Ezekiel 42




This chapter furnishes a brief account of the priests’ chambers in the outer

court (vs. 1-14), and a detailed measurement of the temple precincts (vs. 15-20).



The Priests’ Chambers (vs. 1-14)


1 “Then he brought me forth into the utter court, the way toward the

north: and he brought me into the chamber that was over against the

separate place, and which was before the building toward the north.”

The survey of the house having been completed, the seer was conducted by

his guide into the outer court (see on ch. 40:17), by the way toward the north,

i.e. by the inner north gate (see ibid. v.23) and from the outer court into

the chamber that was over against the separate place, and which was

before the building toward the north. That this chamber, or these chambers

(לִשְׁכָּה being a collective noun, though in vs. 4 and 5 it occurs in the plural),

were not the same cells as those mentioned in ch.40:17, 44, as Havernick

supposes, is apparent from their situation and use. Those in ibid. v. 44 were

in the inner, while these were in the outer; and if the cells spoken of in

ibid. v. 17 were in the outer court, they were also on the pavement

by the outer wall, while the chambers now alluded to were “over against,”

or in front of, the gizrah, or separate place (see on ibid. v.12), and

over against,” or in front of, “the building toward the north.” This

building Kiel, Hengstenberg, Schroder, and Plumptre hold to have been the

erection on the gizrah; Ewald, Kliefoth, Smend, and Currey believe it to

have meant the temple. The question as to which view is correct is

immaterial, since the row of chambers extended in front of parts of both

buildings. Ewald, as usual, follows the Septuagint , and translates, “brought me

to the fifteen (another Greek text has five) cells;” but of this the Hebrew

contains nothing.




The Outer Court (v. 1)


There was an outer court in the temple of Jerusalem, held to be less sacred

than the courts nearer to the holy place; to this court Gentiles were admitted.



always people who seem to stand midway between the Church and the

world. In some cases they are like Elijah’s contemporaries, halting between

two opinions (I Kings 18:21). They may be described as like the scribe

who was “not far from the kingdom of God (Mark 12:34). Feeling a

certain attraction for religion, they are drawn into association with public

worship. Others, like the money-changers and cattle-vendors whom our

Lord disturbed, find it possible to make worldly profit for themselves by

hanging on to the fringe of religious ordinances.



PRIVILEGES. These people can see what is going on in the more sacred

interior of the temple. Though they take no part in the services, they are

able to witness the sacrificial rites. Similarly, there are regular attendants at

Christian churches who do not enter into the more intimate life of the

community nor enjoy its highest advantages. Yet they have some

privileges. It is something to see the door, if we have not yet knocked at it.

(Remember Jesus’ words “Behold, I stand at the door and knock:  if any

man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will

sup with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20)  Knowing the way

ought to be a preparation for entering it. In a professedly Christian

country, where New Testament facts are familiar to most people,

and where few are quite out of the range of potential religious influences,

privileges are enjoyed which bring a responsibility not shared by the more

ignorant heathen.



BLESSING. At most they have Esau’s blessing, not Jacob’s. Like Balaam

(Numbers 24:17), they see the Christ, but “not near;” therefore, like that

unhappy prophet of Moab, they must be excluded from the covenant of

promise. It is an aggravation to the torment of Dives that he can see

Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom. (Luke 16:23)  The knowledge of Christian

truth and the sight of Christian grace do not save the souls of men who

will not yield themselves to Christ in heart and life. We have to beware

of a common snare. Many are tempted to believe that they are safe because

they are in some sort of external association with religion. We need to

understand distinctly that this will not avail. There must be personal

membership in the kingdom of heaven for all who will enjoy the real

blessings of the kingdom.



COURT TO ENTER THE INNER COURT. This was even true of the

old, narrow Jewish religion, on the condition that the Gentile proselyte was

circumcised and became a Jew. It is certainly true of the free, world-wide

Christian gospel. None need linger in the outer court. There is room within

the privileged Church for every soul on earth, and a welcome from Christ

for all who will come. But observe, in conclusion, the distinction between

outer and inner courts in the Christian Church is spiritual, not visible.

