THE WOODEN INCENSE ALTAR
The incense altar is made wholly of wood. Every part, even the horns, is made of wood (41:22). It is altogether different from the incense altar made by Moses. Moses made a wooden altar overlaid with gold, signifying the humanity overlaid with the divinity (Exo. 37:25-26). But the incense altar standing in this temple is made wholly of wood, signifying only the humanity of Jesus.
In the tabernacle and in the temple there were the altar, the lampstand, and the showbread table. But here the altar is also the table (41:22). It serves as an altar for us to offer something for us. The one altar has two purposes. For us to God, it is the altar; for God to us, it is the table. We offer something of Christ to God upon it, and God prepares something of Christ for us upon it. Both are upon the humanity of Christ. Whatever is put upon the table or upon the altar must be Christ. Christ on the altar is the incense for God, and Christ on the altar is food for us. When we offer Christ to God upon it, it is the altar for God’s satisfaction. When God prepares something of Christ for us upon it, it is the table for our satisfaction. Christ on the altar is the incense to God, and Christ on the table is food to us.
The main point is that both the walls and the incense altar were covered with wood, signifying the proper humanity of the Lord Jesus. The wooden incense altar was three cubits high and two cubits long. This signifies the Triune God in resurrection as a testimony.
In this temple there is no lampstand for giving light. In the old tabernacle, within the holy place there was no window or opening, so it needed the lampstand. But in this temple there are many windows letting in light and fresh air. Therefore, there is no need of the lampstand.
Both the outer temple and the inner temple had doors at the entrance (41:23). At both gates there were two doors, each of two folding sections. The gates were simply openings, but within the gates were doors which could be opened and closed. When the positive people such as the apostles come, surely you have to open the door, but when the negative people such as the wolves come (Matt. 7:15), you have to close the door. Does the local church in your place have the doors? I am afraid that in your place you may have only walls and not gates. It may be that sometimes you simply cut a hole in the wall to let people in. Thus, you have a gate, but no doors. In the church life we need the gates with the doors. Whenever the positive people and the positive things come, we open to them. But when the negative people and the negative things come, we shut the door, refusing to let them in. The doors function in the same manner as screens on the windows. The doors are opened to let the positive things in, but they are closed to keep the negative things out. Each gate has two doors which are made of two pieces, making a total of four pieces on each gate (41:24). The fact that each door is made of two folding pieces is very meaningful. It means that it is very flexible. It turns and it folds; it is not stubborn. Sometimes in the local churches, the leading ones are stubborn. They do not know how to be folded and turned. The church needs the turning, folding, flexible doors that are easy to open and easy to shut.
THE HOLY CHAMBERS
The holy chambers are the connecting buildings which connect the inner court with the outer court. They are located on both the north side and the south side (42:13). Each building consists of two rows which face one another with a walkway between. The many doors in the south building open toward the north, and the many doors in the north building open toward the south. Thus, it is the connecting building. The holy chambers are fifty cubits wide and one hundred cubits long with a walkway ten cubits wide between them.
The holy chambers are the places for the priests to eat the offerings (42:13). Remember, the chambers on the pavement in the outer court were the places for the people to eat the offerings, but these holy chambers are for the priests to eat the offerings. It is in these chambers that they eat the offerings, lay the offerings, store the offerings, and it is here that they lay their priestly clothing (42:14). In the chambers on the pavement, the people could enjoy Christ, but they could not express Christ because they did not have the priestly clothing. The priestly clothing signifies Christ being expressed and lived out. The offerings signify Christ as our enjoyment, and the clothing signifies Christ as our expression. The people in the outer court could enjoy Christ, but they could not live Christ out and express Him. In the holy chambers the priests have much improvement. They not only enjoy Christ, but they also live out and express Christ. They not only eat Christ, but they also live Christ. Furthermore, they have even the storage of Christ. By putting these things together we can see much improvement in the experience of Christ. On the pavement people simply enjoyed Christ with no storage and no priestly clothing. But in the holy chambers, the priests not only eat and enjoy Christ, but they also have Christ as their clothing and Christ as their storage.
The holy chambers, like the side chambers, are of three stories (42:5-6). In height they are equal to the side chambers. This corresponds to the fullness of Christ. The priests enjoy Christ, wear Christ, store Christ, and possess Christ to such an extent that the height of their chambers is the same as the side chambers, which signify the fullness of Christ.
(The Visions of Ezekiel, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)