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Ezekiel 33-48

"THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM JEHOVAH"

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
EZEKIEL

 

God's glory and Ezekiel's call (1-3)

Israel's sin and God's judgment on them (4-24)

1.   Israel's sins (4-9)
2.   God's glory departs from the temple. (10)
3.   God's judgment on Israel's pride (11:1-13)
4.   God's grace—Israel will be restored (11:14-21)
5.   God's glory leaves Israel. (11:22-25)
6.   Israel's sins (12:1-17:24)
7.   Israel is accountable for their sin (18)
8.   A symbolic lament for Israel's princes (19)
9.   Israel's rebellion, God's patience, and the end of God's patience (20)
10. Israel's conquest by Babylon predicted (21)
11. Israel's sin and God's judgment (22-23)
12. The siege on Israel compared to a cooking pot (24)

God's judgment on the nations (25-32)

Ezekiel, Israel's watchman (33:1-20)

The fall of Jerusalem (33:21-33)

God's judgment on Israel's shepherds (34)

God's judgment on Edom (35)

The restoration of Israel (36-37)

God's judgment on the future nations that will surround and conquer Israel (38-39)

A future temple and the divisions of Israel at that time (40-48)

 

Introductory Information about the Book of Ezekiel

1. The author?  He was both a priest and a prophet.  "the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him." (Ezekiel 1:3)  He was married, but his wife died during his ministry (see 24:15-18), and he lived in his own house (see 3:24, 8:1

"There is no evidence that Ezekiel ever performed any priestly functions in Jerusalem before his deportation to Babylon.  He was taken captive to Babylon with King Jehoiachin (1:2; 33:21) in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar (597 B.C.: see II Kings 24:14).  Most of the captives deported with Ezekiel were settled at the river Chebar (1:3) which has now been identified as a royal canal of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Ps 137:1)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

He lived in Tel Abib on the banks of the Kebar River.  "In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God." (Ezekiel 1:1)  "I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—overwhelmed." (Ezekiel 3:15)

Ezekiel's prophetic ministry began in Zedekiah's reign (7:2).  Zedekiah's reign began in 593 BC.  Ezekiel was 30 years old (1:1).  This was when priests began their duties.

2. The book of Ezekiel?  Stuart Briscoe's commentary on Ezekiel is titled: All Things Weird and Wonderful.  The first three chapters describe a vision of God's glory and God calling Ezekiel into a prophet ministry.  Chapters 4 through 24 describe Israel's sins and God's judgment on them.  The dates given when these chapters were written all fall before Jerusalem was conquered.  Chapters 25 to 32 describe God's judgment on the nations.  Chapter 33 describes Ezekiel's responsibility as a watchman of Israel (33:1-20) and the fall of Jerusalem (33:21-33).  Chapter 34 describes God's judgment on Edom.  Chapters 36-37 describe the restoration of Israel.  Chapters 38-39 describe God's future judgment on the nations who will surround and attack Israel.  Chapters 40-48 describe a future temple in Israel and the division of the land of Israel.

3. What is the theme of the book?  Baxter gives us these words about the theme of the book of Ezekiel:  "We do not have to look deeply to find the key idea and the focal message of Ezekiel.  They confront us on almost every page.  With slight variations, that expression, 'They shall know that I am Jehovah,' occurs no less than seventy times.  It is used twenty-nine times in connection with Jehovah's punishment of Jerusalem; twenty-four times in connection with Jehovah's governmental judgments on the Gentile nations; and seventeen times in connection with the coming restoration and final blessing of the elect nation.  To see this is to see the heart of the book unveiled.  The elect people, and all other peoples, are to know by indubitable demonstration that Jehovah is the one true God, the sovereign Ruler of nations and history; and they are to know it by three revelations of His sovereign power—first, by the punishment of Jerusalem and the captivity of the chosen people, which came true exactly as foretold; second, by the judgments prophesied on the Gentile nations of Ezekiel's day, which also have come true exactly as foretold; and third, by the preservation and ultimate restoration of the covenant people, which had a partial fulfillment of the return of the 'Remnant' under Ezra and Nehemiah, and which is still being fulfilled in the marvelous preservation of Israel, and which is even now hastening to its millennial consummation.  This, then, is Ezekiel—"THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM JEHOVAH." "Taken from Explore the Book by J. Sidlow Baxter.  Copyright 1960 by Zondervan Publishing House."

 

THE MESSAGE OF EZEKIEL

EZEKIEL, GOD'S WATCHMAN FOR ISRAEL, TO WARN THEM OF GOD'S COMING JUDGMENT ON THEM (33)

1. Ezekiel is to be like the city watchmen of his time who were responsible to warn people of coming danger—if he warns the people and they ignore it, they are responsible (33:1-6)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: “When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.”'"

Thought Question: In what ways do we as Christians have this type of role in our society?

 

 

God uses the example of a "watchman" to explain to Ezekiel his role in Israel.  A watchman's responsibility was to blow "the trumpet" when he saw the enemy approaching the city.  If the people did not respond to his warning, it would be their responsibility for they chose to ignore his warning.  However, if he does not blow "the trumpet," it would be his fault; for he did not warn the people of the coming danger. See Gen. 42:22  See also 3:17-21

"watchman" See II Sam. 18:24-25; II Kings 9:17; Amos 3:6; Hab. 2:1

2. God made Ezekiel a watchman for Israel. (33:7-9)
"'Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.'"

Thought Question: Give a time when you warned someone that it would be dangerous to continue in the direction that they were going.

 

 

Ezekiel was chosen by God to be Israel's "watchman."  It was his responsibility to "warn" "Israel" of God's judgment.  If he did not warn "Israel," he was accountable to God for failing in his responsibility.  But, if he warned "Israel," and they did not respond, the people of "Israel" would be responsible for not heeding his "warning."

How does this apply to us?  Are our country and other countries heading for God's judgment?  If we do not warn them, we will be accountable for our silence. See also 3:16-21

3. God's message to Israel through Ezekiel a watchman for Israel. (33:10-20)
"'Son of man, say to the house of Israel, “This is what you are saying: Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” Say to them, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel? Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.” If I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. And if I say to the wicked man, “You will surely die,” but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right— if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live. Yet your countrymen say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so. Yet, O house of Israel, you say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” But I will judge each of you according to his own ways.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe God will be merciful to the wicked man who "turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right," he will be forgiven by God; but the "righteous man who turns from his righteousness and does evil" will not be forgiven?

 

 

"'Son of man, say to the house of Israel, “This is what you are saying: ‘Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?’”" See also Lam. 1:12  God's response to their awareness of their sin was to tell them that He takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked."  God's goal was that they would "turn from their ways and live."  God's desire was not to punish them for their "sins," but that they would "turn from their" "sins." See also 18:23, 32

"In verse 11 appears a beautiful blending of compassion with the demands of God's holiness, exhibiting both a yearning and a tenderness on God's part toward Israel." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

Then, Ezekiel addresses a problem in Israel.  A Jew may feel that he or she has done enough that is right to last a lifetime.  He may feel that he has done so much good that he believes that he will not be punished, even if he begins to do what is wrong. See 3:20 18:21  But, that person would be wrong, for "no man can presume on past good deeds as granting him license for evil." "Feinberg."

But, if the "wicked man" "turns" from his "sin," he will be forgiven.  "And if I say to the wicked man, “You will surely die,” but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right— if he gives back what he took in pledge for a loan, returns what he has stolen, follows the decrees that give life, and does no evil, he will surely live; he will not die."

But many felt that the judgment that they were experiencing was not fair—they believed that the calamities that they were experiencing were not their fault, but God's fault.  Here is God's response to their charges: "'Yet your countrymen say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” But it is their way that is not just.'" 

This charge of God being unfair was not unique to Ezekiel's time.  Nevertheless, God is always just.  Accepting this reality is the proper approach to our trials.  The book of Job shows us that.  Job came to this conclusion at the end of the book.  "Then Job replied to the Lord: 'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, “Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.  You said, “Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.'" (Job 42:1-6)

Habakkuk came to the same conclusion.  "But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him." (Habakkuk 2:20)  "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

JERUSALEM FALLS (33:21-32)

1. God explains, through, Ezekiel, why the city of Jerusalem fell. (33:21-26)
"In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, 'The city has fallen!' Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent. Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, “Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.” Therefore say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?”'"

Thought Question: In what ways is Israel's response to their sin the opposite of how we should respond to our sin?

 

 

"In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month on the fifth day, a man who had escaped from Jerusalem came to me and said, 'The city has fallen!'"  "Five months after the Jerusalem temple was burned down. . . . The journey between Jerusalem and Babylon could be made in four months (Ez 7:9)." "NIV Study Bible note."

"Now the evening before the man arrived, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he opened my mouth before the man came to me in the morning. So my mouth was opened and I was no longer silent." See 24:26-27  In 3:25-27, we learned that Ezekiel was prevented from speaking by God unless God gave him a message to tell to the people.  "And you, son of man, they will tie with ropes; you will be bound so that you cannot go out among the people. I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be silent and unable to rebuke them, though they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you shall say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says.' Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house." (Ezekiel 3:25-27)  Now, he is able, once again, to speak normally.

We see next, the faulty reasoning of the people living in Israel after God's judgment on them.  They felt that God blessed them on the basis of "quantity instead of quality." "Feinberg."  "Then the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, “Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.”'"

But, their lack of quality was most important to God.  "'Therefore say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things, and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?”'" See Gen. 9:4; Lev. 3:17, 7:26-27, 17:10, 19:25-26  Israel was seeking God's blessing, while still defiantly breaking His laws.

2. The land became desolate because of Israel's continued sin. (33:27-29)
"'Say this to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those who are left in the ruins will fall by the sword, those out in the country I will give to the wild animals to be devoured, and those in strongholds and caves will die of a plague. I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a desolate waste because of all the detestable things they have done.”'"

Thought Question: Why, do you believe, that God needed to be so harsh in His judgment of Israel?

 

 

Israel was unwilling to turn from their sin, even after God's judgment on Jerusalem; so, God would continue to pour out His judgment on their land.

3. The people listened to Ezekiel's words, but they did not put them into practice. (33:30-33)
"'As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, “Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.” My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.''"

Thought Question: How can what Ezekiel describes here happen in a church service?

 

 

It appears that they found Ezekiel interesting to listen to—they appear to have found him to be an entertaining speaker.  But, they were not moved to do what he told them to do. 

Can we do the same thing?  Can large audiences gather in our churches to hear exciting speakers, without doing what they hear being taught? 

"With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain."  They were doing what we also can do.  We can go to churches without really having our heart engaged.  "The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.'" (Isaiah 29:13)

"Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.'"  They saw Ezekiel's talks as entertaining—like listening to entertaining music.

But, when Ezekiel's prophesies came true, "they will know that a prophet has been among them.'"

GOD'S JUDGMENT ON ISRAEL'S SHEPHERDS (34)

1. Woe to the shepherds who only take care of themselves (34:1-6)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.”'"

Thought Question: What would what Ezekiel describes here look like if it happened in a modern-day church?

 

 

"Shepherds" describes those in Israel who had the responsibility to care for the "sheep"—the people of Israel.  These leaders were to watch over Israel in the same way as a "shepherd" of "sheep" cares for his "flock."  There are many references in the Bible that describe the leaders of Israel and the leaders in the church as being "Shepherds." See II Sam. 7:7; Ps. 78:70-72; Isa. 56:11, 63:11; Jer. 23:1-4; Mic. 5:4-5; Zech. 11:4-17; 13:7; I Pet. 5:1-4  God, Himself, is described as Israel's "shepherd." See Ps. 23, 80:1; Isa. 40:11; Jer. 31:10; Jn. 10:1-18

But Israel's "shepherds" were not caring for the people of Israel.  Instead, they were using the "sheep" for their selfish purposes.  Instead of being kind and helpful to the sheep, they were treating them "harshly and brutally."  They were scattering the "sheep" instead of keeping them safely in the "flock" under their tender care. See Lev. 25:43, 46

How does this apply to us today?  Leading a church, Sunday School class, and any group of Christians is to be done in a caring and kind way.  The opposite of this caring type of ministry is to lead out of a selfish heart seeking some type of selfish gain.  And the opposite of leading in a gentle and caring way is to be cold, heartless, harsh and brutal with God's "sheep."

2. God's judgment on the shepherds of Israel (34:7-10)
"'Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.'"

Thought Question: Give an example where a modern-day Christian leader was feeding on his flock rather than feeding them and was judged by God because of it.

 

 

"'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.'"  When Babylon conquered Israel, these "shepherds" of Israel lost their positions of leadership and were no longer able to plunder the people of Israel.

3. God will seek out the lost sheep. (34:11-16)
"'“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”'"

Thought Question: Which return of Israel to the land is being talked about here? (Do you believe that this is Israel's return in Ezra's time, in 1948, or a still future return?)  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Israel came back to their land in Ezra's time and once in the late 1940s.  But, these verses appear to be pointing to a still future return that will occur after the return of Jesus. See 11:17, 20:34, 41-42, 28:25, 36:34, 37:21, 38:8, 39:27; Mic. 2:12

"'“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”'"  The "sleek and the strong" are "those with power who had fattened themselves by oppressing the other 'sheep.'" "NIV Study Bible note."

4. God will judge between the fat sheep, the goats, and the lean sheep. (34:17-22) See Matt. 25:34-46
"'“As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another.”'"

Thought Question: Who are the two very different types of animals that are talked about here? (Why are they different from each other?)

 

 

There were those in Israel who were the oppressed and those who were the oppressors.  We can think that those who are the oppressors are getting by with it.  But, we learn here that there will be a time when they find out that God has been very aware of their selfish and oppressive form of leadership.  "Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away," 

False leaders are those who push their weight around and bump the weaker sheep.  There are those in churches that some have called power brokers.  They are those who gain power and use it to run a church.  Instead of serving those who are needy and weaker than they are, they run over people when they are in the way of their selfish and arrogant plans.  The Pharisees of Jesus' time were this type of leaders.  Sadly, they are still with us today.  They are those who lord "it over the flock." (I Pet. 5:3)  They, though, can humble themselves and God will forgive them.  " . . . All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" (1 Peter 5:5a)

5. God will place David as shepherd over Israel.  (34:23-24) See 37:24-28
"'“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.”'"

Thought Question: How do you believe "David" will become Israel's "shepherd"?

 

 

"The reference to God's servant David is be understood as David's greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press." See II Sam. 7:12-16; Jer. 23:5-6, 30:8-9; Hos. 3:4-5

6. God "will make a covenant of peace" with Israel and bless them. (34:25-31)
"'“I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Again, which return of Israel to the land is this referring to—the return in Ezra's time, the return in 1948, or a future return?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

These verses describe the peace, safety, and abundance that Israel will experience during the millennial—thousand year—reign of Christ. See Isa. 11:6-16, 35:1-10; Hos. 2:18-23; Amos 9:11-15

"there will be showers of blessing."  A hymn was written with these words as the title by Daniel Whittle: "There Shall Be Showers of Blessing."  This will be true in the millennial reign of Christ.

GOD'S JUDGMENT ON EDOM (35)

1. God's judgment on Edom is described. (35:1-4) See 25:12-14; Isa. 21:11-12; Jer. 49:7-22; Obadiah, Mal 1:2-5
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir; prophesy against it and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste. I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that there is such a repeated emphasis on God's judgment of Edom in the Bible?

 

 

Why do you believe that there is such a repeated emphasis on God's judgment of Edom in the Bible?  Feinberg puts it this way:  "Edom was considered Israel's most bitter and inveterate enemy (see Obad. 10; Ps. 137:7; Mal. 1:2-5).  His enmity was ultimately against God, hence its seriousness." "Feinberg."  "Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. 'Tear it down,' they cried, 'tear it down to its foundations!'" (Psalm 137:7)

It started out with the problems between the two brothers Jacob and Esau. See Gen. 25:19-34 It continued on with the problems between the two nations that came from these two brothers—Israel and Edom.

Here, God describes His judgment on Edom that was located on "Mount Seir."    "'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste. I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

"Mount Seir."  Because Edom was located in a mountainous region, the country is named after its primary mountain range.

Edom may have been singled out here because she was near to Israel, had rejoiced in her downfall, and had stepped into the vacuum that had been created by her troubles.  "On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them." (Obadiah 11)  "You should not march through the gates of my people in the day of their disaster, nor look down on them in their calamity in the day of their disaster, nor seize their wealth in the day of their disaster. You should not wait at the crossroads to cut down their fugitives, nor hand over their survivors in the day of their trouble." (Obadiah 13-14)

2. The reason for the judgment on Edom (I) (35:5)
"'“Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax,”'"

Esau held on to a bitter grudge against his brother, and the nation coming from Esau held onto that grudge since the time of Esau.  We see this same type of "ancient hostility" between the Arabic countries and Israel today.

