The Meaning of the Temple
43 1-3 The man brought me to the east gate. Oh! The bright Glory of the God of Israel rivered out of the east sounding like the roar of floodwaters, and the earth itself glowed with the bright Glory. It looked just like what I had seen when he came to destroy the city, exactly like what I had seen earlier at the Kebar River. And again I fell, face to the ground.
4-5 The bright Glory of God poured into the Temple through the east gate. The Spirit put me on my feet and led me to the inside courtyard and—oh! the bright Glory of God filled the Temple!
6-9 I heard someone speaking to me from inside the Temple while the man stood beside me. He said, “Son of man, this is the place for my throne, the place I’ll plant my feet. This is the place where I’ll live with the Israelites forever. Neither the people of Israel nor their kings will ever again drag my holy name through the mud with their whoring and the no-god idols their kings set up at all the wayside shrines. When they set up their worship shrines right alongside mine with only a thin wall between them, they dragged my holy name through the mud with their obscene and vile worship. Is it any wonder that I destroyed them in anger? So let them get rid of their whoring ways and the stinking no-god idols introduced by their kings and I’ll move in and live with them forever.
10-11 “Son of man, tell the people of Israel all about the Temple so they’ll be dismayed by their wayward lives. Get them to go over the layout. That will bring them up short. Show them the whole plan of the Temple, its ins and outs, the proportions, the regulations, and the laws. Draw a picture so they can see the design and meaning and live by its design and intent.
12 “This is the law of the Temple: As it radiates from the top of the mountain, everything around it becomes holy ground. Yes, this is law, the meaning, of the Temple.
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13-14 “These are the dimensions of the altar, using the long (twenty-one-inch) ruler. The gutter at its base is twenty-one inches deep and twenty-one inches wide, with a four-inch lip around its edge.
14-15 “The height of the altar is three and a half feet from the base to the first ledge and twenty inches wide. From the first ledge to the second ledge it is seven feet high and twenty-one inches wide. The altar hearth is another seven feet high. Four horns stick upward from the hearth twenty-one inches high.
16-17 “The top of the altar, the hearth, is square, twenty-one by twenty-one feet. The upper ledge is also square, twenty-four and a half feet on each side, with a ten-and-a-half-inch lip and a twenty-one-inch-wide gutter all the way around.
“The steps of the altar ascend from the east.”
18 Then the man said to me, “Son of man, God, the Master, says: ‘These are the ordinances for conduct at the altar when it is built, for sacrificing burnt offerings and sprinkling blood on it.
19-21 “‘For a sin offering, give a bull to the priests, the Levitical priests who are from the family of Zadok who come into my presence to serve me. Take some of its blood and smear it on the four horns of the altar that project from the four corners of the top ledge and all around the lip. That’s to purify the altar and make it fit for the sacrifice. Then take the bull for the sin offerings and burn it in the place set aside for this in the courtyard outside the Sanctuary.
22-24 “‘On the second day, offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering. Purify the altar the same as you purified it for the bull. Then, when you have purified it, offer a bull without blemish and a ram without blemish from the flock. Present them before God. Sprinkle salt on them and offer them as a burnt offering to God.
25-26 “‘For seven days, prepare a goat for a sin offering daily, and also a bull and a ram from the flock, animals without blemish. For seven days the priests are to get the altar ready for its work, purifying it. This is how you dedicate it.
27 “‘After these seven days of dedication, from the eighth day on, the priests will present your burnt offerings and your peace offerings. And I’ll accept you with pleasure, with delight! Decree of God, the Master.’”
44 Then the man brought me back to the outside gate complex of the Sanctuary that faces east. But it was shut.
2-3 God spoke to me: “This gate is shut and it’s to stay shut. No one is to go through it because God, the God of Israel, has gone through it. It stays shut. Only the prince, because he’s the prince, may sit there to eat in the presence of God. He is to enter the gate complex through the porch and leave by the same way.”
4 The man led me through the north gate to the front of the Temple. I looked, and—oh!—the bright Glory of God filling the Temple of God! I fell on my face in worship.
5 God said to me, “Son of man, get a grip on yourself. Use your eyes, use your ears, pay careful attention to everything I tell you about the ordinances of this Temple of God, the way all the laws work, instructions regarding it and all the entrances and exits of the Sanctuary.
6-9 “Tell this bunch of rebels, this family Israel, ‘Message of God, the Master: No more of these vile obscenities, Israel, dragging irreverent and unrepentant outsiders, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, into my Sanctuary, feeding them the sacrificial offerings as if it were the food for a neighborhood picnic. With all your vile obscenities, you’ve broken trust with me, the solemn covenant I made with you. You haven’t taken care of my holy things. You’ve hired out the work to foreigners who care nothing for this place, my Sanctuary. No irreverent and unrepentant aliens, uncircumcised in heart or flesh, not even the ones who live among Israelites, are to enter my Sanctuary.’
