Something New but Familiar
It seems it always helps when you experience something new to also have something familiar with which to reference. This is what Ezekiel experienced. In previous posts we discovered that his thoughts were on the temple since he was in captivity in Babylon. God gave him a vision of a new temple that would be established in the future. While many things were new and different, it had a feeling of familiarity at the same time.
The size of the temple complex is something to consider. If you take a football field and put three end-to-end both in width and length, that would be about the size of it. That’s quite the size, isn’t it? However, the size of the temple itself didn’t change much from that of previous temples. The size of the entire tabernacle could almost fit inside the temple structure of Solomon’s temple, although the entire complex was much larger. Yet, the size of Solomon’s temple was basically equivalent to that of Herod’s temple and of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision. The size of the entire complex of each temple did increase with each successive temple.
The tabernacle, Solomon’s temple, and Herod’s temple had a bronze altar, a laver, a menorah, a table of shewbread, and an altar of incense. Herod’s temple did not have the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat as those were lost in Ezekiel’s day when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple. The temple in Ezekiel’s vision had only the bronze altar and the altar of incense. We discussed this briefly previously. All the other elements had been fulfilled by Christ: the laver represents the word of God which cleanses from sin (Ep 5:26). Christ is the living word of God (Jn 1:1) and is physically present. The menorah represents Christ as the light of the world (Jn 9:5), the table of shewbread represents Christ as the bread of life (Jn 6:35), the ark of the covenant represents Christ’s glory dwelling in the Holy of Holies (Ek 43:7), and the mercy seat represents Christ as the propitiation for sin and is already completed (1Jn 2:2). The bronze altar represents that atonement is still needed for those born, and the altar of incense represents the prayers of thanksgiving by those who have accepted Christ’s atonement for one’s sins and who is the hope of their future.
The bronze altar is arranged in a tier fashion and has steps leading up its eastern side. It is interesting that in Solomon’s temple this was a ramp instead of steps and was located on the southern side of the altar. This altar is quite large, being 10.5 feet high with its top being 21 ft sq. It would seem the priests will have to be quite strong to carry these sacrifices up these steps and get them close to the center of the altar.
It seems that the same sacrifices as previously made will now continue: burnt offerings, peace (fellowship) offerings, sin offerings, trespass (guilt) offerings, grain (meat) offerings. Why is this? Sacrifices are now needed for three basic reasons: (1) because a theocracy is re-established where sin must be dealt with when part of the sinless Trinity is physically present, (2) it seems death no longer occurs as there is no additional resurrection of the righteous dead mentioned in scripture, (3) sacrifices were always symbolic for they never took away sin and faith has always been required. All of these reasons help those born during this time to see their need for accepting Christ their King as their Savior and the Hope for their future.
It also seems that four of the seven feasts typically celebrated each year (Lv 23) will still be celebrated during this time: Pesach (Passover), Matzah (Unleavened Bread), Bikkurim (Firstfruit), and Sukkot (Tabernacles). While these have been fulfilled, these are still needed because these feasts represent the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, as well as his literal dwelling with his people. The other three are already fulfilled and are not needed: Shavuot (Pentecost) – the giving of the Holy Spirit; Rosh Hashanah (Trumpets) – God remembering his covenant with Israel (Tribulation Period), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) – God forgiving Israel of their sins (at Christ’s return).
As you can see, there will be many similar things that have been reshaped and slightly different. What is familiar has been reshaped for the needs of the new age. These things will help those who are already bound to their Messiah, their King, a new way to celebrate and worship him. These things will help those who need to make a decision about their King a way to understand their need to accept him. What is new will also be familiar.
This is going to be an amazing time. I hope you are making plans to not miss it. Something so wonderful should not be missed.