3. God's judgment on Edom is described (I) (35:6-9)
"therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a desolate waste and cut off from it all who come and go. I will fill your mountains with the slain; those killed by the sword will fall on your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines. I will make you desolate forever; your towns will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the Lord."

Thought Question: Give another example of a country or group of people that was consumed by their own hatred.

 

 

The nation of Edom no longer exists.  "There is no trace of the Edomites now, although their desolate cities can still be identified, as predicted by Obadiah
(v. 18) and Jeremiah (49:13)." "Feinberg."

4. The reason for the judgment on Edom (II) (35:10-13)
"'Because you have said, “These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them,” even though I the Lord was there, therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you. Then you will know that I the Lord have heard all the contemptible things you have said against the mountains of Israel. You said, “They have been laid waste and have been given over to us to devour.” You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it.'"

Thought Question: What does this warn us not to do?

 

 

"Edom" was jealous of Israel and wanted Israel's and Judah's land to be their land, even though God had promised to Jacob's descendents and not to Esau's descendents—"even though I the Lord was there."  They were jealous of Israel.  They spoke "contemptible things" against Israel's God.  Edom's resentment against Israel was, at its heart, a resentment against God.  And God "heard all the contemptible things" they said.  God said, they have "boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it.'"

5. God's judgment on Israel is described (II). (35:14-15)
"'”This is what the Sovereign Lord says: While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. Because you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, that is how I will treat you. You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all of Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: What does this warn us not to do?

 

 

Edom' rejoicing over Israel's fall is shown here to be a completely inappropriate response.  Instead, "Edom" should have been saddened by Israel's fall.  Esau had given his birthright to Jacob. See Gen. 25:19-34  So, the land became Jacob's land and his descendents' land.  But, if Esau had loved their relatives in "Israel," and repented of their sins, God would have blessed them also.  But, instead, they held on to their resentment toward Israel and they were jealous of them.  So, when Israel fell because of their sin, "Edom" enjoyed it fully.  But a time was coming when Israel will be restored, but "Edom" will remain "desolate" because of their ungodly response to Israel's fall.

GOD'S GRACE (36-37)

1. God will restore His country that has been scorned by the nations. (36:1-15)

a. The nations will be judged for their evil attitude toward God's judgment of Israel. (36:1-7)
"'Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, “O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The enemy said of you, ‘Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.’” Therefore prophesy and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you— this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.” Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn.'"

Thought Question: What did Israel's enemies do that we should not do?

 

 

"'Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, “O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord."  "Israel" is described as the "mountains of Israel," because of its mountainous terrain.  We recently visited Israel, and almost everywhere we walked we were either going up or going down. See Ezek. 6:3; Deut. 32:13; II Sam 1:19

"'“The enemy said of you, ‘Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession.’” Therefore prophesy and say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander, therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord: This is what the Sovereign Lord says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and the deserted towns that have been plundered and ridiculed by the rest of the nations around you— this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my burning zeal I have spoken against the rest of the nations, and against all Edom, for with glee and with malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession so that they might plunder its pastureland.” Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations.'"

Israel's enemies were enjoying Israel's fall and their possession of the land that once had been Israel's land.  God's judgment of someone and/or our enemy's fall should never cause us to be delighted.  We can rejoice that sin has been defeated, but not that the sinner faces God's judgment. See Rev. 19:1-3  " . . . whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished." (Proverbs 17:5)  "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." (Proverbs 24:17-18)  "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." (Micah 7:8)

Those who looked down on "Israel" were also evil.  They enjoyed God's judgment on "Israel," but they were blind to their own evil; which also deserved God's judgment.  If we look down on someone and/or enjoy their fall, we are ignoring the fact that we also deserve God' judgment.  God desires to be gracious to us, but if we choose to be ungracious to others, God will be ungracious to us. See Matt. 18:21-35  That is what was to happen to the nations who enjoyed Israel's fall.  "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will also suffer scorn."

2. God will restore Israel. (36:8-15)
"'“But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because people say to you, “You devour men and deprive your nation of its children,” therefore you will no longer devour men or make your nation childless, declares the Sovereign Lord. No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Do you believe this time predicted by Ezekiel occurred before our time or will it happen at some time in the future?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

When Babylon conquered "Israel," God's nation became a disordered chaos.  But, "Israel" would not stay in that state, for one day she would become a great nation again.  Here, God promises to restore her to be an even more fruitful, prosperous, and populated nation than she was before.  At this predicted time, Israel will no longer be taunted and scorned by the "nations."

"Israel" has returned to the land on two occasions in history.  They returned to the land under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah after the exile under the Medo-Persians.  Then, they returned to the land in the late 1940s after World War II.  But, there is a still future return to the land that is predicted to occur after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  At that time Jesus will rule the world from Jerusalem.  It is this last return to the land that Ezekiel appears to be talking about here.  "The conditions depicted here are clearly millennial." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  Those who do not believe in a millennial rule as described in Revelation 20 will dispute this.  But Ezekiel's promise describes a time when "Israel" will not be defeated again.  "'“No longer will I make you hear the taunts of the nations, and no longer will you suffer the scorn of the peoples or cause your nation to fall, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"  That is not true today.  So, it points to a time that still future to us.

"'Because people say to you, “You devour men and deprive your nation of its children,”'"  The land upon which Israel lived had been described as a devourer of people "because of the many wars that repeatedly decimated the population in times past." "Feinberg."  In the future time of restoration, this will no longer be true.  At this time, the land of Israel is still a war zone.

3. Israel's state before this time of restoration—they profaned God's name (36:16-23)
"Again the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight. So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, “These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.” I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. Therefore say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that Israel, rather than acting like God's people, acted in unholy ways? (See Rom. 3:9-20)

 

 

 "Again the word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight." This was God's promise to Israel if they defiled the land.  "And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you." (Leviticus 18:28)  They did defile the land, and the land vomited them out of it.

God's states that to Him, Israel's sin is "like a woman’s monthly uncleanness."  Leviticus explains God's law on this: "Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening." (Leviticus 15:20-23)

"When the prophet spoke of blood poured out, he was probably referring to murders, judicial violence and even child sacrifice in the worship of idols (see 16:36, 23:37)." "Feinberg."

"So I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols. I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions. And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, “These are the Lord’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.” I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. Therefore say to the house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone."

"Israel" was a nation chosen by God to display God's glory to the nations.  But, instead, God was despised because of them. See Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24  We in God's church have the same purpose.  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light . . . " (Ephesians 5:8)  May the world see what God is like through us.

3. God will give His people a new birth (36:24-38)

a. Israel will be born again spiritually. (36:24-27)
"“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”'"

Thought Question: How did the previous verses show that Israel (and we) were in need of a new birth?

 

 

"“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”'"  Again, God's scattered people have come back to Israel on at least two occasions: after the Babylonian exile and after World War II.  This verse appears to be pointing to a still future time return. See Isa. 11:1-12, 43:5-7; Jer. 12:15; Ezek. 20:34-44; 28:25-26;  Amos 9:11-15; Zech.10:8-12, 14:8-21

"I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols."  "Here is in allusion to the Mosaic rites of purification (see Numb. 19:17-19; Isa. 4:4; Zech 13:1; Ps. 119:9)." "Feinberg."

The water of purification symbolized God cleansing us from our sinfulness.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)  "'On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,' declares the Lord Almighty. 'I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.'" (Zechariah 13:1-2)  "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6:9-11)

The blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ has cleansed those who believe in Him from the penalty for sin.  The future and promised millennial kingdom of Israel will experience this cleansing as well.

"'“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”'"

These words describe the new birth of every Christian.  We need to be born again of God's Spirit, because without God's Spirit, we are both unwilling and unable to obey God's law.  "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (Romans 8:3-8) See also Rom. 3:19-20; Gal. 2:16

"I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  Normally, "flesh" symbolizes fleshliness.  "The acts of the sinful nature [flesh] are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions" (Galatians 5:19-20)  But, here, the "heart of stone" describes a dead heart that is not able to respond to God   This "heart of stone" is contrasted with a "heart of flesh" that is alive and able to respond to God's Spirit.  The old "heart" resulted in a sinful lifestyle.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  "A stony heart is a stubborn one bent on doing its own will." "Feinberg."  They needed (and we need) a new heart that was inclined toward and desirous of living in God's ways. 

This is really one of the major messages of the Old Testament.  We need a new heart, because of what Isaiah said in Isaiah 64:6: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags . . ."

This is why Jesus was so hard on Nicodemus when He did not understand that we all need a new birth.  Nicodemus, Israel's teacher, had missed the main point of the whole Old Testament.  "Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.' In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!' Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.” The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.' 'How can this be?' Nicodemus asked. 'You are Israel’s teacher,' said Jesus, 'and do you not understand these things?'" (John 3:1-10) See also Deut. 30:6-8, Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31; Jn. 1:13; II Cor. 5:17

"'“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”'"  This promise was not fulfilled even in Jesus' time.  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)

This promise, though, is fulfilled to each person who believes in Jesus' death and resurrection.  "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9)  "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) See also Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16-18;   Isa. 44:3

b. God will bless Israel in the land, even though Israel was wicked (36:28-38)
"'You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

Thought Question: How is Israel's future experience in the new land with new hearts like our present experience with new hearts?

 

 

Israel's spiritual walk will lead to material prosperity.  "'You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine.'"

Just as we as Christians loath the type of lifestyle we lived before we were Christians, so Israel will loath the type of lifestyle they lived before God gave them new hearts.  "Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel!"

God's grace and the cleansing of Israel will result in the land of Israel going from being "desolate" to being like "the garden of Eden."  "'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.'" See Hos. 2:15-23; Amos 9:13-15

God's restoration of Israel will result in them knowing that God is "the Lord."  "'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord.'"

"I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as the flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts."  This prediction and promise was not fulfilled at the return of Israel in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah; nor did it occur during Israel's return to the land after World War II.  It awaits the return of Israel that is still in our future—the return of Israel that will occur when Jesus returns to rule as their Messiah.

4. God will restore Israel like dead bones being brought back to life. (37:1-28)

a. Ezekiel is brought by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley of dead bones. (37:1-3)
"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' I said, 'O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe this "valley" "full of bones" symbolizes?

 

 

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry." 

Ezekiel was taken in a vision "by the Spirit of the Lord" to a "valley" that was covered by "very dry" and scattered "bones."  The fact that they were "very dry" points to Israel being very dead and to Israel being dead for a long time.

"He asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' I said, 'O Sovereign Lord, you alone know.'"  Ezekiel recognized that if God, the giver of life, did not give life to these "bones," they most certainly would remain dead.

The Old Testament speaks of God's power to raise the dead. See II Kings 4:18-37; Isa. 25:8, 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Hos. 13:14

"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley;"  Ezekiel being taken places by the "Spirit" has happened a number of times in the book of Ezekiel. See 3:14-15 8:3-4, 11:1, 24, 43:5

"full of bones"  Ezekiel saw these "bones" as a place of uncleanness. See Numb. 19:16, 31:19

b. God tells Ezekiel to speak to the dead bones. (37:4-6)
"Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones and say to them, “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: When does what is pictured here take place in our modern-day world?

 

 

Ezekiel was to speak to the "dead bones" and the "dead bones" would come alive and be connected with "flesh" and "tendons."  Evangelists speak to those who are spiritually dead, and when they believe in Jesus Christ, they go from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive.

c. The dead bones come alive. (37:7-10)
"So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”' So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army."

Thought Question: Has this already happened to the nation of Israel? Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'“Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.”'"  This probably describes a nation that is dead—Israel—but comes to life from the gospel message that comes to them from the "four" corners of the world.  If this applies to them becoming a nation again, it happened when they became a nation again after the Babylonian exile and after they became a nation after World War II.  But, if this applies to them becoming spiritually alive, it will not happen until they are born of the Spirit after Jesus returns. See Jer. 31:35-40, 33:14-26; Zech. 12:10-14

d. God explains that the dead bones that came alive represent Israel coming to life. (37:11-14)
"Then he said to me: 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Has what is predicted here happened already or will it happen in the future?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

God clearly and simply interprets Ezekiel's vision.  It pictures the rebirth of Israel at a future time.  At that time, God will put His "Spirit" in them.  At that time, they will know God. See Jer. 31:33; Ezek 36:26-27; Zech. 12:10-14

e. Two sticks represent Judah and Israel (the southern and northern kingdoms) becoming one nation with one king (37:15-23)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, “Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.” Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, “Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.” Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand. When your countrymen ask you, “Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?” say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.” Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”'"

Thought Question: What is predicted in these verses?

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, “Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.” Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, “Ephraim’s stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.” Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.'"

Ezekiel is directed by God to take two sticks or two staffs and one "stick" to represent the southern kingdom of "Judah" and the other "stick" to represent the northern kingdom of Ephraim—called "Ephraim's stick."  Then, Ezekiel was to unite them together into "one stick"—predicting the future return of Israel to their land as "one" people and "one" nation.  Actually, that took place in 1948.  Also, the future reign of Jesus Christ over Israel will be over one nation as well. See Numb. 17

Israel became divided into two nations due to an unwise choice by Rehoboam, Solomon's son. See I Kings 12  God predicted through Ezekiel, the uniting of the two kingdoms again into one kingdom.

"'When your countrymen ask you, “Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?” say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.” Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.”'"

Ezekiel is directed by God to explain that the two sticks becoming "a single stick of wood," pictures God gathering Israel from out of the "nations"; bringing them "back into their own land"; and uniting them as "one nation." See Isa. 11:12-13; Jer. 3:18, 23:5-6, 31:27, 31; Hos. 11:1-11; Amos 9:11

"'“There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.”'"  This forever uniting of the "two kingdoms" into one kingdom appears to be speaking of the final restoration of Israel at Jesus' return.

"'“They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”'"  This restoration of Israel as a nation will include the people of Israel voluntarily turning to God from idolatry. See I Thess. 1:9  Again, this will be a final turning to God in the last days. See 36:25; Zech. 12:10-12

f. David will be their king forever. (37:24-28)
"'“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.”'"

Thought Question: Who will this "David" be? (Jesus, the Messiah; a resurrected "David"; or a king in the future?)  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.."'" See also 34:23  King David was promised that a descendent of his would reign forever.  See II Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:34-37  An angel explained to Mary, Jesus' mother, that her son would be that promised King.  "'You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" (Luke 1:31-33)  The book of Revelation also describes Jesus as the predicted King in David's line who will rule over Israel in the last days.  "'I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.'" (Revelation 22:16)

"They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees.."  God will change the state of their hearts so that they will want to obey Jesus their King. See 11:18-20, 36:26-27; Jer. 31:33-34

"They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever."  Again, "live there forever" describes a final kingdom in the future that will continue "forever."

"I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant."  The "covenant of peace" is the new "covenant" in Christ's blood.  "In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'" (Luke 22:20)  Jesus' blood brought us "peace" with God.  "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:19-20)

"it will be an everlasting covenant."  This "covenant" that will exist between God, Israel, and us will exist between God and us throughout our eternal relationship with Him.  "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep," (Hebrews 13:20) See 16:59-63

"and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.”'"  This "sanctuary" and this "dwelling place" appears to refer the restored millennial temple that is referred to in chapters 40-48.  The ultimate dwelling place of God is the New Jerusalem that is described in Revelations 21 and 22.

GOD'S JUDGMENT ON ISRAEL'S ENEMIES IN THE LAST DAYS    (38:1-39:21)

1. A group of nations will attack Israel in the last days (38:1-9)
"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops—the many nations with you. Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety. You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.”'"

Thought Question: When do you believe this will happen? (The different views on this will be shared later.)

 

 

"The word of the Lord came to me: 'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal." 

This prophecy that continues through chapter 39, involves a coalition of nations  that will attack Israel at some time in the future.  Interpretations vary as to who will be in this coalition of nations.  Also, there are different conclusions about when this attack by this coalition of nations will take place.

Who, then, will be in this coalition of nations?  There are two primary ways we can seek to determine who the nations will be that will take part of this future invasion.  First of all, we can trace where the people mentioned in Genesis ten had migrated to in Ezekiel's time.  Here are the places mentioned in these verses in Ezekiel 38: "Magog," "Meshech," "Tubal," "Persia," "Cush," "Put," and "Beth Togarmah."  Some of these names are listed in Genesis 10 as being sons of Japheth and another is listed as being a son of Gomer:  "The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah." (Genesis 10:2-3)  Still others are listed in Genesis 10 as the sons of Ham: " The sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan." (Genesis 10:6)  The question, then, is where had these people groups migrated to in Ezekiel's time?

