The Chambers of the Priests
Having taken Ezekiel from the outside of the temple complex to the inside of the temple building, the guide now takes Ezekiel back toward the outside. So, he led Ezekiel from the temple building back out into the outer court. In this court, looking north, Ezekiel saw the priests chambers. He tells us the measurements. (1) This is a bit different from the other measurements, as Ezekiel just tells us rather than reporting that the guide told Ezekiel the measurements.
It was a three story building. One side faced the inner court and one side faced the outer court. (3) There was a passage through it. It appears you could enter the chambers from the outer court, go through the chambers and exit in the inner court.
The Man of Bronze explained the use of the chambers to Ezekiel. (13) He called them “holy chambers”. It was where the priests ate the holy offerings and kept them. (13) Remember that only a part of the offering was burned or poured out for the Lord. The remainder was given to the priests for their food and drink. It was given to them instead of land.
The barrier between the sacred and profane (or common) continues to be maintained. The priests cannot go from the Holy Place to the outer court without changing clothes. They cannot take their holy clothes into the common area. ((14) The Roman Catholic Church preserves this tradition with the sacristy. It is a place where vestments are stored and the priests change clothes. Members of the congregation are not allowed in the sacristy.
The Outer Wall
Having proceeded from the Holy Place, through the inner court, through the priests’ chambers, to the outer court, the man led Ezekiel outside through the east gate. (15) He measured the walls to get the measurement of the perimeter of the complete temple complex. He measured in this order: east, north, south, and west. Revelation 21:13 follows the same pattern, The whole complex was a perfect square. (In the Tabernacle, only the most holy place was square.) It was 500 cubits on each side. That is 9,000 inches if you measure the cubit as 18 inches, 750 feet or 250 yards. The perimeter was, therefore, 2,000 cubits or 1,000 yards. (The area would have been 62,500 square yards.) This purpose of this wall has been shown symbolically by the measurements, but is now stated: to make a separation between the holy and the common (sacred and profane). Nothing profane will invade the holy space as it had before.
In chapters 8 and 9, we saw that Israel had violated the holiness of the temple. They allowed both pagan people and pagan worship inside the holy areas. As a result of this, the glory of the Lord vacated the temple. Now, in chapter 42, the holiness of this visionary temple is absolutely protected by walls, gates and buildings. Since the holiness of God is again protected, the stage is set for the return of the presence of the Lord.
Similarly, the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21, is described as the place where “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
There is a great sense of order here. The temple dimensions are exact. The entire complex is a perfect square. The Most Holy Place is square. When God first made the earth, it was without order. It was “without form and void”. (Genesis 1:1) But, when God prepared it for mankind to live in his presence, he made it in perfect order. He made a garden for man. It had everything needed for life. God declared it to be good.
But man’s sin caused God to cast him from the garden back into chaos, or disorder. He put an angel at the entrance so this unholy man and woman could not invade his holy space. But, in Ezekiel, the disorder is restored to order. God again made a perfect space where his presence dwelt. Walls kept the impure out and kept the holy men and women in. Perfect worship is restored. But it takes the work of God on the hearts of men and women to accomplish this.
The Glory of the Lord Returns
Next, the Man of Bronze led Ezekiel back to the east gate. This is where the tour of the temple complex began. It is the front door to the complex. (43:1) The glory of the Lord left the old temple via the east gate.
Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord coming from the east. Ezekiel described the sound of his coming as the sound of many waters. John, in Revelation 1:15, described the risen Lord Jesus and said “his voice was like the roar of many waters”. His glory made the earth shine. (2) He recognized it as the glory of the Lord because it was like his first vision and the vision he saw when the temple was destroyed. So, the glory and presence of the Lord was very bright and very loud.
The return of the glory of the Lord to the temple reflects two previous and similar events. The first is the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-40 and the second is the construction of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6-8. In both accounts, the glory of God came to reside when the structure was completed. It signified God’s approval of the construction of his house.
Confronted with the glory of the Lord, Ezekiel fell on his face. Confronted with God’s holiness and glory, Ezekiel could not stand before the Lord. He could only fall face down in humility and worship.
The Spirit, however, lifted up Ezekiel and brought him into the inner court so that he could see the glory of the Lord fill the temple. (5) This is a new beginning for the relationship between God and his people. The Lord declared to Ezekiel that he would dwell in the temple, in the midst of his people Israel forever and Israel will no longer defile his holy name by their idolatry. All of this is still spoken in the context of the renewal of God’s people, when the descendant of David will rule and the Spirit is poured out on the people.
Notice that God will not only dwell there, he will rule there. The temple is his palace and he is king over Israel. He said “this is the place of my throne”.
God not only dwells with his people. He rules.
It is the same for us. Romans 10:9-10 says we must confess Jesus as Lord to be saved. Receive him as your Lord and Master today and be saved.