10-14 “The Levites who walked off and left me, along with everyone else—all Israel—who took up with all the no-god idols, will pay for everything they did wrong. From now on they’ll do only the menial work in the Sanctuary: guard the gates and help out with the Temple chores—and also kill the sacrificial animals for the people and serve them. Because they acted as priests to the no-god idols and made my people Israel stumble and fall, I’ve taken an oath to punish them. Decree of God, the Master. Yes, they’ll pay for what they’ve done. They’re fired from the priesthood. No longer will they come into my presence and take care of my holy things. No more access to The Holy Place! They’ll have to live with what they’ve done, carry the shame of their vile and obscene lives. From now on, their job is to sweep up and run errands. That’s it.
15-16 “But the Levitical priests who descend from Zadok, who faithfully took care of my Sanctuary when everyone else went off and left me, are going to come into my presence and serve me. They are going to carry out the priestly work of offering the solemn sacrifices of worship. Decree of God, the Master. They’re the only ones permitted to enter my Sanctuary. They’re the only ones to approach my table and serve me, accompanying me in my work.
17-19 “When they enter the gate complex of the inside courtyard, they are to dress in linen. No woolens are to be worn while serving at the gate complex of the inside courtyard or inside the Temple itself. They’re to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen underclothes—nothing that makes them sweat. When they go out into the outside courtyard where the people gather, they must first change out of the clothes they have been serving in, leaving them in the sacred rooms where they change to their everyday clothes, so that they don’t trivialize their holy work by the way they dress.
20 “They are to neither shave their heads nor let their hair become unkempt, but must keep their hair trimmed and neat.
21 “No priest is to drink on the job—no wine while in the inside courtyard.
22 “Priests are not to marry widows or divorcees, but only Israelite virgins or widows of priests.
23 “Their job is to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, to show them how to discern between unclean and clean.
24 “When there’s a difference of opinion, the priests will arbitrate. They’ll decide on the basis of my judgments, laws, and statutes. They are in charge of making sure the appointed feasts are honored and my Sabbaths kept holy in the ways I’ve commanded.
25-27 “A priest must not contaminate himself by going near a corpse. But when the dead person is his father or mother, son or daughter, brother or unmarried sister, he can approach the dead. But after he has been purified, he must wait another seven days. Then, when he returns to the inside courtyard of the Sanctuary to do his priestly work in the Sanctuary, he must first offer a sin offering for himself. Decree of God, the Master.
28-30 “As to priests owning land, I am their inheritance. Don’t give any land in Israel to them. I am their ‘land,’ their inheritance. They’ll take their meals from the grain offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings. Everything in Israel offered to God in worship is theirs. The best of everything grown, plus all special gifts, comes to the priests. All that is given in worship to God goes to them. Serve them first. Serve from your best and your home will be blessed.
31 “Priests are not to eat any meat from bird or animal unfit for ordinary human consumption, such as carcasses found dead on the road or in the field.”
Sacred Space for God
45 1-4 “When you divide up the inheritance of the land, you must set aside part of the land as sacred space for God: approximately seven miles long by six miles wide, all of it holy ground. Within this rectangle, reserve a seven-hundred-fifty-foot square for the Sanctuary with a seventy-five-foot buffer zone surrounding it. Mark off within the sacred reserve a section seven miles long by three miles wide. The Sanctuary with its Holy of Holies will be placed there. This is where the priests will live, those who lead worship in the Sanctuary and serve God there. Their houses will be there along with The Holy Place.
5 “To the north of the sacred reserve, an area roughly seven miles long and two and a quarter miles wide will be set aside as land for the villages of the Levites who administer the affairs of worship in the Sanctuary.
6 “To the south of the sacred reserve, measure off a section seven miles long and about a mile and a half wide for the city itself, an area held in common by the whole family of Israel.
7-8 “The prince gets the land abutting the seven-mile east and west borders of the central sacred square, extending eastward toward the Jordan and westward toward the Mediterranean. This is the prince’s possession in Israel. My princes will no longer bully my people, running roughshod over them. They’ll respect the land as it has been allotted to the tribes.
9-12 “This is the Message of God, the Master: ‘I’ve put up with you long enough, princes of Israel! Quit bullying and taking advantage of my people. Do what’s just and right for a change. Use honest scales—honest weights and honest measures. Every pound must have sixteen ounces. Every gallon must measure four quarts. The ounce is the basic measure for both. And your coins must be honest—no wooden nickels!