At Ezekiel's time, the Japhethites were settled in Turkey and in the regions around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.  So, Ezekiel's readers would have understood Ezekiel to be referring to these regions.  The names of the Hamites were to the south of Israel—in Africa.  Since Ezekiel's day, these regions have come to have other names, such as Turkey, Libya, and Iran.

Another way of interpreting the location of these places is to try to trace the movement of the people named in Genesis 10 and Ezekiel 38 and 39 from the time of Genesis 10, Ezekiel, and on to the present time.  The problem with this method is that this migration leads to people being just about everywhere on the earth, including being in the United States.  Hal Lindsay, in his famous book The Late Great Planet Earth, explains in his chapter, "Russia is a Gog," why he believes that Russia will lead this final coalition of nations.  He quotes Herodotus, Josephus, Pliny and biblical scholars to support his view.  He also identifies "Meshech" with Moscow and "Rosh" with Russia.  He believes that Russia is "Rosh" because is it is a country to the "far north" of Israel, as predicted in 38:6, 15, and 39:2.

So, the two primary choices that we have about the identity of the coalition of nations is that they will either be a coalition of nations that are primarily Islamic, led probably by an Islamic leader (by locating the places named by where they were in Ezekiel's time); or a coalition of nations, led by a Russian leader (by locating the places named by where they are now).  Both are possible interpretations of the identity of this future coalition of nations.  Because identifying the location of those mentioned in these verses by where they are presently located could refer to just about anyone, I lean toward the view that pinpoints the places by where they were when Ezekiel made the prophecies—an Islamic coalition led by someone from the north, who will attack Israel in the future.

Alexander does not believe that "Rosh" is Russia for the following reason: "Some understand rosh to mean modern Russia, but this identity has no basis.  Those holding such a view normally appeal to etymology based on similar sounds (to the hearing) between the two terms, but such etymological procedure is not linguistically sound at all.  The term Russia is a late eleventh century A.D. term." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

"Gog"  "Apparently, a leader or king whose name appears only here and in Rev. 20:8." "NIV Study Bible note." See, though, I Chron. 5:4

"the chief prince of" The NIV note says "Or the prince of Rosh."  Here is what Feinberg has to say about the meaning of these words:  "Of the first name, Rosh, it must be admitted that it is often found as a common noun, meaning 'head.'  But most interpreters understand it to be a proper noun." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  "Proper noun" means it is a name of a person or a nation.

"Magog" See Gen. 10:2; I Chron. 1:5  "'Magog,' associated with the Japhetic line in the table of nations in Genesis 10, is referred to by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 1.6.1) as the Scythians who lived in an area around the Black and Caspian Seas.  This view is most generally accepted." "Alexander."

"Meshech," "Tubal," and "Togarmah"  These regions were most likely located in Turkey, south of the Black Sea.  "Gomer" was most likely in Turkey to the north and south of the Black Sea.

"Persia" Iran

"Cush" Feinberg says it was where Ethiopia is located today and Richardson identifies as having been in "southern Egypt and Sudan." "Interpreting the Gog Magog Invasion" by Joel Richardson."

"Put" Libya

When all these places are located on a map, they completely surround Israel.  "Persia" or Iran on the east, Turkey to the north, Sudan or Ethiopia to the south, and Libya to the south west.  Each of these countries with the exception of Ethiopia, is Islamic.  It is not difficult to imagine a coalition of Islamic nations attacking Israel in the last days.

"'“I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.”'" 

Nothing is out of God's control.  Even this attack on Israel by hordes of people will be directed by God. See Hab. 1:5-11

Ezekiel uses a description of an army that was familiar to the people of his time to describe a future army that will partly come "from the far north."  The people of that time traveled much more slowly than we do today and they did not have our modern-day communication devices; so, what is now Turkey seemed, in their time, to be to the "far north" of Israel.

"'“In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.”'" 

Now, when will this invasion of Israel take place?  What follows is a rather long attempt to answer this question.  As you will discover, this is not an easy question to answer.  I will give several possibilities and the pros and cons of each possibility.  Then, I will give my conclusion.  You will, then, have enough information so that you can also come to your own conclusion.  Here are the possible times when this invasion could occur.  The following chart will help explain the times that are given.

Time #1  Before the Tribulation (the 7-year period predicted in Dan. 9:27)
Pro:  1) It will take 7 years to use  the weapons for fuel that will be taken after this invasion.  "Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel." (Ezekiel 39:9)  Also, the 7-years corresponds to the 7-year tribulation period. 2) A defeated Islamic coalition would open up the way for the building of a Jewish temple.

Con: 1) It is unlikely that there will be a peaceful time for the Jews previous to the Tribulation with the angry Islamic countries that are surrounding Israel today.  Today, the nations that surround Israel are dedicated to the elimination of Israel (though it is possible that the circumstances between Israel and the Islamic countries could change in the future.)  2) Israel will be "profaned" again after this war.  "I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel." (Ezekiel 39:7)  In the middle of the Tribulation is the abomination of desolation—the time when Israel and God will be most profaned. See Dan. 9:27, 11:31, 12:11; Matt. 24:15  3)  After this battle, there will be "no one to make them afraid."  "They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid." (Ezekiel 39:26)  This could not be true if the invasion is before the tribulation, for the Antichrist's rule will take place in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation.  It will be the time when Israel will be more afraid than at any time in the past. See Dan. 11:36-12:1; Matt. 24:15-22

Time #2:  In the middle of the Tribulation
Pro:  1) A time of peace for Israel will precede this time due to the peace treaty enacted by the Antichrist. See Dan. 9:27  2) The coalition of nations could be led by the "king of the north" of Dan. 11:40. Compare Dan. 11:40 and Ezek. 38:5-6
Con:  1) The seven years of using "the weapons for fuel" (39:9) would extend into the millennial rule of Christ.  2) Israel's name would be "profaned" during the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation when the antichrist will rule. See 39:7  3) The battle would not result in Israel having "no one to make them afraid." (39:26)  4) The burning of the bodies would likely not take place when the Jews are fleeing to the mountains in the midpoint of the tribulation. See 39:12-13 and Matt. 24:15-22

Time #3: The end of the Tribulation (It then would be describing the battle of Armageddon.)
Pro:  1) Gog's armies, then, will be part of the armies that will gather against Israel at that time. See Zech. 12:1-14, 14:1-5  2) Both Ezekiel 39:17-20 and Revelation 19:17-18 describe Israel's and God's enemies becoming food for the birds.  3) After this battle, God will defeat all those who hate Him and there will be "no one to make" Israel "afraid." (39:26)  4) After this war, Israel's name will no longer be "profaned." (39:7)  For after this war, will come Jesus' millennial (one thousand year) reign.  5) Israel will come to know God and God " . . .will pour out" His "Spirit on the house of Israel . . . ." (Ezekiel 39:29) See also 39:22  6) This coalition of nations could be led by the "king of the south" of Dan. 11:40. 
Con: 1) The battle against Israel at the battle of Armageddon appears to include all nations and not just a select group of nations.  "I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." (Joel 3:2) See also Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 12:3, 14:2; Rev. 19:19  2) Israel will not be living in safety at the end of the Tribulation, as it says in 13:14.  "Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it?'" (Ezekiel 38:14)  3) Israel will not have "recovered from war."  "After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety." (Ezekiel 38:8)  Rather, the world will ruled by the Antichrist at the end of the Tribulation period.  4) The burning of the weapons for fuel will need to take place during the millennial rule of Christ.  "Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel." (Ezekiel 39:9)

Time #4:  In the Millennium
Pro: Israel will be living in safety after Jesus will have defeated the Antichrist and his armies—after the battle of Armageddon. See Rev. 19:11-21  2) Gog could be a leader of the nations that were defeated at the battle of Armageddon.  Jesus will rule the world with a rod of iron during His millennial rule.  This battle could be part of what He does during His rule with a rod of iron—puts down a rebellion. See Ps. 2
Con: 1) After Israel's national repentance when Jesus returns, there will be no need for Israel to come to know God.  "From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God." (Ezekiel 39:22)  "I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord." (Ezekiel 39:29) See Zech. 12:10-12  2) The rebellion of all the nations against God will have already been dealt with at the battle of Armageddon (previous to the Millennium); and Satan will be imprisoned during this part of the Millennium. See Rev. 19:19-21, 20:1-3  3) The Millennium will be a time of peace.  "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)

Time #5:  At the end of the Millennium
Pro: 1) Gog and Magog lead a war both in Ezek. 38-39 and Rev. 20:7-10.  2) Both Ezek. 38-39 and Rev. 20:7-10 describe the attack coming from four directions. See Ezek. 38:1-6 and Rev. 20:7-8  3) In both cases, there is a large number of invaders. See Ezek. 38:1 and Rev. 20:7-8  4) In both cases, God uses natural causes to defeat the army. See Ezek. 38:19-22 and Rev. 20:9
Con: 1) Rev. 20:7-10 appears to be an earth-wide war; whereas Ezek. 38-39 appears to be describing a war coming just from the nations that surround Israel.  2) The Great White Throne judgment appears to come right after the battle in Rev. 20:7-10.  That would not allow time for the 7 years of using weapons for fuel or the 7 months of burning the dead. See Ezek. 39:9-16  3) Ezek. 38-39 are followed by Ezek. 40-48, describing Israel's temple and worship during the Millennium.  The war in Rev. 20 is followed by heaven and the New Jerusalem.  4) Rev. 20:9 describes fire devouring the enemies of God.  There would be no need, then, for burying the dead for 7 months. See Ezek. 39:9-16  5) Israel will have already turned to God at the beginning of the Millennium, so they will not need to repent as it says they will do at the time of this battle.  "'From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God.'" (Ezekiel 39:22)  "'I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.'" (Ezekiel 39:29) See also Zech. 12:10-14

When, then, will this battle of "Gog" and "Magog" in Ezekiel 38-39 occur?  It is obviously not an easy question to answer.  There are a substantial number of cons on each possible time.  Although there are problems with each view, it appears to me that the middle of the Tribulation provides the best fit for this battle.  The threat from the Islamic countries that surround Israel is a looming concern for Israel as I write these words.  According to Dan. 9:27, the Antichrist will be able to secure a "covenant of peace" for 3 ½ years.  "He [the "ruler"—the Antichrist] will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' . . . " (Daniel 9:27)  This peace treaty will not eliminate the hatred by the Islamic nations for Israel and the Jews.  At the middle of that 7-year period, a "king of the north" will storm out against Israel.  "“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land [Israel]. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission. But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain [in Jerusalem] . . . '" (Daniel 11:40-45)

The problem with this view is that after this war, Israel is not to be "afraid" (39:26), and Israel's name will no longer be "profaned." (39:7)  A possible solution to this problem is that is that the time of the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation may be compressed.  Ezekiel could be highlighting this war and then moving to the end of Antichrist's reign when the Messiah will defeat the Antichrist and begin His millennial rule.

Dwight Pentecost, in his book Things To Come expresses his belief that this attack by Gog on Israel will take place in the middle of the Tribulation period.  Here are some of the arguments for this belief of His.  1) "The invasion takes place when Israel is dwelling in peace in the land (Ezek. 38:11)."  An attack by Gog could end the Antichrist's covenant of peace (9:27)   "And the invasion from the north is seen to be the cause of the breaking of the covenant. (Dan. 11:41)  It may be concluded that this attack takes place in the middle of the week."  2) All the battles at this time are one campaign against Israel  "It has been noted that the word translated 'battle' in Rev. 16:14, according to Thayer's lexicon, would better be translated 'campaign,' for this signifies the movements of armies and is in contrast to an isolated battle.  The observation, then, is that God views all these movements of the armies as one great campaign, which will be terminated by their destruction at the return of Christ."  3) The Antichrist may gain power after God is defeated. See Rev. 13:7  "Taken from Things To Come by J. Dwight Pentecost.  Copyright 1964 by Zondervan Publishing House.

No view is without its problems.  The view I have chosen appears to me to best fit for what is described in Ezek. 38-39 and the rest of the Bible. 

"'“You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land.”'"  We see here that the army that will march on Israel will be huge and very numerous.

2. The nations that will attack Israel will be guided by an evil scheme as they attack the peaceful nation of Israel. (38:10-16)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, ‘I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people — all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.’ Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?’ Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.”'"

Thought Question: What is your choice of the time that this will take place?

 

 

"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, ‘I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people — all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.’”'"

"'“thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme.”'"  and "I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords." (Ezekiel 38:4)  Here, we learn that God will sovereignly cause what will happen to Israel, and men will also choose to do it for "evil" reasons.  This is scriptural proof that God's sovereignty and man's real choices occur at the same time.  Will what will happen to Israel be God's choice or men's choice?  The answer is, both. See Acts 2:23

"'“I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.”'"  Israel is certainly not in a "peaceful" state at the time that I write these words (Nov. 2014).  Rockets were recently fired into Israel from Gaza.  Iran desires that Israel be destroyed.  When, then, will Israel be in this time of safety where there is no need for "gates and bars"?  There are two predictions of the time when this will occur:  1) In Daniel 9:27, it is predicted that the Antichrist enacts a "covenant of peace" at the beginning of the Tribulation period that will last for 3 ½ years.  2) The second period of peace is the rule of Jesus Christ in the Millennium.  "He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4) See also Rev. 20:1-3; Zech. 14:16-21  As was explained earlier, my choice for the time of the events described in Ezekiel 38-39 is the middle of the Tribulation period.

"'“I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods,”'"  The motivation for this attack will be greed.  "The enemy, greedy of Israel's wealth, will embark on a campaign of conquest for gain." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"'“at the center of the land.”'"  "The phrase 'the center of the land.' may be translated 'navel of the earth.'  Since the Hebrew word for land can also mean earth, it could be argued that theologically Jerusalem is both the center of the land of Israel and the navel of the earth.  The only other occurrence of this expression is in Judges 9:37, but that text does not refer to Jerusalem.  This fact would suggest that the translation 'the center of the land" is a better translation." "Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker."

"the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations,"  The ESV says, "the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations."  This, then, speaks of Israel returning to the land after being scattered in the "nations."  A return like this did take place when Israel once more became a nation in 1948.  Will there be another scattering among the nations and another return, or is this describing the return in 1948?  These verses could be both looking back to the return in 1948 and looking to the future return after another attack on Israel.

"'“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages will say to you, ‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?”'" 

"Sheba"  "Southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula (modern Yemen), known for trading (Job 6:19; see 23:42, 27:22; I Kings 10:1-2)." "NIV Study Bible note." See also I Kings 10:1-13, Ps. 72:10,15; Isa. 60:6; Jer. 6:20

"Dedan" "A tribe and territory in southern Edom (see 27:20; Isa. 21:13; Jer. 49:8)."  "NIV Study Bible note on Ezekiel 25:13." 

"and the merchants of Tarshish and all her villages"  "Traditionally located on the coast of southern Spain, but the island of Sardinia has been suggested.  Passages such as I Ki 10:22; Jnh 1:3 imply that it was a long distance from the Canaanite coast." "NIV Study Bible note on 27:12."

"'“‘Have you come to plunder? Have you gathered your hordes to loot, to carry off silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods and to seize much plunder?’”'"  It appears that these nations were onlookers who recognized the coalition of nations' evil and greedy purpose for attacking Israel.

"'“Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.”'"

Ezekiel summarizes what has been said before—a coalition of "nations" will come from "the far north" to attack Israel.  Again, we learn that it is God who will do this: "I will bring you against my land . . . "  God will do it "so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes."  God's powerful conquest of God will clearly demonstrate that unholiness will not ultimately prevail; for in the end, God will definitely and finally punish wickedness.

3. God will respond to Gog's attack with a mighty earthquake and with fire from the sky (38:17-23)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: Do you believe that what is described here will be caused by man (for example, a nuclear attack); will it be a natural disaster; or will it be a combination of both?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them.”'"

Throughout Israel's history, God's prophets predicted those whom God would use to carry out His judgment on Israel.  Here are some of them.  In Isaiah 10:5, there is an "Assyrian" who is to be "the rod" of God's "anger."  We learn about him in the following verses.  "'Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations. 'Are not my commanders all kings?' he says. 'Has not Calno fared like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad, and Samaria like Damascus? As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria— shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?'" (Isaiah 10:5-11)

King Nebuchadnezzar was also used by God to accomplish His purposes.  "The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young." (Deuteronomy 28:49-50)  "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will put an iron yoke on the necks of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I will even give him control over the wild animals." (Jeremiah 28:14)  "I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own." (Habakkuk 1:6)

King Cyrus of Persia was also used by God to accomplish His purposes.  "who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”'" (Isaiah 44:28) See also Isa. 45:1-13

Ezekiel may be using "Gog" to represent all of the foreign kings that God has used to accomplish His purposes.

