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Ezekiel 40-48

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2/24/1991
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Ezekiel 40-48
Ezekiel 40-48
Skip Heitzig
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26 Ezekiel - 1990

Ezekiel prophesied to the Israelites in exile, to draw them back to the God they had deserted. Skip Heitzig looks at the amazing visions of Ezekiel, some of which mirror those in Revelation.

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Beginning with Ezekiel 40, there is an obvious change of subject. 38 and 39 deal with the last days of Israel's enemies coming against them and that enemy finally being destroyed. Ezekiel 37 describes the gathering of Israel in the land before that event, and as we mentioned last week, David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel and the first minister of defense. After Israel was established by the United Nations as a nation, he said, "Ezekiel 37 has now been fulfilled, and the nation of Israel can hear the footsteps of the messiah."

And the footsteps are getting a little louder as time progresses and as nations move on, and as once again, the focus of the world is upon the Middle East. And you cannot turn on a news program without hearing the word "Israel" mentioned. What will Israel do? Will they retaliate? What do they say about the ground war? It's interesting how Israel is always in the picture no matter what's going on, and always has been.

And chapter 40 deals with a temple that has not been built yet. We believe it will be rebuilt, but we're dealing with a piece of property that's about 35 acres square that is perhaps the most volatile piece of real estate on planet Earth. Certainly, the focus of the world will gradually come to just this temple area in Jerusalem.

How I wish that all of us could just be transported like the Enterprise tonight over to Israel, which-- it's daytime over there-- and we could stand tonight on the Mount of Olives, and I could point out to you everything that we're going to speak about tonight-- the East Gate, the Kidron Valley, the southeast-northerny spur of the Temple Mount, old Jebusite Jerusalem where David built the walls, seeing the flat temple structure that Herod the Great built, and the Dome of the Rock, where the temple used to stand, and just map it all out for you to get in a sense the topography of what Ezekiel saw in these visions. It would be so much better to do that as a backdrop just to do it right on the spot, but we don't have that luxury tonight, so we have to use our imagination. I will do my best to describe it, but my words are very limited. A picture's worth a thousand words.

By the way, our tour in Israel has been postponed to November. Airlines aren't flying in and out of there, although if you did go now, you'd have the run of the place, and you wouldn't have to fight tourists. And frankly, I'd probably like that. But we were advised that we should postpone it by a few sources, and we said, all right.

We thought, should we go in May? That could be safe. We thought, you know, let's just wait 'til November. Keep good prices. It's good weather, and we should probably be well out of danger at that point, and if not, well, we'll just do it one day at a time.

But tonight, I want to fill you in a little bit on the temple itself and speak about the possible interpretations of these next day chapters, touch on a few scripture verses in them, and give you some background on that piece of real estate that the temple was built upon. There are about five different interpretations as to what on Earth these chapters could possibly mean in the section of Ezekiel that we're reading.

There are those who say that this is a description of Solomon's temple prior to 586 BC, when the temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, when the Babylonians came against Jerusalem and razed it to the ground the third time that it came. The problem with that is the description that is so detailed in these next eight chapters or nine chapters doesn't fit the description in the Book of Kings and Chronicles of Solomon's temple, and so we probably should throw that interpretation out.

There are those who say that this description provided a reference point, a goal, for the people who finally returned from Babylon 70 years after she had been in captivity and went back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The only problem with that one is that Ezra, Nehemiah, Hagi never once mentioned using this as a reference for the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel. And again, the description of Zerubbabel's temple and the temple in these chapters do not match.

Third interpretation is that this is an ideal temple, the ideal, perfect temple that never has been or never will be built. And of course, there's a logical question with that. Why on Earth is it even mentioned then? If it's an ideal temple and it has no reference point of its fulfillment in past or future, why the detail? Why the amount of scripture? Why is it even written about? And there's a lot of holes in that interpretation.

The fourth interpretation is that this temple is not meant to be literal at all. It's just figurative, and it's spiritual, speaking of the Church in the future age and all of its glory. Again, then, you must wonder, why the detail, the measurements, the doorposts, the steps, the rooms that fill the temple? You have problems in applying the details and their symbolism. So you have a lot of problem with that one.

The people who espouse that interpretation are people who do not see the Bible as literally being fulfilled in the nation of Israel. They're not premillennialists. They're [? amillennialists. ?] And they believe in what they call spiritual Israel, and that all of God's promises have been forfeited by the nation and will be fulfilled in the Church, which is a bunch of bunk if you just read books like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Romans Chapters 9, 10, and 11-- just can't fit.

The fifth explanation, which seems to be the most plausible, is that this will be a temple that will be erected for the restored Jewish nation during the 1,000-year reign called the millennium. Now, oftentimes when we think about the future, we only think about us. We're the chosen people. We're the Church. Thus, the plan of God begins and ends with us.

Not so. God does have a plan for Israel in the future-- redeemed Israel-- that will recognize Christ as the Messiah. And a portion will turn to the Lord during the Tribulation, and God will have a plan for the 12 tribes of Israel that have been restored and recognized Jesus as the Messiah. And I believe there will be a 1,000-year reign of Christ literally upon this Earth, and it will involve the Jewish nation. And there's graphic detail to that effect in the Books, again, of Isaiah, the Book of Daniel, the promises in Jeremiah, and so forth.

If you would turn to the Book of Revelation-- not to steal thunder from the next several weeks-- but just for a point of reference, in Revelation Chapter 20, in verse one, "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. And he cast him into the bottomless pit and shut him up and set a seal on him so that he should deceive the nations no more until the 1,000 years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while.

And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of them who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads nor on their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ for 1,000 years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the 1,000 years were finished. This is the first Resurrection.

Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first Resurrection, over such the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him for 1,000 years."

