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EZEKIEL SAW THE CROSS


God spoke through Hosea to tell us how He had spoken to the prophets, saying, “And I gave numerous visions, And through the prophets I gave parables”  (Hosea 12:10). Of all the prophets, Ezekiel was one prophet that saw many visions of God.  The very first verse of his book says “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God”.

Ezekiel was a priest and a descendant of the family of Aaron.  As he sees his vision in chapter 1, he is in the land of the Chaldeans, the land of Babylon.  He had been brought there by the Babylonians when Jerusalem was subjected to Babylonian rule.  It is about six hundred years before Jesus will come in the flesh.

His first vision, described in chapter 1, is a very confusing vision of living beings and their whirling wheels.  He sees how "a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire".

He sees four living beings with human form within it. They had human form except that they each had four faces and four wings.  They went in different directions without turning as they went, "wherever the spirit was about to go".  

He also tells us that "In the midst of the living beings there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire.  And the living beings ran to and fro like bolts of lightning".  

The living beings went about without turning and at times they would stand still.  He tells us that the sound of their wings was "like the sound of abundant waters as they went, like the voice of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army camp".

If there was ever a confusing vision, this is it.  It sounds like a weird dream or meaningless ramblings except for one thing.  Jesus is the one who is speaking through Ezekiel.  John tells us that He (Jesus) is the Word from the beginning and that He was with God and He was God (John 1:1).  

Peter writes that when the prophets spoke of the Christ to come, "the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Peter 1:10-11).   

The Spirit of Christ was speaking through Ezekiel.  Much of what we read from Ezekiel has reference to the cross to come or of the glories that were to follow.  The Spirit of Christ is speaking through Ezekiel and Christ does not ramble on about meaningless things.  Knowing that Christ is speaking through Ezekiel we may be able to see a connection to what was to come with Him and of His glory. 

We can begin to see something when we hear Him speak through Ezekiel in this first vision (In Chapter 1) and say "And there came a voice from above the expanse that was over their heads".  He also said that above the expanse was something that resembled a throne and on it was a figure that had the appearance of a man. 

He says that, "As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD".

Regarding his vision in chapter 1, Ezekiel is not seeing a flying saucer or UFO as some have suggested.  Christ is speaking through Ezekiel and He was foretelling of what was to come with of the kingdom of heaven and the glory that it would bring.  With that in mind, let us see if it could be referring to the glory that would be shown when He returns on the clouds of the sky.  

When Ezekiel saw something that looked like burning coals of fire like torches darting back and forth among living beings and lightning flashing from the fire and living beings running to and fro like bolts of lightning, could that be like what Christ told His disciples about His return in the clouds of heaven? 

Jesus told His disciples that when He returns, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”  (Matthew 24:30-31)  

In another place Jesus tells us, "For just like the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day" (Luke 17:24).  

If He will send forth His angels and they will be gathering together all of the elect from the four winds, there will be a great amount of action taking place when it happens.  It will need to happen very fast, like bolts of lightning.  The trumpet will sound and it will likely seem much like the sound of an army camp that Ezekiel spoke of. 

When Ezekiel said that he saw the likeness of the glory of the LORD, he saw it in the cloud, "As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance"Remember, the rainbow in the cloud was given to man as a sign that God would never again destroy all flesh in a flood. 

Did it have anything to do with the sign that Jesus spoke of in Matthew, chapter 24?  Jesus said that when He comes on the clouds of the sky the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky.  When Jesus said that His sign will appear in the sky, was He saying that it will be as the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day?

The rainbow was given as a sign of God’s covenant after the flood.  After the flood God told Noah the rainbow in the clouds was to be a sign of the covenant between God and all flesh that He would never again destroy all flesh in the waters of a flood.  

He told Noah, "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it , to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on earth"  (Genesis 9:16).  

God said that it was a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and all flesh.  The true everlasting covenant is the covenant of salvation.  Salvation is only promised to believers.  Unbelievers in the days of Noah died in the flood.  Unbelievers of our time will die in fire when Jesus comes.  

