This third article in the series dealing with the Temple of Ezekiel’s Prophecy describes the entrance gates and surrounding area. It contains intensely interesting material packed with very relevant exhortation as we delve into the significance of some important Hebrew words. It serves as a reminder to us that the real beauty of the Scriptures is not always apparent on the surface but requires diligent study on our part to more fully comprehend Yahweh’s message to us, His servants. We are continually thankful to Him for providing us with so many study aids in our day and excellent expositions to help us make a reality of these wonderful visions. We strongly commend this series of articles to the attention of all readers and remind them of the value of the Family Bible Marking Project suggested in the previous issue of The Lampstand.

The prophet Ezekiel ascended the seven steps at a gate entrance on the East side. He saw the length and breadth of the enormous doors of the gate measured by the man with the measuring reed in his hand. The massive pedestals and their surbases standing between the little chambers were also measured. Ezekiel looked up at the towering columns, palm-like pillars, supporting the arches stretching across the gateway.

The whole sight was magnificent and overwhelming— a noble entrance—and beyond?

The Outer Court

 Ezekiel 40:17 “Then brought he me into the outward court, and, lo, there were chambers, and a pavement made for the court round about: thirty chambers were upon the pavement.”

 The outward or outer court referred to the area between the two rows of buildings that make up the square. The word “chambers” here is not to be confused with the little chambers of verse 16. In verse 17, this word refers to any large building open at the side or the ends and subdivided by pillars. Brother Sulley used the word “cella” or “cellae” (plural)—a Latin word.

Ezekiel recorded thirty chambers. The prophet traversed three sides of the outer court (east, south and north) and if we take thirty as the total number of chambers counted, then this would imply that there were ten chambers on each side of the square.

The pavement was a stone floor base or platform on which the pillars of the chambers were supported. The Hebrew word for pavement is ‘ritspah’ which means “a hot stone” or “live coal” and has the idea of a tessellated pavement.

The word “ritspah” is used in Isaiah 6 where it is translated “live coal”. “Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar” (Isa 6:6).

This is a very interesting context. Isaiah chapter 6 speaks of the glory of Christ and his redemptive work (John 12:41). It was one of the seraphim that had the live coal in his hand taken from off the altar and used for the purging of iniquity. The altar represented Christ. Our iniquities can be forgiven because of Christ’s sacrifice.

The Hebrew “saraph” (from which “seraphim” is derived) signifies “burning”, “fiery” or “deadly”. Consider the incident in the wilderness when the children of Israel in their dissatisfaction and faithless impatience spoke against God and against Moses. Yahweh’s judgement was swift and effective. Snakes (“nachash”) were used to inflict the punishment. The people went to Moses and confessed their guilt. Moses prayed for the people. The result! “And Yahweh said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Num 21:8).

The word “fiery” is “saraph, but the word for “serpent” does not appear in the Hebrew text of this verse. “And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Num 21:9).

It was a serpent of brass. The polished brass would have looked fiery in the sunshine. A brazen serpent erected on a pole to save Israel. Christ saw the lesson. He likened the serpent to himself (John 3:14,15). Christ conquered sin. He was like the serpent of brass, purified from all dross. There is the man in the gate of the temple “like the appearance of brass”.

Chapter 6 of Isaiah records that it was in the year that king Uzziah died that the prophet saw the vision. Why is Uzziah mentioned? It was Uzziah who had tried to offer incense. What does incense represent? In Revelation 5:6–8 and 8:3, 4 we find incense represents the prayers of saints.

Thus in Ezekiel chapter 40 we have the prophet with the man like the appearance of brass with a measuring reed in his hand. He went from the east through the gate on to the outer court—to the tessellated pavement—on to stones, a reminder of hot stones, live coals, Isaiah 6, seraphim, Christ in his glory, incense, prayer—here, in the house of prayer for all nations.

Will some of these things flash through our minds as we stand, in the mercy of God, in that outer court in the day of the Kingdom? They will if we have thought about them in the day of our probation—today (Ezek 40:4). If we have not, if our eyes are shut, ears heavy and hearts fat (Isa 6:10), then we will not step on to that pavement of the outer court—not ever!

