Ezekiel 40



This is a very difficult passage but seems to be dealing with the restoration

of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple.  I have heard that the Dome

of the Rock, Islam’s second holiest shrine, stands where the temple once

was.  Israel doesn’t believe in tearing down religious shrines and from

what I gather, the earthquake in Zechariah 14:4, will clear the site.

I heard years ago that Israel has the materials to rebuild the

temple (Bedford Stone) – I am relating what I  have heard since the

late 1950’s and early 60’s – it is hearsay and I am not teaching it

as truth – [since writing the above I have verified this on the Internet –





The magnificent temple-vision, as it is usually styled, a description of which

forms the closing section of this book (Ezekiel 40-48.), was the last

extended “word” communicated to the prophet, and was given him in the

five and twentieth year of the Captivity, i.e. about B.C. 575. Two years

later he received a brief revelation concerning Egypt, which, in compiling

his volume, he incorporated with the other prophecies relating to the same

subject (ch. 29:17-21). Of the present oracle as a whole the significance will

be best understood when its several parts have been examined in detail.

Meanwhile it may suffice to note that it manifestly connects itself with the

promise in ch. 37:27-28, and forms an appropriate conclusion to the series

of consolatory predictions which the prophet began to utter when tidings

came to him that the city was smitten (ch. 33:22, 28). Having set forth the

moral and spiritual conditions upon which alone restoration was possible for

Israel (ch. 33:24-34:31), announced the destruction of all Israel’s ancient enemies,

of whom Edom was the standing type (Ezekiel 35.), foretold the dawning of a

better day for Israel (Ezekiel 36.), when she should be resuscitated, reunited,

and re-established in her old land, with Jehovah’s sanctuary in its midst

(Ezekiel 37.), and predicted the utter and final overthrow of all future

combinations of hostile powers against her (Ezekiel 38., 39.), the prophet

proceeds to develop the thought to which he has already alluded, that of

Israel’s re-establishment in Canaan, and to sketch an outline of the

reorganized community or kingdom of God as that had been shown him in

vision. His material he arranges in three main divisions:


Ø      speaking first of a re-erected temple (Ezekiel 40-43.),

Ø      next of a reorganized worship (Ezekiel 44-46.), and

Ø      lastly of a redistributed territory (Ezekiel 47., 48.).


That Ezekiel, sorrowing over the first Israel’s glories which had vanished with

the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of her temple, and filled with eager

anticipations of the golden era which was then beginning to loom up before

him in ever fairer proportions and brighter colors — that Ezekiel himself

may have inwardly believed or hoped the picture he was then placing on his

canvas would be ultimately realized upon the old soil, is by no means

improbable; that the Holy Spirit, the real Author of the temple-vision, was

drafting for the new Israel, soon to arise from the ashes of the old, a fresh

religious and political constitution, which could not be satisfied with any

merely local, temporal, and material realization, such as might be given to

it in Palestine on the close of the exile, but reached out to something larger,

broader, and more spiritual, even to the Israel of Messianic times, i.e. to

the Church of God in Christian ages; — that the Holy Spirit had some such

design is at least an idea which one might be pardoned for entertaining.

(For the different views which have been held as to the proper

interpretation of this vision, see note at the end of Ezekiel 48.)



The Introduction to the Vision (vs. 1-4)


1 “In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of

the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after

that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was

upon me, and brought me thither.”  In the five and twentieth year of our

captivity; i.e. in B.C. 575, assuming Jehoiakin’s deportation to have taken place

B.C. 600, i.e. in the fiftieth year of the prophet’s age, in the twenty-fifth of his

prophetic calling, and in the fourteenth after the fall of Jerusalem. As the last

note of time was the twelfth year (ch. 32:17), it may be assumed the

interval was largely occupied in receiving and delivering the prophecies

that fall between those dates, though it is more than likely a period of

silence preceded the vision of which this last section of the book preserves

an account. If not the last of the prophet’s utterances (see ch. 29:17), it was

beyond question the grandest and most momentous. Accordingly, the prophet

notes with his customary exactness that the vision came to him in the beginning

of the year, which Hitzig, whom Dr. Currey, in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary’

follows, believes to have been a jubilee year, which began on the tenth day of the

seventh month. As, however, the practice of commencing the year with this month

was not introduced among the Jews till after the exile, and as Ezekiel everywhere

follows the purely Mosaic arrangement of the year, the presumption is that

the beginning of the year here alluded to was the month Abib, and that the

tenth day of the month was the day on which the Torah enjoined the

selection of a lamb for the Passover. Indeed, the two clauses in Ezekiel

read like an abbreviation of the Mosaic statute (Exodus 12:2-3) — a

circumstance sufficiently striking and probably significant, though emphasis

should not, with Hengstenberg, be laid upon the fact that every word in

Ezekiel’s copy is found in the Exodus original. On that day, which was the

anniversary of the beginning of a merciful deliverance to Israel in Egypt, of

the initial step in a gracious process of transforming Pharaoh’s captives

into a nation, — on that day (for emphasis the selfsame day, as in

ch. 24:2), the prophet’s soul was rapt into an ecstasy (see on ch.1:3), in which

he seemed to be transported thither, i.e. towards the smitten city, and a

disclosure made to him concerning that new community which Jehovah was

about to form out of old Israel.


2 “In the visions of God brought He me into the land of Israel, and set

me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city

on the south.”  In the visions of God; i.e. in the clairvoyant state which had

been superinduced upon him by the hand of God, and in which he became

conscious both of bodily sensations and mental perceptions transcending

those that were possible to him in his natural condition. Upon a very high

mountain (compare Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5). Schroder stands alone

in taking אֶל, as “beside” rather than “upon,” other interpreters considering

that אֶל, has here the force of עַל, as in ch.18:6, and ch.31:12. That this mountain,

though resembling the temple hill in Jerusalem, was not that in reality, but “the

 mountain of the Lord’s house” of Messianic times (see on ch. 43:12; and

compare ch.17:22-23; 20:40; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:6), may be inferred from its

greater altitude than that of either Moriah or Zion, which pointed obviously to

the loftier spiritual elevation of the new Jerusalem. As the frame of a city on

the south. What Ezekiel beheld was not “beside” or “by” (Authorized

Version), but “on” the mountain, and was not, as Havernick, Ewald, and

Kliefoth suppose, the new city of Jerusalem, though this might with a fair

measure of accuracy be described as lying south of Moriah on which the

temple stood, but the temple itself, which, with its walls and gates,

chambers and courts, rose majestically before the prophet’s view, with all

the magnificence, and indeed (as the particle כִי. indicates), with the

external appearance of a city. That the prophet should speak of it as “on

the south” receives sufficient explanation from the circumstance that he

himself came from the north, and had it always before him in a southerly

direction. The idea is correctly enough expressed by the ἀπέναντιapenanti

of the Septuagint, which signifies “over against” to one coming from the north.



The Exalted City (v. 2)


Ezekiel now comes to an elaborate vision of the restored condition of the

Jews — first that of their city, and then that of the temple which is its

crowning glory. Being well acquainted with his native land, which he could

never forget in the weary days by the waters of Babylon, he was able to

picture its scenes when inspired with prophetic sight. He sees the city of

the future, “upon a very high mountain.” As the Swiss pines for his

mountain home when banished to some dreary flat land, the Jewish

highlander turns in thought from the low river-banks of Mesopotamia to

the longed-for heights of his native Judaea. It is a happy thing for him to

dream of a city crowning a mountain height. Jerusalem is a mountain-city,

standing some two thousand feet above the level of the Mediterranean.

Viewed from the wilderness, which, indeed, sinks down another eighteen

hundred feet to the Dead Sea, its domes and minarets seem to float in the

air like the habitations of a city in cloud-land. The visionary Jerusalem

appears to the rapt seer as an even more exalted city.


  • THE CITY OF GOD. Ezekiel conceives his vision of the great future

under the image of a splendid city. St. John beheld the heavenly city, the

new Jerusalem, as the type of the glorious Church of God, or of human

society Christianized. The Greeks conceived their ideal of perfected human

life after the model of a pattern city. Undoubtedly, writing as he was to the

captives of Babylon, Ezekiel intended to direct attention to the earthly

Jerusalem, which, after being destroyed, was to be rebuilt. Thus only could

his language be understood by his contemporaries. But the definite,

material prediction embodies and exemplifies ideas that may be applied to

the spiritual restoration of man, illustrated by this city prospect.


Ø      There is to be a blessed life on earth. The mountain-city is terrestrial.

The Apocalyptic new Jerusalem is let down from heaven. The city of God

is set up here in the Christian Church, as St. Augustine showed. But alas! it

is as yet but a poor realization of the grand prophetic dream. A few shanties

mark the site of the glorious city of the future. That city is yet to be.


Ø      This blessed life will be social. Perhaps the ancient and the Eastern

prized the city — well-walled and safe-guarded — more than we do in the

crowded West, with our modern love of the country. But the essential

thought here is that the perfect state is social. In the perfect city order is

supreme through universal love a strange contrast to our miserable

cities of sin and selfishness. It is the best that, being corrupted, becomes

the worst.




Ø      It is in the land of Israel. Men must enter the Holy Land to reach the

Holy City. Its citizens were Jews — as indeed most of the inhabitants of

Jerusalem are at the present day. We must be the true people of God, i.e.

true followers of Christ, if we would enjoy the privileges of the glorious



Ø      It is set upon a very high mountain.” The exaltation of the city suggests

many advantages.


o        Its glory. It is exalted in favor — crowning a height.


o        Its strength. Cities were set aloft that nature might fortify them.

Jerusalem is a natural fortress. The city of God IS SAFE!


o        Its salubrity  (favorability to health and well being).  High lands

are bracing. The Christian life braces the soul in spiritual health.


o        Its nearness to heaven. Nothing overshadows the exalted city. The

people of God are lifted into direct relations with heaven.


o        Its conspicuousness. “A city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid”

(Matthew 5:14). The Church is to bear witness to the world. The

best gospel is that of lofty Christian living.


3 “And He brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose

appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in

his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate.”

The word “thither” carries the thought back to v. 1. When the

prophet had been brought into the land of Israel, to the mountain and to

the building, he perceived a man, whoso appearance was like the

appearance of brass, or, according to the Septuagint, “shining or polished

brass,” χαλκοῦ στίλβοντος chalkou stilbontosburnished, or polished

brass - as in ch. 1:7 — a description recalling those of the likeness of Jehovah

in ch. 1:26-27, of the angel who appeared to Daniel (Daniel 10:6), and of the

glorified Christ (Revelation 1:15), and suggesting ideas of strength, beauty, and

durability. In his hand he carried a line of flax and a measuring-reed

(kaneh hammidah, or “reed of measuring,” reed having been the customary

material out of which such rods were made; compare the Assyrian for a

measuring-reed qanu, the Greek κανώνkanonreed,rod,rule -  and the

Latin canna). Possibly he carried these as “emblems of building activity”

(Hengstenberg), and because “he had many and different things to measure”

(Kliefoth); but most likely the line was meant to measure large dimensions

(compare ch. 47:3) and such as could not be taken by a straight stick, as e.g.

the girth of pillars, and the rod to measure smaller dimensions, like those of

the gates and walls of the temple. Hitzig’s conjecture, that the line was linen

because the place to be measured was the sanctuary, whose priests were

obliged to clothe themselves in linen, Kliefoth rightly pronounces artificial and

inaccurate, since the line was made, not of manufactured flax, or linen, but

of the raw material. That the “man” was Jehovah or the Angel of the

Presence (compare ch. 9:2) the analogy of Amos 8:7-8 and the

statement of Ezekiel in ch. 44:2, 5 would seem to suggest; only it

is not certain in the last of these passages that the speaker was “the man”

and not rather “the God of Israel,” who had already taken possession of the

house (see ch. 43:2), and whose voice is once at least distinguished

from that of the man (ibid. v. 6). Accordingly, Kliefoth, Smend,

and others identify the “man” with the ordinary angelus interpres (the

interpreting angel – compare Revelation 21:9). The gate in which he stood

“waiting for the new comer” was manifestly the north gate, since Ezekiel

came from the north, though Havernick and Smend put in a plea for the east

gate, on the grounds that it was the principal entrance to the sanctuary, and

the distance between it and the north gate, five hundred cubits, was too

great to be passed over so slightly as in v. 6.