When Jesus returns on the clouds of the sky, man will see His sign.  Later, He will destroy the earth and its works in flaming fire.  It will happen when Jesus comes in clouds of glory.  He said that His sign will appear in the sky.  Will not His sign be the sign of God’s everlasting covenant with all flesh?  Will it be like the sign of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day? 

Remember, Jesus is the true high priest.  Our high priest serves in the true Holy of Holies, in heaven.  Remember, the old Holy of Holies was the inner room that was located just beyond the temple inner veil.  It was a veil of many colors, like the colors of the rainbow.  

When Jesus returns on the clouds of the sky He will be returning back through the spiritual veil.  Will the spiritual veil be like the rainbow that was the sign of God’s everlasting covenant with man?  He has promised to return back through the veil some day for His people.  Will the sign that Jesus spoke of when He returns be like the sign of the rainbow in the clouds when we see Him coming back through the veil?

Ezekiel will see and record many other visions of God in his book but none have generated more interest than his temple vision.  He will receive that vision after the temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians.  

According to some scholars, the temple in Jerusalem was still standing when the vision in chapter 1 happened.  The temple in Jerusalem would not be destroyed for another six years.  The temple vision would happen nine years after the vision of chapter 1, and three years after the temple had been destroyed.  

Do you suppose that the Jews who were there with him were very interested in His temple vision and of its design and how soon that temple would be rebuilt?

His temple vision included the worship (Including animal sacrifices) that would occur there.  The temple was described such that we can see that it was not the temple that would later replace Solomon's temple nor was it any other temple of God that has ever been built on earth.  Ezekiel's temple has never been built as an earthly structure.  

If the temple (As seen by Ezekiel) would not be built before the cross, then it would never be built as an earthly structure because the true temple of the new covenant is a spiritual temple.  It is the temple found in the body of Christ.  The sacrifices that Ezekiel describes must be symbolic of the spiritual.

The new covenant temple and its sacrifices are the worship now in place and they are spiritual (Jesus told the woman at the well that the time had come for worship not to be done in Jerusalem and that worship was to be done in spirit and truth - John, chapter 4). 

God will never again accept animal sacrifices from His people because the sacrifice that Jesus made ended forever God's requirement of animal sacrifices.  They were only the earthly copy of what was to come in Christ's sacrifice, anyway.  

Was Ezekiel seeing an earthly copy of the spiritual temple to come?  Remember, Jesus is speaking through the prophet, Ezekiel.  God speaks through the prophets in visions and parables.  Is He speaking through Ezekiel in a manner like He spoke when He came to earth?  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables (Matthew 13:34).  Is this vision like a parable?

When he sees that vision, Ezekiel will be instructed to see and hear and pay attention to what he would be shown (Ezekiel 40:4) and to declare to the house of Israel what he saw.  He is speaking of the spiritual Israel of faith.  We are the spiritual house of Israel.  

After he has been shown some of the temple details, he will hear God speak from within that temple and tell him "this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell among the sons of Israel forever" (Ezekiel 43:7).

There is no forever earthly temple.  This is not an earthly temple; what Ezekiel saw was God's spiritual temple.  God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24); He will dwell with His people in His spiritual temple.  

Peter tells us about that temple when he writes to the church and says that "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). God will dwell forever within the temple of the spiritual Body of Christ, the church.  The house of Israel needs to hear Ezekiel speak of that temple.

Our High Priest (Jesus) has taken His seat at the right hand of the Father in the true tabernacle built by God (Hebrews 8:1-2).  The holy place made with hands was a "mere copy" of the heavenly one (Hebrews 9:24). 

Jesus did not enter through the old copy into the Holy of Holies, He has entered into heaven by having gone through His body that had lived on earth.  He had gone through the outer room holy place before He entered into the inner room.

The new house of God on earth is found in the body of Jesus, the church.  That is the true outer room of God's tabernacle.  Jesus is in heaven, the inner room where the Father is enthroned.

What Ezekiel wrote was foretelling what was to come with the sacrifice of Jesus and the new spiritual temple.  Jesus did, however, make His sacrifice outside that earthly city near the earthly temple and some of what he is saying may have application to that city and temple.  It was both earthly because it was near that earthly city that He made His sacrifice and spiritual because it created that spiritual city and temple for us.  