"'“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.”'" 

There are many predictions that there will be great and terrifying earthquakes that will take place in the last days.  "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." (Matthew 24:7)  "The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls—never to rise again." (Isaiah 24:19-20)  "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red," (Revelation 6:12)  "Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake." (Revelation 8:5)  "At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven." (Revelation 11:13)  "Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake." (Revelation 16:18)

So, the first consequence against "Gog" for attacking God's nation is that there will be a great earthquake.  See also Zech. 14:3-5

Then, there will be chaos as the enemies of God end up fighting against each other.  "'“I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.”'" See Lev. 26:36-37; II Chron. 20:22-23

Then, death will come on those who attack Israel.  That death will come in many ways.  "'“I will execute judgment upon him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

The enemies of God's people will be defeated by what appears to be the forces of nature.  God will use natural forces to destroy Israel's enemy. But, this may also be predicting something like a modern-day war.

4. The nations will become food for carrion birds. (39:1-6)
"'Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel. Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”'"

Thought Question: How does knowing the final fate of those who rebel against God affect the way that you look at what is going on in the world today?

 

 

Chapter 39 continues to describe the invasion of chapter 38, but gives us some more details of that invasion.  "'“Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand.”'"  The enemy will be struck by God before they can attack Israel. 

"'“On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.”'"  This will be discussed in more detail in 39:17-20

"'“You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"  Israel's attacking enemy will die before they reach the populated areas. See Zech. 14:12-13

"'“I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”'"  "The isles referred to are the coastlands and islands of the Mediterranean.  Though the judgment on the enemies will occur in Israel, the catastrophe will extend far out to the ends of the earth to accomplish the purpose of God." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  This appears to be Ezekiel's way of describing nations that are the farthest away from Israel. See 26:15-18, 27:3-35  In the end, none will escape God's judgment.  Ultimately, the whole world will be judged for its sin.  This sounds like what would happen if there is a nuclear war.  All of the world will be affected by it. See Isa. 24

5. Their weapons will be used for fuel for seven years and it will take seven months to bury the bodies. (39:7-16)
"'“I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel. It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of. Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord. On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord. Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land.”'"

Thought Question: Will this army use "bows and arrows" or are these ancient weapons used to describe future weapons of war?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

God's period of wrath will end in the millennial rule of Christ.  Then, God will be acknowledged for who He is.  "'“I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel.”'"

"'“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel. And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

The "seven years" to burn up the enemy's weapons here and the "seven months" to bury the dead in 39:12-13 could be symbolic of the complete cleansing and purification rather than the exact times—like seven days is a complete week.

"'“On that day I will give Gog a burial place in Israel, in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea. It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

According to the Mosaic law, the land needs to be cleansed from dead bodies through burial.  "'Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.'" (Numbers 19:16) See also Deut. 21:22-23  The burial of the dead will be a massive undertaking.  "All the people of the land will bury them . . ." 

"'“in the valley of those who travel east toward the Sea.”'"  The NIV note of this verse says, "That is, the Dead Sea."  It appears that this burial place will be near the Dead "Sea."

"'“It will block the way of travelers, because Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.”'"  "The valley will be so clogged with the corpses of Gog's hosts, that that the way will be impossible for travelers." "Feinberg."

"'“So it will be called the Valley of Hamon Gog.”'"  The NIV note says "Hamon Gog  means the hordes of Gog."  So, it will be named "the Valley of the hordes "of Gog."  It will be a memorial to God's total defeat of "Gog."  "'“All the people of the land will bury them, and the day I am glorified will be a memorable day for them, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

"'“Men will be regularly employed to cleanse the land. Some will go throughout the land and, in addition to them, others will bury those that remain on the ground. At the end of the seven months they will begin their search. As they go through the land and one of them sees a human bone, he will set up a marker beside it until the gravediggers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon Gog. (Also a town called Hamonah will be there.) And so they will cleanse the land.”'"

Individual "men" of Israel will be occupied with removing each "bone" of their fallen enemy.  Each "bone" must be buried so that "the land" will be cleansed from the mass conquest of the hordes of "Gog."  This cleansing of the land may be needed to cleanse the land from the radiation caused by a nuclear-type war.

6. The birds will eat the flesh of the fallen army of Gog. (39:17-20)
"'Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: “Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls—all of them fattened animals from Bashan. At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,” declares the Sovereign Lord.'" See also 39:4; Rev. 19:17-20; Isa. 34:6-8; Zeph. 1:7-8

Thought Question: Why, do your believe, God will judge evil in such a total way? (And describe that judgment in such graphic ways?)

 

 

There will be such a mass annihilation that the bodies of the dead soldiers will draw birds in large numbers to feast on the meat of the carcasses. See also Isa. 66:15-16; Zech. 14:12

7. Israel will know that He is God. (39:21-29)
"'I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: How is God's plan for mankind similar to His plan for Israel?

 

 

"'I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them."  Ezekiel predicts that after this defeat of "Gog" that the peoples of the world will see God's power and His righteous response to wickedness and rebellion against Him.  After 9/11, people became God-fearing for a short time.  People will become God-fearing after God so powerfully intervenes to protect His people.

"From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them." 

The Old Testament is becoming less and less familiar to people.  It is full of God's judgment on Israel and the nations.  But, because nothing appears to be happening that is God's doing, most have marginalized the teachings of the Old Testament until many or most do not see it as having any importance or relevance to us.  But, when something as significant as the dramatic and complete defeat of this huge army occurs, the Old Testament prophecies will suddenly be of importance.  And people will seek to know about God's plan for Israel—why has God done with them as He has?

"From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them." 

Here, Ezekiel describes the future restoration of Israel that God has promised throughout the Old Testament. See 20:34-44, 28:25-26, 36:22-38; Isa. 11:10-12, 43:5-7; Jer. 12:15; Amos 9:11-15; Zech 10:8-12, 14:8-21

THE RESTORATION OF THE TEMPLE (40-48)
In Ezekiel chapters 40-48, there is a description of a future temple.  When will this temple be built?  "Some interpret this passage as Solomon's Temple, the Temple constructed by Zerubbabel upon his return from the Babylonian captivity (either real or proposed), or Herod's Temple at the time of Christ's first coming.  Others, accepting almost none of the text as literal, take most elements of the passage as purely symbolic of the Christian church, and its earthly blessings and glories." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."  "Who can dispute the results of 'spiritual' interpretation, for the student, himself, is always the authority." "Alexander."

Alexander and Charles Feinberg conclude, as I do, that this is the temple that will be built and will exist during the 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ that is called the Millennium.  The main problem with this view is that, since the sacrifices made in Old Testament times pointed to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, it appears that temple sacrifices are no longer needed. See Heb. 9:12-15, 23-28, 10:1-14  The best answer appears to be that this temple and the sacrifices offered there will point back to Christ's sacrifice, as the Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward to His sacrifice.  Also, as Alexander points out, "the millennial sacrificial system is mentioned not only in Ezekiel, but also in Isaiah (56:5-7, 60:7, 13, 66:20-23), Jeremiah (33:15-22) and Zechariah (14:16-21)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

Feinberg makes these observations about the temple described in Ezek. 40-48:  "Pentecost is not mentioned among the great feasts, perhaps because of its so distinctive fulfillment in Christian times.  Second, there is no reference to the ark of the covenant because God's glory fills all.  Jeremiah 3:16-18 will be realized in that age.  Third, no high priest is spoken of, for Christ is the High Priest (see  Zech. 6:12-13).  Last, no king is referred to, for the Lord is King (cf. Zech 14:9, 16-17)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

a. Introduction to the vision of the temple (40:1-4) (Ezekiel sees an angel at the gate of a temple.)
"In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the Lord was upon me and he took me there. In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city. He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand. The man said to me, 'Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see."

Thought Question: Where and when, do you believe, this vision is referring to?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

"In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth of the month, in the fourteenth year after the fall of the city—on that very day the hand of the Lord was upon me and he took me there."  "This last section is separated from the earlier part of the book by an interval of thirteen years.  The last dated prophecy was 32:17." "Feinberg."

"In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city."  Ezekiel sees "a very high mountain" in the future.  Other parts of the Old Testament also describe the "mountain" that will be present in the future.  "In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it." (Isaiah 2:2)  "In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it." (Micah 4:1)  "This is what the Lord says: 'I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.'" (Zechariah 8:3)

"He took me there, and I saw a man whose appearance was like bronze; he was standing in the gateway with a linen cord and a measuring rod in his hand."  "bronze"  The glorified Jesus is described also as being "like bronze."  "His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters." (Revelation 1:15)  Daniel also saw an angel who had " . . . arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze . . ." (Daniel 10:6) See also Ezek. 1:5-14, 8:2  "Bronze" could picture the holiness of this "man."  Feinberg believes that this "man" was the pre-incarnate Jesus. See also 44:2,5

"The man said to me, 'Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see."  Ezekiel is alerted that he needed to "pay" careful "attention" to what he is about to see.  And, then, he was to tell Israel about it.  What is recorded in Ezekiel 40-48 is Ezekiel telling Israel (and us) about it.

b. The east gate of the outer court (40:5-16)
"I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high. Then he went to the gate facing east. He climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the gate; it was one rod deep. The alcoves for the guards were one rod long and one rod wide, and the projecting walls between the alcoves were five cubits thick. And the threshold of the gate next to the portico facing the temple was one rod deep. Then he measured the portico of the gateway; it was eight cubits deep and its jambs were two cubits thick. The portico of the gateway faced the temple. Inside the east gate were three alcoves on each side; the three had the same measurements, and the faces of the projecting walls on each side had the same measurements. Then he measured the width of the entrance to the gateway; it was ten cubits and its length was thirteen cubits. In front of each alcove was a wall one cubit high, and the alcoves were six cubits square. Then he measured the gateway from the top of the rear wall of one alcove to the top of the opposite one; the distance was twenty-five cubits from one parapet opening to the opposite one. He measured along the faces of the projecting walls all around the inside of the gateway—sixty cubits. The measurement was up to the portico facing the courtyard. The distance from the entrance of the gateway to the far end of its portico was fifty cubits. The alcoves and the projecting walls inside the gateway were surmounted by narrow parapet openings all around, as was the portico; the openings all around faced inward. The faces of the projecting walls were decorated with palm trees."

Thought Question: Why do you believe the "walls were decorated with palm trees"?

 

 

"I saw a wall completely surrounding the temple area. The length of the measuring rod in the man’s hand was six long cubits, each of which was a cubit and a handbreadth. He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high."  A "cubit" is about a foot and a half long.  A "long cubit" was about 21".  The "measuring rod" in his "hand was six long cubits."  So, "six long cubits" was 6 X 21 or 10 ½ feet long.

"He measured the wall; it was one measuring rod thick and one rod high."  The "wall" was 10 ½ feet "thick" and 10 ½ feet "high." 

"Then he went to the gate facing east. He climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the gate; it was one rod deep. The alcoves for the guards were one rod long and one rod wide, and the projecting walls between the alcoves were five cubits thick. And the threshold of the gate next to the portico facing the temple was one rod deep. Then he measured the portico of the gateway; it was eight cubits deep and its jambs were two cubits thick. The portico of the gateway faced the temple."

This "gate" is important, for when one went into it, one came out of the "gate" immediately at the front of the "temple."  Also, the "guards" of the "temple" will reside in "the alcoves" during their watches. See II Chron. 12:11  Furthermore, the glory of God will return to Israel through this gate. See 43:1-5 After God's glory passes through this gate, it will be shut and only the prince could enter and eat in it.  But, he must enter into it and "go out the same way." (44:3) See 44:1-3

"The faces of the projecting walls were decorated with palm trees."  "The palm tree was a symbol of beauty (Song of Sol. 7:7); fruitfulness (Ps. 92:12-14); salvation and victory (Rev. 7:9); and regal glory (Jn. 12:13).  It is characteristic of the millennial age of which Solomon's reign was typical (I Kings 6:29, 32, 35, 7:36; II Chron. 3:5).  Palm branches were used in the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40; Neh. 8:15), a festival typical of the millennium also (Zech. 14:16 ff.)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

c. The outer court (40:17-18)
"Then he brought me into the outer court. There I saw some rooms and a pavement that had been constructed all around the court; there were thirty rooms along the pavement. It abutted the sides of the gateways and was as wide as they were long; this was the lower pavement."

The "thirty rooms" "The exact location of these rooms is not given.  They were probably intended for the people's use. (see Jer. 35:2,4)." NIV Study Bible note." See also Neh. 13:4-14

d. The north gate (40:19-23)
"Then he measured the distance from the inside of the lower gateway to the outside of the inner court; it was a hundred cubits on the east side as well as on the north. Then he measured the length and width of the gate facing north, leading into the outer court. Its alcoves—three on each side—its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as those of the first gateway. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its openings, its portico and its palm tree decorations had the same measurements as those of the gate facing east. Seven steps led up to it, with its portico opposite them. There was a gate to the inner court facing the north gate, just as there was on the east. He measured from one gate to the opposite one; it was a hundred cubits."

The dimensions of the "north" "gate" are identical to dimensions of the east "gate."

e. The south gate (40:24-27)
"Then he led me to the south side and I saw a gate facing south. He measured its jambs and its portico, and they had the same measurements as the others. The gateway and its portico had narrow openings all around, like the openings of the others. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Seven steps led up to it, with its portico opposite them; it had palm tree decorations on the faces of the projecting walls on each side. The inner court also had a gate facing south, and he measured from this gate to the outer gate on the south side; it was a hundred cubits."

The measurements of this "gate facing south" is the same as the measurements of the east and north "gates."

f. The three gate ways lead to the inner court (40:28-37)
"Then he brought me into the inner court through the south gate, and he measured the south gate; it had the same measurements as the others. Its alcoves, its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as the others. The gateway and its portico had openings all around. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. (The porticoes of the gateways around the inner court were twenty-five cubits wide and five cubits deep.) Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated its jambs, and eight steps led up to it. Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side, and he measured the gateway; it had the same measurements as the others. Its alcoves, its projecting walls and its portico had the same measurements as the others. The gateway and its portico had openings all around. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated the jambs on either side, and eight steps led up to it. Then he brought me to the north gate and measured it. It had the same measurements as the others, as did its alcoves, its projecting walls and its portico, and it had openings all around. It was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide. Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated the jambs on either side, and eight steps led up to it."

Thought Question: What, do you believe, is the reason that there will be a wall surrounding the temple, so that one will need to go through a "gate" to come into vicinity of the temple?

 

 

"(The porticoes of the gateways around the inner court were twenty-five cubits wide and five cubits deep.) Its portico faced the outer court; palm trees decorated its jambs, and eight steps led up to it."  There were three gates that took those who went through them from outside the wall of the temple enclosure into the "outer court" of the temple.  Then, there were three other gates that took the people who went through them from the "outer court" into the inner court of the temple.  The "porticoes" (porches) of the outer gates "faced the temple." (40:9).  The "porticoes" of the inner gates "faced the outer court" (40:31) and away from the temple.

g. The rooms for preparing the sacrifices (40:38-43)
"A room with a doorway was by the portico in each of the inner gateways, where the burnt offerings were washed. In the portico of the gateway were two tables on each side, on which the burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings were slaughtered. By the outside wall of the portico of the gateway, near the steps at the entrance to the north gateway were two tables, and on the other side of the steps were two tables. So there were four tables on one side of the gateway and four on the other—eight tables in all—on which the sacrifices were slaughtered. There were also four tables of dressed stone for the burnt offerings, each a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit high. On them were placed the utensils for slaughtering the burnt offerings and the other sacrifices. And double-pronged hooks, each a handbreadth long, were attached to the wall all around. The tables were for the flesh of the offerings."

Thought Question: Why do you believe the animals were killed inside of the walls surrounding the temple?

 

 

In this future temple, there are to be rooms next to the porticoes (porches) of the inner gates where "the burnt offerings" will be "washed."  The NIV translation has the place of the washing and slaughter of offerings to be located in "each of the inner gate ways," whereas the ESV, KJV, and NASB has this occurring at one location—the northern gate as referred to in 40:35-37.  The slaughter of animals for offerings at the north of the temple follows the instructions given in Leviticus 1:11. See also Lev. 6:25, 7:2

There will be "tables" for the slaughter of the various types of offerings—burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings.  "Tables for the slaughter of specified offerings are located both in the porch of the northern inner gate and also outside that gate on either side.  There are eight tables altogether, four inside and four outside (40:39-43 . . . )." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

h. The priests' rooms (40:44-47)
"Outside the inner gate, within the inner court, were two rooms, one at the side of the north gate and facing south, and another at the side of the south gate and facing north. He said to me, 'The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the Lord to minister before him.' Then he measured the court: It was square—a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits wide. And the altar was in front of the temple."

