When Thieves and Robbers Attempt to Worship In the House

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in verses twenty-four through forty-nine of the fortieth chapter. If you read this chapter, you will see that it is one that is primarily about measurements of the various aspects of the Temple of the Lord. The more I read and consider this chapter, the more I am captivated by just how detailed the pattern and design of the Temple of the Lord truly was, and how involved the entire structure was. I am convinced that when we consider the Temple of the Lord—whether the first Jewish Temple which was built under the reign of Solomon, or the second Jewish Temple which stood during the days of Jesus the Christ and Lord—we fail to truly understand the tremendous pattern and design that surrounded it. When it comes to both of the Temples which stood in the city of Jerusalem, there was a very important set of instructions that surrounded its structure within the land. I don’t think we truly understand how incredibly detailed and involved the Temple of the Lord truly was, for it was more than just an outer court, an inner court, and the Most Holy Place. The Temple of the Lord was about so much more than the bronze altar where the offerings were sacrificed before the Lord, the bronze basin where the priests would cleanse themselves, the table of shewbread, the altar of incense, the golden lampstand, and the Ark of the Covenant. There was so much more to the Temple of the Lord which we don’t even take the time to consider, or even understand. When you read this chapter slowly and deliberately, you will find that there were various aspects and realities to the Temple—particularly when speaking of its structure and design—than we take the time to consider. If you read this chapter you will read about porches, about pillars, about gates, about windows, about gateways, about thresholds, about guardrooms, about chambers, about steps, etc. It is imperative that when we read this chapter, we take the time to understand that it is about more than just measurements of the different aspects of the Temple, for each of these realities present us with a powerful picture of the incredible reality which the Lord set in place in the midst of His people.

As you begin reading this chapter, you will notice that the prophet Ezekiel speaks of gates which were present in the Temple of the Lord. “Then he went to the gate which faced east, went up its steps and measured the threshold of the gate, one rode in width” (Ezekiel 40:5). “Then he went to the gate which faced east, went up its steps and measured the threshold of the gate, one rod in width” (Ezekiel 40:6). “And the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate facing inward was one rod” (Ezekiel 40:7). “From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the inner porch of the gate was fifty cubits” (Ezekiel 40:14). “Then he measured the width from the front of the lower gate to the front of the exterior of the inner court, a hundred cubits on the east and on the north” (Ezekiel 40:19). There are various other references and mentions of the gates of the Temple in this particular passage, but suffice it to say, there is much that is to be learned and understood when reading of the gates. If you truly consider the reality of gates, you will undoubtedly come to understand that gates serve two purposes and functions—the first is to keep out that which is unwanted, and to provide access to that which is permitted within the parameters of a particular structure or property. The very fact that the prophet Ezekiel saw various gates which were present in the Temple of the Lord speaks of access that was provided for those who would enter into the courts of the Lord. The gates which are mentioned in this passage speak of different places whereby one would gain access and entrance to the courts of the Lord. The prophet saw gates in the house of the Lord, which speak of man’s ability to enter into the Temple of the Lord through a very specific way. One could and would not attempt to enter into the Temple apart from and outside of the gates that were present within the Temple. There were indeed very specific gates that were found in the Temple of the Lord, which also suggests that there were different access points whereby man could enter into the courts of the Lord with their sacrifices.

