Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east:Ezekiel 43:1-2. Then he brought me to the gate — The eastern gate of the court of the priests, which was just before the temple. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel — The word behold is an expression of joy and admiration; as if the prophet had said, Behold, a wonderful and joyful sight! The glory of that God who calls himself the God of Israel, which had departed from this place and people, and had absented itself from them for so long a time, is now returning to them, and fixing its residence among them. When the glory of the Lord forsook the temple, it is represented as departing from the eastern gate of it; afterward, as quite forsaking the city, and removing to a mountain on the east side of it; and now that glory is described as returning by the same way it departed: see Ezekiel 10:18; Ezekiel 11:23. This was intended to signify that God would again accept of this place for a temple to be built on it, and dedicated to his worship, and would accept of the service that should be paid him there, and afford the place his peculiar protection. And his voice was like a noise of many waters — Great and terrible: compare Ezekiel 1:24; Revelation 1:15. Either to signify the dreadfulness of God’s judgments, or the efficacy of his commands, who calls things into existence by the power of his word. And the earth shined with his glory — The rays of his glory, like the sunbeams, enlightened the earth: see the margin. This glory of the Lord seems to have been intended as an emblem of the light of the gospel, which is the glory of Christ, and which spread from the eastern part of the world into the western; and which has been, and still is, powerful and mighty in operation, in saving mankind, and enlightening the earth with abundance of knowledge, holiness, and comfort.
And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice was like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.
And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the vision that 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 upon my face.Ezekiel 43:3-5. And it — This glory of the God of Israel; was according to the vision, &c., when I came to destroy the city — That is, to prophesy that the city would be destroyed. The prophets are often said to do those things which they foretel shall be done. And I fell upon my face — In humble and reverent adoration of the divine majesty, or overwhelmed, as it were, and not able to bear the lustre of such glory. But the Spirit took him up, when the glory of the Lord was come into the house, that he might see how the house was filled with it. He had formerly seen, to his great grief, how the glory of the Lord, in this same appearance, departed from the temple; because it was profaned; and now he sees, to his great satisfaction, how it returns to it. As we do not find that ever the Shechinah did in such a manner take possession of the second temple, it seems evident that this was to have its accomplishment in that glory of the divine grace which shines so bright in the gospel church, and fills it.
And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east.
So the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house.
And I heard him speaking unto me out of the house; and the man stood by me.Ezekiel 43:6. I heard him speaking unto me, &c. — The prophet now receives instructions more immediately from the glory of the Lord, as Moses did when God had taken possession of the tabernacle, Leviticus 1:1. When God’s glory shines in the church, we must from thence expect to receive divine oracles. And the man stood by me — We could not bear to hear the voice of God, any more than to see the face of God, if Jesus Christ did not stand by us as a Mediator. Or, if this was a created angel, it is observable, that when God began to speak to the prophet, he stood by, and gave way, having no more to say. Nay, he stood by the prophet as a learner with him; for to the principalities and powers, to the angels themselves, who desire to look into these things, is made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3:10.
