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Vision of the New Temple
1In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me to the city.11Hebrew brought me there 2In visions of God he brought me to the land of Israel, and set me down on a very high mountain, on which was a structure like a city to the south. 3When he brought me there, behold, there was a man whose appearance was like bronze, with a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. And he was standing in the gateway. 4And the man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart upon all that I shall show you, for you were brought here in order that I might show it to you. Declare all that you see to the house of Israel.”
The East Gate to the Outer Court
5And behold, there was a wall all around the outside of the temple area, and the length of the measuring reed in the man's hand was six long cubits, each being a cubit and a handbreadth22A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters; a handbreadth was about 3 inches or 7.5 centimeters in length. So he measured the thickness of the wall, one reed; and the height, one reed. 6Then he went into the gateway facing east, going up its steps, and measured the threshold of the gate, one reed deep.33Hebrew deep, and one threshold, one reed deep 7And the side rooms, one reed long and one reed broad; and the space between the side rooms, five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the vestibule of the gate at the inner end, one reed. 8Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, on the inside, one reed. 9Then he measured the vestibule of the gateway, eight cubits; and its jambs, two cubits; and the vestibule of the gate was at the inner end. 10And there were three side rooms on either side of the east gate. The three were of the same size, and the jambs on either side were of the same size. 11Then he measured the width of the opening of the gateway, ten cubits; and the length of the gateway, thirteen cubits. 12There was a barrier before the side rooms, one cubit on either side. And the side rooms were six cubits on either side. 13Then he measured the gate from the ceiling of the one side room to the ceiling of the other, a breadth of twenty-five cubits; the openings faced each other. 14He measured also the vestibule, twenty cubits. And around the vestibule of the gateway was the court.44Text uncertain; Hebrew And he made the jambs sixty cubits, and to the jamb of the court was the gateway all around 15From the front of the gate at the entrance to the front of the inner vestibule of the gate was fifty cubits. 16And the gateway had windows all around, narrowing inwards toward the side rooms and toward their jambs, and likewise the vestibule had windows all around inside, and on the jambs were palm trees.
The Outer Court
17Then he brought me into the outer court. And behold, there were chambers and a pavement, all around the court. Thirty chambers faced the pavement. 18And the pavement ran along the side of the gates, corresponding to the length of the gates. This was the lower pavement. 19Then he measured the distance from the inner front of the lower gate to the outer front of the inner court,55Hebrew distance from before the low gate before the inner court to the outside a hundred cubits on the east side and on the north side.66Or cubits. So far the eastern gate; now to the northern gate.
The North Gate
20As for the gate that faced toward the north, belonging to the outer court, he measured its length and its breadth. 21Its side rooms, three on either side, and its jambs and its vestibule were of the same size as those of the first gate. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 22And its windows, its vestibule, and its palm trees were of the same size as those of the gate that faced toward the east. And by seven steps people would go up to it, and find its vestibule before them. 23And opposite the gate on the north, as on the east, was a gate to the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate, a hundred cubits.
The South Gate
24And he led me toward the south, and behold, there was a gate on the south. And he measured its jambs and its vestibule; they had the same size as the others. 25Both it and its vestibule had windows all around, like the windows of the others. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 26And there were seven steps leading up to it, and its vestibule was before them, and it had palm trees on its jambs, one on either side. 27And there was a gate on the south of the inner court. And he measured from gate to gate toward the south, a hundred cubits.
The Inner Court
28Then he brought me to the inner court through the south gate, and he measured the south gate. It was of the same size as the others. 29Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 30And there were vestibules all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits broad. 31Its vestibule faced the outer court, and palm trees were on its jambs, and its stairway had eight steps.
32Then he brought me to the inner court on the east side, and he measured the gate. It was of the same size as the others. 33Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others, and both it and its vestibule had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 34Its vestibule faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.
35Then he brought me to the north gate, and he measured it. It had the same size as the others. 36Its side rooms, its jambs, and its vestibule were of the same size as the others,77One manuscript (compare verses 29 and 33); most manuscripts lack were of the same size as the others and it had windows all around. Its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty-five cubits. 37Its vestibule88Septuagint, Vulgate (compare verses 26, 31, 34); Hebrew jambs faced the outer court, and it had palm trees on its jambs, on either side, and its stairway had eight steps.