The fact that there were multiple gates suggests that the Temple could be accessed by those genuine and sincere worshippers who would journey to the city of Jerusalem to present their offerings and sacrifices to the Lord. Oh that we would recognize and understand that the Lord has gates—ways of entrance and access—into His holy sanctuary and Temple in the earth. There are specific ways in which we can enter the sanctuary of the Lord in order that we might stand before Him with our worship. We dare not quickly move past and gloss over what is written regarding the gates of the Temple, for through this reality, the Lord is demonstrating that in order for one to truly enter the courts of the Lord, they had to enter through one of these gates. If one wanted access to the altar of the Lord in order to present their offerings and sacrifices to the Lord, they had to enter through those very specific points of entrance and access which were built into the wall of the structure. Oh, if we wish to gain access to the altar of the Lord in our lives, and even within our houses of worship, we must understand the gates which are before us—gates which we must pass through in order to obtain such access. Far too much damage has been done by men and women who have attempted to appear before and access the altar of the Lord through and by any methods and means other than the gates which have been given as entry points. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would cause us to know, to understand, and to discern the gates we are to enter through if we wish to gain access to the altar of the Lord, and even to His presence. Oh that we would understand that if we wish to gain access to the altar of the Lord, we must approach it by entering and passing through humility, obedience, surrender, faithfulness, submission, worship, praise, adoration, thanksgiving, truth and sincerity. The Father seeks such who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Oh that we would recognize and understand the way into the courts of the Lord, in order that gain access and entrance to the altar of the Lord where His holy fire is burning in the midst of the sanctuary. I fear there are many who are attempting to approach the altar of the Lord, and enter into the holy sanctuary of the Lord after the same manner as the thief and hireling whom Jesus mentioned when referring to Himself as both the gate and as the door. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.” [Oh, is this perhaps the reason why when Jesus cleared out the Temple, he declared that His Father’s house would be called a house of prayer, yet they have made it a den of “thieves” or “robbers?” Could Jesus have been alluding to the fact that there were those who are attempting to enter into the presence of the Father, yet were doing so as thieves rather than as worshippers. Tell me dear brother or sister—when you enter the house of the Lord, do you enter in as a thief, or do you enter in as a true and genuine worshipper? WHEN THIEVES AND ROBBERS ATTEMPT TO WORSHIP IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD!]

As you continue reading this chapter, you will find different mentions of windows that were present in the midst of the Temple of the Lord. “There were shuttered windows looking toward the guardrooms, and toward their side pillars within the gate all around, and likewise for the porches. And there windows all around inside; and on each side pillar were palm tree ornaments” (Ezekiel 40:16). “Its windows and its porches and its palm tree ornaments had the same measurements as the gate which faced toward the east” (Ezekiel 40:22). “The gate and its porches had windows all around like those other windows; the length was fifty cubits and the width twenty-five cubits” (Ezekiel 40:25). “And the gate and its porches had windows all around; it was fifty cubits long and twenty-five cubits wide” (Ezekiel 40:29). “And the gate had windows all around; the length was fifty cubits and the width twenty-five cubits” (Ezekiel 40:36). Please don’t dismiss the presence of windows in the Temple of the Lord, or perceive them as having no relevance in the sanctuary and house of the Lord. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand about the Temple of the Lord, it’s that it was more than just a Temple and sanctuary. Jesus adequately and perfectly described the true nature and reality of the Temple when He entered into it and cleansed it—“My Father’s house shall be called a house of prayer.” Don’t miss Jesus’ words here, for most importantly, the Temple of the Lord was the house of the Father.