The Man with the Measuring-Reed (v. 3)


We shall lose ourselves in a jungle of fancies if we attempt to see mystical

allusions in the various measurements of Ezekiel’s prophetic city. What we

may call Pythagorean theology, the exegesis that runs riot among the

numbers and dates of prophecy, has done much to suggest doubt as to the

plain, direct use of the Bible. We have no evidence that the measurements

of the exalted city contain any spiritual symbolism. Neither, as

Hengstenberg has wisely pointed out, are the proportions of the city so

colossal as to suggest an unheard-of splendor of size. The new Jerusalem is

much smaller than Babylon; it would be but an insignificant suburb if it

were joined on to our huge London. But mere bigness is no commendation

for a city. Athens and Jerusalem were far smaller than Nineveh and

Babylon; yet they took a far more important place in the history of man.

Why, then, does Ezekiel call attention to the man with the measuring-reed?

And why does he give the exact details of the plan of the city and temple?

However we may shun mysticism in favor of prosaic literalism, we must

not forget that Ezekiel was a prophet, not an architect. Why, then, does he

fill his pages with these architectural details? Ezekiel must mean to suggest

certain characteristics of the happy future.


  • REALITY. Ezekiel here comes down to concrete facts. There is nothing

that so impresses men with a sense of reality as a vivid presentation of

details. Much religious teaching is unimpressive because it is too general

and abstract. Christ’s teaching was very concrete; he dwelt on illustrative

specimens, rather than on general principles. Therefore “the common

people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37).  Reality marked off the teaching

of Christ from the dry discussions of rabbinical lore. A significant rebuke

of much religious teaching is unconsciously conveyed by the remark of the

rustic who, on hearing that some one had been to Jerusalem, exclaimed

with amazement, “I thought Jerusalem was only a Bible town!”


  • DEFINITENESS. The new Jerusalem is to be no city of cloudland, its

golden streets and rosy domes passing one into another and melting while

we gaze at it. Here we have sharp outlines as well as solid substances.

Many people sadly need a man with the measuring-reed to define their

religions notions. We are suffering from a violent reaction against the old

exactness of theological definition, according to which heavenly things

were most minutely mapped out without a shadow of doubt. We now

greatly lack precision of thought. Men’s ideas are generally hazy. They

want outline.


  • ORDER. The several parts being measured off will stand in their

allotted places. The private house will not trespass on the line of the street,

nor will one builder interfere with the foundations of another. There is

order in the kingdom of religion. We need it:


Ø      in thought, that our ideas may be rightly arranged;

Ø      in work, that we may not clash with one another;

Ø      in the social element of religion, that each may take his place.


The Church is not a mob.


  • DIVINE DIRECTION.  Ezekiel wrote as a prophet, as a messenger of

God. Moses was to make the tabernacle after the pattern shown to him in

the mount (Exodus 25:40). God cares for the smallest details of His

people’s life and work. We should seek for His guidance in these matters.



Measurement (v. 3)


It strikes the reader of this prophetic book as strange that several chapters

towards its close should be chiefly occupied with measurements of the

temple which Ezekiel saw in his vision. The reed and the line seem at first

sight to have little to do with a prophetic vision. Especially does this seem

the case when it is perceived to how large an extent these measurements

are a repetition of those found in earlier books of the Scriptures. But

reflection will show us that measurements such as are here described may

suggest thoughts very helpful to the devout, religious mind.




known to students of science that mathematical relations are found to exist

where an ordinary observer would little expect to find them. When they

come to ask whether explanation can be given of such differences as those

which obtain between different colors and different sounds, they are led to

investigations which show that regular variations in the number of

vibrations in a second, whether of the ether or of the atmosphere, account

for the differences in question. When they come to ask why the heavenly

bodies fulfill their regular movements and preserve their beautiful harmony,

they are led to investigations which issue in the discovery that

mathematical laws govern — as the phrase is — the movements which

excite our wonder and admiration. These are but familiar illustrations of a

principle which is recognized throughout the material universe. If we may

use such language with reverence, we may say that the cosmos is evidently

the work of a great Mathematician, Measurer, and Mechanic. When we

turn from the works of nature to works of art, we are confronted by the

same principle. If a building, whether a temple or a palace, be erected, it is

constructed upon principles which involve numerical relations and

measurements. The sculptor measures his proportions in trunk and head

and limb; the poet measures the feet in his verse. Wherever we find order

and beauty, we have but to look below the surface, and we shall discover

numbers and measurements.



different grades of intelligence, and this is nowhere more obvious than in

the varying degrees in which human workmanship is regulated by

mathematical principles. The rudest wigwam is a proof of design and of

adaptation, of the possession by the builder of some powers of space-

measurement.  But a complicated machine, such as a watch or a steam

engine, bears unmistakable evidence of mathematical as well as of

manipulative ability. If a temple be constructed, of vast size, of harmonious

proportions, of symmetry, containing many parts all bound into an organic

unity, it speaks to every beholder of a mind — a mind capable and

cultured, a mind patient and comprehensive. To those who believe in the

existence of God, the material universe is full of evidences of His

unequalled and supreme intellect; the measurements of the scientific

observer are sufficient to establish this conviction. The universe is God’s

temple, and all its lines are laid down, all its parts are coordinated, in such a

manner as to evince what, in human language, we may term measurements

the most complete and the most exact. To the deeply reflecting mind, the

existence of the spiritual temple is even more eloquent concerning the

attributes and especially the comprehensive and foreseeing wisdom of the




OF THE SPIRITUAL. A reflecting reader of these chapters will hardly rest

in any conclusions regarding a structure of stone, of timber, of precious

metal. Whatever may be his canon of interpretation, whether he adopts the

literal or the figurative principle, whether or not he looks for a material

temple still to be reared upon the soil of Palestine, — certain it is that for

him the material and perishable constructions of human skill and labor are

chiefly interesting as the embodiment of thought and the suggestion of

eternal realities. The universe is God’s temple; the body of Christ was

God’s temple; the Church is the chosen and sacred temple of the Eternal

and Supreme. The thoughts of those who meditate upon these remarkable

chapters of Ezekiel will be sadly misdirected if they do not ascend to Him

who is both the Architect of the sanctuary and the one supreme Deity to

whom is directed all the sacrifice and all the worship presented within its

hallowed precincts.



Divine Measurement (v. 3)


Assuming that the realization of this vision is found in no actual structure

ever built by the hand of man, but in that great spiritual edifice, the Church

of Jesus Christ, which is still in course of erection, we ask what it is that is

measured by the tape, or the reed, which the heavenly messenger holds in

his hand. What are the heights and the depths and the lengths that are seen

and reckoned in the kingdom of Christ? They are those of:


  • SINCERITY. There may be much singing and many “prayers,” and

much preaching; there may be multiplied activities of many kinds; but if

there be not sincerity and simplicity of heart, there will be nothing for the

measuring angel to record. If, however, in the culture of our own character

or in the work we do for our Lord, our hearts go forth in genuine

endeavor, if we think and feel what we say, if we mean what we do, if the

purpose of our soul is toward God and toward the honor of His Name, —

then we are really “building";  and the more of spirituality and of

earnestness there is in our effort, the higher will the figure be which the

recording angel enters in his book.


  • TRUSTFULNESS. Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews

11:6)in anything we undertake for Him. The measure of our trustfulness is,

to a large extent, the degree of our acceptableness. Trustfulness is in the

freeness and fullness of the grace of God, in the presence and the promises

of the Son of God, in the power of the Spirit of God to enlighten and to

renew. The more of this element in our personal relations with God and in

our Christian walk, the higher the sacred fabric rises in the reckoning of the

heavenly world.


  • LOVE. This is an essential element in all Christian edification.


Ø      Love to Christ Himself.


o        The restraining love, which keeps back from all evil;

o        the constraining love, which inspires to cheerful and prompt


o        the submissive love, which knows how to endure as seeing the

Invisible One;

o        the lasting love, which outlives all the changes and triumphs

over all the difficulties of human life.


Ø      Love to Christian men; which is more and better than being drawn

toward the amiable and the attractive; which consists in the outgoing of

the heart toward all the disciples of Jesus Christ because they are such,

even though in taste and temper and habit of life they may differ from

ourselves; which includes the willingness to acknowledge all that love

Christ, and to work with them in every open way.


Ø      Love to those outside the Christian pale — the love of a holy pity for

men who are wrong because they are wrong, which shows itself in active,

practical, self-denying labor to raise and to restore them. The practical

question for each man and for every Church to ask is this — When the

measuring angel comes to us, and applies his reed to our worship, our

work, our life, what is the entry he makes? what is his measurement? There

may be balance-sheets and attendances, activities and engagements, which

are very satisfactory in the human estimate, but if simplicity, trustfulness,

love, be not found, there is nothing to count in the reckoning of Heaven

(see I Corinthians 13.).


4 “And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes,

and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall

shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art

thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of

Israel.”  The threefold summons addressed to the prophet (compare

ch. 44:5) intimated the importance of the communication about to be made,

and reminded him of the necessity of giving it the closest attention in order

to be able to impart it to the people (compare ch.43:10-11).



Vision of the New Temple (vs. 1-4)


These visions of the restored temple are a fitting close to this series of

revelations. The opening visions displayed the righteous God marching

forth in majestic splendor to vindicate Himself. His vast army is at hand to

execute His royal will. Now the will of God upon Israel is accomplished.

Exile has done its gracious work. The old love of idolatry is killed. In

vision at least the people have returned in loyalty to their own King. A

regeneration of heart and life has occurred. Bright prospects of return to

Palestine open before them. God has pledged Himself to reinstate them

permanently in Judea. There remains only one thought — it concerns their

temple. This had been the visible symbol of their elevation and their

strength. Shall their temple lift its royal domes heavenward again?



REVELATIONS FROM GOD. The frame of thought and feeling in

Ezekiel’s mind was an essential condition for obtaining this vision. Natural

principles prevailed then as now. Ezekiel was by birth and office a priest.

Nor was he, as many had been, a priest simply by hereditary right. He was

in every fiber of his nature a priest. His soul yearned to see Jehovah

enthroned in his temple at Jerusalem. He yearned to take his proper place

at the altars of the Most High. The visions and promises God had

vouchsafed to him touching the reoccupation of the land had revived his

hopes. He longed to see the gracious promise fulfilled. To Ezekiel, in this

state of sanguine hopefulness, the new vision came. Earnest zeal for God’s

glory is a condition essential to gain further knowledge of his will. “The

secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and he will show to them His

covenant.”  (Psalm 25:14)  As steel points draw off the electric fluid, so

a state of childlike affection draws down communications from God.