38There was a chamber with its door in the vestibule of the gate,99Hebrew at the jambs, the gates where the burnt offering was to be washed. 39And in the vestibule of the gate were two tables on either side, on which the burnt offering and the sin offering and the guilt offering were to be slaughtered. 40And off to the side, on the outside as one goes up to the entrance of the north gate, were two tables; and off to the other side of the vestibule of the gate were two tables. 41Four tables were on either side of the gate, eight tables, on which to slaughter. 42And there were four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high, on which the instruments were to be laid with which the burnt offerings and the sacrifices were slaughtered. 43And hooks,1010Or shelves a handbreadth long, were fastened all around within. And on the tables the flesh of the offering was to be laid.
Chambers for the Priests
44On the outside of the inner gateway there were two chambers1111Septuagint; Hebrew were chambers for singers in the inner court, one1212Hebrew lacks one at the side of the north gate facing south, the other at the side of the south1313Septuagint; Hebrew east gate facing north. 45And he said to me, This chamber that faces south is for the priests who have charge of the temple, 46and the chamber that faces north is for the priests who have charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who alone1414Hebrew lacks alone among the sons of Levi may come near to the Lord to minister to him. 47And he measured the court, a hundred cubits long and a hundred cubits broad, a square. And the altar was in front of the temple.
The Vestibule of the Temple
48Then he brought me to the vestibule of the temple and measured the jambs of the vestibule, five cubits on either side. And the breadth of the gate was fourteen cubits, and the sidewalls of the gate1515Septuagint; Hebrew lacks was fourteen cubits, and the sidewalls of the gate were three cubits on either side. 49The length of the vestibule was twenty cubits, and the breadth twelve1616Septuagint; Hebrew eleven cubits, and people would go up to it by ten steps.1717Septuagint; Hebrew and by steps that would go up to it And there were pillars beside the jambs, one on either side.
The Vision of the Temple. (b. c. 574.)
1 In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me thither. 2 In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. 3 And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. 4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.
Here is, 1. The date of this vision. It was in the twenty-fifth year of Ezekiel's captivity (v. 1), which some compute to be the thirty-third year of the first captivity, and is here said to be the fourteenth year after the city was smitten. See how seasonably the clearest and fullest prospects of their deliverance were given, when they were in the depth of their distress, and an assurance of the return of the morning when they were in the midnight of their captivity: "Then the hand of the Lord was upon me and brought me thither to Jerusalem, now that it was in ruins, desolate and deserted"—a pitiable sight to the prophet. 2. The scene where it was laid. The prophet was brought, in the visions of God, to the land of Israel, v. 2. And it was not the first time that he had been brought thither in vision. We had him carried to Jerusalem to see it in its iniquity and shame (ch. viii. 3); here he is carried thither to have a pleasing prospect of it in its glory, though its present aspect, now that it was quite depopulated, was dismal. He was set upon a very high mountain, as Moses upon the top of Pisgah, to view this land, which was now a second time a land of promise, not yet in possession. From the top of this mountain he saw as the frame of a city, the plan and model of it; but this city was a temple as large as a city. The New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi. 22) had no temple therein; this which we have here is all temple, which comes much to one. It is a city for men to dwell in; it is a temple for God to dwell in; for in the church on earth God dwells with men, in that in heaven men dwell with God. Both these are framed in the counsel of God, framed by infinite wisdom, and all very good. 3. The particular discoveries of this city (which he had at first a general view of) were made to him by a man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass (v. 3), not a created angel, but Jesus Christ, who should be found in fashion as a man, that he might both discover and build the gospel-temple. He brought him to this city, for it is through Christ that we have both acquaintance with and access to the benefits and privileges of God's house. He it is that shall build the temple of the Lord, Zech. vi. 13. His appearing like brass intimates both his brightness and his strength. John, in vision, saw his feet like unto fine brass, Rev. i. 15. 