Our grandparents who worked with building and repairing their own homes had a phrase, “measure twice, cut once.” In building with wood, one should double-check one’s measurements for accuracy before cutting a piece of wood; otherwise it may be necessary to cut again, wasting time and materials. This phrase is also used figuratively in new projects in business. Plan and prepare in a careful, thorough manner before taking action for efficiency of time and personnel.
Ezekiel is taken in a vision back to Israel for a lesson in measurement. It is recorded in history to be on April 28, 573 B.C.—the first day of Passover. God gave Ezekiel the vision as recorded in chapters 40-48. The Jews had been captives in Babylon for twenty-five years, and Passover would only remind them of their deliverance from Egypt. Passover was also the beginning of Israel’s religious year (See Exodus 12:2), and the Lord chose that significant day to tell His servant about the glory that Israel would share when Messiah established His kingdom.
Ezekiel 40, The Message
Measuring the Temple Complex
1-3 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year on the tenth of the month—it was the fourteenth year after the city fell—God touched me and brought me here. He brought me in divine vision to the land of Israel and set me down on a high mountain. To the south there were buildings that looked like a city. He took me there and I met a man deeply tanned, like bronze. He stood at the entrance holding a linen cord and a measuring stick.
4 The man said to me, “Son of man, look and listen carefully. Pay close attention to everything I’m going to show you. That’s why you’ve been brought here. And then tell Israel everything you see.”
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5 First I saw a wall around the outside of the Temple complex. The measuring stick in the man’s hand was about ten feet long. He measured the thickness of the wall: about ten feet. The height was also about ten feet.
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6-7 He went into the gate complex that faced the east and went up the seven steps. He measured the depth of the outside threshold of the gate complex: ten feet. There were alcoves flanking the gate corridor, each ten feet square, each separated by a wall seven and a half feet thick. The inside threshold of the gate complex that led to the porch facing into the Temple courtyard was ten feet deep.
8-9 He measured the inside porch of the gate complex: twelve feet deep, flanked by pillars three feet thick. The porch opened onto the Temple courtyard.
10 Inside this east gate complex were three alcoves on each side. Each room was the same size and the separating walls were identical.
11 He measured the outside entrance to the gate complex: fifteen feet wide and nineteen and a half feet deep.
12 In front of each alcove was a low wall eighteen inches high. The alcoves were ten feet square.
13 He measured the width of the gate complex from the outside edge of the alcove roof on one side to the outside edge of the alcove roof on the other: thirty-seven and a half feet from one top edge to the other.
14 He measured the inside walls of the gate complex: ninety feet to the porch leading into the courtyard.
15 The distance from the entrance of the gate complex to the far end of the porch was seventy-five feet.
16 The alcoves and their connecting walls inside the gate complex were topped by narrow windows all the way around. The porch also. All the windows faced inward. The doorjambs between the alcoves were decorated with palm trees.
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17-19 The man then led me to the outside courtyard and all its rooms. A paved walkway had been built connecting the courtyard gates. Thirty rooms lined the courtyard. The walkway was the same length as the gateways. It flanked them and ran their entire length. This was the walkway for the outside courtyard. He measured the distance from the front of the entrance gateway across to the entrance of the inner court: one hundred fifty feet.
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19-23 Then he took me to the north side. Here was another gate complex facing north, exiting the outside courtyard. He measured its length and width. It had three alcoves on each side. Its gateposts and porch were the same as in the first gate: eighty-seven and a half feet by forty-three and three-quarters feet. The windows and palm trees were identical to the east gateway. Seven steps led up to it, and its porch faced inward. Opposite this gate complex was a gate complex to the inside courtyard, on the north as on the east. The distance between the two was one hundred seventy-five feet.
24-27 Then he took me to the south side, to the south gate complex. He measured its gateposts and its porch. It was the same size as the others. The porch with its windows was the same size as those previously mentioned. It also had seven steps up to it. Its porch opened onto the outside courtyard, with palm trees decorating its gateposts on both sides. Opposite to it, the gate complex for the inner court faced south. He measured the distance across the courtyard from gate to gate: one hundred seventy-five feet.