Everyone in the Land Must Contribute
13-15 “‘These are the prescribed offerings you are to supply: one-sixtieth part of your wheat, one-sixtieth part of your barley, one-hundredth part of your oil, one sheep out of every two hundred from the lush pastures of Israel. These will be used for the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings for making the atonement sacrifices for the people. Decree of God, the Master.
16-17 “‘Everyone in the land must contribute to these special offerings that the prince in Israel will administer. It’s the prince’s job to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings at the Holy Festivals, the New Moons, and the Sabbaths—all the commanded feasts among the people of Israel. Sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings for making atonement for the people of Israel are his responsibility.
18-20 “‘This is the Message from God, the Master: On the first day of the first month, take an unblemished bull calf and purify the Sanctuary. The priest is to take blood from the sin offerings and rub it on the doorposts of the Temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gate entrance to the inside courtyard. Repeat this ritual on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins without knowing it. In this way you make atonement for the Temple.
21 “‘On the fourteenth day of the first month, you will observe the Passover, a feast of seven days. During the feast you will eat bread made without yeast.
22-23 “‘On Passover, the prince supplies a bull as a sin offering for himself and all the people of the country. Each day for each of the seven days of the feast, he will supply seven bulls and seven rams unblemished as a burnt offering to God, and also each day a male goat.
24 “‘He will supply about five and a half gallons of grain offering and a gallon of oil for each bull and each ram.
25 “‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, and on each of the seven days of the feast, he is to supply the same materials for sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, and oil.’”
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46 1-3 “‘Message from God, the Master: The gate of the inside courtyard on the east is to be shut on the six working days, but open on the Sabbath. It is also to be open on the New Moon. The prince will enter through the entrance area of the gate complex and stand at the gateposts as the priests present his burnt offerings and peace offerings while he worships there on the porch. He will then leave, but the gate won’t be shut until evening. On Sabbaths and New Moons, the people are to worship before God at the outside entrance to that gate complex.
4-5 “‘The prince supplies for God the burnt offering for the Sabbath—six unblemished lambs and an unblemished ram. The grain offering to go with the ram is about five and a half gallons plus a gallon of oil, and a handful of grain for each lamb.
6-7 “‘At the New Moon he is to supply a bull calf, six lambs, and a ram, all without blemish. He will also supply five and a half gallons of grain offering and a gallon of oil for both ram and bull, and a handful of grain offering for each lamb.
8 “‘When the prince enters, he will go through the entrance vestibule of the gate complex and leave the same way.
9-10 “‘But when the people of the land come to worship God at the commanded feasts, those who enter through the north gate will exit from the south gate, and those who enter through the south gate will exit from the north gate. You don’t exit the gate through which you enter, but through the opposite gate. The prince is to be there, mingling with them, going in and out with them.
11 “‘At the festivals and the commanded feasts, the appropriate grain offering is five and a half gallons, with a gallon of oil for the bull and ram and a handful of grain for each lamb.
12 “‘When the prince brings a freewill offering to God, whether a burnt offering or a peace offering, the east gate is to be opened for him. He offers his burnt or peace offering the same as he does on the Sabbath. Then he leaves, and after he is out, the gate is shut.
13-15 “‘Every morning you are to bring a yearling lamb unblemished for a burnt offering to God. Also, every morning bring a grain offering of about a gallon of grain with a quart or so of oil to moisten it. Presenting this grain offering to God is standard procedure. The lamb, the grain offering, and the oil for the burnt offering are a regular daily ritual.
16-18 “‘A Message from God, the Master: If the prince deeds a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it stays in the family. But if he deeds a gift from his inheritance to a servant, the servant keeps it only until the year of liberation (the Jubilee year). After that, it comes back to the prince. His inheritance is only for his sons. It stays in the family. The prince must not take the inheritance from any of the people, dispossessing them of their land. He can give his sons only what he himself owns. None of my people are to be run off their land.’”
19-20 Then the man brought me through the north gate into the holy chambers assigned to the priests and showed me a back room to the west. He said, “This is the kitchen where the priests will cook the guilt offering and sin offering and bake the grain offering so that they won’t have to do it in the outside courtyard and endanger the unprepared people out there with The Holy.”
21-23 He proceeded to take me to the outside courtyard and around to each of its four corners. In each corner I observed another court. In each of the four corners of the outside courtyard were smaller courts sixty by forty-five feet, each the same size. On the inside walls of the courts was a stone shelf, and beneath the shelves, hearths for cooking.
24 He said, “These are the kitchens where those who serve in the Temple will cook the sacrifices of the people.”