September 9, Ezekiel 43-45

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43 He led me to the gate, the one that faces east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice sounded like the roar of a huge torrent, and the earth shone with his glory. The vision I saw was like the one I had seen when he[a] came to destroy the city, and like the ones I had seen by the Chebar Canal. I fell facedown. The glory of the Lord entered the temple by way of the gate that faced east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

While the man was standing beside me, I heard someone speaking to me from the temple. He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet, where I will dwell among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel and their kings will no longer defile my holy name by their religious prostitution and by the corpses[b] of their kings at their high places.[c] Whenever they placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they were defiling my holy name by the detestable acts they committed. So I destroyed them in my anger. Now let them remove their prostitution and the corpses of their kings far from me, and I will dwell among them forever.

10 “As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. Let them measure its pattern, 11 and they will be ashamed of all that they have done. Reveal[d] the design of the temple to them—its layout with its exits and entrances—its complete design along with all its statutes, design specifications, and laws. Write it down in their sight so that they may observe its complete design and all its statutes and may carry them out. 12 This is the law of the temple: All its surrounding territory on top of the mountain will be especially holy. Yes, this is the law of the temple.

The Altar

13 “These are the measurements of the altar in units of length (each unit being the standard length plus three inches):[e] The gutter is 21 inches[f] deep and 21 inches wide, with a rim of nine inches[g] around its edge. This is the base[h] of the altar. 14 The distance from the gutter on the ground to the lower ledge is 3½ feet,[i] and the width of the ledge is 21 inches. There are 7 feet[j] from the small ledge to the large ledge, whose width is also 21 inches. 15 The altar hearth[k] is 7 feet high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. 16 The hearth is square, 21 feet[l] long by 21 feet wide. 17 The ledge is 24½ feet[m] long by 24½ feet wide, with four equal sides. The rim all around it is 10½ inches,[n] and its gutter is 21 inches all around it. The altar’s steps face east.”

18 Then he said to me, “Son of man, this is what the Lord God says: These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is constructed, so that burnt offerings may be sacrificed on it and blood may be splattered on it: 19 You are to give a bull from the herd as a sin offering to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who approach me in order to serve me.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. 20 “You are to take some of its blood and apply it to the four horns of the altar, the four corners of the ledge, and all around the rim. In this way you will purify the altar and make atonement for it. 21 Then you are to take away the bull for the sin offering, and it must be burned outside the sanctuary in the place appointed for the temple.

22 “On the second day you are to present an unblemished male goat as a sin offering. They will purify the altar just as they did with the bull. 23 When you have finished the purification, you are to present a young, unblemished bull and an unblemished ram from the flock. 24 You are to present them before the Lord; the priests will throw salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord. 25 You will offer a goat for a sin offering each day for seven days. A young bull and a ram from the flock, both unblemished, are also to be offered. 26 For seven days the priests are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it. In this way they will consecrate it[o] 27 and complete the days of purification. Then on the eighth day and afterward, the priests will offer your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar, and I will accept you.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

The Prince’s Privilege

44 The man then brought me back toward the sanctuary’s outer gate that faced east, and it was closed. The Lord said to me, “This gate will remain closed. It will not be opened, and no one will enter through it, because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it. Therefore it will remain closed. The prince himself will sit in the gate to eat a meal before the Lord. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gate and go out the same way.”

Then the man brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked, and the glory of the Lord filled his temple. And I fell facedown. The Lord said to me, “Son of man, pay attention; look with your eyes and listen with your ears to everything I tell you about all the statutes and laws of the Lord’s temple. Take careful note of the entrance of the temple along with all the exits of the sanctuary.

The Levites’ Duties and Privileges

“Say to the rebellious people, the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I have had enough of all your detestable practices, house of Israel. When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in both heart and flesh, to occupy my sanctuary, you defiled my temple while you offered my food—the fat and the blood. You[p] broke my covenant by all your detestable practices. You have not kept charge of my holy things but have appointed others to keep charge of my sanctuary for you.’

“This is what the Lord God says: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, may enter my sanctuary, not even a foreigner who is among the Israelites. 10 Surely the Levites who wandered away from me when Israel went astray, and who strayed from me after their idols, will bear the consequences of their iniquity. 11 Yet they will occupy my sanctuary, serving as guards at the temple gates and ministering at the temple. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. 12 Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a sinful stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath[q] against them”—this is the declaration of the Lord God—“that they would bear the consequences of their iniquity. 13 They must not approach me to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or the most holy things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the detestable acts they committed. 14 Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the temple—for all its work and everything done in it.

The Priests’ Duties and Privileges

15 “But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, will approach me to serve me. They will stand before me to offer me fat and blood.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. 16 “They are the ones who may enter my sanctuary and approach my table to serve me. They will keep my mandate. 17 When they enter the gates of the inner court they are to wear linen garments; they must not have on them anything made of wool when they minister at the gates of the inner court and within it. 18 They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They are not to put on anything that makes them sweat. 19 Before they go out to the outer court,[r] to the people, they must take off the clothes they have been ministering in, leave them in the holy chambers, and dress in other clothes so that they do not transmit holiness to the people through their clothes.

