Then he brought me out into the outer court, by the way toward the north; and he brought me into the chamber which was opposite the separating courtyard, and which was opposite the building toward the north. 2 Facing the length, which was one hundred cubits (the width was fifty cubits), was the north door. 3 Opposite the inner court of twenty cubits, and opposite the pavement of the outer court, was gallery against gallery in three stories. 4 In front of the chambers, toward the inside, was a walk ten cubits wide, at a distance of one cubit; and their doors faced north. 5 Now the upper chambers were shorter, because the galleries took away space from them more than from the lower and middle stories of the building. 6 For they were in three stories and did not have pillars like the pillars of the courts; therefore the upper level was shortened more than the lower and middle levels from the ground up. 7 And a wall which was outside ran parallel to the chambers, at the front of the chambers, toward the outer court; its length was fifty cubits. 8 The length of the chambers toward the outer court was fifty cubits, whereas that facing the temple was one hundred cubits. 9 At the lower chambers was the entrance on the east side, as one goes into them from the outer court.
10 Also there were chambers in the thickness of the wall of the court toward the east, opposite the separating courtyard and opposite the building. 11 There was a walk in front of them also, and their appearance was like the chambers which were toward the north; they were as long and as wide as the others, and all their exits and entrances were according to plan. 12 And corresponding to the doors of the chambers that were facing south, as one enters them, there was a door in front of the walk, the way directly in front of the wall toward the east.
13 Then he said to me, “The north chambers and the south chambers, which are opposite the separating courtyard, are the holy chambers where the priests who approach the LORD shall eat the most holy offerings. There they shall lay the most holy offerings—the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering—for the place is holy. 14 When the priests enter them, they shall not go out of the holy chamber into the outer court; but there they shall leave their garments in which they minister, for they are holy. They shall put on other garments; then they may approach that which is for the people.”
15 Now when he had finished measuring the inner temple, he brought me out through the gateway that faces toward the east, and measured it all around. 16 He measured the east side with the measuring rod, [fn1] five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around. 17 He measured the north side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod all around. 18 He measured the south side, five hundred rods by the measuring rod. 19 He came around to the west side and measured five hundred rods by the measuring rod. 20 He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common.
What implications does this have for us today? First, there is to be some type of separation indicating what is holy and what is common. Define holy and common. The offerings are divided into three groups, grain, sin, and guilt. What is significance about each? Holy was so holy, even the garments were changed and kept separate. What does this say of God’s nature? We are made in His image, can we learn from that? The image has been tarnished and warped by sin. To what extent? God is holy and only the righteous and clean can enter His presence.
Let’s begin with holy and common. In another translation, holy areas is called sanctuary and the common is called profane. Holy/sanctuary comes from ‘godesh’ is defined as:
apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness
a) apartness, sacredness, holiness
1) of God
2) of places
3) of things
b) set-apartness, separateness
Common/profane is chol and is defined as:
1) profaneness, commonness, unholy, profane, common, sand
There were two clearly defined areas within the temple area. One is the area into which all can come for the purpose of worship and cleansing from sin. The other is the area reserved for the priests who moved between the people and the Lord. Carrying the offerings and wishes from one to the other. The area into which all can come is called by the Lord a common area or opposite of holy, profane because it is contaminated with sin. The area in which the priests serve is called holy for it has been cleansed and as we shall see it contains the presence of God.
Today because of the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can come freely into the presence of God.
“…Hebrew 7:22, 24-27 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant….But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, [who is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself….”
So now, we too have left the common and we become holy in salvation finding ourselves separated from the unbeliever on the basis of our salvation. Not due to anything we have done, but based solely upon what Christ has done. As the areas are so clearly defined and separated, we also can be seen as different as a result of our salvation demonstrated through our love for one another, our freedom from sin’s curse, our lifestyle now consecrated to the will of God.
As to the offerings what was the significance of the offerings, also called holy? In Christ’s sacrifice for us can we conclude that they are part of that offering? Let’s begin with the first, called grain offering in one translation and meat offering in another. This comes from the word minchah:
1) gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice, meat offering
a) gift, present
c) offering (to God)
d) grain offering
Essentially this is an offering that can take many forms. The next, sin offering is from the word chatta’ah:
1) sin, sinful
2) sin, sin offering
b) condition of sin, guilt of sin
c) punishment for sin
e) purification from sins of ceremonial uncleanness
This offering had a specific purpose to ask for forgiveness from sin. Aren’t we glad we have that in Christ? The third was trespass offering, called guilt in some translations. This word is ‘asham defined as:
1) guilt, offense, sin, guiltiness
a) offense, sin, trespass, fault
b) guilt, guiltiness
c) compensation (for offense)
d) trespass or sin offering
From this we can conclude that the priests were receiving from the people offerings to be presented to the Lord for their guilt of sin and that offering could be in several forms. Today we have the offering of Christ for our sins at the cross.
“…John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life….”
A free gift from God to us to make a way for us to return to the relationship unhindered by sin that He designed at creation. Can we say thank you? We have been made clean by the one sacrifice on the cross. We can enter the holy place of prayer and commune with our God because Christ has been our sacrifice and has made us clean. Do we owe a debt? Would seem so but the debt was paid by Christ. There is nothing we can do to repay Christ. But our life can be a reflection of His mercy to others so that they too may come to the same place. Perhaps what we can gain most from this passage is again the imprint of Christ on the cross laid out on this temple. A promise of the coming of Christ and salvation for all of creation. We too can be a reflection of this temple, a place where others can see Christ and the free exchange of our sin and guilt for His righteousness.