SERVANTS. As soon as Ezekiel was transported in vision to

Mount Zion, lo! there was a heavenly messenger furnished with plans for

the new temple. Without doubt the unfallen angels have differences of

character and differences of endowment as great as appear among men.

Very likely qualities of mind are even more varied and diverse in heaven

than upon earth.


Ø      Gabriel is described to us as the presence-angel — a sort

of prime minister.

Ø      Michael is always spoken of as engaging in battle for

Jehovah — a commander-in-chief in the army of God.


Some angels at least have gifts of music and of song. This visitor from the

heavenly realm who met Ezekiel on the mount was endowed with architectural

skill, and unfolded specifications and plans for the house of God. “His

appearance was like the appearance of brass” — steadfast, durable,

irresistible. His qualities were the very opposite of a weak, timid, vacillating

person. The circumstances were such that severe opposition was expected,

and the architect of God was well-prepared for his task. So has it always

been in human history.


Ø      Gideon was the man for his times.

Ø      Elijah was well adapted for his age.

Ø      Paul well fitted the niche he occupied.



ORGAN MUST BE ACTIVE. “Behold with thine eyes, and hear with

thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall show thee.” The eye and

the ear are the channels through which we obtain the raw material of

information, which is manufactured into wisdom by the machinery of the

mind. God does degrade men by using them only as machines. He will not

do for them what they can do for themselves. He will give no premium to

indolence. By the diligent use of our highest faculties we rise into higher

states of life and joy.


Ø      It was after a season of prayer that Jesus was transfigured.  (Matthew 17)

Ø      While David “mused, the fire burned.” (Psalm 39:3)

Ø      He that uses well his ten talents obtains largest reward. (Matthew 25:16)

Ø      The eunuch was diligently scanning the Scriptures when the interpreter

came to him.  (Acts 8:27-40)

Ø      While Daniel was speaking in prayer, Gabriel arrived to unfold the

heavenly mysteries. (Daniel 9:21)


We do not receive larger and clearer revelation from God because our minds

and hearts are not open wide to receive it. The oil stayed because there was

no empty vessel.



COMMUNICATED. “Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.” In

the kingdom of God no form of selfishness is tolerated. Every man receives

in order that he may distribute. This is God’s great principle of economy.

He kindles the light on one point, that from this point other torches may be

lighted. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” The fount of knowledge is

fed by what it gives out, as well as by what it receives. By virtue of St.

Paul’s possession of the gospel mysteries he counted himself a debtor both

to the Greek and to the barbarian. Men of God are stewards of spiritual

blessing, God’s almoners to the world. God has enlightened us that the

light may shine out upon others. God has enriched us that we may enrich

the poor. God has filled us with sacred comfort that we may comfort the

distressed. God has made His servants trustees for humanity. “No man

liveth unto himself; no man dieth unto himself.”



The Office of the Prophet (v. 4)


 The angel who was appointed to show to Ezekiel the temple of vision, and

to take its measurements in his presence, and to explain its details and its

various purposes, prefaced his special mission by an exhortation in which

he expressed, in a very complete and instructive manner, the vocation and

functions of a true prophet.



BE A REVELATION. In the case before us there was a temple to be seen,

and there was an angel to exhibit and to explain it. In every case where a

man has been called upon to fulfill the office of a prophet, there has been a

special manifestation of the Divine mind and will. The prophet may be

gifted, original, luminous; but he does not, so far as he is a prophet, utter

forth his own thoughts or deal with any matter according to the light of his

own reason. There must be a communication from the Being who is the

Source of all good for men. Otherwise the vocation of the prophet is

endued with no peculiar, Divine authority.




with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears.” Such was the admonition of the

angel to Ezekiel. A prophet must be a man gifted with powers of

observation and understanding. He is not a passive medium, but an active

agent. He exercises his human faculties, thinks and feels in a truly human

way. Even if they had not received the prophetic commission, the seers of

Israel would have been “men of light and leading,” men “discerning the

signs of the times.” In a word, to be a prophet, one must be a man.



BE A RECEPTIVE SPIRITUAL NATURE. “Set thine heart upon all that

I shall show thee.” Such was the further admonition addressed to the

prophet. His was not a work to be discharged in a perfunctory, official,

uninterested manner. Not only was it required that the intellect should be

alert, the spiritual nature needed to be receptive and responsive.

Intelligence is sufficient for some services; but for a spiritual ministry there

is needed a spiritual susceptibility, a spiritual energy. The message of God

needs to be assimilated and appropriated, to enter into the prophet’s very

nature — to become, so to speak, part of himself. The evidence is

abundant that such was the case with Ezekiel. He felt deeply what he

received and what he had to communicate. It was to him “the burden of the

Lord,” by which he was oppressed as well as laden, yet which, for his

country’s sake he was willing to bear.





“Declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.” There are natures which

are receptive, but not communicative; deep thinkers, who are lacking in the

power of the orator, the author, the artist; for whose greatness the world

has little reason to be thankful. Mystic communers with heaven may see

visions and hear voices, and yet may not be able to communicate their

experiences to their fellow-men. Not such was the case with the Hebrew

prophets. They went forth from the presence of the Lord as His heralds and

authoritative agents and messengers to their countrymen. Nothing hindered

them from discharging the duties of their office. They sought not men’s

favor and they feared not men’s frown. Whether men would hear or

forbear was not a matter for them to consider. It was theirs to relate what

they had seen and heard and known of THE COUNSELS OF THE





         The Outer Court, with its Gates and Chambers (vs. 5-27)


o       the enclosing wall (v. 5);

o       the east gate (vs. 5-16);

o       the outer court (vs. 17-19);

o       the north gale (vs. 20-23);

o       the south gate (vs. 24-27).


5 “And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in

the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit

and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building,

one reed; and the height, one reed.”  The enclosing wall. And behold

a wall on the outside of the house round about. The “house”tyiB"h"

with the article — was the temple as the dwelling-place of Jehovah; only

not the temple proper, but the whole complex structure. The “wall” belonged

to the outer court; that of the inner court being afterwards mentioned (ch 42:7).

In having a “wall round about” Jehovah’s sanctuary resembled both Greek and

Babylonian shrines (see Herod., 1:18; ‘ Records of the Past,’ vol. 5:126),

but differed from both the tabernacle, which had none, and from the

Solomonic temple, whose “wall” formed no essential part of the sacred

structure, but was more or less of arbitrary erection on the part of Solomon

and later kings. Here, however, the wall constituted an integral portion of

the whole; and was designed, like that in ch. 42:20, “to make a

separation between the sanctuary and the profane place,” as the Greeks

distinguished between the βέβηλον - bebaelon - threshold  and the ἱερόν - hieron -

sanctuary, sacred place, temple - (see Thucyd., 4:95). Its

breadth and height were the same (compare Revelation 21:16) — one

reed, of six cubits by the cubit and an hand-breadth; that is to say, each

cubit measured an ordinary cubit and a hand-breadth (compare ch. 43:13).

Hengstenberg suggests that the greater cubit of Ezekiel was

borrowed from the Chaldeans; and certainly Herodotus (1. 178) speaks of

a royal cubit in Babylon which was three finger-breadths longer than the

ordinary measure, while in Egypt also two such cubits of varying lengths

were current (Bockhart, ‘Metrol. Untersuch,’ p. 212); “from which it

might be supposed,” says Smend, “that the same thing held good for Asia

Minor.” Still, the hypothesis is likelier that the cubit in question was the old

Mosaic cubit — the cubit of a man (Deuteronomy 2:11), equal to the

length of the forearm from the elbow to the end of the longest finger —

which was employed in the building of the Solomonic temple (II Chronicles 3:3).

Assuming the cubit to have been eighteen inches, the height and breadth of the

wall would be nine feet — no great elevation, and presenting a striking contrast

to the colossal proportions of city walls in Babylon and in Greece (see Herod.,

1:170; ‘ Records of the Past,’ vol. 5:127, 1st series), and even of the walls of

the first temple in Jerusalem (see Josephus, ‘Wars,’ 5:1); but in this, perhaps,

lay a special significance, since, as the city-like temple stood in no need of

walls and bulwarks for defense, the lowness of its walls would permit it the

more easily to be seen, would, in fact, make it a conspicuous object to all

who might approach it for worship.


6 “Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and

went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate,

which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate,

which was one reed broad.”  The east gate. The gate which looketh

toward the east; literally, whose face was toward the east. That this was

not the gate in which the angel had been first observed standing seems implied

in the statement that he came to it. That he began with it is satisfactorily

accounted for by remembering that the east gate was the principal

entrance, and stood directly in front of the porch of the temple proper. The

same reasons will explain the fullness of description accorded to it rather

than to the others. It was ascended by stairs, or steps, of which the number

seven is omitted, though it is mentioned in connection with the north (v. 22)

and south (v. 26) gates. “The significance was obvious,” writes

Plumptre. “Men must ascend in heart and mind as they enter the sanctuary,

and the seven steps represented the completeness at last of that ascension.”

The steps lay outside the wall, and at their head had a threshold (סַפ,

properly an “expansion,” or “spreading out”) one reed broad, i.e.

measuring inwards from east to west, the thickness of the wall. Its

extension from south to north, afterwards stated, was ten cubits, or fifteen

feet (v. 11). The last clause, improperly rendered, and the other

threshold (Authorized and Revised Versions), or “the back threshold”

(Ewald), of the gate which was one reed, should be translated, even one

threshold (Revised Version margin), or the first threshold, as distinguished

from the second, to be afterwards specified (v. 7); compare  Genesis 1:5,

“the first (one) day.”



                        The Gate which Looketh toward the East. (v. 6)


Let us clearly understand that this is only a prosaic description of part of

Jerusalem as the prophet conceives it in his vision of the city rebuilt. We

cannot fairly see in these words any profound mystical allusions. But we

may use them as illustrations of other things, as we may take nature in

illustration of religion without believing that our parables are founded on

fixed, objective, Swedenborgen-like correspondences. Let us, then, follow

the fancy which the picture of a gate looking towards the east may call up

when we take it as an illustration of what may be similar in other regions of



  • AN ORIENTAL OUTLOOK. The new city of God has this outlook —

she has a gate which looketh towards the East. We must never forget that

our religion comes from the East. In form it is Oriental still.


Ø      We need to remember this fact when we are in danger of interpreting its

glowing metaphors in the cold matter-of-fact style of the West.


Ø      It might quiet the pride of Europe for men to remember that they owe

what is best in European civilization to an Asiatic stock.


Ø      The wonder is that the unprogressive East produced the most

progressive religion. The world-religion of Christ sprang from Asia. This

very fact testifies to its Divine origin.


Ø      It shows, however, that Orientals especially should receive the gospel.


  • AN OUTLOOK TOWARDS THE LIGHT. The light dawns in the

East. We all need light, and should love, seek, and cherish it. We are too

satisfied with our dim, human, artificial light, instead of looking for that

Light of the world, which is indeed the Light of the ages. The true

Christian will be ever looking towards Christ, his Sun.  (Malachi 4:2)


  • AN OUTLOOK TOWARDS THE NEW DAY. Each day begins in

the east. We shall miss the sunrise if we set our faces towards the west.