20 “They may not shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but are to carefully trim their hair. 21 No priest may drink wine before he enters the inner court. 22 He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but may marry only a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. 23 They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean.

24 “In a dispute, they will officiate as judges and decide the case according to my ordinances. They are to observe my laws and statutes regarding all my appointed festivals, and keep my Sabbaths holy. 25 A priest may not come near a dead person so that he becomes defiled. However, he may defile himself for a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, or an unmarried sister. 26 After he is cleansed, he is to count off seven days for himself. 27 On the day he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he is to present his sin offering.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

28 “This will be their inheritance: I am their inheritance. You are to give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession. 29 They will eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering. Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated to the Lord will belong to them. 30 The best of all the firstfruits of every kind and contribution of every kind from all your gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give your first batch of dough to the priest so that a blessing may rest on your homes. 31 The priests may not eat any bird or animal that died naturally or was mauled by wild beasts.

The Sacred Portion of the Land

45 “When you divide the land by lot as an inheritance, set aside a donation to the Lord, a holy portion of the land, 8⅓ miles[s] long and 6⅔ miles[t] wide. This entire region will be holy. In this area there will be a square section[u] for the sanctuary, 875 by 875 feet,[v] with 87½ feet[w] of open space all around it. From this holy portion,[x] you will measure off an area 8⅓ miles long and 3⅓ miles[y] wide, in which the sanctuary, the most holy place, will stand.[z] It will be a holy area of the land to be used by the priests who minister in the sanctuary, who approach to serve the Lord. It will be a place for their houses, as well as a holy area for the sanctuary. There will be another area 8⅓ miles long and 3⅓ miles wide for the Levites who minister in the temple; it will be their possession for towns to live in.[aa]

“As the property of the city, set aside an area 1⅔ miles[ab] wide and 8⅓ miles long, adjacent to the holy donation of land. It will be for the whole house of Israel. And the prince will have the area on each side of the holy donation of land and the city’s property, adjacent to the holy donation and the city’s property, stretching to the west on the west side and to the east on the east side. Its length will correspond to one of the tribal portions from the western boundary to the eastern boundary. This will be his land as a possession in Israel. My princes will no longer oppress my people but give the rest of the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.

“This is what the Lord God says: You have gone too far,[ac] princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Put an end to your evictions of my people.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. 10 “You are to have honest scales, an honest dry measure,[ad] and an honest liquid measure.[ae] 11 The dry measure[af] and the liquid measure[ag] will be uniform, with the liquid measure containing 5½ gallons[ah] and the dry measure holding half a bushel.[ai] Their measurement will be a tenth of the standard larger capacity measure.[aj] 12 The shekel[ak] will weigh twenty gerahs. Your mina will equal sixty shekels.

The People’s Contribution to the Sacrifices

13 “This is the contribution you are to offer: Three quarts[al] from six bushels[am] of wheat and[an] three quarts from six bushels of barley. 14 The quota of oil in liquid measures[ao] will be one percent of every[ap] cor. The cor equals ten liquid measures or one standard larger capacity measure,[aq] since ten liquid measures equal one standard larger capacity measure. 15 And the quota from the flock is one animal out of every two hundred from the well-watered pastures of Israel. These are for the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings, to make atonement for the people.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. 16 “All the people of the land must take part in this contribution for the prince in Israel. 17 Then the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings for the festivals, New Moons, and Sabbaths—for all the appointed times of the house of Israel—will be the prince’s responsibility. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.

18 “This is what the Lord God says: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you are to take a young, unblemished bull and purify the sanctuary. 19 The priest is to take some of the blood from the sin offering and apply it to the temple doorposts, the four corners of the altar’s ledge, and the doorposts of the gate of the inner court. 20 You are to do the same thing on the seventh day of the month for everyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance. In this way you will make atonement for the temple.

21 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you are to celebrate the Passover, a festival of seven days during which unleavened bread will be eaten. 22 On that day the prince will provide a bull as a sin offering on behalf of himself and all the people of the land. 23 During the seven days of the festival, he will provide seven bulls and seven rams without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord on each of the seven days, along with a male goat each day for a sin offering. 24 He will also provide a grain offering of half a bushel[ar] per bull and half a bushel per ram, along with a gallon[as] of oil for every half bushel. 25 At the festival that begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh month,[at] he will provide the same things for seven days—the same sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, and oil.

Rebuilding, Renewal, Restoration… so many words could be used to describe the final chapters of Ezekiel; but they all come down to God working in and through the Israelites. Through these prophecies of Ezekiel, God is setting up new laws and ideas. 

Change can be difficult, overwhelming and even scary. But change can also be full of excitement and hope. These new precedents God was giving Israel meant that someday Israel would no longer be a divided nation. Their relationship with God would be restored and He would bring them back into the land He promised them. When God is working in our lives no matter how difficult or overwhelming, we can have hope knowing He is perfecting us to be what He created us to be.

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