And he said unto me, Son of man, 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 for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places.Ezekiel 43:7-9. And he said unto me, Son of man, &c. — God here, in retaking possession of his house, in effect renews his covenant with his people Israel; and Ezekiel negotiates the matter, as Moses formerly did. This would be of great use to the captives at their return, both for direction and for encouragement; but it more especially concerns those that are blessed with the privileges of the gospel temple, and shows that they hold their blessings under the condition of their obedience. The place of my throne — The sense would be plainer if the beginning of the verse were rendered, This is the place of my throne, &c. — The cherubim are described as God’s throne, and he is said to dwell, or sit, between the cherubim, and the ark was as his footstool. Observe, reader, his temple, the church, is the place where the throne of his grace is erected; and in the dispensations of grace he has a throne, and manifests himself as a king, to whom we must be subject. Where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever — He alludes to the promise formerly made with relation to the tabernacle and temple, (see Psalm 68:16; Psalm 132:14,) which promise is to be understood, like all God’s other promises made of old, as conditional, (see Ezekiel 43:9,) and intended to be eminently fulfilled in and by Christ, in whom all the promises of the Old Testament are to have their final accomplishment. Zechariah prophesied, Zechariah 6:13, that the Messiah should build the temple of the Lord, and bear the glory; that is, as such prophecies are explained in the New Testament, he shall build the Christian Church, and in him shall all the fulness of the Godhead dwell bodily and really, not in types and figures. To the same sense we may explain the prophecy of Haggai 2:7, The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former; for no visible glory appeared in the second temple, till the Lord whom they expected came to his temple, Malachi 3:1; that is till the Messiah, who was the brightness of his Father’s glory, appeared there, and made it an illustrious figure of that true temple, or church of believers, where he would continue his presence for ever; see 2 Corinthians 6:16. And my holy name shall Israel no more defile by their whoredom — By idolatry, often described in Scripture under the metaphor of fornication. The captivity had that good effect upon the Jews, that they scarce ever after relapsed into idolatry. And the entire destruction of idolatry is often mentioned as a blessing reserved for the latter days, when the Jews shall be converted, and the fulness of the Gentiles come into the church. Nor by the carcasses of their kings in their high places — Idols are called carcasses, because they are without life and motion, and likewise upon the account of their being hateful and loathsome in the sight of God: see the margin. They are called carcasses of kings because they were set up, and the worship of them encouraged, by the idolatrous kings of Judah, who erected high places for that purpose near Jerusalem, in the very view of the temple, 2 Kings 23:13. By this means the temple itself was profaned by those that came directly from the worship of idols to attend upon God’s service in the temple. Nay, they even advanced to such high degrees of idolatry, as to set up their threshold by God’s threshold, that is, to erect the altars and images of their idols in the temple itself, and the courts before it. And the wall — For there was but a wall between me and them: see the margin.
In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.
Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.
Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.Ezekiel 43:10. Show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed, &c. — The prophet is here directed to show the measure and pattern of the house to the Jews, with a view to render them ashamed of their idolatries and other iniquities, which had provoked God to deprive them of the honour and happiness of his residence among them, and the benefit of his ordinances. It seems also, that this same draught and description of the house and its courts, &c., was to be laid before them, as a model for them to imitate, as far as they should be able, when they should return to their own country, and rebuild their temple. See Preliminary Observations to chap. 40.-48. But, as has been more than once intimated, “the words may have a further view, and the model of God’s temple here set forth might be intended as a pattern of heavenly things, as Moses’s was, Exodus 25:40, and a type of that pure church, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which we may hope God will in due time everywhere restore. And, in the mean season, it is the duty of all Christians, according to their ability, to inform themselves and others what is the pattern, form, and fashion of this true church of God, in order to reform all those deviations which have been made from it. Let them measure the pattern — In order to build their new temple by it, when they shall return from captivity, as far as their abilities will reach. For the same purpose the prophet is commanded in the following verse to write it in their sight.
And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.
This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.Ezekiel 43:12. This is the law of the house — This is the first comprehensive rule; or, this is the general law respecting this temple, and all that belongs to it. Whereas formerly only the chancel, or sanctuary, was most holy, now the whole mount of the house, the whole limit thereof round about, including all the courts and all the chambers, shall be so. This signified that, in gospel times, 1st, The church should have the privilege of the holy of holies, namely, that of a near access to God. All believers have now, under the gospel, liberty to enter into the holiest, Hebrews 10:19, with this advantage, that whereas the Jewish high-priests entered by the virtue of the blood of bulls and goats; we enter by the virtue of the blood of Jesus, and at all times, and wherever we are, we have through him access to the Father. 2d, That the whole church should be under an indispensable obligation to press toward the perfection of holiness, as he who hath called us is holy. All must now be most holy. Holiness becomes God’s house for ever, and in gospel times more than ever. Behold, this is the law of the house! Let none expect the protection and blessings of it that will not submit to this law.
