The Altar (The Cross) Governs Everything
Ezekiel forty-three, in verses thirteen to twenty-seven, we have the great altar and its service. We will not read the whole section, but just the first verse of that section: "And these are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): the base shall be a cubit, and the width a cubit, and its border on its edge round about one span; and this shall be the height of the base of the altar." Then we are given more particulars about the measurement and the ministry. We all understand that the altar in the Old Testament is always a type of the Cross. This altar is the place of the whole burnt offering, and this corresponds to Hebrews, chapter ten, where the Lord Jesus is likened to the whole burnt offering. So we are going to think about the centrality and the universality of the Cross.
Now we have seen that the whole area of the temple was square. If we draw diagonal lines from each corner, those lines meet at the place where the great altar was. The central place in the whole area was the altar. You will recognize that this is different from the tabernacle in the wilderness. The court of the tabernacle was not square, and the altar of burnt offering was right at the gate; but in this temple, the altar is right in the center of a square. It is important to realize that. All the lines meet in the altar, and all the lines go out from the altar. The central place of everything is the altar.
The altar governed everything. It governed everything as to the house; that is, all that was actually in the temple was governed by the altar. It governed all that was immediately around the house. If you had a plan of this whole house, with the different course and the whole area, you would see that all the chambers of the priests were round about; and the places where the offerings were prepared were all around. Everything was gathered round the house, but everything in the house and in the whole area was governed by the altar.
And then, all the ministry of the house was governed by the altar. We could say that there was no ministry that was not related to the altar; and then beyond the house, and beyond the immediate area, right out to the whole land, everything was governed by the altar. We shall see this when we see that the river, which came down through the whole land, came by way of the altar; but we turn inside the house first.
The Cross In Its Place
Here we have a very important and vital truth. When the Cross is in its place with its full measure, everything else will be in order, and everything else will be given its meaning, and its value. I feel that I cannot say this too strongly. We are so often concerned about the outside of things, about the order of the House of the Lord, about the ministry of the House of the Lord, about the people who are related to the House of the Lord. We are always beginning on the outside. We are trying to set up an order of the House of God. We are trying to put the people of the House right. We are very much concerned about the ministers, and the ministries. But if the Cross was really in its place with its full dimensions, all those thing would see to themselves. The people would be right if the Cross was in its place. The ministries would be living if the Cross as in its place. The order of the House would be right if the Cross was in its place. It just does work that way. If the Cross is right at the center, in full measure, and note that it is a large altar, then everything else will come into its right place, and into a living relationship.
(continued with # 51)