The Future *Temple and *Sacrifices
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
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Part Four – Ezekiel 40:1-48:35
The Future *Temple and *Sacrifices
The purpose of these 9 chapters is to give hope to the *Israelites. They were in *exile in Babylon. But the *Lord spoke to them about the future of *Israel. The *Israelites will live in the land that God promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18). Then the *Lord will take away their *sin. They will be his special people. They will be loyal to him and he will be their God.
There will be a new *temple in Jerusalem. The *glory of the *Lord God will fill that *temple. There will be *sacrifices for *worship in that *temple. There will be priests who serve in the *temple. The people will live in the whole land that God promised to Abraham. Each of the 12 *tribes will have a share of that land. There will be shares of the land for the prince, the priests and the city of Jerusalem.
The description of the *temple should make the *exiles ashamed of their *sins (43:10-11). They should appreciate that the *Lord loves them still. He wants to live with them. This should cause them to *turn again to the *Lord their God.
This is a difficult section of the Bible to understand. There are different ways in which some people understand it. Many genuine Christians have opinions about this passage, which are different from my opinions. So, I have tried to explain the reasons for my beliefs. There are 4 main ideas, which I discuss below.
Some people have tried to argue that this *temple has already existed in the past. They say that this *temple was one of the three earlier *temples. Those three *temples were Solomon’s, Zerrubabel’s and Herod’s. But the size and design of the new *temple are quite different to these three *temples. There has never been a *temple that was like the one in this section (chapters 40-42). A river will flow from the *temple (47:1-12). No river has flowed from the previous *temples. Therefore, I believe that the new *temple must be for a future time.
The style of *worship is similar to that in the *Old Testament (chapters 43-46). But it is not the same. There has never been *worship quite like this in the past. Therefore, this style of *worship must be for a future time.
The 12 *tribes will have equal shares of the land (chapters 45, 47 and 48). This has not happened in the past and it cannot happen today. The geography of the region will have to change before this can happen. Therefore, this division of the land must be in the future.
Some people do not believe that there will be a new *temple. They cannot see why there should be any *sacrifices after the death of Jesus. But Ezekiel mentions *sacrifices in the *temple. So, these people believe that this passage is either picture language, or an *allegory. But they interpret it in different ways.
Some people say that these are *allegories of Christian *worship. But the *Lord gave this *vision to Ezekiel for the benefit of the *Israelites. There is nothing in these chapters to make it refer to the church.
Some people think that it shows the *temple in heaven (Hebrews 9:23-24). And other people think that Ezekiel saw an ideal *temple, not a real one. If they are right, then the purpose of the *vision was to teach the *Israelites about *worship. But I do not agree because there are so many details in Ezekiel’s *vision, for example, the measurements. Moreover, Ezekiel’s *temple was on the earth. For example, Ezekiel 44:25 mentions dead bodies. But nobody dies in heaven.
Some people say that this *prophecy has failed. In their opinion, it was for the *Israelites who returned from *exile. If they had obeyed all of God’s law then the things in this *vision would have happened. But Ezekiel does not say that the *vision depended on the actions of people. The word of God does not fail. If the *prophecy is from God then it will happen. So I believe that there will be a new *temple. There will be animal *sacrifices and there will be priests. The 12 *tribes will have equal shares of the land that belongs to *Israel.
Some people say that this *vision shows the *eternal state. The ‘*eternal state’ means the new heaven and the new earth. But this *vision cannot be of the *eternal state. In the new earth, there is no *temple (Revelation 21:22). Then the river will flow from the *throne (Revelation 22:1). In Ezekiel’s *vision, the river flows from the *temple.
I believe that the most likely time for this *prophecy is the *millennium. The *millennium is the 1000 years when the *Lord Jesus will rule on the earth (Revelation 20:1-6). This is before this earth ends and before the start of the new earth (Revelation 21:1).
The *Lord Jesus Christ made the one complete and perfect *sacrifice for *sin. He died once for all time because of our *sin. There is now no need for other *sacrifices. There is now no need for the human priests. But in this *prophecy, there are *sacrifices for *sin and there are human priests.
The *temple, the *sacrifices and the priests are for the *Israelites. During the *millennium, people from other nations will *worship with them in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16). Ezekiel’s *vision shows perfect practice in *Israelite *worship. In the *Old Testament, the *sacrifices refer forward to the *Messiah. In the *millennium, the *sacrifices refer back to the death of the *Messiah. The *sacrifices never could take away *sins. In the *millennium, the *sacrifices will not take away *sins. The *sacrifices will remind people about the one *sacrifice of Jesus the *Messiah. That was the only *sacrifice that dealt with *sin.
In a similar way, Christians break bread and drink wine. The bread and the wine represent (are signs of) the body and blood of Christ (who is the *Messiah). This act is referring back to the death of Christ. So, the animals in the *sacrifices represent the work of the *Messiah. That work is complete. He died for us all and he rose again from death.
This section follows the messages in the rest of the book. Earlier, Ezekiel showed how the *glory of God would leave the *temple. He told how the *Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem (Chapters 4-24). He then *prophesied how God would punish the nations (25:1-33:20). Then he gave 6 messages of hope to the *exiles (33:21-39:29).
In those 6 messages, Ezekiel informed them that God will bring them back to their land. God will be like a good *shepherd to them. And God will forgive all their *sins. He will make a new agreement with them. Then they will live in their land and they will be safe. Enemies will attack God’s people. But God will *destroy those enemies (chapters 38-39). After all those events, Ezekiel describes the return of God’s *glory to his *temple.
God's *glory is a most important part of Ezekiel's *prophecy. The return of God's *glory to the new *temple is a very important moment in the book (43:1-12). *Israel will return to the *Lord and he will make them *clean from all their *sins. By them, the nations will see that God is *holy (36:23). When God's *glory returns, it will remain among the *Israelites (43:6-7).
Verses 1-4 Ezekiel received this *vision in 573 *BC. The *Jews had a political year and a year for their religion. The political year started about our September or October. The year for religion started about our March or April. Since Ezekiel was a priest, he probably used the year for religion. If that was so, he received this *vision on the 10th day of the first month of the year for religion. The preparation for the *Passover would begin on that day.
