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Ezekiel 43:1 Afterward he brought me to the gate that looks toward the east- The same words are translated "prepare the way" in Mal. 3:1 and Is. 40:3 (see too Ez. 43:1; 44:1; 47:2). The way  is 'prepared' or 'looks' eastward. This was the way or road over which the glory was to re-enter the restored temple. But Judah didn't rebuild that temple as specified and as Malachi often demonstrates, the priests failed to act as commanded in Ez. 40-48. And so the messenger of the covenant who was to prepare that way likewise failed; but finally the essence of the prophecies will come true through the work of the Elijah prophet and John the Baptist [also a priest] preparing the way of the Lord Jesus, so that His glory and Spirit could enter a spiritual temple of restored people.

Ezekiel 43:2 Behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east: and His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shined with His glory- This refers to the cherubim, who made the same sound according to Ezekiel's earlier visions of them.

Ezekiel 43:3 It was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city; and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face- The vision of God’s glory entering the temple “was according to the vision… that I saw by the river Chebar” back in Babylon. This is the meaning of the fact that cherubim visions both begin and end the prophecy of Ezekiel. The cherubim would move from Judah to Babylon and then back to Judah, to enter into and dwell in the temple. Yet God’s glory did not enter the temple which Nehemiah built. This was because the people had not followed Ezekiel’s example, they had not identified themselves with the Angelic movements above them, but rather remained dominated by their petty self interests. They never really repented- for Ez. 43:11 records Ezekiel being told to only give Judah “the form of the house” and “write it in their sight” only “if  they be ashamed of all that they have done”. There is no record of Ezekiel giving them the promised further plans for the temple- so the wonderful prophecy could not be fulfilled, because they did not repent.

Ezekiel 43:4 The glory of Yahweh came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east- Ezekiel prophesied that ultimately the glory would fill the temple as it had done then (Ez. 43:4,5). But God’s prophesy of this in Is. 60:7, that He would glorify His house, meant that He was prepared to work through men to glorify it. The fulfilment of Ezekiel’s vision of the cloud of glory entering the temple again could have been fulfilled if the exiles had done what Artaxerxes empowered them to do- to glorify the house of glory. And so the fulfilment was delayed. The glory of the temple the exiles built was tragically less than the glory of the first temple; and so it would only be in the last day of Messiah’s second coming that the house shall truly be filled with glory (Hag. 2:3,7,9). And the lesson ought to be clear for us, in the various projects and callings of our lives: it becomes crucial for us to discern God’s specific purposes for us, and insofar as we follow His leading, we will feel a blessing and power which is clearly Divine.  

Ezekiel 43:5 The Spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of Yahweh filled the house- The glory of Yahweh was to fill Ezekiel’s temple as it had done Solomon’s (Ez. 43:5 cp. 1 Kings 8:10).

Ezekiel 43:6 I heard one speaking to me out of the house; and a man stood by me- The references to Yahweh's 'return' to Zion were to be fulfilled in the Angel of His presence again dwelling there. And this is the Angelic person who is now located within the house and speaks to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 43:7 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 children of Israel forever- God's throne was that of David; the restored throne of David is in view.

The house of Israel shall no more defile My holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their prostitution, and by the dead bodies of their kings in their high places- . Judah in the new temple would not “defile” Yahweh’s Name any more (:8); but they were lazy to keep the uncleanness laws, they did defile Yahweh by touching dead bodied and then offering the sacrifices (Hag. 2:13,14 s.w.), just as Israel previously had been defiled by touching the dead bodies of their kings and then offering sacrifices; but after the restoration, Judah thought they were above God’s law, and therefore did exactly the same things which had caused the temple to be destroyed in the first place.

Ezekiel 43:8 In their setting of their threshold by My threshold, and their doorpost beside My doorpost, and there was but the wall between Me and them; and they have defiled My holy name by their abominations which they have committed: therefore I have consumed them in My anger- We gasp at the closeness of God to men, even before the even greater proximity achieved in the work of Jesus.

Ezekiel 43:9 Now let them put away their prostitution- Whilst Ezekiel was prophesying before the return from exile, he speaks as if the temple has been built but Judah are still unfaithful to the covenant. He was inspired to see that the restoration would happen, but the returned exiles would need exhortation to return spiritually to God and not just physically to Zion.

And the dead bodies of their kings, far from Me; and I will dwell in their midst forever- Instead of focusing upon the dead bodies of apostate kings, they should instead look to the restoration of the Davidic line in a Messianic prince. The promise that Yahweh would dwell in the new temple was conditional on them not touching dead bodies; but Hag. 2:13 makes it apparent that they did this very thing at the time of the restoration. The kingdom prophecy of Joel 3:21 could then had had some fulfilment: “I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed; for the LORD dwells [s.w.] in Zion”. See on Ez. 47:1.

