It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This evening, I have prepared a handout in order to avoid reading about five thousand words! You see, as Ezekiel's book draws to a close with these final nine chapters, there is lengthy description of the appearance and measurement of something which is better suited, I believe, to a blueprint rather than a verbal description.
The date is Apr. 28, 573BC. Ezekiel has been in Babylon for 25 years, and Jerusalem has been in ruins for 14 years. The Jews will not be returning from the Babylonian Captivity for several more decades, but God brings Ezekiel back to Israel in a vision.
God placed Ezekiel on a mountain, and on that mountain was something that had been built - something so huge, it looked like an entire city.
God brought Ezekiel to that structure, and there Ezekiel encountered a man. But this was no ordinary man. He looked like he could have been made of copper! We can probably assume that he was an angel.
He was holding a string and a rod, which are basically the equivalent of a tape measure and a yardstick (although this one was about ten feet long). He tells Ezekiel to pay attention to what he sees and hears, because his job will be to describe it all to the Jews when he returns from the vision.
It is in this verse that we first discover the structure Ezekiel was looking at was the temple. But this is not like any temple Ezekiel had ever seen or heard of.
Up to this point in history, there had been only the tabernacle, which was a portable tent, and the temple which Solomon built.
Solomon's temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians fourteen years before.. And so Ezekiel was being shown a temple that had not yet been built. As a matter of fact, it is a temple which to this day has never been built.
The descriptions that follow do not match the temple which was built after the return from Babylon, nor do the match the remodeling of that temple by Herod. Biblically, we know that there are still two temples left to be built on this earth before it is destroyed. We call them the Tribulation Temple and the Millennial Temple.
The Tribulation Temple is the one which will be constructed in our the near future, and will be defiled by the antichrist. Jesus said that the antichrist will stand in the holy place (Matt. 24:15) where he should not be (Mark 13:14). Paul told the Thessalonians that he...
2Th. 2:4 ...exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
This is what will happen to the next temple to be built. But when Jesus returns, there will be yet another temple - one He will build Himself. Zechariah wrote,
Zech. 6:12-13 ...Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne..."
The MIllennial Temple will be built by Jesus. This was understood even by the early church. Remember that during the counsel of Jerusalem, when the church was discussing the validity of Paul preaching to the Gentiles, James quoted that the prophets had foretold that there would be Gentiles who were called by God's name (Acts 15:17). And God said that after that time (the church age),
Acts 15:16-18 "AFTER THESE THINGS I will return, AND I WILL REBUILD THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID WHICH HAS FALLEN, AND I WILL REBUILD ITS RUINS, AND I WILL RESTORE IT, SO THAT THE REST OF MANKIND MAY SEEK THE LORD, AND ALL THE GENTILES WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME,’ SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM LONG AGO."
So God Himself will build this temple.
In these verses, Ezekiel documents the measurements given to him by the angel.
As you're reading along in this section of Scripture, something should really jump out at you: there is a chamber where they rinse the burnt offering, and tables where they slaughter the offerings! On these tables is the flesh of the offering! And there is an altar where these sacrifices are made by Levite priests!
This sure doesn't sound right, does it? After all, Jesus appeared in order to take away sins (1John 3:5), and...
Heb. 10:4 ...it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Are there really going to be sacrifices in the Millennium? Yes, and Ezekiel is not the only prophet to tell us this. The Lord told Jeremiah,
Jer. 33:15-18 'In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the LORD is our righteousness.’ For thus says the LORD, 'David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’
God told Zechariah that because many things will be holy to the Lord, people will be able to boil their sacrifices in their own cooking pots (Zech. 14:20-21).
And to Isaiah, God said,
Is. 56:6-7 “Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
And so it is firmly established in Scripture that there will be sacrifices made in the Millennium. But why? There have been many suggestions. I believe that we don't know the full answer to that question. But let me give you the part that I do understand.
In Moses' day, God established feasts and sacrifices that pointed ahead to Jesus Christ. Passover spoke of His death, Firstfruits spoke of His resurrection, etc. And all of the sacrifices and services pointed to Him. Everything from the burnt offering (Lev. 1) and the sin offering (Lev. 4) to the ceremony for the leper on the day of his cleansing (Lev. 14).
Now that Passover has been fulfilled, we celebrate the day by looking back and remembering. Now that the resurrection has been accomplished, we look back and remember. Jesus even gave us Communion as a remembrance of these things.
My belief is that the various sacrifices such as the burnt offering and the sin offering will be taking place in the Millennium for the same purpose: to look back at the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I think that there will be a dynamic of which we are not aware, just as communion and baptism are far deeper than simple rituals. But I believe we will have to wait until then to fully understand the Millennial sacrificial system.
Oh, and one more thing which I should probably point out: The animals being sacrificed don't seem to mind it at all. In Isaiah 60 we read,
Is. 60:7 “All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; They will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house."
"With acceptance" is a Hebrew word (raw-TSONE) that means means "with delight and pleasure."
A large portion of the next chapters continue with more measurements of the various parts of the temple.
Another intriguing thing to me Simon Peter called the Millennium "the time of the restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21). I have always interpreted this as meaning that everything would go back to the way it was in the garden of Eden. Certainly, we see long life spans in the Millennium (Isa. 65:20) and the animals not being aggressive towards mankind any longer (Isa. 11:6-9). But one thing I don't see as returning to the days of Adam and Eve is the strict vegetarian diet they had. Remember, God had told them,
Gen. 1:30 "...to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food.."
And only after the flood was mankind told,
Gen. 9:3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant."
In the Millennium, we see that the priests are eating the sacrifices, as they did long ago in the temple. And apparently, not just the priests. Isaiah prophesied,
Is. 25:6 The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.
So, I guess I don't understand the definition of "the restoration of all things" as good as I'd like to.
Now, the angel takes Ezekiel to the outside of the temple and measures its perimeter. East side is 500 reeds, or about 5,000 feet. Because a mile is 5,280 feet, that means the entire temple will cover almost a square mile!
Right now, there is nowhere in Jerusalem large enough to accommodate this building. That makes some doubtful of the temple's future reality. But you must remember that Jerusalem's topography is going to be radically changed between now and the time of the Millennium.
- In Revelation 11, there is an earthquake which destroys a tenth of Jerusalem.
- In Revelation 16, we see a world-wide earthquake that levels mountains and buries islands (Rev. 16:20).
- Then, when Jesus returns at the end of the Great Tribulation,
Zech. 14:4 In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
The valley that is formed will provide a way of escape for the Jews in Jerusalem that are being attacked by the nations who have gathered against them (Zech. 14:5).
- Then, once the Lord establishes His throne, waters will begin to flow out of Jerusalem (Joel 3:18), towards the east and west. Zechariah tell us this in chapter 14...
Zech. 14:8-11 And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin’s Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.
And so although there is no room right now for a temple that covers a square mile, there certainly will be in that day.
Is. 2:2 Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob"
It will be the mountain of the Lord, and He will dwell with His people on this earth. In our next study, we will get to see - among other things - God's glory entering into the temple, for the first time since His glory departed back in Ezekiel chapter eleven.