Thought Question: Why were the "sons of Zadok" the "only Levites" who were allowed to "draw near to the Lord to minister before him"?

 

 

"Outside the inner gate, within the inner court, were two rooms, one at the side of the north gate and facing south, and another at the side of the south gate and facing north. He said to me, 'The room facing south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, and the room facing north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who are the only Levites who may draw near to the Lord to minister before him.'"

"The Lord chose Zadok when He set aside the house of Eli at the time of Solomon, who deposed the family of Ithamar from the priesthood because Abiathar had joined the rebellion of Adonijah (see I Kings 1:7; 2:26-27)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press." See also 43:19, 44:15, 48:11

i. The entrance to the temple (40:48-49)
"He brought me to the portico of the temple and measured the jambs of the portico; they were five cubits wide on either side. The width of the entrance was fourteen cubits and its projecting walls were three cubits wide on either side. The portico was twenty cubits wide, and twelve cubits from front to back. It was reached by a flight of stairs, and there were pillars on each side of the jambs."

The entrance to the temple was "similar to the portico in Solomon's temple but slightly larger. (see 1Ki 6:3)" "NIV Study Bible note."  The porch of the millennial temple is about 20 cubits plus the width of the walls on either side, making it wider than Solomon's temple where the porch is 20 cubits wide in its entirely.  Also, the porch of Solomon's temple was 10 cubits deep; whereas, the porch of the millennial temple will be "twelve cubits from front to back."

"pillars"  The "pillars" in Solomon's temple were named.  "He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz." (1 Kings 7:21)

j. The outer sanctuary of the temple (41:1-2)
"Then the man brought me to the outer sanctuary and measured the jambs; the width of the jambs was six cubits on each side. The entrance was ten cubits wide, and the projecting walls on each side of it were five cubits wide. He also measured the outer sanctuary; it was forty cubits long and twenty cubits wide."

The "outer sanctuary" is called the "Holy Place" in the tabernacle and Solomon's temple. See Exod. 26:33; I Kings 8:8  In Ezekiel's temple and Solomon's temple, the "Holy Place" "was forty cubits long and twenty cubits wide."  The total size of Solomon's temple was "was sixty cubits long and twenty cubits wide . . ."       (II Chronicles 3:3)  The Holy of Holies was " . . . twenty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. . . " (II Chronicles 3:8)

"The dimensions for the inner sanctuary were the same as those for Solomon's temple and twice as much as those for the tabernacle in the wilderness." "Feinberg." (twenty cubits by tweny cubits versus ten cubits by ten cubits)

k. The inner sanctuary of the temple (41:3-4)
"Then he went into the inner sanctuary and measured the jambs of the entrance; each was two cubits wide. The entrance was six cubits wide, and the projecting walls on each side of it were seven cubits wide. And he measured the length of the inner sanctuary; it was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits across the end of the outer sanctuary. He said to me, 'This is the Most Holy Place.'"

The "inner sanctuary" is called the Holy of Holies or "the Most Holy Place."  In the tabernacle it was ten cubits square.  In Solomon's temple and in Ezekiel's temple it was and it will be twenty cubits square.  "He built the Most Holy Place, its length corresponding to the width of the temple—twenty cubits long and twenty cubits wide. He overlaid the inside with six hundred talents of fine gold." (II  Chronicles 3:8)  "And he measured the length of the inner sanctuary; it was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits across the end of the outer sanctuary. He said to me, 'This is the Most Holy Place.'" See also I Kings 8:6

l. The wall and the side chambers of the temple (41:5-11)
"Then he measured the wall of the temple; it was six cubits thick, and each side room around the temple was four cubits wide. The side rooms were on three levels, one above another, thirty on each level. There were ledges all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side rooms, so that the supports were not inserted into the wall of the temple. The side rooms all around the temple were wider at each successive level. The structure surrounding the temple was built in ascending stages, so that the rooms widened as one went upward. A stairway went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor. I saw that the temple had a raised base all around it, forming the foundation of the side rooms. It was the length of the rod, six long cubits. The outer wall of the side rooms was five cubits thick. The open area between the side rooms of the temple and the priests’ rooms was twenty cubits wide all around the temple. There were entrances to the side rooms from the open area, one on the north and another on the south; and the base adjoining the open area was five cubits wide all around."

Thought Question: Why do you believe that this future millennial "temple" will be larger and contain many more rooms than the "temple" Solomon built?

 

 

"Then he measured the wall of the temple; it was six cubits thick, and each side room around the temple was four cubits wide. The side rooms were on three levels, one above another, thirty on each level. There were ledges all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side rooms, so that the supports were not inserted into the wall of the temple. The side rooms all around the temple were wider at each successive level. The structure surrounding the temple was built in ascending stages, so that the rooms widened as one went upward. A stairway went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor."

"There were three levels (tiers) of thirty rooms per tier on the sides of the temple (see 1 Kgs. 6:5-10), giving a total of ninety side rooms.  The rooms widened as they progressed upward.  Access to these different levels was by way of a stairway that went up from the lowest floor to the top floor through the middle floor.  These rooms may have been used for the storage of temple equipment as well as temple treasures (2 Kgs. 14:14)." "Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker."

"I saw that the temple had a raised base all around it, forming the foundation of the side rooms. It was the length of the rod, six long cubits. The outer wall of the side rooms was five cubits thick. The open area between the side rooms of the temple and the priests’ rooms was twenty cubits wide all around the temple."

"The outer wall" was the "wall" on the outside of "the side rooms." See 41:5

"and the priests’ rooms was twenty cubits wide all around the temple. There were entrances to the side rooms from the open area, one on the north and another on the south; and the base adjoining the open area was five cubits wide all around."  The "open area" was a space between the "outer wall" and the wall of the temple. See 40:5

m. The temple building (41:12-20)
"The building facing the temple courtyard on the west side was seventy cubits wide. The wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length was ninety cubits. Then he measured the temple; it was a hundred cubits long, and the temple courtyard and the building with its walls were also a hundred cubits long. The width of the temple courtyard on the east, including the front of the temple, was a hundred cubits. Then he measured the length of the building facing the courtyard at the rear of the temple, including its galleries on each side; it was a hundred cubits. The outer sanctuary, the inner sanctuary and the portico facing the court, as well as the thresholds and the narrow windows and galleries around the three of them—everything beyond and including the threshold was covered with wood. The floor, the wall up to the windows, and the windows were covered. In the space above the outside of the entrance to the inner sanctuary and on the walls at regular intervals all around the inner and outer sanctuary were carved cherubim and palm trees. Palm trees alternated with cherubim. Each cherub had two faces: the face of a man toward the palm tree on one side and the face of a lion toward the palm tree on the other. They were carved all around the whole temple. From the floor to the area above the entrance, cherubim and palm trees were carved on the wall of the outer sanctuary."

Thought Question: Why do you believe there is so many measurements of "one hundred cubits"?

 

 

"The building facing the temple courtyard on the west side was seventy cubits wide. The wall of the building was five cubits thick all around, and its length was ninety cubits."  Ezekiel does not explain to us what will be the purpose of this building.  It was at the back of the "temple" on "the west side."

"Then he measured the temple; it was a hundred cubits long, and the temple courtyard and the building with its walls were also a hundred cubits long. The width of the temple courtyard on the east, including the front of the temple, was a hundred cubits."

There was a number of measurements here that are "a hundred cubits."  The "temple" was that long.  The "temple courtyard" was that long.  The distance from the gate to the "temple" to the "temple" was that long.  It was called the "temple courtyard."  The "building" of 41:12 was that long (90 cubits plus two walls of 5 cubits.)  The "hundred cubits" appears to symbolize the perfection of heaven.

"The outer sanctuary, the inner sanctuary and the portico facing the court, as well as the thresholds and the narrow windows and galleries around the three of them—everything beyond and including the threshold was covered with wood. The floor, the wall up to the windows, and the windows were covered. In the space above the outside of the entrance to the inner sanctuary and on the walls at regular intervals all around the inner and outer sanctuary were carved cherubim and palm trees. Palm trees alternated with cherubim. Each cherub had two faces: the face of a man toward the palm tree on one side and the face of a lion toward the palm tree on the other. They were carved all around the whole temple. From the floor to the area above the entrance, cherubim and palm trees were carved on the wall of the outer sanctuary."

Solomon's "temple" also had carved "cherubim and palm trees."  "On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers." (I Kings 6:29)  But, in Solomon's "temple" there was also the presence of gold.  "He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold. For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood with five-sided jambs." (I Kings 6:30-31)  But, here in Ezekiel's "temple" it is "covered with wood."  Solomon's "temple" was also covered with wood.  "He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, paneling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, and covered the floor of the temple with planks of pine." (I Kings 6:15)  But, in Ezekiel's "temple" there is no mention of gold.

The "cherubim" predict Israel's re-access to the presence of God through the blood of Jesus.  "Cherubim" prevented Adam and Eve from returning to God's presence in the Garden of Eden.  "After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24)

The "cherubim" had "two faces."  "Each cherub had two faces: the face of a man toward the palm tree on one side and the face of a lion toward the palm tree on the other. They were carved all around the whole temple. From the floor to the area above the entrance, cherubim and palm trees were carved on the wall of the outer sanctuary."  The "cherubim" that Ezekiel saw that are described in Ezekiel 1, had four faces.  "Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel 1:10)  A simple and possible explanation for the "two faces" is that they were carved into two-dimensional "wood." 

"galleries"  "The galleries spoken of were terraced buildings with decorations described as cherubim and palm trees covering them from top to bottom." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

n. The altar (41:21-26)
"The outer sanctuary had a rectangular doorframe, and the one at the front of the Most Holy Place was similar. There was a wooden altar three cubits high and two cubits square; its corners, its base and its sides were of wood. The man said to me, 'This is the table that is before the Lord.' Both the outer sanctuary and the Most Holy Place had double doors. Each door had two leaves—two hinged leaves for each door. And on the doors of the outer sanctuary were carved cherubim and palm trees like those carved on the walls, and there was a wooden overhang on the front of the portico. On the sidewalls of the portico were narrow windows with palm trees carved on each side. The side rooms of the temple also had overhangs."

Thought Question: Which "altar" do you believe is being referred to here?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

This "altar" is the "altar" of incense and not the altar where sacrifices will be offered. See Exod. 30:1-6 and I Kings 7:48 for descriptions of the altars of incense in the tabernacle and the temple.

The table of the presence and the candelabra are not mentioned; probably because they pointed to Jesus, and Jesus will be present on earth during the time that this temple will be present on earth—at some time in the future.

Also, the ark of the covenant is not mentioned.  This fulfills a prediction by Jeremiah.  "'In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,' declares the Lord, 'men will no longer say, “The ark of the covenant of the Lord.” It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.'" (Jeremiah 3:16-17)

o. The rooms for the priests (42:1-12)
"Then the man led me northward into the outer court and brought me to the rooms opposite the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall on the north side. The building whose door faced north was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. Both in the section twenty cubits from the inner court and in the section opposite the pavement of the outer court, gallery faced gallery at the three levels. In front of the rooms was an inner passageway ten cubits wide and a hundred cubits long. Their doors were on the north. Now the upper rooms were narrower, for the galleries took more space from them than from the rooms on the lower and middle floors of the building. The rooms on the third floor had no pillars, as the courts had; so they were smaller in floor space than those on the lower and middle floors. There was an outer wall parallel to the rooms and the outer court; it extended in front of the rooms for fifty cubits. While the row of rooms on the side next to the outer court was fifty cubits long, the row on the side nearest the sanctuary was a hundred cubits long. The lower rooms had an entrance on the east side as one enters them from the outer court. On the south side along the length of the wall of the outer court, adjoining the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall, were rooms with a passageway in front of them. These were like the rooms on the north; they had the same length and width, with similar exits and dimensions. Similar to the doorways on the north were the doorways of the rooms on the south. There was a doorway at the beginning of the passageway that was parallel to the corresponding wall extending eastward, by which one enters the rooms." *

Thought Question: Some Bibles have a chart or a picture of this future temple.  Looking at this type of chart is helpful in picturing what this temple will be like.*

 

 

"Then the man led me northward into the outer court and brought me to the rooms opposite the temple courtyard and opposite the outer wall on the north
side."  Ezekiel is led outside of the "temple" and into the "temple courtyard."  The function of  "the rooms" is described in 42:13:  "Then he said to me, 'The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests’ rooms, where the priests who approach the Lord will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy.'"  These "rooms" were used by the priests when they were on duty.  In the Old Testament, some of the priests were always on duty, on a rotating basis.  There were 24 divisions of priests in the Old Testament time. See I Chron. 24:1-19  Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was on duty as a priest in "the priestly division of Abijah" when the angel Gabriel appeared to him. See Lk. 1:5-25

There were two buildings to house the priests, one on the north side of the outer court and one on its south side.  Each building "was a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide." (42:2)  The northern building is described in 42:1-9 and the southern building is described in 42:10-12.  The two buildings are to be next to the "temple courtyard" on one side and next to the outer "courtyard" on the other side (one will be on  the south side of the outer "courtyard" and the other one will be on the south side of the outer "courtyard").  The two buildings are to be three stories high.  "'Now the upper rooms were narrower, for the galleries took more space from them than from the rooms on the lower and middle floors of the building. The rooms on the third floor had no pillars, as the courts had; so they were smaller in floor space than those on the lower and middle floors.'" (Ezekiel 42:5-6)

"There was an outer wall parallel to the rooms and the outer court; it extended in front of the rooms for fifty cubits." (Ezekiel 42:7)  "These walls may provide privacy for the rooms." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

The building on the south side was identical to the building for the priests on the north side. See 42:10-12

*The details in these verses on the millennial temple are hard to visualize.  There is an "Ezekiel Temple Vision - Chapter 40 - 3D Animation - YouTube" that is available on the internet that helps us to visualize what this temple will look like.

p. The function of the priests' rooms (42:13-14)
"Then he said to me, 'The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests’ rooms, where the priests who approach the Lord will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy. Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the "priests" were not to leave the "holy precincts" and go into the "outer courts" while wearing their priestly "garments"?

 

 

The priests in the Old Testament were able to eat some portions of some sacrifices.  "The Lord said to Moses, 'Say to Aaron and his sons: “These are the regulations for the sin offering: The sin offering is to be slaughtered before the Lord in the place the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. The priest who offers it shall eat it; it is to be eaten in a holy place, in the courtyard of the Tent of Meeting. Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy, and if any of the blood is spattered on a garment, you must wash it in a holy place. The clay pot the meat is cooked in must be broken; but if it is cooked in a bronze pot, the pot is to be scoured and rinsed with water. Any male in a priest’s family may eat it; it is most holy. But any sin offering whose blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place must not be eaten; it must be burned.”'" (Leviticus 6:24-30) See Lev. 2:3, 7:6  It appears that the priests in the millennial temple will also be able to eat "the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings." 

"Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people.'"  The priest's "rooms" also will contain the special clothes that the priests shall wear when they do their priestly duties at the millennial temple.  They will remove these "garments" before going back to the outer court where the rest of the people will be.  This will be done to separate that which is associated with God's holiness from that which is common and unholy.

q. The outside of the temple (42:15-20)
"When he had finished measuring what was inside the temple area, he led me out by the east gate and measured the area all around: He measured the east side with the measuring rod; it was five hundred cubits. He measured the north side; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. He measured the south side; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. Then he turned to the west side and measured; it was five hundred cubits by the measuring rod. So he measured the area on all four sides. It had a wall around it, five hundred cubits long and five hundred cubits wide, to separate the holy from the common."

Thought Question: This is a larger area than was occupied by the previous temples.  What do you believe will happen that will cause the "temple area" to be larger?

 

 

The area of this temple will be larger than Solomon's temple area.  "The buildings formed a square of five hundred cubits. . . The entire area was much too large for Mount Moriah where Solomon's and Zerubbabel's temples stood.  The scheme requires a great change in the topography of the land which will occur as indicated in Zechariah 14:9-11, the very time which Ezekiel had in view." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  "The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name. The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure." (Zechariah 14:9-11)

Alexander expresses his concern about the NIV's translation of "five hundred cubits."  (in 42:16-20)  "Some translations and some expositors immediately reject the term 'rods' (or 'reeds') and replace it with what they feel is the more suitable term, 'cubit.'  The large majority of manuscripts and versions have the word 'cubit' instead of 'rod.' . . . No one knows the exact topography that will be in the Millennium.  Therefore, this writer sees no reason to alter the term 'rod.'" "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

2. God's glory returns to the temple. (43)

a. God's glory comes from the east and enters the temple through the eastern gate; and His glory fills the temple. (43:1-5)
"Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple."

