Christ's Arrival at the Temple; Altar of Burnt Offering (Ezekiel 43) February 19-20
Returning to the east gate, Ezekiel is now given a glimpse of the awesome and thrilling arrival of Jesus Christ (identified by Ezekiel as the coming of the "glory of the Lord") to this newly completed temple, a scene that reminded him of the visions he had recorded earlier in his book (verses 1-5; see Ezekiel 1; 10). Ezekiel 10:18-19 had specifically mentioned God leaving the temple, after which it was destroyed. Here we have God returning again.
Verses 6-12 contain one of several sets of warning and instruction from God about what He expects the Israelites' behavior to be in this future temple, in contrast to their abominable behavior in the one upon which He had recently brought destruction.
The bronze altar of burnt offering in Solomon's temple was 20 x 20 x 10 cubits (2 Chronicles 4:1), much bigger than the portable one for the tabernacle, which was 5 x 5 x 3 cubits (see Exodus 27:1-2). The altar Ezekiel sees is similar, but it is either more elaborate or simply related in greater detail. Four vertical parts are described: a one-cubit-deep gutter for catching the blood of the sacrifices, a two-cubit-high lower ledge, an upper ledge four cubits above that, and a four-cubit-high structure around the hearth (for a total above ground height of 10 cubits), with horns extending above that at the four corners. Each succeeding level seems to have a one-cubit setback associated with it, the upper-level hearth being 12 x 12 cubits, and increasing by two cubits each level to apparently 16 x 16 cubits at the ground level with a one-cubit-wide gutter below that. Steps for accessing the hearth are located on the east side (verse 17). The altar is massive. It is taller than a two-story building. The base of the hearth is more than 12 feet above the ground, and more than 600 square feet. With the sides of the hearth being eight feet tall, it is likely that doors are built into the sides of the altar for placing meat and tending to the fires and ashes, though none are specifically mentioned.
The chapter concludes with a description of the purification offerings for the altar (verses 18-27). As in the days of the tabernacle, the process will take seven days (see Exodus 29:35-37).