In the *vision, God took Ezekiel to a high mountain in *Israel. From this mountain, he looked to the south. There he could see a city. Then God took Ezekiel to that city.
At the entrance to the city, Ezekiel met a man. This man was really an *angel. His task was to guide Ezekiel and to measure the *temple. Also, he would interpret what they saw. He had a stick for the shorter measurements and he had a string for the longer ones. He would take Ezekiel round the area. He would give the details of the *temple buildings to Ezekiel.
· First, Ezekiel saw that the *temple had three outer gates. He describes the east gate first, but all three gates were similar. The gates were not simple doors. When people passed through a gate, they would be in a hall. Inside that hall, there were small rooms for the *temple guards. The halls did not lead directly to the *temple. Instead, they lead into a large outer area. There were also three inner gates. Those gates led from the outer area into an inner area. And the *temple stood in that inner area.
Verses 5 The stick that the man had was 6 *cubits long. But these *cubits were longer than the normal *cubit. The normal *cubit was the distance from the end of a man’s middle finger to his *elbow. This was about 18 inches. The width of a hand is about 3 inches. So, the length of the stick was about 10½ feet (3.2 metres). This longer *cubit is the *holy or royal *cubit. In Babylon, where Ezekiel was, they used the royal *cubit. The use of the royal *cubit here shows that the *temple of God is a very important building.
The wall that went round the *temple was 10½ feet (3.2 metres) high and 10½ feet (3.2 metres) wide.
Verses 6-16 The man took Ezekiel to the east gate of the *temple. He explained the design of the gate and the measurements of each part.
There were 7 steps up to the entrance of the gate. The entrance of the east gate was 10½ feet (3.2 metres). Beyond the first gate, there was an entrance hall. The inside of the hall was 87½ feet (26.9 metres) long and 44 feet (13.5 metres) wide. The outside length of the hall was 105 feet (32.3 metres). Inside this hall, there was a space of 10½ feet (3.2 metres) long and 17½ feet (5.4 metres) wide. Then there were three rooms on each side. They were for the *temple guards so that they could control the entrance to the *temple area. These rooms were square. They were each 10½ feet (3.2 metres) wide and 10½ feet (3.2 metres) wide. The walls between these rooms were 9 feet (2.7 metres) thick. These rooms had windows in the outer wall. At the entrance to these rooms, there were walls two feet (0.6 metres) high.
Beyond the 6 rooms was another space of 10½ feet (3.2 metres) long and 17½ feet (5.4 metres) wide. Then there was another room 14 feet (4.3 metres) long and the full width of the entrance hall. This room had windows each side in the outer walls. The door that led from this room to the *temple was 3½ feet (1.1 metres) thick.
There were gates in the *temple’s outer walls. These were to the north and to the south. Each of these gates was the same as the east gate.
The plan of these gates was similar to the gates in Solomon’s *temple.
Verses 17-19 The man took Ezekiel through the entrance hall. They were now in the outer area of the *temple. Along the outer wall, there were 30 rooms. To get to the rooms there was a path. The rooms with the path were the same depth as the entrance halls at the three gates.
Round the inner area of the *temple, there was a wall. From the outer wall to this wall was 175 feet (53.8 metres).
Verses 20-27 The north and the south gates were the same as the east gate.
· As Ezekiel came closer to the *temple building, he had to pass through another gate. There were three gates that separated the outer area from the inner area. The priests offered their *sacrifices at the *altar which was in the inner area. And the inner area surrounded the *temple building.
Verses 28-37 The way into the inner area of the *temple was through three gates. These gates were on the south side, the east side and the north side. These gates and their entrance halls were the same as the gates to the outer area. But these gates were different in two small particulars. In the outer entrance hall there was a room beyond the 6 rooms. In the inner entrance hall, this room was before the 6 rooms. There were 7 steps up to the outer gates but there were 8 steps up to the inner gates.
Verses 38-43 Outside each of the inner gates, there was a room. Here the priests would wash the animals. Also, outside the east and the south gates there were two tables. On these tables, the priests killed the animals for the *sacrifices because of *sin and blame. Outside the north gate, there were 8 tables. On these 8 tables, the priests would kill the animals for the *sacrifices.
There were another 4 small stone tables. The priests’ would keep their tools on these tables. And they would cut up the dead bodies of the animals on these tables.
At the time of the *Old Testament, the people killed animals so that God could forgive their *sins. These *sacrifices referred forward to the death of Jesus. His death is the one *sacrifice for *sin.
The blood of animals could not and cannot take away *sin. These *sacrifices in the future *temple will remind the *Israelites of the one perfect *sacrifice, that is, the death of Jesus.
Verses 44-46 These two rooms were in the inner area. One was by the north gate and the other one was by the south gate. The one by the south gate (toward the north) was for the priests who served in the *temple. The room by the north gate (toward the south) was for the priests who served at the *altar.
These priests had to be of the family of Zadok. In chapter 44, Ezekiel explains why God chose Zadok.
Verse 47 The inner area was a square of 175 feet (53.8 metres) long and 175 feet (53.8 metres) wide.
Verses 48-49 In the inner area, there were the gates to the north, the south and the east. At the west end of the square was the entrance to the *temple building.
In the centre of the inner area was the *altar of *sacrifice. Ezekiel describes this *altar in chapter 43.
The way into the *temple was 24½ feet (7.5 metres) wide. The walls at the side of this entrance were 9 feet (2.8 metres) thick. The walls at the sides of the door were 5½ feet (1.6 metres) thick. Inside the door was an entrance hall. This was 35 feet (10.7 metres) across and 19½ feet (7 metres) long.
There were 10 steps up from the inner area to the gate of the *temple building.
Verses 1-2 As Ezekiel was a priest, he could enter the *holy place.
The *holy place was a room 35 feet (10.8 metres) wide and 70 feet (21.5 metres) long. The entrance to the room was 17½ feet (5.4 metres) wide. There were walls on each side of the entrance and they were 9 feet (2.8 metres) each. These walls or columns at the side of the door were 10½ feet (3.2 metres) thick.