4. The dimensions of this city or temple, and the several parts of it, were taken with a line of flax and a measuring reed, or rod (v. 3), as carpenters have both their line and a wooden measure. The temple of God is built by line and rule; and those that would let others into the knowledge of it must do it by that line and rule. The church is formed according to the scripture, the pattern in the mount. That is the line and the measuring reed that is in the hand of Christ. With that doctrine and laws ought to be measured, and examined by that; for then peace is upon the Israel of God when they walk according to that rule. 5. Directions are here given to the prophet to receive this revelation from the Lord and transmit it pure and entire to the church, v. 4. (1.) He must carefully observe every thing that was said and done in this vision. His attention is raised and engaged (v. 4): "Behold with thy eyes all that is shown thee (do not only see it, but look intently upon it), and hear with thy ears all that is said to thee; diligently hearken to it, and be sure to set thy heart upon it; attend with a fixedness of thought and a close application of mind." What we see of the works of God, and what we hear of the word of God, will do us no good unless we set out hearts upon it, as those that reckon ourselves nearly concerned in it, and expect advantage to our souls by it. (2.) He must faithfully declare it to the house of Israel, that they may have the comfort of it. Therefore he receives, that he may give. Thus the Revelation of Jesus Christ was lodged in the hands of John, that he might signify it to the churches, Rev. i. 1. And, because he is to declare it as a message from God, he must therefore be fully apprised of it himself and much affected with it. Note, Those who are to preach God's word to others ought to study it well themselves and set their hearts upon it. Now the reason given why he must both observe it himself and declare it to the house of Israel is because to this intent he is brought hither, and has it shown to him. Note, When the things of God are shown to us it concerns us to consider to what intent they are shown to us, and, when we are sitting under the ministry of the word, to consider to what intent we are brought thither, that we may answer the end of our coming, and may not receive the grace of God, in showing us such things, in vain.
The Vision of the Temple. (b. c. 574.)
5 And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man's hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and a hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. 6 Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad. 7 And every little chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed. 8 He measured also the porch of the gate within, one reed. 9 Then measured he the porch of the gate, eight cubits; and the posts thereof, two cubits; and the porch of the gate was inward. 10 And the little chambers of the gate eastward were three on this side, and three on that side; they three were of one measure: and the posts had one measure on this side and on that side. 11 And he measured the breadth of the entry of the gate, ten cubits; and the length of the gate, thirteen cubits. 12 The space also before the little chambers was one cubit on this side, and the space was one cubit on that side: and the little chambers were six cubits on this side, and six cubits on that side. 13 He measured then the gate from the roof of one little chamber to the roof of another: the breadth was five and twenty cubits, door against door. 14 He made also posts of threescore cubits, even unto the post of the court round about the gate. 15 And from the face of the gate of the entrance unto the face of the porch of the inner gate were fifty cubits. 16 And there were narrow windows to the little chambers, and to their posts within the gate round about, and likewise to the arches: and windows were round about inward: and upon each post were palm trees. 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. 18 And the pavement by the side of the gates over against the length of the gates was the lower pavement. 19 Then he measured the breadth from the forefront of the lower gate unto the forefront of the inner court without, a hundred cubits eastward and northward. 20 And the gate of the outward court that looked toward the north, he measured the length thereof, and the breadth thereof. 21 And the little chambers thereof were three on this side and three on that side; and the posts thereof and the arches thereof were after the measure of the first gate: the length thereof was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. 22 And their windows, and their arches, and their palm trees, were after the measure of the gate that looketh toward the east; and they went up unto it by seven steps; and the arches thereof were before them. 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 a hundred cubits. 24 After that he brought me toward the south, and behold a gate toward the south: and he measured the posts thereof and the arches thereof according to these measures. 25 And there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about, like those windows: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. 26 And there were seven steps to go up to it, and the arches thereof were before them: and it had palm trees, one on this side, and another on that side, upon the posts thereof.
The measuring-reed which was in the hand of the surveyor-general was mentioned before, v. 3. Here we are told (v. 5) what was the exact length of it, which must be observed, because the house was measured by it. It was six cubits long, reckoning, not by the common cubit, but the cubit of the sanctuary, the sacred cubit, by which it was fit that this holy house should be measured, and that was a hand-breadth (that it, four inches) longer than the common cubit: the common cubit was eighteen inches, this twenty-two, see ch. xliii. 13. Yet some of the critics contend that this measuring-reed was but six common cubits in length, and one handbreadth added to the whole. The former seems more probable. Here is an account,
I. Of the outer wall of the house, which encompassed it round, which was three yards thick and three yards high, which denotes the separation between the church and the world on every side and the divine protection which the church is under. If a wall of this vast thickness will not secure it, God himself will be a wall of fire round about it; whoever attack it will do so at their peril.