Professed Church-members may be in the outer court; while those who join

no earthly community, and are regarded by their brethren as religious

Bohemians, are in the inner court if their hearts and lives are truly near to



2 “Before the length of an hundred cubits was the north door, and the

breadth was fifty cubits.” With this verse the Authorized and Revised Versions

begin a new sentence, and are in this at one with Smend; but the majority of

expositors place the second verse under the regimen of the verb, “he

brought me,” in v. 1, and understand the seer to state that he was planted

down before the length (or, long side) of an hundred cubits, with the

door toward the north, and the breadth fifty cubits. That is to say, the

building which contained the sacristies, or priests’ chambers, was a

hundred cubits long and fifty broad. As the building on the separate place

was also a hundred cubits long (ch. 41:13), it might seem as if this

erection ran exactly parallel to that, and this view is taken by

Hengstenberg, Schroder, and Plumptre; but Kliefoth, Keil, and Currey, on

the authority of ch. 46:19, locate a priests’ kitchen behind the priests’

chambers towards the west, and reserve for it forty cubits, on the

plausible ground that it would not likely be smaller in size than the

sacrificial kitchen for the people (see ibid. v. 22). Hence, if the

building under consideration began forty cubits east of the gizrah wall, it

would extend twenty cubits over the end and along the length of the temple.


3 “Over against the twenty cubits which were for the inner court, and

over against the pavement which was for the utter court, was gallery

against gallery in three stories.”  Considerable difficulty attaches to the words

of this verse. The twenty cubits which were for the inner court (better, the twenty

which belonged to the inner court) have been taken by Kliefoth to signify the

watchers’ coils in the inner court, west of the north door (ch.40:40-46), and by

Plumptre to indicate an inner area of twenty cubits square, round which the

galleries in three stories ran. Both of these views, however, have this against

them, that they are purely conjectural, the text (ibid) saying nothing about

twenty cubits in connection with the priests’ chambers, and the text under review

making no suggestion of an inner area of twenty cubits, but only of the already

well-known “inner court.” Hence the opinion of Ewald, Hengstenberg, Keil,

Schroder, and Currey has most in its favor, that the “twenty” alongside of which

the chamber now alluded to lay, meant the twenty cubits clear space which

surrounded the temple on the south, west, and north sides (see ch. 41:12-14),

and which could properly be spoken of as “for the inner court,”

rather as “belonging to the inner court,” since it was practically a

continuation of the same. The pavement which was for (or, belonged to)

the outer court, was manifestly that already described as running along the

inside of the outer wall (see ch. 40:17). If, as is likely, this pavement was

continued along the north side of the inner court wall, then the priests’

chambers must have stood upon it, and been over against it on the east side,

as Currey explains; but the easier and more natural supposition is that adopted

by Keil, that the second “over against” points to that which faced the

chambers on the north, viz. the pavement, as the first marked their

boundary on the south. Gallery against gallery (see on ch.41:15).

In three stories; or, in the third story (Revised Version).

Whether these galleries existed in each of three stories of the building, or

only in the third, cannot be determined. If בַּשְּׁלִשִׁים, “in the thirds” occurs

elsewhere only in Genesis 6:16, to denote the chambers or rooms of the

third story in the ark, as Smend observes, “the expression might also quite

naturally signify three stories, one above another.”


4 “And before the chambers was a walk to ten cubits breadth inward,

a way of one cubit; and their doors toward the north.”

Before the chambers a walk. Whether this walk ran along the

longer, i.e. northern, or in front of the eastern side of the chambers, and

how it stood related to the way, which is likewise mentioned in connection

with the chambers, are litigated questions. The Septuagint identifies the two,

and understands a way in front of the chambers of ten cubits broad and a

hundred cubits long. Ewald and Keil so far agree with the Septuagint as to

change the one cubit way into a hundred-cubit way; but whereas Ewald

thinks of a passage ten cubits broad and a hundred cubits long, running

from west to east between two sets of chambers, Keil speaks of a walk of

ten cubits broad and a hundred cubits long in front of the cells, extending

into a way of equal breadth and length, leading westward into the inner

court. Havernick’s, Hengstenberg’s, and Kliefoth’s idea, favored by

Schroder, and probably the best, is that of a walk of ten cubits in front of

the cells, and a way of one cubit leading into them from the walk. Dr.

Currey reverses this, and makes a walk of ten cubits leading inward, and a

way, or kerb, of one cubit in front. Plumptre agrees that the passage

leading into the chambers was ten cubits broad, but regards the one cubit

as denoting the thickness of the wall separating the walk from the interior

of the chambers.


5 “Now the upper chambers were shorter: for the galleries were higher

than these, than the lower, and than the middlemost of the building.”

The rendering of the Revised Version sufficiently explains this

otherwise obscure verse, “Now the upper chambers were shorter,” or

narrower, “for the galleries took away from these;” literally, did eat of

them, “more than from the lower and the middlemost in the building.” In

other words, the chambers rose in terrace form, each of the upper stories

receding from that below it, as was customary in Babylonian architecture.


