THE OUTER COURT
If we would enter the temple Ezekiel saw in his vision, we must first climb up the seven steps and then pass through the spacious gate. This would bring us to the outer court of the temple. Please remember there were two courts: the outer court and the inner court. First we need to see what was in the outer court. (See plot plan on p. 150.)
The main thing in the outer court was the pavement which ran around all the walls on the east, the south, and the north sides. There were six different areas of pavement. On each area of the pavement there were five chambers, making a total of thirty chambers. Again we have the number thirty composed of ten times three.
In addition to the thirty chambers on the pavement, there were also four small courts, one at each corner of the outer court (46:21-24). These four small corner chambers were the places to boil the sacrifices. In modern terms, these were the kitchens, the places for cooking the food. They were not the cooking places for the priests, but for the people. The priests did not eat in the outer court, but in the inner court. The people, however, ate in the outer court. Just outside the four corner chambers were the other chambers (40:17). What was the purpose of these chambers? In our homes, the room connected to the kitchen is the dining room. In Ezekiel it is exactly the same. The chambers connected to the kitchens were the dining places, the places for the people to enjoy the sacrifices. This means the chambers were the places for them to enjoy Christ. We must see that the main thing in the outer court was to enjoy Christ by eating the sacrifices and the offerings. Once people entered through the gate, they did not simply walk around the outer court; rather, they went into the dining rooms to eat the offerings.
Furthermore, Ezekiel says that the chambers for eating were built upon the pavement (40:17). In ancient times the pavement of the porch was made with stones. This is very meaningful. When we are going to enjoy Christ, we must be upon the stones. The stone pavement separates us from the dirt of the earth. If we walked into the outer court and there were no stone pavement, our feet would be on the dirt of the earth. But the pavement, being made of stone, keeps us separate from the dirt of the earth. We are still on this earth and in this world, but our feet are kept separate by Christ from any kind of dirt. Originally we were clay, having the same nature as the earth. We came out of the earth, and we were one with the earth, but when we were regenerated, the clay became stone. The stones are for the pavement. If we would enjoy Christ, we must stand upon the base, the stones of our regeneration.
Let me illustrate the stone pavement by comparing two kinds of Christians. One kind of Christian works at his office during the day, comes home, watches television, or listens to his radio before dinner. After dinner he and his wife go to a club, a party, or to some other kind of amusement. They are real Christians, but they are standing, not on the pavement of stones, but on the dirt. They are not separated from the earth by the pavement of stones. Another kind of Christian also works during the day, but when he comes home he begins to call on the Lord Jesus, to exercise his spirit, and to prepare himself for the meeting. As he eats dinner, he is praying and fellowshipping, anticipating the enjoyment of Christ in the meeting. Then, he prepares to go to the meeting, to the chambers. In one corner he sees brothers and sisters boiling and cooking Christ, and in another corner, other brothers and sisters also boiling, cooking, and preparing Christ. Then, when he gets into the meeting, he starts to praise the Lord and to eat and enjoy Christ. Surely this dear one is standing on the stone pavement.
Whenever we stand on the stone pavement in such a way, it becomes the very place for us to enjoy Christ. We all must be in the chambers enjoying Christ. To unbelievers and also to many Christians, the Lord’s Day is a day of sinning. They use it for sports, fishing, dancing, or for going to different kinds of entertainment. To them it is really "Sunday." Sunday is an idolatrous term because it honors the sun. Supposedly, Sunday is for worshipping God, but in fact it is a day of sinning. We all need to learn to call the first day of the week the Lord’s Day and not Sunday. Surely all those people who enjoy the worldly pleasures and amusements on their Sunday are standing on the dirt. We should be those who have their feet on the solid pavement on the Lord’s Day.
Once again, the numbers related to these things are very meaningful. There were thirty chambers. Thirty is composed of five times six. This means it is composed of man multiplied by responsibility. Furthermore, it also is composed of three times ten, meaning the Triune God in resurrection fulfilling all the requirements. Our Christ is the number thirty. If He were only the number five or six or three, He would not be so rich. But He is the number thirty, including six, five, three, and ten. We have such a rich Christ for our enjoyment. In Him we have man signified by the number six. In Him we have the Triune God signified by the number three. In Him we have resurrection signified also by the number three. In Him we have responsibility signified by the number five. Also, the number ten signifies that in Him we have the perfection and fulfillment of God’s requirements. In Him we have the completeness and the perfection. What a Christ we have! The thirty chambers for enjoyment correspond to the thirty sides of the posts. Because our Lord Jesus can support so much, He can be our enjoyment to such an extent. He can stand and sustain and support and bear so much; therefore, He can be our enjoyment to that extent. Remember, there were also thirty windows in the gates, signifying the all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit.
According to the plot plan, the width of the pavement is equal to the length of the gate. This signifies that the Christ whom we enjoy can only be the Christ whom we experience. How much we can enjoy Christ depends upon how much we have experienced Christ. If we experience Christ to the measure of fifty cubits, then the measure of our enjoyment of Christ will also be fifty cubits. How much we enjoy Christ depends on how much we have experienced Christ and passed through Christ. The more we pass through Christ, the more we have of Him to enjoy. We cannot enjoy a mere doctrinal Christ; we can only enjoy a Christ we have passed through and experienced. The measurement of the enjoyment of Christ is the measurement of how much Christ we have passed through.
Furthermore, all the pavements of the outer courts are connected to the gates, meaning that the enjoyment of Christ is connected to our experience of Christ. If we do not have the experience of Christ, we surely will not have the enjoyment of Christ. The pavement for enjoying Christ is by the two sides of the gate. All of our enjoyment of Christ depends upon our experience of Christ.
(The Visions of Ezekiel, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)