Ezekiel 43-44 and 47 are wonderful, consoling chapters that form part of the conclusion to a carefully constructed book. As in the case of other prophetic books, Ezekiel divides into three parts: (1) prophecies against Israel in Ezekiel’s day (chs. 1-24), (2) prophecies against Israel’s enemies in Ezekiel’s day (chs. 25-32), and (3) prophecies of hope concerning Israel’s future (chs. 33-48).

Beside this, the Book of Ezekiel has wonderful symmetry that balances the oracles against the house of Jacob with the prophecies of Israel’s future. An important part of this symmetry directly relates to Ezekiel 43-44 and 47. Central to the oracles against Israel is a vision of the Temple in Jerusalem that had become corrupt and defiled and was ripe for destruction (chs. 8-11). This is balanced in the prophecies of Israel’s future with a vision of the Temple restored and sanctified (chs. 40-48). Before proceeding with a discussion of Ezekiel 43-44 and 47 which belong to the latter vision, it is appropriate that a description of the former vision be given.

The Early Oracles of Ezekiel

In 598-597 B. C. (600 B.C. Book of Mormon time), Jerusalem, which had been a vassal of Babylon, was besieged by the Babylonians because Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. During the siege, Jehoiakim died. His son, Jehoiachin reigned in his place. Three months later, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. Jehoiachin, along with many Jews, was exiled to Babylon. Zedekiah, son of Josiah and Jehoiachin’s uncle, was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar.

Shortly after this, the prophet Jeremiah was shown a vision of two baskets of figs, one full of good figs and the other full of poor figs (Jer. 24). He was told that the basket of poor figs represented Zedekiah and all the Jews who remained in Jerusalem. Again, the Lord promised that because they continued in wickedness, “they [would] be consumed from off the land” (vs. 10). On the other hand, the basket of good figs represented those who had been exiled to Babylon. It seems that the Lord allowed these Jews to be exiled to protect them from the further wickedness that would bring about Jerusalem’s destruction. This he did in order to prepare a people to return to Jerusalem. Therefore, the Lord promised that he would give the exiled Jews “an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (vs. 7).

Ezekiel, a priest who had been among those exiled, was called of God to help the Jews undergo the change of heart that would prepare them for their eventual return. He was made “a watchman unto the house of Israel” to warn them of their wicked ways (Ezek. 3:17)[1]. A watchman was a guard or sentry who was to call out the safety of the city from the wall or gate (1 Sam. 14:16; 2 Sam. 18:24; 2 Kings 9:17; Jer. 51:12)[2]. It was hoped that if Ezekiel warned “the wicked” of the impending consequences of their wickedness, they would “turn from [their] sin, and do that which is lawful and right” (Ezek. 33:14).

Ezekiel began to receive revelations and visions mid-way between the 597 B. C. exile (see Ezek. 1:2) and the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 588-587 B.C. His first revelations warned of Jerusalem’s impending destruction. In 593 B.C., he dramatized the siege and destruction of Jerusalem through a series of symbolic acts (Ezek. 4-5). Then in word, he made clear that Jerusalem’s destruction was sure: “Thus saith the Lord GOD . . . Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.” (Ezek. 6:3-4). The hearts of the people of Jerusalem had turned from serving Jehovah to serving the images of the gods of the nations around them. Only through their destruction, would they know that Jehovah was their god. In language similar to that used of the people living in the days of Noah before the flood (see Gen. 6:13) the Lord said of Judah and Jerusalem: “the end is come upon the four corners of the land [of Judah]. . . for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city [of Jerusalem] is full of violence” (Ezek. 7: 2, 23). The people of Jerusalem had become like the people in the days of Noah and would therefore experience a similar fate.

