Ezekiel 45:7 And the prince will have the area on each side of the devoted donation of land and the city’s property, adjacent to the devoted 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. Ezekiel 45:8 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.
God’s kind of politics
The leader is to have land next to that assigned to the priests, but he is not to steal land from the people. God wants his political leaders to serve him, and protect the people. That is God’s kind of politics.
Ezekiel 45:1 “When you divide the land by lot as an inheritance, set aside a donation to Yahveh, a devoted portion of the land, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide. This entire region will be devoted. Ezekiel 45:2 In this area there will be a square section for the sanctuary, 500 by 500 cubits, with 50 cubits of open space all around it. Ezekiel 45:3 From this devoted portion, you will measure off an area 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide, in which the sanctuary, the most devoted place, will stand. Ezekiel 45:4 It will be a devoted area of the land to be used by the priests who minister in the sanctuary, who approach to serve Yahveh. It will be a place for their houses, as well as a devoted area for the sanctuary. Ezekiel 45:5 There will be another area 25,000 cubits long and 10,000 cubits wide for the Levites who minister in the house; it will be their possession for towns to live in. Ezekiel 45:6 “As the property of the city, set aside an area 5000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, adjacent to the devoted donation of land. It will be for the whole house of Israel.
a section of land
Worship was so important that a section of land was to be set aside for the priests to use. The land was the major means of wealth, so this was in itself a major sacrifice.
LORD, may we be wise enough to devote significant portions to your ministry.
Ezekiel 44:28 “This will be their inheritance: I am their inheritance. You are to give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession. Ezekiel 44:29 They will eat the grain offering, the failure offering, and the guilt offering. Everything in Israel that is permanently dedicated to Yahveh will belong to them. Ezekiel 44:30 The first 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. Ezekiel 44:31 The priests may not eat any bird or animal that died naturally or was mauled by wild beasts.
the first batch goes to the priest
The people are told to bless their priests, and a corresponding blessing would rest on their homes. But if the priest got second best, there would be no blessing for the home.
God is watching to see how we really feel about those who serve him among us. We can declare all we want in the assemby, but the real test of our love for God is how we demonstrate our appreciation for him and his worship.
LORD, give us the wisdom to show our love to you by blessing your servants.
Ezekiel 44:15 “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 Yahveh. Ezekiel 44:16 “They are the ones who may enter my sanctuary and approach my table to serve me. They will keep my mandate. Ezekiel 44:17 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. Ezekiel 44:18 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. Ezekiel 44:19 Before they go out to the outer court, to the people, they must take off the clothes they have been ministering in, leave them in the devoted chambers, and dress in other clothes so that they do not transmit devotion to the people through their clothes. Ezekiel 44:20 “They may not shave their heads or let their hair grow long, but are to carefully trim their hair. Ezekiel 44:21 No priest may drink wine before he enters the inner court. Ezekiel 44:22 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. Ezekiel 44:23 They are to teach my people the difference between the devoted and the common and explain to them the difference between the clean and the unclean. Ezekiel 44:24 “In a dispute, they will officiate as judges and decide the case according to my rules. They are to observe my laws and prescriptions regarding all my appointed festivals and keep my Sabbaths sacred. Ezekiel 44:25 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. Ezekiel 44:26 After he is cleansed, he is to count off seven days for himself. Ezekiel 44:27 On the day he goes into the sanctuary, into the inner court to minister in the sanctuary, he is to present his failure offering.” This is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh.
an example and an explanation
Craigie writes ” In their dress, appearance, and personal hygiene, the priests were to be clean, both literally and in terms of ritual purity. The same sense of cleanliness was to be maintained in such matters as marriage and encounters with the dead. They had responsibility for religious education, legal consulting and adjudication, and the conduct of worship at the temple’s altar. Their whole life was to be the service of God…” (297).
What would our world be like if all believers (priests under the new covenant) would set themselves a higher standard of living? We could be an example and an explanation to unbelievers as to what holiness is and who God is.
Craigie, Peter C. Ezekiel. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 1983.
Ezekiel 44:9 “This is what the Lord Yahveh says: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, may enter my sanctuary, not even a foreigner who is among the Israelites. Ezekiel 44:10 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 violation. Ezekiel 44:11 Yet they will occupy my sanctuary, serving as guards at the house gates and ministering at the house. They will slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices for the people and will stand before them to serve them. Ezekiel 44:12 Because they ministered to the house of Israel before their idols and became a failing stumbling block to them, therefore I swore an oath against them”– this is the declaration of the Lord Yahveh– “that they would bear the consequences of their violation. Ezekiel 44:13 They must not approach me to serve me as priests or come near any of my devoted things or the most devoted things. They will bear their disgrace and the consequences of the repulsive acts they committed. Ezekiel 44:14 Yet I will make them responsible for the duties of the house – for all its work and everything done in it.
demotion among the Levites
The penalty for having tolerated and committed idolatry as Levites was that they were no longer allowed to serve as priests. Instead, they would “bear their disgrace” by serving in the menial tasks that they had farmed out to foreigners.
It is a shameful thing for a minister of God to tolerate sin in his temple. A change of status — a demotion — is a fitting penalty for such a crime.