Some natures always incline to turn with a melancholy gaze towards the

waning light of setting suns. They deplore the good old times; they weep

over the days that have been, but can never be again; they weary their souls

with incessant regrets. This continuous dreaming on the past is

unwholesome; it tends to paralyze our energies and leave us in neglect of

the duties as well as the hopes of the future. They are wiser who, like

Paul, forget the things that are behind, and reach forth unto those which

are before “I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in

Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14). God has a new day of light and

service for the saddest, most wearied soul that will turn to His grace.

Wise men live in the future; they look to the rising sun.


  • AN OUTLOOK TOWARDS CHRIST. The first sight which many a

visitor to Palestine craves to set eyes on is the Mount of Olives; his most

earnest desire is to climb the very hill that Jesus Christ often trod. Of all

sacred spots about Jerusalem this must be most like its original self. Now

the eastern gate looks right on the Mount of Olives. To the Christian its

prospect is profoundly interesting. Yet CHRIST HAS ARISEN! HE IS

NOT THERE!   What we now look for is an eastern gate of the soul

turned to that everliving Christ who ascended from the Mount of Olives:

(I recommend looking at the pictures in Ezekiel 43 – this website – CY –



“Faith has yet her Olivet, And Love her Galilee.”


7 “And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad;

and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold

of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed.”

And every little chamber. Proceeding inward beneath a

covered porch, the exact width of the gate and threshold, i.e. ten cubits,

the prophet’s guide, after having passed the threshold, conducted him to a

series of lodges, תָּאִיִם, or “guard-chambers,” six in number, three on each

side (v. 10), one reed or six cubits square, roofed (v. 11), and

separated from each other by a space of five cubits square, open overhead

and closed towards the north or south as the case might be by a side wall.

These “lodges,” or “cells,” were intended for the Levite sentinels who kept

guard over the house (see ch. 44:11, 14; and compare I Kings

14:28; II Chronicles 12:11). Beyond the cells stretched the threshold of

the gate by the porch (Hebrew, אוּלָם; the Septuagint, αἰλάμ - ailam -Vulgate,

vestibulum, “a portico”) of the gate within; literally, from the house; i.e.

the gate fronting one coming from the temple, hence the gate looking

“towards the house.” מֵהַבַּיִת - “from the house,” does not qualify the

threshold as if to indicate that this was an interior threshold in contrast to

the former, or exterior, but “the gate,” its intention being to state that the

porch in front of which extended the second “threshold” was the vestibule

or portico before the gate which conducted inwards towards the temple, or

on which one first stepped on his way from the temple.


8 “He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed.

9 Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts

thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was inward.”

The divergent measurements of this porch, which are given

in these verses, led the Septuagint and the Vulgate to reject v. 8 as spurious,

and it is certainly wanting in some Hebrew manuscripts. Hitzig, Ewald, and

Smend have accordingly expunged it from the text — an altogether

unnecessary proceeding. The seeming discrepancy may be removed by

supposing either, with Kliefoth, that v. 8 furnishes the measurement of

the porch from east to west, and v. 9 its measurement from north to

south, with the measurements in addition of the posts (אֵלִים, from אַיִל,

“a ram,” hence anything curved or twisted), i.e. pillars or jambs; or, with

Keil, that v. 8 states the depth from east to west, and v. 9 the length

from north to south. The “posts,” which were sixty cubits high (v. 14),

were two cubits square at the base.


10 “And the little chambers of the gate eastward were three on this

side, and three on that side; they three were of one measure: and

the posts had one measure on this side and on that side.”

Having reached the furthest limit westward, the guide retraces

his steps backward in an easterly direction, noting that on the side of the

covered way opposite to that already examined the same arrangements

existed as to “lodges” and “posts,” the latter of which (אֵילִים) are here

first mentioned in connection with the guardrooms, and must be

understood as signifying pillars or jambs in front of the walls. Their

measurements, which were equal, were probably as in v. 9, two cubits



11 “And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the

length of the gate, thirteen cubits.”  The breadth of the entry (literally, opening)

of the gate, ten cubits. Obviously this measurement was taken from north to south

of the gate-entrance (v. 6), and represented the whole breadth of the doorway

and the threshold, or one-fifth of the entire length of the gate-building. The

second portion of the verse, the length of the gate thirteen cubits, is

explained by Bottcher, Hitzig, Havernick, Keil (with whom Plumptre

agrees), as signifying the length of the covered way from the east entrance,

since it is supposed the whole length of forty cubits (the length of the gate

without the porch) would hardly be roofed in; so that assuming a similar

covered way of thirteen cubits at the other end of the gate-building, as one

came “from the house,” there would be an open space, well, or uncovered

courtyard, of fourteen cubits in length and six broad, enclosed on all sides

by gate-buildings. The roofs extending from the east and west would be

supported on the “posts” of the chambers mentioned in v. 10. Smend,

however, infers, from the windows in the posts within the gate (v. 16),

that the whole extent was roofed in, and accordingly can offer no

explanation of the clause; Kliefoth and Schroder prefer to regard the

thirteen cubits as the height of the gate, although the word translated

“length” never elsewhere has this meaning.



Entrance to the Kingdom (vs. 6-11)


Much mention is made, in this description of the temple, of the gates of

that building; access was provided in abundance to its interior as well as

exterior compartments. Having regard to the kingdom of God (of which

this ideal structure is a picture (see homily – v. 3 – Divine Measurement),

and taking into our thought the work and the teaching of our Lord on the

subject, we learn:



is that Way. “I am the Way,… no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”

(John 14:6); “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be

saved” (John 10:9). Through Him “both [Jews and Gentiles] have

access… unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18); “There is one Mediator

between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). To know

Jesus Christ, to trust and love, to serve and follow Him — that is the way

to find eternal life. “Whosoever believeth in Him has life eternal.”



Though there is but one “door” or “way” into the kingdom, but one Divine

Savior in whom to trust and by whom to be redeemed, yet are there many

approaches that may be regarded as “gates,” many paths that lead to Him

and to His salvation. We may be led to Him:


Ø      By our sense of the priceless value of the human soul and our

knowledge that only He can bless it.

Ø      By our view of the seriousness of our human life and the desire to

place it under his wise and holy guidance.

Ø      By the example and influence of those to whom we are most nearly


Ø      By the attractiveness we see in Him, the Lord of love and truth.

Ø      By the felt force of the claims of the heavenly Father, and the belief

that it is God’s will that we should hear and follow Him, His Son!



KINGDOM. There were gates facing the north, the south, and the east;

and in another book (Revelation) we read of gates in all four directions

(Revelation 21:13). To the broad and blessed kingdom of God all souls

come: it is not a provision for one type of mind, or for one particular race,

or for one social class, but for all types, races, classes. In Jesus Christ there

is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free; there is neither

poor nor rich, learned nor ignorant, philosophical nor simple-minded. From

every quarter in the great world of men there come to the kingdom those

who need and who find all that they crave in Christ Jesus the Lord.

(And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of

it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.

And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be

no night there.  And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations

into it. (Revelation 21:24-26)



swollen with pride cannot pass through it; nor he who is cumbered with

worldliness; nor he who is filled with selfishness; nor he who is gross with

self-indulgence (Matthew 7:14).



They who are in earnest as disciples of truth, as seekers after God; they

who profoundly desire to return unto their heavenly Father and to secure

eternal life, will not find the gate of the gospel too narrow. They will gladly

part with their pride and their selfishness, with their vanities and their

indulgences; they will come eagerly to the Lord and Savior of mankind,

that they may take everything from Him and yield everything to Him.


12 “The space also before the little chambers was one cubit on this

side, and the space was one cubit on that side: and the little

chambers were six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side.”

The space also before the little chambers; more correctly,

and a border before the ledges. Though the construction of this border,

fence, or barrier (compare 27:4; 43:13, 17; Exodus 19:12) is

not described, its design most likely was to enable the guardsman, by

stepping beyond his cell, to observe what was going on in the gate without

either interrupting or being interrupted by the passengers. As the barrier

projected one cubit on each side of the ten-cubit way, only eight cubits

remained for persons going in or out.


13 “He measured then the gate from the roof of one little chamber to

the roof of another: the breadth was five and twenty cubits, door

against door.” The breadth of the gate from the roof of one little chamber or

lodge to another, measuring from door to door, was five and twenty

cubits, which were thus made up: 10 cubits of footway + 12 (2 × 6) cubits

for the two guard-rooms + 3 (2 × say 1.5) cubits for the thickness of the

two side walls = 25 cubits in all. According to v. 42, the length of a hewn

stone was one cubit and a half. The doors from which the measurements

were taken must have been in the side walls at the back of the guard-looms.


14 “He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the

court round about the gate.”  He made also posts. In using the verb “made”

the prophet either went back in thought to the time when the man who then

explained the building had fashioned it (Hengstenberg); or he employed the

term in the sense of constituit, i.e. fixed or estimated, “inasmuch as such a height

could not be measured from the bottom to the top with the measuring-rod”

(Keil). The “posts,” the אֵילִים of v. 9, were sixty cubits high, and

corresponded to the towers in modern churches. To the objection

sometimes urged against what is called the “exaggerated” height of these

columns, Kliefoth replies, “If it had been considered that our church towers

have grown up out of gate-pillars, that one can see, not merely in Egyptian

obelisks and Turkish minarets, but also in our own hollow factory

chimneys, how upon a base of two cubits, square pillars of sixty cubits high

can be erected, and that finally the talk is of a colossal building seen in

vision, no critical difficulties would have been discovered in this statement

as to height.” The last clause, even unto the post of the court round

about the gate, should read, and the court reached unto the post (אַיִל

being used collectively), the gate being round about (Revised Version); or,

the court round about the gate reached to the pillars (Keil); or, at the

pillar the court was round about the gate (Kliefoth). The sense is, that the

court lay round about the inner egress from the gate. The Authorized

Version, with which Dr. Currey, in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ agrees,

thinks of an inner hall between the porch of the gate and the two most

western guard-chambers, round the sides of which the sixty-cubit columns

stood. Ewald, following the corrupt text of the Septuagint translates, “And the

threshold of the outer vestibule twenty cubits, the gate court abutting on

the chambers round about.”


15 “And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of

the inner gate were fifty cubits.” The whole length of the gate, from the outer

entrance to the inner exit fifty cubits, was thus composed:


Ø      An outer threshold — 6 cubits

Ø      Three guard-chambers, six cubits each —18 cubits

Ø      Two spaces between the chambers, five cubits each — 10 cubits

Ø      An inner threshold — 6 cubits

Ø      A porch before the gate — 8 cubits

Ø      One post, or pillar — 2 cubits

Total — 50 cubits


16 “And there were narrow windows to the little chambers, and to their

posts within the gate round about, and likewise to the arches: and windows

were round about inward: and upon each post were palm trees.”

