Church of God, New World Ministries

A Look At Ezekiel’s Temple - Part 2

The latter chapters of Ezekiel offer a grand picture of a beautiful Temple we associated with the Millennium. This two-part Bible study concludes with a look at more of the details of this fabulous structure.

Whether literal or symbolic, the building Ezekiel saw in vision is God’s Temple! God is very concerned about this Temple and loves even its gates (Ps. 87:2).

In the last article we began to explore the details of Ezekiel’s amazing vision and learned about the major components of the millennial Temple. Now we fill in more of the picture.

As we saw in part one, God caused the details of this Temple to be scattered through different sections of the Bible (Isa. 28:13). We must put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together to see the whole picture.

Ezekiel’s account of the Temple is the only place that gives information regarding the thickness of the walls.

“Then he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side and five cubits on that side; and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side. The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits” (Ezk. 40:48-49).

That gives us the porch measurements, plus the five cubits for the front or eastern wall.

The last measurement was eleven cubits instead of ten cubits. The account of Solomon’s Temple listed this measurement as ten cubits. Here is the only stated difference between Solomon’s Temple and Ezekiel’s Temple. Now to enter the main part of the Temple, first the hekal is summarized for us.

“And he brought me to the temple, and measured the posts, six cubits broad on the one side, and six cubits broad on the other side, which was the breadth of the tent…. And the breadth of the entrance was ten cubits; and the sides of the entrances were five cubits on the one side, and five cubits on the other side; and he measured the length thereof, forty cubits, and the breadth, twenty cubits” (Ezk. 41:1-2)

Next is the entrance to the debir:

“Then went he inward, and measured each post of the entrance, two cubits; and the entrance, six cubits; and the breadth of the entrance, seven cubits. And he measured the length thereof, twenty cubits, and the breadth, twenty cubits, before the temple, and he said unto me: “This is the most holy place” (vs. 3-4).

Next, we find the thickness of the wall of the house, which includes the walls around the hekal and debir: “Then he measured the wall of the house, six cubits” (v. 5).

Another outer wall encompassed the side chambers: “The breadth of the outer wall which belonged to the side-chambers was five cubits; and so that which was left by the structure of the side-chambers that belonged to the house” (v. 9).

Finally, the overall dimension of the house is given by Ezekiel: “And he measured the house, a hundred cubits long” (v. 13).

“I saw also that the house had a raised basement round about; the foundation of the side-chambers were a full reed of six cubits to the joining” (v. 8).

This basement, or foundation, is about 12 feet high from the inner court level to the floor level of the Temple building and side chambers. The place of “joining” is where the basement ends and the house starts. This basement does not consist of rooms below ground, but solid stone to raise the level of the Temple.

Steps lead to the entrance of the Temple (Ezk. 40:49). These steps must be to climb above this “basement.” Four cubits are allotted for the width of this “basement walkway” up to the side chambers.

There is no door at this entrance of the porch but just a large opening. The entrance to the hekal and debir do have doors.

“And the temple and the sanctuary had two doors. And the doors had two leaves (apiece), two turning leaves; two leaves for the one door, and two leaves for the other. And there were made on them, on the doors of the temple, cherubim and palm-trees, like as were made upon the walls” (Ezk. 41:23-25).

The debir doors are further described: “And for the entrance of the Sanctuary he made doors of olive-wood, the door-posts within the frame having five angels” (I Kings 6:31.

This entrance has two doors, but the frame to the door has five angels. Instead of having a door opening with a straight and level top, this one has two angular frames projecting to the center point. In this door, the frames and the door are of olive wood. A further description is in verse 12:

“And there were thick beams of wood upon the face of the porch without” (Ezk. 41:25). Just what would be the purpose of thick beams on the front face of the porch? They would certainly not be needed for structural strength, as the building is made of stone. They must be for beauty or adornment.

The Bible gives no further details. Josephus says nothing about these thick beams, but the Talmud does. This quotation refers to Herod’s Temple, and not Solomon’s

“The doorway of the porch was forty cubits high and its breadth was twenty cubits. Over it were five main beams of cedar. The lowest projected a cubit on each side beyond the doorway. Thus the topmost one was thirty cubits long. There was a layer of stones between each one and the next” (Tract Middoth, chapter III, Mishna 7).

The Bible does not say how many beams there were. This quote from the Talmud says that Herod had five, but he apparently wanted to “improve” and expand on God’s plan.

Previously we skipped further details about the exterior appearance of the porch: “And there were narrow windows and palm-trees on the one side and on the other side, on the sides of the porch” (Ezk. 41:26).

