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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Ezekiel 48

 

 

Verses 1-35

CHAPTER 48

1. The portion of the seven tribes (Ezekiel 48:1-7)

2. The oblation for the sanctuary, for the city, and for the prince (Ezekiel 48:8-20)

3. The gates of the city and its new name (Ezekiel 48:30-35)

Without entering into the measurements, the architecture, and other features of this great temple, we point out a few things which are important. First, as to the contents of the interior of this temple. The words “silver and gold” are not mentioned once in Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27; Ezekiel 44:1-31; Ezekiel 45:1-25; Ezekiel 46:1-24; Ezekiel 47:1-23; Ezekiel 48:1-35. Silver typifies grace in redemption, being the ransom money. Gold typifies divine righteousness. Both are absent in the millennial temple, for what the silver and gold foreshadows is now realized in His redeemed earthly people. The heavenly Jerusalem has gold in it, but silver is not mentioned in the description of the city in Revelation 21:1-27.

The chief ornaments in this temple are cherubim and palm trees; they were along the wall of the temple. So it was in the temple of Solomon. “And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubim and palm trees and open flowers within and without” 1 Kings 6:29.

A palm tree was between cherub and cherub. As stated in the previous chapter, palms are the emblems of victory and remind us of the feast of tabernacles. They were seen high above on the posts. Cherubim speak of the presence of the Lord, who enters this house and is worshipped here. But the cherubim here have only two faces and not four as in the opening vision of this book (Ezekiel 1:10-12). As often stated, these celestial beings tell out the Lord Jesus Christ in His personal glory. The lion, His kingly glory; the face of a man, His true humanity; the face of an ox, His servant character; and the face of an eagle, His heavenly origin and destiny, Son of God. It is not without meaning that the face of a man and the face of a young lion are seen on these cherubim and each face looks upon a palm tree. Its symbolical meaning is obvious. The Lord Jesus Christ has come again and visited the earth and the temple and appeared as the Glorified Man and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. His is the victory and the glory. When at last this temple stands in Israel’s land, and its meaning and measurements, as well as other details, are fully known and understood, it will be known then that His blessed work, victory and person are symbolically seen throughout this house.

In the forty-third chapter we read of the returning glory. The glory will fill this house.

We must notice here especially, that the vision the prophet beheld was “according to the appearance of the vision” he saw before the destruction of the city; “the visions were like the visions,” which he saw “by the river Chebar.” This points back to the first chapter, when first by the river Chebar the heavens were opened to Ezekiel the priest, and he saw visions of God. At the close of that chapter, we read after the recorded vision, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” The same vision of glory appeared again to him when Ezekiel had left the river Chebar and gone into the plain (Ezekiel 3:22-23). Then he had witnessed the gradual and solemn departure of the glory of the Lord. “Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight... They stood at the door of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above” (Ezekiel 10:18-19). Then finally the Shekinah went up and disappeared. “And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city” (Ezekiel 11:23).

The similarity of the departure of the glory of the Lord from the temple before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and its future return to the temple of Ezekiel’s vision is most interesting. It is the same glory which departed, which returns; it is the same Lord, who resumes relationship with His earthly people. The withdrawal of the visible glory of the Lord meant the departure of His gracious presence from among His people, which was followed by judgment. The return of the visible glory means the return of His gracious presence among them, and that the judgment, which has lasted so long, is forever gone. The departure of glory was through the east gate and was finally seen upon the mountain at the east side of the city; the return is from the way of the east, and the glory of the Lord enters through the east gate. But it is not only a visible glory, but the Lord Himself is in the Shekinah, Ezekiel beheld above the firmament and the cherubim, when he saw the glory of the Lord at the river Chebar, he heard His voice. And here also His voice is mentioned “like the sound of many waters.” From Ezekiel 48:6-7, we learn, that after the glory had entered the house, the Lord addressed the prophet out of the house.

The Lord Himself in all His glory is manifested and enters the temple, the place of His rest and glory. The cherubim will be seen in person, and from the New Testament we learn that angels will be with Him also. His glory will then cover Israel’s land and the earth. “His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. And His brightness was as the light; He had bright beams out of His side (marginal reading) and there was the hiding of His power.” This is how Habakkuk describes the same manifestation of the glory of the Lord and the coming of the Lord of glory. (See Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 60:1-22; Isaiah 66:18. Isaiah’s great vision may be viewed as foreshadowing this manifestation of His glory. He saw the Lord sitting upon a throne and His train filled the temple. The seraphim cried one unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory. And as the prophet was cleansed and his iniquity taken away, and as he became the messenger of the Lord Isaiah 6:1-13), so the nation Israel will be cleansed and forgiven and become the messenger of Jehovah. (Such an application seems warranted in view of the message Ezekiel received from the Lord to the people, Ezekiel 48:6-12.)