The Temple didn’t belong to the children and house of Israel, but rather, it belonged to the Father who sat upon the circle of the earth. Since it was His house, He designed it exactly as He wanted His house to be. One of the realities which He felt was necessary in His house was the presence of windows. Pause for a moment and consider the purpose for windows in your own home. If you have purchased a home, or are in the process of building a home, or are even renting a home or apartment, what function and purpose do windows serve? They are present in order to provide access and entrance to the light that would seek to enter in. It is through the windows that light is able to pass through and enter into the home, thus filling it with light. Depending on your home, windows serve a very strategic role and function, for they provide you with a view of what is outside and around your home. Windows are used in order to provide a view of the beauty that is outside of and all around the home, while also allowing you to see who or what may be approaching the home. I am convinced that it is no different for the Father’s house, and He sought to have windows in order that His light—the Light of His Son and His Spirit—might enter through and illuminate the Temple. Oh, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and I can’t help but find myself wondering if the light of the Spirit is able to shine through and illuminate the Temple. Do the temples of our lives have windows whereby we have access to the view—the beauty and splendor—the Father desires to show us, and whereby His radiant light might shine through and illuminate? Oh, is the light of the Spirit able to shine through and into the midst of your Temple, and illuminate the entire structure with His light? Oh that we would ensure that the Light of the Spirit might shine through, radiate within, and illuminate our sanctuaries and Temples. Oh that we would recognize and understand that the Temple of the Holy Spirit is indeed “my Father’s house,” and He reserves the right to design that house however He chooses and sees fit. The Lord sought to have windows in the Temple of the Lord, and I am convinced that the pattern hasn’t changed, and that there is spiritual truth and application that can be found in the midst of it. Oh, is the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord able to shine through the windows of your Temple, and able to illuminate the entire structure with His light? Let us as the people of God diligently work to ensure that the light of the Spirit can shine through and illuminate our sanctuaries and Temples—both our spiritual Temples, which are our bodies, and our physical Temples, which are the churches and sanctuaries in which we worship.

There is also within this chapter measurements regarding the porches of the Temple, which provide us with yet another powerful truth and application that is contained within the beauty and grandeur of the Temple. “And by the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate facing inward was one rod” (Ezekiel 40:7). “And the porch of the gate was faced inward” (Ezekiel 40:9). “From the front of the entrance gate to the front of the inner porch of the gate was fifty cubits” (Ezekiel 40:15). “The gate and its porches had windows all around like those other windows” (Ezekiel 40:25). “There were porches all around, twenty-five cubits long and five cubits wide” (Ezekiel 40:30). In order to understand the significance of porches within the Temple of the Lord, it is important that we journey to the second chapter of the prophetic book of Joel, for it is there where we find one of the most notable mentions of porches in the house of the Lord. “Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule (porch) and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep” (Joel 2:15-16). There is also another mention of the porch of the Temple in the eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel, and is found in a prophetic passage concerning the abominations found within the Temple. “And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD, BETWEEN THE PORCH AND THE ALTAR, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the Temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshipping the sun toward the east” (Ezekiel 8:16).

If you consider the role and function of a porch within your own home, you will see that the porch was a very significant and crucial place within your home, for it was the porch which not only provided access and entrance into the house, but more often than not, a porch was a place where people could gather together and talk. More often than not, homeowners have chairs or some type of bench on the porch in order that they might go out by themselves and sit there to relax and even to meditate, or where they can sit and have fellowship with others. When the prophet Ezekiel speaks of the porch of the Temple of the Lord, what He is speaking about is that place whereby men had access and entrance into the actual Temple building itself, and that place where men and women could gather together and worship the Lord. You will notice that when speaking of the abominations of the Temple, the prophet Ezekiel saw twenty-five men standing between the porch and the altar with their backs to the Temple, and their faces toward the east, and worshipping the sun. These men had compromised and filled that place of entrance and fellowship with idolatrous worship of the sun. The porch was that place where men and women could gather together as one people in the courts of the Lord and worship the Lord as one. Perhaps the question that should be asked is what is the porch that is found within your Temple and sanctuary used for. Is the porch within the sanctuary and church you worship at a place where men and women can experience fellowship with each other, and with their God? Is the porch within the sanctuary and church you worship a place where men and women gather together to worship the Lord, or is it a place where idolatrous worship takes place? Is there even a porch present within your sanctuary and church structure—that place whereby men and women can enter into the very presence of Almighty God? The porch was incredibly important when speaking of the Temple of the Lord, for it was a place where Joel called the priests and ministers of the Lord to weep before the Lord. Oh, is the porch within your sanctuary a place filled with idolatrous worship, or is it a place where men and women prepare to enter into the presence of the Lord, and a place where men and women gather together to experience fellowship with each other? Oh that we would work to cleanse the porches of our Temples and sanctuaries if they are filled with abominations and idolatrous practices that displease the Lord our God.