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28-31 He led me into the inside courtyard through the south gate complex. He measured it and found it the same as the outside ones. Its alcoves, connecting walls, and vestibule were the same. The gate complex and porch, windowed all around, measured eighty-seven and a half by forty-three and three-quarters feet. The vestibule of each of the gate complexes leading to the inside courtyard was forty-three and three-quarters by eight and three-quarters feet. Each vestibule faced the outside courtyard. Palm trees were carved on its doorposts. Eight steps led up to it.
32-34 He then took me to the inside courtyard on the east and measured the gate complex. It was identical to the others—alcoves, connecting walls, and vestibule all the same. The gate complex and vestibule had windows all around. It measured eighty-seven and a half by forty-three and three-quarters feet. Its porch faced the outside courtyard. There were palm trees on the doorposts on both sides. And it had eight steps.
35-37 He brought me to the gate complex to the north and measured it: same measurements. The alcoves, connecting walls, and vestibule with its windows: eighty-seven and a half by forty-three and three-quarters feet. Its porch faced the outside courtyard. There were palm trees on its doorposts on both sides. And it had eight steps.
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38-43 There was a room with a door at the vestibule of the gate complex where the burnt offerings were cleaned. Two tables were placed within the vestibule, one on either side, on which the animals for burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings were slaughtered. Two tables were also placed against both outside walls of the vestibule—four tables inside and four tables outside, eight tables in all for slaughtering the sacrificial animals. The four tables used for the burnt offerings were thirty-one and a half inches square and twenty-one inches high. The tools for slaughtering the sacrificial animals and other sacrifices were kept there. Meat hooks, three inches long, were fastened to the walls. The tables were for the sacrificial animals.
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44-46 Right where the inside gate complex opened onto the inside courtyard there were two rooms, one at the north gate facing south and the one at the south gate facing north. The man told me, “The room facing south is for the priests who are in charge of the Temple. And the room facing north is for the priests who are in charge of the altar. These priests are the sons of Zadok, the only sons of Levi permitted to come near to God to serve him.”
47 He measured the inside courtyard: a hundred seventy-five feet square. The altar was in front of the Temple.
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48-49 He led me to the porch of the Temple and measured the gateposts of the porch: eight and three-quarters feet high on both sides. The entrance to the gate complex was twenty-one feet wide and its connecting walls were four and a half feet thick. The vestibule itself was thirty-five feet wide and twenty-one feet deep. Ten steps led up to the porch. Columns flanked the gateposts.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
FACTOIDS (From Warren Wiersbe Study Bible)
- Ezekiel saw a new land and a glorious new temple. Just as Moses had received the tabernacle plans while on a mountain, so Ezekiel received the plans for the temple while on a mountain.
- Ezekiel held a cord and a rod, both of which were used for taking measurements, the cord for long distances and the rod for shorter measurements. The rod was probably a little over ten feet long. To measure property is symbolic of claiming it for one’s self. This was also a sign that the temple and the city would one day be restored.
John, the writer of Revelation, also had a vision that included measuring. God commanded the apostle John to measure the temple in Jerusalem before it was trampled down by the Gentiles (Revelation 11). This was evidence that no matter what happened, Jerusalem and the temple belonged to God and would one day be restored and sanctified.
Jesus, the Messiah to come, will change everything while fulfilling God’s commandments. The outer courtyard covered nearly 400,000 square feet, but it would not have a Court of the Gentiles with the all-important separating wall, nor would it have a separate Court of the Women. Our Lord’s desire would be fulfilled that His house be a house of prayer for men and women of all nations (See also Isiah 56:7; Jerimiah 7:11; and Mark 11:17). The size of the outer court and the accessibility of so many rooms suggest that the area would be a place for fellowship, where people could meet and enjoy sacrificial meals together.
Paul wrote to clarify exactly what Jesus did for all of us in Ephesians 2:12-18;
“You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
We respond by measuring our lives (the temple of God) against the life of our Lord who came to save us, leaving his glory behind, he humbled himself and taught us how to live in humbled praise of God, the Father.
Because of what you did, no one is left out of receiving your love, mercy and gift of grace. You pardoned all sins for all who come to you, repent and believe, ready to follow you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
In Jesus Name, Amen