Ezekiel 43:10 You, son of man, show the house to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern- Ezekiel was showing the captives that they would return but would likely fall back into the very "prostitution" to the covenant (:9) which led to their exile; and Ezekiel is as it were asking them to repent ahead of time. Ezekiel shewed Judah the general picture of the temple; if they were obedient, then God promised to give them more details so they could build it in reality (perhaps these would have included details of the contents of the most holy place, of which nothing is said). In the same way as the Angel-cherubim were to be followed back on earth by Judah from Babylon to Jerusalem, so in the same way as the Angel is described as measuring the new temple, so Judah were to "measure the pattern" and build accordingly. But they didn't.

Israel would only be able to build the temple properly if they were “ashamed of their iniquities”. This was the tragedy felt by Ezra, when he realized the exiles were not living as they should be: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased” (Ezra 9:6). And Ezra knew they weren’t "ashamed of their iniquities". And thus he sought to take upon himself that shame, believing that God would accept his shame on behalf of the people. Note in passing how he speaks of blushing before God. You only blush in someone’s presence. And this was how close and real Ezra felt his God to be. 

Ezekiel 43:11 If they be ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the form of the house, and its fashion, and its exits, and its entrances, and all its forms, and all its ordinances, and all its forms, and all its laws; and write it in their sight; that they may keep the whole form of it, and all its ordinances, and do them- The fact Ezekiel does make known the form of the house would suggest that a minority amongst the exiles did repent. Or perhaps they didn't, and by grace God all the same revealed to them the wonderful "form" of all the possibilities for them, in the hope that would elicit their repentance. Perhaps this repentance of a remnant explains why in fact the record of Ezekiel's temple was written down at all- for it would be written down if Judah were ashamed of their sins. Ezekiel's opening chapters record him being forewarned by God that they would not generally be responsive to his ministry; and yet some like Ezra were (see on :10), and maybe this was eagerly seized upon by God as the basis for allowing the writing down and preservation of the specifications we have in Ez. 40-48.

The temple vision should have made them ashamed of their sins (Ez. 43:10,11). It should have motivated them to live the Kingdom life in their lives: “describe the Temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them match their lives to its pattern”. But they didn’t. It may have been partly due to lack of familiarity with the text of the prophecy- Ezekiel would have preached it to them, but many of them were too busy with the Babylon life to reflect upon it. Those who returned to the land may well have done so not so much in order to get on with conformity to Ezekiel’s vision of the Kingdom, but for other reasons- their family and friends were going back, they felt some vague conscience that they ought to, perhaps their own experience of Babylon life hadn’t been positive and they vaguely hoped for something better... and so when they got there, they simply weren’t interested in serious conformity to the prophecies about restoration. And in principle, our own lives and apparent commitment before God can be just the same. It is evident that they didn’t reflect upon the real implications of the prophecies which they must all have vaguely known. And these  weaknesses must serve as the basis for our own self-examination: are we familiar with the text of Scripture, and more so, are we really meditating upon the personal implications for us?

Ezekiel 43:12 This is the law of the house: on the top of the mountain the whole limit around it shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house- This is one of the clearest statements that what we have in Ez. 40-48 is command rather than prediction. They were a law, a commandment to be fulfilled. This explains the commandment style of the instructions, e.g. Ez. 44:2: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened”. The "law of the house" should not be confused with the law of Moses; there are significant differences.

Ezekiel 43:13 These are the measures of the altar by cubits (the cubit is a cubit and a handbreadth): the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and its border around its edge a span; and this shall be the base of the altar-

Ezekiel 43:14 From the bottom on the ground to the lower ledge shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser ledge to the greater ledge shall be four cubits, and the breadth a cubit- The impression given by the language is that the altar rises up out of the earth. This is a purposeful juxtaposition with the unusual word used for it in :15, harel, "the mount of God". The impression is that arising from the dust on man's side, God meets with man there at His table and fellowships with us in eating together.

Ezekiel 43:15 The upper altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar hearth and upward there shall be four horns- "Upper altar" is harel, literally "the mount of God". The altar is therefore presented as the pinnacle of mount Zion. The teaching is not so much that sacrifice is the pinnacle of devotion to God, but rather His desire to share a table with man, to eat with man, is the pinnacle. The four horns perhaps connect with the four cherubim, who have as it were landed permanently in the new temple.

Ezekiel 43:16 The altar hearth shall be twelve cubits long by twelve broad, square in the four sides of it- This was large, but the twelve square arrangement looked forward to the united twelve tribes of Israel having one altar. The restoration prophecies indicate that there was envisaged a unity between the restored tribes of Israel, centred around a joint experience of forgiveness and desire to worship at the same altar (cp. 2 Chron. 32:12). Ezekiel had earlier seen the altar as the place of Divine judgment for the abuses committed there (Ez. 9:2). Now, the restored exiles were to do better.

Ezekiel 43:17 The ledge shall be fourteen cubits long by fourteen broad in the four sides of it; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and its bottom shall be a cubit around; and its steps shall look toward the east- The altar would have steps leading up to it, whereas this was forbidden in Ex. 20:26. The intended new system would not need to be so concerned about human uncleanness because this had been dealt with under the new covenant offered them.

