Does anybody else ever wonder what Ezekiel’s vision of a temple is all about? Every year in my reading I come to the end of the book of Ezekiel and read the description of Ezekiel’s temple and wonder again what it’s all about. It’s difficult to wade through because my version uses cubits which requires mathematical calculation into something I can understand. In fact I’ve started jotting modern measurements in the margin to make the reading easier next time!
As far as I can tell no one credibly claims that such a temple has ever been built. So why then are 9 chapters (Ez 40-48) devoted to it? Is it something that is supposed to be built some day? There are no commands to anyone to do so.
Last year I looked at a commentary that had a write up on it. That author acknowledged that no temple like it had ever been built. He noted that it focused mostly on horizontal layout and didn’t even give vertical dimensions for anything but the gates, nor did it mention much about furnishings, or useage. He held a symbolic view of the temple as opposed to a literal view. He opined that therefore the whole 9 chapters was speaking to us about sacred spaces and their importance. Er, maybe, but what exactly is it telling us about sacred spaces and their importance??? Unfortunately he didn’t elaborate.
This year I decided to do a lttle more research and did a web search, specifically on images. Right away some interesting sites popped up. Paul Jablonowski has an online book Sons to Glory . I don’t know what the rest of the book is about but there is one chapter with pictures of a scale model of Ezekiel’s temple that was built by the author after much study of the passage.
Another was a page entitled “Ezekiel’s temple” at Lambert Dolphin’s site (which seems to be off-line at the moment) and a third was “Will Another Jewish Temple Be Built?”. These sites offered a much more intriguing view of these chapters beyond merely a vague notion of sacred spaces. They argue for a literal interpretation, that is, they see it as a plan for a temple that will be built some day, probably by the Messiah, probably during the Millenium.
This too brings up questions such as what is the purpose of all the meat hooks and tables and sacrifice equipment? Would there be sacrifices again? Why? This temple also has windows, unlike any previous temple.
Here’s a new site: Ezekiel’s Temple which has a cool video tour too. They seem to think the outer court will be lined with restaurants! Hmmm….
The measurements given are good enough to construct models, even though it seems that there is not much agreement on exactly what this temple is or when or where it is to be built.