Friday, June 19, 2015


For the week beginning Sunday June 21, 2015

(Plans for the new Temple area)
Ezekiel 39-40

In Ezekiel 38 GOD tells Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog (the chief prince), the ruler of Meshech and Tubal (Magog), two nations that were located in the area of present-day Russia, and all of her allies. Here the LORD says to tell Gog that after HE has driven him to attack Israel, HE will then cause him and his multi-national army to be defeated and slaughtered by the Israelites in the mountains of Judah (Vs.1-5).
In addition, the LORD says HE will make the hordes of their dead bodies (men and animals), a feast for vultures and wild animals to devour. This direct supernatural intervention by GOD is intended by HIM to both, prove HIS role as the sovereign judge of the universe, and, to show HIS faithfulness to the ancient covenant promise that was given to HIS servant Abraham (Vs.6-8).
GOD will also punish the homeland of those nations who invade Israel, with a devastating military destruction, and those who think they live in safety at home, will be destroyed all the way to the coastlands. And so Magog, the nation who brainstorms the invasion of Judah, will herself be destroyed in the end, along with all of her allies. Through all of this, the Israelites, and all the nations of the world will come to know that GOD is holy, and will not tolerate the profaneness of their sins.
After the destruction of the multi-national army, the people of Israel would walk around and gather up the massive amount of weapons that were once used by the dead soldiers, and store them up, and use them as fuel, for next seven years. The LORD says that they will need nothing else to use as fuel, no wood from the forest, or the fields will be needed, the massive amount of weapons will be enough to satisfy their need for fuel for a period of seven years (Vs.9-10).
In the eschatological sense, this seven-year period represents the “tribulation period” spoken about by JESUS (Matthew 24), and by the Apostle John (Revelation 6). The worldwide catastrophes of the first three and a half years of Daniel’s “seventy week prophecy” are clearly seen in this passage of Ezekiel. Throughout the remainder of the tribulation period, and into the beginning of the Millennium, the nation of Israel will be burning the weapons of Magog, and will not need to cut down a single tree.
Next the LORD says HE will make a vast graveyard for Gog and his army in the “Valley of Travelers” (Valley of Abarim), east of the Dead Sea, the area that is now present-day Jordan. The valley will be so filled with corpses that no one will be able to pass through it, and the name of that place will be changed, and be called the “Valley of Hamon Gog”, which means, “the valley of the hordes of Gog” (v.11).
It would take Israel seven months the clear the area of corpses and bury them, with literally everyone in Israel chipping in to help with the huge task. And at the end of the seven months, special crews would be assigned to search the land for any remaining skeletons so that they too can be buried. Whenever more bones were found, there would be a marker placed beside them so that the burial crew could spot them and take them to be buried in the valley. This “operation clean-up” would be so huge that they will actually set up a town in the valley called “Hamonah” (which is a form of the Hebrew term for “hordes”) to reside in while completing this enormous task (Vs.12-16).
In verses 17-20, GOD calls for the “bird and wild animal feast” on the dead bodies, to begin. The birds and animals “would eat the flesh” and “drink the blood” of all those who were slain in the great battle, including the dead horses that they rode in on. All would be consumed by the vultures and wild animals as a “sacrificial feast” that had been prepared by the LORD.
In verses 25-29 the restoration of Israel begins. There the LORD says that HE will end the captivity of Israel for the sake of HIS OWN holy reputation. There will be a “new order” in Israel after the people return from Babylon, and they will once again experience a restored relationship of friendship with GOD. In fact, in the final nine chapters of this book of Ezekiel, we’ll see exactly how this new order is established. A new temple will be built, and a new service of worship will be established so that the people would again enjoy access to GOD. And then finally, a new division of the land will be established for all the tribes of Israel.
In Ezekiel 40, during the twenty-fifth year of Israel’s captivity in Babylon, and fourteen years after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the LORD took Ezekiel up in a vision and placed his mind back in Israel on top of a very high mountain. There HE showed Ezekiel what appeared to be a city just to the south of where he was standing. As GOD brought him closer, he could see a man (an angelic being) whose face shone like bronze, standing next to one of the gateway entrances. The man held a measuring tape and a measuring rod in his hand (Vs.1-3).
GOD then instructs Ezekiel to watch and listen to everything that HE was going to show, and say to him. HE was going to show him many things that he will have to tell the captives when his mind returns to Babylon. GOD had already promised to rebuild HIS sanctuary among HIS people once again, and here in chapter 40, is the onset of those plans for a “Post-exilic Temple” that will literally be built after the exiles return from Babylon.
GOD’s judgment against Israel was assured, when HE removed HIS glory from the temple at Jerusalem which had been constructed, and defiled by King Solomon and the people, bringing to an end, the “United Kingdom” of Israel. The climax of Israel’s restoration, and the reconstruction of the temple, will bring about the occasion when GOD’s glory will re-enter the new sanctuary in the midst of Jerusalem.
Here in this passage Ezekiel gives a detailed description of the measurements done by an angelic being, in accordance with GOD’s plan for the restoration of the temple, starting with the East Gateway Vs.5-16). Then, in verses 17-19 he describes the Outer Courtyard which measured 175 feet from the inner gateway to the outer gateway. Next the North Gateway is measured by the angelic being and all of its measurements matched those of the East Gateway. The windows, the foyer, and the palm tree decorations were also identical to those of the East Gateway (Vs.20-23), and likewise all measurements and decorations were the same at the South Gateway (Vs.24-27). In verses 28-49 we see a measured description of the Gateways to the Inner Courtyard (Vs.28-37), the rooms for preparing sacrifices (Vs.38-43), the rooms for the priests (Vs.44-46), and the Inner Courtyard and Temple (the Temple proper) (Vs.47-49).
Ezekiel is told to write down the details of the Temple plans and worship regulations, and, to inform the Israelites so that they will closely adhere to the design, and follow all of GOD’s directives for worship. It is the same attention to details that GOD has always called for in HIS plans for erecting HIS place of worship, from the construction of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, to the construction of Solomon’s original Temple at Jerusalem. And it is clear here that, at least, Ezekiel understood his instructions in a literal sense, rather than in an allegorical way, as many scholars now seem to suggest.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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