As Ezekiel was a priest, he could enter the *holy place. At the end of the *holy place was the door into the most *holy place. This door was 10½ feet (3.2 metres) wide. There were columns each side of the door that were 3½ feet (1.1 metres) thick. The walls with the columns at the sides of the entrance were 12½ feet (3.8 metres) long.
The most *holy place was a room 35 feet (10.8 metres) wide and 35 feet (10.8 metres) long.
The man (who was in fact an *angel) did not take Ezekiel into the most *holy place. Ezekiel was a priest but only the chief priest could go into this room.
Verses 5-11 The walls of the *temple building were 10½ feet (3.2 metres) thick. Outside these walls, there were 90 small rooms. Each of these rooms was 7 feet (2.2 metres) wide. They were on three floors. There were 30 on each floor. There were 12 rooms on each side and 6 rooms at the end of the *temple building. These rooms had an outer wall 9 feet (2.8 metres) thick. The base of the *temple and of the side rooms was 10½ feet (3.2 metres) high.
The entrances to these rooms were from the inner area. There were entrances on the north and south sides of the *temple. There were stairs to the upper floors. There were rooms for the priests in the outer area. Between the side rooms and the priests' rooms, there was a space of 35 feet (10.8 metres).
This arrangement of rooms was similar to that in Solomon’s *temple (1 Kings 6:8-10).
(Note: verse 15a means the first half of verse 15.)
Verse 12 Beyond the *temple to the west, there was a building. It was 122½ feet (37.7 metres) wide and 157½ feet (48.5 metres) long. The walls of this building were 9 feet (2.8 metres) thick. We do not know the purpose for this building.
Verses 13-15a The *temple building was 175 feet (53.8 metres) long. The inner area of the *temple was also 175 feet (53.8 metres) long. The inner area and the *temple building were 175 feet (53.8 metres) wide. The building, with its walls, beyond the *temple was also 175 feet (53.8 metres) long.
(Note: verse 15b means the second half of verse 15.)
Verses 15b-20 The *temple building had three rooms. These rooms were the entrance hall, the *holy place and the most *holy place. Wood covered the walls of all three rooms. There were windows in these rooms. There were covers for the windows.
There were patterns on all the walls. The patterns were of *cherubim and palm trees. Each *cherub had two faces. The faces were those of a man and of a lion.
Verses 21-26 In the *holy place, there was a wooden *altar. It was 5½ feet (1.6 metres) high and 3½ feet (1.1 metres) square. The man (that is, the *angel) called it, ‘the table that is in front of the *LORD’. But we are not sure about its purpose, because there were two similar objects in the original *temple. One of these was the *altar of *incense. Here, the priests would burn *incense to the *Lord. And the other object was a table like this. Each *Sabbath the priests would put 12 new loaves of bread on the table and they would remove the old bread (see Leviticus 24:5-8).
The doors to the *holy place had patterns of *cherubim and palm trees. Over each part of the *temple, there was a wooden roof.
Verses 1-12 There were two buildings in the outer area. They were just outside the inner area. One building was on the north side and the other building was on the south side. Ezekiel describes the one on the north side. All these rooms had doors to the north. The building on the south side was like the one on the north side. The rooms in the south building had doors to the south.
The building was 175 feet long (53.8 metres) long, east to west. It was 87½ feet (26.9 metres) wide, north to south. There were three floors with many rooms on each one. The lower two floors had columns.
The entrance to the building was from the outer area on the east side.
Verses 13-14 These two buildings were *holy places. In them, the priests could eat some of the *holy gifts. Also, they would store the oil and grain for the *sacrifices in these buildings. In these rooms, the priests would change their clothes. They had to wear special clothes to serve in the *temple. They would keep those clothes in these rooms.
Verses 15-20 The man took Ezekiel out of the entire *temple area. They went out by the east gate. There was a wall round the whole area. The area was a square. The man measured the wall. The area was 875 feet (269.2 metres) long and 875 feet (269.2 metres) wide.
Verses 1-5 The man led Ezekiel to the east gate of the outer area. They looked towards the east. Ezekiel saw the *glory of God come from the east. It was like the *glory that he had seen by the Chebar River. And he had seen that same *glory when God left the old *temple. That *glory had gone through the east gate of that *temple. God’s *glory would not return until this *temple was ready for him.
The *glory of God went through the east gate into the *temple. The Spirit took Ezekiel into the inner court. There he saw that the *glory filled the *temple.
This *prophecy has not yet happened. It is still future. I believe that, one day, there will be this *temple. Then God’s *glory will come and he will fill the *temple.
Verses 6-9 The voice that spoke from the *temple in verse 6 was the *Lord’s voice. He entered the *temple and he was speaking from his *throne. So the words in verses 7 to 26 are the *Lord’s words.
The new *temple will be God’s *throne. It will be God’s house for all time. The *Israelites will serve the real God. They will never *turn to false gods again.
These verses show why God gave this *vision to Ezekiel. He desires to live with his people. He wants them to serve him. They must never *turn to false gods again.
God compares the *worship of false gods to *prostitution. He does this for two reasons. The people were not loyal to God, even as a *prostitute is not loyal to her husband. And *sins of sex were part of the false religions that the *Israelites followed during Ezekiel’s life. God says that this *prostitution must end. The *Israelites must be completely loyal to him.
Verses 10-12 When Ezekiel told the people about the new *temple, they should be ashamed. They knew that God had left the old *temple. Then the *Babylonians had destroyed it. They knew that the reason for this was the *sin of the *Israelites.
The people would think about the plans of the new *temple. And maybe they would *repent of their *sins.
The area of the new *temple will be much larger then the old one. The whole area will be a *holy place. This includes the top of the mountain beyond the *temple area.
Verses 13-17 The *altar was in front of the main *temple building. It was in the inner area. Ezekiel describes the *altar from the bottom to the top. Round the base of the *altar, there was a ditch. This ditch was 2 feet (0.6 metres) deep and 2 feet (0.6 metres) wide. The edge of the ditch had a lip of nearly a foot (about 0.25 metres).