We know the Prince that Ezekiel spoke of is Christ.  His sacrificial worship was His offering at the cross.  Was that what Ezekiel was saying when he said the Prince would sit and eat bread before the LORD in the outer east gate (Ezekiel 44:3)?

Remember, His body is the bread of heaven that we must partake of if we are to have eternal life (John 6:51-58).  He allowed the life of His flesh to be consumed on the cross and it happened outside the gate (Hebrews 13:12).  

Is that what Ezekiel was saying when he said that the Prince would sit and eat bread in the outer east gate? He also said that gate was to be shut and no one else can enter there because the LORD God of Israel has entered by it.

Paul once made reference to the bread and the cup that we share and asked if we were not sharing in the body of Christ when we break the bread (1 Corinthians 10:16).  He then tells us how there is one bread and that we who are many are one body and we all partake of the one bread.  

The body of Christ is the one body and it is the bread that we partake of but we are His body.  When we partake of the bread we are partaking of His body and, therefore, we are symbolically partaking of each other.

In chapter 46, Ezekiel describes how the Prince will worship and make His offerings.  Verse 1 had said the inner east gate would be closed except on the Sabbath day and the day of the new moon but it will be opened for the Prince.  

Ezekiel said the Prince would stand by the post of the gate and that he will worship at the threshold of the gate as the priests provide His burnt offering.  

Was the inner gate opened when Jesus offered His sacrifice outside the outer gate?  He suffered outside the camp and outside the city gate.  Was it outside the east gate?  Is the scripture saying He would stand by the post of the east gate that was the post of the cross and the bread (His body) would be consumed there? 

Did the first century Jewish priests offer His sacrifice as He stood by the post of the gate?  The east gate is the gate where He would sit and eat bread before the LORD.

When the Prince sat in the gate and ate bread, did His body assume a sitting-like position as He hung from those nails?  When He stood by the post to worship, did He frequently stand against the nails to catch His breath before sitting again to distribute the pain? 

Ezekiel tells us that the entire mountaintop area was most holy (Ezekiel 43:12).  Something happened on that temple mountaintop that made it most holy. Could it have been a truly holy sacrifice being slain there?

Ezekiel 46:8 tells us that the Prince will come and go by way of the porch of the east gate.  Did He come and go on that road to and from the temple (from the Mount of Olives)?  During His last few days, Jesus went to and from the Mount of Olives every day.  

Would the threshold of the gate (Where He worshipped) be that ledge of the temple mount extending just a short distance out before it descended into the Kidron Valley?

The most holy place on earth is found in His body, the church, but the most holy place from an earthly prospective is where His blood fell to earth.  Did the cross stand on the threshold outside the outer east gate before the LORD?  Was He crucified on that ledge just before the valley that served from ancient times as a graveyard (place of a skull)?

We read where Ezekiel heard the voice of God coming from within His house and speaking of that house being the place for His throne and His dwelling place among the sons of Israel forever (Ezekiel 43:7).  We said that He was speaking of God's spiritual dwelling found in Jesus, not any earthly structure.  

Just previous to hearing the voice of God speak of His forever dwelling place, Ezekiel had seen God's glory fill His house.  If we listen carefully to his words we will hear something interesting.  

Ezekiel tells how he was led to the gate facing toward the east "and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east" (Ezekiel 43:2).  Then he writes, "And the glory of the LORD came into the house by the way of the gate facing 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 house".

He is seeing the glory of God fill the spiritual house of God found in the body of Christ.  Just before He went to the cross Jesus told His disciples that the hour had come for Him to be glorified (John 12:23). 

The Hebrew writer tells us about that when he referred to Christ’s death, saying, "because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9).  

Jesus was glorified because He suffered in our place and paid our debt for sin.  Christ is speaking through Ezekiel.  He is telling us of His sufferings to come and the glories to follow.  The body of Christ has become the true temple of God.  It is now the place where the glory of God dwells.  

That house was glorified when Christ went through His death, burial and resurrection.  The glory of God "came into the house by the way of the gate facing toward the east".  