And these are the measures of the altar after the cubits: The cubit is a cubit and an hand breadth; even the bottom shall be a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about shall be a span: and this shall be the higher place of the altar.Ezekiel 43:13-17. These are the measures of the altar — The Jews, after their return out of captivity, had an altar long before they had a temple, Ezra 3:3; but the altar here spoken of is an altar in the temple, the mystical temple emblematical of the gospel church; and this altar is mystical too, for Christ is our altar. The bottom shall be a cubit, &c. — To render the dimensions here specified of the altar more intelligible to an English reader, it may be best to observe, that it was about six yards square at the top, and seven at the bottom. It was four yards and a half high; it had a lower bench, or shelf, here called a settle, a yard from the ground, on which some of the priests stood to minister, and another, two yards above that, on which others of them stood; and those were each of them half a yard broad, and had ledges on either side, that they might stand firm upon them. The sacrifices were killed at the table spoken of Ezekiel 40:39; what was to be burned on the altar was given up to those on the lower bench, and handed by them to those on the higher, and they laid it on the altar. Thus in the service of God we must be assistant to one another.
And from the bottom upon the ground even to the lower settle shall be two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle even to the greater settle shall be four cubits, and the breadth one cubit.
So the altar shall be four cubits; and from the altar and upward shall be four horns.
And the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof.
And the settle shall be fourteen cubits long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it shall be half a cubit; and the bottom thereof shall be a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.
And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; 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.Ezekiel 43:18-27. These are the ordinances of the altar — Here we have directions concerning the dedication of the altar at first. Seven days were to be spent in the dedication of it, and every day sacrifices were to be offered upon it, particularly a goat for a sin-offering, (Ezekiel 43:25,) besides a young bullock for a sin-offering on the first day, Ezekiel 43:19; which teaches us, in all our religious services, to have an eye to Christ, the great sin- offering. Neither our persons nor our performances can be acceptable to God, unless sin be taken away; and that cannot be taken away but by the blood of Christ, which both sanctifies the altar (for Christ entered by his own blood) and the gift upon the altar. There was also a bullock and a ram to be offered for a burnt-offering, (Ezekiel 43:24,) which was intended purely for the glory of God, to teach us to have an eye to that in all our services. This dedication of the altar is called the cleansing and purging of it, Ezekiel 43:20; Ezekiel 43:26. Christ, our altar, though he had no pollution to be cleansed from, yet sanctified himself, John 17:19. And when we consecrate the altars of our hearts to God, to have holy love always burning upon them, we must see that they be purified and cleansed from the love of the world and the lust of the flesh. It is observable, that there are several differences between the rites of dedication here, and those which were appointed Exodus 29., to intimate that the ceremonial institutions were mutable things, and the changes made in them were earnests of their termination in Christ. Only here, according to the general law that all the sacrifices must be seasoned with salt, (Leviticus 2:14,) particular orders are given (Ezekiel 43:24) that the priests shall cast salt upon the sacrifices. Grace is the salt with which all our religious performances must be seasoned, Colossians 4:6. An everlasting covenant is called a covenant of salt, because it is incorruptible. The glory reserved for us is incorruptible and undefiled; and the grace wrought in us, influencing the hidden man of the heart, is in that which is not corruptible, and therefore, in the sight of God, of great price. We may observe further here, that constant use was to be made of the altar when dedicated; the priests being directed to make their burnt-offerings and peace-offerings upon it, (Ezekiel 43:27,) for therefore it was sanctified, that it might sanctify the gift that was offered upon it. And for their encouragement in this whole service, God promises, on condition of their observing these directions, that he would graciously accept them: for those that give themselves to God shall be accepted of him, their persons first, and then their performances, through the Mediator; and if our persons be accepted, and our services be pleasing to him, it is enough, we need no more.
And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.
And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it.
Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock.
When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish.
And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.
Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.
And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.