Thought Question: When do you believe this prediction will be fulfilled and the "glory of the Lord" will return to God's temple in Jerusalem?

 

 

"Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory."  As the "glory of God" departed from the "east" gate, so the "glory of God" will return to Jerusalem from the "east."  The "glory of God" departing from Israel is recorded in Ezekiel 10 and 11.  "Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them." (Ezekiel 10:18-19)  "Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it." (Ezekiel 11:22-23)

"His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory."  There is another time when God's "voice" sounded like "rushing waters."  "His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters." (Revelation 1:15) See also Ezek. 1:24; Rev. 19:1,6

"radiant with his glory."  God's "glory" includes the fact that He is light and His radiance turns on the light and reveals to us what is holy and what is not holy. "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5)

"The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen when he came to destroy the city and like the visions I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown."  See 8:1-18, 9:5-11

"The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple."  God filling the Holy of Holies is similar to what happened at the beginning of the tabernacle in Moses' time and the beginning of the temple in Solomon's time.  "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34-35)  "When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple." (I Kings 8:10-11) See also II Chron. 5:13-14, 7:1-3

b. Ezekiel is told by the angel that God will dwell with Israel (43:6-9)
"While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple. 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. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places. When they placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by their detestable practices. So I destroyed them in my anger. Now let them put away from me their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings, and I will live among them forever."

Thought Question:  How can we apply this to God's indwelling in us as His holy temples? See I Cor. 3:16, 6:19-20

 

 

"While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from inside the temple. 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. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and the lifeless idols of their kings at their high places.'" 

Feinberg believes that the "man whose appearance was like bronze" (40:3) was God.  Another interpretation is given by Alexander who believes that the man was standing beside Ezekiel, as God spoke to Ezekiel.

God tells Ezekiel that at the time of this temple in the future millennial kingdom, Israel "will never again defile" God's "holy name" by practicing idolatry.  "The modern mind has no concept of the depths of the degradation and filth to which the idolatry of that day led, unless one has read somewhat widely in extrabiblical sources." "Feinberg." See 8:1-9:10

"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.'"  The temple will become the place where God will put His throne forever.

Verse seven in the 2011 NIV and the ESV read differently in verse 7:  Here, first of all is the NIV version:  "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.  The people of Israel will never again defile my holy name—neither they nor their kings—by their prostitution and their funeral offerings for their kings at their death."(43:7 NIV 2011)  Then, here is the ESV version: "and he said to me, 'Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places,'" (Ezekiel 43:7, ESV)  In the context, this refers to some type of defilement of God's holy nation.  Feinberg explains two views of what might be meant here:  (1) "The thought is that Ezekiel was speaking of dead idols (see Lev 26:30) for which the kings had built dead altars in the sanctuary."  (2) "On the other side, it is held that they were the graves of Israelite kings next to the sanctuary.  This view is confirmed in  verse 9.  The Scriptures indicate that fourteen kings of Judah were interred in royal sepulchers in Jerusalem on the southeast hill, the city of David, where the temple and palace were located (cf. II Kings 21:18,27).  The Lord would brook no such defilements of the sacred precincts." "Feinberg."

c. Ezekiel is to write down the description of the temple. (43:10-12)
"'Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This is the law of the temple: All the surrounding area on top of the mountain will be most holy. Such is the law of the temple.'"

Thought Question: Why did God give Ezekiel these detailed instructions about a temple that we now know was a temple that he and his countrymen would never see?   

 

 

"'Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.'"

Why did God give Ezekiel these detailed instructions about a temple that he and his countrymen would never see?  It pictures the type of fellowship with Him that He desired to have with them.  It also predicted the type of fellowship that Israel will one day have with God.

Recently on Facebook there was a picture of a street sign that read "Hope Lane."  Beneath this sign post was another sign that read "Dead End."  Following God does not lead to a dead end, but to hope.  All through the Bible there is the message of hope.  And it is a road that even the worst of sinners can choose—even a sinful nation like Israel can and will choose this path of holiness.

"'This is the law of the temple: All the surrounding area on top of the mountain will be most holy. Such is the law of the temple.'"  Ezekiel had received instructions for a "holy" "temple."  In the future, it will be a holy and set apart "mountain" to which the nations of the world will come seeking fellowship with God.  "Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty." (Zechariah 14:16-21)

d. The description of the altar in the temple (43:13-17)
 "'These are the measurements of the altar in long cubits, that cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth: Its gutter is a cubit deep and a cubit wide, with a rim of one span around the edge. And this is the height of the altar: From the gutter on the ground up to the lower ledge it is two cubits high and a cubit wide, and from the smaller ledge up to the larger ledge it is four cubits high and a cubit wide. The altar hearth is four cubits high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. The altar hearth is square, twelve cubits long and twelve cubits wide. The upper ledge also is square, fourteen cubits long and fourteen cubits wide, with a rim of half a cubit and a gutter of a cubit all around. The steps of the altar face east.'" See 40:47

The altar Moses built for the Tabernacle was "three cubits high." (Exod. 27:1)  "Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide." (Exodus 27:1)  Solomon's altar for the temple he built is described in II Chron. 4:1:  "He made a bronze altar twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and ten cubits high." (II Chronicles 4:1)  The ESV is different in verse 13:  "These are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): its base shall be one cubit high and one cubit broad, with a rim of one span around its edge. And this shall be the height of the altar:" (Ezekiel 43:13, ESV)

Thought Question: Compare the differences in the height of the Tabernacle's altar, the altar of Solomon's altar, and the altar of this millennial temple.

 

 

d. Instructions for purifying the altar (43:18-27)
"Then he said to me, 'Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: These will be the regulations for sacrificing burnt offerings and sprinkling blood upon the altar when it is built: You are to give a young bull as a sin offering to the priests, who are Levites, of the family of Zadok, who come near to minister before me, declares the Sovereign Lord. You are to take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the upper ledge and all around the rim, and so purify the altar and make atonement for it. You are to take the bull for the sin offering and burn it in the designated part of the temple area outside the sanctuary. On the second day you are to offer a male goat without defect for a sin offering, and the altar is to be purified as it was purified with the bull. When you have finished purifying it, you are to offer a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. You are to offer them before the Lord, and the priests are to sprinkle salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord. For seven days you are to provide a male goat daily for a sin offering; you are also to provide a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without defect. For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it. At the end of these days, from the eighth day on, the priests are to present your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar. Then I will accept you, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe it will be necessary to offer all of these sacrifices to cleanse the altar?

 

 

"Seven days" to cleanse the "altar" will be necessary before the regular sacrifices begin.  What is described in these verses is similar to the purification of the altars of the tabernacle and the temple at their beginning.  "Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy." (Exodus 29:36-37)  "On the eighth day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the festival for seven days more." (II Chronicles 7:9)

"For seven days they are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it; thus they will dedicate it. At the end of these days, from the eighth day on, the priests are to present your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar. Then I will accept you, declares the Sovereign Lord.'"  These sacrifices all point to the sacrifice of Jesus' blood that opens up the way for us unholy people to have "fellowship" with holy God.  "The traditional translation is "peace offering," a name that comes from the Hebrew word for the offering, which in turn is related to the Hebrew word shalom, meaning 'peace' or 'wholeness.'  Thus the offering perhaps symbolized peace between God and man as well as the inward peace that resulted.  The fellowship offering was the only sacrifice of which the offerer might eat a part." "NIV Study Bible note on Lev. 3:1."

Why will it be necessary to offer all of these sacrifices to cleanse the altar?  It appears that they symbolize the infinite sacrifice of Jesus Christ to enable us to have a totally holy way to enter into a relationship with a holy God.

"salt" (43:24)  "Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings." (Leviticus 2:13)

"Then I will accept you,"  The acceptance gained symbolically by the "seven days" of sacrifices, pictures our acceptance by God through the blood of Jesus Christ.  "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God." (Hebrews 7:18-19)  "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22) See also Col. 1:20

3. Instructions to the priesthood of the new temple (44)

a. The east gate of the temple is to be closed. (44:1-2)
"Then the man brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, the one facing east, and it was shut. The Lord said to me, 'This gate is to remain shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.'"

Thought Question: When did "the God of Israel" enter through this gate?

 

 

The "east" "gate" is the most significant "gate" in the outer wall of the future temple area; for it was through the "east" "gate" that God's glory left Israel, and it is through this "gate" that God's glory will return to Israel. See 10:18-19,    11:1, 22-23, 43:1-4After God's return to Israel through the "east" "gate" at some time in the future, this "gate" "is to remain shut."  Why?  "It is to remain shut because the Lord, the God of Israel" will have "entered through it."  This "gate" will then have fulfilled its purpose.  God's glory will have "entered through it."  That shut "gate" will ever be a remembrance of the last time it was opened.  Also, it will never need to be opened again, because God's glory will never again leave His temple—His presence with Israel will be permanent.

Also, since God's holy presence had entered by this "gate," keeping it shut and not allowing unholy people to pass through it, will keep it holy.

"There is a popular idea that the present 'golden gate' of Jerusalem, which is sealed, is the gate mentioned in this passage.  This, however, cannot be the case since the dimensions of two complexes are different and present-day structures will be replaced by millennial structures." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."  But, it may be that this closed and sealed Golden east gate symbolizes this future gate in the millennial temple.

b. Instructions for the future prince (44:3)
"'The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the gateway to eat in the presence of the Lord. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way.'"

Thought Question: Who do you believe this future "prince" will be?

 

 

Who is this "prince"?  He could not be the Messiah, for later we will learn that he will offer a sin offering for the people and for himself.  "On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land." (Ezekiel 45:22)  Jesus, the holy Messiah will never need to offer a sin offering for himself.   Also, this "prince" will have children.  "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance." (Ezekiel 46:16)

Who, then, is this "prince"?  Some believe, based on Ezekiel 34:23-24 and 37:24, that he will be the resurrected David.  But, as was pointed out in the commentary on those verses, the David referred to in those verses points to the Messiah in the line of David who will rule in the Millennium—it points to Jesus Christ.

So, once again, who is this "prince"?  It appears that this "prince" will be a future man who will rule in Israel under the rule of the Messiah.  We will learn more about him in the coming chapters.

Here, we learn that the "prince" alone may enter the "east" "gate."  He will be allowed to enter this "gate" "to eat in the presence of the Lord."  "Because the offering designated for food was the fellowship or peace offering (Lev. 7:11-21), it is likely that the "prince" was allowed to eat of this offering inside the gateway." "Taken from The Holman Commentary on Ezekiel by Rooker."  Because the "gate is to remain shut," he could only enter the "portico" or porch in the front portion of the "gateway."

"He is to enter by way of the portico of the gateway and go out the same way."  He will not be allowed to go all the way through the gate and enter into the inner courtyard. Rather, he will go into the "east" "gate," eat of the offering, and then turn around and go back out the same way that he came in.

c. No foreigner is to enter God's sanctuary. (44:4-9)
"Then the man brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord, and I fell facedown. The Lord said to me, 'Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you concerning all the regulations regarding the temple of the Lord. Give attention to the entrance of the temple and all the exits of the sanctuary. Say to the rebellious house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Enough of your detestable practices, O house of Israel! In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple while you offered me food, fat and blood, and you broke my covenant. Instead of carrying out your duty in regard to my holy things, you put others in charge of my sanctuary. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites.”'"

Thought Question: What does prohibiting aliens from entering the "temple" picture in our relationship with God?

 

 

"Then the man brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord, and I fell facedown."  Notice that even Ezekiel did not go through the "east" "gate" to go into the temple; he went through the "north gate."  When Ezekiel sees the "glory of the Lord filling the temple," he is so humbled that he falls "facedown."  We see Isaiah's response to being in God's presence in Isa. 6:5: "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'" (Isaiah 6:5)

"The Lord said to me, 'Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you concerning all the regulations regarding the temple of the Lord.'"  God contrasts the importance of following His detailed instructions regarding the temple with the "detestable practices" of that time.  "'Give attention to the entrance of the temple and all the exits of the sanctuary. Say to the rebellious house of Israel, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Enough of your detestable practices, O house of Israel!”'"

"The hallowed dwelling place was to be guarded jealously, lest its purity be marred and its sanctity be compromised by the intrusion of any defiling person or act." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"'“In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple while you offered me food, fat and blood, and you broke my covenant. Instead of carrying out your duty in regard to my holy things, you put others in charge of my sanctuary. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites.”'"

We find this guideline in Deut. 23:3, regarding who may not enter the temple:  "No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation." (Deuteronomy 23:3)

"Foreigners or strangers were allowed to present offerings to the Lord (see       Lev. 17:1, 12; Num 15:14), but Ezekiel was denouncing their officiating in the sanctuary, which was an unauthorized practice." "Feinberg."

Those who returned from the Babylon exile followed this direction: "On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent." (Nehemiah 13:1-3) See also Neh. 13:4-9 where Nehemiah threw Tobiah, an Ammonite, out of "the house of God." See also Neh. 2:10

"Foreigners" will be allowed, though, to have land in Israel.  "“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel." (Ezekiel 47:21-22)  But, they will not be allowed to participate in the millennial temple service.

What does prohibiting aliens from entering the "temple" picture in our relationship with God?  Certainly, it pictures God prohibiting us from allowing anything that is unholy from entering into our hearts.  "Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."       (I Corinthians 6:18-20)

d. Instructions for the Levites (44:10-14)
"“‘The Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray and who wandered from me after their idols must bear the consequences of their sin. They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord. They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices. Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it.”'"

Thought Question: How might the reduction of the Levites' role in the millennial kingdom be of relevance to us?

 

 

Because the Levites in Ezekiel's past had not fulfilled their role as God's holy and set apart tribe, they will have a diminished role in the service of the millennial "temple."  The Levites' sin is described in 44:10 and 44:12: "'“The Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray and who wandered from me after their idols must bear the consequences of their sin. . . . But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'"

The instructions for the Levites was given in Numbers 18.  Here is part of the instructions given to the Levites:  "'I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the Tent of Meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death.' Then the Lord said to Aaron, 'I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion and regular share.'" (Numbers 18:6-8) See Exod. 32:29; Numb. 18:1-32

The Levites' diminished role is described in 44:13: "'“They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices.”'"  As we will see, the descendants of Zadok will perform what the Levitical priests once were able to perform.

But, God will still allow the "Levites" to perform some roles at the temple.  "'“They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. . . . Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it.”'"  The will not be able to "come near" God's presence, but they will serve in a secondary way. See 40:46

e. Instruction for the priests (44:15-31)
"'“But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service. When they enter the gates of the inner court, they are to wear linen clothes; they must not wear any woolen garment while ministering at the gates of the inner court or inside the temple. They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire. When they go out into the outer court where the people are, they are to take off the clothes they have been ministering in and are to leave them in the sacred rooms, and put on other clothes, so that they do not consecrate the people by means of their garments. They must not shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but they are to keep the hair of their heads trimmed. No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court. They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests. They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. In any dispute, the priests are to serve as judges and decide it according to my ordinances. They are to keep my laws and my decrees for all my appointed feasts, and they are to keep my Sabbaths holy. A priest must not defile himself by going near a dead person; however, if the dead person was his father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister, then he may defile himself. After he is cleansed, he must wait seven days. On the day he goes into the inner court of the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he is to offer a sin offering for himself, declares the Sovereign Lord. I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession. They will eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoted to the Lord will belong to them. The best of all the firstfruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household. The priests must not eat anything, bird or animal, found dead or torn by wild animals.”'"

Thought Question: Why will the "priests" need to "put on other clothes" on "when they go out into the outer courts" "so that they" will "not consecrate the people by means of their garments"?

 

 

"'“But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and perform my service.”'"

The "priests" of the line of "Zadok" were faithful to God when other priests were not faithful to Him when Absalom and Adonijah tried to take the kingdom away from Solomon.  "Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, 'I will be king.' So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never interfered with him by asking, 'Why do you behave as you do?' He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.) Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah." (1 Kings 1:5-8) See also II Sam. 15:13-37; I Kings 1:32-40

"The Zadokite priests kept themselves from the idolatry of the nation, even though the other priests complied to the idolatrous desires of the disobedient people.  For this faithfulness the reward from the Lord will be access to His presence, the privilege of ministering in any and all phases of priestly duty." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

"table"  This appears to be the "wooden altar," the only piece of furniture in the outer sanctuary or Holy Place. See 41:22  "The only piece of furniture mentioned in the temple is an altar of wood that called 'the table that is before [Yahweh]" (41:22).  By comparing dimensions, it is evident that this is not the altar of sacrifice (cf. 41:22 and  43:13-17).  Some think it may be the altar of incense." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander p. 144.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

"'“When they enter the gates of the inner court, they are to wear linen clothes; they must not wear any woolen garment while ministering at the gates of the inner court or inside the temple. They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire.”'"  