And there were narrow (Hebrew, closed) windows, probably

of lattice-work, so fixed as to prevent either egress or ingress. That these

“windows” (חַלּ ונות, so called from being perforated) were intended to

impart light to the gateway, either in whole or in part, is apparent, though

it is difficult to form a clear idea of how they were situated. They were in

the chambers, and in their posts and in the arches, or colonnades (Revised

Version margin). In the chambers, or “lodges,” they were most likely in the

back walls, and in or near the posts, or pillars, belonging to the doors of

these chambers, the clause, “and in their posts,” being regarded as

epexegetic ("words added to convey more clearly the meaning intended),

of the preceding, and designed to furnish a more precise explanation

of the particular part of the guard-room in which the windows

were. Similar windows existed in the Solomonic temple (I Kings 6:4).

The “arches,” or “colonnades” (אֵלַ מּיִת), were probably wall-projections

on the sides of the chambers, so that light was admitted from three sides.

Thus to one standing within, the whole gateway appeared studded round

and round with windows. The description of the gate closes with the

statement that upon each post were palm trees, which may signify either

that the shaft was fashioned like a palm tree, as is sometimes seen in

ancient buildings in the East (Dr. Currey, Plumptre) or that it was

ornamented with representations of palm branches or palm trees (Keil,

Ewald, Kliefoth). Hengstenberg’s idea, that “whole palms beside the pillars

are meant,” is favored by Smend, who cites, in addition to v. 26, ch. 41:18, etc.,

and I Kings 6:29; 7:36.


Palms upon the Posts: Ornamental Strength (v. 16)


“Upon each post were palm trees.” It is well indeed to bring to the Church

of Christ:


  • THE CONTRIBUTION OF STRENGTH. There are disciples who add

little to the Church but feebleness. They want to be continually comforted

or corrected; to be shielded or to be sustained. We feel that the community

to which they belong would be the stronger for their absence, except as

they supply suitable objects for the exercise of Christian kindness, and in

this way for the development of the Church’s strength. But it cannot be

said that this is at all a satisfactory way of rendering service. We rejoice,

and we believe that our Lord Himself rejoices, in those who bring a solid

contribution of strength to the cause of wisdom and of piety. These are

they who, with their Christian principles, bring a trained and robust

intelligence, a sacred sagacity, a well-gathered knowledge of men and

things; or who bring a liberal spirit, an open hand, a large proportion of

their substance; or who bring a loving spirit, a spirit of conciliation and

concession into the council, and who are on the side of concord; or who

bring warmth, vigor, energy, sustained zeal and hopefulness to the work

which is undertaken; or who bring a large measure of devotion, of the spirit

of true reverence to the worship of the Church. These are the “posts” of

the temple; they “seem to be pillars” (Galatians 2:9) and they are such.

And there is no reason why the same members of the Church who bring

their contribution of strength should not add:


  • THE ELEMENT OF BEAUTY. “Upon each post were palm trees.”

These posts were not unsightly props, whose one and only service was that

of sustaining that which rested upon them; they were so fashioned that they

adorned what they upheld. It is not always so in the spiritual temple. Some

posts have no palm trees engraved upon them; they are rude, bare,

uncomely. They are tolerated for the service they render; but for what they

are in themselves they are heartily disliked. But this need never be. Why

should not the strong be beautiful as well as helpful? why should they not

add grace to power? It is a serious mistake men make when they think that

they may dispense with the finer excellences of Christian character and life

because they contribute an efficiency which others cannot render. The

uncultivated rudeness of many a pillar in the Christian “temple” detracts

most seriously from its worth; on the other hand, the palm trees upon the

posts constitute a very appreciable addition. Be beautiful as well as strong.

“Whatsoever things are lovely and of good report” (Philippians 4:8) should

be “considered” well, and should be secured as well as “whatsoever things

are true, honest, just, and pure.” (ibid.)  Add to your faith virtue (manliness)

and knowledge, but do not fail to add temperance (self-command), patience,

and charity as well.  (II Peter 1:5-7)  Strive after, pray for, carefully cultivate,

all that is beautiful in the sight of man, in temper, in bearing, in spirit, in

word and deed; so shall the value of your strength be greatly enhanced

in the estimate of Christ.


17 “Then brought he me into the outward court, and, lo, there were

chambers, and a pavement made for the court round about: thirty

chambers were upon the pavement.  18 And the pavement by the side

of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement.

19 Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate

unto the forefront of the inner court without, an hundred cubits

eastward and northward.” The outer court. Emerging from the doorway

inwards, the prophet, accompanied by his celestial guide, stepped into the

outward court, i.e. the area surrounding the temple buildings. There the first

thing observed was that chambers and a pavement ran round the court. The

chambers were cells, or rooms — לִשָׁכות always signifying single rooms in

a building (see ch. 42:1; I Chronicles 9:26) — whose dimensions, exact sites,

and uses are not specified, though, as they were thirty in number, it is probable

they were arranged on the east, north, and south sides of the court, five upon

each side of the gate, and standing somewhat apart from each other; that they

were large enough to contain as many as thirty persons (see I Samuel 9:22; and

compare Jeremiah 35:2); and that they were designed for sacrificial meals and

such-like purposes (see ch. 44:1, etc.). In pre-exilic times such halls had

been occupied by distinguished persons connected with the temple service

(see ch. 8:8-12; II Kings 23:11; Jeremiah 35:4, etc.; 36:10; Ezra 10:6).

The pavement was a tessellated floor (decorated with mosaics - compare

Esther 1:6; II Chronicles 7:3), which ran round the court and was named

the lower pavement, to distinguish it from that laid in the inner court which

stood at a higher elevation than the outer. As another note of position, it is

stated to have been by the side (literally, shoulder) of the gates over

against — or, answerable to (Revised Version) — the length of the

gates. This can only mean that the breadth of the pavement was fifty cubits

(the length of the gates, v. 15) less six cubits (the thickness of the wall,

v. 5), or forty-four cubits, and that it ran along the inner length of the

wall on either side of the gates. The breadth of the court from the

forefront of the lower gate, i.e. from the inner end of the east gate or the

edge of the pavement, unto the forefront of the inner court without was

an hundred cubits. Whether the measurement was up to the wall of the

inner court, within which, on this hypothesis, its gate must have wholly

lain, or only up to the door of the inner court, which, on this

understanding, must have projected beyond its wall, is obscure. The first

interpretation derives support from the circumstance that the terminus ad

quem of the measurement is said to have been, not the inner gate, but the

inner court; while the second finds countenance in the use of the

preposition מִחוּצ, which seems to indicate that the measuring proceeded

from the western extremity of the outer gate to the eastern extremity of the

inner gate, and appears to be confirmed by vs. 23 and 27, as well as by

the consideration that in this way the symmetry of the building would be

better preserved than by making the outer gate project into the court and

the inner gate lie wholly within the inner wall. In this way the hundred

cubits marked the distance between the extremities of the gates, the whole

breadth of the court being two hundred cubits, i.e. a hundred cubits

between the gates, with two gates’ lengths of fifty cubits each added. The

same measurements applied to the north gate, which the seer next approached.


20 “And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he

measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof.  21 And the little

chambers thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the

posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate:

the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.

22 And their windows, and their arches, and their palm trees, were

after the measure of the gate that looketh toward the east; and they

went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof were before them.

23 And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward

the north, and toward the east; and he measured from gate to gate

an hundred cubits.” The north gate. This was in all respects similar to that

upon the east, though its description proceeds in the reverse order,

beginning with the three “chambers,” or lodges, on each side of the

footway (v. 21), going on to the “posts,” “arches,” and “windows,” and

ending with the outside steps, seven in number (v. 22), which are here

first mentioned in connection with the gates. Its dimensions were the same

as those of the “first” gate, fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits broad. It

stood exactly in front of a corresponding gate into the inner court, and the

distance between the two gates was, as before, a hundred cubits.


24 “After that he brought me toward the south, and behold a gate

toward the south: and he measured the posts thereof and the arches

thereof according to these measures.  25 And there were windows in it

and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows: the length

was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.

26 And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches thereof

were before them: and it had palm trees, one on this side, and

another on that side, upon the posts thereof.  27 And there was a gate

in the inner court toward the south: and he measured from gate to gate

toward the south an hundred cubits.”  The south gate. Here again the same

details recur as to the structure of the gate, its dimensions, and distance from

the gate which led into the inner court.



God’s Kingdom Divinely Organized (vs. 5-27)


It is no part of God’s procedure to provide a sketch-plan for His kingdom

and allow others to supply the details. In the kingdom of material nature

His matchless wisdom has designed the minutest parts. In the construction

of the human body He has taken care to do the best in the articulation of

every jointin the interaction of the most delicate organ. So in the

building of His spiritual kingdom He has laid down all the essential

principles that are to be embodied and perpetuated. At the same time, there

is ample provision for the adaptation of these principles to the changes

incident to the development of human character and incident to the needs

of human society.



a wall on the outside of the house round about.” The etymological meaning

of the word “temple” conveys this lesson. It is a place “cut off,” i.e. cut off

from secular uses. The temple of God is capacious enough to include

MANKIND;  yet it excludes whatever is selfish, base, corrupting, or perishable.

There is exclusion as well as inclusion. Its mission upon the earth is to

separate the precious elements from the vile IN EVERY MAN! It is designed

to elevate and purify what is excellent in men; but mere dross it purges out. In

this work of separation — the separation of the evil from the good — it is

a pattern of the heavenly city. Gates are for exclusion and for safety.



came he to the gate... and went up the stairs thereof.” The mind of man is,

in many respects, dependent upon his body. As by steps we find an easy

method for bodily elevation, so with spiritual ascent. An important lesson is

left upon the mind. The elevation of the body aids the elevation of the soul.

On the great occasions on which God descended and held intercourse with

men, the scene was the summit of a mount.


Ø      On Horeb God manifested Himself to Moses. (Exodus 33:6-23)

Ø      From Gerizim and Ebal the Law was to be proclaimed.

Ø      On Moriah Abraham was to present the great sacrifice of faith.

(Genesis 22)

Ø      On Nebo Moses was to close his earthly career. (Deuteronomy 34)

Ø      On a mountain (probably Hermon) Jesus was transfigured.  (Mark 9)

Ø      From the slopes of Olivet the Savior ascended to His throne.  (Acts



Without question temple-worship helps to lift the soul into a higher life.

The more we are with God the purer and nobler we become.



were many. They were wide. They looked in all directions. These facts

impressed men with the truth that God desires the society of men. He has

not retired from men into remote seclusion. He invites them to the most

intimate friendship. His dwelling shall have capacious gates. As with a

hundred voices, they seem to accord a hearty welcome. We cannot come

too often. We cannot presume too much on His friendship. “God is known

in his palaces for a Refuge.” The gates of His palace open to every point




the arches and upon the posts were palm trees. “Strength and beauty are in

His sanctuary.” All beauty has its fount IN GOD!  He finds delight in the

outward forms of beauty. All His works partake of beauty. But material

beauty is only the shadow of the really beautiful:


Ø      Holiness is beauty.

Ø      Goodness is beauty.

Ø      Love is beauty.


Therefore in God’s house the beautiful should everywhere appear.



“there were windows, and in the arches thereof round about.” However

small the chamber, it had a window. For every department of human life

and service God provides light. It is an essential for human progress and

for human sanctity. As fast as we appropriate God’s spiritual light He

supplies more. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”

(Hosea 6:3)



GOD.  There was court within court — an outer court and an inner.