Above the base, the *altar was in three sections. The first section was 3½ feet (1.1 metres) high. The *altar was square. This section was 28 feet (8.6 metres) long on each side. The second section was 7 feet (2.2 metres) high. It was 24½ feet (7.5 metres) long on each side. It had a lip on the top of nearly a foot (about 0.25 metres) wide. The third section was 7 feet (2.2 metres) high. It was 21 feet (6.5 metres) long on each side. On this section, there were *horns on each corner.
There were steps up to the top of the *altar from the east side.
Verses 18-27 After they had built the *altar, the priests had to make it ready for use. This process took 7 days. On the first day, the priests must kill a young *bull as a *sacrifice because of *sin. They must take some of the blood of the *bull. They must put it on the 4 *horns and all round the top edge of the *altar.
Then, on each of the other days, the priests must *sacrifice a goat. This goat must be a male and it must be perfect. Then, on each of the days, they must *sacrifice a young *bull and a male sheep. They must put salt on these animals and burn them.
After the 7 days, the *altar will be ready for daily use. When people decide to offer *sacrifices, they will bring their animals to the priests. The priests will *sacrifice the animals on the *altar on behalf of the people.
My opinion is that these *sacrifices will happen in the future, during the *millennium. But these *sacrifices cannot replace the *Lord Jesus Christ’s *sacrifice. He died once for all time because of our *sin. His *sacrifice was perfect and complete. And God forgives our *sin because of Christ’s *sacrifice. So the *sacrifices in this *temple cannot take away *sin. Instead, these *sacrifices must refer back to Christ’s death. And they remind people about the *sacrifice of Christ. So, they are like the communion service (in other words, the ceremony when Christians break bread together).
Verses 1-3 The East Gate was a special gate. The *Lord had entered the *temple by this gate. Only the prince could go into this gate. There he could eat bread in front of the *Lord.
The prince will be the leader of the people. He will not be Christ because the prince needs to make a *sacrifice because of his own *sins (45:22). Christ does not need such a *sacrifice because he has no *sin. Unlike Christ, the prince has natural children (46:16). He will not be a priest but Christ will be the chief priest. Christ will be the king. So, this man will lead the people as Christ orders him.
The prince will be from the family of David. He will be a man who will be like David. The prince will love the *Lord as David did. And he will serve the *Lord as David did. God promised David that his family would rule his people (see 2 Samuel 7:16).
Verses 4-5 The *Lord’s *glory filled the *temple. The effect on Ezekiel was very powerful. The *glory was so great that it caused him to fall down with his face to the ground. Then the *Lord spoke to him. Ezekiel would see and hear the rules for the new *temple. God would tell to Ezekiel the rules for the priests. Ezekiel must tell these rules to the people.
Verses 6-9 Foreigners and strangers could bring their gifts to the *Lord. But they could not act as priests in the *temple. Neither could they be servants in the *temple. The priests and *temple servants had to be from the family of Levi.
In the old *temple, foreigners did come in. The priests of *Israel let them come in. The priests even let foreigners serve in the *temple. This was against the law that God gave to Moses. In the end, the *Israelites were even *worshipping foreign gods in the *temple (Ezekiel chapter 8). Such things must never happen in the *temple that Ezekiel saw.
God told Abraham to *circumcise all the males in his family. Afterwards, *circumcision was the sign of the special promise that God had made to *Israel. Every boy had to receive *circumcision when he was 8 days old. No male could be an *Israelite without *circumcision. All the foreigners who joined *Israel had to receive *circumcision. In this act, they had to obey God. But this is only a physical sign. It is even more important to obey God from the heart. Ezekiel calls this the *circumcision of the heart. Those who would enter the *temple to *worship God must receive *circumcision of heart and body. Christians do not need *circumcision in the body. But they must have the heart attitude that obeys God.
Verses 10-14 As a group, the *Levites had *turned away from God. They had served false gods. In this, they led the *Israelites to *sin. So, the *Lord will punish them. And they will be ashamed of what they did. In future, the families of these *Levites will not be priests. They will not serve at the *altar. They will not go into the *holy place.
The *Levites will guard the *temple gates. There will be strict rules about the people who may come into the *temple. And the *Levites will make sure that the people obey those rules.
The *Levites will be the servants in the *temple. They will be responsible for all the work in the *temple. Also, the *Levites will kill the animals that the people bring to them for *sacrifices.
Verses 15-16 When all the *Israelites *turned from God, some priests remained loyal to God. The *ancestor of these priests was Zadok. Zadok was a priest at the time of David. He remained loyal to David when David’s sons, Absalom and Adonijah, tried to oppose their father (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 1 Kings 1:8). David’s son Solomon appointed Zadok to be the chief priest (1 Kings 2:35).
Because they were loyal, the *Lord will reward the Zadok priests in the new *temple. Only they will be able to serve the *Lord in the *holy place. They will make the *sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. The *Lord will not allow other people to come into the *holy place.
Verses 17-19 God is *holy. Before the priests approach God in the inner area, they must put on special clothes. The material of these clothes must not make the priests hot. They could not be of wool because it would cause them to sweat. (That is, to be damp from the warmth.) So, the material must be linen. Linen is a good quality cloth.
As soon as the priests go out from the inner area, they must change their clothes. These clothes are *holy. The priests must wear them in the inner area only. They must take off these clothes in special *holy rooms (42:13-14). Then other people cannot touch these clothes by accident. People who are not priests must not even touch these clothes.
Verses 20-22 There are several extra rules for the Zadok priests (that is, the priests from Zadok’s family). They must not shave their heads. The priests of false gods often shaved their heads. They gave their hair as a gift to the gods. This may be one of the reasons for this rule.
They must not have long hair. Long hair could mean that a person was sad at the death of someone. The Zadok priests will not be sad. They will serve the *Lord with joy.
These rules about hair are to show that the Zadok priests are *holy to the *Lord.