6 “For they were in three stories, but had not pillars as the pillars of

the courts: therefore the building was straitened more than the

lowest and the middlemost from the ground.”  This verse supplies the

reason for this shortening of the upper stories. The chambers had not pillars

(see on ch. 40:49) as the courts had.  Though it is not otherwise stated,

these appear to have had colonnades like these in the Herodian (Josephus,

Aut.,’ 15. 11. 5) and probably also the Solomonic temple (Acts 3:11);

and hence the second and third stories required to recede in order to

find supports for their respective galleries.


7 “And the wall that was without over against the chambers, toward

the utter court on the forepart of the chambers, the length thereof

was fifty cubits.”  The wall; or, fence — the Hebrew term being not חֹמָה,

as in ch. 40:5, or קִיר, as in ch. 41:5, both of which signify the wall of a city

or a building, but גָדֵר (or גֶדֶר, as in v. 10), which means a fence or hedge,

as in ch. 13:5 — without, over against — or, by the side of (Revised Version)

the chambers, toward the outer court, cannot have been a rampart along

the north side of the chambers, since this was a hundred cubits long, but

must have been a wall upon the side of the chambers (east or west) fencing

off the outer court from the passage which led down by the side of the

chambers. That this fence was on the east side is rendered probable by

the circumstance that the sacrificial kitchen lay upon the west (see ch.46:19-20),

and by the statements which follow here in vs. 8 and 9. The fence was

doubtless intended to screen the side windows of the lower chambers from

public gaze, since these were to be occupied as robing and disrobing rooms

for the priests who should officiate in the temple (see v. 14; and ch. 44:19).


8 “For the length of the chambers that were in the utter court was fifty

cubits: and, lo, before the temple were an hundred cubits.”

According to the statement contained in this verse, the chambers that were

in the outer court, i.e. the chambers whose windows looked into the outer

court, projected fifty cubits into the outer court; i.e. this was their breadth or

depth from north to south; whereas those before the temple were an hundred

cubits; i.e. the chambers whose windows fronted the temple, were a hundred

cubits from east to west.


9 “And from under these chambers was the entry on the east side, as

one goeth into them from the utter court.”  The chambers were approached

by an entry (in the text the entry, this being a well-known and recognized part

of the structure) which ran along the east side of the building, and led from the

outer to the temple court. As this (the outer) court was higher than that

(the temple), and could only be reached by steps, “the entry” is represented as

lying under the chambers. It was manifestly this “entry” that was screened by

the fence mentioned in v. 7.


10 “The chambers were in the thickness of the wall of the court toward

the east, over against the separate place, and over against the building.

11 And the way before them was like the appearance of the chambers

which were toward the north, as long as they, and as broad as they:

and all their goings out were both according to their fashions, and

according to their doors.  12 And according to the doors of the chambers

that were toward the south was a door in the head of the way, even the

way directly before the wall toward the east, as one entereth into them.”

A similar suite of chambers, corresponding in every detail,

is depicted as having stood upon the south side of the temple and in front

of the gizrah. The only question among interpreters is whether v. 10

relates to the north or south suite, or to an east suite. Schroder and Currey

see in v. 10 a repetition, from another point of view, of what has already

been stated about the north chambers, viz. that, viewed from the outer

court, they appeared in the thickness or breadth of the wall (v. 7) and

(lengthwise) over against the separate place and the buildings, i.e. the

gizrah and the temple. Ewald, Smend, and Keil decide that v. 10 forms

part of the description of a south set of chambers only; but in order to

make this good they alter the text by substituting הַדָּרום, “the south,” for

הַקָּדִים, “the east.” Plumptre agrees with Kliefoth and Hengstenberg in

holding that two similar sets of chambers are described, one on the east

side and one on the south side of the inner court wall. The principal

objection to this is the fact that only two suites, the north and the south,

are referred to by the guide in vs. 13 and 14.


13 “Then said he unto me, The north chambers and the south

chambers, which are before the separate place, they be holy

chambers, where the priests that approach unto the LORD shall eat

the most holy things: there shall they lay the most holy things, and

the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; for the

place is holy.  14  When the priests enter therein, then shall they not go

out of the holy place into the utter court, but there they shall lay their

garments wherein they minister; for they are holy; and shall put on other

garments, and shall approach to those things which are for the people.”

