Having been cast into a trance and brought in spirit to the holy land, Ezekiel saw on the top of a high mountain what at first he thought was a city but was in fact the temple, with its courts and buildings. It was, however, a new temple. While the sanctuary itself was similar to that of Solomon’s temple, the surroundings were very different. The prophet was met by a heavenly messenger, who had a measuring-tape of flax and a measuring-rod, and who acted as his guide.
- What two responsibilities did the heavenly messenger place on the prophet? See verse 4. When judged by these standards, how far is your own Bible study a success?
- Follow the link (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ground_Plan_of_Ezekiel’s_Temple.png), follow the prophet’s route as he was shown the outer gateway on the east (verses 6-16), the outer court (verse 17-19), and the gateways on the north and south (verses 20-27); then the inner court on a higher level, also with three gateways (verses 28-37). In the inner court, alongside the north gate, were a chamber and tables (verses 38-43), and there were two chambers for the priests, one near the north gate and another near the south gate (verses 44-47).
- Note the symmetry of the ground plan of the temple. Has this anything to teach us about God?
Notes Verse 5. Two cubits were in use, one being eighteen inches long and the other twenty-one inches – a ‘handbreadth’ extra. The longer cubit was that used by Ezekiel. The measuring-rod would therefore have been ten foot six inches long.
In this chapter and the next the prophet foresees in the far distant future an invasion of Israel by nation lying beyond the circle of those with which Israel hitherto has had to do. They, too, must learn that the God of Israel alone is God, and they will learn it through meeting his power as they seek to plunder his land, and through being brought by him to total defeat. Read Rev. 20:7-10 in conjunction with this chapter.
- In what two different ways are the causes of God’s invasion described?
Contrast verses 4 and 16 with verses 10-12. And yet, do not all these verses describe one and the same cause? Cf. Rom. 9:17, 18.
- Cf. verses 18-23 with 37:25-28. In what two ways will God bring the nations to know that he is God alone?
Cf. Rom. 1:16-18; 9:22, 23; 11:17-22.
- Verse 2. The name ‘God’ is probably Ezekiel’s own invention, formed by removing the first letter from the place-name Magog. It is pointless to try to identify these nations with modern states: they were simply tribes on the fringe of the known world in Ezekiel’s day that he uses for these apocalyptic pronouncements.
- Verse 13. These are merchant nations, stirred to excitement by Gog’s invasion.
In this section the prophet declares that the new era will be better than the past, because of the greater fertility of the land. When he uttered this prophecy, the land of Israel seemed ruined. Edom (Mount Seir) was seeking to obtain possession (35:10; 36:5), and mountains of Israel lay desolate (36:4). The prophet declares first a judgment on Edom (chapter 35), and then a return of Israel to enjoy times of unprecedented prosperity (36:1-15).
- Chapter 35. What are the three sins of Edom, mentioned in verses 5 and 10, for which they will be judged? Notice how frequently the punishment foretold exactly matches the Edomites’ sin, e.g., verses 5 and 9; verse 6; verses 14, 15. How does Ezekiel show that even in their hour of judgment, God sill identifies himself with his people, Israel?
- Summarize the blessings promised to Israel in 36:8-15. If you interpret the restored land as a picture of our inheritance in Christ, what spiritual blessings are typified in these verses?