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4. The temple ordinances 43:13-46:24
Instructions (statutes) designed to maintain holiness in the new temple follow. The Lord specified how His people were to construct the new altar to accommodate sacrifices (Ezekiel 43:13-17) and how they were to dedicate it (Ezekiel 43:18-27). He revealed how they were to use the temple (Ezekiel 44:1-9), how the priests were to function (Ezekiel 44:10-31), and how the sacred land district was to be used (Ezekiel 45:1-8). An exhortation to Israel’s leaders forms the center of this section (Ezekiel 45:9-12). The rest of it contains instructions for the worship leader (Ezekiel 45:13 to Ezekiel 46:18) and directions for the use of the priests’ kitchens (Ezekiel 46:19-24).
"The existence of the millennial temple and the reinstatement of the sacrificial system [though not necessarily the reinstatement of the Mosaic Covenant] is not only understandable but predictable. Ezekiel’s vision of a restored sacrificial system was really not so amazing after all. The millennium will afford Israel the opportunity for the first time in its history to use the symbols of their covenant with Jesus as Messiah in view. It will be their first time to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation showing forth to the world the redemptive work of Yahweh in the person of Jesus Christ the Messiah (Isaiah 53:7; Isaiah 61:1-3; Zechariah 4:1 [sic Ezekiel 3:10]; John 1:29; Acts 8:32-35; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 7:13-14; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 15:3)." [Note: L. Cooper, p. 381.]
Regulations for offerings and feast days 45:9-46:24
This section contains seven subsections all of which deal with the same basic subject.
The Lord specified that the gate in the inner east gate complex should be open only on Sabbath days and on the new moon days (i.e., the first of each month). All other days it was to remain closed. An exception to this rule follows in Ezekiel 46:12. Observance of the Sabbath day in the future, as was true in Israel’s past, will remind the Israelites of God’s creation of the cosmos, His creation of their nation, and His provision of rest (in the Messiah). The new moon (new month) celebrations may be periodic reminders of God’s providential control of nature and His faithful provision of His people’s needs, as they were in the past.
Worship on the Sabbath and new moon days 46:1-8
On these special days, the prince would lead the people in worship. He would enter the inner east gate complex and stand in its vestibule. Evidently he will not be able to enter the inner court because he will not be a priest (cf. Numbers 28:3-8), but he will be able to view the inner court and the altar from the doorway at the western end of the gate complex. The vestibule would be the site of his worship as he presented his burnt and peace offerings (symbolizing his personal dedication and his gratitude for God’s fellowship respectively). After he finished worshipping, he would depart from that gate into the outer court, but the gate would remain open until the evening.
The other worshippers would also worship at the same gate during those special days, but they too would not enter the inner court. Only priests could enter that court.
On the Sabbath days, the prince’s burnt offering would consist of six lambs and a ram without blemish. Grain offerings were to accompany them: an ephah with the ram, and as much as he was able to provide with the lambs. He was also to offer a hin of oil with each ephah of grain. This is a variation of what the Mosaic Law prescribed (cf. Numbers 28:9-10). These grain and oil offerings evidently symbolize the Lord’s rich provisions for His people.
On the new moon days, the prince was to offer the same offerings as he did on the Sabbath days plus a young bull and an ephah of flour and a hin of oil with it. This too is somewhat different from the Mosaic requirement (cf. Numbers 28:11-15).
The prince would enter the inner gate complex and leave it using the vestibule, which faced the outer court (cf. Ezekiel 40:31). Undoubtedly the priests will use the tables in the vestibule of this gate complex and the tables in the outer court near it to prepare these offerings (cf. Ezekiel 40:39-43).
When the people living in the Promised Land came to worship on the appointed feasts (Passover and Tabernacles, cf. Ezekiel 45:21-25), they were to enter the outer court by either the north or south outer gate complexes. There was no gate on the west side, and the outer east gate would be sealed (cf. Ezekiel 44:1-2). When they finished worshipping, they should depart from the opposite gate from which they entered, not the same one. This would result in an orderly traffic pattern during these crowded times (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33).
Worship during the annual feasts 46:9-15
The prince should accompany the people on those occasions entering and exiting the court with them. He would worship God as one of the people then, not as someone special.
The offerings on these special occasions were to be the same as on the Sabbath days and the new moon days (cf. Ezekiel 46:4-7).
When the prince brought a voluntary offering to the temple on other days, either a burnt or peace offering, the priests should open the east inner gate for him to use and close it after he departed from this gate complex.
The priests were also to offer a daily sacrifice to the Lord every morning, namely, one lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering. One-sixth of an ephah of grain with one-third of a hin of oil mixed into it should accompany this continual daily burnt offering. Its purpose is probably to demonstrate the daily rededication of the people to the Lord, the meaning of the daily burnt offering under the Mosaic system. Under the Mosaic Law, there was a daily morning and evening sacrifice (cf. Numbers 28:3-4).
The prince could give a gift to any of his sons out of his own inheritance from the Lord. This gift was theirs forever. However, if he gave such a gift to one of his servants, it would revert back to the prince on the year of liberty. This year would evidently be similar to the year of jubilee (every fiftieth year) under the Mosaic Covenant (cf. Leviticus 25:10; Leviticus 27:24). Its purpose, in the past and in the future, is to remind God’s people that He owns everything and that they only occupy and manage what He has entrusted to them.
The prince’s gifts 46:16-18
The prince was not to give gifts from the inheritances of the other people of the land but only from his own inheritance. Israel’s leaders and people in the past had appropriated other people’s property as their own (cf. Ezekiel 45:8-9; 2 Samuel 24:24; 1 Kings 21:19; Micah 2:1-2). This ordinance would also result in the prince’s sons remaining in his allotment of land rather than being scattered among the other tribal allotments. Since this prince would have sons it seems clear that he will not be the Messiah.
The Lord, or Ezekiel’s guide, then took the prophet into the structure that housed the priests’ rooms that were beside the south inner gate complex that faced north (cf. Ezekiel 40:44; Ezekiel 40:46). This was evidently one of the two three-story structures in which the priests will eat the sacrifices and change their clothes (cf. Ezekiel 42:1-14). At the west side of this building there were kitchen facilities where the priests could boil the guilt and sin offerings and bake the grain offerings. They were to prepare these offerings there so they would not have to enter the outer court and thus transmit holiness to the people.
The priests’ kitchens 46:19-24
The same person then took Ezekiel out to the outer court and showed him the four corners of that court. In each of the four corners there was a courtyard 40 cubits (66 feet 8 inches) by 30 cubits (50 feet). Within each of these enclosures there were ledges with fireplaces underneath that created cooking areas where the priests were to boil the sacrifices that the people brought to the temple. Since the people would eat some of the sacrifices they brought, the outer court would be a place of both spiritual worship and social interaction. There they would enjoy fellowship with other worshippers as well as fellowship with God.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ezekiel 46". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20