Ezekiel 43:2 the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east
"East is the sacred direction. Holy temples are oriented eastward, and the east wind (the 'wind of God') originates from this direction. Jesus Christ enters his temples from the east (Ezek. 43:1-2; see also Ezek. 10:19) and at the time of the Second Coming, the Lord will come from the east (JS-M 1:26; Matt. 24:27; Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 287)." (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Donald W. Parry, A Guide to Scriptural Symbols [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], "East")
"East is also the direction from which earth's inhabitants receive sunlight every morning, which serves as a constant reminder of Christ's glory and may be considered a type of his second coming; and at Christ's first coming in mortality, the wise men stated, 'We have seen his star in the east' (Matt. 2:2)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 377)
Ezekiel 43:3 it was according to the appearance of the vision... that I saw when I came to destroy the city
Ezekiel is comparing this vision of the Millennial Temple to two previous visions he has received. The first mentioned is the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.
"Almost two decades earlier Ezekiel had experienced a similar apocalyptic vision in which he saw God's glory depart (Ezek. 9:3; 10:18-19; 11:22-23). In that earlier vision an angelic guide showed him the temple in its time of wickedness (Ezek. 8:1-11). In graphic detail he saw symbolic figures and actions that represented its apostasy and the evil works that were done in it. Now, years later and after the destruction of the temple and the exile of the Jews, he saw in striking symbols a vision of the temple in a purified state. Whereas Ezekiel's first temple vision represented all that was corrupt and degenerate about Israel's relationship with God, his later visionary temple represents all that will be holy and glorious about that relationship when the house of Israel is purified." (Kent P. Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 313 - 314)
The second vision mentioned was actually first chronologically. It was the vision by which he received his call as a prophet. He was in Babylon already by the River Chebar when he saw God on his throne surrounded by eternal glory (Ezek. 1). The third vision, recorded in Ezekiel 40-48, contains elements of the first two: the glory of God and the Jerusalem Temple, but this time the temple is sanctified by the presence of the Lord.
Ezekiel 43:5 the glory of the Lord filled the house
If you could take all the light of the sun and place it inside the innermost chamber of the Millennial Temple, would the walls be able to contain the light? Or would the Light be so powerful as to send blinding beams through every window, door, and crack illuminating the entire landscape? We will have to wait and see.
The Temple of Solomon was blessed with the glory of the Lord when it was dedicated:
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord's house. (2 Chron. 7:1-2)
The Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood does not have the power to bring a man into the presence of the Lord (D&C 107:20). The priests couldn't enter Solomon's temple when the glory of the Lord's Presence was there. Such will be the case with the Millennial Temple. The Levites will not be able to enter the temple when the glory of the Lord is there. Nor will they be able to minister in the portions of the temple belonging to the higher priesthood, "they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place" (Ezek. 44:13). The Melchizedek Priesthood holders will not be so restricted because they have received "the privilege... to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant." (D&C 107:19)
Ezekiel 43:7 I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever
Here is a prediction that, in that temple will be a certain apartment dedicated and set apart for the throne of the Lord, where he will sit, as the Prophet Zechariah and many of the Apostles have predicted, on the throne of his father David, and judge the whole house of Israel. Dwell with them personally, be in their midst. Where will be the twelve Apostles that wandered about with him, when Jesus comes and sits upon that throne? They will also be sitting upon thrones. Where? In Palestine. "Ye who have followed me in the regeneration shall sit upon twelve thrones, and shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and you shall eat and drink at my table at the time you shall do this." What? Immortal beings sitting upon thrones, having a table set for them and eating and drinking at the table of Jesus in Jerusalem? Yes, this is what is promised, and what we are looking for; this is the order of things that will come when Zion is fully established on the earth. (Journal of Discourses, 14:350-351)
Ezekiel 43:7-9 let them put away their whoredom... and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever
Part of the reinstitution of the law of sacrifice includes the Lord's requirement that the Levites "offer an offering... in righteousness" (JS-Hist. 1:69). When the Jerusalem temple was destroyed, the priests had defiled the temple and profaned the ordinances. The Lord wants that fixed. That is one reason the Aaronic Priesthood is still on the earth. The whoredom of a previous priestly generation-Ezekiel's generation-must be done away. As in the repentance process, there must be a recompense of sorts. The Lord defines the recompense as the Levites offering again an offering to the Lord, but this time it won't be in blasphemous profanity, it will be in righteousness (D&C 13:1).