II. Of the several gates with the chambers adjoining to them. Here is no mention of the outer court of all, which was called the court of the Gentiles, some think because in gospel-times there should be such a vast confluence of Gentiles to the church that their court should be left unmeasured, to signify that the worshippers in that court should be unnumbered, Rev. vii. 9, 11, 12.
1. He begins with the east gate, because that was the usual way of entering into the lower end of the temple, the holy of holies being at the west end, in opposition to the idolatrous heathen that worshipped towards the east. Now, in the account of this gate, observe, (1.) That he went up to it by stairs (v. 6), for the gospel-church was exalted above that of the Old Testament, and when we go to worship God we must ascend; so is the call, Rev. iv. 1. Come up hither. Sursum corda—Up with your hearts. (2.) That the chambers adjoining to the gates were but little chambers, about ten feet square, v. 7. These were for those to lodge in who attended the service of the house. And it becomes such as are made spiritual priests to God to content themselves with little chambers and not to seek great things to themselves; so that we may but have a place within the verge of God's court we have reason to be thankful though it be in a little chamber, a mean apartment, though we be but door-keepers there. (3.) The chambers, as they were each of them four-square, denoting their stability and due proportion and their exact agreement with the rule (for they were each of them one reed long and one reed broad), so they were all of one measure, that there might be an equality among the attendants on the service of the house. (4.) The chambers were very many; for in our Father's house there are many mansions (John xiv. 2), in his house above, and in that here on earth. In the secret of his tabernacle shall those be hid, and in a safe pavilion, whose desire is to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of their life, Ps. xxvii. 4, 5. Some make these chambers to represent the particular congregations of believers, which are parts of the great temple, the universal church, which are, and must be, framed by the scripture-line and rule, and which Jesus Christ takes the measure of, that is, takes cognizance of, for he walks in the midst of the seven golden candle-sticks. (5.) It is said (v. 14), He made also the posts. He that now measured them was the same that made them; for Christ is the builder of his church and therefore is best able to give us the knowledge of it. And his reducing them to the rule and standard is called his making them, for no account is made of them further than they agree with that. To the law and to the testimony. (6.) Here are posts of sixty cubits, which, some think, was literally fulfilled when Cyrus, in his edict for rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, ordered that the height thereof should be sixty cubits, that is, thirty yards and more, Ezra vi. 3. (7.) Here were windows to the little chambers, and windows to the posts and arches (that is, to the cloisters below), and windows round about (v. 16), to signify the light from heaven with which the church is illuminated; divine revelation is let into it for instruction, direction, and comfort, to those that dwell in God's house, light to work by, light to walk by, light to see themselves and one another by. There were lights to the little chambers; even the least, and least considerable, parts and members of the church, shall have light afforded them. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord. But they are narrow windows, as those in the temple, 1 Kings vi. 4. The discoveries made to the church on earth are but narrow and scanty compared with what shall be in the future state, when we shall no longer see through a glass darkly. (8.) Divers courts are here spoken of, an outermost of all, then an outer court, then an inner, and then the innermost of all, into which the priests only entered, which (some think) may put us in mind "of the diversities of gifts, and graces, and offices, in the several members of Christ's mystical body here, as also of the several degrees of glory in the courts and mansions of heaven, as there are stars in several spheres and stars of several magnitudes in the fixed firmament." English Annotations. Some draw nearer to God than others and have a more intimate acquaintance with divine things; but to a child of God a day in any of his courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. These courts had porches, or piazzas, round them, for the shelter of those that attended in them from wind and weather; for when we are in the way of our duty to God we may believe ourselves to be under his special protection, that he will graciously provide for us, nay, that he will himself be to us a covert from the storm and tempest, Isa. iv. 5, 6. (9.) On the posts were palm-trees engraven (v. 16), to signify that the righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree in the courts of God's house, Ps. xcii. 12. The more they are depressed with the burden of affliction the more strongly do they grow, as they say of the palm-trees. It likewise intimates the saints' victory and triumph over their spiritual enemies; they have palms in their hands (Rev. vii. 9); but lest they should drop these, or have them snatched out of their hands, they are here engraven upon the posts of the temple as perpetual monuments of their honour. Thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph. Nay, believers shall themselves be made pillars in the temple of our God, and shall go no more out, and shall have his name engraven on them, which will be their brightest ornament and honour, Rev. iii. 12. (10.) Notice is here taken of the pavement of the court, v. 17, 18. The word intimates that the pavement was made of porphyry—stone, which was of the colour of burning coals; for the brightest and most sparkling glories of this world should be put and kept under our feet when we draw near to God and are attending upon him. The stars are, as it were, the burning coals, or stones of a fiery colour, with which the pavement of God's celestial temple is laid; and, if the pavement of the court be so bright and glittering, how glorious must we conclude the mansions of that house to be!