These state the uses of the chambers just described, and

now named holy chambers, to denote their separation and dedication to

sacred purposes. Those purposes, again, are defined as two. The chambers

were to serve as dining-halls and robing rooms for the priests when they

officiated in the temple. The most holy things; literally, the holy of the

holies (compare ch. 41:4; 43:12; 45:3; 48:12; Leviticus 2:3; 6:17, 25, 29;

7:1, 6; 10:12, 17; 14:13; 24:9; 27:28; Numbers 18:9), signified

those portions of the different sacrificial offerings which were to be eaten

by the priests as the servants and representatives of Jehovah (see Keil’s

Biblische Archaologie,’ 1. § 46) or of the people (see Kurtz’s ‘ Sacrificial

Worship of the Old Testament,’ p. 240, Eng. transl.). Under the Law these

were appointed to be eaten in the holy place beside the altar (Leviticus

10:12-13;  Numbers 18:10); in Ezekiel’s temple, a special quarter in the

near vicinity of the house should be reserved for this purpose. There those

portions of the sacrifices that could be eaten were to be consumed; as e.g.

the flesh of the sin and trespass offerings, and the meal of the meat

offering; but as these could not be at once used, they were to be deposited

there until they were prepared for eating, the flesh by being boiled and the

meal by being mixed with oil. The obvious intention of this was to convey

an idea of the special sanctity of the worship in which the priests were

engaged; and just for this reason also they were required to array

themselves in other garments (Leviticus 16:23) when they entered on

their priestly functions. The putting on and off of these holy clothes took

place in the chambers now referred to.



Holy Places (v. 13)


In a Protestant reaction against the superstition that attaches magical

sanctity to certain sites, we have perhaps lost hold of the truths of which

that superstition was a perversion.



revulsion for a man who would botanize on his mother’s grave. Every

Englishman must feel a thrill of national pride when he visits the field of

Waterloo, as every Greek must have done when treading the plain of

Marathon. Though a man may have traveled far and have acquired wealth

that has raised him above his humble origin, it is but natural that he should

look back to the cottage home of his childhood with tender affection as to

the most sacred shrine on earth. It may be from superstition, or it may be

from sentiment; but whichever be the cause, it is surely no strange thing to

confess that the house of God in which a man has worshipped for years

gathers to itself a peculiar consecration. There his burdened soul has been

cheered; there the light has pierced his darkness; there he has sat side by

side with the loved and lost, and if the place that once knew them now

knows them no more, does not the very sense of change and the very pain

of the vacancy add a new sacredness to the place, while dear memories of a

beautiful past cling to its very walls and drape them with a sweet, sad sanctity?


  • THERE IS A SANCTITY OF USE. The sacred chambers were to be

used by the priests, and in them sacrificial meals were to be eaten. Thus the

sanctity of sacred usage was to be attached to these rooms. The

commonest thing becomes holy when it is consecrated to a holy purpose.

The shop may be a temple, the counter an altar, and the wares sacrifices,

when the business is carried on for the glory of God in quiet obedience to

His will of righteousness. Thus the very bells on the horses may have

“Holiness to the Lord” inscribed upon them (Zechariah 14:20). It is in this

direction that we should move when we would abolish too narrow

distinctions between the secular and the sacred. We should lose the distinction,

not by making religion earthly, but by making earth religious; not by

desecrating the spiritual functions, but by consecrating things of the outer

world.  (The purpose of Christianity is to sanctify the secular – CY – 2017)


  • THERE IS A SANCTITY OF LIFE. This is the only true sanctity.

The other forms of sanctity are its reflections and results. True holiness

resides in the heart, and there alone. That is the holy place in which the

holy man dwells. The presence of the priest sanctifies the temple-chambers.

But it is not the “linen ephod” or any badge of office that makes the true

priest. Every man who has habitual access to the presence of God is a true

priest of God. He who walks with God treads holy ground. A halo of

sanctity surrounds the heavenly life. Whether this life be spent in a temple

court, a hermit’s cell, a Christian home, or in the hard, fierce world, it is

encircled with holiness, and it weaves about it its own sacred tabernacle.




Sacerdotal Sanctity (vs. 13-14)


If the Jews were a peculiar, a consecrated, a holy people, it may be said

that their sanctity was concentrated in the temple — the building which

was “holiness unto the Lord,” and in the holy priesthood, set apart for the

ministrations of the sanctuary. The angel who showed Ezekiel the temple

of vision laid great stress upon this characteristic of the marvelous and

symmetrical building.


  • CEREMONIAL HOLINESS. This is exhibited as affecting:


Ø      The priests, who were set apart from the rest of the people. How should

they be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord!


Ø      Their residences. During the period of their officiating in the temple

services and sacrifices, they had their dwelling in certain chambers within

the precincts, and these chambers were deemed holy places,


Ø      Their food. They are said to “eat the most holy things;” i.e. there were

certain regulations as to food which were prescribed for them that had no

reference to the people generally.


Ø      Their garments. The priests were provided with raiment which they

were required to wear when ministering before the Lord. Holy functions

necessitated holy vestments.


Ø      Their offerings. As the reader of this passage is reminded, it was the

duty of the priests to present meal offerings, sin offering, and guilt

offerings. As these were offered upon the holy altar to the holy God, they

themselves were holy. It thus appears that everything connected with the

position, the life, the ministrations, of the priests was marked by

ceremonial sanctity.