If Jesus was glorified at the cross and that glory came by way of the east gate, it sounds like the cross stood outside the east gate and east of the temple doorway.  That sounds like something the Hebrew writer said. 

The Hebrew writer tells us that just as "those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Hebrews 13:11-12).  Those bodies were to be burned outside the camp.  Jesus, therefore, had to also burn there.  

In chapter 47, he saw water flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east but it was also flowing down from under the right side of the house and from south of the altar.  When he was brought to the outer east gate, water was trickling from the south side of the gate.  

The body of Jesus is the spiritual house and the way into God's temple.  Water flowing from the right side of the house could be water coming forth from a Roman spear into His right side bringing forth blood and water.

If He was pierced on the right side and it was the south side, could it mean the cross stood outside the east gate and faced eastward?  Verse 1 says that the house faced east.  His body is the true house of God.  Did both the old and new houses face toward the east as His sacrifice was offered?  

Water trickled down from the south side (His right side) and from south of the altar (The cross) and flowed eastward.  Did those old covenant priests use water to wash the altar blood eastward into the nearby Kidron valley.  It was only a short distance from the altar to the descent into that valley.  Were they serving a copy and shadow?  Did His blood and water wash into that valley also?

Ezekiel later said the trickle became a river and where it flowed, everything will live.  He said the trees on each side of that river would bear fruit every month and their leaves would be for healing.  

What Ezekiel saw sounds like heaven and the tree of life by the river of life coming from the throne of God and the Lamb. John described it in Revelations, chapter 22, saying, "On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations".

Was the river that Ezekiel saw coming from the temple by way of the altar and east gate symbolic of the gift of the Spirit that was to come through Jesus by way of the cross?  

John quoted how Christ spoke of the Spirit and how rivers of living water would come through believers.  He said that he who believes in Me, “as the Scripture said, `From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”  

John said that He spoke of the Spirit that would be given to those who believe in Christ, for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."  (John 7:38-39).  

Did it symbolize the river of life coming from the temple of His body and the cross?  Those rivers of living water began to flow after Jesus was glorified at the cross.  When water flowed from His side did it provide a way to start that river flowing?  

When Ezekiel saw water trickling from the south side of the gate, was he seeing it coming from the true gate? Jesus once said "I am the way , and the truth , and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).  Jesus is the door and the gate to heaven.  The gate is closed to all but the LORD God of Israel because "the LORD God of Israel has entered by it".  

Remember, no one but the high priest can enter through the veil into the Holy of Holies.  Jesus is the gateway in and His body is the veil (Hebrews 10:20).  The only perfect high priest has entered and is now serving in that most holy place.  

The way in has been closed to all but the high priest so anyone else who wishes to enter must have been made one with and be clothed with Him to enter.  

Was not Paul telling us about that when he wrote, "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26-27)  He said that (Whether male or female) we are all one in Christ Jesus and if we belong to Christ “then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise."  

The covenant promise is that heavenly home with God. It only promised to God's sons, those who have believed the Firstborn Son and have become clothed with Him.  Male or female, if we have become clothed with Him, we are Abraham's descendants, sons of God and heirs according to the promise.  We will be allowed to enter through that gate because of our beautiful high priestly garment.  

Based on what we heard about that water coming from the right side of the house and from south of the altar, we reasoned that the cross faced toward the east. 
 
The altar of the cross facing to the east would be consistent with what he wrote in Ezekiel 43:17, when he described the altar (The cross).  He said,
"its steps shall face the east".  

If the altar steps faced to the east and it was referring to the cross, the cross would have faced eastward.  If he was referring to an earthly altar, that would create a problem.  The old Law forbade God's priests from ascending by steps to the altar "so that your nakedness will not be exposed on it" (Exodus 20:26). 

Under no circumstances were steps to be used by those old earthly priests to ascend up to God's old covenant altars because their nakedness could be exposed when they went up onto the altar.  

Was the shame of the cross not just because He died like a common criminal?  Were the altar steps spiritual steps to the cross?  Did our new High Priest expose His nakedness as He ascended the altar steps to make His sacrifice?  

