Fourteen years after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, God had a special message for the Jews who were living in exile. The Lord brought Ezekiel to Jerusalem in a vision and showed him a new city with a glorious temple on the top of “a very high mountain.” The Almighty instructed the prophet to pay careful attention to everything he saw and heard. “Look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I show you.” The prophet was told to “declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”
A good diagram or artist’s rendition of this multiple chapter revelation is most helpful in following Ezekiel’s words. The first installment of the picture is full of amazing details about the wall around the outside of the temple area, the outer court, the gates, the inner court, the many windows, the decorative palm trees, and the various stairways. This sacred space where God would meet with His people was to be a working holy place with accommodations for the Old Testament sacrificial system and for the “the sons of Zadok” who alone were to perform certain priestly duties.
At the end of Ezekiel 40 an angel led the prophet to the altar “in front of the temple” at the center of what Ezekiel experienced that day. Future chapters will give us more details about the interior spaces and the surrounding region on the other side of the walls.
We can already gather several important lessons about the Lord and His people from these observations delivered during an ancient time of Jewish captivity. The God who would reveal these amazing details is a God of knowledge, order, and gracious communication. He knew that His children needed a goal to inspire their hearts which would be appropriate for their time and place. Though this precise temple was never built, it functioned like the Lord’s announcement of divine blessings for obedience at the end of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The unfaithfulness of the returning Israelites would prevent the realization of those rewards for His chosen nation, but we do not conclude that the unveiling of such great goals was without purpose.
As we walk through the mountaintop vision with Ezekiel, we remember that we are to be a holy priesthood of believers who have been chosen as worshipers of the only true and living God. Christ alone has fully accomplished all the duties of a perfectly devoted man. He has also become our high priest, offering His own body and blood for us as a sacrifice to cancel our guilt. Even now He lives forever to make intercession for us.
We do not expect anyone to build Ezekiel’s ideal Old Testament temple. Instead we have been promised a land far greater than what God’s faithful prophet saw. In the great resurrection world there will be “no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:22)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O Lord God, show us Your resurrection temple. Grant that we will be able to explore its courts. Delight us with the company of angels and holy men. What a blessing to be in Your house! Let us see the gates of Your kingdom. Cause us to appreciate all the impressive rooms, and to rightly anticipate the wonder of everything in Your holy place. What must it be like to be in a land of such beauty that the finest sights of earth would seem like nothing compared to the glory of even the pavement intended for the feet of the redeemed? We long to experience it all from every vantage point. How we praise You, O Lord! What a pleasure it will be to live in the new world won for us through the blood and righteousness of Christ! He is our great High Priest forever. We are overcome by the glory of this thought: We will be with Him one day, and we will see Him as He is!