When the Zadok priest serves in the *temple, he must have complete control of himself. Therefore, while he is on duty he must not drink wine.
He can marry. But his bride must be a woman who has not had sex with a man. But he can marry the widow of another priest. He must not marry any other widow. He must not marry a woman who has left her husband.
These rules are like the rules for the chief priest in the old *temple. But here the rules apply to all the priests from Zadok’s family. This passage does not mention a chief priest because the *Messiah will be the chief priest.
Verses 23-24 These rules show what it means to be *holy. The priests must teach the people to be *holy. They themselves must be *holy. And by their own lives, they must show the people how to live. They must help people to know what is right.
The priests will be the experts in God’s laws. They will be the judges of any problems among the people. They will decide what is right. The *Lord will teach them his laws. And they must use those laws when they make decisions.
They must obey God’s laws themselves. They must obey all the rules about special meals. And they must obey the rules for the *Sabbaths.
Verses 25-27 A priest should not go near to a dead person. He could not go into the *temple’s inner area if he had been near a dead person. He would not be *clean. He could not serve the *Lord as a priest.
He could go near if the dead person belonged to his family. Family here means his parents, his children, his brothers and his sisters. But if his sister is married, she is not part of his family. He must not go near to her body when she dies.
If he did go near a dead relative, he would not be *clean. So, he must get himself *clean. (There are rules about this in Numbers 19:11-13.) When he is *clean again, he must wait 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, he must make a *sacrifice. To go near a dead person is like *sin because by it the priest is not *clean. After he is *clean then he may serve the *Lord in the inner area.
Verses 28-31 The priests will own no property in *Israel. They will depend on the *Lord for all that they need. Their food will come from the *sacrifices that the people give to the *Lord. But they must not eat the meat from birds or animals that they find dead already. And they must not eat anything that wild animals have killed. All that the people give to the *Lord will belong to the priests.
The people must give to the *Lord the first part of their harvests. That part under the old rules would be a 10th of the harvest. Then the *Lord will show his kindness to their families.
Verses 1-6 When the *Israelites first came to the country, each *tribe received a part of it (Joshua chapters 17 to 19). In this future time, they will receive parts of the country again. Chapter 48 describes these parts. In addition to the parts of the *tribes, there will be a part for the *Lord.
The *Lord’s part of the land will be for the priests and the *temple. The size of this area will be 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres) by 6.6 miles (10.6 kilometres). This area will be in two smaller parts. Each part will be 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres) by 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres).
One of these parts will be for the priests, who must be from the family of Zadok. They will live in this area. And they will serve the *Lord in the *temple. In the centre of this part will be the *temple area. This *temple area will be 875 feet (269.2 metres) square. Round this *temple area, there will be a clear piece of land 875 feet (269.2 metres) wide.
The other part will be for the *Levites. This will be to the north of the part where the Zadok priests (priests from Zadok’s family) live. The *Levites will assist the Zadok priests in the *temple. The *Levites will have their homes and towns in this part.
There will be another area to the south of the part where the Zadok priests live. It will be 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres) long and 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres) wide. In this area will be the city for the *Israelites. The city will be in the centre of this area. It will be 1½ miles (2.4 kilometres) square. The rest of the area will be agricultural land where the people will produce food.
Verses 7-8 The areas for the *Levites, the Zadok priests and the city form a square of 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres). The land to the east and to the west of this square will belong to the prince. He will own no other property.
In the past, the rulers had been cruel to the people. They had made themselves rich when they took property from the people. God did not want them to do this. And in this future time, the rulers will not do these things. So, the prince will have his own land. And the *tribes will have their shares in the country.
Verses 9-12 The leaders of *Israel in Ezekiel’s time did not care about the people. They had robbed the people of their land. They had cheated them in the market place. They used false weights when they sold their goods. They had been cruel and they did not defend the poor people. This kind of behaviour must stop and God will not allow it in the future of *Israel.
God’s people must always be honest and fair. This is for all times and not just for the future.
The standard measurement was the *homer. The dry measurement was the *ephah, which was a 10th of a *homer. The liquid measurement was the *bath, which was also a 10th of a *homer. The *shekel was the standard money value. They must use these standard measurements.
Verses 13-17 The *Israelites will bring their gifts to the prince. These gifts will be grain, oil and sheep. From the harvest of grain, out of each *homer they will bring a 6th of an *ephah. From their oil, they will bring a 10th of a *bath from every *homer that they had. From their sheep, they will bring one sheep in every 200 sheep.
From these gifts, the prince will make the *sacrifices on behalf of the people. These *sacrifices are grain *sacrifices, *sacrifices by fire and the drink *sacrifices. He will do this at each of the special days. The special days include the new moon (in other words, the beginning of each month) and the *Sabbath days.
These *sacrifices are to remind the people about what the *Messiah has done. They are acts of *worship to God. God will forgive their *sins because of their belief in *Messiah. His death is the only *sacrifice by which God forgives *sin.
In the New Testament (the second part of the Bible) we read that no animal or grain *sacrifices could take away *sin. Jesus the *Messiah achieved it when he died for us. His death is the perfect *sacrifice for *sin. So it is only by his death that God forgives *sin.
Verses 18-20 On the first day of the year, the prince must bring a young *bull to the *temple. The blood is to *clean the *temple from the *sins of the people. The priests will kill this *bull. They will put some of the blood round the *temple doors. And they will put some of the blood on the *horns of the *altar. By means of this ceremony, the *temple remains *clean and *holy.
Also, he will bring a young *bull on the 7th day of the year. The priests will kill this *bull. This is for *sins that the people do not know about.
If people are aware of their *sins, they will remember those *sins by means of the *sin *sacrifices. But sometimes people do not know about their *sins. The blood of these *bulls is because of these *sins. God forgives all these *sins, because of the perfect *sacrifice of Jesus the *Messiah.
Verses 21-25 During the *Passover, the *Israelites remember how God brought them out of Egypt (Exodus chapter 12). The *Passover was on the 14th day of the first month. This month is about March to April in our calendar. For 7 days, the people will eat bread without *yeast. During these 7 days, the prince will provide for the *sacrifices.