What was the purpose of all the arrangements described in this and other

passages of Old Testament Scripture? Why was this artificial separation

introduced into the religion and life of the Hebrew people? A complete

answer to these questions is perhaps not possible. But it is evident that it

was intended to convey to Israel and to mankind:


Ø       A conception of the holy nature of God. Very different was the

character claimed for Himself by Jehovah from the character attributed to

the deities of the heathen nations around. Whilst these deities were

disfigured by selfishness, cruelty, and lust, Jehovah’s attributes were

righteousness, holiness, and benevolence. Everything connected with the

worship of God, as practiced in the temple at Jerusalem, was adapted to

convey to men’s minds the idea of God’s infinite and spotless holiness.


Ø      A conception of the holy character of acceptable worship. Concerning

idolatrous worship, we know that it was distinguished by routine

and superstition, and in some cases by impurity. Religious rites among the

heathen are usually corrupt, or else mechanical and spiritually valueless. On

the contrary, the worship of the true Hebrew, as is evident to the attentive

reader of the Book of Psalms and of the prophets, was a sincere, holy, and

spiritual worship. It was well understood that no other worship could be

acceptable to the holy and heart-searching KING OF KINGS! And the

arrangements described in this passage of the Book of Ezekiel were

evidently adapted to produce and to deepen this impression.


Ø      A conception of the holy services of obedience and praise. Sacrifices

were enjoined and required of the pious Hebrew; but sacrifices were not

the only or the chief services to be presented by the devout worshipper. In

connection with these, and beyond these, were the offerings which God

ever delights to accept from His own people — spiritual offerings of

devotion and of active services. And if these are distinguished by one

characteristic above another, that characteristic is TRUE HOLINESS!.




Separation and Society (vs. 4-14)


What did those “chambers” mean, of which we read so much in this vision?

Their immediate use, as intimated to the prophet, is given in the thirteenth

and fourteenth verses. They were for the personal accommodation of the

priests; that they might there, in a place which was nowise profane but

thoroughly holy, eat that part of the sacrifices which fell to their share; and

that they might there robe and unrobe, so as to serve in sacred vestments

and mingle with the people in ordinary dress. Their object, therefore, was

to maintain the separateness or sanctity of the priests. It has been

suggested that they also answered this general purpose by constituting

places for sacred retirement and devotion; possibly for the accommodation

of those who, like Anna the prophetess, “departed not from the temple,

night or day” (Luke 2:37). Those who were to minister in the temple

were to be provided with rooms which were separated from the commerce

and the strife of the outer world, where there would be nothing to

contaminate or interrupt. But what meant the “walk of ten cubits breadth”

(v. 4)? Was not this for society, as the chambers were for separation?

Matthew Henry suggests that these “walks of five yards broad were for

those that had lodgings in the chambers, that there they might meet for

conversation, might walk and talk together for their mutual edification,

might communicate their knowledge and experiences; for,” he adds with

characteristic good sense, “we are not to spend all our time between the

church and the chamber.” We learn:




Ø      That which is obligatory and constant; viz. to be separate in spirit and in

sympathy from sin; to stand apart, in spirit, from all that is in any way



Ø      That which is obligatory and frequent; viz. to separate ourselves much

and generally from the society of the sinful. Jesus Christ was thus “separate

from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). It is the sacred duty of most good men,

and of all the young, to keep aloof from the vicious and profane; to

decline the society, and firmly to refuse the friendship, of those who

fear not God and whose conduct is unprincipled and deleterious

(causing harm or damage in an unexpected and subtle way).


Ø      That which is wise and occasional; viz. to retire into the seclusion of the

quiet chamber, where there is no disturbing voice to prevent our close

communion with the Father and Savior of our spirits.


  • THE SERVICE OF SOCIETY. There are truths to be learned and

there are influences to be gained in solitude which cannot be secured in

society; but, on the other hand, there is a service which only society can

render us:


Ø      to meet men and to know them as they are living their daily life

of toil and struggle;


Ø      to come into close contact with their difficulties, their doubts, their joys,

and their sorrows;


Ø      to exchange ideas with them;


Ø      to learn what their experience and their wisdom have to teach us, and


Ø      to convey to them what we ourselves have learned in the solitary place;

to be in the world, and still above it;


this is not only the true triumph of Christian principle, it is the fair and

open opportunity of Christian usefulness.



Holy Garments (v. 14)


The priests were to keep their holy garments in their holy chambers,

wearing them in the sacred offices of the temple, and exchanging them for

their common clothing before mixing with the people. This regulation was

a necessary part of the Old Testament ceremonial, with its suggestions of

separateness and external holiness. But it was susceptible of abuse, and

some of the modern reproductions of it are certainly far from being





Ø      The necessity of holiness in all worship. God must be worshipped with

clean hands and a pure heart — “ in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9).

