A Question I Was Asked:

Why is the House of Israel To Be Ashamed?

The Question:

In Ezekiel 43:10-11 the vision of this temple is meant to make the house of Israel ashamed of their iniquities and willing to obey God in the future.
How does measuring its pattern do that? I am confused.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Let us look at this:

"Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple - its arrangement, its exits and entrances - its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations." (Ezekiel 43:10-11).

I was recently asked (by the same enquirer), what Ezekiel's temple was all about, I suggested several reasons for a temple which does not appear to easily fit within salvation history, my response being outlined here, however, perhaps I am partly gulity of failing to fully take into account the Bible's own important reason for the description of this temple. It was to make the people of Israel guilty for their transgressions before the Lord. Let me explain further:

Ezekiel came from a priestly family. He himself was among those Jews who were taken into captivity by Babylon, being exiled to Babylon in 597BC. Whilst there, he received a divine call to become a prophet (see Ezekiel 1:1-3). He was already eligible to serve as a priest and had a special interest in the temple; he saw it as part of his mission to preserve the pretty much exact prescription for any future restored temple to be built at Jerusalem. Without question, the hope and plan was that when the Jews returned to Jerusalem after the captivity, a temple could be rebuilt.

As point 2 of my earlier explanation pointed out, the Jews could indeed have rebuilt the temple when many returned to Jerusalem after 70 years, but they seemed far more concerned with rebuilding Jerusalem's walls, then fell into a very lengthy period of internal and external squabbles (partly outlined in Ezra and Nehemiah). Yet Ezekiel's blueprint for a new temple remained a great encouragement to many Jews (and that is still the case), even though it was never actually rebuilt. Rejecting the revelation of Christ, and the New Covenant, many orthodox Judaists still fully expect this temple to eventually be rebuilt where the moslem Dome of the Rock currently stands.

But the text which my enquirer brings to my attention strongly suggests that one of the main purposes for Ezekiel having been granted this vision of a renewed temple was to arouse guilt - and hopefully provoke national repentance - within Israel for the people's lack of faithfulness to the Lord. That is, all of Israel, not just the southern Jewish/Levite/Benjaminite portion, but the northern 'house of Israel' also (who had already gone into captivity in 721BC, circa a hundred plus years before Judah were taken). In their case, of course, they had been taken by the Assyrians. God allowed national captivity to come upon all these people because of their complete unfaithfulness to Him and their love of idolatry, rather than the old covenant (which had been exclusively delivered to them alone of all the peoples upon the earth). 'Measuring the pattern of the temple' was to remind these peoples that they had been unfaithful to their divinely-appointed mission. However, whilst the temple theoretically could have been rebuilt, our Lord undoubtedly knew that it never would be.

Robin A. Brace. May 23rd, 2012.