The Vision of the Corrupted Temple (Ezek. 8-11)

In 592 B.C., Ezekiel was taken in vision to Jerusalem where he witnessed the extent to which wickedness had consumed the hearts of the Jews. He also witnessed that their corruption caused the “glory of the Lord,” or the light of Christ, to withdraw from the city (Ezek. 8-11). The vision commenced with Ezekiel seeing through successive stages “increasingly greater acts of apostasy.” [3]

At first he was taken to a gate on the northern wall of the city[4] , where he saw an altar with “the image of jealousy”[5] (Ezek. 8:3,5) [6] . Just as the northern kingdom saw an increase in the number of altars throughout the land before its destruction (Hosea 8:11; 10:1), Ezekiel witnessed the same proliferation among the Jews in Jerusalem.[7] Next, Ezekiel was shown a secret chamber in the wall near a gate leading into the inner court directly surrounding the temple.[8] Within the chamber he saw men practicing secret rites associated with images of “every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.” In an attempt to justify their actions, the men said, “The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth” (Ezek. 8:7-12). Instead of repenting of their actions and pleading that the Lord would return, Jehovah’s absence was used as a justification for their worship of pagan deities.

Ezekiel was brought within the northern gate of the inner court immediately surrounding the temple. The inner court and the temple were designed to be the central place of Jehovah worship. But Ezekiel witnessed that Jehovah was no longer honored nor worshiped. Immediately upon his entrance into the inner court, his attention was drawn to the sound of several women sitting near where he stood, who were “weeping for Tammuz” (Ezek. 8:13-14), a Mesopotamian fertility deity, whose annual death and resurrection rites were accompanied by mourners weeping upon his death [9]. After gazing upon this scene, the Lord told Ezekiel to focus his attention on the area between the altar and the porch of the temple, an area of great sanctity. Only the temple itself was more sacred. [10] In this place of holiness, Ezekiel saw twenty-five men “with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped [Heb. shachah, to bow down][11] the sun toward the east” (Ezek. 8:16). Whether these men were involved in pagan solar worship, such as was found in Egypt or Mesopotamia, or a form a solarized Jehovah worship as some have suggested [12], what it is clear is that their actions were seen by the Lord as abominable (Ezek.


8:17). It was a deliberate affront to true Jehovah worship. In the area where priests would pray to Jehovah in behalf of Israel (see Joel 2:17), these men were bowing to the sun rising in the east with their backsides directed towards the temple of Jehovah.

Ezekiel was told that these contemptible cultic actions were superceded only by the general social corruption of the people. The Lord said: “Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here [in the temple]? for they have filled the land with violence [Heb. chamas, violence, wrong, injustice] [13] , and have returned to provoke me to anger” (Ezek. 8:17). As in Ezekiel 7:23, the language of their social corruptions is reminiscent of the people in the days of Noah. Having literally turned their backs upon the light of Christ, the people had given themselves over to the “will of the flesh and the evil which is therein” (2 Nephi 2:29). Following the desires of the natural man, like those in the days of Noah, “every imagination of the thoughts of [their] heart[s] was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5; cf. Moses 8:22). Ignoring the light of Christ, the Jews lost their agency. The Lord was forced to destroy them for their own good and the good of their children. “Therefore,” the Lord told Ezekiel, “will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them” (Ezek. 8:18).

The Withdrawal of the Glory of the Lord

As he had seen the wickedness of the Jews in successive degrees, Ezekiel witnessed the withdrawal of the light of Christ in successive stages. While in the inner court, Ezekiel heard the Lord call for the servants whose assignment was to destroy Jerusalem. Six men came from the north (the direction the Babylonian army would come) and stood by the altar, each one holding “a slaughter weapon in his hand” (Ezek. 9:2-3). Added to them was a seventh man “clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side” (Ezek. 9:3). Then “the glory of the God of Israel,” which had filled the house of the Lord at the time of Solomon’s dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11), and presumably had remained there, moved from the holy of holies to the threshold of the temple. Remember that those who were worshiping in the hidden chamber justified their actions claiming that the Lord had abandoned them (see Ezek. 8:12). But the truth was, the Lord had not abandoned them. His glory or light was still there.

