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Lessons From Ezekiel’s Temple, Part 1: The Introduction

by | Oct 18, 2014 | Lessons From Ezekiel's Temple (A Mini-Series), Temple

The temple of God.

Throughout the Old Testament, this has always been a central focus of the Holy Scriptures. It has also been a central focus for the nation of Israel from the time of the tabernacle in the wilderness until the present.

Much of the books of Moses are dedicated to the tabernacle in the wilderness: Its construction, its place in the camp, its furniture, its staffing, its care, and its sacrifices.

Then there was Solomon’s temple, the pride of Jerusalem, which David spent much of his life preparing for, and Solomon spent much of his life building (See 1 Kings 5,6). The entire focus of the books of Chronicles is on this temple and its services, along with the kings who either desecrated it or restored it (See 1,2 Chronicles), and then the unthinkable happened: Solomon’s beautiful temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, and lay in ruins for the next 70+ years (See 2 Chron. 36:19, Daniel 9, Ezra 1).

During these dark years of Jewish history, the prophet Ezekiel was given a powerful vision, one so detailed that it took up the last nine chapters of his book. The subject of his vision? A magnificent temple to the Lord!

Interestingly, this temple has not yet been built.

During the time of Ezra, after God’s people returned to Jerusalem, the temple was rebuilt, but not following the same plans as in the vision given to Ezekiel. This temple was then desecrated and destroyed numerous times during the Maccabian era, and the temple that stood in Jesus’ day, Herod’s temple, was not built after Ezekiel’s pattern either.

Could it still be built today?

Perhaps. The nation of Israel desperately desires to rebuild the temple of the Lord on the ancient temple mount in modern Jerusalem, and Biblical prophecy suggests that such a temple will be rebuilt. It is, therefore, a possible theory that Ezekiel’s temple could be built in Jerusalem. Whether or not this actually happens, only time will tell.

Another possible theory states that what Ezekiel saw in his vision was patterned after the temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians. This idea is expounded by Adam Clarke’s Commentary on Ezekiel 40:1:

“The temple here described by Ezekiel is, in all probability, the same which he saw before his captivity, and which had been burned by the Chaldeans fourteen years before this vision. On comparing the Books of Kings and Chronicles with this prophet, we shall find the same dimensions in the parts described by both; for instance, the temple, or place which comprehended the sanctuary, the holy place, and the vestibule or porch before the temple, is found to measure equally the same both in Ezekiel and the Kings … So that there is room to suppose that, in all the rest, the temple of Ezekiel resembled the old one; and that God’s design in retracing these ideas in the prophet’s memory was to preserve the remembrance of the plan …” [1]

Still another theory states that Ezekiel’s temple is a model of the temple in Heaven or the temple in the New Jerusalem to be built on earth. This theory however, has two major flaws. First of all, Ezekiel’s temple has rooms, tables and tools all specifically described as being dedicated to animal sacrifices. We know that Jesus’ death on the cross put an end to animal sacrifices. Even Jewish people of today to not practice animal sacrifices, though many believe that this practice will be reinstated with the rebuilding of the temple. The second problem is that we are told that there will be NO temple in the New Jerusalem: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Rev 21:22 NIV).

So we are left to guess as to the actual purpose of the elaborate description of the temple found in Ezekiel 40-48. But whether or not this was a description of the temple destroyed by the Babylonians or a description of a temple to be built in the future, my question remains the same: Can any of this have meaning to us today?

Friends, I do not pretend to have all the answers. I do not claim to be a Biblical scholar with a degree in Biblical archeology. But I believe that whether or not there will actually be a building that resembles Ezekiel’s temple, whether in Jerusalem, in Heaven, or in the New Earth, there is another explanation for these verses, one that applies to every Christian today. This explanation stems from 1 Cor 6:19: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” NIV

Because each of us becomes a temple of God’s Spirit when we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, we can find important spiritual messages in each part of the description of Ezekiel’s temple that will help us in our daily walk with Christ. These important messages will be the focus of the next 22 devotionals in the upcoming series: LESSONS FROM EZEKIEL’S TEMPLE.

Please join us next week for Lessons from Ezekiel’s Temple, Part 2: So What if it’s a Big Cube?

God bless each of you as you seek to draw closer to Him!

In His love,

Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .

[1] from Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

(To access the entire “Lessons From Ezekiel’s Temple” mini-series, please click here.)

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