
[Mat 24:27 KJV] 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
In 1517 Suleiman the Great conquered Jerusalem and in the course of his occupation ordered that the ancient walls of the city be rebuilt. During the rebuilding, rumors were that the rebuilding project was a preamble to the return of the Messiah. To thwart the Messianic hopes of the Jewish citizens of the city, Suleiman the Great ordered the eastern gate to be sealed and bricked up which is also predicted to happen in the prophecies of Ezekiel.
Isa. 41:2 calls the Messiah “the righteous man from the east”. Zec. 8:7 describes salvation coming for the people from the east as well. The magi in Matt. 2:2 discerned the coming of the Messiah in connection with the appearance of what they called an eastern star. The very first mention of the east as a direction is found in Gen. 2:14 stating that the river Hiddekel flowed out of Eden to the east. When God stationed angels to bar the way to the garden of Eden, they were stationed in the east. This is more than a geographical coordinate. The word for “east” in Hebrew is also connected with that which is “in front” everything else it is mentioned in connection with and also a word used to describe something very ancient. The east then is a metaphor for eternity. When Jesus comes He will be stepping out of eternity into time to establish His glory and set up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem at long last according to Messianic promise and tradition.
It is fitting then that Ezekiel looks toward the east and he sees the glory of God as it originally appeared on the plain of Chebar. When we describe the glory and speak of the glory even in an Old Testament setting, we refer back to Col. 1:26-27 that we know it is something of the glory that God placed on the inside of us as “Christ in us, the hope of Glory…” When Ezekiel sees the glory, the spirit that was in the glory picked him up and took him to the inner court (the holy place) of the restoration temple, and Ezekiel sees that that same glory fills the temple. So the glory comes from the east, out of eternity, coming as lightning from east to the west and completely fills the holy place, the inner court which is a type of the human soul. Notice it doesn’t fill the outer court. The glory of God is more than something we feel physically. It filled the inner court which is a type of the soul realm where mind, will and emotion reside.
As Ezekiel comes to the inner court, he hears the voice of God speaking to him out of the glory while a man, the angel with the measuring reed stands by him silently witnessing along with Ezekiel what is taking place. The voice of God declares to Ezekiel that in this temple, He will place the soles of His feet for an eternal dwelling place, because of which Ezekiel is to command the people to put away all idolatry and whoredom from the midst, and even the carcasses of their kings are to be placed far from the temple where God dwells. This speaks to the intrusion of the kings of Judah at various times into the Holy Place, when they attempted to coopt the authority of the priests and presume upon themselves control of the temple and the priesthood from time to time in Judah’s history. Ezekiel is then commanded to shew the plan of the house to the elders that are in Chebar to provoke them to shame because of the idolatry that still runs rampant even among the captives who were spared death and sent into captivity in Babylon.
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, 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.
Verses 13-27 describe the laws concerning the restoration of the altar which is described in great detail. The altar that Solomon was commanded to build was of bronze, according to 1 Kings 8:64. Ezekiel’s altar is described as made of stone, standing over 20 feet tall, made up of three slabs of successfully lesser size from bottom to top like an Egyptian pyramid or Babylonian ziggurat. The hearth for fire at the top of the altar is alternatively translated as the mount of God or as the “lion of God” with four horns round about it. In three different places these horns on the altar were used as a refuge of last resort to an accused person, thus we hear on occasion men using the term “laying hold on the horns of the altar” in prayer.
The 3 slabs constructing the altar of successively small size from bottom to top, or larger dimensions from top to bottom speaks to us of the dispensation of man, also reflected in the dimensions of Moses tabernacle in the wilderness. In the tabernacle in the wilderness, the outer court measured a number of square cubits corresponding to the number of years between Adam and Jesus (4000 years); and the inner court square cubits were 2000 (speaking of the number of years from Jesus to the beginning of the 7th millennia from creation) which corresponds to our day; and the Holy of Holies, which measures 1000 square cubits which corresponds to the 1000-year reign of Christ. This is a direct prophetic intimation of the apocalyptic timeline of the seven 1000 year days of God suggesting that we are in the transition time between the church age and the millennium.
The chapter concludes with instructions for the priests to conduct a seven-day purification of the altar by which they would consecrate themselves for the 8th day (v. 27) when God would accept them. This speaks to us of the 7 days of God’s 1000-year timeframe in His dealings with men, when afterwards we step across the threshold of time into eternity when (if we have been consecrated by the blood of the sacrifice) the Father says that He will accept us. Nothing else will do. Only the blood of God’s sacrifice typified in animal sacrifice, ratified and fulfilled by Jesus upon the cross brings us safely across the threshold of eternity into the trackless future with God for time and eternity.
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