When we go to most formal events, we mostly come washed and tidied up.  When the "priests" of the millennial temple will come to serve at the temple, they will "wear linen clothes."  "Linen" will keep them from sweating—it will keep them clean before God.  White "linen" symbolizes that we can only come into the presence of a holy God when we are holy ourselves.  Holiness comes when we put on the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." (Isaiah 61:10)  "Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)" (Revelation 19:8) See also Rev. 15:6

The Old Testament "priests" needed to wear "linen."  "'Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants.'" (Exodus 28:42-43) See also Lev. 6:10-11

"'“When they go out into the outer court where the people are, they are to take off the clothes they have been ministering in and are to leave them in the sacred rooms, and put on other clothes, so that they do not consecrate the people by means of their garments.”'"  There is the need to keep a clear difference between what the holiness of God and what is unholy.  God is holy and we are not.  If the "priests" wore their "linen" garments out with the people, it would have blurred the difference between holy God and the unholy people. See also 42:14; Lev. 6:11

"'“They must not shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but they are to keep the hair of their heads trimmed.”'"  Shaved "heads," "long" unkempt "hair," and even unkempt "hair" can be signs of rebellion.  The priests' "hair" was not to be this way. "Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, 'Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the Lord will be angry with the whole community. . . .'" (Leviticus 10:6a) See also Lev. 21:5,10

"'“No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court.”'"  This was also a rule given to the Old Testament priests.  "Then the Lord said to Aaron, 'You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.'" (Leviticus 10:8-9)

"'“They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.”'"  "They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God." (Leviticus 21:7)

"'“They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”'"  All of these regulations (44:15-23) were given to teach the people of Israel the distinction between what is holy and what is unholy.  Moses himself learned this distinction at the burning bush.  "'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.'" (Exodus 3:5)

The book of Leviticus has this goal.  "You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean," (Leviticus 10:10)  Christian sanctification is the process God uses to take us from unholiness to holiness.  "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)  "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:13-16) See also Lev. 11:43-45

Next, Ezekiel lists some of the duties of priests.  "'“In any dispute, the priests are to serve as judges and decide it according to my ordinances. They are to keep my laws and my decrees for all my appointed feasts, and they are to keep my Sabbaths holy.”'"

"'“A priest must not defile himself by going near a dead person; however, if the dead person was his father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister, then he may defile himself. After he is cleansed, he must wait seven days. On the day he goes into the inner court of the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he is to offer a sin offering for himself, declares the Sovereign Lord.”'" See Numb. 19:11-22

Will there be death in the millennium?  This passage is in a millennial setting,  so the meaning is clear that such will occur in the Millennium.  Though death will be rare in that age of righteousness it will exist (Isa. 65:20)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)

"'“I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.”'"  The "priests" of the millennial kingdom will own no land, just as the "priests" of the Old Testament owned no land.  "The Lord said to Aaron, 'You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.'" (Numbers 18:20) See also Numb. 18:23-24; Deut. 10:9; Josh. 13:14, 33, 18:7  The priests of the millennial kingdom will live on what is given to the Lord, as was true of the Levites and the priests in the Old Testament.

"'“They will eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings; and everything in Israel devoted to the Lord will belong to them. The best of all the firstfruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.”'" See Lev. 27:21; Numb. 18:8-14, 18-21; Josh. 13:14; II Chron. 31:9-10; Neh. 10:35-37

"'“The priests must not eat anything, bird or animal, found dead or torn by wild animals.”'"  This instruction applied to all the people of Israel in the Old Testament.  "Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. But you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk." (Deuteronomy 14:21) See also Lev. 7:24, 17:15

4. The division of the land (45-48)

a. The land given to the Lord (45:1-5)
"'“When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy. Of this, a section 500 cubits square is to be for the sanctuary, with 50 cubits around it for open land. In the sacred district, measure off a section 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. In it will be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. It will be the sacred portion of the land for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and who draw near to minister before the Lord. It will be a place for their houses as well as a holy place for the sanctuary. An area 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide will belong to the Levites, who serve in the temple, as their possession for towns to live in.”'"

Thought Question: Look at the chart below and compare it with these verses.

 

 

"'“When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy.”'"   The "sacred district" was 25,000 cubits long  and 20,00 cubits wide."  When you add the 5,000 cubits of the city of Jerusalem, it forms a perfect square. See 45:6  "The holy portion of the land will cover a territory about 8 miles square.  A rectangle of 25,000 by 10,000 cubits in the middle of which will be the temple will be set aside for the priests.  A similar rectangle north of it will be for the Levites.  On the south a rectangle of  25,000 by 5,000 cubits will be reserved for the city itself.  The temple was the heart and focal point of the national life in times past, and it will be in the millennial era as well.  Notice the priests' area will be on the east and west, the Levites' portion on the north, and the prince's domain outside that of the priests; all in a sense protecting the sanctuary from profanation." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

  "'“Of this, a section 500 cubits square is to be for the sanctuary, with 50 cubits around it for open land.”'" See 42:16-20, where this area is also described.

"'“In the sacred district, measure off a section 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. In it will be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. It will be the sacred portion of the land for the priests, who minister in the sanctuary and who draw near to minister before the Lord. It will be a place for their houses as well as a holy place for the sanctuary. An area 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide will belong to the Levites, who serve in the temple, as their possession for towns to live in.”'"

"Ezekiel depicts three strips of 25,000 cubits [see 48:8-22] (about 7.7/ 12 km) oriented from east to west as expected, given the temple's east-west axis.  The central strip of 10,000 cubits north to south (about 3 miles/4.8 km) contains the sanctuary (45.2) and is the region where the Zadokite priestslive (vv.3-4).  The strip of equal size north of it is home for the Levites (v. 5)." "ESV Study Bible note."

The city of Jerusalem will be given a portion of this land belonging to the Lord.  "'“You are to give the city as its property an area 5,000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, adjoining the sacred portion; it will belong to the whole house of Israel.”'" (Ezekiel 45:6)

c. The prince's land (45:7-8)
"'“The prince will have the land bordering each side of the area formed by the sacred district and the property of the city. It will extend westward from the west side and eastward from the east side, running lengthwise from the western to the eastern border parallel to one of the tribal portions. This land will be his possession in Israel. And my princes will no longer oppress my people but will allow the house of Israel to possess the land according to their tribes.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that this land that will be allotted to the prince will enable the future princes to "no longer" oppress God's "people"?

 

 

"'“The prince will have the land bordering each side of the area formed by the sacred district and the property of the city. It will extend westward from the west side and eastward from the east side, running lengthwise from the western to the eastern border parallel to one of the tribal portions.”'"  The land to the east and west of the land belonging to the Lord will belong to the "prince" (from the sacred land to the Mediterranean Sea and from the sacred land to the Dead Sea and Jordan River). 

"'“This land will be his possession in Israel. And my princes will no longer oppress my people but will allow the house of Israel to possess the land according to their tribes.”'"  "The promise that the princes will no longer oppress the people is most welcome, for in former years without this provision set forth by Ezekiel there was always the temptation on the part of the kings to obtain property by violence.  The most notable case is found in I Kings 21 where Ahab confiscated the vineyard of Naboth (cf. also Num. 36:7-9; Isa. 5:8; Hosea 5:10, ASV; Micah 2:1-2)." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."

d. An exhortation to the princes of Ezekiel's time (45:9-12)
"“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You have gone far enough, O princes of Israel! Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Stop dispossessing my people, declares the Sovereign Lord. You are to use accurate scales, an accurate ephah and an accurate bath. The ephah and the bath are to be the same size, the bath containing a tenth of a homer and the ephah a tenth of a homer; the homer is to be the standard measure for both. The shekel is to consist of twenty gerahs. Twenty shekels plus twenty-five shekels plus fifteen shekels equal one mina.”'"

Thought Question: What do these verses tell us about what those in power were doing in Israel in Ezekiel's time?

 

 

Those in power in Israel apparently were not administering in a just and fair way.  God, through Ezekiel, commands them to "do what is just and right."  They were not to cheat the people using inaccurate "scales."  "The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight." (Proverbs 11:1)  See also Lev. 19:35-36; Deut. 25:13-16; Prov. 20:10; Amos 8:4-6; Mic. 6:10-12

e. Instructions for the offerings (45:13-46:24)

(1) The people will give a portion of the offerings to the future prince and he will provide the sacrificial offerings at the festivities. (45:13-17)
"'“This is the special gift you are to offer: a sixth of an ephah from each homer of wheat and a sixth of an ephah from each homer of barley. The prescribed portion of oil, measured by the bath, is a tenth of a bath from each cor (which consists of ten baths or one homer, for ten baths are equivalent to a homer). Also one sheep is to be taken from every flock of two hundred from the well-watered pastures of Israel. These will be used for the grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the people, declares the Sovereign Lord. All the people of the land will participate in this special gift for the use of the prince in Israel. It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths—at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that the "prince" will have the responsibility to "provide" the "offerings" at the "feasts"?

 

 

"The fundamental task of the prince is to present the offerings for the people of Israel on the appointed holy days (45:17).  The people will provide the wheat, barley, oil, and lambs in proper proportions for the meal offerings, burnt offerings, peace offerings, and sin offerings (45:13-16; cf. 46:13-15), which the prince, in turn, will offer to Yahweh as a memorial (45:17)." "Taken from Ezekiel Ralph Alexander.  Copyright 1976 by Moody Press."

(2) Instructions for the offerings on the first day of the first month and the seventh day of the first month (45:18-20)
"“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In the first month on the first day you are to take a young bull without defect and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the upper ledge of the altar and on the gateposts of the inner court. You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple.”'"

Thought Question: How can one tell the difference between when a sin is unintentional and when it is intentional? See Numbers 15:22-36

 

 

Now, God gives, through Ezekiel, His instructions for the offerings and for the festivals during the millennial period; just as God gave Moses instructions for offerings and festivals in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  In these verses in Ezekiel, we learn that a ceremonial cleansing of the temple will be done "in the first month on the first day" and "on the seventh day" of that month.  The Jewish year begins in the spring.

"for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance" See Numb. 15:22-36

This cleansing from sin to purify the temple may have been an inaugural cleansing of the temple right after the completion of the building of it or it may be meant to be practiced each year.

(3) Instructions for the Passover Feast (45:21-25)
"“‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a feast lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast. On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land. Every day during the seven days of the Feast he is to provide seven bulls and seven rams without defect as a burnt offering to the Lord, and a male goat for a sin offering. He is to provide as a grain offering an ephah for each bull and an ephah for each ram, along with a hin of oil for each ephah. During the seven days of the Feast, which begins in the seventh month on the fifteenth day, he is to make the same provision for sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings and oil.”'"

Thought Question: Compare the sacrifices for this Passover feast in the Millennium with the sacrifices in Moses' time. "Present to the Lord an offering made by fire, a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect.With each bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths;and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth." (Numbers 28:19-21)

 

 

Is the "Passover" "feast" the same as the "Passover" "feast" begun in Moses' day?  Feinberg points out some differences.  "There are differences from the Mosaic legislation where for each of seven days two bullocks, one ram, seven lambs and an oblation of fine flour mingled with oil were prescribed (see Numb, 28:19-21).  Here in Ezekiel seven bullocks and seven rams and no lambs will be required for each of the seven days.  Other differences exist also." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  We are not given the reasons for the differences.

(4) Instructions for the Sabbath and the New Moon (46:1-8)
"“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened. The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings. He is to worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate will not be shut until evening. On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to that gateway. The burnt offering the prince brings to the Lord on the Sabbath day is to be six male lambs and a ram, all without defect. The grain offering given with the ram is to be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs is to be as much as he pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah. On the day of the New Moon he is to offer a young bull, six lambs and a ram, all without defect. He is to provide as a grain offering one ephah with the bull, one ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he wants to give, along with a hin of oil with each ephah. When the prince enters, he is to go in through the portico of the gateway, and he is to come out the same way.”'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is the symbolism of the "prince" entering the "gateway," but not going into the inner court?

 

 

"“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened.”'"  The eastern gate to the outer court is to stay closed (see 44:2), but the gate to the inner court is to be opened "on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon" (the first day of the month).  The "inner court" was the "court" surrounding the temple.  The altar where the sacrifices were made was in the "inner court." See 40:47, 43:13-17

"“‘The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings. He is to worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate will not be shut until evening.”'"  Although the "prince" will not be able to enter the "inner court" where the sacrifices will be offered on the altar, he will be able to view the sacrifices being offered as he stands at the gate.

The "prince" will not be able to enter the "inner court" through the east gate (see 44:1-3), but he may enter the "inner court" through either the south gate or the north gate. See 46:9-10

The size of the burnt offerings at these future Sabbaths will be larger than the Sabbath offerings in Moses' time.  Compare the offerings that are described in the book of Numbers with these offerings in Ezekiel.  Here are the offerings that were to be offered on the Old Testament "Sabbaths": "On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering." (Numbers 28:9-10)  And here is the offerings that will be made on the "Sabbaths" in the Millennium: "“‘On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to that gateway. The burnt offering the prince brings to the Lord on the Sabbath day is to be six male lambs and a ram, all without defect. The grain offering given with the ram is to be an ephah, and the grain offering with the lambs is to be as much as he pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah.”'"

"“‘On the day of the New Moon he is to offer a young bull, six lambs and a ram, all without defect. He is to provide as a grain offering one ephah with the bull, one ephah with the ram, and with the lambs as much as he wants to give, along with a hin of oil with each ephah.”'"  The New Moon offering in Moses' time is given in Numbers 28:11-15.

"Since Israel's calendar was a lunar one, the new moon had significance for them where it has not for us." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press." 

"“‘When the prince enters, he is to go in through the portico of the gateway, and he is to come out the same way.”'"  This may symbolize that the people of the Millennium are not yet able to enter into the heavenly eternal state.

(5) Instructions for entering and leaving the temple area (46:9-10)
"“‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate. The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe that it is necessary for there to be such detailed instructions for crowd flow in the temple courts?

 

 

""“‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate."  Here, God gives Ezekiel instructions for crowd flow at this future temple.  It appears that will be such large masses of people who will come to this future temple to worship God that it will be necessary for there to be specific instructions about crowd control.  Some will come from the outside into the outer court from the "north gate."  They are to move past the temple in the outer court and go out the "south gate."  Those who come in the "south gate" are to go out the "north gate." 

Isaiah predicts this time.  "'And they will bring all your brothers, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,' says the Lord. 'They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,' says the Lord. 'As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,' declares the Lord, 'so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,' says the Lord." (Isaiah 66:20-23)

"No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate. The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out.”'"  The prince of that time will set a good example for the people; for he will be present and he will be a part these Sabbath and New Moon times of worship. See Ps. 42:4

(6) Instructions for the grain offerings for the prince and for the daily offerings (46:11-15)
"“‘At the festivals and the appointed feasts, the grain offering is to be an ephah with a bull, an ephah with a ram, and with the lambs as much as one pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah. When the prince provides a freewill offering to the Lord—whether a burnt offering or fellowship offerings—the gate facing east is to be opened for him. He shall offer his burnt offering or his fellowship offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out, the gate will be shut. Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord; morning by morning you shall provide it. You are also to provide with it morning by morning a grain offering, consisting of a sixth of an ephah with a third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour. The presenting of this grain offering to the Lord is a lasting ordinance. So the lamb and the grain offering and the oil shall be provided morning by morning for a regular burnt offering.”'"

Thought Question: Why do you believe the "prince" will be able to offer a "freewill offering" at any time? (What does it symbolize?)

 

 

"“‘At the festivals and the appointed feasts, the grain offering is to be an ephah with a bull, an ephah with a ram, and with the lambs as much as one pleases, along with a hin of oil for each ephah.”'" See 46:5

"“‘When the prince provides a freewill offering to the Lord—whether a burnt offering or fellowship offerings—the gate facing east is to be opened for him. He shall offer his burnt offering or his fellowship offerings as he does on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he has gone out, the gate will be shut.”'"  The "prince" will have the special privilege of having the east gate to the inner court opened for him whenever he desires to give a  "freewill offering to the Lord."

"“‘Every day you are to provide a year-old lamb without defect for a burnt offering to the Lord; morning by morning you shall provide it. You are also to provide with it morning by morning a grain offering, consisting of a sixth of an ephah with a third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour. The presenting of this grain offering to the Lord is a lasting ordinance. So the lamb and the grain offering and the oil shall be provided morning by morning for a regular burnt offering.”'"

