EZEKIEL 43:1 – 45:25 and REVELATION 7:1–8
This chapter depicts the glory of the Lord returning to the temple. There have been previous times where the glory of the Lord filled the various temples. Perhaps the most notable one was at the time of Solomon’s temple (2 Chr 5, 1 Kings 8). The dedication of Solomon’s temple provided a clear view of what the millennial temple which is referred to here would look like. Solomon’s temple and the millennial temple both took 7 years to complete. Once Solomon’s temple was completed, the Ark of the Covenant was brought in. The Ark of the Covenant did not have a physical temple to dwell in since the days of the tabernacle of Moses. King David was able to provide a sanctuary in a tent upon the hill of Zion. It was at the sounding of the 120 trumpets by the priests that resulted in the ushering in of God’s glory. There are parallels to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to this event as well. There were 120 united brethren gathered in an upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Here we are now in the millennial reign of Christ when the glory of God is to be introduced into the temple. His glory will come in by way of the east gate. It is from the east that the sun rises and it is represents one of the titles of the Lord. (The sun of righteousness-Mal 4:2) There is a picture of a chariot throne that is upheld by the 4 living creatures which Ezekiel saw earlier at Chebar (Eze 1:26-28). Ezekiel is now taken in the spirit into the inner chamber to behold the glory of God as it entered into the temple.
The dwelling place of the Lord in the millennium will be at Ezekiel’s temple. It is in the Holy of holies where the Lord will receive worship and adoration throughout his 1000 year reign. There will be no future defilements like there was throughout the history of Israel’s journeys. The sanctuary is holy and will never again be defiled.
The Lord now brings Ezekiel back into his present reality. The temple and the things of God have been defiled and it is for this reason that they are being subjected to captivity. It is quite a contrast that Ezekiel is being shown. He has been prophesying against a rebellious people who have turned aside from the living God. At the same time, the Lord is showing Ezekiel the future glorious state of Israel as they serve the living God in a future temple. In studying Ezekiel and the other prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah one becomes amazed at the capacities of enlargement they experienced. They came to know the depravity and depth of despair of the people they prophesied too while coming to know the heart that God had for his people. That is an extraordinary range of expression. We see it here with Ezekiel as he speaks to a people who have defiled the sacred things of God while being shown the future temple that features the Son of God establishing His throne within the temple.
The Lord exhorts his people to cleanse themselves from idolatry and their whoredoms (vs 9). This is certainly true of us as New Testament believers. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to be cleansed from all idolatry and uncleanness (1 Cor 6:16). In verse 10 the Lord gives some reasons why we need to study the patterns and types of Ezekiel’s temple. In short, Ezekiel’s temple serves as a revelation of God’s ways and His Laws. This was to be observed by Israel as instructed by Moses in Deuteronomy as they were about to enter the Promised Land. The primary problem was they failed to uphold God’s laws and statutes. The purpose for studying Ezekiel’s temple was for the purpose of learning God’s ways and to come to know the price and cost involved in being a participant in the millennium. It is also for the purpose of revealing God in His holiness and instructing us as to how we can attain unto it ourselves.
The vision of this temple and its accommodating instruction was to only be given to those who were serious in their walk with God. It was for those who had put away their sins while demonstrating a love for righteousness. The Lord will not give precious truths and opportunities to the casual. This vision of Ezekiel’s temple is not all that far from being realized. We would do well to give heed and seek to be among those who learn from this glorious vision.
The first 3 verses mentions that the East Gate which serves as the entrance to the Temple will be shut for a period of 6 days. This is because it is hallowed seeing that the Lord God of Israel has entered into it. It shall be opened unto the prince on the 7th day. The prince is identified as King David as seen in Eze 34:23-24. David is a type of the Lord as prophet, king and priest. He will be the ruling prince of the millennium under the Lord Jesus Christ.
In verses 4-8, the Lord speaks of an indictment upon the priesthood because of the mixture that was evident. Though the primary address is directed towards the priests in Solomon’s temple there is a clear application meant for the church today. Sadly, there is a similar mixture that can be seen in many of our modern day churches. What constitutes a church filled with mixture? It is a people who have areas of uncircumcision in their heart. This is picked up in verse 9. One of the primary promises of God to Israel was that he would circumcise the hearts of the people and their descendants (Deu 30:6). This would result in a love for God that goes above and beyond all other loves. To have this measure of love for God requires on our part the removal of the areas of self. There needs to be that inward work of uncircumcision to be realized in our lives. This then leads us to the meat of what chapter 44 represents. It is the portrayal of two different priesthoods. These two different priesthoods represent two different streams of churches that have existed from the very beginning.
