In chapter 41, the guide, the man of bronze, measured the temple building while Ezekiel watched. Ezekiel described the building and gave the measurements.
The temple building has three parts: a portico, the outer sanctuary and inner sanctuary. The portico is described in 41:48-49. It is like the porch of the house, but very fancy. The man measured it.It was 20 cubits wide and 12 cubits long. Pillars lined the sides.
Walking through the portico into the temple, Ezekiel and his guide first came to the outer sanctuary (NIV) or nave (ESV and NASB). First, we see that the entrance was only 10 cubits wide, compared to the portico, which was 10 cubits wide. (2) This is a severe narrowing. This symbolizes restricted access to the holier place. In fact, it does not appear that Ezekiel went into it. Rather the guide went in, measured it, then returned to tell Ezekiel the measurements. Ezekiel did not describe the outer or inner sanctuary. He just repeated the measurements the guide gave him.
Next, the guide measured the inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place. The entrance was only six cubits wide. (3) The access to the Most Holy Place is the most restricted.
The sanctuary itself was a perfect square, 20 cubits by 20 cubits. Again, the symbolizes its holiness. It is the only completely square space within the temple building.
Around the temple building are three stories of rooms. There are 90 in all. (5-11) Ezekiel does not tell us what the rooms were for. There is one interesting note, though. Verse 6 says “there were ledges all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side rooms, so that the supports were to inserted into the wall of the temple.” There was no intrusion of the profane into the sacred.
There was also a building on the west side. That would locate it behind the temple building. Its measurements are given, but no description. (12) It may have been there for the purpose of preventing access to the temple from the back side.
The temple was completely paneled with wood. It was decorated with the images of palm trees and cherubim. (17-18) The cherubim had two faces: one of a man and one of a lion. The walls of the outer sanctuary were covered with cherubim. It is a picture of God’s domain attended by angels.
Only one piece of furniture is mentioned. It is a wooden altar . The man said it is the table that is before the LORD (Yahweh). (22) I think that is the table where the bread of the Presence was set before the Lord. The original table is described in Exodus 25:23-30. The measurements are not the same. The original table was covered in gold. Twelve loaves of bread were put in two stacks on the table. There was one loaf for each of the12 tribes.
Aaron, the high priest, and his sons, ate the bread as representatives for the people. It was a sort of communion meal. It was holy and had to be eaten in the holy place. It was also a food offering to God. Since God does not eat, he gave it back to the priests for their sustenance. There is a sense here of peace with God resulting in the provision of God.
Chapter 42 will continue the description of the temple.