When the Spirit had transported the prophet into the inner court of the temple, he discovered that the glory of the Lord filled the house. We repeat it, no such thing happened when the returned Jewish remnant had entered the temple. When the old men, who had seen the Solomonic temple and knew of its glory, beheld the foundation of the second temple, they wept Ezra 3:12. When the house was dedicated, no glory returned, no cloud was seen, no Shekinah filled the house. Nor is it a spiritual glory, the glory of the church, as so many seem to believe.

But Haggai, who with Zechariah prophesied during the rebuilding of the temple, uttered a significant prophecy while that second house was building--a prophecy which must be linked with Ezekiel’s vision of the returning glory: “For thus saith the LORD of Hosts: yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory” Haggai 2:6-23). This was not the house they were building. It is a future house, a future temple. That house will be built when the heavens and the earth are being shaken, when all nations shake, and when the desire of all nations, the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace, our Lord comes. Then this house will be filled with glory.

It will be a visible glory. It will be a permanent glory. He will now dwell gloriously in the midst of the children of Israel (Ezekiel 48:7). This visible glory will be seen over Jerusalem, like as it was of old, a cloud by day and a shining, flaming fire by night. “And Jehovah will create over every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and over its convocations a cloud by day and a smoke and the brightness of a flame of fire by night, for over all the glory shall be a covering Isaiah 4:5.

Another acknowledged difficulty is the one concerning the restored sacrifices and ordinances.

But what do these ordinances mean? Here are priests again standing before an altar, bringing bloody sacrifices, burnt offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings. Is this to be taken literally also? Some expositors have stated that all this had a meaning in the past and could only be true in connection with the second temple. Others attempt to read into it a spiritual meaning. All, or nearly all commentators, think it inconceivable that such sacrifices could ever be brought again in a future temple. Those expositors who combat the premillennial coming of the Lord and the literal restoration of Israel, consider the supposed impossibility of a satisfactory explanation of this part of Ezekiel’s visions, the collapse of the premillennial argument.

Sacrifices of bulls and goats were brought by Israel in their past history; the Lord commanded His people to do this. Every Christian knows that these sacrifices foreshadowed the work of Christ, His great sacrifice on the cross. In themselves these sacrifices Israel brought could not take away sins, nor give rest to the conscience, nor could they make the worshipper perfect. The Epistle to the Hebrews demonstrates this fully.

All these sacrifices had a prospective character, looking forward to the work of the cross. And when the Lamb of God died, when His blessed lips uttered the never-to-be-forgotten words, “It is finished,” and God’s hand rent the veil from top to bottom, the prospective character of these sacrifices was forever ended. The new and living way into God’s presence, into the holiest, had been made by His blood. During this age Israel has no temple, and all their Levitical ordinances can no longer be practised by them. As Hosea declared, they are without a sacrifice Hosea 3:4.

God, during this age, our present age, which began with the rejection of Christ by Israel and ends with His return, is gathering a heavenly people, the Church. The Church has for its worship no earthly place, no temple, but worships in spirit and in truth, in a heavenly sanctuary. There are no sacrifices, priests, altars, in connection with the true Church, the body of Christ. Christ is all. He is the sacrifice, the priest and the altar. That the enemy has produced upon Christian ground a ritualism which is aped after the Jewish system and which denies as such the gospel and Christianity, is well known. They have invented altars, and sacrifices, and priests. This is the Judaizing of the Church, “the other gospel which is not another,” upon which the Spirit of God has pronounced the curse of God Galatians 1:1-24). The day is coming when the Lord will deal in judgment with the apostate church which denies His Son and His work, while His true church will be taken to the place which He has prepared.

After the prophecy of the division of the land, comes the majestic ending, the last message this man of God uttered: “And the name of that city from that day shall be ‘Jehovah Shammah,’ the LORD is there.” It is a fitting finale to this great book. In its beginning, we see the glory of the Lord departing. Throughout the pages of the book we read of Israel’s rebellion, Jerusalem’s judgments, the nation’s disobedience and rejection. Then follow the messages of hope--Israel’s conversion, the regathering of the twelve tribes, the final conflict, the returning glory of the Lord; and from that day the name of the city will be Jehovah Shammah. Because He has manifested His gracious presence in the midst of His people and established His throne, blessed His people with all the spiritual and national blessings promised by His holy prophets, destroyed all their enemies, and covered all with His visible glory once more, therefore the city will have the name “Jehovah is there.” What a glory it will be for Him. The city through which He once walked with weary feet, the Son of God garbed in servant’s form, the city through which He was dragged, when the cross was laid upon His shoulders, the city which cast Him out, the city outside of which He endured the cross and despised the shame--that same city will be made in that day the glory spot of the earth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Ezekiel 48:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/ezekiel-48.html. 1913-1922.

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