The moving of the glory of the Lord to the threshold of the temple was the first stage of the Lord’s abandonment of his people. But he would not abandon them to their destruction until all the righteous had been removed. He commanded the man with the writer’s inkwell attached to his side to go throughout Jerusalem and place a mark (Heb., I, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet written in the old Hebrew script as an X) on the foreheads of everyone who found the abominations of the people shameful (Ezek. 9:4). We are not told whether he found any or not. The other six men were told to follow him and destroy all whom had no mark. When the man with the inkhorn returned from his assignment, he was told to get coals from between the cherubim, which acted as the throne where the glory of the Lord rested, and “scatter them over the city” (Ezek. 10:2). This signified that Jerusalem was now ready for destruction.

As the man did so, the glory of the Lord moved from the threshold to the east gate of the temple (Ezek. 10:18-19). Ezekiel was taken by the Spirit to the same place (Ezek. 11:1) where he witnessed further apostasy of the people of Jerusalem and thus further justifying the Lord’s destruction of the city. They had come to believe that because they had not been exiled with those who were taken to Babylon in 597 B.C., no further calamities would come upon them (Ezek. 11:2-3). Their being left behind however was not intended to justify their wicked actions. Rather their wickedness would justify their destruction. Ezekiel was commanded to prophesy against them, saying, “And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you. Ye shall fall by the sword . . . And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you” (Ezek. 11:9-10, 12).

Ezekiel asked the Lord, “wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?” (Ezek. 11:13). The answer of the Lord was, No! “Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come” (Ezek. 8:16). This is a key verse. Though Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed, the Lord would still be a little sanctuary or temple to Israel. The temple was a symbol of the fulness of the divine presence of God [14]. But though the fulness of God’s presence would be lost for a time, the Lord would still be a small sanctuary to Israel in their scattered condition through the ever present light of Christ that fills “the immensity of space–the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne” (D&C 88:12-13). If Israel would respond to the light of Christ and come unto the Lord, the Lord would “give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezek. 11:19-20).

Ezekiel was later shown that the remnant of Israel who hearken to the light of Christ, would eventually be able to return to Jerusalem with a holy temple wherein the fulness of the glory of the Lord would be found (Ezek. 40-48). Perhaps to symbolize this, the vision ended with the glory of the Lord making a third movement eastward, to the Mt. of Olives (Ezek. 11:22-23). The Mt. of Olives formed Jerusalem’s eastern horizon. Babylon, where the exiled Jews were taken, lay to the east of Jerusalem. It may be that the Mt. of Olives represented the location of the exiled Jews. There the Lord rested until the return of Israel.

Vision of the Restored Temple

Ezekiel’s vision of the corrupted Temple was given in 592 B.

C. The final Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began in January 588 B.

C. In July of 587 B.C., the Babylonians broke through the walls and Jerusalem was destroyed.


Those not killed were exiled to Babylon to share the fate of those banished earlier. To give hope to the beleaguered exiled, in April of 573 B.C., the Lord gave Ezekiel a vision of the future (chs. 33-48) including the restored Temple (chs. 40-48).

“In the visions of God,” Ezekiel was brought “into the land of Israel”and was set “upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south” (40:2). The city on the southern end of the mount was Jerusalem. Ancient Jerusalem was always located on the southern part of Mt. Moriah because that was where the water source was located. The Temple was built on top of the mount. As Ezekiel was brought to the mount, he saw a man who glowed like brass with measuring instruments in his hand (40:3). The man was standing next to a large gate that led into a massive courtyard complex surrounding another gated wall. This wall enclosed a wonderfully constructed temple. It was the Temple of the Lord restored. What followed was a vision of the restored Temple.

Ezekiel was shown the Temple in a unique way (chs. 40-42) [15]. His angelic ministrant guided him through the Temple while measuring and detailing everything he showed him. The tour of the Temple revealed a perfectly symmetrical building complex. Surrounding the whole Temple complex was a perfectly square wall with three gates facing north, east, and south. Eight steps led up to each gate. Ezekiel was taken through the east gate into a courtyard called “the outward court.” Within the outer court yard was another wall surrounding a second court yard – called “the inner court” – with three gates facing directly towards the three gates of the outer court yard. Like the outer gates, eight steps led up to each of the inner gates. The inner gates were perfectly aligned with the outer gates so that someone standing at the entrance of any outer gate could look directly into the center of the inner court yard.