These must be on the exterior, since the verse in question is referring to the things “without.” On the north side and the south side of the porch are these windows and palm-trees.

We saw earlier that there were also narrow windows in the hekal. They were by necessity very high, above the roofline of the side chambers that were around the building. These narrow windows were covered (v. 16) (most probably with lattice work or screening).

The Bible says nothing about the roof of the Temple. It would undoubtedly be nearly flat.

When Solomon built the Temple, he constructed it of stone quarried nearby in the northern quarter of the old city. This stone was limestone, and when exposed to the sun, it appears white. Thus, the exterior of the Temple had a brilliant white appearance, almost like snow, as Josephus described it. The exception would be just after sunup and just before sunset, when the white stone would take on a golden hue.

The remaining description of the Temple and associated buildings are, in the main, just summaries. Only brief comments, without all the scriptural details, and included here for reasons of space.

One on the least understood aspects of the Temple is that of the two brazen pillars that were directly in front of the Temple. “Also he made (put) before the house two pillars” (II Chron. 3:15). These were placed in front of the Temple, by the entrance, at the porch.

Picture the immensity of these pillars and their capitals. The pillars alone were about 36 feet high, with capitals of three and five cubits. In all they were more than 52 feet high. Since the bowl is over 10 feet high, it must at least be 10 feet wide. The bowl alone is as large as a small room!

Based on the 25.2-inch cubit, there would be about 500 cubic feet of brass in each pillar with its capitals. That much brass would weigh about 133 tons. The two pillars weighed about 266 tons. That quantity would explain why Nebuchadnezzar broke the pillars up and carried the brass to Babylon (Jere. 52:17).

Hiram, who made these things, was a master craftsman. He would have had to be to make such huge pillars and capitals. They are an important part of the design of God’s Temple.

Ezekiel’s references concerning God’s house include much more than the main Temple building we have been studying. Two courts surround the Temple building, as well as six gates and several additional buildings.

Entry to the inner and outer courts is through six different gates. Three gates lead to the outer court, and three gates to the inner. These gates are quite complex and involve much more than mere doors through a wall.

The gates are so important that almost one whole chapter in Ezekiel is given to describe them.

Let’s have a brief view of the eastern gate. The approach is from the east with seven steps. There are high doors of about 26 feet, with posts of about the same height on the right and left. This gate opens on a small courtyard, with three rooms on the right side and three on the left. Each of these rooms has a door and windows facing inward.

Between the rooms are tall pillars or posts with windows facing to the outside and also toward the inner part of the court. There are four of these pillars, and they are about 50 feet high.

Straight ahead is the porch of the gate. It has an entry onto the pavement of the “outer court” to the right and left, plus another entry straight ahead toward the main Temple building. This porch towers 120 feet. There are 42 projections, seven in each gate, which might be called towers, then the greatest tower of all – the porch of the Temple.

These high towers are mentioned in a prophecy of the time to come when Christ will raise up Zion: “Walk about Zion, and go round about her, count the towers thereof” (Ps. 48:13).

The porch of the house is said to have a face (Ezk. 41:25). The front of the porch is the face. The front of the individual towers, and porches, should also be considered faces.

A face, of course, is usually a part of a head. A head is also defined as that part of anything that forms or is regarded as forming the top, summit or upper end – a projecting part. There are seven such heads to each gate - the post for the doors, the four towers (improperly translated “arches” in some versions) and the one porch.

One of the psalms refers to these gates. Because of its poetic beauty, this psalm has become well-known and has been set to music by several different composers. But few really understand the significance and meaning behind it. It Is not just a lot of unusual poetic abstraction, but really means something. Let us look at this psalm from the aspect of the gates to God’s Temple.

“Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; that the King of glory may come in. ‘Who is the King of glory?’ ‘The lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.’ Lift up your heads, O ye gates, yea, lift them up, ye everlasting doors; that the King of glory may come in. ‘Who then is the King of glory?’ ‘The Lord of hosts: He is the King of glory’ “(Ps. 24:7-10).

The “heads” of the gates to God’s Temple will be constructed or “lifted up.” The doors of the gates will be set. Christ, the King of glory, will come and be in His Temple in the New World to come.

The courts of Ezekiel’s Temple are foursquare, symbolic of the ultimate, the idea and the perfect. Exact information on previous Temple courts is not mentioned in the Bible, and other sources are rather vague.

In summary, there are two courts, the inner and outer. People will be able to enter the outer court from one gate, then exit through the opposite gate. The inner court is for the use of the priests only.

In the middle of the north, east and south walls are the outer gates.

In the four corners of the outer court are cooking places for the people. On the north, east and south sides are “thirty chambers,” which are possibly dining halls associated with these cooking places.