Ezekiel 40:18 “And the pavement by the side of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement.”

 The mention of the term “lower pavement” implied at least one other pavement above.

Ezekiel 40:19 “Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate unto the forefront of the inner court without, an hundred cubits eastward and northward.”

 One hundred cubits is the fullest width of the outer court, from the door faces of the porches of the gates on either side of the court.

This is approximately the width of King William Street in Adelaide, and from the first article we recall that the length of the outer court is the length of King William Street.

Eight Steps

 Either side of the outer court are the rows of the buildings forming the square. The buildings on the outside perimeter had seven steps leading to the gates. When Ezekiel moved across the outer court to the row of buildings on the inner side of the outer court he termed the entrance into the buildings as an inner court gate. The description of an “inner court” gate commences in verse 23.

Ezekiel 40:23 “And the gate of the inner court was over against the gate toward the north, and toward the east; and he measured from gate to gate an hundred cubits.”

 In verses 31, 32 and 37 of Ezekiel chapter 40, mention is made of eight steps going up to the inner court gate. Thus we have seven steps at the outer gate to the floor level of the outer gate building, across the outer court at the same level and then it would seem one more step to gain the inner court gate floor level. This would make a total of eight steps traversed by the time the inner court building was reached. Each step was an ascent. In Ezekiel’s temple, there was always a “going up” as the prophet moved inward. The word for “to go up” in verse 26 is “olah”, the word used for the burnt offering in the Law of Moses. Literally it means the “ascending offering” and speaks of dedication (see also 1 Kings 10:5 for the same word). How appropriate is the use of this word in this context of worship in the Age to Come.

Ezekiel 40:31 “And the arches thereof were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof: and the going up to it had eight steps.”

The final (eighth) step reached the inner court level, which is the area between the square and the circular buildings. Eight is the resurrection or circumcision number, representing a new beginning. The year eight thousand will see the earth peopled by immortals only.

 Eight Tables

 When Ezekiel was brought to the north side again (v35), he commented upon another aspect of the outer gates that was relevant. At the north gates the sacrifices were prepared (eg. washing the burnt offerings v38).

Ezekiel 40:39 “And in the porch of the gate were two tables on this side, and two tables on that side, to slay thereon the burnt offering and the sin offering and the trespass offering.”

 Thus there were four tables in each of the inner porches of the outer row of buildings for the dividing and washing of the sacrifices for the service of the people.

Ezekiel 40:40 “And at the side without, as one goeth up to the entry of the north gate, were two tables; and on the other side, which was at the porch of the gate, were two tables.”

 There were four tables outside the outer row of buildings as one went up the seven steps. These tables were for the slaying of the animals. The position of the blocks in connection with the work of slaughter was significant. In the temple of the Kingdom Age, sacrificed animals will be put to death “outside the gate” on the northern side. It will be a fitting memorial. Christ was put to death outside the walls of Jerusalem, at Golgotha, north of the city. When worshippers go up to the Temple during Christ’s rule, they will know and understand that. They will be taught the necessity for shed blood in the Kingdom Age. Therefore there were eight tables altogether (v41). Eight speaks of circumcision, the cutting off of the flesh. These eternal and wonderful principles will be constantly reaffirmed.

Ezekiel 40:42 “And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice.”

 The slaying blocks were of hewn stone. On these blocks Ezekiel saw the instruments for the slaying. This indicated their use in connection with the process of slaughtering. The sacrificial animals will be put to death by severing the main artery. This Divine method of inflicting death, causing the outflow of blood, which is the life of the animal, will be strictly enforced.

Then on the tables, in the porches of the gates, the animals will be washed and prepared for sacrifices. Those parts of the sacrifice which are to be reserved for food will be conveyed into the big chambers (cellae) at the sides of the gates.

Ezekiel 40:43 “And within were hooks, an hand broad, fastened round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering.”

 Ezekiel saw the hooks for handling the carcases as they were made ready. The flesh of the animals was on the tables. It was all a living reality to the prophet.

As we read the prophet’s record of his vision, we too need to make these things a reality—see the vision, hear the words and set our hearts upon this wonderful era that is soon to be seen in the earth.