The ministrant took Ezekiel into the inner court which was perfectly square. In its center – and visible from any gate – lay the altar of sacrifice (given a full description in ch. 43). Positioned on the edge of the west end of the inner court was the entrance of the sanctuary or temple proper. Entrance into the sanctuary was up a flight of ten steps.[16] The sanctuary consisted of three rooms: a porch or vestibule (Heb., ulam); the great hall (Heb., hekal), holy place, or temple in KJV; and the most holy place (Heb., debir). The entrances of each room were more narrow than the room before suggesting that each room became increasingly more holy.

After viewing the decorations and furnishings of the sanctuary, the ministrant brought Ezekiel again into the outer court yard and measured the rooms of the priests. Once finished, Ezekiel and the ministrant left through the east gate and measured the outer wall of the Temple complex. The ministrant “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” (42:20).

It is hard to interpret the meaning of the meticulous measuring of every aspect of the Temple and its complex.[17] But what is sure is that the Temple represented to Ezekiel the future restored temple of the restored kingdom of Israel. The picture produced by the painstaking measuring suggests that God’s plan for restoring Israel from her scattered condition has been carefully planned – nothing left to chance.

Ezekiel 43

Having viewed the Temple, Ezekiel was brought to the east gate of the Temple complex where he became a witness of a very important event. He saw “the glory of the God of Israel [come] from the way of the east” (vs. 2). As he had seen the glory of God depart from the Temple because of the wickedness of the people (Ezek. 11), he now saw the glory of God return to the future Temple. Ezekiel was brought to the inner court of the Temple complex where he saw the glory of God return into the Sanctuary and fill the whole Temple (vss. 5-6). The symbolism is clear. With the Temple restored in exactness, the glory of the Lord which had been driven out because of wickedness now returned because of gathered Israel’s exactness in keeping the commandments of God.

Ezekiel heard a voice commanding him to declare to the exiled Jews that the Lord would restore the Kingdom of Israel and his glory would return only when Israel put away the things of the world: “Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever” (vss. 7-9).

Then Ezekiel was told to “shew the house [Temple] to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern” (vs 10). By measuring the pattern, the exiled Israelites would come to understand that the God of Israel should be worshiped in exactness. God is a god of order and must be worshiped in proper order (D&C 20:68; 28:13; 58:55; 107:84). When the Lord would set his hand to restore the kingdom to Israel, they must perform every word of God with exactness. This is stated clearly in the next statement made to Ezekiel: “And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them” (vs. 11).

After this, Ezekiel was given a detailed description of the altar of sacrifice including the sacrifices to be performed thereon (vss. 13-25). Altars played a central role in ancient worship. After Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, they built an altar and prayed to God. It was at an altar that they were taught faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Moses 5:5-8). Upon leaving the ark, Noah and his family built an altar and worshiped God (Gen.

 

8:20). When Abraham first entered the promised land, he built an altar and worshiped God (Gen.

12:7). Wherever he lived in the promised land, he built and altar in order to worship God (Gen.


12:8; 13:18; 22:9). When the children of Israel were brought out of the land of Egypt, Moses built an altar at the base of Mt. Sinai, and there the children of Israel entered into a covenant with God to be “an holy nation” (Ex. 19:3-6; 24:4-8). When the children of Israel came into the promised land, they went to the first place where Abraham built an altar to the Lord and built their own altar and then entered into a covenant to serve the Lord (Deut. 27:1-8; Joshua 8:30-35). One of the first things Lehi did after leaving Jerusalem was to build an altar that he might worship God (1 Ne. 2:7). In the Church today, altars also play an important role of our worship of God. The sacrament table is an altar in which all the sacrifices of the Mosaic law are symbolized in the ordinance of the sacrament. In the temples, altars are significant in covenant making and communication with God. [18]

Ezekiel was shown that exact process by which the altar of sacrifice was to be made ritually pure (vss. 18-26). If the procedure was followed, then the Lord would accept Israel (vs. 27). Symbolically this meant that if Israel worships the Lord with pure intent, then God would accept them as his people again.

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