The Millennial Temple: Her Design and Dimensions – Part 2

Millennial Temple Design

THE OUTER AND INNER COURTS

Ezekiel chapters 40-42 concern the measurements of courts, porticos, gates, various rooms, the temple proper and a description of some instruments and furniture. The details are so specific and numerous that only some of the broader elements and highlights can be examined here. As Ezekiel begins his tour of the temple, led by a bronze-like guide (Ezek. 40:2-4), he is first introduced to the outer court in 40:5-27. The perimeter wall is nearly ten-and-a-half feet thick and nearly ten-and-a-half feet high (v. 5). The east gate is described along with adjoining walls, alcoves, a portico, outer and inner thresholds, windows and steps (vv. 6-16). The portico’s doorposts are decorated with palm tree designs (v. 16). The gate complex is gargantuan, measuring a total of about thirty-eight feet wide by seventy-five feet long (vv. 13, 15). Inside the outer court are thirty chambers facing a paved strip (vv. 17-18). The dimension of the outer courtyard from the front of the lower gate to the front of the exterior of the inner court measured one-hundred-and-fifty feet (v. 19). The north and south gate complexes are identical to the east gate complex (vv. 20-27).

Next, the prophet provides us with a description of the inner court in Ezekiel 40:28-47. The tour guide shows Ezekiel the three gates to the inner court, this time beginning with the southern gate and ending with the east. Each of the gates substantively match the outer gates, differing only in their porticoes facing out and their stairways consisting of eight rather than seven steps (vv. 31, 34, 37). There are to be chambers and tables for the purposes of preparing the sacrifices. Because there is a chamber beside the doorpost outside of each inner court gate (v. 38), then each chamber must be located close to the stairs leading to the portico of the inner gate in the outer court. There are eight tables in total, with four being placed on each side of the gate (v.41). The tables are made of hewn stone, measuring just over two feet long and wide and one-and-a-half feet high (v. 42). There are also double hooks of around three inches in length installed all around the house (v. 43). Within the north and east inner gates are two chambers for the priests in the line of Zadok. These chambers are said to be for the priests that also sing (v. 44). They are much like the men that David put in charge of the music ministry in the house of the LORD after the ark was placed there (1 Chr. 6:31-32). The chamber facing the south is for the priests that keep charge of the temple (v. 45), while the chamber facing the north is for the priests in charge of the altar (v. 46). The inner court is a square, measuring one-hundred-and fifty by one-hundred-and-fifty feet. And there, Ezekiel beheld the altar of sacrifice resting in front of the temple (v. 47).

THE TEMPLE PROPER

A detailed description of the temple building is found in Ezekiel 40:48-41:26. Ten stairs lead to the temple’s entrance, measuring twenty-one feet wide. The entrance utilizes two seven-and-a-half feet doorposts with a pillar placed beside each one. Once inside, we are greeted by a portico, measuring thirty by eighteen feet (40:48-49). The inner temple is made up of outer and inner sanctuaries. The outer sanctuary is a room measuring thirty by sixty feet with a fifteen foot wide entrance (41:1-2). The entrance to the inner sanctuary measures just nine feet in width (41:3). The outer and inner gates, the entrances to the temple building portico, the entrances to the outer sanctuary and the inner sanctuary progressively narrow in width. This yields a focusing and purifying effect ending with what the bronze guide refers to as the Most Holy Place. This millennial Holy of Holies is a thirty foot square room (41:4). It is the center of worship within the center of worship for all of creation.

A nine foot thick wall surrounds the temple. Next to the wall is a three story structure containing thirty six-foot wide side chambers on each floor. Curiously, the structure is supported by offsets so as not to rely on the wall (41:5-6). The chamber building grows wider as it winds up, resulting in the top floor being the broadest (41:7). This is strong evidence that the millennial temple complex will employ a winding staircase just as Solomon’s did (cf. 1 Kin. 6:8). The outer wall shared by the side chambers is seven and a half feet thick. They are all supported by a nine foot high foundation on both sides of the temple (41:8-9). This foundation extends seven-and-a-half feet beyond the outer wall (41:11). Two doorways facing the north and the south open from the side chambers onto a free space of thirty feet, encircling the temple. This area separates the side chambers from the priest’s chambers (41:9-10; cf. Ezek. 42:1-14).

A detached building of unknown purpose sits next to the western wall of the temple multiplex. It is one-hundred-and-five feet wide by one-hundred-and-thirty-five feet long with a seven-and-a half foot thick wall (41:12). In total, this building measures one-hundred-and-fifty feet long, matching the breadth of the temple’s eastern side and the inner courtyard (41:13-15).

The temple is beautifully adorned both inside and out. There are narrow covered windows surrounding the portico, the outer sanctuary and the inner sanctuary (41:15-16). The inside walls are covered with a wood paneling that reaches the windows (41:16). The entire temple is decorated all around with patterned cherubim and palm tree carvings. The carvings depict a palm tree between two cherubim, each having two faces. A man’s face looks toward the palm on one side while a young lion’s face gazes from the other (41:17-20). We are not told what the carvings symbolize. The cherubim might be connected to two of the four living creatures, themselves likely cherubim (cf. Ezek. 10:15-20), that continuously worship the Lord God Almighty (Rev. 4:6-8). The palm trees might typify the triumphal reign of Christ (Matt. 21:8-9). Or they may simply be a representation of the physical and spiritual beauty to be enjoyed in the Millennium.