The Millennium will be the kingdom reign of the messiah. The form of government will not be a democracy. The people will not rule. Thank God. Thank God that God is not Democrat nor Republican, not even bipartisan. It will not be a democracy. It will be a benevolent dictatorship where Jesus will rule and reign, and He'll just call the shots.

And if there's any question as to what is just and unjust, it doesn't have to go to court. It doesn't have to be mishandled by lawyers, doesn't have to be decided upon by a judge. But God will just call the shots, and we'll sit back and go, that's great. Good choice.

And the beauty of it is we're going to rule and reign with Him. What a job. The Bible says that we're going to rule angels. I'm sure the angels don't get too excited about that one, though it's kind of neat to think about. They're going, oh, Lord, I don't know about this. But we'll be in a redeemed state. We'll be able to handle the job a lot better.

In the history of Israel, altogether, there are at least four temples. When I say history, I'm talking about past and future. Two of them have come and gone, the first temple being Solomon's Temple, the one that David wanted to build, the second one being the temple that the children of Israel rebuilt when they entered the land after the 70 years' captivity, called Zerubbabel's Temple, or sometimes called Herod's Temple. I'll cover that a little more in detail as we go on.

There are two temples that are yet future that have not been built but will be built. One will be during the Tribulation period as a covenant is made with the antichrist, or the son of perdition, the man of sin, with the nation of Israel. After that one is kaput because then he breaks the covenant and sets himself up as God, there will be the Millennial Temple, which I believe is described by Ezekiel. That's the interpretation that I see here.

The history of the temple goes way back to the time of Abraham, when God tested Abraham in Genesis Chapter 22, and he said, "Abraham, take now your son, your only son, whom you love, and go to the land of Mariah to one of the mountains that I will show you." So Abraham saddled up his donkey. He took his son, Isaac-- Isaac didn't know that his dad was going to slaughter him on an altar.

But he obeyed God, and he went down to the area of Mount Mariah in present-day Jerusalem. And you know the story. He took the knife out to slay his son. An angel of the Lord said, hey, stop. It was a test. You passed the test. You got an A on it. Now we know that you won't withhold anything from the Lord, that the Lord is number one priority, even over your own family. You're willing to sacrifice even your family to obey God, but I haven't called you to do that, so put away your knife.

And there was a ram caught in the thicket. Abraham slaughtered it, and it says he called the name of the place "the Lord will provide," [HEBREW] in Hebrew. As it is said unto this day, in the Mountain of the Lord, it shall be seen.

Today, there is a dome that has been put there since about 691 by the Arabs called the Dome of the Rock, a mosque upon which the Arabs call a holy ground, next to their third-holiest place on the Temple Mount known as Al-Aqsa. Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem are the three holy sites for the Arabs. So a dome occupies the place where they believe Abraham sacrificed-- almost-- his son, Ishmael. That's how they interpret it, instead of Isaac-- that Abraham sacrificed his son Ishmael upon that altar, and they kind of have messed with and tampered with the story.

Later on, it became a Jebusite city, and the area of Jerusalem now is spread out so much, you could see the old city today and you can see the new city with its skyscrapers. But if you were on the Temple Mount and you walked down to the Kidron Valley, you would see an escarpment of rock and dirt that enters the Kidron Valley. It is surrounded, really, on three sides by valley, and the three sides of this outcropping have steep slopes, which was an ideal defense for ancient people.

It was on that site that the Jebusites began the city of Jebuse, or excuse me, Jerusalem. And the names got changed as they went on. It was an excellent place because it was defendable, having three sides of a valley, and it had an excellent water supply-- the Gihon Spring. David, as you remember, took the city. It came under their occupation, and later on, he said, why do I live in a beautiful house but the Ark of God dwells behind curtains? And so he came up with a plan to move the ark up into Jerusalem.

Well, I'm skipping, of course, a lot of sections here, but there came a time, you remember, when David decided he would number that people of Israel. Remember that? And it was a sin against God. As he numbered them, he did it so that he could know how powerful he was. Rather than trusting in God's power, he trusted in his army.

As soon as he numbered his people, a great plague swept through Jerusalem and killed thousands of innocent people, and David was mourning. And an angel of the Lord stopped at the threshing floor of Araunah. And there, David built an altar to the Lord after purchasing this threshing floor.

Well, it so happened that the threshing floor that David purchased to build an altar to the Lord was Mount Mariah, where Abraham sacrificed his son. And it was there that David decided, I'm going to build a temple for God right in this place. And he went to Nathan, and Nathan said, hey, man, go for it. Do it. Do whatever's in your heart, Dave.

However, God stopped the prophet Nathan. He says, hey, you know what? You spoke out of turn. Go tell David that he is a man of blood. He's a man who's engaged in a lot of warfare. Therefore, he will not build this temple, but Solomon, his son, will.

So David died, and Solomon, in the 11th year of his reign, completed the temple. It took Solomon seven years to build, and it was finished the 11th year of Solomon's reign. Solomon decided in the first few years of his reign to get cedar, cypress, and stone from Lebanon under King Hiram in exchange for grain and oil and wine. So with the materials, he built the temple.

Solomon dedicated the temple to God, and it says that Solomon stood on a platform, and then he kneeled on the platform in front of all of the people of Israel. And he spread out his hands to heaven, and he prays probably the longest prayer in the scripture, a prayer of dedication. As soon as he finished this prayer, fire came out of heaven and consumed the animal that was cut up and filleted on the altar-- consumed it-- and the people bowed down immediately and said, hey, the Lord is good. May His mercy endure forever.

