THE PLACE TO SEE THE VISION
Ezekiel did not see the vision concerning the building of God in the land of captivity. Rather, he was brought back to the holy land, to a high mountain, and to Jerusalem itself. Many brothers and sisters can testify that while they were in captivity in the denominations, they could not see the vision of the building of the church. But when they came back to the holy land, to the church life, they could see the vision of the building of the church. In order to see something properly, we need the right position, we need the right standing, and we need the right angle. If we are standing in the wrong position and the wrong standing, we can never see it. If you want to see the city of Los Angeles, you must come to Los Angeles. Even if you were on the highest mountains in New Zealand, still you could not see Los Angeles. You must have the proper position. We must come to Jerusalem so that we can see Jerusalem. We need to come to the site of the temple so that we can see the building. We need not only the position, but also the right angle. This means we must be on the mountain. Ezekiel was not the only person who saw God’s building. In Revelation, John told us that he was carried away in spirit to a high mountain to see the holy city, New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:10). This is because the building of God is something in the resurrection and ascension of Christ. We must be in an elevated position in order to see the building of the church.
Some people have been offended because of my ministering on the building of God. This is because they are like little boys and girls who are playing with toys. If you touch their toys, surely you will offend them. If you tell children that they need to grow up and to drop all their toys, they will surely be upset. But may the Lord be merciful to us so that we may grow up and that we may go up. We not only need to grow up, but we also need to go up to the highest position with the highest angle to see the building of God. If Ezekiel had remained in Babylon in the captivity, he would never have seen the building. Likewise, if he had been on a plain and not on the mountaintop, he would never have seen the building. Therefore, we need to grow up, we need to go up, and we need to get to the mountaintop. There we can see the building of God.
THE VISION OF A MAN
Before Ezekiel saw the vision of the building, he saw a man. This man did not look like electrum as the man did in chapter one, but rather he looked like brass (40:3). In chapter one, in the vision of the glory of the Lord, the Lord Jesus on the throne looked like electrum. But in chapter forty, He was not on the throne. He was at the gate of the building, measuring. In the Bible, measuring means to judge and take possession. When a sister goes to the store to buy some cloth, first she measures it. While she is measuring, she is judging whether or not that particular piece of cloth is the right one. In her measuring, she judges. In chapter forty, the Lord Jesus was not on the throne in the appearance of the electrum; He was at the gate in the appearance of brass to measure and take possession. When the Lord Jesus comes to measure something, first He judges it. In typology brass or copper signifies judgment. When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He was likened to a serpent of brass (John 3:14). In Exodus 38:1-7, the altar of burnt offering was overlaid with brass. This shows that brass indicates judgment. Something is judged so that it can stand. Once it is judged, it can stand any kind of test or examination. It can stand any kind of further judgment. The Lord Jesus is such a person. He passed God’s judgment, and now He has become a test to others. Because He was able to stand all kinds of tests, examinations and judgments, He is fully qualified to measure everything, including the building of God. By His judgment He measures what belongs to God’s building.
THE HOLY BUILDING OF GOD
First, we will consider a general sketch, or plot plan, of the building of God. You will find it very helpful to refer to the chart in order to understand the plot plan of the building. The whole building is square with four sides, each side being 500 cubits long. Although it has four sides, only three sides have an entrance. There is a gate on the east, on the south, and on the north. When you enter the gate you are immediately in the outer court. In the outer court, around the walls, are six pavements made of stone.
On each pavement are five chambers built as places for the people to eat and enjoy the sacrifices and offerings. This means the chambers are the places to enjoy Christ. Thus, there are five chambers on each of six pavements, making a total of 30 chambers for the people to eat and enjoy the offerings. Within the outer court there is an inner court which also has three gates. This makes a total of six gates—three to the outer court and three to the inner court. The building has two walls, the wall of the outside court and the wall of the inner court. With every wall there are three gates. The measurement and design of all the walls and gates are exactly the same.
Within the inner court is the altar which is at the center of the whole compound of the building of God. The altar is a type of the cross. The cross of Christ is at the very center of God’s economy, God’s interest.
In this section on God’s building, from Ezekiel 40 through 48, three main things are covered: the holy temple, the holy city, and the holy land. All three of these items are holy. Ezekiel begins not from the outside, but from the inside. He begins with the temple, then the city, then the land. God’s economy always begins from within, not from without. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, we have a spirit and soul and body. There it also begins from within. It does not start from the outside and say, "body and soul and spirit"; rather, it says, "spirit and soul and body." God’s economy is always from within, but men’s movements are always from without. We must learn the lesson that in the church life we should not have anything from without. In the church life we must always have something from within—first the temple, then the city, and then the land.
(The Visions of Ezekiel, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)