In the 7th month, there will be the week in shelters. The 7th month is about October in our calendar. During this week, the people remember the time when the *Israelites lived in shelters. For 40 years, the *Israelites were in the desert before they came into their country. As for the *Passover week, the prince will provide for the *sacrifices.
These rules are similar to the rules that God gave to Moses. Every year the *Israelites remembered what God had done. They thanked God for his goodness. The rules which we read here are for a future time after the return of the *Messiah. All the *sacrifices are to remind the people about what the *Messiah has done.
Verses 1-8 The *Lord gave the *Sabbath to the *Israelites. They have to obey the rules of the *Sabbath for all time. They are to work for 6 days but they must rest on the 7th day. On that day, they must *worship the *Lord. The *Israelites during Ezekiel’s life refused to obey the *Sabbath day rules. In the future time, the *Israelites will obey the new rules for the *Sabbath and the new moon. The new moon is the beginning of each month by the *Israelites’ calendar. So the first day in each month is also a special day to *worship the *Lord.
The priests will open the east gate to the inner court only on the special days. These days will be the *Sabbath day and the day of the new moon. The prince will lead the people in their *worship. He will enter this gate. He will bring his *sacrifices to the priests. And he will *worship at the entrance to the gate. He must not go into the inner area. The people will *worship at this gate but they will not go in.
Verses 9-12 On these special days, the *Israelites will come to *worship. They will come into the *temple area by the north and south gates. They must not go out by the same gate as they entered. This is a practical arrangement. Large crowds will come to *worship. The people will leave without difficulty if they leave by the opposite gate.
The people must bring their *sacrifices to the priests. The prince will enter with the people. He will give his *sacrifices to the priests at the inner east gate. They will open that gate just to receive his *sacrifices. They will close the gate as soon as the prince leaves.
Verse 13-15 In addition to the special days, there will be daily *sacrifices. Each morning the prince will bring these *sacrifices to the priests.
Verses 16-18 The prince will own his land. He can give it away if he wants to. However, the land must still belong to his family. If the prince gave land to another person, it would be only until the year of freedom. Then the land would come back into the possession of the family.
Each 50th year will be a year of freedom. Then the prince or his family will again own the land that he gave to another person. This rule of the year of freedom affects all *Israelites.
The prince cannot buy or receive land from another *Israelite.
Verses 19-24 The man took Ezekiel out of the inner area. He took him to the priests’ rooms on the north side of the *temple. In these rooms, the priests will change their clothes. In them, they will eat the *holy *sacrifices. At the west end of these rooms will be the kitchens. Here the priests will prepare some types of *sacrifices. These *sacrifices are particularly *holy. That is why the priests must cook them in a separate kitchen. People who are not priests cannot enter this area. Only priests may eat these *sacrifices.
There will be another four kitchens. They will be in the four corners of the outer area. Each of these kitchens will be 70 feet (21.5 metres) by 52½ feet (16.2 metres). Here the *temple servants will cook the *sacrifices that the people bring to them. They will cook the peace *sacrifices here. The people who bring peace *sacrifices may eat part of these *sacrifices. Another part of these *sacrifices must burn on the *altar. And the last part belongs to the priests.
Verses 1-12 Ezekiel saw water as it flowed from the *temple. It flowed toward the east. It came from the south side of the *temple and the *altar of *sacrifice, in the inner area. The water went through the outer area. Then it went along the south side of the outer east gate.
The man took Ezekiel to explore this river. At a third of a mile (538 metres) from the *temple, the depth of the water was up to the height of Ezekiel’s ankles. After another third of a mile (538 metres), it was up to his knees. At about a mile (1.6 kilometres), the water was up to Ezekiel’s stomach. At 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometres) from the *temple, the river was very deep. To cross it he would have to swim. The increase of the size of the river could not be natural. It could only be by the power of the *Lord.
The river flowed to the south and east. It flowed into the valley of the Jordan River and into the Dead Sea. Today nothing can live in the Dead Sea because of the salt. But when this river flows into the Dead Sea, it will bring pure water. Where now no fish can live then there will be many fish. Men who catch fish will spread their nets along the coast of the sea. They will catch all kinds of fish.
Where the river flows, it will bring life. Trees will grow along both sides of the river. These trees will have all kinds of fruit. Their leaves will not die. There will be fruit every month. The fruit will be good for food. And the leaves will be good medicine to cure people.
The muddy areas will remain to provide salt.
This is not the same river as in Revelation 22:1-5. That river flows from the *throne of God and of the Lamb. (A lamb is a young sheep. But in the Book of Revelation, the word ‘lamb’ is a word picture for Jesus, the *Messiah.) In the new earth, there will be no *temple (Revelation 21:22). But here in the Book of Ezekiel, the river flows from the *temple.
Verses 13-14 In this future period, each of the 12 *tribes of *Israel will receive a share of the country. All these shares will be the same size. The *tribe called Levi will not have a share. Their part will be in the *holy area. But the family of Joseph will be as two *tribes. Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The 12 *tribes will include these two families. They will each receive a share.
In the *Old Testament, the *tribes selected their shares of the country. The *tribes called Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh took the country east of the Jordan River. But in this future time all the *tribes will be to the west of the Jordan River. They will not select their shares. God has fixed the share for each *tribe.
God has promised to give this country to the *Israelites (Genesis 15:18-21). They must make sure that each *tribe keeps its share of the country.
Verses 15-20 These verses mention the names of places on *Israel’s borders. These borders are similar to the ones that God gave to ancient *Israel (Numbers 34:3-12). But the names in these verses are the names of places when Ezekiel was alive. After many centuries, places often have new names. So, we do not know many of these places now.
The western border will be the Mediterranean Sea. The border to the east will be the Jordan River. The north border probably goes to the east from the mouth of the Litani River. The southern border reaches the ‘river of Egypt’. The ‘river of Egypt’ does not mean the river Nile. It means Wadi el Arish, which is at the border of *Israel and Egypt.