[CHUCKLING]

Hey, I count on His mercy right now, seeing that fire. But God said that He would keep that place as long as there was strict observance to His law, which as you know, we've been reading about, there wasn't strict observance. The people sinned against God. And 400 years later, Jerusalem in 586 BC was taken captive by the Babylonians, who destroyed it, destroyed the temple, and took the people captive. So Solomon's Temple, the First Temple, was destroyed.

After being in captivity for 70 years and being released under King Cyrus, who took over Babylon, being [INAUDIBLE] and a Persian, and he established his empire, Cyrus was sympathetic toward other cultures and other religions and let the Jews go back to their land, and commissioned them to rebuild their temple. Artaxerxes and Cyrus told them to go back. They went back, although a few of them went back, and most of them stayed. They found Babylon pretty nice. They weren't pioneers anymore. They'd been settled down. They're a little older now.

But some of them went back under Zerubbabel, and Ezra and Nehemiah write about it. And they went back to rebuild the ruins because Jerusalem was in a shambles. They rebuilt the temple, and they had peace for quite some time until a Syrian king by the name of Antiochus IV came along and decided he hated Jewish people and wanted them to conform to Grecian standards. Antiochus IV gave himself another name. He called himself Theos Antiochus Theos Epiphanes, which means I am God in human flesh. He had a pride problem, and God was going to spank him real good.

But in the meantime, he decided to come and subjugate the Jews, and especially the temple in Jerusalem, for his own standard. So he stopped the Sabbath. He stopped the sacrifices. He put harlots in the temple. He took a pig, the most unkosher meat he could think of, and sacrificed it in the temple courts. The Jews saw that as an abomination that causes desolation. The sacrifices had been ceased, even as Daniel predicted. They thought perhaps this was the fulfillment of it.

At that time, because the temple had been desecrated, the Jews got ticked off. And during the Maccabean dynasty, developed by a guy named Judas Maccabeus-- oh, by the way, let me tell you what Antiochus was like. He killed 80,000 Jews. 40,000 of them he took captive.

One story is told of a woman who dared to defy Antiochus Epiphanes, and she circumcised her baby. And another woman decides, hey, you know, if you can do it, I can do it, and circumcised her baby-- both male children. Antiochus decided he would kill the babies in front of them, hang the dead babies on a rope around their neck, parade the mothers with their dead babies around their neck through the streets of Jerusalem, and stand on the temple over the wall of Jerusalem overlooking the Kidron Valley and then push them to their death. There's another story of seven mothers who defied the king's request, kept the Sabbath, kept all of the dietary regulations. He found out about it and took a hot iron and literally fried and baked their sons in front of them.

At that time, God raised up, according to Jewish beliefs. God raised up. A guy by the name of Judas Maccabeus-- he was called the hammer, who basically wiped out Antiochus Epiphanes, re-established the temple worship. And miraculously, one little cruse of oil that they found lasted, instead of one day, lasted eight days. And they called the festival Hanukkah-- Hanukkah, or the festival of lights.

So people ask me every Christmas, why do the Jews celebrate Hanukkah? Well, that's why-- because there was the restoration of temple worship under Judas Maccabeus. Jesus, by the way, celebrated Hanukkah, which we're told in the Gospel of John. And it was the Feast of Dedication where they dedicated the temple.

All right. Later on, Israel was taken over by the Romans, and an egomaniac by the name of Herod the Great, who happened to be a short little guy with a short man's complex, wanted to prove that he was something big and the Jews hated him. And he built grand edifices all over the country, and he pushed his weight around to try to prove, hey, I'm really something. And he decided that he would establish the temple area and make it bigger and better than Solomon even ever made it or than Zerubbabel ever made it. And so he decided to reconstruct Zerubbabel's Temple. We're on the Second Temple now. However, he basically started from scratch, and he built the whole area again.

You see, Mount Mariah is a mountain. It's got a peak to it, and there was a little temple on top in the time of Solomon. Herod the Great decided that he would move in dirt and make a landfill and take and cut the top of the mountain and make it all one level. And so the temple complex is 35 acres. That's Herod the Great's doing.

You can still see the stones that Herod the Great laid 2,000 years ago in that area and the retaining wall that he built-- huge area. And he put a porch around it called Solomon's Porch. Altogether, it took something like 78 years to build, and not even completely finished when the Romans destroyed it under Titus.

So Herod the Great built this big temple, but it sounds like we're having a Third Temple, right? Herod's Temple is often called the Second Temple because it was supposed to be a remodel of Zerubbabel's. I'm giving you a lot of Jewish history on the temple. Keep in mind, Solomon's the first and the second is Zerubbabel and Herod the Great during the time of Jesus.

Jesus stood on the Mount of Olives, and he looked over Jerusalem one day and he started audibly lamenting, saying, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not have it. Therefore, your enemies will cast a trench about you. And he said, not one stone shall be left upon another. All of them shall be thrown down. He predicted the fall of the Temple.

Under Titus, the Roman governor, the Roman general and his legions, in 70 AD-- now, in 70 AD when the Jews were dwelling securely in Jerusalem, Titus came against Jerusalem and decided, I'm going to make these stubborn Jews bow the knee once and for all. But because he respected the Temple being a Roman building now, he gave strict orders to preserve this jewel of the Middle East.

And so his soldiers, in a five-month siege, killed 1.1 million Jews in Jerusalem. 3 million of them at one point stayed within the Old City, and they were starving to death. And it is reported that during the siege, 4,000 Jews were thrown-- their bodies were thrown over the walls of Jerusalem every day-- ones that had died in the siege. It was just bloody, and it was horrible.

In the battle around the Temple area, one drunken soldier, according to Josephus, threw in a torch into the Temple area that caught some of the grain, some of the implements of worship, on fire, caught the curtain that separates the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, and it went up in flames. And the fire was so hot, according to Josephus, that the rim of gold around the top of the temple structure melted through the cracks of the stones. And when it finally stopped, the soldiers came in and took every stone, one upon another, off to get at the gold within the cracks, and the prophecy of Jesus was literally fulfilled. Not one stone will be left upon another.

