"Enter His Gates"

I was so intrigued by what I had found in my study of Moses' Tabernacle, that I decided to take a look at Solomon's Temple as well. As you may recall, the plans for the Temple were given by God to King David, while it was left to his son, Solomon, to actually build it. As one might expect, there are many similarities between the Tabernacle and the Temple, which I will discuss later, but I was surprised to find that, like the Tabernacle, the layout of the Temple also seems to graphically prefigure the five principle wounds of Jesus Christ!

The image above is a floorplan of the Temple. By hovering your mouse over the image, you will see a brief description of the various buildings outlined. To create this floorplan, I took the literal dimensions given in the Scriptures and typed those dimensions into my computer program, so that the resultant floorplan was mathematically precise. Below you will find a list of the Scriptures I consulted for those dimensions (using the Revised Standard Version), along with some brief reflections relating to the above image.

500x500 cubit area with 6-cubit-thick wall surrounding the Temple Square (Ezekiel 42:15-20; 40:5)
As would any human being made in His image, the body of Christ the Lord outstretched for crucifixion forms the outline of a perfect square. Measure for yourself. However tall you may be, that's the distance you can reach from fingertip to fingertip with your arms outstretched. The human body (of course on a much smaller scale) is designed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit, according to Saint Paul. More specifically, recall how Jesus said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He was speaking of the Temple of His body. (John 2:13-22)

Three Outer Gates (East, North, South) measuring 25x50 cubits (Ezekiel 40: 5-27)
In Ezekiel's vision the Temple only had three gates, on the East, North and South. The entire Temple complex faced the East. These Outer Gates had seven steps leading up to them. The Gateway narrowed as you proceeded from the outside entrance to the inward exit which was in a "vestibule" or "porch". So the wider part that you see with the three rooms on either side is the gate proper, while the narrower portion is the vestibule described in Ezekiel's vision of the Temple. Consider how very much this narrowing in the floorplan creates the likeness of a spike or large nail. In fact, all of the entryways and windows were "recessed" throughout the entire Temple structure, meaning they narrowed inward, perhaps calling to mind the many wounds and lacerations that covered Christ from head to toe. Although I didn't include them in this aerial view, these vestibules were each decorated with carvings of palm trees--as was the interior of the Temple itself--causing me to ponder the intended effects of Christ's blood, which is the greening of the whole earth.

O, four beautiful rivers
that water Eden's Garden,
irrigate this barren desert,
and let love bloom everywhere at last!

Psalm 118 draws a strong connection between the Temple's Gates and Messianic hopes:

"The right hand of the Lord does valiantly...
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank Thee that Thou hast answered me
and hast become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner.
This is the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes...
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
We bless You from the House of the Lord.
The Lord is God, and He has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar!
Thou art my God, and I will give thanks to Thee;
Thou art my God, I will extol Thee.

The 50 cubit Lower Pavement and 100 cubit Outer Court (Ezekiel 40:17-23)
The "Lower Pavement" was subdivided into 30 chambers, but we're not told what these chambers were all used for. It was the same depth as the gates, 50 cubits. The Outer Court measured 100 cubits from the inside of the Outer Gate to its corresponding Inner Gate. According to Ezekiel 40:23 the gates were directly opposite each other in the floorplan. Lay people would congregate here in the Outer Court to worship the Lord in front of the Altar Yard on the East end, while only the Levitical priests were allowed to enter the Inner Court or the Temple itself. Interestingly, the Eastern Gates remained shut to everyone but "the Prince", for the glory of God had entered thereby, but between these two East Gates (outer and inner) the people would stand to worship Him (Ezekiel 46:1-3). This places the lay worshipper (at least according to the above image) at the foot of the cross of Jesus the Messianic Prince of Peace (there are several mysterious references to "The Prince" in Ezekiel).

I wonder if there may also be a symbolic reference here to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood at the foot of the Cross with John, the beloved disciple, and with a few other faithful women. Click here to skip to that image and discussion.