Ezekiel 43:18 He said to me, Son of man, thus says the Lord Yahweh: These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon- "In the day..." implies they were not to use it until they had immediately offered a sin offering upon it (:19). That the altar needed cleansing again indicates an abiding imperfection in the whole system which would not be appropriate if this temple is to be built and operated by the Lord Jesus and the redeemed in the future.

Ezekiel 43:19 You shall give to the priests the Levites who are of the seed of Zadok, who are near to Me, to minister to Me, says the Lord Yahweh, a young bull for a sin offering- Before we can offer anything to God on His altar (:18), there must be the recognition that we are sinners; what we are offering, therefore, is not in order to obtain forgiveness, but in gratitude for that forgiveness already received. The "you" was addressed to Ezekiel and suggests it could have been built within Ezekiel’s lifetime, for he was to give the animals to the sons of Zadok to offer in the temple; Ezekiel was to prepare the daily sacrifice (Ez. 46:13). The Zadok of Ez. 43:19 may well be the Zadok of Neh. 13:13; meaning that although the potential for fulfilment in Ezekiel's lifetime had been missed, the next generation were still capable of fulfilling it.

Ezekiel 43:20 You shall take of its blood, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the ledge, and on the border all around: thus you shall cleanse it and make atonement for it- Ezekiel himself, as a priest, was to inaugurate the altar by sprinkling blood upon it and making an offering (Ez. 43:20-25). Ezekiel personally was to give the priests a bullock to offer on the new altar and to cleanse it (Ez. 43:19,20)- as if the temple was intended to be built during Ezekiel's lifetime.  See on :19.

Ezekiel 43:21 You shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and it shall be burnt in the appointed place of the house, outside of the sanctuary- Nehemiah did his very best to bring the potential Kingdom of God about by urging the people to repentance and conformity to God’s will, such was his perception of what was going on; that the coming of God’s Kingdom was being limited by the apathy of his own people. See on Ez. 40:10. He arranged for 12 gates to be built in the wall, as Ez. 48:31-34 had commanded there to be. He built ‘miphkad’, “the Muster Gate” (Neh. 3:31 RSV), the “appointed place” [s.w.] of Ez. 43:21.

Ezekiel 43:22 On the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they cleansed it with the bull- Malachi and Haggai so bitterly complain at the way the priests didn’t serve God properly in the restored temple. They offered blemished sacrifices, when it had been prophesied / commanded in Ezekiel that Israel were not to do this (Mal. 1:8).

Ezekiel 43:23 When you have finished cleansing it, you shall offer a young bull without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish- But they offered blemished animals (Mal. 1:8), because they wanted the nicer meat and more money for themselves- petty materialism stopped the Kingdom experience being realized.

Ezekiel 43:24 You shall bring them near to Yahweh, and the priests shall cast salt on them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering to Yahweh- The salt was a sign of covenant relationship (Lev. 2:13). The inauguration of the altar would be a sign of acceptance of the new covenant with the returned exiles which is envisaged in Ez. 20 and Jer. 31. The reality is that they didn't really accept it.

Ezekiel 43:25 Seven days you shall prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bull, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish- The contrast between "you" and "they" suggest that Ezekiel himself is envisaged as acting as a priest. The prophecy could have come true in his life time; the 70 year period of captivity could have been reduced. Instead, it was extended.

Ezekiel 43:26 Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it- There was to be
a seven day dedication of the altar (Ez. 43:26) just as had happened in Solomon’s time (2 Chron. 7:9).

Ezekiel 43:27 When they have accomplished the days, it shall be that on the eighth day, and onwards, the priests shall make your burnt offerings on the altar and your peace offerings- Both Solomon and Ezekiel's temples were to be ready for operation on “the eighth day” after their consecration (cp. 1 Kings 8:66). I suggest that contrary to how it is often presented, Ezekiel’s temple was to be of a similar size to that of Solomon’s. Even the statement that finally, the Lord would be there in the temple, is alluding back to how Yahweh came and dwelt in Solomon’s temple.

And I will accept you, says the Lord Yahweh- Ezekiel 20 gives the clearest outline of the envisaged sequence of events at the restoration. Verses 3-33 describe Israel’s sins up to the captivity; then there is the pleading with Israel in captivity (:35 = Ez. 17:20), with the intention that there in Babylon Israel would repent (:43). Then they would return to their land, build a temple and offer acceptable sacrifices, and be “accepted” (Ez. 20:41). The idea of God ‘accepting’ Israel is found here in Ez. 43:27; when the temple was built and the sacrifices offered, “I will accept you”. If Judah resumed building the temple according to Ezekiel’s plan, “I will take pleasure” in it, God offered (Hag. 1:8). The same word is used in Ez. 43:27- then, when the temple of Ezekiel was built, Yahweh would “accept / take pleasure in” His people and temple. But because they built and served Him with such a mean spirit, He did not “accept” them at that time (Mal. 1:10,13 s.w.). Note how Hag. 1:8 describes the need to go up onto the mountain and build the temple- as if to recall attention to Ezekiel’s opening vision of the temple as built on a mountain. But Judah would not, and therefore the Kingdom blessings of corn, new wine and oil, as well as fruitfulness on the mountains, were all withheld (Hag. 1:11).