Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Ezekiel 40:38-41:26): Why are there so many specific measurements? This was just a vision.
A. I don’t know, honestly, but I am sure God had His reasons. It appears that the point of the vision was for Ezekiel to share what he had been given so that the people would become inspired by the plan. That’s all I’ve got.
Q. (40:47): I thought the altar was in the most holy place for only the priests to see, but here it’s in the courtyard? And, I am surprised that God is giving Ezekiel this vision because he has said that animal offerings were not what he desired anymore. Do I have this wrong? Maybe it’s because they were empty sacrifices, animals being burned without the right spirit of the people toward the burnings.
A. You’re correct about the animal sacrifices: they were repeatedly offered in the wrong spirit. They were used as a license to do whatever the people wanted, so the sacrifices were ultimately empty. As to the altar, there was always an altar in the courtyard for ceremonial use. It was where the people offered their sacrifices and the priests consumed them. You’re thinking of the Ark of the Covenant, which was partly made of an altar. The Ark was kept in the Most Holy Place, but was lost during the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. But there was always an altar (made of bronze) for both the Tabernacle and the Temple.
Q. (41:5-6): Ezekiel sees side rooms stacked. Are they significant?
A. Only in that it allows for more people (i.e. more priests) to be involved in the sacrificial system.
Q. (43:10-12): Why would describing the temple make the people ashamed?
A. They would be most likely mourn for the loss of the great Temple that was destroyed, and would know that it was their sins that caused the loss of the great building which represented their relationship with God.
Q. (43:13-27): You know that I have had problems understanding and accepting the sacrifices. I do understand that it’s to give your best to God. I don’t understand how sacrifices cleanse the altar. And, I don’t know why there are so many rules with sacrifices. My guess it would be to show obedience?
A. God desires us to understand that there is redemption in the shedding of blood — the cost of sin is paid for in the dying creature (pay close attention to this image as we approach our Holy Week readings in a couple of months). But outside of that level of understanding, God simply asks for our obedience, as you have said. He decides what constitutes atonement, since He is the one who alone knows the true cost of sin.