Chapter 45 deals first with a new allotment of the land of Israel. Remember that Joshua, Eleazar the priest, along with the elders of the tribes of Israel originally divided the land among the tribes and gave each its allotment in Canaan. (Numbers 28 & 34; Joshua 13-21) It looked something like this:
Now, in Ezekiel’s vision, the LORD gives a new allotment, different from the one in Numbers. It will be described in more detail in chapters 47 and 48.
Allotment for the Holy District
This allotment focuses on the presence of God dwelling in the midst of his people. Accordingly, the first allotment is for a holy district. It is to be “set apart for the LORD” (ESV). That is the basic definition of holiness. The NIV says “you are to present to the LORD”. The LORD reiterated that the whole area of the district shall be holy.
The holy district is large: 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide. That is 37,500 feet long and 30,000 feet wide. There is a plot within it for the sanctuary, which is 500 cubits x 500 cubits. This corresponds to the measurements of the wall around the temple complex in 42:20. (45:2) It also has an open space around it of 50 cubits. Then there are areas set apart for the priests who minister in the sanctuary (4), the descendants of Zadok, and a third area set apart for the Levites (5). These areas are oriented east to west, as is the temple complex.
Allotment for the City
The next area set apart is for the city, and it is half as broad as the portions set aside for the priests.
The Allotment for the Prince
The prince is allotted land on both sides of the holy district and the city. HIs land created a buffer on the east and west sides of the holy district. The land of the priests create a buffer around the temple. So, as with the temple complex, there are gradations or levels of holiness going from the least holy to the most holy, with the most holy being the temple in the center.
It might look something like this:
We will get to the tribal allotments later, but you see that the picture is of a holy God dwelling in the midst of his people. His holiness is the center piece of the life of his people. His sovereignty is shown by his complete control over the allotment of the land.
The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel contain many condemnations of the lack of justice on the part of the leaders of Israel. Justice normally means honesty and fairness in dealings. Here God decrees justice must exist in the princes or leaders. They may not oppress the people. They shall not take away the land of the people. Remember the story of Ahab and Jezebel taking murdering Naboth in other to steal his land. (1 Kings 21) Their weights and measures must be honest. The restored nation must be ruled with justice and fairness for all.
Worship in the Visionary Temple
The offerings God requires in the visionary temple are described in this passage. Verse 16 tells us that all the people must give offerings. But, it is the duty of the prince to furnish the offerings for the special occasions. These include Sabbaths, New Moons and annual festivals. (45:17)
The prince, in this vision, has become a central figure in the sacrificial system. He provides many of the offerings for the people. But, in addition, the people bring their offerings to him to give to the priests. (16)
The festivals have also been changed. Their activities are reduced from the originals. The Passover is the only one mentioned by name. There is a ceremony on the first day of the year (18) to purify the sanctuary. (18-19) Blood is put on the doorposts of the temps, the posts of the gate of the inner court, and the corners of the altar. (19) One week later the ceremony is repeated for unintentional sins.
The Passover is the celebrated a week after the sacrifice for unintentional sins. (21) The number of sacrifices for Passover is increased from the original requirements of Numbers 28.
Finally, there is a festival in the seventh month. (25) The prince must provide the offerings for this festival also. The festival is not named, but the timing matches that of the Feast of Tabernacles (or booths). There is no Day of Atonement ceremony, though, as there is in Leviticus 16. This ceremony seems to be replaced by the purification ceremony that takes place on the first day of the year.
There is great emphasis by way of detail in the sacrifices. This tells us that atonement for sin is an important issue in this visionary temple.
This chapter shows us great emphasis on the holiness of God and the need to protect that. It shows God’s intent and desire to dwell among his people. And it shows the great necessity of atonement for sin.