When we read how the crucifixion took place, we see how the soldiers divided His outer garments into four parts and kept them for themselves (John 19:23).  There was also a tunic that was made of one piece, which they cast lots for.  

When we look at the Greek word from which "tunic" was translated, we find the word "chiton".  That was an item worn next to the skin. Did they take the last garment He had, even down to His skin?

For the joy set before us, we should accept His shame (Hebrews 12:2) and praise Him for taking our place. Because He endured the shame, we can now purchase white garments to hide our nakedness and not be put to shame forever (Revelation 3:18).  

We must not lose our white garments because His shameful sacrifice was the true price and we would be crucifying and putting Him to open shame again (Hebrews 6:6). Anyone who has not obtained that white garment will be put to shame forever.

When Ezekiel tells us about seeing water coming from the right side of the house (Ezekiel 47:1) but then he was led out to the east gate to see water coming from the south side of the gate, he said something interesting.  He tells us how he was brought out by way of the north gate and led around on the outside to the outer east gate.  

When Ezekiel said that he was led around on the outside from a north gate to the outer east gate, was Jesus speaking through him and telling how He would be led around from a north gate where the Roman court was held to the east gate with the cross?

The Roman Praetorium (Where the local Roman army unit was housed and where the governor sat in judgment), was located at the northwest corner of the temple wall.  If Jesus was tried in that structure and taken from there to the east gate to be crucified, He would have been led around on the outside from a north gate to the outer east gate.

Until He died, the old temple was still God's house and the veil had not been torn asunder.  While He was offering His sacrifice the Law was still in effect that required God's people to offer their sacrifices before that house.  Did He not remain perfect under the Law and burn there?  

The Law required the sin offering lamb to be slain on the side of the altar northward before the LORD (Leviticus 1:11).  If the cross was located just outside but north of the east gate, it would have met the requirements of the Law.  

If the post of the east gate that the Prince stood by was the post of the cross and it was located outside and north of the east gate, He met the conditions of the Law because He was slain on the side of the altar (The cross) northward before the house of God (Before the LORD).

Was Ezekiel's vision an earthly description of the true temple?  Did it see the cross?  Did He burn where the Law commanded that special sin offering body to burn (At the clean place where the ashes are poured out)? Was the clean place for ashes (From the old altar) just outside the east gate?  

Did the cross stand just outside and north of the east gate and high atop a mound of useless ashes from ten centuries of useless sacrifices that could never remove sin?  

Did God cause the old temple with its altar and sacrifices to come about on that mountaintop to foretell the place where the blood of Jesus would fall?  Did His blood make that ash heap a truly clean place?

Think about the fact that the cross was the most important event in the history of the world.  We know the physical location on a number of other important scriptural events because of what the scriptures tell us and what reliable history had recorded.  Why not tell us where that most important event of all time took place.  Is it just possible that God has been telling us all along but we have not been listening?

This book looks at the vision temple and altar as God's spiritual temple and altar.  We know that the old earthly holy place and earthly house of God was only an earthly copy.  God took away the copy and shadow when the reality came into being.  

We need to remember that when the prophets speak of God's dwelling, Christ is the one speaking.  He spoke through the prophets in visions and parables.  We need to listen to Christ.  When we do that, we can see some of the details of what really happened on that mountaintop and we can see the cross.  

Seeing where the cross stood physically is not something that is necessary for our salvation.  Seeing its spiritual location is necessary.  Seeing where it stood physically, however, can be faith-building.

I am not from one of the schools of theology.  I am a retired engineer and have been a Christian most of my life.  If you ask why an ex-chief engineer is involved in searching the scriptures for answers, the answer is obvious.  Engineers like to find answers that will bring us something useful.  They go to the books for answers.  There is only one set of books that give the true answers and that is the set written by the one who designed and created it all; the books of the Bible.

I have used the New American Standard translation for the copied scriptures in this introduction and in the book.  You may wish to also read the same scriptures from the translation that you normally use.  

Johnny Rogers 10/28/03

Revised  4/25/11  

Image of the cross is from FreeFoto.com

Link For cross - http://www.freefoto.com/preview/05-08-10?ffid=
05-08-10&k=Cross+at+Sunset

 

 

"Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible,
Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org )