The details and features of the holy building of God as revealed to Ezekiel and recorded in Ezek. 40-48 can be applied to our Christian life today; we can and should experience Christ in many ways for the building up of the church, the temple of God.
Today we want to see the spiritual significance and application of the details of the gates to the inner court, the chamber for washing the burnt offerings, and the altar.
First of all, the holy building of God was surrounded by a wall – wide and long, which protected it; Christ is the One who protects and also guards the building of God and the interests of God in His temple.
At the same time, Christ has become the gateway, the entrance to God’s building; He is the way to the Father, and in no other way can we enter into God and His purpose except Christ Himself.
On the one hand, the perfect, upright, and complete Christ with His living as recorded in the Gospels is the factor that excludes and keeps away anything sinful and common from God’s building. On the other hand, God became man and Christ was “split” on the cross for us to have a way to enter into God by faith in Him.
When we enter into God’s building, we are in resurrection (number eight keeps coming up as a dimension of the features of God’s building).
There were six areas of pavement around the inside of the wall on all four sides of the outer court, and each section had five chambers – in total there were thirty chambers. They all had a pavement of stone, signifying the standing of regeneration (which makes us stones) as a separation from the dirt of the world.
In these chambers the people ate the offerings in the outer court; in the building of God we enjoy Christ.
Christ is the One who was sent by God to fulfill and replace and become the reality of all the offerings. He came to do the Father’s will, that is, to replace all the Old Testament offerings and become their reality for our enjoyment.
On our side, we need to do the Father’s will by eating Christ, enjoying Him, and experiencing Him as the reality of all the offerings in our daily life, so that the Body of Christ may be built up in reality.
We need to Experience Christ, Gain Him More, and be Brought into Resurrection
The details of the gates to the inner court of the holy building of God in Ezekiel’s vision (see Ezek. 40:28-37) were the same as those of the gates to the outer court; this indicates that, as we enter into the inner court, we repeat our experience of Christ.
As we enter into God’s building, we experience the same Christ, but we experience more of Him. We should never be content with our experience of Christ but seek to experience more of Him.
The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians twenty-six years after his conversion, and at this time he was the antithesis of a content Christian; he wanted to gain Christ more and experience Christ more! He even said that he counted all things loss and refuse that he might gain Christ, win Christ, and experience Christ (Phil. 3:8-10).
Our whole life is a quest to know Christ, experience Christ, and gain Christ; we should seek to be found in Him and know Him. Even as we enter into the building of God, in the church, we should experience Christ more and gain Him more for His building.
At the entrance of the inner court there is another set of stairs (see Ezek. 40:22, 26), consisting of eight steps; this indicates that, the more inward we progress in our experience of God’s building, the higher we become.
The more inward we progress, the higher we become. When the priests entered through the gates and into God’s building, they went higher and higher. Our experience of Christ should be higher and higher as we enter into God’s building.
The number eight (eight steps) signifies resurrection; this indicates that, if we would come into the inner court, we need to be in resurrection. As we progress in our experience of Christ for His building, our natural life and natural man is repudiated and crossed out, and we live a life in resurrection.
This should be our experience daily. We need to daily experience Christ, know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if perhaps we may attend to the out-resurrection from the dead.
The experience of God’s building is inward and deep, but it also brings us higher and higher, until we live a life in resurrection experiencing Christ for the building of God.
Lord Jesus, we are not content with our experience of Christ – we want to experience Christ more and gain Him more today! All other things are like refuse to us, Lord, and we are willing to count all other things loss on the account of the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ! We want to be found in You, know You, experience You, and enjoy You more and more. Bring our whole being with our daily living into resurrection so that our natural man and natural life be repudiated and crossed out!
Taking Christ as our Burnt Offering to be Absolute for God as a Burnt Offering for God
In Ezek. 40:38 there’s a chamber, probably within the north gate of the inner court, that was for the priests to wash the burnt offering; this indicates that, at this point in our experience, we are ready to be a burnt offering for God.
As we experience Christ more and gain Him more, being in the realm of resurrection, we are brought to a point where we are ready to be absolute for God to be a burnt offering for God.
Every day we need to take Christ as our burnt offering; He is absolute for God, and He is absolutely for God’s satisfaction. When we take Him as such a One, our life becomes a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah, just as Christ’s life was a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah.