The single piece of furniture within the temple is a four-and-a-half foot high by three-foot cubit square wooden altar. The bronze guide identifies it as the table that is before the LORD (v. 22). Notably, this altar is smaller than the altar of sacrifice (cf. 43:13-17). Apparently this altar is the millennial version of the altar of incense that sat before the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies (Ex. 30:6). The smoke rising from the altar of incense pictured the prayers of the saints going up before God (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 8:3-4).

The outer and inner sanctuary are each fitted with double doors (41:23). Each of the doors are hinged with two leaves (41:24). The cherubim and palm tree carvings are placed on the doors of the outer sanctuary. A canopy of wood is found before the outside portico (41:25). There are narrow windows and palm trees on the sides of the portico (41:26).

THE ZADOKITE CHAMBERS

The two buildings containing chambers for the Zadokite priests are expounded upon in Ezekiel 42:1-14. They are located in the outer court and close to the inner court on the north and south (vv. 1, 3, 10, 13). A detailed description of the northern building is given along with the notation that the southern building follows suit (vv. 10-11). The northern building measures one-hundred-and-fifty feet long by seventy-five feet wide (vv. 2, 8). It sits alongside the outer court’s pavement (v. 3), with the inner court’s northern wall abutting it (cf. Ezek. 41:10). A north entrance opens onto a walkway, fifteen feet wide by one-hundred-and-fifty feet long. It runs between the chamber buildings and the corresponding wall on the east (vv. 4, 11-12). Doors to some if not all of the rooms are on the northern side (v. 4). The northern building is three stories high, covered in galleries (v. 3). The top floor has more galleries than the middle and base level, resulting in smaller chambers to make up space (v. 5). Unlike the courts, the buildings do not utilize pillars and so the top story sits back from the lower two (v. 6). In addition to an entrance that faces the north (v. 2), the northern building also has an entrance opening toward the east (v. 9). Before this eastern entrance is a wall parallel to the east side of the building (vv. 7-8). This wall separates the Zadokite priests’ chambers from the people in the outer courts. It is a barrier that shelters that which is holy.

These north and south buildings house holy chambers where the priests who approach the LORD prepare for their task. It is in these rooms where they will eat the most holy offerings, the grain and the sin offering (v. 13). These chambers are also changing rooms, where the priests must leave their holy ministerial garments before exiting into the outer court and among the people (v. 14). The priests are to eat and change clothes in their private buildings so as not to transmit holiness to the people (Ezek. 44:19; 46:20).

THE OVERALL DIMENSIONS

The bronze guide leads the prophet out through the eastern gate to witness the measuring of the temple area all around in Ezekiel 42:15-20. The east, north, south and west sides of the outer wall each measure approximately 5250 feet (vv. 16-19). The outer wall’s purpose is to divide the holy within from the common without (v. 20). The temple multiplex is breath-taking in her artistry and symmetry. Properly measured in reeds, her roughly one square-mile size (v. 20; cf. Ezek. 45:2) is far too large to rest upon the current temple mount. Fortunately, this temple is meant for a time when the wonders of Jesus will be flowing from atop Jerusalem’s high and lifted up mountain.

REVEAL THE DESIGN

Ezekiel 43:6-12 tells of when Israel will be ready for the building of the temple. During Ezekiel’s time the LORD’s holy name was defiled through Israel’s sins of harlotry, the burial of kings within the temple multiplex area and the erection of palaces right next to the temple. Israel is implored to put away these detestable practices so that the LORD may dwell among them forever (vv. 7-9). Ezekiel was to describe the temple to the house of Israel to make them ashamed of their iniquities and so they could measure the plan (v. 10). Only once the people were ashamed of the sins they had committed could the design and laws of the temple be revealed so that design could be observed and the statues obeyed (v. 11). All of the statutes could be reduced to a simple law: everything on top of Jerusalem’s mountain shall be most holy (v. 12).

While the prophet’s words were recorded and recognized as inspired by God, they have yet to have any of the prophesied impact on Israel. Only when the people of Israel are ashamed of their sins will they be able to enjoy this temple. That will happen when the Holy Spirit regenerates them as a nation, leading to their recognition of Jesus as Messiah and thus His return (cf. Zech. 12:10; 14:4; Acts 3:19-21). This majestic temple that Ezekiel toured could never exist in the present sinful world. It was always intended for when God’s people would be in a pure relationship with Him.

Comments

  1. thank you for all this labor of love!

  2. Glenn Haman says:

    Dr. Lightfoot referres to Ezekiel 42:20 as about 3 and a half mile plus 140 yards. I do not understand how he came to that measurement. I come up with about a mile square. If you have any information on this please let me know.

    • Matthew Ervin says:

      The measurements I came up with, as recorded in my book One Thousand Years with Jesus, were about .994 miles on each side. So you are correct. I either haven’t seen or don’t remember Lightfoot’s conclusion. It is odd.

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