The Steps of the Altar of Burnt Offering
Special Lecture on Ezekiel’s Temple (1)
Speaker: Reverend Philip Lee
Service: Moriah, 2nd Service
Date: August 16, 2020
25 steps up the altar of burnt offering
The man whose appearance was like that of bronze took Ezekiel around throughout the temple to show the various places and the altar of burnt offering was the 19th place that was shown to Ezekiel. Regarding the steps to the altar of burnt offering, the Bible does not specifically say how many steps there were up to the altar of burnt offering but by looking at various Scripture texts we can conjecture that there are 25 steps up to the altar of burnt offering.
Steps that lead from the outer to the inner court
We know that the height of each of the steps leading to the outer and inner courts will be the same as the number of steps of the altar of burnt offering. There are 7 steps that lead to the outer court (Ezek 40:6, 22, 26). There is another set of stairs that leads up to the inner court which are 8 steps (Ezek 40:31, 34, 37). The height of the inner court and the outer court is the same as the height of the foundation of the building on the “west side” which is 6 long cubits (Ezek 40:5). Thus, Ezekiel’s temple is surrounded by the wall on all sides. So the height of the wall all around is 6 long cubits, which is equal to 1 rod. This shows us that in order to go into the outer court, you have to pass through this wall that is 6 long cubits high and wide, which is the wall all around Ezekiel’s temple. This gives us an important clue in calculating the height of the steps. We know that 6 long cubits is 3.192 meters, and for the height of 6 long cubits, there are 15 steps total from the outer to the inner court. From the outer court, there are 7 steps and 8 steps leading to the height of the inner court. Dividing 3.192 meters by 15 steps gives us the height for each step which is 21.28cm=0.4 long cubits. Therefore, the steps leading up to the outer and inner courts are 21.28cm each, and from this we can conjecture that the steps in the altar of burnt offering should be the same height.
The height of the steps in the altar of burnt offering
We know that the total height of the altar of burnt offering is 10 long cubits (Ezek 43:14-15). One long cubit is 53.2cm, therefore 10 long cubits equal 5.32 meters. When we divide 5.32m by 25 steps, we get 21.28cm. This is exactly the height of each step for the stairs that lead up to the outer and inner courts with each step being 0.4 long cubits high. The altar of burnt offering is 10 cubits high, therefore it has to be 25 steps that are each 21.28cm high that lead up to the altar of burnt offering which is the same height of the steps that leads to the inner and outer courts.
The altar of burnt offering is the center of Ezekiel’s temple (a miniature of Ezekiel’s temple)
First, the altar of burnt offering is right in the center of the entire Ezekiel’s temple.
Secondly, the altar of burnt offering is not only in the center of Ezekiel’s temple, but it is also like the miniature temple of the entire temple. Ezekiel 40:5 is where the description for Ezekiel’s temple begins and talks about the standard measurements for the temple which is a “long cubit” that is measured from the tip of the elbow to the tip of the middle (third) finger, plus one handbreadth. This standard is repeated also in Ezekiel 43:13. This signifies that the altar of burnt offering is like a miniature or condensed model of the entire Ezekiel’s temple.
Thirdly, this signifies that the essential number of Ezekiel’s temple is "25" and occurs 7 times in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezek 40:13, 21, 25, 29, 30, 33, 36). When you double the number 25, you get 50, and the number 50 appears a total of 10 times in the Book of Ezekiel. Therefore, we can see the number 25 and the number 50 occurring 17 times throughout the Book of Ezekiel. This demonstrates that the essential number in Ezekiel’s temple is 25. And therefore we can see that the center of Ezekiel’s temple that is the altar of burnt offering is likely to have 25 steps, which is very appropriate since the very principal number of Ezekiel’s temple is 25.
Conclusion: The 25 steps to the altar of burnt offering intensifies the victory of God and has a strong implication of victory. The altar of burnt offering is in the inner court, which is the center of Ezekiel’s temple. To the left side of the altar of burnt offering, there are 10 steps leading up to the sanctuary, and to the right side there are 7 steps leading up to the outer court, resulting in a total of 17 steps. Then we add 8 more steps that lead up to the inner court and we get a total of 25 steps. When we look at it this way, we can see the 25 steps that lead up to the altar of burnt offering. This demonstrates that the number 25 consists of both the “victory” and the “new creation.”
The altar of burnt offering signifies the cross, for this is where the animal sacrifices are slaughtered and the shedding of blood takes place which forgives the sins of the people. This signifies how our Lord Jesus shed His blood to forgive our sins. Therefore, the altar of burnt offering signifies the cross, but in the cross, there is both the “victory and the new creation” which is God's love toward us (Rom 5:8). This love of our Father God is a perfect and complete love which is represented by the number "10", the number of fullness. On the cross, Jesus spoke 7 words, thus 10+7 equals 17 which is the number of victory, for Jesus triumphed on the cross (Col 2:15). Because of the cross, we have received “new creation” which is symbolized by the number "8" (2 Cor 5:17). Jesus rose again from the dead on the third day and His day of resurrection is the first day after the Sabbath, which is the 8th day (Matt 28:1). So therefore, Jesus’ crucifixion, which is the number 17, plus His resurrection which is the number 8, signify the true victory for our God. As a result, we the sinners have become created new and all of this process can be expressed through the number "17" the victory, plus number "8" the new creation, and therefore "25". This is the sole foundation of the number 25 in Ezekiel’s temple. Therefore, we should not be conformed to this world but be transformed, renewing our minds daily and looking toward the transfiguration of the end time every day (Rom 12:2). Now that we have received the victory through the cross, may every day become a day of transformation in our inner man.