The proselytes from the Gentiles might not come so near the

altars of God as the Hebrews. The people of the tribe of Levi might

approach nearer than those of other tribes. The high priest might, once a

year, come into closer access to God than any other man on earth. All

these arrangements were types of better things, lessons of high spiritual

import. God will not tolerate a rebellious will, nor allow, in His presence,

falsehood or impurity. The barriers imposed served to teach men the real

and tremendous evil of sin; they served to encourage men IN THE

ABANDONMENT OF SIN that they might have the friendship of God.

So far as men are in league with sin they separate themselves from God

and from hope and from heaven. It is not easy to regain moral purity

after it has been corrupted. It is impossible without God’s help. But it

is worth a lifelong effort to get back to God, and to live as a child in

the sunshine of His smile.  The method God has adopted to teach us

this lesson is a singular accommodation of His grace to our ignorance

and to our weakness.


Vs. 28-47. The inner court, with its gates, chambers and slaughtering-tables:


Ø      the south gate (vs. 28-31);

Ø      the cast gate (vs. 32-34);

Ø      the north gate (vs. 35-37);

Ø      the arrangements for sacrifice (vs. 38-43); and

Ø      the chambers for the officiating priests (vs. 44-47).


28 “And he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he

measured the south gate according to these measures;  29 And the little

chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according

to these measures: and there were windows in it and in the arches thereof

round about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad.

30 And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long, and

five cubits broad.  31 And the arches thereof were toward the utter court;

and palm trees were upon the posts thereof: and the going up to it had

eight steps.”  The south gate of the inner court. The construction and

measurements of this corresponded with those of the gates in the outer

court, with only two points of difference, viz. that it possessed a flight of

eight steps instead of seven, and that the arches, or wall-projections, were

toward the outer court. The difference in the number of the steps was

doubtless of symbolic significance, and pointed not only to the higher

sanctity in general which attached to the inner court, but to the truth that,

as one approached the dwelling-place of Jehovah, an increasing measure

and degree of holiness were demanded — what Plumptre styles “an

everascending sursum corda.” (lift up your hearts)  The seven steps of the

outer door added to the eight steps of this amount to fifteen, with which

corresponds the number of the pilgrim-psalms (Psalm 120-134.), which are

supposed to have been sung, one upon each step, by the choir of Levites as

they ascended first into the outer and then into the inner court. The statement

that the wall projections were towards the outer court showed that, in walking

through the inner gateway, one would reverse the order of the outer gate, i.e.

would first pass through the porch, then cross the threshold to the guardrooms,

next step upon the second threshold, and finally enter the inner court.


32“And he brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he

measured the gate according to these measures.  33 And the little chambers

thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, were according to these

measures: and there were windows therein and in the arches thereof round

about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad.

34 And the arches thereof were toward the outward court; and palm

trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side:

and the going up to it had eight steps.” The east gate of the inner court.

The same resemblance to the outer gates are noted in connection with this

doorway, and the same two points of distinction just commented on.




The Windows of the Church (vs. 22, 25, 29, 33)


Allusion is made again and again to the windows which were to be provided in

this sacred edifice. The Church of Christ must be well furnished with windows,

and they must not be closed, but open for it has to:



window we look out and see the busy street and the ways of men; or we

see the fields and the hills and the work of God. We acquaint ourselves

with what is passing in the world. The Church of Christ must keep its

windows open, and be actively engaged in learning all that it can acquire of

the heart and ways of men, and also of the truth and the purposes of God.

It, after its Lord, is to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). It is

to be the source of all sacred knowledge to the world; it is to enlighten

men on the two supreme subjects:


Ø      of their own spiritual nature, with all its possibilities of good and

evil, and,


Ø      of the Divine Being, with all His holiness and His grace, with

all His power and His patience, with all His expectation from them

and all His nearness to them and His abiding in them.


And if it is to discharge this high and noble function, the Church must not

only treasure what it has gained of heavenly wisdom, but it must be always

LEARNING OF GOD,  always admitting the light of heaven, always be

recipient of HIS TRUTH as that truth bears on the present life of men,

as it affects the spiritual and social struggles they are now passing through.

The Church that would not close its door must keep its windows open, must

honestly and earnestly believe that


“God has yet more light and truth

To break forth from His Word.”


  • ADMIT HEAVENLY INFLUENCES. The open window means the

admission, not only of the light, but also the air of heaven; and we need the

cleansing air quite as much as the enlightening ray. Shut up to ourselves,

our souls become defiled, deteriorated, enfeebled; open to the renewing

and cleansing air of heaven, they are purified, ennobled, strengthened. It is

a very great advantage to live or to worship in a building of good rather

than of poor dimensions, because its air is purer and more healthful. It is a

very great benefit to belong to a Church that is not cramped and bound

within narrow limits, in which there is ample room for the circulation of all

reverent and earnest thought; that is the most spiritually healthful

condition. But however large and free be the community, we must have the

incoming of the influences which are-outside, WHICH ARE FROM

ABOVEthe quickening, illumining, kindling, cleansing, power of the

Spirit of God.  Without this we shall surely suffer deterioration and decline

— a decline that slopes towards DEATH ITSELF!   We must keep the heart

open, we must keep the Christian Church open, to the best and highest

influences, if we would be and do what Christ calls us to accomplish.


  • ENGAGE IN HOLY ACTIVITIES. We cannot work in the dark; we

pray thus:


“Lord, give me light to do thy work!”


And we do well to pray thus. But we must take care that we do not shut

out the light by our own bad building, by our own institutions, habits,

organizations, prejudices. We must make our arrangements, lay our plans,

form our habits, so that we receive all that we can gain with a special view

to Christian work. The Church that is not learning of Christ in order to

labor for Him, is lacking in one most important characteristic; it is missing

one main end of its existence. Let us take care that our institutions, our

societies, our Churches, are so constructed that we shall be in the best

possible position, be under the most favorable conditions, for earnest and

efficient work. Otherwise we shall not be such a spiritual “temple” as our

Lord will look upon with approval; and His measuring angel (see v. 3)

will have no satisfactory entry to make in his record and to repeat to his



35 “And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to

these measures; 36 The little chambers thereof, the posts thereof, and the

arches thereof, and the windows to it round about: the length was fifty

cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits.  37 And the posts thereof

were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof,

on this side, and on that side: and the going up to it had eight steps.”

The north gate of the inner court. The same minute specification of the

guard-rooms, the pillars, wall-projections, windows, steps, is again repeated,

as if to show that all parts in this divinely fashioned edifice were of equal moment.


Vs. 38-43. The arrangements for sacrifice. Three things demand attention —

the cells for washing, the tables for slaughtering, and the hooks.


38 “And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the

gates, where they washed the burnt offering.”  The chambers. As the verse

explains, these were different from the guard-rooms in the gates (vs. 7, 21) and

the chambers on the pavement (v. 17), although the same Hebrew word is

employed to designate the latter. The cells under consideration were expressly

designed for washing “the inwards and the legs” of the victims brought for

sacrifice (Leviticus 1:9). Whether such a cell stood at each of the three gates, as

the plural seems to indicate, although described only in connection with the

north (Keil, Kliefoth, Plumptre), or merely at one gate, and that the north

— because, according to the Law (Leviticus 1:11; 6:18; 7:2), on the

north side of the altar burnt, sin, and trespass offerings were to be killed

(Havernick, Hengstenberg) — or the east, which is alluded to in vs. 39-40

(Hitzig, Ewald, Smend), is controverted, though the former view seems

the preferable, seeing that, according to ch. 46:1-2, the priests

were to prepare burnt offerings and peace offerings for the prince at the

posts of the east gate. The situation of the cells is stated to have been by

(or, beside) the posts of (i.e. at) the gates (see on v. 14), but on which

side of the gates, whether near the right or left pillar, no information is

furnished. Keil and Kliefoth place those at the south and north gates on the

west side; that at the east gate Keil locates on its north side, Kliefoth

placing one in the side wall at each side of the gate.


39 “And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side, and two

tables on that side, to slay thereon the burnt offering and the sin

offering and the trespass offering.”  40 And at the side without, as one

goeth up to the entry of the north gate, were two tables; and on the other

side, which was at the porch of the gate, were two tables.

41 Four tables were on this side, and four tables on that side, by the

side of the gate; eight tables, whereupon they slew their sacrifices.

42 And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a

cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit

high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they

slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice.”  The tables. These were twelve

in number, of which eight were used for slaughtering purposes, i.e. either for

slaying the sacrifices or for laying upon them the carcasses of the slaughtered

victims; and the remaining four for depositing thereon the instruments employed

in killing the animals. Of the eight, four stood within the porch of the gate, two

on each side, and four without — two on the side as one goeth up to the

entry of the north gate; rather, at the shoulder to one going up to the

gate opening towards the north, i.e. on the outside of the porch north wall;

and two on the other side or shoulder, i.e. on the outside of the porch

south wall. This determines the gate in question to have been, not the north

gate, as the Authorized Version has conjectured, but the east gate, whose

side walls looked towards the north and south. The third quaternion of

tables appears to have been planted at the steps, presumably two on’ each

side, i.e. if with Kliefoth, Keil, and Schroder, לָעולָה be translated “at the

ascent,” or “going up,” i.e. at the staircase (compare v. 26). If, however,

with the Authorized and Revised Versions, Ewald, Hengstenberg, Smend,

and others, לָעולָה be read “for the burnt offering,” then the exact position

of the tables is left undetermined, though in any case they must have been

near the slaughtering-tables. As they were designed for heavy instruments,

they were constructed of hewn stones a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a

half broad, and one cubit high; from which it may be argued the eight

previously mentioned were made of wood.



Sacrifices in the New Temple (v. 39)


As we read the dry details of the city that is to be rebuilt and its new

temple, we are suddenly pulled up by a startling item. Among the various

arrangements of the ancient temple that are to be revived, provision is

made for the sacrificial rites. There are to be sacrifices in the new temple.

The burnt offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering are all to

be there. Then sacrifices will be needed after the restoration. It might have

been supposed that these would now be dispensed with, since sin was put

away and the people were re-dedicated to God. But as a matter of fact, the

temple ritual was never before cultivated with such assiduity and




The burnt offering signified the self-dedication of the man who presented

it. It was given whole, to show that he had surrendered his all to God; it

was consumed by fire, to suggest that he was to make this surrender

complete in:


Ø      depth,

Ø      intensity,

Ø      reality, as well as in

Ø      comprehensiveness.


Now, to have made this offering once for all did not suffice. It had to be

continually renewed. The dedication of Israel to God in the restoration to

their land could not be accepted as sufficient if it were done once for all. It

had to be made over and over again. So is it with the Christian’s offering of

himself. When thinking of his great, decisive step, he may exclaim, in

Doddddge’s well-known words —


“‘Tis done, the great transaction’s done:

I am my Lord’s, and He is mine.”


Yet if he rests satisfied with having once taken that step, he will soon find

himself slipping back from his high resolve. We must continually renew our

self-dedication to Christ. The sacrament of baptism, which signifies the first

dedication, is taken but once; but it is followed by that of the Lord’s

Supper, which suggests renewal of dedication in deliberate intention, as

when the Roman soldier took the oath of allegiance to his general. This

sacrament we repeat many times.



sin and trespass offerings in the new temple. This fact is startling and most

painful. Even while the people are returning, penitent and restored,

provision has to be made for future falls and sins.