How is it possible for a people to maintain mixture in their lives that coincides with a heart of uncircumcision? It is because there is a priesthood that caters to it. It comes down to the age old question as to whom are we more inclined to please, God or man? If we esteem God as the absolute authority and his ways to always be what is best then we should judge and minister to people accordingly. This was not the case in this group of Levites that are cited in verses 10-14. These priests ministered to people according to the idols that were in their heart. In other words, they ministered a Word that they wanted to hear. The Apostle Paul warned about this concerning the last days (2 Tim 4:3).
There are many in ministry who simply do not want to offend people. This is especially true if there are people of influence and wealth in our congregations. When a priesthood goes in this direction they cause the people to stumble. They may gain initial favour with the congregation and they may see their congregation continue to grow but the Truth comes out in the end. As a priest, we should only be beholden to God. What is interesting in these verses is that the Levites will continue to have a ministry but it will be unto the people in eternity. If these priests have a ministry at all in eternity, it will be in the outer court. When viewing the Tabernacle of Moses we saw this to be the place for the gathering of the general congregation. An outer court ministry is not the place to be if we are a New Testament Believer who has the call to be a king and priest. This kind of minister will not have any responsibility regarding the holy things of God due to lightly regarding them. They also will not have the privilege in being able to draw near unto the Lord. Yes, many of them will have a ministry but it will be distantly removed from God. They will also bear their shame for the abominations that they have allowed to be committed through their ministry (vs 13-14).
There is another group of priests mentioned in verses 15-31 known as the sons of Zadok. This is a priesthood that is highly regarded by God. Here is a bit of history regarding the formation of the Zadok priesthood. The two different priesthoods seen here in Ezekiel 44 can be rooted in the two priests who accompanied David throughout the latter portions of his life. These two priests (Zadok and Abiathar) help to give definition to the two groups of priests spoken of here. Zadok and Abiathar can be traced to 2 of the 4 sons of Aaron. Abiathar can be traced to Ithamar while Zadok is traced to Eleazar. One of the priests who can be traced down to Eleazar is Phineas who executed God’s judgement during the damaging prophetic ministry of Balaam. He was given the promise of an everlasting priesthood for his executing God’s judgement upon the immorality in the camp (Num 25:13). Zadok can be traced to Phineas and Eleazar.
Abiathar can be traced back to Ithamar. There were priests like Eli and his two sons who come forth from Ithamar. The lineage of Ithamar ended with Abiathar which was a fulfilment of the Word of the Lord give to Eli (1 Sam 2:32). It is noteworthy to contrast Zadok and Abiathar as David was coming towards the end of his life. Their priesthood divided into two different groups. Abiathar sided with Adonijah who presumed himself to become king while Zadok sided with Solomon who would soon become king (1 Kings 1:5-8). It is a picture of the church in the last day and how it will divide. The reign of Solomon serves as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. His temple gives a picture of what the millennial temple will be like. It was Zadok who sided with the true king while Abiathar sided with the usurper. We must remember that Abiathar and Zadok served faithfully alongside David the majority of his life. During the rebellion of Absalom, both priests remained loyal to David. It was at the end when the division took place. Can we catch a picture of how this will parallel with the last days? There is another interesting note about Zadok and his sons. A famous priest will emerge at the time of restoration after the Babylonian captivity who goes by the name of Ezra. Who is this Ezra and where does he come from?
Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
Ezr 7:2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
Ezr 7:6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
He is a priest who is named as one of the sons of Zadok. He came up from Babylon who came to know God’s Law, teach God’s Law and do God’s Law. What we see in the balance of Ezekiel 44 (vs 15-31) is a picture of the ministry of Ezra and a picture of the priesthood that needs to emerge in these last days. In verse 16, we see that these priests (sons of Zadok) will have the ability to draw near unto the Lord. They will be able to enter into the Holy place with the appropriate linen garments (righteousness) that others will not have access to. They will have a teaching ministry that makes a distinction between the holy and the profane (vs 23). This is similar to what was spoken concerning Jeremiah (Jer 15:19). In matters of controversy their word shall stand because they seek to uphold God’s standards. This priesthood embodies that which God was looking for when he gave Moses the instructions in Deuteronomy.
The greatest blessing that is afforded these priests is the promise that God would be their inheritance. The promise of lands and other treasures is a wonderful provision but it cannot compare in having the Lord Himself as one’s inheritance (vs 28). This the heart of the Apostle Paul in his famous prayer recorded in his letter to the Philippian church.
Php 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
This esteemed priesthood is a pattern for what God is looking for in his church today. This is the manner of priesthood that fulfils the priestly role that will rule with Christ in the millennium. May the Lord grant that we be of that company.
We will gain further millennial insight concerning the temple by examining the dividing of the land as stated in the first 5 verses. The dimensions that are given to demarcate the land have spiritual significance. It helps us to understand the qualifications of what it will take to be in the millennium for the 1000 year reign with Christ. Here is a breakdown of the numbers given that help denote their importance.
