Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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In Chapter 41 we have the beginning of a multi-chapter detailed description of the Temple and the city around it. Chapter 40 talked about the four temple gateways and related structures, while in this chapter Ezekiel gives the plans and dimensions for the sanctuary building itself.

At this point two major questions seem appropriate.  1. Why all this attention to the details of structure and dimension?  2. Why is it so important for Ezekiel to notice all of these details and why does it go on for nine chapters?  Would the average Israelites even been interested?

In response to the first question, we can say that the description makes the promise of restoration as something concrete, tangible, and real.  People can see what God has in mind. The details make it clear God’s coming restoration is bigger and better than what they have had before. Israel’s sin does not lessen the future of Israel that God has in mind, but the new surpasses the old. The Temple with God’s Shekinah presence was the center of God’s activities for Israel and every detail was meaningful to the people.

The second question is harder to answer. Since the description given here does not seem to have been literally fulfilled how shall we interpret these chapters? Many different answers have been given. The one I favor has two parts. First, God restored Israel with hope that it should lead to renewal, spiritual revival, and faithfulness to God. But Israel did not respond as God desired and this vision based on that hope was not literally fulfilled. Secondly, even though Israel failed, embedded in this vision are principles and details which are part of God’s ultimate restoration of His people. That is the reason why we find in the book of Revelation many quotes and references to the book of Ezekiel.

This is important for us because God will carry out His overall plan for a new heavens and a new earth with a New Jerusalem regardless of how many men and women respond.  So let’s respond to His great love for us.

Jon Dybdahl
Walla Walla University
United States