Chapter 40 begins the part of the book of Ezekiel which describes in detail the buildings and the services of the renewed Temple and a layout of the new city and land in a restored Israel.
As the vision begins in chapter 40 several key introductory issues are mentioned. The vision comes on the Day of Atonement (October 22, 573 BC), which is near the end of Ezekiel’s ministry. On that day, according to Jewish traditions, the sanctuary was cleansed. Aside from the cleansing of the sanctuary a powerful vision of the new and improved restored Temple is given. The vision takes place on a high mountain which calls to mind Mount Sinai where the law and the pattern of the tabernacle were given originally. Here an earlier prophet, Moses, spoke for God and now God follows a similar pattern with Ezekiel.
When Ezekiel receives the vision he is urged to pay close attention and fix his mind on the vision’s details because his task is to report everything he sees to the people of Israel. Captive in Babylon, and far from their beloved Jerusalem and the Temple, the people of Israel need to be inspired by hope. They need to hear and see this vivid picture of what God wants to do in the future for them.
As we look at our own situation in the world we need to let God inspire us with His vision of a new heaven and a new earth which God has in store for us.
Walla Walla University