2. The gates that looked towards the north (v. 20) and towards the south (v. 24), with their appurtenances, are much the same with that towards the east, after the measure of the first gate, v. 21. But the description is repeated very particularly. And thus largely was the structure of the tabernacle related in Exodus, and of the temple in the books of Kings and Chronicles, to signify the special notice God does take, and his ministers should take, of all that belong to his church. His delight is in them; his eye is upon them. He knows all that are his, all his living temples and all that belongs to them. Observe, (1.) This temple had not only a gate towards the east, to let into it the children of the east, that were famous for their wealth and wisdom, but it had a gate to the north, and another to the south, for the admission of the poorer and less civilized nations. The new Jerusalem has twelve gates, three towards each quarter of the world (Rev. xxi. 13); for many shall come from all parts to sit down there, Matt. viii. 11. (2.) To those gates they went up by steps, seven steps (v. 22-26), which, as some observe, may remind us of the necessity of advancing in grace and holiness, adding one grace to another, going from step to step, from strength to strength, still pressing forward towards perfection—upward, upward, towards heaven, the temple above.
The Vision of the Temple. (b. c. 574.)
27 And there was a gate in the inner court toward the south: and he measured from gate to gate toward the south a hundred cubits. 28 And he brought me to the inner court by the south gate: and he measured the south gate according to these measures; 29 And the little chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, according to these measures: and there were windows in it and in the arches thereof round about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad. 30 And the arches round about were five and twenty cubits long, and five cubits broad. 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. 32 And he brought me into the inner court toward the east: and he measured the gate according to these measures. 33 And the little chambers thereof, and the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, were according to these measures: and there were windows therein and in the arches thereof round about: it was fifty cubits long, and five and twenty cubits broad. 34 And the arches thereof were toward the outward court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side: and the going up to it had eight steps. 35 And he brought me to the north gate, and measured it according to these measures; 36 The little chambers thereof, the posts thereof, and the arches thereof, and the windows to it round about: the length was fifty cubits, and the breadth five and twenty cubits. 37 And the posts thereof were toward the utter court; and palm trees were upon the posts thereof, on this side, and on that side: and the going up to it had eight steps. 38 And the chambers and the entries thereof were by the posts of the gates, where they washed the burnt offering.
In these verses we have a delineation of the inner court. The survey of the outer court ended with the south side of it. This of the inner court begins with the south side (v. 27), proceeds to the east (v. 32), and so to the north (v. 35); for here is no gate either of the outer or inner court towards the west. It should seem that in Solomon's temple there were gates westward, for we find porters towards the west, 1 Chron. ix. 24; xxvi. 8. But Josephus says that in the second temple there was no gate on the west side. Observe, 1. These gates into the inner court were exactly uniform with those into the outer court, the dimensions the same, the chambers adjoining the same, the galleries or rows round the court the same, and the very engravings on the posts the same. The work of grace, and its workings, are the same, for substance, in grown Christians that they are in young beginners, only that the former have got so much nearer their perfection. The faith of all the saints is alike precious, though it be not alike strong. There is a great resemblance between one child of God and another; for all they are brethren and bear the same image. 2. The ascent into the outer court at each gate was by seven steps, but the ascent into the inner court at each gate was by eight steps. This is expressly taken notice of (v. 31, 34, 37), to signify that the nearer we approach to God the more we should rise above this world and the things of it. The people, who worshipped in the outer court, must rise seven steps above other people, but the priests, who attended in the inner court, must rise eight steps above them, must exceed them at least one step more than they exceed other people.
