Consecrating the Altar

A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy … More

Forgiveness

The substance of the prophet’s vision now returns to a description of parts of the temple area and regulations concerning the temple’s future use. At the very heart of the temple was its altar; the prophet first describes the altar, and then indicates the procedures by which it would be put to use once again.

  1. The description of the altar (vv. 13-17). The altar was a large, stone structure located in the inner court of the temple compound. The construction, as described here, is a reminder of a much larger structure familiar in ancient Babylon, the ziggurat, of which some remains may still be seen by the modern traveler in southern Iraq. The whole structure was more than twelve feet high, and access to the top was gained by means of the steps on the eastern side of the altar. It was on the temple’s altar that the sacrifices were offered which would restore, and make possible the continuation of, the relationship between Israel and God. The altar was a reminder not only of the gap that separates human beings from God, but also of the possibility of that gap being bridged. And thus the altar of Ezekiel’s visionary temple reminds us of another altar, in the form of a cross, on which a perfect sacrifice at last achieved the bridging of that gap that separates human beings from their God.
  2. The laws for the use of the altar (vv. 18-27). Nothing was to be casual in the use of the restored temple; the new altar could not be put to use immediately, as if there had been no break in the functioning of the temple. For one week the priests of the family of Zadok were to offer special sacrifices upon the altar, the purpose of which was specifically to cleanse it and sanctify it for its proper and perpetual usage, namely the offering of sacrifices on behalf of human beings.

Application

Today, Christ’s death has made the forgiveness of my sins possible, making me acceptable to God (Heb. 9:9-15). God stands ready to forgive me when I come to Him in faith.

Ezekiel 43:13-27 (English Standard Version)


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