When God speaks to us, he does so in a language we’ll understand. If you only speak English, he won’t talk to you in Chinese, and if you only speak Chinese, he won’t talk to you in English. As I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, I’ve come to the part of it that always gives me pause. The description of the Temple.

The last eight books of Ezekiel (40-48) primarily deal with the Temple’s restoration. Within these books, we encounter the “cubit” and “long cubit.” Two terms are used for measuring distance. If you’re reading the King James translation of the Bible, you get the term for the measurement of “reeds.” Unless it’s a study Bible, you probably have no footnote translating that into something you understand. Unless, of course, you are familiar with the term reed.

(Many people still prefer reading the Bible in its printed form over reading it digitally. While I like holding a printed Bible in my hand and reading it, I like the accessibility of checking 50+ other versions in many languages to the printed book. Therefore, if you prefer print over digital, then what I’m about to suggest might be a little more difficult for you to follow.)

A cubit is 18 inches long, and a long cubit is 21 inches long. If you’re like me, you don’t want to be trying to do conversions while you’re reading the Bible. When you’re reading the Bible, and for some reason, you’re given the measurement of something in cubits (or reeds), it’s no big deal to check out the footnote and move on. However, when you get to one of those places where verse after verse is giving you measurements… I don’t know about you, but I get distracted. This is one place where reading a digital Bible over a printed Bible comes in handy.

I use the Bible app by Life Church, also known as YouVersion, so it’s very easy to compare Bible translations. Recently, as I was reading through Ezekiel, I just switched to another translation for all of the stuff about measurements. Two versions I found that give measures I understand are the NLT and the NET Bible. These give me measurements in inches, feet, and miles. If you’re looking for something in meters, then the Contemporary English Version (CEV) is the place to go.

I already think it’s important to study different translations of the Bible, so changing to another translation for the sections primarily speaking in measurements is a no-brainer for me. Take this verse from Ezekiel 45.

“‘ When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy.”

Ezekiel 45:1 (NIV)

25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide sounds really big. However, my mind doesn’t know what a cubit looks like. However, I am in awe when I read that same verse from the NLT.

When you divide the land among the tribes of Israel, you must set aside a section for the Lord as his holy portion. This piece of land will be 8 1 / 3 miles long and 6 2 / 3 miles wide. The entire area will be holy.

Ezekiel 45:1 (NLT)

That’s a massive amount of holy land, and the measurement is something I can picture. Even if I read this verse from the CEV, describing it in kilometers, I can imagine it better than trying to visualize it in cubits.

When the land of Israel is divided among the twelve tribes, you must set aside an area that will belong to me. This sacred area will be 12.5 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide.

Ezekiel 45:1 (CEV)

Sometimes the things we read in the Bible can be hard to understand, even when it’s speaking our language. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to switch to something easier to understand when it comes to measurements? After all, why did God tell Ezekiel to describe the Temple to the Israelites?

“Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection.”

Ezekiel 43:10 (NIV)

How can we consider its perfection if we can’t visualize it ourselves?