[View of Mount of Olives from Lutheran Church]
The mount of Olives has more history associated with it than meets the eye. Significant ceremonial functions were performed here during the religious calendar, for it was on the mount of Olives that the sacrifice of the red heifer (Num 19) was performed at a location called “the mount of appointment”, and the ashes stored for the ceremonial purification of sins. The Mishnah indicates the name of the altar was called Miphkad, or appointed. To this end a bridge, supported by two rows of arches was constructed from the temple mount to the slopes of the mount of Olives to prevent the contamination of the priest who would execute this duty. It was also across this bridge that the goat on the day of atonement was brought on its way to the wilderness Lev 16;22 (AV) or the place of the cutting off (Hebrew) land cut off (Amplified Bible) The same language is used of the Messiah where he was to be cut off from the land of the living, Isa 53:8. Thus the mount of Olives is associated with two of the most pointed examples of the sacrifice for sin, and the means for forgiveness in Israel’s calendar.
The mount of Olives is however also called the mount of Corruption, 2 Kings 23:13 where the high places for idolatry had been established in the time of Solomon, and had remained in force until the times of Josiah. The segment of the mountain here described as being the “right hand”, that is to the south of the summit. Josiah had already undergone reform within the nation concerning spiritual guidance, and direction was given to those on the “left hand” 23:8 and indication that Josiah was not allowing any deviation from the direct path in performing the commandments of deity. Josiah turned not to the right hand or to the left 22:2, citing Deut 17:20 not deviation from the commandments with the end of prolonging his days as king, and his nation as was his responsibility as leader. The dramatic achievement of Josiah in removing this long-standing idolatry was no mean feat. Intrenched habits are hard to change! It was an indication of the level of his faith Mark 11:22, and the lesson taught to Christ’s disciples in the very place of the red heifer, and the scapegoat, Mark 11:19-26.
It is to the mount of Olives that the feet of the Messiah, as representative of Yahweh Himself, will once again tread on the mount of Olives Zech 14:4; Acts 1;11. His feet representing His actions. It is most interesting to note that on appearing again on the mount of Olives, the features of the red heifer are executed: Water of purification is noted again in Jerusalem 13:1 Idols are removed 13:2 but more importantly on the left hand, there is a national reformation with personal convictions changed to serve God as a response to grace 12:10-14 This will be effective against all the effects of contact with death in the nation, in tents, pots, and against dead bodies, all features seen in Zech 14.
The vision of Ezekiel’s temple looks towards this place, for it is through the gate that looks towards the east that the prophet will see the returning presence of the glory of deity Ezekiel 43:1 after it returns with all the methods needed for the removal of death for the nation. The vision is with purpose, for Ezekiel is given the vision for the purpose that the house of Israel may be ashamed of their iniquities, and they should measure the pattern, 43:10. The place of dwelling glory was to enter the inner court 43:5,7 and so the nation would need purification before joining the one bringing the glory to this place of sanctuary before they can take their abiding inheritance. This purification was to not only affect their conscience, but their comings and the going out 43:11, and so the nation will see the benefit of going without the camp to partake of the offerings that stood figuratively outside that of the tabernacle service Heb 9:11-15. We need to make choices to join Him, in dedicated service without idolatry, doing good, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased Heb 13:13:10-16. The consecration of the altar was also to include the offering of a bullock at an appointed (miphkad) places without the sanctuary Ezek 43:21. Alongside bullocks, goats were also given for sacrifices for sin, bringing the astute Israelite to the benefits of both the red heifer and the day of atonement perfectly seen in their prince, and following the seven days for sin, Yahweh would accept them with offerings on the newly cleansed altar 43:27.