Now, the Bible says there will be another temple that will be built. According to the Book of Daniel, he called it the abomination of desolation. And you could say, wait a minute that's past. That happened at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.

Well, Jesus came along after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes and said, "When you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in [HEBREW], the holy place, flee Jerusalem." So he spoke of it as yet future. And he said, "The prince will come"-- this antichrist-- "and confirm a covenant with many"-- the Jewish nation-- for a period of seven years. But in the middle of the covenant, he'll break his contract, and he'll set up the abomination that causes desolation.

Paul in 2 Thessalonians refers to this temple and this abomination when he says, "The man of sin will cause the sacrifices to cease, will set up an image of himself, proclaim himself to be God, and demand that the Jews worship him." At that point, the Jews will flee, probably east of the Dead Sea. It is speculated in the area of Basra or Petra. And the Great Tribulation will be in full swing at that time.

Then we get to this temple, which I believe is the temple during the Millennium where God has now restored the Jewish nation. The remnant of believing Jews who worship him are on the Earth. And yet I hear somebody thinking, now, wait a minute. As I read in the Book of Revelation, there's a new Jerusalem and there's no temple in it.

But remember, it's the new Jerusalem coming out of heaven, where I believe the Church will dwell. And there is no temple in it, which I'm really grateful for because I don't really like rituals anyway. And it says, "The Lord Almighty and the lamb will be the temple." You're just going to hang out with Jesus face to face. He'll be the temple. He'll be the light. "Yet upon the Earth, it seems that this renewed covenant with the Jewish nation there will be a temple, and there will be sacrifices."

Now, I know all sorts of questions are buzzing in your minds, and we've taken up a half an hour in the history. But no problem, because we're just going to skip around and cover some salient points and then close the book. I thought it was good to just do one fell swoop from Abraham on, though, to get the gist.

Now, verse 1-- "In the 25th year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the 10th day of the month in the 14th year after the city was captured, on the very same day, the hand of the Lord was upon me and he took me there." So he has one of these wild visions again. Now, this isn't a food vision like he ate too much pizza and he had a dream one night of all these fancy things. This was actually either the Lord literally transporting him there or a vision he saw in the spirit. Both are possible. Nothing's too hard for the Lord.

"In the visions of God, He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain. On it, toward the south, was something like a structure of a city. He took me there, and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, and he had a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand, and he stood in the gateway." Now, these were like having a tape measure, a little Stanley 25-footer. Basically, in the Old Testament times, he had a string for long measurements and a rod for shorter measurements.

"And he stood in the gateway, and he said to me, 'Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears, and fix your mind on everything that I show you, for you were brought here that I might show them to you. Declare to the house of Israel everything you see.'"

Now, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple. In the man's hand was a measuring rod six qubits long. Qubit-- each being a qubit and a handbreadth-- so about 20 and 1/2 inches long. And he measured the width of the wall structure with one rod. A rod is believed to be about 10 and 1/3 feet long. So he's got his measuring implements.

And he went to the gateway, which faced the east, and he went up its stairs and measured the threshold of the gateway, which was one rod wide, and the other threshold was one rod wide. Each gate chamber was one rod long, one rod wide. Between the gate chambers was a space of five qubits, and the threshold of the gateway by the vestibule of the inside of the gates was one rod.

Pretty much, a lot of these chapters are just what we're reading. It's filled with measurements, which according to one architect said an architect today, a builder, could follow this and reconstruct exactly and build a structure out of these blueprints, these plans-- build a beautiful edifice. One followed it and drew it out in scale on paper, and I saw it. It was beautiful.

So he measures the eastern gate, the outer court, the northern gate. You notice that there's a reference to also much detail on the gates, on the steps, and the rooms. And there's beautiful, ornate carvings that God commands to be built. In fact, look down at verse 31. The gate of the inner court-- its archways face the outer court, and palm trees were on its gateposts going up [INAUDIBLE] steps.

I was just fascinated this week to find how many references to palm trees will be decorated in the Millennial Temple. God must love palm trees. I've always said palm trees are God's favorite tree. The Bible says in the Book of Psalms, "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree."

It is my favorite tree, as you can tell. Grew up around them and I loved them and I miss them. And it's going to be great to at least maybe hang out and go visit. Hey, let's go down and skip the New Jerusalem today and just hang out and look at what's happening down in the Millennial Temple. And look at those palm trees. Aren't they beautiful? And go up the steps and--

Then in verse 38, there's a reference to sacrificial chambers that were built. There was a chamber and its entrance by the gateposts of the gateway where they washed the burnt offering. In the vestibule of the gateway were two tables on this side and two tables on that side on which to slay the burnt offering-- the sin offering and the trespass offering.

So somehow-- and it would puzzle us at first-- there seems to be the reinstitution of a Mosaic sacrificial system, if indeed this is the Millennial Temple. Now, you might read this and say, well, now reading this, I think it's one of the other explanations. I don't buy into it. But hang on. Hold onto your hat because it's still the best explanation.

In verse 42, there were also four tables of hewn stone, for the burnt offerings one qubit and a half. Notice how much is built out of stone. It's all built out of stone. You know, when they built structures in those days, and still today, they use pure stone. In fact, it's a legal ordinance, a deed restriction. If you build in Jerusalem, every structure must be built out of local Jerusalem stone. And so you see structures over there that are 900, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 years old.

I've been into a person's house. They said, oh, this was built by the Crusaders. Oh, it's about 900 years old. Hey, if we get a house that's 90 years old in this country, we'd make it a museum. The best we can do is 2 by 4 and stucco, and it deteriorates rapidly. But imagine, pure stone-- and everything was made out of stone. And it mentions stone tables.