The inner gates are identical with the outer gates, except their direction is reversed.

Two large buildings just north and south of the Temple building serve as dining halls for the priests, with the associated kitchens. The altar is in the center of the inner court.

There are many other details about the courts of the Temple that are beyond the scope of this brief overview.

Where will the Temple be built?

If this Temple is an actual, physical structure, where would it be built? On the same site as the older Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod, perhaps? Or somewhere else?

Many places in the Bible refer to Zion as the place of God’s future habitation. It is from Zion that Jesus Christ will rule the world during the Millennium. Let us notice a few of these places.

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:1-2).

This is not referring to the kingdom of David in ancient times. It is a prophecy of God’s throne during the Millennium.

“For the Lord hath chosen Zion: he hath desired it for His habitation: ‘This is My resting place for ever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it’ “(Ps. 132:13-14).

Many more scriptures confirm the same fact. The law will go forth from Zion (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2). The Lord will dwell in Mt Zion (Isa. 8:18; 18:7) and reigns in Zion (Micah 4:7). He is to be there with the 144,000 immediately after His return (Rev. 14:1).

These verses cannot refer to Old Testament times when Christ also ruled from His Temple. They can refer prophetically only to the coming time when the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Lord, will rule from Mt. Zion.

Solomon did not build the Temple on Zion

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Solomon built his Temple on Mt. Zion.

“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah” (II Chron. 3:1).

Students of the Bible acknowledge Mount Moriah to be the easternmost hill of Jerusalem, where the present Moslem “Dome of the Rock” is located. It is on this hill that all ancient Temples - Solomon’s, Zerubbabel’s and Herod’s - were built. Can this Mt. Moriah be the same as Mt. Zion?

The answer should be plain from I Kings 8:1: “Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers’ houses of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion.”

The Bible here states that the Ark of the Lord was brought from Zion to the new Temple. As we have already seen, the Temple was built on Mt Moriah. The Ark was moved from Zion to Moriah. This is made plain, clear scripture proves that Zion and Moriah are two different places.

We should know a few things about Zion. It was known as the City of David, and before that it was the Jebusite stronghold. Before that it was called Salem during the time of Melchizedek’s priesthood.

This lower extremity to the south is now generally accepted as being the location of the old Jebusite stronghold. David made this stronghold his city, adding to and strengthening it. Certainly, this can be none other than the biblical Zion.

Because of the much lower elevation compared to the hills around it, some may say that this must not be the right place. But Mt. Zion is sometimes referred to as a hill and not as a mountain. It is a narrow spur of raised ground.

This small spur of land might well be considered an unlikely place for God to set a Temple, because of its low relation to other nearby hills.

God will someday raise Zion up. It will be exalted above the hills – established as the top of the mountains (Isa. 2:2; 40:9; Micah 4:1). Christ will build up Zion (Ps. 102:16).

Christ will again rule from that same Zion, just as He did while in the office of Melchizedek from Salem, which was Zion, just as He did as the Lord of the Old Testament during the days of David, when the ark of the covenant was there.

“All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba (just north of Jerusalem) to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up” (Zech. 14:10).

God has shown by His Word where Zion is. He will raise it up in the time He has set. Then – in the New World to come- the beauty and glory of Zion shall be the joy of the whole world.

We have seen that God’s Temple in all of its aspects is unusual, singular in design. When you see this Temple in its right perspective, with the added buildings and courts, you can come to understand why it is called the city of our God. It is not just a building. It is many buildings, and yet the many parts make up one complete and harmonious whole.

Certainly, it would be the beauty of the whole world. It would be the place where the people in the New World would come to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts. It would be the place from whence rivers of living water (both physical and spiritual) will issue forth for the whole world (Ezk. 47:1-12).

“Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain” (Isa. 4:5-6).

Here is supernatural outdoor air conditioning, temperature control, a roof to protect from rain and night lightning!

All of the many scriptures referring to the beauty of Zion refer to this place. It is Zion where Christ will live and rule.

Josephus described Solomon’s Temple as a Temple that shined and dazzled the eyes of those who saw it or entered. God’s millennial Temple would be even more startling and beautiful.

The Temple is the perfection of beauty. God is the Designer. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth” (Ps. 50:2).

Jesus Christ will rule the earth with peace and happiness. His presence will make this place the most glorious and wonderful spot on earth.

God is now calling a special group of people to have a vital part in the government that will rule from Zion.

“Happy is the man whom Thou choosest, and bringest near, that he may dwell in Thy courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, the holy place of Thy temple” (Ps. 65:4)!

 
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