Three Inner Gates (East, North, South) measuring 25x50 cubits (Ezekiel 40: 28-43)
Like the 500x500 cubit Outer Court, The Inner Court also had a wall around it (1Kings 7:12), so three gates were required for entrance. As mentioned above, the Eastern Gate was only to be used by "The Prince", while the other two were for the Levitical priests. These gates were identical to the Outer Gates, with two exceptions. First, the vestibule faced the opposite direction, so the outer and inner gates' vestibules faced one another towards the Outer Court; second, the Inner Gates had 8 steps leading up to them instead of 7.

Consider how, in the above floorplan, the Southern Inner Gate aligns perfectly with the side wound of our Lord Jesus. Now notice how that lance which pierced the side of Christ, upon entering this Southern Inner Gate, would pass through the Holy of Holies in the Temple. What is the Holy of Holies? The Sacred Heart of our Blessed Lord and God, Jesus Christ! Could this be why Ezekiel saw water flowing from the Temple on its Southern side flowing Eastward?

Some will object at this point that the iconic crucifix I've used in this image shows a wound placement which was arbitrarily fixed by an artist, but in the next image I will show that the Shroud of Turin could possibly close that gap in a more scientific fashion (the verdict on the Shroud's authenticity is not yet final).

The 100 cubit Altar Yard (Ezekiel 40:47)
This huge bronze altar stood in the Eastern Yard of the Inner Court that measured 100 cubits square. Notice how, in this image, the thigh of Jesus Christ rests upon the altar. In the Levitical ordination rites given by God to Moses (Leviticus 8:22-36), the right thigh was specifically reserved for the sons of Aaron who were to serve as High Priests. Notice how the right thigh of Christ is flanked by the building where the High Priests (the faithful sons of Zadok) were to partake of the sacrificial meal. Zadok was the High Priest during the reigns of King David and his son, Solomon, being remembered for his exceptional fidelity to God. Just as the sons of Aaron were uniquely selected for this service among Levites, the funnel gets radically narrowed from all of Aaron's descendants down to the sons of Zadok in Ezekiel's prophecy. The right thigh of ordination seems to make so much more sense in this light. There is a beautiful purpose behind every Word of God. That purpose is Jesus.

The Buildings to the North and South of the Temple (Ezekiel 42: 1-14; 46:19-24)
Eight buildings are described in Ezekiel's vision of the Temple, four on the North and four on the South. Two large 50x100 cubit three-story buildings served as chambers where the Levitical priests would eat their portions of the holy sacrifices and store their holy garments. The Southern Chambers, as mentioned above, were reserved for the more faithful sons of Zadok, while the Northern Chambers were allotted for the remaining Levitical Temple servers. At the extreme Western end of these Northern Levitical Chambers were rooms for preparing and boiling priestly sacrifices. There were also tables and instruments for slaughtering the sacrifices in and around the vestibule of the Northern Inner Gate. Next to the Levitical Chambers, but divided by a 50 cubit wall, were chambers, belonging to the Outer Court, presumably where the laity could partake in the sacrificial feasts; these measured 50x50 cubits. Also for the laity, there were four 30x40 cubit "boiling kitchens" where the lay offerings were to be ritually boiled; these four kitchens were situated in the four corners of the Outer Court.

Many other models of the Temple place these four kitchens at the outer corners, near or in the Lower Pavement. However, it is not necessary to do so, since Ezekiel only says "corners", not "outermost corners". The interior corners suit the text just as well. Furthermore, geometrically and mathematically speaking, these four corner kitchens fit perfectly into the floorplan as shown above. (Click here to double check my math.) Being only 40 cubits wide, instead of 50 like every other building, allows for a passageway to the Lay Eating Chambers, since Ezekiel specifies that the doors for these chambers were on the East. Since these Lay Eating Chambers belonged to the Outer Court, it is not at all a stretch to see how the above kitchen placement meets the requirements set forth in Ezekiel 46:21-24. One final argument in favor of this positioning is that all of the boiling and eating areas are kept in close proximity to one another, meaning that the boiled flesh wouldn't have to be transported such a distance. (The outermost corner positioning would be awkward, requiring the boiled flesh to be transported 50-100 yards through crowds of people.)

I find it symbolically rich that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ is placed in the midst of buildings that are dedicated exclusively to preparing and eating the Sacrificial Feast. This seems to have striking Eucharistic implications, in keeping with our Lord's "Bread of Life Discourse" in John chapter six. He said, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed..."