The old heathenish divorce of religion from morality could not be

permitted under the Jewish economy. All that was most formal and

external was intended to keep before the minds of the worshippers a clear

perception of God’s horror of sin, and a vivid presentation of His supreme

love for righteousness.


Ø      The experience of holiness by individual men. Not only were the

chambers in which the priests ate the sacrificial meals to be holy, but even

the garments worn by the priests were also to be sacred. The sanctity

attaches to the person. The very bodies of Christian people are temples of

the Holy Ghost (I Corinthians 6:19).


Ø      The renewal of holiness in every act of worship. It is necessary to see

that we are in a fit condition to approach God. It is not sufficient that we

were once pardoned and cleansed. Unhappily, fresh defilement is

repeatedly contracted. It is therefore necessary that renewed cleansing

should be received. This was suggested by Christ’s washing his disciples’

feet (John 13:4-10). By Christ we can be fitted for entering the

presence of God.




Ø      In distinction of persons. The priest in his robes appeared as a more holy

man than the common worshipper in his every-day dress. This was

inevitable under the old Jewish system, but it should not be permitted in the

present day. Yet what is called “the cloth” is often supposed to carry a

certain sanctity, and clerical attire is thought by the superstitious to mark a

spiritual separateness. But no such separateness exists in the Christian

Church, all the members of which constitute an holy priesthood”

(I Peter 2:5).


Ø      By observing seasons. The priests wore their holy garments for a time,

and then laid them aside and assumed their ordinary apparel. Some people

put on their religion as they put on their Sunday clothes. They are saints at

church, and sinners in the world; holy on Sunday, and profane on the

weekdays. This is all delusive. No man can live two honest lives. Religion

claims our whole being and time. For the true Christian all days are sacred

to Christ’s service.


Ø      With mere external profession. The holiness resides only in the garment;

the religion is nothing better than a clothing — it is no inspiration. Such

religion, like that of the Pharisees who cleansed the outside of the cup and

platter, is hypocrisy.



   The Temple Precincts (vs. 15-20)


The seer’s guide, having completed his measurement of the house with its

courts, proceeds to measure its encompassing wall, for this purpose conducting

the prophet out by the east gate, and measuring, first the east, next the north,

thirdly the south, and lastly the west wall, each five hundred reeds in length,

or three thousand cubits, so that the entire area of the quadrangle amounted

to 3000 × 3000 = 9,000,000 square cubits, equivalent to 2,250,000 square yards.


15 “Now when he had made an end of measuring the inner house, he

brought me forth toward the gate whose prospect is toward the

east, and measured it round about.”  The inner house was not the temple

as distinguished from its courts, but the temple with its courts, which lay

within the wall about to be measured.


16 “He measured the east side with the measuring reed, five hundred reeds,

with the measuring reed round about.  17 He measured the north side, five

hundred reeds, with the measuring reed round about.  18  He measured the

south side, five hundred reeds, with the measuring reed.  19 He turned about

to the west side, and measured five hundred reeds with the measuring reed.”


Five hundred reeds. Ewald, Hitzig, and Smend, with others,

following the Septuagint, regard this wall as that of the outer court, and change

the “reeds” into “cubits;” but the majority of expositors adhere to the text,

and understand the wall to be that of a great quadrangle which

encompassed the whole structure, or the outer court and all within.



The Symmetry of the Sanctuary (vs. 15-19)


The measurements which are in this part of Ezekiel’s prophecies given with

such abundance and such minuteness are intended primarily to convey the

impression that the temple which was seen in vision was a building of

perfect beauty, harmony, and completeness. But the material building was

a figure of a spiritual edifice, and the material qualities ascribed to it were

significant of moral attributes of the profoundest interest. And the

structure, made without hands, yet possessing every quality that can

command admiration and reverence, is none other than the Church of the

living God.




constructed according to the pattern shown by God to Moses in the mount.