Remember when Jesus walked into the temple at the beginning of His ministry and once at the end of His ministry, He walked in and He cleansed the temple. I just love it. He walked up to this temple where the money-changers were and they were making a racket, and He took the table and He overturned it.

Well, these were stone tables. Don't think of them as little card tables with folding chairs around them. These were solid stone tables, and Jesus did it Himself. He didn't say, John, Peter, give me a hand on this table. These are heavy, dude. He just walked in there in His righteous anger. Just-- woom-- threw this table and probably broke it in two, and those guys went running. And He took a whip and just-- one of my favorite stories.

[CHUCKLING]

And so there's this mention to the building of it and the stones that are fashioned for it. And they laid-- verse 42-- the instruments with which they slaughtered the burnt offering and the sacrifice. In verse 44, outside the inner gates were the chambers for the singers in the inner court, one facing south at the site of the northern gateway and the other facing north at the site of the southern gateway.

There'll be music in that Millennial Temple. Probably the levitical choirs will be cranked up again. Levitical worship-- and it says that there were hundreds and hundreds-- thousands, actually-- of people who used to sing in the temple confines. Imagine waking up, living in Jerusalem, to the chant of the Levites singing and worshipping the Lord in the Temple. Beautiful.

More dimensions are given-- architectural dimensions-- in the next couple chapters. In chapter 41, beginning in verse 13, the temple proper is described and measured. Keep in mind that when we speak of the temple, we speak of it in one of two ways-- the temple structures, plural, often called the Temple Mount and all of its buildings.

And then there is the Temple, which would be literally translated the House of the Lord. It is where God said He would dwell among His people. Now, He doesn't dwell in a house made with hands anymore, but He did it so that people could have a reference to God being among His people.

Now, when Solomon dedicated the temple and the fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt sacrifice, it says that the glory of the Lord-- the visible glory-- entered the temple, and it was so strong that the priests had to leave the temple. It was just so thick. It was just so awesome. And the glory of the Lord stayed in that temple until later on, during Solomon's reign, the nation had gone into idolatry.

And it says that the glory of the Lord went out of the temple toward the east, stopped in the courtyard, went over to the east gate, stopped, went out toward the Mount of Olives, and then ascended into heaven, and there has never been the glory of the Lord in that temple ever again. It will return during this time period, where we'll read about it in the next couple of chapters-- in fact, chapter 43-- the glory of the Lord returns. It's often called, by the way, the Shekinah Glory of God, and we'll get to that in a minute.

Verse 17-- "From the space above the door, even to the inner room, as well as outside on every wall all around, inside and outside by measure"-- notice the detail that is given in this description of the Millennial Temple-- such detail. Should be a lesson for us that when it comes to doing the work of the Lord, we should pay attention to detail. We should pay attention to the instructions God gives in the Scripture for worship.

We shouldn't be haphazard and say, oh, it doesn't matter. It does matter. It does matter that we worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, and we obey what the Scripture says, not just saying, oh, it doesn't really matter. Yeah, you've kind of got the idea-- but that we pay attention to the details of God-- not that you're saved by them, but that you want to please the Lord in that capacity.

And verse 18-- it was made with cherubim, these angelic beings, and palm tree-- a palm tree between a cherub and a cherub, and each cherub had two faces so that the face of a man was toward the palm tree on one side, the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. Hey, they're both checking out palm trees. Thus it was made throughout the temple all around. Can't wait to look at it.

There are chambers for the priests described in chapter 42, and again, more dimensions of the outer structures of the temple. Now, chapter 43-- "Afterwards, he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters, and the Earth shone with His glory."

Does that remind you of another vision? It's a vision that you're going to read next week in Revelation Chapter 1, Verse 15. Jesus is seen as having the voice of many waters, and here it says the glory of the Lord came, and the glory is personified with a pronoun-- He, not it. He. His voice was like the sound of many waters, and the Earth shone with His glory.

I believe that just the glory of Jesus will be there as He comes back in His Second Coming to the Earth, to the Mount of Olives, after a period of judgment, after a period of clean-up, inaugurates this Millennial Temple. How it will be built, I don't know. But it will be built, and He will cause the glory to return.

"It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city." Poor translation. It should be when He came to destroy the city, as the NIV correctly renders it.

You remember the previous vision that he had? He was taken to Jerusalem, and God said, you know what? Ezekiel, these people have sinned against me. I'm going to destroy Jerusalem because of their idolatry and their iniquity. "The visions were like the vision which I saw by the river Kebar, and I fell on my face, and the glory of the Lord came into the temple by the way of the gate which faces toward the east. And the spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple."

The next several chapters, this one beginning it, describe the kind of worship that will take place with restored Israel in the Millennial Temple. This is often called the Glory of the Lord-- the Shekinah Glory of God. It's a term that you'll never find in the Scripture because it's an Aramaic, and a later Hebrew, term, which literally means the visible presence.

It's a term that they came up with-- Jewish people later on, and Christians-- to describe what happened in Solomon's Temple that came and then went. And it's called the Shekinah Glory of God, and Jesse [? Ponce ?] in our church has a little joke. He calls it the Chicano Glory of God that will be in the temple. And nonetheless, it will be glorious.

"I heard Him speaking to me from the temple while the man stood beside me, and He said to me, son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever." Forever this time-- it will be forever in this temple. "No more shall the house of Israel defile my holy name, they nor their kings by their harlotry, or with the carcasses of their kings on high places."

In verse 10, "Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel that they may be ashamed of their iniquities, and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits, its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, its forms and all of its laws. Write it down in their sight so that they may keep its whole design and its ordinances and perform them."