Verses 21-23 Foreigners who live in *Israel will also receive a share of the land. They will be as members of the *tribe among whom they live.
Verses 1-7 To the north of the *holy area will be the shares of 7 of the *tribes. The shares are all the same size. Each share goes from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
Verses 8-12 To the south of Judah’s share there will be the *holy area of land. The total length of this area from east to west will be the same as the *tribe’s shares.
In this total area, there will be a square of 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres). From the north of this square 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres) width is for the *Levites. The next 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres) width is for the *Lord. The last 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres) is for the city.
The *Lord’s share will be for the Zadok priests. They will live there. But in the centre of it will be the *temple area.
Verses 13-14 The share for the *Levites is to the north of the *holy area. They will not be able to sell any of this land. It must remain the property of the *Levites. The *Lord will be the actual owner of the land.
Verses 14-20 South of the *holy area will be the 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres) for the city. The city will be in a square of 1½miles (2.4 kilometres). This will be in the centre of this whole area. All round the city there will open ground 437½ feet (135 metres) wide. So, the city and its open ground make a square of 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres). Beyond this square on each side, there will be land 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometres) by 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres).
This land by the sides of the city area will be for farms. People from the *tribes will live in the city. Some of them will work here to provide food for the city.
Verses 21-22 The land on both sides of the *holy area (this includes the city area) will belong to the prince. He is the leader, under *Messiah, of the *Israelites. He is from the family of David. And like David, he loves and serves the *Lord with all his heart. His lands will be 8.3 miles (13.4 kilometres) from north to south.
Verses 23-29 To the south of the *holy area will be the shares of the other 5 *tribes. The shares are all the same size. Each share goes from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
Judah and Benjamin are next to the *holy area. This may be because these two *tribes were more loyal to the *temple than the other *tribes were.
The 12 *tribes come from the sons of Jacob. He had 8 sons by his two wives. Their shares will be next to the *holy area. To the north, there will be the shares for Judah, Reuben, and Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh). To the south, there will be the shares for Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun.
Also, Jacob had sons from the maids of his wives. Their shares will be furthest from the *holy area. To the north, there will be Naphtali, Asher and Dan. To the far south, there will be the share of Gad.
Because of their cruelty, Jacob *prophesied against Simeon and Levi. They did not receive shares in the time of Joshua. They lived among the other *tribes. But in the future Simeon’s *tribe will have a share. It will be equal to the shares of the other *tribes. And Levi’s *tribe will have their place in the *holy area.
So all the *tribes will be there. They will all have their proper place in the country. No *tribe will have more land than another *tribe. This may not be possible or practical by the present geography of *Israel. But many things in this world will change when Jesus the *Messiah returns. He will rule the world. And all his judgements will be fair and good.
Verses 30-35 There will be three gates on each side of the city. The names of the gates will be the names of the *tribes.
The gates to the north will be Reuben, Judah and Levi. The gates to the east will be Joseph, Benjamin and Dan. Joseph was the father of Ephraim and Manasseh. So, Joseph’s name replaces their names here. The gates to the south will be Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun. The gates to the west will be Gad, Asher and Naphtali.
The gates to the north and the south have the names of Leah’s sons. She was one of Jacob’s wives. The gates to the east have the names of Rachel’s two sons and Dan. Rachel was the other wife of Jacob. Dan was the son of Rachel’s maid. The gates to the west have the names of Leah’s maid’s sons.
This city is for all the *Israelites. That is why the names of all the *tribes are on the gates.
For many centuries, the capital city of *Israel has been Jerusalem. That name means ‘the city of peace’. But the city has not often been peaceful. There have been many wars there. Only Jesus the *Messiah can bring about true peace that will last. And when he does, people from all the *tribes will live together peacefully in the capital city. And that city will have a new name, because the *Lord will be present with his people.
So, Ezekiel ends his *prophecy with the name of the city. Its name will be ‘the *Lord is there.’ The whole city, not just the *temple, has the *Lord’s name. This shows that there will be a new relationship between the *Lord and his people *Israel.
AD ~ years after Christ was born.
allegory ~ the words are not about actual things but are word pictures of a truth.
altar ~ the special table where people burn animals or offer other gifts to God or to false gods.
Ammonites ~ a person from the nation called Ammon or anything that has a relationship with Ammon.
Amorite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.
ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.
angel ~ God’s special servants in heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.
Assyrians ~ a person from the nation called Assyria or anything that has a relationship with Assyria.
Babylonian ~ a person from the nation called Babylon or anything that has a relationship with Babylon.
barley ~ a type of grain crop.
bath ~ equal to 6 gallons.
BC ~ years before Christ was born.
beryl ~ a precious stone.
break ~ not to perform a promise; not to obey a law.
bronze ~ A brown metal. It glows when in a fire. It polishes well and it reflects the light. It is very strong.
bulls ~ the male farm animals which mate with cows.
burnt (*sacrifice) ~ a *sacrifice that the priests burned completely, as a gift to God.
cedar ~ a kind of tree.
Chaldeans ~ another name for the *Babylonians.
Cherethites ~ another name for the *Philistines.
cherub ~ a special *angel who was in the most holy place in the *temple.
cherubim ~ the group of *cherubs.
circumcise ~ to cut off skin from the end of a male’s private parts.
circumcision ~ the act or result when someone *circumcises a man.
clean ~ acceptable to God.
creatures ~ Things that are alive. In this Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel saw 4 special creatures. Those 4 creatures are called the *cherubim.
crocodile ~ a very large animal that lives in and by water.
cubit ~ a length of about half a metre.
descendant ~ a later member of a family.
destroy ~ to carry out the most severe punishment possible; to cause someone to suffer; to kill everyone in a nation.
disaster ~ when something very bad happens.
doves ~ a type of bird.
drunk ~ a description of a person who has drunk too much alcohol.
dung ~ toilet matter (dirt) that we and animals pass from our bodies.
eagle ~ a very large and quick bird.
earthquake ~ When the earth shakes, that is an earthquake.
ebony ~ a very hard wood.
Edomite ~ a person from the nation called Edom or anything that has a relationship with Edom.