When we pass through the gate to the inner court, we are in resurrection and on a higher level; here we are not merely the common people in the outer court – we have become the priests who are ready to minister to the Lord by offering the burnt offering.
As seen in Lev. 1:3 and footnote 1, “burnt” in “burnt offering” literally means that which goes up, denoting something that ascends to God.
The burnt offering typifies Christ not merely in His redeeming man from sin but in living a life that was perfect and absolutely for God and His satisfaction, and in His being the life that enables His people to have such a living.
The burnt offering is God’s food, that God may enjoy it and be satisfied, and it was to be offered daily.
The burnt offering was a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah (Exo. 29:18, 41); in 2 Cor. 2:15 Paul says that we are a fragrance of Christ. We need to be a fragrance of Christ as a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah by taking Christ as our burnt offering and by living a life of a burnt offering every day.
Lord Jesus, we take You as our burnt offering – You are absolutely for God and for God’s satisfaction. We want to experience Christ to a higher level until our life becomes a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah, just as Christ’s life was a satisfying fragrance to Jehovah. May our living and being be a fragrance of Christ to those around us. Grant us the experiences of Christ we need to have a life of burnt offering every day, taking Christ as our burnt offering to be for God’s satisfaction.
Knowing the Cross of Christ as the Center and Circumference of God’s Holy Building
The altar (Ezek. 40:47) is right in the center of God’s building, and it is not only the center but also the circumference of God’s holy building. The altar signifies the cross of Christ.
The cross is implied in the gate (when we pass through the gate we are crossed out), in the eating of sacrifices (Christ crucified is our sacrifices), in the boiling houses (Christ being processed and crucified), and in the tables on which the sacrifices are slain (see v. 39).
The cross spreads in every direction and to every corner of God’s building, and the cross is also right in the middle. If we wish to contact God and enjoy His riches in His house, we must pass through the cross.
The death on the cross was the release of God (Luke 12:49-50; John 12:24) and the termination of man and all negative things (Rom. 6:6; Heb. 2:14; 9:26-28; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:14-15); in Christ’s death God passed through death in man to be released, and man died in God to be terminated.
The cross was a baptism for Christ, a release of His divine life within Him; through His death the outer shell of humanity was broken and the divine life within Him – the very God Himself – was released into us.
This life is like a fire, the impulse of the spiritual life, an impelling force. In our spirit right now we have the impulse of the spiritual life!
On our side, on the cross our old man was crucified with Him, the devil was destroyed, our sinful nature and our sins were put away, the world system has been crucified, and all the commandments in ordinances that separate us were destroyed.
Hallelujah for the cross of Christ which is at the center of God’s building, and which is also the circumference of His building!
We don’t experience the cross once for all; rather, we experience the cross again and again. Everywhere we turn there’s the cross; the cross may meet us through our children, our spouse, our illness, the brothers and sisters around us, our workmates, etc.
In order for us to contact God, we need to go through the cross; the ones who love God the most and experience Christ the most are the ones who have gone through the cross.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your death on the cross which released Your divine eternal life to become the impelling force of our spiritual life, crucified our old man, destroyed the devil, put away our sinful nature and sins, crucified the world system, and abolished the commandments in ordinances. May we realize that the cross is at the center and circumference of God’s holy building. May we allow the cross to operate in us again and again to make us suitable for God’s building in our daily experience.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by Ed Marks for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Ezekiel, msg. 21 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-study of Ezekiel (2), msg. 5 (week 17 in the HWMR), The Vision of the Holy Building of God in Its Outstanding Features.
- Hymns on this topic:
# What things were gains to me, / These I now count as loss. / Jesus has set me free / From what I was! / All of the things I had; / Everything, good or bad, / I count as refuse / That I may gain Christ! (Song on gaining Christ)
# Lord, I take You as my sin offering for what I am, / But Lord, I take You as my burnt offering for what I’m not. / I’m not loving, submissive, patient, kind, or meek, / I’m not single in view, Lord, nor is it God I seek. / But dearest Lord, You’re all these things, all virtue’s in You, / So Lord I lay my hands on You in all I do. (Song on, Our burnt offering)
# Through the Cross, O Lord, I pray, / Put my soul-life all away; / Make me any price to pay, / Full anointing to receive. (Hymns #279)
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