This is the law of the temple. The whole area surrounding the mountain top shall be [HEBREW], the Most Holy, a name that was reserved for the inner sanctum, where the Ark of the Covenant dwelled in the temple proper. The whole mountaintop shall be called the Most Holy. This is the law of the temple.

So in one sense, this vision was given to the people who were at the Kebar River as an incentive. If they were ashamed for their sin, it was a reminder, as Ezekiel said-- let me tell you something. You see that you have failed God. Our temple has been destroyed.

Well, listen. One day God's going to rebuild the temple, and it will be forever, and there will be no defilement forever and ever in this temple. That's what God has planned in his restoration for the land, and it would be an encouragement to them as they were there, supposedly forsaken in a foreign land. And the descriptions continue.

In verse 18, he said to me, son of man, thus says the Lord God. These are the ordinances for the altar on the day when it is made for sacrificing burnt offerings on it and for sprinkling blood on it, and you shall give a young bull for a sin offering to the priest-- the Levites-- who are the seed of Zadok, who approach me to minister to me, says the Lord God.

Now, automatically we have a problem with this because it says in Hebrews that not by the blood of goats or bullocks can they atone for sin or cover sin at all, but only by the blood of Jesus Christ once and for all-- that those things can atone for sins. And yet we see a re-establishment of them, and I'll explain a little more of that as we go on. I'm just putting those seeds in your mind as we go to keep in mind what's going on here.

But the Bible says that we have been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. It's done. So why is there the rekindling of sacrifices? And moreover, why in chapter 45 do we see the keeping of the Passover? Well, we'll offer a couple explanations.

But chapter 44 is interesting. "He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces toward the east, and it was shut." If you were to go to Jerusalem today-- and let's pretend right now we're on the Mount of Olives and we're looking down in the Kidron Valley. And directly ahead of us is a golden dome called the Dome of the Rock. It's the Arab-occupied Temple Mount. To the left is Al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site to the Muslims. And a little bit down and to the right is a gate that extrudes from the wall that surrounds the temple mount.

You notice that this is a thick gate that seems to be about 40 feet thick as you look at it, and it's got two archways rather than one single archway to enter. However, the gate is completely blocked up by stones. It was blocked up, I believe, in the year 800-something by the Turkish emperor Saladin.

He blocked it up because he heard-- this is the legend; don't know how true it is, but it's been written about. He believed-- he knew-- he found out that the Christians and the Jews believed that the Messiah, when He returns, would come through the eastern gate into the temple area. So he thought, hey, I'm going to keep Him from coming in, and he blocked it up.

Well, think about it for a minute. How are you going to keep the Messiah, if He indeed comes back and it's true and it's real, in all of His glory and His power-- how are you going to stop Him with a few stones? And so notice this scripture as we go on.

"And the Lord said to me, 'This gate shall be shut. It shall not be opened, and no man shall enter it because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it. Therefore, it shall be shut.' As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat the bread before the Lord. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway and go out the same way."

Now, the prince that he's speaking about is not Jesus Christ. I don't believe it is. I believe it's some ruler, perhaps David, because it says in Jeremiah that David would be resurrected during this time and would rule in Israel. Whether it refers to him or not literally or it's just another prince who carries out the dictates of the Messiah, it's hard to tell. We know it's not Jesus Christ because this prince later on in the chapters will offer up a sacrifice for his own sins and he will have children, and we know that can't refer to Christ.

But it's interesting. It says, "The Lord God of Israel has entered in by it," and of course, we know that Jesus did enter in years later, as he rode on a donkey and he went across the Kidron Valley through that very gate, and he was proclaimed King of Kings and Lord of Lords, exactly as Daniel predicted.

"And then he brought me"-- verse 4-- "by the way of the north gate to the front of the temple. And so I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell on my face."

Now, he's constantly falling down. I don't believe it's because some power overtook him and he was quote unquote "slain in the spirit," as has been supposed by some, that this is that experience of ecstasy whereby you lose control and you fall down and bonk your head. I don't believe that.

I believe that when you see in a vision or reality like this the presence of God, you are humble, and voluntarily, you get on your face. John, when he saw the visions, got down on his face and worshipped. Even when angels appeared, John worshiped, and the angel had to say, hey, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. I'm just an angel. I'm a servant. Get up. I'm not God. Don't worship me. I'm just an angel.

But there was that humility. Isaiah saw the Lord High and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the temple in Isaiah chapter 6, and Isaiah said woe is me, and he was humble. Peter, when he recognized who Jesus was because of the great catch of fish-- he knelt down and said, "Depart from me, Lord. I'm a sinful man." So there was that knowledge that I'm in the presence of God and the humility that came upon afterwards.

What verse was I in?

[INAUDIBLE]

Oh, yeah. Verse 5 now. Thank you. "The Lord said to me, 'Son of man, mark well. See with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord and all of its laws. Mark well who may enter the house and all who go out from the sanctuary.'"

And just by the way, going into chapter 44, verse 17, concerning the priests during this time-- "And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments." This is interesting. "No wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. They shall have linen turbines on their heads, linen trousers on their bodies. They shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat."

I love that. I love that God doesn't care anything about perspiration but inspiration. Now, some people make a big deal out of sweating and working themselves up into it, and God said, hey, when you minister here, I want you to be comfortable. I want you to relax. I want you to enjoy my presence.

I don't want you to sweat. I don't want perspiration. I want inspiration. As you worship me, I don't want anything that causes you to break out into sweat. Linen-- hey, nothing's more comfortable, and probably expensive, than linen.