Ø      Christian people sin. We know that this is only too true of all Christian

people. There is no sinless soul on earth. “If we say we have no sin, we

deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). The

foresight of the fact is no excuse for us; for God does not make His children

sin.   He endeavors to save them from it. Thus Christ predicted Peter’s fall

although He had prayed that His disciple might be kept faithful (Luke



Ø      God has provided for the recovery of Christians when they sin. There

were to be sacrifices in the restored temple. This arrangement shows the

wonderful long-suffering mercy of God. The same mercy is displayed

towards Christians. It is a shame that they who have once washed their

robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb should again stain

them with the ruin of sin. Yet as this is done, God provides even again for

cleansing — not now by repeated sacrifices, but by the eternal efficacy of

the one perfect Sacrifice. “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with

the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and he is the Propitiation for our

sins” (I John 2:1-2).


43 “And within were hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about: and

upon the tables was the flesh of the offering.” The hooks. The word שְׁפַתַּיִם

occurs again only in Psalm 68:13, where it signifies “sheepfolds,” or “stalls;”

its older form (מִשְׁפְתַיִם) appearing in Genesis 49:14 and Judges 5:16. As this

sense is unsuitable, recourse must be had to its derivation (from שָׁפַת, “to put,

set, or fix”), which suggests as its import here either, as Ewald, Kliefoth,

Hengstenberg, Havernick, and Smend, following the Septuagint and Vulgate,

prefer, “ledges,” or “border guards,” on the edge of the tables, to keep the

instruments or flesh from falling off; or, as Kimchi, Gesenius, Furst, Keil,

Schroder, and Plumptre, after the Chaldean paraphrast, explain, “pegs”

fastened in the wall for hanging the slaughtered carcasses before they were

flayed. In favor of the first meaning stand the facts that the second clause

of this verse speaks of “tables,” not of “walls,” and that the measure of the

shephataim is one of breadth rather than of length; against it are the

considerations that the dual form, shephataim, fits better to a forked peg

than to a double border, and that the shephataim are stated to have been

fastened “in the house” (ba-baith), which again suits the idea of a peg

fastened in the outer wall of the porch, rather than of a border fixed upon a

table. The last clause of this verse is rendered by Ewald, after the Septuagint,

“and over the tables” (obviously those standing outside of the porch) “were

covers to protect them from rain and from drought;” and it is conceivable

that coverings might have been advantageous for both the wooden tables

and the officiating priests; only the Hebrew must be changed before it can

yield this rendering.


44 “And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the

inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect

was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect

toward the north.”  The chambers of the singers.  According to v. 44, these,

of which the number is not recorded, were situated in the inner court,

outside of the inner gate, at the side of the north gate, and looked towards

the south, one only being located at the side of the east gate with a

prospect towards the north. Interpreted in this way, they cannot have been

the same as the “priests’ chambers” mentioned in vs. 45-46, though

these also looked in the same direction. The language, however, seems to

indicate that they were the same, and on this hypothesis it is difficult to

understand how they should be called “the chambers of the singers,” and at

the same time be assigned to the priests, “the keepers of the charge of the

house” and “the keepers of the charge of the altar.” Hengstenberg.

Kliefoth, Schroder, and others hold that Ezekiel purposed to suggest that

in the vision-temple before him the choral service was no longer to be left

exclusively in the hands of the Levites as it had been in the Solomonic

temple (I Chronicles 6:33-47; 15:17; II Chronicles 20:19), but that

the priests were to participate therein. Dr. Currey imagines the chambers

may have been occupied in common by the singers and the priests when

engaged on duty at the temple. The Septuagint text reads, “And he led me

unto the inner court, and behold two chambers in the inner court, one at the

back of the gate which looks towards the north, and bearing towards the

south, and one at the back of the gate which looks towards the south, and

bearing towards the north;” and in accordance with this Rosenmüller,

Hitzig, Ewald, Keil, and Smend propose sundry emendations on the

Hebrew text. Since, however, it cannot be certified that the Septuagint did

not paraphrase or mistranslate the present rather than follow a different text, it

is safer to abide by the renderings of the Authorized and Revised Versions.

Yet one cannot help feeling that the Septuagint translation has the merit of

clearness and simplicity.



Singers (v. 44)


Praise is an essential part of the worship of God. However it may be with

the imaginary deities of the heathen, we know of the one true God that He

is infinitely great and infinitely good; and that it therefore becomes His

creatures to be His worshippers, and that it becomes His worshippers to

utter forth His praise — the memory of His great goodness. In the Jewish

economy praise occupied a very important part in Divine service, especially

during and after the time of David, the sweet singer of Israel. There were

persons, gifted by nature and trained by art, who were set apart for the

purpose of expressing the nation’s gratitude and devotion, by performing

“the service of song in the house of the Lord.” These had their appointed

place in the worship of the temple, and their appointed dwelling-places in

its precincts. Their vocation and ministry symbolize the service of praise

ever offered both by the Church militant on earth and by the Church

triumphant in heaven.





figure of speech we represent the heavens, the earth, and the sea, the living

creatures which people the globe, the wells that spring into the light of day,

the trees of the forests, as all rendering their tribute of praise to the

Creator. But this is to project our human feelings upon the world around

us. It is absurd to suppose the most sagacious of quadrupeds as even

conceiving of God, far less as consciously speaking or singing His praise.

But it is the glory of man’s nature that his apprehensions are not limited to

God’s works. He “looks, through nature, up to nature’s God.” He discerns

the tokens of the Divine presence, and finds reasons for believing in the

Divine goodness. If he offers praise, his is a reasonable service.




RESPONDING TO THE LOVE OF GOD. Music is the vehicle of



“Why should feeling ever speak,

When thou canst breathe her tones so well?”


A being with no emotion would be without song. Spontaneous is the

outflow of feeling — of joy, of sorrow, of love — in the notes of melody.

What so fitted to call forth the purest and most exalted strains of music as

the loving-kindness of the Lord? As a matter of fact, much of the most

exquisite music produced by the great and gifted masters of song has been

inspired by religion and religious themes. The oratorios, the anthems, the

chorales, of Christian composers, rendered with all the resources of

musical art, may be regarded as endeavors to express the tenderest, the

most pathetic, the sublimest feelings which the mind of man has ever





OF MUSICAL EXPRESSIVENESS. These forms vary with the varying

states of human society, of culture, and of civilization. What is adapted to a

ruder age may be ill suited to an epoch of refinement. It is a tradition that

the music composed by David, and preserved for centuries among the

Jews, was taken over by the Christian Church, and so survives in archaic

forms of psalmody still used amongst ourselves. However this may be, it is

certain that there has never been, in the history of the Jewish or the

Christian Church, a period when silence has reigned in the sacred

assemblies, when speech has not been accompanied by song. Like all good

things, sacred music has been abused, and attention has been given to the

artistic qualities rather than to the spiritual import and impression. Yet this

is an art which deserves cultivation, and which will repay for cultivation.

Without psalmody, how would our religious sentiments and aspirations be





DEVOTIONAL FEELINGS. Instrumental music has taxed the mental

powers of the composer and the artistic faculty of the performer to so high

a degree that a cultivated and honorable profession has found here

abundant scope for study and for skill. But the art of vocal minstrelsy is

more glorious and delightful still. There is no music like the human voice;

and if this is so when other themes inspire the song, how much more when

the high praises of God are poured forth, whether with the enchanting

sweetness of a solitary voice, or with the loud and joyful burst of the

chorus in which the many blend in one!


45 And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the

south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house.”

The priests, the keepers of the charge of the house. Under

the Law the Levite families of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari had the charge

of the tabernacle and all its belongings (Numbers 3:25, etc.); but of

these Levites who kept the charge of the sanctuary, Eleazar the son of

Aaron the priest had the oversight. Hence the priests alluded to by Ezekiel

as the keepers of the charge of the house were most likely those who

superintended the Levites in the execution of their tasks.



Priests (v. 45)


What would a temple be with no priesthood to minister at its altars, to

present the offerings of its worshippers? The priests give meaning and

interest to the temple, not only to the scenery of its services, but to its

great purpose and aim. The mention in this passage of the priests who

dwelt and ministered within the temple precincts suggests reflections of a

more general character regarding the office and those who were called to

undertake it.


























  • APPLICATION. The priesthood, as exercised among the Jews, has for us

an interest more than historic. It foreshadowed facts and principles which

could only reach their perfect fulfillment and realization in the mediation of

Christ. The Jewish priesthood ought not to be regarded as merely typical; it

expressed Divine and eternal truths. At the same time, the sacerdotal office

of the Lord Jesus cannot be placed upon the same level as the ministry of

the temple at Jerusalem. That which was fully exhibited in Him was but

faintly outlined in His predecessors. Christ’s was the real offering, the true

sacrifice. And this is made perfectly plain by the provision that He should

have no successor in the work of atonement. ("by Himself purged our sins"

Hebrews 1:3)  Yet it must not be forgotten that there is a function of

priesthood which is perpetual in the Church — the function of obedience

and of praise. In this all true Christians — ministers and worshippers alike

— take part. This unceasing offering and sacrifice ascends from the

heart-altars of the faithful throughout the spiritual temple of the living God.

And this comes up with acceptance through Him who is the High Priest

of our profession, by whom all offerings that His people present to

Heaven are laid upon the upper altar, and are well pleasing to



46 “And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the

priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of

Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to

minister unto Him.”  The keepers of the charge of the altar. These formed

another body of priests, whose duties generally were to officiate in the

temple-worship, and more specifically to sacrifice and burn incense upon

the altars (Leviticus 1-6.). Under the Law the priests were all descendants

of Aaron (Exodus 27:20-21; 28:1-4; 29:9, 44-46; 40:15). By David these

were divided into two classes — the sons of Eleazar, at the head of whom

stood Zadok; and the sons of Ithamar, with Ahimelech as their chief

(I Chronicles 24:3). In the vision-temple the sons of Zadok among the sons

of Levi have the sole right of drawing near to the Lord to minister unto Him.


47 “So he measured the court, an hundred cubits long, and an hundred

cubits broad, foursquare; and the altar that was before the house.”

He measured the court... and the altar. The dimensions of

the former, the open space in front of the temple, alone are given — a

hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits broad; those of the latter, which

stood before the “house,” and occupied the center of the square, are

afterwards recorded (ch. 43:13). The distance from north to south

of the inner court being a hundred cubits, if to these be added twice two

hundred cubits, the space between the outer court wall and that of the

inner court, the result will give five hundred cubits as the breadth of the

outer court, from north gate to south gate. Then as the length of the inner

court was a hundred cubits, if to these be added first the hundred cubits

lying before the inner court towards the east, secondly, the hundred cubits

covered by the temple (ch. 41:13-14), and thirdly, the one hundred

cubits which extended behind the temple (ibid.), the total will amount to

five hundred cubits for the length of the outer court from east to west.

The outer court, therefore, like the inner, was a square.


Vs. 48-49. — With these verses the following chapter ought to have

commenced, as the seer now advances to a description of the house, or

temple proper, as in I Kings 6:2, with its three parts:


Ø      a porch (vs. 48-49),

Ø      a holy place (ch. 41:1), and

Ø      a holy of holies (ibid. v. 4).


48 “And he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of

the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side: and the breadth

of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side.”