Ezekiel 43:13-17 these are the measures of the altar... the altar shall be twelve cubits long, twelve broad
An altar that is twelve cubits square would be about 18 feet by 18 feet. That is a huge altar! A couple could not hold hands across such a large altar. There is no mention of kneeling at this altar. What is it to be used for? It is an altar on which to place the sacrificial animals of the Old Testament Law of Sacrifice.
Animal sacrifice, as in the days of Adam, Noah, or Moses will be restored in the Millennial Temple in Jerusalem. The Levites will again offer sacrifices daily as they did anciently.
Many latter-day saints don't like this idea. Rather than believe the scripture, they explain it away as a merely figurative expression. It sounds so brutal; why would the Lord reinstate animal sacrifice? What happens if the animal rights activists find out?
The offering of [animal] sacrifice... shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord." (See Malachi 3:3.)
It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation, and it is generally supposed that sacrifice was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice [i.e.,] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets.
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 172)
Oliver B. Huntington
I heard the Prophet reply to the question: "Will there ever be any more offering of sheep and heifers and bullocks upon altars, as used to be required of Israel?"
"Yes, there will; for there were never any rites, ordinances of laws in the priesthood of any gospel dispensation upon this earth but what will have to be finished and perfected in this last dispensation of time-the dispensation of all dispensations." (Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet, p. 62)
Ezekiel 43:18 these are the ordinances of the altar
Howard W. Hunter
All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God's presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants. As the prophets have said, the temple is a place of beauty; it is a place of revelation; it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It must be holy and important to us. ("A Temple-Motivated People," Ensign, Feb. 1995, 5, emphasis added)
Ezekiel 43:19 the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok
Zadok was the priest during the reign of King David (2 Sam. 8:17). He was a righteous priest that likely held the Melchizedek Priesthood. David said to him, "Art not thou a seer?" suggesting that Zadok was more than your average Levite (2 Sam 15:27). At the time, David was the king, Nathan was the prophet, and Zadok was the priest. It was Zadok and Nathan that ordained Solomon to be the next king in Israel (1 Kgs. 1:34-40). And Zadok was eventually made the high priest (1 Kgs. 2:35). Zadok's descendants continued in righteousness ruling in the temple, and Ezekiel was a priest who descended through his lineage (2 Sam. 15:36; 2 Chron. 31:13; Ezra 7:2; Bible Dictionary, "Ezekiel").
According to Ezekiel's prophecy, Zadok's descendants become the righteous priests of the Millennial Temple. They are not the ones who have to redeem themselves for past sins. Apparently, the sons of Zadok remained righteous when the other Levites were defiling the temple (Ezek. 44:15). In the Millennial temple, they retain a higher status than their brethren (Ezek. 44:15-16).
The fact that David referred to Zadok as "a seer" is significant. Joseph Smith taught that all Old Testament prophets held the Melchizedek Priesthood and the Book of Mormon teaches us that a seer is greater than a prophet (Teachings, 180; Mosiah 8:15). If so, then certainly Zadok would have held the Melchizedek Priesthood like his prophet and friend Nathan. Zadok even seems to be a play on words; it means "righteousness" and is a subtle suggestion of the priesthood of Melchi-Zedek, which literally means "king of righteousness." In conclusion, if we view "the sons of Zadok" as Melchizedek Priesthood holders in the Millennial Temple, the picture that Ezekiel paints is much more congruent with latter-day conceptions of temple work. Ezekiel 44, then, describes a temple in which both the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods are operative in different portions of the House, just as they are today.