This differs from the daily offerings in Mosaic times.  They, at that time, gave offerings both in the morning and the evenings.  "Say to them: 'This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the Lord: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, together with a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives. This is the regular burnt offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire.'" (Numbers 28:3-6)

There was also a drink offering in Moses' time.  "The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the Lord at the sanctuary." (Numbers 28:7)  There is nothing about a drink offering in the instructions in Ezekiel.

(7) Instructions about the prince's inheritance (46:16-18)
"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom; then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs. The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people will be separated from his property.”'"

Thought Question: How will these instructions have a good effect on the overall prosperity of the people of Israel in the time of the Millennium?

 

 

"'“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom; then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs.”'" 

In these verses, we learn that the "prince" will have "sons."  This provides us with even more evidence that the "prince" will not be the Messiah. 

Instructions are given with regard to the difference between what the "prince" will give to his sons and what he will give to his "servants."  The difference will be that the gifts given to his "sons" will remain theirs from that day on, but the gifts given to his "servants" will need to be returned to the "prince" on the "year of freedom."  The "year of freedom" is the Year of Jubilee.  Since a Year of Jubilee comes every fifty years, there will be twenty Years of Jubilee in the thousand-year millennium.  The Year of Jubilee is described in Leviticus 25:8-54.  "Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan." (Leviticus 25:10)  "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." (Leviticus 25:23)

In the Year of Jubilee, land was returned to the original owners.  "The Lord prohibited the accumulation of property to the detriment of the poor.  'The land is mine,' said the Lord (v.3)." "NIV Study Bible note on Levit. 25:13."

"'“The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people will be separated from his property.”'"  The "prince" was not to use his place of power to take the land of the people from them.  He is not to take land from the people of the nation to give it to his "sons." "“‘The prince will have the land bordering each side of the area formed by the sacred district and the property of the city. It will extend westward from the west side and eastward from the east side, running lengthwise from the western to the eastern border parallel to one of the tribal portions. This land will be his possession in Israel. And my princes will no longer oppress my people but will allow the house of Israel to possess the land according to their tribes.”'" (Ezekiel 45:7-8) I Kings 21; Micah 2:1-2

(8) The angel shows Ezekiel where the priests will cook the offerings. (46:19-20)
"'Then the man brought me through the entrance at the side of the gate to the sacred rooms facing north, which belonged to the priests, and showed me a place at the western end. He said to me, “This is the place where the priests will cook the guilt offering and the sin offering and bake the grain offering, to avoid bringing them into the outer court and consecrating the people.”'"

Thought Question: Why will the people of Israel be prevented from seeing "the place where the priest" will "cook the" offerings?

 

 

The cooking of the priests' portion of the sacrifices and offerings is to take place to the west of the priests' rooms to the north and to the south of the temple.  This "place" is purposely located away from the view and presence of the people.  "The purpose of the regulations will be to inculcate a sense of sanctity of the Lord's service, guarding against the familiarity which so often in the past led to gross defilements of the Lord's sanctuary." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  Alexander places these rooms behind the rooms in 40:44-46 and not behind the rooms in 42:1-14

(9) The angel shows Ezekiel small courts at the four corners of the outer court that will be used for cooking the sacrifices for the people. (46:21-24)
"He then brought me to the outer court and led me around to its four corners, and I saw in each corner another court. In the four corners of the outer court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty cubits wide; each of the courts in the four corners was the same size. Around the inside of each of the four courts was a ledge of stone, with places for fire built all around under the ledge. He said to me, 'These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple will cook the sacrifices of the people.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe will be symbolized when the people eat a portion of some "sacrifices"?

 

 

The Levites will use these rooms to prepare the portions of the sacrifices that will be eaten by the "people.  The "people" will eat a portion of the fellowship offering. See Lev. 7:15-16  It is to be an expression of their fellowship or communion with God and each other—similar to the eating of the Lord's supper, which is sometimes called, "communion." 

5. The river that will come from the temple and flow to the east  (47:1-12)
"The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side. As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another `thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, 'Son of man, do you see this?' Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, 'This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe is pictured by this river giving life to places where there was once death?

 

 

"The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side." 

Water will come from God's temple. We are reminded of the river in the garden of Eden.  "A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates." (Genesis 2:10-14)

Rivers are a sign of life from God.  If we are driving down a road in the middle of an arid land and see a row of trees in the distance, it is a sign that a river or creek is near.  Water makes it possible for there to be life. See Ps. 1:3  God's throne is the source of spiritual life.  Here, as we will see, water will come from the temple and will bring life to the deserts.  "In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias." (Joel 3:18)  "On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter." (Zechariah 14:8)  "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God." (Isaiah 35:1-2)  "Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow." (Isaiah 35:6-7)

Water also symbolizes our Christian life from God.  "On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified." (John 7:37-39)

"As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, 'Son of man, do you see this?'"  The "river" gets deeper and deeper as it gets further away from the "temple," until it cannot be crossed—except if one swims across it.

"When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, 'This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.'"

The "river" will give life to "trees."  It will bring life to the Dead "Sea."  Presently, "nothing can live in the salty waters of the Dead Sea, which is more that six times as salty as the ocean." "Taken from The Prophecy of Ezekiel by Charles Feinberg.  Copyright 1969 by Moody Press."  The water of this "river" will turn the Dead "Sea" into a sea full of life.  It will become a place for fishermen.

"Arabah"  "The deepest valley rift in the world." "Feinberg."

"En Gedi" is about midway on the western shore of the Dead "Sea."

"En Eglaim" has not been definitely located.  The two sites may be a way of saying, the entire Dead "Sea."

"leaves for healing"  The book of Revelation speaks of "leaves" like this.  "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." (Revelation 22:1-2)  Revelation 22 describes the eternal state and not the millennial time, but there certainly are some parallels between the two times. See Ps. 46:4

"like the fish of the Great Sea"  The fishing in the Dead "Sea" will be like fishing in the Mediterranean "Sea."

"trees" See 34:27, 36:30

6. The boundaries of the land (47:13-23)
"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance. This is to be the boundary of the land: On the north side it will run from the Great Sea by the Hethlon road past Lebo Hamath to Zedad, Berothah and Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer Hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. The boundary will extend from the sea to Hazar Enan, along the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This will be the north boundary. On the east side the boundary will run between Hauran and Damascus, along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel, to the eastern sea and as far as Tamar. This will be the east boundary. On the south side it will run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah Kadesh, then along the Wadi of Egypt to the Great Sea. This will be the south boundary. On the west side, the Great Sea will be the boundary to a point opposite Lebo Hamath. This will be the west boundary. You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,' declares the Sovereign Lord."

Thought Question: What do you believe accounts for the Levites being given cities in Moses' time: whereas, in the millennial kingdom they will be given a specific allotment of land?

 

 

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph. You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance."

In the millennial kingdom, there will be some differences between the way the land will be divided from the way the land was divided in Joshua's time.  The divisions of Canaan given to Moses is found in Numbers 34:1-5.  First of all, there will be no towns given to the tribe of Levi, but the tribe of Levi will be given land near the temple. See 45:5, 48:12-14 and Numb. 35:1-8  Secondly, in Joshua's time, land was given to the tribes of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben to the east of the Jordan River.  In the Millennium, these tribes will receive all of their land on the west of the Jordan River.  Again, Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph's two sons, will get land allotments replacing Levi—"two portions for Joseph."

"Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers,"  "with raised hand.  A customary oath-taking practice in ancient times (see Deut. 32:40; Rev. 10:5-6)." "NIV Study Bible note on Gen. 14:22." see Exod. 6:8

"This is to be the boundary of the land: On the north side it will run from the Great Sea by the Hethlon road past Lebo Hamath to Zedad, Berothah and Sibraim (which lies on the border between Damascus and Hamath), as far as Hazer Hatticon, which is on the border of Hauran. The boundary will extend from the sea to Hazar Enan, along the northern border of Damascus, with the border of Hamath to the north. This will be the north boundary."

It is clear that these instructions were meant to be taken as specific directions for the division of the land in the future.  The northern boundary will be "Lebo Hamath to Zedad." See Numb. 13:21, 34:8; Josh. 13:5; I Kings 8:65  It appears that the northern border will be similar to the northern border of Numbers 34.

"On the east side the boundary will run between Hauran and Damascus, along the Jordan between Gilead and the land of Israel, to the eastern sea and as far as Tamar. This will be the east boundary."  This is the eastern border of the future land of Israel.  "Hauran" is a good distance to the northeast of the Jordan River, but the eastern border squeezes in to the Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee.  Then, it follows the Jordan River down to the Dead Sea.

"On the south side it will run from Tamar as far as the waters of Meribah Kadesh, then along the Wadi of Egypt to the Great Sea. This will be the south boundary."  The southern border is "Tamar" and "Kadesh."  It is called "Kadesh" Barnea in Numb. 34:14: "cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. . . ."  Solomon's kingdom was the same size north to south as this future kings will be.  "So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him—a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the Lord our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all." (I Kings 8:65) See II Kings 14:23-25

"'On the west side, the Great Sea will be the boundary to a point opposite Lebo Hamath. This will be the west boundary."  The Mediterranean "Sea" will be its western border.

"'You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,' declares the Sovereign Lord."

Foreigners will be treated as "native-born Israelites." See Lev. 19:33-34, 24:22; Numb. 15:29; Isa. 56:3-8

7. The division of the land (48:1-29)

a. The inheritance of seven tribes (48:1-7)
"'These are the tribes, listed by name: At the northern frontier, Dan will have one portion; it will follow the Hethlon road to Lebo Hamath; Hazar Enan and the northern border of Damascus next to Hamath will be part of its border from the east side to the west side. “Asher will have one portion; it will border the territory of Dan from east to west. “Naphtali will have one portion; it will border the territory of Asher from east to west. “Manasseh will have one portion; it will border the territory of Naphtali from east to west. Ephraim will have one portion; it will border the territory of Manasseh from east to west. Reuben will have one portion; it will border the territory of Ephraim from east to west. Judah will have one portion; it will border the territory of Reuben from east to west.'"

Thought Question: How will these allotments of land be different than the way Israel was divided during the time of Joshua? A comparison of a map of the locations of the tribes in Joshua's time with a map of the future location of the tribes will immediately reveal how different it will be in the millennial division of land. See Joshua 14-19 for the division of the land among the tribes in Joshua's time.

 

 

"The division of the land differs from the way it was divided in Joshua's time in these ways:  (1) All the tribal portions of the land extend across the breadth of the land from the eastern boundary to the Mediterranean, making for parallel tracts of land . . . (2) All the tribes are west of the Jordan, whereas the two and a half tribes in Joshua's day were east of the Jordan.  (3) There is a central tract of land, about a fifth of the whole, which is separated for the holy oblation (sanctuary), city and prince's land." "Feinberg."

b. The land set apart to God (48:8-12)
"'Bordering the territory of Judah from east to west will be the portion you are to present as a special gift. It will be 25,000 cubits wide, and its length from east to west will equal one of the tribal portions; the sanctuary will be in the center of it. The special portion you are to offer to the Lord will be 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. This will be the sacred portion for the priests. It will be 25,000 cubits long on the north side, 10,000 cubits wide on the west side, 10,000 cubits wide on the east side and 25,000 cubits long on the south side. In the center of it will be the sanctuary of the Lord. This will be for the consecrated priests, the Zadokites, who were faithful in serving me and did not go astray as the Levites did when the Israelites went astray. It will be a special gift to them from the sacred portion of the land, a most holy portion, bordering the territory of the Levites.'"

Thought Question: See chart on page 94 to help you understand the division of the land explained in these verses.

 

 

Judah (48:7) and Benjamin (48:23), the faithful tribes located in Judea—the southern kingdom—will receive lands closest to God's temple. See Gen. 49:8-12  the least faithful to God was the tribe of Dan.  This tribe will be the farthest away from God's temple.  "'These are the tribes, listed by name: At the northern frontier, Dan will have one portion; it will follow the Hethlon road to Lebo Hamath; Hazar Enan and the northern border of Damascus next to Hamath will be part of its border from the east side to the west side. "  Dan is not listed among the 144,000 in Rev. 7:1-8.  I quote from my comments of these verses:  "Why was Dan omitted from the list of tribes?  It could be that his tribe is omitted from the list because the tribe of Dan led Israel into apostasy. In Judges 18, you can read about how the tribe of Dan moved away from the worship of God and set up idolatry in their portion of Israel and in the city they called Dan." "DFG on
Revelation 7:1-8"   The book of Genesis made the following prediction about "Dan":  "Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward." (Genesis 49:17)

How God rewarded faithfulness and loving obedience to Him in the Old Testament, may give us insight into our heavenly rewards as Christians.  Those closest to God on earth may also be those who are closest to Him in heaven. These verses expand on what was already taught in 45:1-8

c. The territory for the Levites (48:13-14)
"'Alongside the territory of the priests, the Levites will have an allotment 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide. Its total length will be 25,000 cubits and its width 10,000 cubits. They must not sell or exchange any of it. This is the best of the land and must not pass into other hands, because it is holy to the Lord.'" See 45:5

d. The land for the city (48:15-20)
"'The remaining area, 5,000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, will be for the common use of the city, for houses and for pastureland. The city will be in the center of it and will have these measurements: the north side 4,500 cubits, the south side 4,500 cubits, the east side 4,500 cubits, and the west side 4,500 cubits. The pastureland for the city will be 250 cubits on the north, 250 cubits on the south, 250 cubits on the east, and 250 cubits on the west. What remains of the area, bordering on the sacred portion and running the length of it, will be 10,000 cubits on the east side and 10,000 cubits on the west side. Its produce will supply food for the workers of the city. The workers from the city who farm it will come from all the tribes of Israel. The entire portion will be a square, 25,000 cubits on each side. As a special gift you will set aside the sacred portion, along with the property of the city.'"

These verses give more details than are given in 45:6.  We learn that at the outskirts of the city there will be "pastureland" and land for crops and workers.

e. The land for the prince (48:21-22)
"'What remains on both sides of the area formed by the sacred portion and the city property will belong to the prince. It will extend eastward from the 25,000 cubits of the sacred portion to the eastern border, and westward from the 25,000 cubits to the western border. Both these areas running the length of the tribal portions will belong to the prince, and the sacred portion with the temple sanctuary will be in the center of them. So the property of the Levites and the property of the city will lie in the center of the area that belongs to the prince. The area belonging to the prince will lie between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin.'" See 45:7-8

f. The inheritance of the remaining tribes (48:23-29)
"'As for the rest of the tribes: Benjamin will have one portion; it will extend from the east side to the west side. Simeon will have one portion; it will border the territory of Benjamin from east to west. 'Issachar will have one portion; it will border the territory of Simeon from east to west. Zebulun will have one portion; it will border the territory of Issachar from east to west. Gad will have one portion; it will border the territory of Zebulun from east to west. The southern boundary of Gad will run south from Tamar to the waters of Meribah Kadesh, then along the Wadi of Egypt to the Great Sea. “This is the land you are to allot as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel, and these will be their portions,' declares the Sovereign Lord.'"

The tribes that are the farthest from the temple were descendents of the children of Rachel's maidservant Bilhah—Dan and Naphtali—and Leah's maidservant Zilpah—Gad and Asher. See Gen. 25:25-26

8. The gates of the city described (48:30-35)
"'These will be the exits of the city: Beginning on the north side, which is 4,500 cubits long, the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel. The three gates on the north side will be the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah and the gate of Levi. On the east side, which is 4,500 cubits long, will be three gates: the gate of Joseph, the gate of Benjamin and the gate of Dan. On the south side, which measures 4,500 cubits, will be three gates: the gate of Simeon, the gate of Issachar and the gate of Zebulun. On the west side, which is 4,500 cubits long, will be three gates: the gate of Gad, the gate of Asher and the gate of Naphtali. The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.'"

Thought Question: What do you believe naming the gates into Jerusalem will symbolize?

 

 

The twelve gates for this future millennial city will be similar to the gates of the New Jerusalem described in Rev. 21:12-14.  "It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

"The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.'"  4 X 4,500 = 18,000 cubits. 

"'THE LORD IS THERE.'"  God's glory left Jerusalem in Ezekiel's time.   See Ezek. 10:18-19, 11:22-23  In this future temple, God's glory will be present.  As God was present in the garden of Eden, so God will be present in this future Israel. See Gen. 3:8; Joel 3:21

The overall message of Ezekiel is Israel's sin, God's judgment, and God's grace.  If the book stopped with our sin and God's judgment, it would be a terrifying book.  But God's judgment is meant to show us our need to seek God's grace.  John the Baptist predicted God's judgment so that the nation of Israel would receive Jesus as their Savior.  Some did, but most did not.  But He will come again and Israel will receive Him the next time, and He will dwell with them forever!

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®,   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in Ezekiel