Ezekiel 44:4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house. I looked, and noticed the impressive appearance of Yahveh filled his house. And I fell face-down. Ezekiel 44:5 Yahveh said to me: “Son of Adam, pay attention; look with your eyes and listen with your ears to everything I tell you about all the prescriptions and laws of Yahveh’s house. Take careful note of the entrance of the house along with all the exits of the sanctuary. Ezekiel 44:6 “Say to the rebellious people, the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord Yahveh says: I have had enough of all your repulsive practices, house of Israel. Ezekiel 44:7 When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in both heart and flesh, to occupy my sanctuary, you defiled my house while you offered my food– the fat and the blood. You broke my covenant by all your repulsive practices. Ezekiel 44:8 You have not kept charge of my devoted things but have appointed others to keep charge of my sanctuary for you.’
no outsiders allowed
Lofthouse writes “In the old regime, prisoners of war would seem to have been used for temple servants (Joshua ix. 23), and foreigners were freely enlisted in the royal bodyguard (Ithra the Gittite, the Cherethites, and Pelethites)” (322).
This may have seemed like a profitable arrangement for the Israelites, but for God, it was an insult. His house is to be served by his covenant people — circumcised in both flesh and heart.
To be a witness to the world we must make contact with the world. But our service and worship of God are not to be shared by outsiders.
Lofthouse, W. F. Ezekiel: Introduction, Revised Version with Notes and Index. Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1900.
Ezekiel 44:1 He then brought me back toward the sanctuary’s outer gate that faced east, and it was shut. Ezekiel 44:2 Yahveh said to me: “This gate will stay shut. It will not be opened, and no one will enter through it, because Yahveh, the God of Israel, has entered through it. Therefore it will stay shut. Ezekiel 44:3 The prince himself will sit in the gate to eat a meal before Yahveh. He is to enter by way of the portico of the gate and go out the same way.”
let’s keep studying
I’m still mulling this one over. Many modern writings on Ezekiel assume that this latter portion of the book refers to the future Millennial kingdom when Christ will sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem. If that is so, is Jesus the prince who will sit at the gate and eat a meal before Yahveh, and not enter through the gate because it is shut to him?
I am grateful that the major mysteries of the Bible are made clear. Let’s all keep studying and trying to put the pieces together.
Ezekiel 43:18 Then he said to me: “Son of Adam, this is what the Lord Yahveh says: These are the prescriptions 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: Ezekiel 43:19 You are to give a bull from the herd as a failure 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 Yahveh. Ezekiel 43:20 “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. Ezekiel 43:21 Then you are to take away the bull for the failure offering, and it must be burned outside the sanctuary in the place appointed for the house. Ezekiel 43:22 “On the second day you are to present an unblemished male goat as a failure offering. They will purify the altar just as they did with the bull. Ezekiel 43:23 When you have finished the purification, you are to present a young, unblemished bull and an unblemished ram from the flock. Ezekiel 43:24 You are to present them before Yahveh; the priests will throw salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to Yahveh. Ezekiel 43:25 You will offer a goat for a failure offering each day for seven days. A young bull and a ram from the flock, both unblemished, are also to be offered. Ezekiel 43:26 For seven days the priests are to make atonement for the altar and cleanse it. In this way they will consecrate it Ezekiel 43:27 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 Yahveh.
and I will accept you
Elaborate procedures for purifying this altar had to be followed. It symbolized the means of access to God and to life itself. It dramatized the day that God himself would provide a young unblemished sacrifice who would give the believer access to permanent life.
On the eighth day, and afterward, the altar could be used — and God would accept us. What a joy it is to know that the barrier has been erased.
Ezekiel 43:13 “These are the measurements of the altar in units of length (each unit being a cubit and a hand-breadth): The gutter is a cubit deep and a cubit wide, with a rim of nine inches around its edge. This is the base of the altar. Ezekiel 43:14 The distance from the gutter on the ground to the lower ledge is two cubits, and the width of the ledge is a cubit. There are four cubits from the small ledge to the large ledge, whose width is also a cubit. Ezekiel 43:15 The altar hearth is four cubits high, and four horns project upward from the hearth. Ezekiel 43:16 The hearth is square, twelve cubits long by twelve cubits wide. Ezekiel 43:17 The ledge is fourteen cubits long by fourteen cubits wide, with four equal sides. The rim all around it is half a cubit, and its gutter is a cubit all around it. The altar’s steps face east.”
This is the altar of burnt offerings, not that of incense. In the new temple, it must be present, because it symbolized access to God. But unlike the altar of incense, this is not access through prayer. This is access through sacrifice.
Something valuable to the worshipers had to be given up or else even our prayers would be ineffective. What could be more valuable to us than the one of us who needed no sacrifice?
LORD, thank you for the one who was given up for our sins.
Ezekiel 43:10 “As for you, son of Adam, describe the house to the house of Israel, so that they may be ashamed of their iniquities. Let them measure its pattern, Ezekiel 43:11 and they will be ashamed of all that they have done. Reveal the design of the house to them – its layout with its exits and entrances – its complete design along with all its prescriptions, design specifications, and laws. Write it down in their sight so that they may observe its complete design and all its prescriptions and may carry them out. Ezekiel 43:12 This is the law of the house: All its surrounding territory on top of the mountain will be especially devoted. Notice, this is the law of the house.
so that they may be ashamed
Think of it like this: you have been tasked with building a house, and you build as you like. Then, you get ahold of a blueprint. Suddenly, you realize how far you have transgressed from the original plan.
That is why Ezekiel has just spent all the chapters explaining the architectural details of the new temple. The point is not that Israel had to rebuild its temple. the point is that the old temple had not measured up.
And there is a deeper point for all of us. We should be ashamed as well. Our bodies are God’s temple, and we have not built them to suit their designer.
LORD, we are ashamed of what we have done to ourselves. Rebuild us by you Holy Spirit.