Ezekiel 40 has the prophet getting a vision from God during the twenty fifth year of the exile of His people. God spends the rest of the book of Ezekiel fleshing out the details of this vision about the temple. The vision was not just something Ezekiel had in his mind. God appears to take him and show him exactly what was to happen. Scripture says “the hand of the Lord was upon me and He brought me there”. This is a pretty active vision where Ezekiel experiences the details as God gives them to Him.
“In the visions of God He brought me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, and on it to the south there was a structure like a city”. God gives Ezekiel a great viewing point to see all that He is about to describe and detail. These last eight chapters capture very specific information on what the temple will look like. I’m not going to pretend to understand or explain what God’s purpose was with these sections of scripture beyond what He tells Ezekiel to do. “Declare to the house of Israel all that you see”.
Matthew Henry writes of these chapters like this: Ezekiel 40-48 is justly looked upon to be one of the most difficult portions in all the book of God. When we despair to be satisfied as to any difficulty we meet with, let us bless God that our salvation does not depend upon it, but that things necessary are plain enough; and let us wait till God shall reveal even this unto us. This chapter (40) describes two outward courts of the temple. Whether the personage here mentioned was the Son of God, or a created angel, is not clear. But Christ is both our Altar and our Sacrifice, to whom we must look with faith in all approaches to God; and He is Salvation in the midst of the earth to be looked unto from all quarters.
At the end of the day, whether we understand God’s purpose for these details in scripture probably isn’t all that important. There’s undoubtedly a reason God put them there, and someday we’ll have a chance to ask why when we see Him face to face. But for now, the reality is that God had a plan – a very detailed and specific plan – just like He does in our lives today. That plan is built upon His never ending love for us and the fact that we have a sin problem that has to be addressed. Jesus Christ was His solution to that – through the shed blood on the Cross – and the gift of grace He offers to us freely. He is our salvation and our hope. We need to be focused on that and gain understanding on areas of scripture that are confusing when we see Him!