Egyptian ~ a person from the nation called Egypt or anything that has a relationship with Egypt.
elbow ~ where the lower part of a person’s arm joins to the upper arm.
ephah ~ equal to 22 litres.
eternal life ~ the life with God that will never end.
eternal state ~ the new heaven and the new earth that will never end.
exile ~ When people have to live in a foreign country they are in exile. Such a person is called an exile.
fall ~ when enemies destroy a city or a country; when a person dies suddenly.
gerah ~ equal to one 20th of an ounce.
glory ~ great honour and beauty.
grapes ~ fruit of a *vine (a climbing plant). You can make grapes into wine.
Hebrew ~ the language of *Israel.
hin ~ equal to one gallon.
Hittite ~ a person from one of the ancient *tribes that lived in the country called Canaan.
holy ~ a holy object is special; it is only for religion. God himself and his name are also called ‘holy’. This means that God and his name are perfect, in fact, even more than perfect.
homer ~ equal to 220 litres.
horns ~ hard bones on an animal’s head; a thing like a stick, with a point, that grows on the heads of cows and some sheep. On the corners of the *altar are things like horns, which are called the ‘horns of the *altar’.
incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The priests burned it when they praised God in the *temple.
Israel ~ Israel is the nation whose *ancestors were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The country in which they live is called Israel. Israel became the name of the northern nation when it separated from Judah. However, Ezekiel sometimes uses the word ‘Israel’ to refer to Judah.
Israelites ~ the people whose *ancestors are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
ivory ~ the white bony material from the face of an elephant.
Jews ~ another name for the *Israelites.
keep ~ to perform a promise or to obey a law.
kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules.
lead ~ a kind of metal.
Levites ~ members of the *tribe whose *ancestor is Levi, son of Jacob.
look-out ~ a person whose duty is to warn of danger.
Lord ~ a title for God, to show that he is over all people and things.
LORD ~ ‘LORD’ is the special name that God gave to himself. It probably means ‘always God’. This name has a relationship with the special promises that God gave to his people.
Messiah ~ The *Jews expect a king to come who will save them. That king, called the Messiah, will rule both them and all people.
millennium ~ the rule of Christ on the earth for 1000 years (Revelation chapter 20).
Moabite ~ a person from the nation called Moab or anything that has a relationship with that nation.
mina ~ equal to one and a quarter pounds in weight.
mules ~ animals like horses.
oak ~ a kind of tree.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the *holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.
ox ~ a large and strong animal that farmers used.
Passover ~ the time of the year when the *Jews remember how God brought them out of Egypt.
Philistine ~ a person from the nation called Philistia or anything that has a relationship with that nation.
pour out (anger) ~ to act because of anger.
prophecy ~ a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.
prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.
prophet ~ person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future. However, false prophets are people who merely pretend to speak God’s words.
prostitute ~ a woman who receives payment when she offers her body for sex. There are also male prostitutes.
prostitution ~ what a *prostitute does.
repent ~ to change the mind; to *turn away from *sin and *turn to God.
ruined ~ the state of buildings and whole cities when armies destroy everything completely.
Sabbath ~ The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. God told the *Israelites to keep it as a special day.
sacrifice ~ The priests killed a special animal and they burned it on an *altar. That animal was called a sacrifice. They offered a sacrifice when they asked God to forgive *sins. When Jesus died, he was the perfect sacrifice for our *sins. Animals or people whom God or other people kill for a purpose are also sacrifices (see Ezekiel 39:17). And people also made sacrifices to false gods.
sapphire ~ a precious stone.
satisfied ~ content; a description of a person who has had enough of something.
scorpion ~ a large insect that stings with its tail.
scroll ~ a book in the form of a long piece of material which one rolls up.
shekel ~ equal to 0.4 ounces (11 grams) in weight.
shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.
shields ~ Soldiers carried these in their hands for protection in battle. They used them like covers, so that swords or other *weapons could not hit the body.
sin ~ Sin means the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God. People are called sinners because of their sins.
son of man ~ Ezekiel. ‘Son of man’ was the title that God used for Ezekiel. It emphasised that Ezekiel was a mere man. Ezekiel would have to depend on God’s Spirit to make him strong. Only then could Ezekiel do what God told him to do.
spears ~ long sticks with sharp ends that soldiers used as *weapons of war.
spices ~ a vegetable substance with a sweet flavour or a strong smell. People use spices in food or as *incense.
stubborn ~ to have an attitude that will not change.
sulphur ~ Sulphur is a chemical. A fire that burns with sulphur is extremely hot. And sulphur burns with an awful smell.
temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God or other gods. The *Jews had one in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God.
thorn bush ~ a thorn is a sharp bit on a bush.
throne ~ the special chair for the king.
tribe ~ The *Israelites were divided into the 12 families of the sons of Jacob. These families are the 12 tribes of *Israel.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument. A trumpet makes a loud sound when a person blows into it.
turn ~ to change your behaviour, your friends, or your God; or, to carry out actions in order to oppose someone.
turquoise ~ a precious stone.
umbilical cord ~ that which joins a baby to its mother; someone must cut it after the birth.
unclean ~ unfit for sacred purposes. Unclean food is food that the *Jews should not eat because of their religion. When the *temple was unclean, it was not right for the *worship of God.
vine ~ a plant on which *grapes grow.
vision ~ something that God shows to a person but not with the physical sight. Visions are often in the form of dreams.
weapon ~ a tool of war. People use weapons for attack or defence when they fight. For example, swords, *spears or (today) guns.
willow ~ a kind of tree.
wolves ~ wild animals that are similar to large dogs.
worship ~ an act to give honour to God (or to a false god). When people praise and thank God.
yeast ~ When one bakes bread, yeast causes it to rise.
Ralph H Alexander in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
Leslie C Allen in the Word Biblical Commentary
Charles Lee Feinberg – The Prophecy of Ezekiel
H L Ellison – Ezekiel the Man and his Message
Bibles: NIV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NCV, ASV, CEV, GNB, GW, KJV, LITV, MKJV.
© 2008, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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