How does God want to live among us Christians today? How does He want to build His church? God has clear expectations about what His house, the church, should look like. He shows us this in the book of Ezekiel, using the temple as an example. The detailed description of this temple begins in chapter 40. On the one hand, this temple will be physically built by the children of Israel in the coming millennial kingdom. On the other hand, this temple has a spiritual meaning for us Christians and is intended to show us how God wants to build His house, the church, today.
The description of the temple begins with the east gate (Ezekiel 40:6-16). This is not just any gate; it has many special features, all of which are meaningful. In order to enter the temple, one must pass through one of the three gates (North, East, or South Gate). There is no other way into the temple. This is an image of Jesus Christ. Only through Him can we come to God. Without Him, we are under the dominion of sin and death and cannot approach God. Ephesians 2:18-22 also speaks of this:
“For through Him (i.e. Jesus Christ) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father […] in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”Ephesians 2:18-22
Every Measurement is Meaningful
This drawing shows the gate from above (top/aerial view)
The width of the main entrance is 13 cubits: the doorway is 10 cubits wide and each of the two sidewalls are 1.5 cubits wide. 13 cubits – 10 cubits = 3 cubits.
The number 3 stands for the triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God let Himself be broken through the death of Jesus Christ so that we can be freed from sin and have access to the holy God. This is why each of the sidewalls are 1.5 cubits wide (the number 3 split apart). This is very precious and should give us a great appreciation for what God did for us in Christ.
The Number 10 – God’s Righteousness
In the Bible, the number 10 symbolizes God’s righteousness. This can be seen, for example, in the Ten Commandments. God gave the Ten Commandments to His people in order to show them His nature and righteousness. They are, so to speak, the constitution of His kingdom.
If a person wants to come into the temple, and thus into the presence of God, he must live according to God’s constitution. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, died and resurrected and by doing so fulfilled every aspect of God’s constitution and also brought forth the new man. This new man fully corresponds to God’s holy nature. Today, this new man, through the Spirit, dwells in every person who has received Jesus Christ. In Ephesians, we see that if the new man dwells in us, we should also walk in the new man:
“that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”Ephesians 4:22-24
By living in the new man, we can fulfill God’s righteousness. Just as we put on new clothes, we can put on the new man. God then sees Christ as the new man in us.
The Long Way Through the Gate
The way into the inside of the temple is long – it consists of 6 guard-chambers. This shows us that it is not so easy to see God. Hebrews 12:14 says: “Pursue […] holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”. As we go through the gate, we will go through many trials. We need to be dealt with in order to see the holy God. Although we are already Christians, we often still live in our old man. That is why there are guard-chambers, which, interestingly, are 6 x 6 cubits in size. The number 6 is the number of man (God created man on the sixth day). This shows us that we have to learn to put on the new man, otherwise we will not be able to pass through the gate. If we want to serve God as priests and draw near to Him, God will test and examine us again and again to see whether we are really walking in the new man.
How does He examine us? 1. John 2:15-16 gives us an example:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”1. John 2:15-16
Do we love the world or do we love God with all our heart? Unfortunately, we often even let many worldly things come into us and the church. But we, and the Lord’s church, must be pure and holy.
The Windows in the Gate – Light to Deal with Our Condition
Without light, we might think that we are ok, because without light, we cannot see where we still need to be cleansed. Only when the light shines upon us can we recognize our true condition before God – that is exactly why there are many windows in the gate.
Are we prepared to let ourselves be exposed by God’s light, to let go of the old and let ourselves be dealt with by God? It is not always pleasant when the Lord’s light shines upon us. But if we withdraw from the light and His dealing with us, there will be no progress in our sanctification. The 6 guard-chambers per gate show us that the Lord wants to change and save us. He takes changing us and saving us seriously and wants us to reach perfection. Praise the Lord for these gates where the light can shine upon us to expose us and save us! God exposes everything in us so that He can save us to the uttermost!
Let us go through this gate!