10 The law or fulfilling of the Law
This parcel of land is located within the boundaries of Jerusalem. It is approximated to represent half of the modern day city of Jerusalem. This would be a specially designated land for the priests who minister before the Lord. It would be the place where they would build their houses.
There is a section that deals with weights and measures in verses 10-17. It was not uncommon for merchants to tilt the scales in their favour when doing business amongst the common people. A true priest has to be equitable in all his dealings. He is to show no favouritism and always deal in a prudent manner. Remember, priests are to serve as a representative of God and His ways. Our God is not one of injustice or one who deals unfairly with the people. We are to deal with a just weight and just measure.
Pro 11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
Pro 16:11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.
There will be a series of festivals that will be celebrated in Israel during the time of the millennium. It will have the look of some of some of the Feasts that Israel celebrated under the Old Testament law. Firstly, they were to slay a bullock on the first day of the first month for the purpose of cleaning the sanctuary. This begs the question as to why the shedding of blood if Christ has already taken our sin to the cross and nailed it there. The answer is simple; the nature of sin will still linger for those who are born during the millennium. Satan will be bound during this time up until the end of the 1000 years. He will be loosed for a time to draw as many to perdition as possible. This would be to those who are born during the millennium. After a short time he and those who align with him will be cast into the eternal lake of fire.
In verses 21-25, we see the Passover being celebrated. It will be celebrated to commemorate that which the Lord Jesus has already accomplished as our Passover Lamb. In the Old Testament, the Passover served as a pre-figurement of that which was to come. The Feasts of the Lord will be celebrated by the prince (David) on behalf of the people. The primary feast that will be celebrated is the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the Feast of the 7th month which is reiterated in Zech 14:16. The millennium will have many similarities to that which was seen at the time of Moses Tabernacle. The biggest difference between Ezekiel’s temple and all the others is that the Lord will be there. “Jehovah Shammah”. The types and patterns that were seen in the Old Testament have their literal fulfilment in the person of Jesus Christ in their midst. The Tabernacle of God is with men (Rev 21:3).
The first portion of this chapter is the sealing that will come upon the servants of God. In verse 1 we are introduced to 4 angels who have the ability to hold back the 4 winds of the earth. They have the power to hold back the judgements of God for a short span of time. These same 4 angels will be the ones sounding forth the first 4 trumpet judgements that will come a bit later. There is a sealing of the righteous that is to take place before the judgements come upon the land. These servants will be preserved in the midst of God’s wrath. We are aware of another mention in scripture where there was a sealing of God’s servants before judgement was about to commence (Eze 9). These servants were cited for their crying out on behalf of the abominations and sins that were taking place in Jerusalem. This denotes a quality that God is looking for in his saints of the last day. It is a priestly function in assuming responsibility for the abominations that are taking place. It is encouraging to know that God takes note of men and women who are faithful in the ministry of intercession.
In verses 4-8, the reference is given concerning the sealing of these believers. Here in chapter 7 there is a number of 144,000 mentioned that are sealed who represent the preserved of Israel. Each of the 12 tribes are mentioned. In chapter 14, there is another mention of 144,000 group of believers. They are called the redeemed among men signifying a different group of believers from that of chapter 7. It is a picture of the redeemed amongst the tribes of Israel and the Gentiles. These two groups represent a high calibre group of priests that will have governmental functions during the millennium. The number 12 speaks of government. 12 times 12 equals 144. Two groups of 144 times the 1000 years of the millennium brings you to the number 288,000. Here is an interesting verse to consider from 1 Chr 25:7.
1Ch 25:7 So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.
This was the number of those who ministered before the Lord in David’s Tabernacle. If you take that number of 288 and multiply it by 1000 (the millennial reign) you end up with 288,000. This makes the point that the two groups of 144,000 seen in chapter 7 and 14 are two different groups. Once again, to summarize it will be a kingdom of priests that will be preserved during the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth. These are among those who will seek meekness and righteousness in the day of the Lord’s anger (Zeph 2:3).
The second portion in this chapter deals with a great multitude that is seen in heaven (vs 9-17). John is now being shown a heavenly scene that where he sees multitudes from many nations, tribes and tongues. It helps us to understand the urgency in getting the Gospel out to every part of the world. In verses 13-17 there is one of the elders who surrounds the throne who comes to John and asks of those who are clothed in white robes. John is told that they represent those who have come out of great tribulation from many different places. This is a group that faithfully laid down their lives for the Lord and took pleasure in upholding his righteousness. Perhaps this group can be linked in some measure to the remnant that is seen in at the end of Rev 12.
Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
There has been a pause in the judgements in chapter 7 but they will pick up again soon afterwards. It should be our prayer to seek the Lord to be sealed and counted worthy to be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. This is not suggesting cowardice but rather being hidden due to our seeking to be a minister of righteousness. Noah was preserved from the flood because he had this virtue. In the days of tumult that are becoming more acute it is vital to seek the Lord while He may be found (Jer 29:13).