The plan and details of Solomon’s temple are attributed to Divine

inspiration. And the Church of Christ is in the New Testament compared to

the temple, with its Divine foundation, its ample precincts, its spiritual

sacrifices, its accepted worshippers. All the productions of the Divine mind

ARE PERFECT!  When God looks upon His works He pronounces them

to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31)  Upon the Church, as upon what possesses

a higher interest and value than aught material, Divine wisdom has expended

all its resources. And the perfectly symmetrical product is just what might be

expected. In God s mind the spiritual temple is faultlessly perfect; and the

actual Church is destined to realize the glorious ideal.




humanity of the Lord Jesus was the temple of God. And when He departed

from earth He left His representative in the Church which He redeemed and

sanctified, and which He appointed to continue in His stead unto the end of

time. The temple of His body was succeeded by the spiritual temple, built

up of loyal and living souls. If Christ contained within Himself, if Christ

exhibited in His life, every moral perfection, it is manifest that the Church,

which is his body, must perpetuate the spiritual excellences which existed

in Himself.




a Divine presence in the Church, which, so far from being merely passive,

is vital, energetic, and transforming. Who has not admired the action of

certain physical and vital principles which produce the marvelous symmetry

of crystals, and the yet more marvelous symmetry of every form of

vegetable and animal life? What takes place in the natural kingdom

(I recommend Fantastic Trip on You Tube – CY – 2017)  is

transcended by what occurs in the spiritual realm, although these results

are not in the same way apparent to the senses of the observer, and appeal

rather to his spiritual discernment and susceptibilities. But the provision for

the growth and prosperity of Christ’s Church, the provision for ministers

and officers, for cooperation and sympathy in Church worship and Church

work, all tell of a Spirit informing, inspiring, and directing the whole, and

producing a result of marvelous and admirable harmony and spiritual

beauty.  (I Corinthians 12:4-12; Ephesians 4:11-13).




Who call read this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecies, and the corresponding

chapters from the Book of the Revelation, without forming the conviction

that, however this world may be the scene of the Church’s discipline, the

scene of the Church’s maturity is elsewhere, is above? The heavenly temple

is, in glory anti beauty, faintly imaged by the Church militant on earth.

Yonder all imperfections shall be removed, all deficiencies shall be

supplied, all holy tendencies shall be fully developed, all promise shall be

fulfilled. There the city and the temple are one; for of the heavenly

Jerusalem it is said, “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple

of it.” (Revelation 21:22)


20 “He measured it by the four sides: it had a wall round about, five

hundred reeds long, and five hundred broad, to make a separation

between the sanctuary and the profane place.”  To make a separation

between the sanctuary and the profane. In these words the prophet indicates

the purpose designed to be served by this particular wall; and although it may

be said the outer court divided between the “sanctuary,” or that which was holy,

and the “profane,” or that which was common, yet a more decided separation

would assuredly be made by extending in the way described the precincts

of the house. The objections usually offered to the view which regards the

present measurements as those of a larger quadrangle encompassing the

outer court, are not sufficient to make that view impossible.





  • It is said that the “sanctuary” always refers to the house as contrasted

with its courts, especially with the outer court, and that in this sense it

should here be taken; but the rendering, “that which is holy,” shows how

the idea of special sanctity might easily be extended to the whole structure,

including courts as well as house (see Psalm 114:2; Daniel 9:20).


  • It is urged that there is no other instance in which the measurements are

represented as having been taken by “reeds” in the plural; but a glance at

chps. 45:1, etc., and 48:16, will show that this is incorrect.


  • It is represented that in the center of such a huge quadrangle the house,

with its courts and gates, would wear an insignificant appearance; but,

while this might have been so had the area been crowded with other

buildings, it is rather likely that in the midst of so large a vacant space the

temple and its courts stand out with increased clearness, if not with

augmented size.


  • It is added that the summit of Mount Moriah could not admit of the

construction of such a vast quadrangle; and it is answered that this shows

the temple was an ideal house, never meant to be built upon the literal Moriah.




The Size and Strength of the Kingdom (vs. 15-20)


“The particularity with which these measurements are given shows the

importance attached by the prophet to the external dimensions... The

compass assigned to the sacred buildings exceeded the limits of all ancient

Jerusalem… Here is another of those traits intended to render manifest the

ideal character of the whole description” (Fairbairn). The fulfillment is

found in the glorious magnitude of the Church of Christ, of which the

temple was designed to be the type. We look, then, at:


  • THE SIZE OF THE KINGDOM. The kingdom of Christ is indeed of

vast dimensions; it requires a heavenly messenger to compute it.


Ø      It is inclusive of all classes and characters. It is not confined to rich or

poor, or to those who have “neither poverty nor riches;” it is not intended

for the learned any more than for the unlearned; it is the home of those

who have been devout and upright all their days, and it offers an asylum to

those who have wandered away into the darkness and fallen into the depths

of sin.


Ø      It is unlimited by race. The Jew at first imagined that the kingdom was

for him only; but it was not long before the providence and the grace of

God demonstrated that the kingdom of Christ was open to the whole

Gentile world; and missionary labors have proved that there is no climate

beneath the sun where the seeds of Christian truth will not spring up and

bear flower and fruit.


