This and the eight following chapters contain a vision of a city and
temple herein described, and are thought to be the most difficult part
of the whole Bible. The Jews forbid the reading of it till a man is
arrived to thirty years of age; and then he must expect to meet with
things in it he does not understand, and which must be left until Elijah
comes to explain them. Many Christian commentators have omitted the
exposition of these chapters; and all acknowledge the difficulties in
them. Something however may be got out of them, relating to the Gospel,
and Gospel church state, which I am fully persuaded is intended by the
city and temple; for that no material building can be designed is clear
from this one observation; that not only the whole land of Israel would
not be capable of having such a city as is here described built upon
it, but even all Europe would not be sufficient; nor the whole world,
according to the account of the dimensions which some give of it. The
circumference of the city is said to be about eighteen thousand
measures, \\#Eze 48:35\\; but what they are is not certain. Luther
makes them to be thirty six thousand German miles; and a German mile
being three of ours, the circuit of this city must be above a hundred
thousand English miles; and this is sufficient to set aside all
hypotheses of a material building, either of city or temple, the one
being in proportion to the other. The Jews dream of a third temple to
be built, by their vainly expected Messiah; but nothing is more clear
than that the true Messiah was to come into the second temple, and by
that give it a greater glory than the former ever had; as is evident
from \\#Hag 2:6-9\\ and, according to Malachi, he was to come suddenly
into his temple, which could be no other than the then present one,
\\#Mal 3:1\\, and into which Jesus came, and where he often appeared
and taught, as well as entered into it with power and authority, as the
Lord and proprietor of it; by which he appeared to be the true Messiah,
as by many other characters; see \\#Lu 2:22,46 21:37 Mt 21:12,13\\.
There are some who think that Solomon's temple, as it was
before it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and as it was rebuilt by
Zerubbabel, is here described; and that partly to let the Jews know what
a glory to their nation they lost by their sins; and partly that they
might have a complete pattern for the rebuilding of it, as well as to
comfort them under its present ruins; but there is no agreement between
them. This temple was to be built at a distance from the city, several
miles; according to some ten, others twenty, and by the best account
twenty seven miles; see \\#Eze 45:1-5\\, whereas Solomon's temple, and
that built by Zerubbabel, were in the city of Jerusalem: nor from either
of these flowed waters, which rose up to a river, on the bank of which
were many trees for food and medicine, and whose waters were healing,
and quickened wherever they came, as from this, \\#Eze 47:1-12\\, nor
do we ever read of the east gate of these temples always shut, as this,
\\#Eze 44:2\\, and besides, both these temples were profaned and
destroyed; whereas this shall never be, but God will dwell in it
forever, \\#Eze 43:7\\, neither place, structure, nor worship,
agree. Nor is this city here the same with the New Jerusalem
John had a vision of; for though he borrows some of his expressions to
describe it from hence; and in some things there is an appearance of
agreement, as of the river of water of life, and the tree of life on
both sides of the river, \\#Re 22:1,2\\, yet the description agrees not,
either with respect to its gates, or its compass; and though there was
no temple in that John saw, as there was none in this, it being without
the city; yet here is a temple in this vision, and the greatest part of
it is taken up in the description of it. It remains that this must be
understood mystically and figuratively of the Gospel church, which is
often spoken of as a city and temple, \\#Heb 12:22 Re 3:12\\ and which began
to have its accomplishment in the first times of the Gospel, immediately
after the death and resurrection of Christ; when his disciples had a
commission to preach the Gospel to all nations; and who accordingly did,
even before the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the material temple, so
that Gospel churches were planted in all parts of the world; and
especially this was the case, when the Roman empire, called the whole
world, became Christian: though the further and greater accomplishment
of this vision will be in the latter day; when the earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea; when Jews
and Gentiles will be converted, and Gospel churches be set up
everywhere; so that the Gospel church state, or kingdom of Christ,
signified by the great mountain in \\#Da 2:35\\, and by this large city
here, will fill the whole earth: and the rather this may be thought to
be the design of this vision to represent it, as it follows the
prophecies of the Jews' settlement in their own land; and of the
destruction of Gog, or the Turk, attempting to dispossess them; of which
in chapters 37-39. In this chapter are first an account of the vision in
general, the time, manner, and place of it, \\#Eze 40:1,2\\, a description
of the person, the builder and owner of the house; and by whom the
prophet is shown each of the parts and dimensions of it, whom he calls
to him for that purpose, \\#Eze 40:3,4\\, and then a particular account is
given, which begins with the outward wall around the house, \\#Eze 40:5\\,
then the east gate, with its posts, porch, and chambers, and the outward
court with its chambers, \\#Eze 40:6-19\\, then the gate of the outward
court to the north, with its chambers, and the gate of the inner court
over against that, \\#Eze 40:20-23\\, then the gate to the south, with its
posts, arches, and chambers, \\#Eze 40:24-31\\, then the inner court to the
east, its gate, chambers, and arches, \\#Eze 40:32-34\\, then the north
gate, with its posts, chambers, and arches, \\#Eze 40:35-38\\, in the porch
of which are the tables, on which the sacrifices are slain,
\\#Eze 40:39-43\\, after which are described the chambers for the singers
and the priests, \\#Eze 40:44-46\\, then the inner court and altar in it;
and the chapter is concluded with the dimensions of the porch of the
house, \\#Eze 40:48,49\\.