Sunday, September 14, 2014

EZEKIEL 42-32 continued: The Altar

I find it interesting that Ezekiel does not see an ark of the covenant. In the Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple, the Lord’s presence was seated on the top of the ark, on the atonement cover. Here in Ezekiel’s temple, no ark is mentioned. The whole complex would be evidence of God’s presence.

This calls to mind Jeremiah 3:16-17:
“And I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. And when you have multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say the ark of the covenant of the Lord. It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord…”

It also calls to mind the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation. John said he saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. (Rev. 21:22) He said the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in this new city. (Rev. 22:3)

The Need for Repentance & Obedience

The Lord told Ezekiel to describe the temple to Israel that they might repent. He said that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. (10) They shall measure the plan. (10) They will not be told the whole design of the temple unless the repent (if they are ashamed of their iniquities). (11) Before God’s people may come into his presence, they must repent of sin. Repent means to turn away from the wrong way and return to the right way. If they repent, Ezekiel can show them the design of the temple so that they will see the perfect holiness of God.And if they repent, they must observe God’s laws. There must be a commitment to obedience and holiness. (11)

So, it appears to me that the design of the temple is meant to tell something about God to the Jews. It must if it will lead them to repent and turn to God. I believe it teaches his holiness, his perfection and his hatred of sin.

The Altar of Sacrifice

The measurements of the altar are given. It is square, as is the temple, with horns on each corner. It was layered, getting smaller as it went upward. It’s measurements are actually a bit smaller than the one in Solomon’s temple. (2 Chronicles 4:1)

Ezekiel is also given the “ordinances” for the altar. (18) The necessary sacrifices were also described in detail. Blood is thrown against the altar. It took seven days of sacrifices to cleanse the altar itself so that offerings could be made for the people. (26) The number seven is used in the Bible to show perfection.

When the altar is consecrated, the regular offerings can be made, resulting in the Lord’s acceptance of his people. This is because the altar is common when it is built. It is built by human hands of earthly materials. It must be transformed from common to holy. Thus blood is thrown against it to purify it. This is similar to the purification of the tabernacle in Exodus 29.

This world of the new temple is a God centered and worship centered world. It is a temple centered world. And, at the heart of it all, is an altar, where blood is spilled for the atonement of sins and peace with the Father. Sins must be atoned for men and women to fellowship with the Lord.

Jesus has now made that sacrifice for us, once for all. He came and dwelt among men while on earth and promises to dwell with us until the end of this age. He has poured out his Holy Spirit on us to help us. He has opened access to the Father to us.

The Father demanded holiness of Israel.

Jesus demands holiness from us. He said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
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