There are important spiritual messages to be learned from
every part of Ezekiel's detailed description of a temple that has never been
built, lessons that are vital for every Christian today. These are the focus
of the current series of devotionals: LESSONS FROM EZEKIEL'S TEMPLE. If you
have missed any parts of this series, you can read previously published
lessons on-line at
Lessons From Ezekiel's Temple, Part 5:
Gates, Part c:
So Why do we Need Gates on All Sides?
Last week, in Lessons from Ezekiel's Temple, Part 5b,
we discovered that the gates described in Ezekiel's temple, in their
exactness and their order, help us to remember two vital truths: God's ways
are totally opposite from the ways of the world, and when we go through hard
times, God knows. He saw it from the beginning, and He sees the way out. No
matter what our circumstances, we can trust Him to get us through.
Today's lesson takes a look at the meaning and importance of the number and
position of the gates:
"Then he went to the gate facing east … Then he measured the length and
width of the gate facing north … Then he led me to the south side and I saw
a gate facing south." (Ezekiel 40:6,20,24)
We are told about three different gates in the angel's initial description
of the temple: A gate to the east, a gate to the north, and a gate to the
south. Why so many? And what is the significance of their positions?
We are told that the gate to the east was a special gate. This was the gate
where God's glory entered: "The glory of the Lord entered the temple
through the gate facing east." (Ezek 43:4). We are also told that this
gate was to remain shut: "The Lord said to me, 'This gate is to remain
shut. It must not be opened; no one may enter through it. It is to remain
shut because the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered through it.'"
(Ezek 44:2) In other words, God used this gate and to show respect for His
holiness, no one else was to use it.
There was one, however, who could enter the portico of the gateway: The
prince: "The prince himself is the only one who may sit inside the
gateway to eat in the presence of the Lord. He is to enter by way of the
portico of the gateway and go out the same way." (Ezek 44:3)
This eastern gate, then, was only for certain, select people, and it was
only open at certain times. If Ezekiel's temple would have had only one
gate, the one facing to the east, it wouldn't have been open to everyone,
and it wouldn't have been open all the time! But this was not God's intent.
He wanted the temple to be open to everyone at all times, so He instructed a
gate to be built to the north and another to the south.
What does this mean to us today?
Just this: We need to set apart a place in our "temple hearts" dedicated to
the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It must be a Holy place, a place
that only we can access to worship and to praise our God, the Lord and
Master of our Hearts. This gate isn't open to the rest of the world, only to
ourselves and to God. This implies a private place, a place where God can
commune with us on a personal level. This is so vital in the establishment
of any relationship, but especially in the establishment of a relationship
The Bible makes many references to the "Children of the East" (Judges
6, 1 Kings 4, etc). These references seem to imply a people famous for their
wealth and wisdom. Could it be that another reason that the temple was to
have more than just an eastern gate was to imply that not only was God's
temple open to the wealthy and wise, but also to the simpler, the poorer,
the less civilized?
This is a vital lesson for us today as well. We must remember that EVERYONE
is welcome in God's presence, no matter what background, no matter how poor,
no matter how sinful. And because God welcomes everyone in His presence, we
must also do the same! Away with prejudices. Away with preconceived ideas.
God's presence is open and available for EVERYONE! All the time!
One of the things we are told about the gates to the north and to the south
is that those who enter through one must exit through the other: "When
the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, whoever
enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever
enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return
through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite
gate." (Ezek 46:9-10 NIV)
There have been many suggestions as to why the people were not to enter and
exit through the same gate. It has been suggested that this reduces the
amount of jostling that might happen in a crowd of people, and serves to
remind us that God is a God of order. It has also been suggested that
leaving through the opposite gate allows more walking time to get home. This
would allow for more meditation upon the visit with God. And finally, it has
also been suggested that this serves to remind us to follow Paul's
suggestion in Phil: "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and
straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:13-14
What does this mean to us today?
This reminds us that God is a God of order, that God encourages us to spend
time meditating upon our encounters with Him, and that God encourages us to
always be looking forward, forgetting what is behind and straining towards
what is ahead!
Join us next week for another important lesson from Ezekiel's temple, Part
6: Why Alcoves?
God bless each of you as you seek to draw closer to Him!
In His love, Lyn
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,
, with Answers2Prayer Ministries,
 (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole
Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by
Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)