The porch, or vestibule, according to Keil, appears to have

been entered by a folding door of two leaves, each three cubits broad,

which were attached to two side pillars five cubits broad, and met in the

middle, so that the whole breadth of the porch front was six cubits, or,

including the posts, sixteen cubits. The measurements in v. 49 of the

length of the porch (from east to west) twenty cubits, and the breadth

(from north to south) eleven cubits, he harmonizes with this view by

assuming that the pillars, which were five cubits broad in front, were only

half that breadth in the inside, the side wall dividing it in two, so that,

although to one entering the opening was only six cubits, the moment one

stood in the interior it was 6 cubits + 2 × 2.5 cubits = 11 cubits. Kliefoth,

however, rejects this explanation, and understands the three cubits to refer

to the portion of the entrance on either side which was closed by a gate,

perhaps of lattice-work, leaving for the ingress and egress of priests a

passage of five cubits. In this view the whole front of the porch would be 5

cubits of passage + 6 (2 × 3) cubits of lattice-work + 10 (2 × 5) cubits of

pillar, equal in all to 21 cubits. Dr. Currey, in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’

includes the three cubits of door in the five cubits of post, and, supposing

the temple entrance to be ten cubits, makes the whole front to have been

twenty cubits. We prefer Kliefoth’s opinion.


49 “The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven

cubits, and he brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it:  and

there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side.”

Like the gates into the courts, the temple porch was entered by steps, of which

the number is not stated, though, after the Septuagint, it is usually assumed

to have been ten, Hengstenberg suggesting fourteen. The last particular noted,

that there were pillars by the posts, has been explained to signify that upon

the posts, or bases, stood shafts or pillars (Currey), or with more probability

that by or near the pillars rose columns (Keil, Kliefoth). The height of these

is not given, though Hengstenberg again finds it in the elevation of the porch

of Solomon’s temple — a hundred and twenty cubits (II Chronicles 3:4).

Their exact position is not stated; but they were probably, like Jachin and

Boaz in the Solomonic temple, stationed one on each side of the steps.



Sacrifice Essential to Human Worship (vs. 38-47)


The entrances and vestibules of the new temple were planned on a magnificent scale.

The mind of the worshipper would be naturally impressed both with the greatness

of the Proprietor and with the transcendent importance of the use to which it was

devoted. But by what methods will the Sovereign Majesty of heaven be approached?

More and more this question oppresses a reflecting man. As he gains the central

courts of the temple the answer is clear. SIN is the great separator between

man and his Maker. Reconciliation can only be effected by SACRIFICE!  At the

altar of burnt offering God will meet with penitent men, and confer on them His

mercy. “Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.”  (Hebrews 9:22)



GOD. “The altar was before the house.” From the first days of man’s fall

the mercy of God allowed access for man to the presence of his Maker; yet

access not free and unrestrained, as in the pristine state of innocence.

Access to God’s favor could now be found only at the altar of sacrifice.

Hence Cain’s suit failed because he brought only the fruits of the ground.

Abel was accepted because his faith was loyal to the Divine command, and

because he felt the evil of sin. Such sacrifice of animal life could be in no

respect proper compensation for moral rebellion against God. Yet it was to

man a revelation that God would accept substitution, and it served as a

matter-of-fact prophecy, that in due time God would provide an efficacious

sacrifice. It was as much for man’s welfare as for the maintenance of

Divine rule, that God would henceforth meet His fallen creature, and give

heed to his prayer, only at the sacrificial altar.



SALVATION. In the temple sacrifices were of various kinds, and were

presented with great variety of ceremony. There was the sin offering, the

trespass offering, the wave offering, etc. These were designed to meet the

several wants of men. They expressed:


Ø      gratitude for benefit received;

Ø      submission to the will of God;

Ø      confession of past sin;

Ø      acknowledgment that our sin deserved death;

Ø      acquiescence in God’s plan for forgiveness;

Ø      a new act of covenant with God; and

Ø      complete devotion of self to the service of Jehovah.


The future, as well as the past, was considered. The minds of men

must be fitly impressed with the terrific evil of sin and with the excellence

that comes out of self-sacrifice. God’s stupendous gift wakens our

profoundest love. We aspire to act as He acts, and so rise into the better

life. Condescension is the road to eminence.



There were porters to keep the gates and to prevent base intruders. There

were men to slay the animals, and men to wash the flesh. There were men

in charge of the building, and men in charge of the altar. Some kinds of

service were repulsive to the senses; some kinds were joyous and

exhilarating. In God’s temple there is some service which every loyal

subject of Jehovah can render. The least endowed may perform some

useful mission. As in nature every dewdrop has its effect, and the tiniest

insect performs a useful task, so it is also in the kingdom of grace.


Ø      The tears of the babe Moses changed the fortunes of the world.

(Exodus 2:1-10)

Ø      The child Samuel was teacher to the high’ priest of Israel.  (I Samuel

chapters 2-3)

Ø      A lad in the crowd possessed the barley loaves which served

as the foundation of the Savior’s miracle.  (Mark 6:32-44)


Provision was made in the temple for great variety of servants.  The service

of God is not arduous. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”



SONG. “Without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers.”

Sacrifice may commence with sorrow; it also ends with joy. “Blessed are

they that mourn” here; “they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)  Music

well befits temple worship.  Here, if anywhere, the souls of men should

go forth in swelling tides of gladness. Before Jesus and His companions

went to Gethsemane they sang a hymn. (Matthew 26:30)  In the inner

dungeon at midnight, with feet bound in the stocks, Paul and Silas sang

to God their praise.  (Acts 16:25)  If joy thrills afresh the hearts of angels

when one sinner on earth repents (Luke 15:7), it is meet that joy should

also fill God’s temple on earth.





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Spiritual Ascent (vs. 26, 31)


“There were seven steps to go up to it” — the outer court; “and the going

up to it [the inner court] had eight steps.” Translating this into the

Christian analogue, we learn:



NOBLE HEIGHT. The base of the temple was the summit of a “very high

mountain” (v. 2); to be anywhere within even its outer precincts was to

be far above the world. To be in the kingdom of God, even to be the least

therein, is to stand in the place of very high privilege indeed (see

Matthew 11:11). But not of privilege only; of spiritual well-being also.

It is to be high and far above the baseness of selfishness, of vanity, of

ingratitude, of rebelliousness; above the low ground of unbelief, of

indecision, of procrastination. It is to live and move on the sacred heights

of devotion, of sacred service, of consecration, of the sonship and

friendship of THE LIVING GOD!



ALTITUDE. Not every one that is “in Christ Jesus” stands on the same

spiritual level. There is not only considerable variety of character and

service, there is also much difference in degree of attainment. There are

those who are behind and those who are before in the race; there are those

who stand lower down in the outer court and those who stand higher up in

the inner court. Many are the degrees among the disciples of Christ in:

1. Knowledge. Some have but a very elementary acquaintance with the

truth of God; some hold the faith of Christ much mixed with corrupt

accretions; others have a comparatively clear view of the doctrines taught

by Christ and by his apostles; there are those who have gone far into “the

deep things of God.”

2. Piety. A Christian man may have but a slender capacity for devotion; he

may only be able to worship God and commune with him feebly and

occasionally, with no power of sustained devotion; or he may have

ascended the higher ground, and be “praying always;” his “walk may be

close with God;” he may be “a devout man and full of the Holy Ghost.”

3. Moral worth. From the recently converted idolater whose licentious

habits cling to him and have to be hardly and laboriously torn away by long

and earnest struggle, to the saintly man or woman who, inheriting the

purified nature and disposition of reverent and godly parents, has breathed

the air of purity and goodness all his days, and has grown up into holiness

and Christliness in a very marked degrees there is a great ascent.

4. Influence, and consequent usefulness. There are those whose influence

counts for very little among their fellows; there are others who weigh

much, whose presence is a power for good everywhere, who can produce a

peat and valuable effect by their words of wisdom.


PROVIDED MEANS. There were steps or stairs leading up from the

lower to the higher ground within the temple. There are steps of which we

may avail ourselves if we would rise in the kingdom of God. They are


1. Worship; including public worship in the sanctuary, meeting the Master

at his table, private prayer in the home and the quiet chamber.

2. Study; including the reading of the Scriptures and also of the lives of the

best and noblest of the children of men.

3. Fellowship with the good; associating daily and weekly with those likeminded

with ourselves, and choosing for our most intimate friends those,

and those only, whose convictions and sympathies are sustaining and


4. Activity in one or other of the many fields of sacred usefulness. — C.

Ver. 44.

Sacred song.

“The chambers of the singers.” The ideal Church would not be complete

without the service of sacred song. Abundant arrangement was made for

this order of worship in the first temple (<111012>1 Kings 10:12; 1 Chronicles

25.). It was to be a daily offering unto the Lord (1 Chronicles 23. 30). And

it has found a large and honorable place in the Church of Christ. The

Master himself and his disciples “sang an hymn” on the most solemn and

sacred of all occasions (<402630>Matthew 26:30); and Paul refers to “psalms

and hymns and spiritual songs” as if they were well known in the

experience of the early Church. This service of song should be —

I. COMPREHENSIVE IN ITS RANGE. It should not only include praise

(with which it is more particularly identified; see infra), but also adoration,

e.g. “We praise, we worship thee, O God,” etc.; and confession, e.g.

“Oppressed with sin and woe,” etc.; and faith, e.g. “My faith looks up to

thee,” etc.; and consecration, e.g. “My gracious Lord, I own thy rights”

etc.; and prayer for the Divine guidance and inspiration, e.g. “O thou who

camest from above,” etc., “O God of Bethel, by whose hand,” etc.; and

resignation, e.g. “My Gods my Father, while I stray,” etc.; and solemn,

reverent challenge to one another, e.g. “Come we that love the Lord,”

etc., “Stand up, stand up for Jesus,” etc., “Ye servants of God,” etc.; and

holy, heavenly expectation, e.g. “Jerusalem, my happy home.” So that

there is no sentiment suitable to reverent lips, no grace of Christian

character, that may not find expression in sacred song; and such utterance

may not only be true worship, but it may give real relief to the full and

perhaps burdened soul, while it also deepens conviction and. elevates



1. Musical harmony. For that which we offer to our Lord should be the

very best we can bring; not the blemished but the whole, not the disfigured

but the beautiful, not the rude but the cultured, not the discordant but the


2. Spirituality. The God who himself is a Spirit must be worshipped in

spirit and in truth (<430424>John 4:24). And however musical may be the sound,

no service of song even approaches the satisfactory which is not spiritual;

we must make melody in our heart, as well as with our voice, unto the

Lord (<490519>Ephesians 5:19).

3. Congregational. There are services in which it is not possible for “all the

people” to participate audibly; but these are exceptional; as a rule, the

order of worship should be such that every voice should be heard “blessing

and praising God,” for expression is the true friend of feeling.


commonly associated with “singing.” The singers sing “the praises of

Jehovah.” As already said, there is no spiritual experience to which vocal

utterance may not be well and wisely given in sacred song. But the

prevailing strain is that of praise or thanksgiving. And this may well be so

when we realize, as we should in the praise of God:

1. How worthy, in his own Person and character, is the Lord our Savior of

our most reverent and joyful praise.

2. How great things he wrought and suffered for us when he dwelt among


3. How perfect is the “great salvation,” and how open to all mankind

without reserve (Jude 3).

4. How high are the privileges and how heavenly the blessings we have in

him whilst we live below; how much it is to be able to say, “For us to live

is Christ.”

5. How grand is the heritage to which we move. — C.