In Ezekiel 40, Ezekiel is brought in vision to a place where there is a city framed, and a man with a line and measuring reed (or rod, which is the ancient equivalent of a tapemeasure) takes him all over the city and measures everything in it. At the beginning the man says to Ezekiel:
Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel. (Ezekiel 40:4)
And then the measuring commences. The man measures the height and breadth of the building, the threshold of the gate, the little chambers, the porches, the posts, etc. If you want to read it all, you can go look at Ezekiel 40. There is so much measuring and describing that readers eyes begin to glaze over and we naturally begin to wonder, “Why is he telling us all of this?” Why not just show Ezekiel the city without measuring it? What are we to learn from all of these measurements?
Measuring implies great precision. It seems to me that this is supposed to teach us that the Lord can be incredibly precise in giving visions and prophecy. This city and temple are to be built sometime and it was measured out in Ezekiel’s vision so that it can be recognized and checked when the time comes. (How that checking will happen, I don’t know because I have a hard time getting a mental picture of everything and how it fits just by reading Ezekiel’s writing, but I trust that the time will come when it will be recognized.) This is to teach us that the Lord does know the end from the beginning, and when prophecies come to pass, they are not loose analogs, but exactly fulfilled.
The man’s instructions to Ezekiel also show us how we are to respond to precise prophecy. “Set thine heart upon all that I shall show thee.” If we set our hearts on wanting to help fulfill purposes and prophecies from the Lord, we will be united with the Lord and can work with Him.
Further, this vision (and the vision in the chapters following) were given 14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the carrying captive of the inhabitants into Babylon. The vision was undoubtedly given as a means of encouraging the Jews to lift up their hearts, to encourage them to repent and prepare spiritually for it, and to show them their captivity would not continue forever. I think the Lord intended to cite the Jews’ minds forward so they could live in joyful anticipation.
Today let’s remember the prophecies we can anticipate fulfillment of in the future—the gospel going to countries who haven’t heard it yet, the construction of the New Jerusalem, the Second Coming of Christ.