The Vision of the Temple. (b. c. 574.)
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. 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. 41 Four tables were on this side, and four tables on that side, by the side of the gate; eight tables, whereupon they slew their sacrifices. 42 And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the sacrifice. 43 And within were hooks, a hand broad, fastened round about: and upon the tables was the flesh of the offering. 44 And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north. 45 And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house. 46 And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the Lord to minister unto him. 47 So he measured the court, a hundred cubits long, and an hundred cubits broad, four-square; and the altar that was before the house. 48 And he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side: and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side. 49 The length of the porch was twenty cubits, and the breadth eleven cubits; and he brought me by the steps whereby they went up to it: and there were pillars by the posts, one on this side, and another on that side.
In these verses we have an account,
I. Of the tables that were in the porch of the gates of the inner court. We find no description of the altars of burnt-offerings in the midst of that court till ch. xliii. 13. But, because the one altar under the law was to be exchanged for a multitude of tables under the gospel, here is early notice taken of the tables, at our entrance into the inner court; for till we come to partake of the table of the Lord we are but professors at large; our admission to that is our entrance into the inner court. But in this gospel-temple we meet with no altar till after the glory of the Lord has taken possession of it, for Christ is our altar, that sanctifies every gift. Here were eight tables provided, whereon to slay the sacrifices, v. 41. We read not of any tables for this purpose either in the tabernacle or in Solomon's temple. But here they are provided, to intimate the multitude of spiritual sacrifices that should be brought to God's house in gospel-times, and the multitude of hands that should be employed in offering up those sacrifices. Here were the shambles for the altar; here were the dressers on which they laid the flesh of the sacrifice, the knives with which they cut it up, and the hooks on which they hung it up, that it might be ready to be offered on the altar (v. 43), and there also they washed the burnt-offerings (v. 38), to intimate that before we draw near to God's altar we must have every thing in readiness, must wash our hands, our hearts, those spiritual sacrifices, and so compass God's altar.
II. The use that some of the chambers mentioned before were put to. 1. Some were for the singers, v. 44. It should seem they were first provided for before any other that attended this temple-service, to intimate, not only that the singing of psalms should still continue a gospel-ordinance, but that the gospel should furnish all that embrace it with abundant matter for joy and praise, and give them occasion to break forth into singing, which is often foretold concerning gospel times, Ps. xcvi. 1; xcviii. 1. Christians should be singers. Blessed are those that dwell in God's house, they will be still praising him. 2. Others of them were for the priests, both those that kept the charge of the house, to cleanse it, and to see that none came into it to pollute it, and to keep it in good repair (v. 45), and those that kept the charge of the altar (v. 46), that came near to the Lord to minister to him. God will find convenient lodging for all his servants. Those that do the work of his house shall enjoy the comforts of it.
III. Of the inner court, the court of the priests, which was fifty yards square, v. 47. The altar that was before the house was placed in the midst of this court, over-against the three gates, and, standing in a direct line with the three gates of the outer court, when the gates were set open all the people in the outer court might through them be spectators of the service done at the altar. Christ is both our altar and our sacrifice, to whom we must look with an eye of faith in all our approaches to God, and he is salvation in the midst of the earth (Ps. lxxiv. 12), to be looked unto from all quarters.
IV. Of the porch of the house. The temple is called the house, emphatically, as if no other house were worthy to be called so. Before this house there was a porch, to teach us not to rush hastily and inconsiderately into the presence of God, but gradually, that is, gravely, and with solemnity, passing first through the outer court, then the inner, then the porch, ere we enter into the house. Between this porch and the altar was a place where the priests used to pray, Joel ii. 17. In the porch, besides the posts on which the doors were hung, there were pillars, probably for state and ornament, like Jachin and Boaz—He will establish; in him is strength, v. 49. In the gospel church every thing is strong and firm, and every thing ought to be kept in its place and to be done decently and in order.