"Then he went to the gate facing east. He climbed its steps and measured the threshold of the gate; it was one rod deep." (Ezek 40:6 NIV); "Then he measured the length and width of the gate facing north, leading into the outer court." (Ezek 40:20-21 NIV); "Then he led me to the south side and I saw a gate facing south." (Ezek 40:24 NIV).
And these are just three of the 40+ references to gates in chapters 40-48 of Ezekiel. So if gates are referred to so many times in this description of Ezekiel's temple, then it can be said that they are of some importance!
First of all, let's look, in general, at the significance of gates in the Bible: "Enter through the NARROW GATE. For WIDE is the GATE and broad is the road that leads to DESTRUCTION, and many enter through it. But SMALL is the GATE and narrow the road that leads to LIFE, and only a few find it." (Matt 7:13-14 NIV, Emphasis added).
In this famous quote from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is making reference to the ancient custom of walled cities. The "Life" is the Kingdom of God, and just like ancient cities had walls for protection, God's Kingdom is our protection from the world. And just like anyone who wanted to enter or leave the ancient walled cities had to do so by passing through a gate, there is only one way into the Kingdome of God: Through the gate!
Just what is this "gate"?
We find the answer in the book of John: "I tell you the truth, I AM THE GATE for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I AM THE GATE; whoever enters THROUGH ME will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture." (John 10:7-10)
This is a fitting explanation when thinking about the gates to enter into the temple of the Lord. When you enter in, you are entering into God's presence. We have no right to do so of our own; our only right to do so comes through Jesus: "I AM THE GATE; whoever enters THROUGH ME will be saved …" (John 10:10)
Not only do we have the right to enter into the temple, because of Jesus, but we also have a right to enter into the holy of holies, into the presence of the Lord Himself! "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …" (Heb 10:19-21 NIV)
When we think of the fact that we are temples of God's Spirit, we must remember that this privilege-and it is indeed, a privilege!-is ours ONLY because of Jesus and His Sacrifice!
Wow! That thought, in and of itself, is enough to make us stop and praise God!
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: The temple gates remind us that the only reason we have been given the privilege of becoming temples of God's Spirit is becomes of Jesus' Blood, Jesus' Sacrifice. He made the way, and through Him we have access to the presence of God, Himself! Praise the Lord!
But there is more to the reference to gates in Ezekiel's temple than just this idea. Join us next week for Lessons from Ezekiel's Temple, Part 5b: So Why all of Those Different Gates?
God bless each of you as you seek to draw closer to Him!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .