Vision of the New Temple
40 In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me to the city. 2 In visions of God he brought me to the land of Israel, and set me down on a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. 3 When he brought me there, behold, there was a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. And he was standing in the gateway. 4 And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eze 40:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
1–4 There are four essential elements in the literary setting of an apocalyptic vision: the date, the identity of the vision’s recipient, the location of the vision’s recipient, and noteworthy circumstances under which the vision was received.
The date of this apocalyptic vision has four aspects. First, Ezekiel has dated all the major sections of the book in reference to Jehoiachin’s deportation into Babylonian exile in 597 BC (cf. chronological discussions at 1:1–3). This vision is received in “the twenty-fifth year” of Jehoiachin’s captivity, or in 573 BC.
Second, the vision is received “at the beginning of the year,” or in the first month of the year. Israel had two annual calendars. The civil calendar began in the fall month of Tishri (September/October). The religious calendar began in the spring month of Nisan (March/April). Some expositors prefer the civil calendar, while others accept the religious calendar. Though the text is not explicit in this matter, the religious calendar seems preferable, since Ezekiel is a priest and the concerns of the apocalyptic vision relate to religious matters. According to the religious calendar, the date of the vision is more explicitly March/April 573 BC.
The vision is received on the tenth day of the month. If it is correct to designate the month as Nisan, then this apocalyptic vision is received on the tenth day of Nisan, the very day the people may have begun to prepare for the Passover four days later. Whether or not they actually observed Passover in exile, surely they would be contemplating Israel’s redemption out of Egypt and the creation of their nation. This vision, then, offers an encouragement that the Lord will complete the divine purposes for the nation in the messianic kingdom.
Finally, the vision is received in the fourteenth year after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, which occurred in 586 BC. This also corroborates the date of 573 BC.
The second major element of the setting of an apocalyptic vision is the identity of the vision’s recipient. Though Ezekiel’s name is not given in these verses, the copious use of the first person pronoun in the context of the entire book argues strongly that the recipient is Ezekiel.
The third aspect of a vision’s setting is the location where it is received. Ezekiel sees this vision from “a very high mountain” in Israel (v. 2). From that mountain he can see a city to the south. Neither the mountain nor the city is identified in the passage, but Ezekiel is taken into the city, where he sees the temple’s construction in detail. The geography of Ezekiel’s day leads one most likely to identify that city as Jerusalem. To identify a high mountain north of Jerusalem, however, was impossible geographically in Ezekiel’s day and in ours. Perhaps it is best to leave the city and the mountain unidentified.
The final aspect of a setting of an apocalyptic vision is the noteworthy circumstances under which the vision is received (vv. 3–4). A divine messenger with the appearance of bronze is present. He is carrying both a measuring rod and a linen measuring cord. He exhorts Ezekiel to pay careful attention to all that he will be shown, because this divine vision is being given to him so that he might tell it in detail to the “house of Israel.”
The Man with the Measuring Rod (40:1–4)
In the opening verses, Ezekiel is given a vision of the city of Jerusalem and the millennial temple. In the fourteenth year after Jerusalem was captured, Ezekiel was taken up in visions and set on a very high mountain. He was shown a vision of the city of Jerusalem and the millennial temple by a man whose appearance was like … bronze. The prophet was commanded to fix his mind on everything he saw and to declare it to the house of Israel. This he does in the ensuing chapters.
40:3–5 The special circumstances of these final visions are noteworthy. Ezekiel saw a messenger with a bronze appearance (1:27, 28) who was equipped with tools for measuring. Ezekiel was commissioned to minister the complete revelation to the house of Israel. A cubit was about 18 inches, or the distance from fingertips to elbow. A handbreadth, the width of the hand across the widest part, was approximately three inches. Both a long cubit (a cubit of around 21 inches) and a short cubit (the standard 18 inches) existed. Based on these measurements, the measuring rod was six long cubits in length, about 126 inches or 10.5 feet, the height and width of the wall around the temple.
40:1–4. The vision of the new temple came to Ezekiel in the 25th year of … exile, at the beginning of the year, on the 10th of the month, in the 14th year after the fall of the city. The date was sometime in 573 b.c. The phrase “the beginning of the year” poses some problems. The Israelite religious new year began in Nisan (April–May) and was established at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 12:1–2). However, in Israel’s later history the seventh month, Tishri (October–November), became established as the first month of Israel’s civil or regnal year. So the date would be either April 28, 573 b.c. or October 22, 573 b.c. The October date was also the Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 23:27).
On that very day God … took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem in a vision (cf. Ezek. 8:1–3). Jerusalem was then vastly different from what it was before. Ezekiel was led on a “tour” of the future temple which he recorded in remarkable detail (see the sketch “The Millennial Temple,” on the previous page). This tour was given by a man, probably an angel, whose appearance was like bronze.
40:4 Declare … all that you see. Ezekiel 1–24 refers to Israel’s historical removal from her land; chaps. 25–32 to historical judgments against other nations; chap. 33 to a historical call to repentance and the fall of Jerusalem. So in chaps. 34–39, Israel’s literal, future return to the same Land as a reversal of the historical dispersion is the most natural way to interpret the chapters. Ezekiel 38, 39 describe a future, historical invasion of Israel and its aftermath during the time just before Messiah’s return. Therefore, chaps. 40–48 would then be thought to continue the historical, prophetic pattern, describing the millennial conditions after Messiah comes and destroys the ungodly (Rev 19:11ff.), under which Israel will live and worship. Believing Gentiles will also be in the kingdom as sheep of the Great Shepherd (cf. Mt 25:31–46), while all unbelievers are destroyed. Ezekiel is to write down all the details.
40:1–4 The Vision Begins. The date formula corresponds to April 573 b.c. About 12 years have passed since the last dated oracle (32:1). The phrase visions of God links this vision with 1:1 and 8:3. The ruined city is in the prophet’s mind (40:1) as the vision of a new city comes to him (v. 2). His guide, with an appearance like bronze, is reminiscent of the guide of 8:2.
40:1–4 Ezekiel’s detailed description, including precise measurements, suggests that the prophet saw a literal future temple. No such temple has been built—neither the temple of the returned exiles nor the grand edifice erected by Herod the Great followed Ezekiel’s blueprint. Many conservative scholars agree that Ezekiel’s vision was for the latter days of the end time.
This is the last dated prophecy in the book, in the spring of 573 b.c. It was not the last message chronologically, as the vision of 29:17–21 is older. Ezekiel was in the twenty-fifth year of exile. In this vision he was taken to Jerusalem, 14 years after its fall (40:1), and the actual city was still in ruins. The language of this vision suggests Ezekiel believed he was seeing Jerusalem in a Jubilee Year of the latter days, evidence suggesting the advent of the millennial kingdom.
 Alexander, R. H. (2010). Ezekiel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, pp. 878–879). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1066). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eze 40:4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1248). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.