And they shall have linen turbines on their heads so it won't cause a sweat, and-- talks about their ministering. And in verse 20, it says, "Nor shall they shave their heads nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well-trimmed." Both shaving of the head and then growing it out again were signs of mourning, and so in the ministry here in the Millennial Temple, hey, just keep it well-trimmed. Have a balance.

"No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. He shall have full control of his capabilities," his senses. "They shall not take as a wife"-- these are the ministers of the temple. "They shall not take as a wife a widow or a divorced woman, but take virgins of the descendants of the house of Israel or widows of priests, and they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the unholy and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." And chapter 45 speaks more about rules, regulations, worship, and there's the inference of the Passover in verse 18.

"Thus says the Lord God, in the first month on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorpost of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gateposts of the gate of the inner court. And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance. Thus you shall make atonement for the temple. In the first month, on the 14th day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days. Unleavened bread shall be eaten."

There's a couple of explanations of this. Of course, you know Passover is the pivotal feast for the Jewish nation. It was the beginning of their year. It was the beginning of their feast. They would always look back to the redemption from Egypt where God passed over them and punished the Egyptians and brought them into their land. So Passover was the feast of redemption, and it was something the Jews always looked back to as a reference point.

One explanation of this whole scene, especially the feast, is that this is not literal. This is all figurative, and this speaks of the glory of the Church in the future and all of its worship. And of course, you have trouble then with the symbolism and why the detail of the symbolism when it really doesn't even mean what it says. I suppose that's a plausibility, though I don't see it that way at all.

Then other people see it as literal, but as a point of reference looking back to the work of Christ on the cross. You say, now, why would anybody offer a feast to look back to the sacrifice on the cross? Well, we do it in communion. We're commanded to keep a feast in the Christian church, often in remembrance, looking back to the cross, yet we keep the symbolism even now.

The Jewish people kept Passover, looking back to the redemption, although it had already been completed. They were already in the land. It was a memorial, even as communion is a memorial. Do this often in memory or remembrance of me. Taking communion is not efficacious for atonement. It's not like, oh, I've sinned. I better take holy communion.

Hey, communion is a memorial. It looks back to something once and for all completed, and the cross of Christ is once and for all completed. And if anything, at best, it is the memorial of the Jewish nation restored upon the Earth, looking back to what Jesus did on the cross. That's the other explanation.

Of course, we know that in heaven there will be this symbolism. John, in the Book of Revelation, is caught up in heaven, and he sees on the one who sits upon the throne a scroll. And the angel starts weeping because nobody has the right to take the scroll, the title deed to the Earth, and unloose it.

And John said, I started weeping convulsively, and the angel said, hey, don't weep. Behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to take the scroll and loose the seals. And so he looked for this lion and he saw a lamb. Didn't see a lion at all. He saw a lamb as though it had been slain. That's wild. In heaven, John saw the Lamb of God still bearing the marks of it being slain, or crucifixion.

Jesus Christ, when he ascended or rose from the grave-- he still had the marks of the crucifixion in his hands. The disciples didn't recognize him. He said, Thomas, look. Thrust your hand in my hand and on my sides and see that it's me. So he still bore the marks, and he ascended into heaven with that body, and he's seated at the right hand of God.

And when you and I get to heaven, you will see a lamb as though it had been slain. I believe that Jesus Christ will bear the marks of his crucifixion throughout all of eternity, not to make you feel guilty when you look at him, but it is His joy and His glory, because it's those marks that bought you a place in heaven. And you'll look at that as a point of reference for all of eternity, looking back to the cross, as you look in the face of Jesus Christ and the thorn-beaten brow and the marks in his hands, and you'll forever be saying praise be to the lamb as the angelic host in Revelation 4 and 5 break out in an anthem of praise.

So it could be that this is what the sacrifice for the Jewish nation upon the Earth that has been redeemed and restored under the Messiah-- though it has no expiatory value, or atoning value, it's just as symbolic.

They observe the Passover. Worship is talked about in the next couple chapters. Chapter 47-- hey, we're going to make it. Chapter 47 to 48-- picture the restored land of Israel and the borders given. And it's interesting. In chapter 47, the northern border, southern border, east and west are given. Of course, we know that Israel's western border is always the Mediterranean Sea. It doesn't expand any more than that.

But the northern border during the Millennium will be as far up as Tyre in Lebanon, all the way to-- cut a line across to Damascus in Syria, down to Egypt-- the River of Egypt-- and all the way to the Jordan River. That's where the tribes of Israel will be inhabited. They'll live, yet they'll have control of the whole Trans-Jordan and Tigris-Euphrates Valley-- modern-day Iraq. The Jews, the Israelis, will control the Tigris-Euphrates all the way from the Nile to the Euphrates River. They'll have control over it, but they'll dwell in the land prescribed here.

The tribes are aligned or are given allotments of land, this time in strips rather than in lots in the Old Testament. And you have a tribe here and a tribe settling there. It's as if you take the strip of Israel and cut it into slices. And it's given from the east to the Mediterranean Sea in horizontal slices all the way across.

But I just want to skip over-- read something very important in chapter 47. It talks about this river running through. It says, "He brought me back to the door of the temple, and there was water flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced the east. The water's flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar."

Now, the interesting thing is that this river flows east, down into the valley, which in Hebrew-- and the word-- here is [HEBREW], which is the technical term for the Dead Sea Valley, and it flows into the Dead Sea. And it says when it flows into the Dead Sea, the waters of the Dead Sea are healed.

Verse 8-- "He said to me, 'This water flows toward the eastern region, down into the [HEBREW] and enters the sea'"-- the Dead Sea. "When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed, and it shall be that every living thing that moves wherever the rivers go will live. There will be great multitudes of fish because these waters go there, and they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes."