There are other realities that are found within the Temple of the Lord in this chapter, but one more that I feel a great need to examine—even if it is briefly—is that of the chambers that were found in the Temple of the Lord. “A chamber with its doorway was by the side pillars at the gates; there they rinse the burnt offering. In the porch of the gate were two tables on each side, on which to slaughter the burnt offering, the sin offering and the guilt offering. ON the outer side, as one went up to the gateway toward the north, were two tables; and on the other side of the porch of the gate were two tables. For tables were on each side next to the gate; or, eight tables on which they slaughter sacrifices. For the bunt offerings there were four tables of hewn stone, a cubit and a half long, a cubit and a half wide and one cubit high, on which they lay the instruments with which they slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice. The double hooks, one handbreadth in length, were installs in the house all around; and on the tables was the flesh of the offering. From the outside to the inner gate were chambers for the singers in the inner court, one of which was at the side of the north gate, with its front toward the south, and one at the side of the south gate facing toward the north. He said to me, This is the chamber which faces toward the south, intended for the priests who keep charge of the temple; but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near to the Lord to minister to Him” (Ezekiel 40:38-46).

TABLES AND CHAMBERS! These are two very distinct realities that are found within the Temple, and two realities which I am convinced are incredibly important for our spiritual understanding. The tables were those places within the Temple where the offerings and sacrifices were slaughtered. In other words, there were specific places within the Temple of the Lord where men and women could put to death that which they intended to bring before and offer unto the Lord. The altar was the place where the sacrifices would be consumed and offered unto the Lord, but it would be these tables where the sacrifices were actually slaughtered. You will recall that whenever anyone brought their offering and sacrifice to the priests at the Tabernacle and Temple, they would both break the neck and slaughter the sacrifice. These tables were specific places where the sacrifices would be slaughtered, and where the death of the sacrifice would actually occur. Oh, I am convinced that within our Temples and sanctuaries, there is a tremendous need for those places where we can put to death that which we intend to bring unto the Lord. I would dare say that very few churches actually have a place in the midst of it whereby men and women can lay their hands upon the sacrifices they have brought to the Lord, in order that they might put it to death. PREPARING THE PLACE OF SLAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! It is absolutely crucial that we understand this reality, for there needs to be a place, or perhaps those places, within our lives, and within the house of the Lord where we can lay our hands upon and put to death that which we intend on presenting and offering unto the Lord. Oh that we would prepare tables in the sanctuary of the Lord whereby we can put to death our flesh along with its sinful desires and passions.

There is a tremendous need within the Temple of the Lord for tables and chambers—those appointed places where we can put to death that which we intend on presenting and offering unto the Lord, and those places whereby we can find rest and shelter. Oh that we would diligently work in order that we might have those appointed places in the Temple of the Lord where we can lay our hands upon and put to death our flesh, our sinful and carnal desires, and anything in our lives that displeases the Lord. Oh that we would diligently work in order that we might have within the Temple of the Lord those places of intimacy, of rest, and of shelter and security, and those places whereby we might put aside our earthly and worldly garments in order that we might minister before the Lord. Such chambers would be used by the sons of Levi in order that the priests might put aside those garments that were potentially stained by the things outside the Temple, and put on those garments that were holy and sanctified unto the Lord. Oh that we would have chambers in the Temple—those appointed places where we can lay aside the filthy garments which have been stained by the things of this world, and where we can pick up and put on holy garments which have been consecrated unto the Lord. Oh that we would have that place within our sanctuaries where we can lay aside our garments which have been stained by the world, and even our own righteousness which is as filthy rags, and where we can put on clean garments that have been made holy by the Lord, and washed in the blood of the Lamb. Let us this day examine this day our sanctuaries in order that we might discern if they have been set up according to the divine pattern and instruction of the Lord as set forth in the divinely inspired Word of God.

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