Ø      It is extended through all time. Twenty centuries have come and gone

since John declared that the kingdom was “at hand,” and, so far from there

being any signs of completion, there is more active and successful

evangelization than at any previous period of Church history. The prophet

might well see a large space measured when the area of the kingdom was

in question.


  • THE STRENGTH OF THE KINGDOM. This temple is a perfect

square, five hundred reeds on every side. “Buildings which are four-square

are the most stable, firm, and lasting.” The kingdom of Christ is immovably

strong, and nothing can withstand it, because:


Ø      It rests on the basis of Divine truth. Not “cunningly devised fables,” but

well-established facts, are the foundation on which the fair, spiritual edifice

is resting — the facts of the Incarnation, of the works of beneficent power

wrought, of the words of truth and grace spoken, of the resurrection from

the dead accomplished by Jesus Christ; the facts of the apostolic ministry,

of the opposition offered to the gospel and of its steady, spiritual, glorious

triumph over it.


Ø      It meets the deep and abiding needs of our humanity. Beneath all skies,

under all conditions, through all changes and circumstances, after all

political and social revolutions, man wants the same things to be truly and

profoundly satisfied. He wants:


o        a Divine Father of his spirit;

o        a salvation from sin;

o        a refuge in time of trouble;

o        a source of elevation in all the meanness and littleness of earthly

life; and,

o        a hope in death.


Ø      This the gospel of Christ IS ALWAYS offering him. To hungering, toiling,

sorrowing, burdened humanity Jesus Christ is ever saying, “Come unto me…

I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)


Ø      It relies on the Divine power and presence. “All power is given to me in

heaven and in earth; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations… lo, I am with

you always,” etc. (Matthew 28:18-20). In the presence, the sympathetic

and active presence, of the all-powerful Redeemer we have the strongest

assurance that the kingdom will extend and prevail; it is strong in its




   Separation between the Holy and the Common (v. 20)


The walls described by the prophet served another purpose than the most

obvious one of enclosing a space and supporting a roof. They had a

symbolical meaning. They were walls of separation. The several portions of

the temple were invested with varying degrees of holiness, and in this

arrangement there was no doubt a Divine significance and intention. There

were parts reserved for Israelites, parts reserved for the priests, and one

part into which the high priest alone was permitted to enter. In this way

separation was effected between the more and the less holy, and between

the holy and the common.



was not, as similar arrangements in heathen temples may have been, a

device of human ingenuity and a provision of human and sacerdotal policy.

It was part of the Divine intention of which the whole was the outworking

and expression.



INSTRUCTION. The Israelites needed to be taught the elements of

religious knowledge, and to be trained in rudimentary religious life. The

means adopted to this end were in harmony with their condition, and with

the stage of intellectual and spiritual development which they had, reached.

A wall of separation was certainly something very visible, tangible, and

unmistakable; they who looked upon it, and who by it were prevented from

approaching some sacred spot, were thereby taught most precious truths as

to the character of the God to whose honor the temple was reared, as to

the nature of His laws and His worship, as to the conditions of acceptance

with Him. Discrimination between the good and the wicked, the exclusion

of the latter and the admission of the former into Divine favor, — such

were moral lessons which the provisions connected with the temple

precincts were admirably fitted to impress upon the minds of a rude and

rebellious people.




The tendency of human nature is to rest in the symbol instead of passing on

to that which is symbolized, to mistake the shadow for the substance. The

material was designed to lead to the spiritual; but the importance which

properly belonged only to the spiritual was sometimes attributed to the

material. This was so not only with reference to the case before us, but

with reference to all the provisions of a similar and symbolical nature which

existed in connection with the temple and its worship. And Christians must

not imagine themselves free from a similar liability to error. Even in our

spiritual dispensation the same mistake is committed, and church buildings

and sacraments are sometimes substituted for the great spiritual realities

which they represent.




One great work of our Divine Savior was to break down the middle wall of

partition that fenced off Jews from Gentiles, and to make of two “one new

humanity (Ephesians 2:14-16).  It was a first lesson of Christianity that men

should give up calling any man or any thing “common or unclean.”  (Acts

10:15)  The change was brought about, not by leveling things sacred, but by

raising things secular, and by steeping everything in a Divine light, pure

and lustrous. All Christians are admitted into the true Israel; all are enrolled

in the sacred priesthood; all are welcomed to fellowship with Heaven.





include, but takes no pleasure in exclusion. Into the heavenly city, which is

a temple, there enters not anything unclean or common.  (Revelation 21:27)

From such contamination the blessed and glorified are forever preserved.

There is around the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, the worshippers of

the heavenly temple, a wall which preserves them forever from all molestation

and from every incursion of evil. But within there is no distinction; there is

one heart, one service, and one song.




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