So the Dead Sea, which is today 1,290 feet below sea level, has a saline content of 25%. Nothing can live in it-- nothing of value. They say, well, they have a microbe that might live in it. Big deal. But it's dead. And 25% salt solution-- you could sit in the Dead Sea and float. If you can't swim at all, you could go all the way from Israel to Jordan, if you had that longing desire, without ever swimming.

And one of the fun things to do is to lay in the Dead Sea on our tours and open our Bibles or a Jerusalem Post and just sit there and read it while you're just kicking back in the waters of the Dead Sea. Well, it won't-- in the Millennium, it'll be healed.

And there's verse 10. "It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from Ein Gedi to Ein, or to [INAUDIBLE]," which is probably Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. "There will be places for the spreading of their nets. Their fish will be the same kinds as the fish of the great sea, exceedingly many." So for me to imagine-- I've been in Ein Gedi and I look at the Dead Sea and think, God, this is godforsaken country. To think that fishermen will be spreading their nets down in that area-- wow.

And then the borders of the land are given. The division of the land in parallel strips, as I mentioned-- the gates are given. And I want to draw your attention to the last verse of the book. "All the way around shall be 18,000 qubits." So if you're really ambitious, you can figure out the measurements and draw it out yourself, and that's if you're really ambitious.

"And the name of the city from that day shall be--" I love it-- "The Lord is there." A country that forsook God, a nation that sinned, that God punished over and over and over and over again, will one day be brought back, and God will make good the covenant that he gave to Abraham, re-establish them in their land.

There will be a restored temple for 1,000 years. Rivers will flow from the temple in Jerusalem eastward toward the Dead Sea. They'll be fishing down in the Dead Sea by Ein Gedi and by Qumran. And the name of the city "this is where God hangs out." The Lord is there, and the Lord will be there. And as John saw in another place, the great new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, coming from the sky, where there is no temple-- but the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are the temple in it.

How we look forward to the day when there will be a benevolent monarchy, a dictatorship, when God controls people and God rules the land and we see things the way God originally intended them when He created the Earth before the Fall. And at that day, it says that men will not have ground wars or send SCUDs or Patriots. But it says they will take and beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Men will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn to make war anymore. What a great day that's going to be.

Until then, there will be a tribulation period where man rebels and God judges. There will be a temple that will be rebuilt during that time by the antichrist. You say, is that possible?

I have an article from Time Magazine that I shared some months ago on a Sunday morning. I saw it in Time Magazine. I thought, "That's wild." It's a picture of the temple during the time of Herod, when he rebuilt what Zerubbabel tried to do, and it's from a model. If you go to the Holy Land Hotel today in Jerusalem, there's a scale model, which is pretty large, of the city of Jerusalem, and that's where it's taken.

But it says, "Time for a new temple?" Question mark. Talks about Jewish prayers that express a yearning that makes Jerusalem's Temple Mount potentially the most volatile 35 acres on Earth. It gives a little bit of its history. The temple reconstruction was no issue until 1967, when Israel captured the Mount in the Old City.

The command to build the temple is irrevocable, and the Jerusalem Talmud says Jews may construct an intermediate edifice before the messianic era. So their own law, the Talmud, allows them-- rabbinic law allows them to build a temple before Ezekiel's temple, which by the way, the Jews believe will be the messianic temple. And so hey, during the Tribulation, the antichrist says, hey, I'll build you guys a temple. Great.

A 1983 newspaper poll showed that a surprising 18.3% of Israelis-- now, this is back in '83-- thought that it was time to rebuild, and just a small-- 3%-- wanted to wait for the Messiah. Most of them were charged up. Talks about problems they've had.

However, several small organizations in Jerusalem believe the question is settled. They are zealously making preparations for the new temple in spite of the doctrinal obstacles and the certainty of provoking Muslim fury. And with what's going on now, we could see this come about possibly.

Two Talmudic schools located near the Western or the Wailing Wall are teaching nearly 200 students the elaborate details of temple service, which we read partially tonight. Next year, which is '91, this year, an organizing convention will be held for those who believe themselves to be of priestly descent.

During the six years of research, the institute has reconstructed-- they've reconstructed 38 of the ritual implements that will be required when temple sacrifices are restored. In addition to such items as trumpets, lyres, and [? lots, ?] the institute is preparing vestments for the priests in waiting, and it describes the linen vestments and so forth. So interesting that Time Magazine speaks about the rebuilding and the desire to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. It's coming down, isn't it?

Well, read the Book of Revelation, and especially the next couple chapters for next week. Let's pray. Lord, we look forward to the day when we can say the temple of God is with man, when there really won't be for the Church any kind of an edifice, for even Jesus said that there will come a time when people will worship neither in this temple or on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, for the Father is seeking people to worship Him in spirit and in truth. And we know that in the new Jerusalem, there will be no temple, but the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb will be its temple.

And Lord, more important than any ritual or any edifice being possibly built is the fact that one day, we will dwell with you and see the lamb who has been slain from the foundations of the world, and we will understand in fullness your plan and your will. How we look forward to that day.

Until the time, Lord, that that happens, keep us a faithful bride, watching and waiting, listening for the footsteps of the Messiah but being responsible Christians living in this world as good witnesses, as the light of the world. And we're so thankful that one day you will do away with all implements of war. There will be a time where righteousness dwells, and we will rule and reign with you for 1,000 years, and then on into eternity. We can't wait, Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.

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11/25/1990
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Ezekiel 1-3
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12/9/1990
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Ezekiel 4-5
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12/16/1990
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Ezekiel 6-13
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1/6/1991
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Ezekiel 14-18
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1/20/1991
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Ezekiel 19-23
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1/27/1991
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Ezekiel 24-26
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2/3/1991
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Ezekiel 27-33
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2/10/1991
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Ezekiel 34-37
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2/17/1991
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Ezekiel 38-39
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