As Solomon once sang, "He brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me was love."

Finally, from the Catechism, "The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord. This is all the more so since the Christian altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present in the midst of the assembly of his faithful, both as the victim offered for our reconciliation and as food from heaven who is giving himself to us." (Catechism, 1383)

The 70x90 cubit Building to the West (Ezekiel 41:12-15)
Ezekiel doesn't tell us much about this building, except for its dimensions. It was 70x90 cubits, had 5-cubit-thick walls, and was placed in a 100 cubit yard, west of the Temple. While it is not specifically identified as such, it is my belief that this building correlates with Solomon's Hall of Judgment where the judgment throne was placed (1Kings 7:7), signifying that true and righteous decisions proceed from the mind and mouth of Jesus Christ, the final Judge of all the world.

The Temple and Holy of Holies (Ezekiel 40:48-41:26; 1Kings 6-7; 1Chronicles 2-4)
The Holy Temple basically consisted of three parts: the Vestibule, the Nave, and the Holy of Holies. The Vestibule was basically a 10x20 cubit entryway (Scripture varies on its length, possibly due to the inclusion of doorframe depths) with two large bronze pillars named Boaz and Jachin. At the inner end of the Vestibule was a large bi-folding door that was covered with gold. The 40x20 Nave featured 10 seven-lamped Menorahs and 10 Tables for the Bread of the Presence. At the far end of the Nave, nearest the Holy of Holies, was the altar of perpetual incense. The 6-cubit-thick walls were covered with gold-plated cedar boards and decorated with cherubim and palm trees all around, and there were recessed windows all around. The curtained-off Holy of Holies also had bi-folding doors like the Vestibule, but its doorframe was pentagonal, unlike the Vestibule's square design. Inside the Holy of Holies, which was a perfect cube measuring 20x20x20 cubits, were two huge golden cherubim that overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant.

There were side chambers in three stories surrounding the Temple (except for the Eastern Entrance). The first story was 5 cubits wide; the second was 6 cubits wide; and the third was 7. The exterior wall of these chambers was 5 cubits thick. These Chambers were used primarily as the Temple Treasury. The Temple, with its chambers, measured 100 cubits from back to front, and it had a 20 cubit yard around its perimeter, as shown above. Within that yard were 11 brazen wash basins. 10 smaller basins on wheels, for washing the sacrifices, were split between the north and south, and 1 massive brazen laver, for the priests, was on the southwest corner of the yard. In the front of the yard there were 10 steps leading up to the Temple platform.

Now that you understand all the little boxes, lines and circles in the above floorplan, let's consider a few spiritual implications.

The most striking, for me, is that the Holy of Holies aligns with the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus. A lance piercing through that Southern Gate would most certainly penetrate the Holy of Holies, causing that saving flow of blood and water to stream out of the wounded side of the world's Savior. As you will note in the next image, this wound in the Savior's right side may be scientifically corroborated by the Shroud of Turin. Nearing the end of Ezekiel's vision, in chapter 47, he saw water issuing forth from the South side of the Temple, which proceeded Eastward, becoming a raging river that made the entire Arabian desert spring to life with vegetation of every kind. What else can he be referring to other than that sacred and saving flow that issued from our Lord's pierced right side? It's staggeringly beautiful to contemplate!

Think, also, on the meaning of these Treasury side chambers piled high with gold, silver, sacred vessels, and Holy Scriptures. Jesus Christ is the world's truest treasure, the source of eternal redemption and hope! One would do well to go and sell all he has to buy this plot of land.

Finally, remember those mystical furnishings of the Nave. Those 10 seven-lamped Menorahs tell us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Those Tables for the Bread of the Presence tell us that He is the Bread of Life come down from Heaven to feed us with His own flesh and blood. That altar of perpetual incense tells us that He ever lives to make intercession for us as our Great High Priest and that His lovingkindness burns everlastingly.

Would you like to enter into a deeper relationship with your God and Maker?
Enter by these Gates.

Would you like the garden of your spirituality to flourish with vitality?
Plant yourself by this River.

Would you like to awaken faith, hope and love in your desolate heart?
Contemplate these Wounds of Love.

I know no other remedy.

 

 

 
   

 

 

Feel free to e-mail me with any comments, or visit my main site here.