Focusing on the floor plan of the temple described by Ezekiel in chapters 40-48 of his book, it is evident that the gates of the structure provided controlled access to three areas of the temple of God. First, there was the outer court, then the inner court, and finally, the temple itself. The temple complex was surrounded by a square shaped outer wall approximately 1/2 mile in length on each side. A total of seven gates limited access to the temple or house where God dwelt. Beginning with the east gate, Ezekiel portrayed the three gates that provided access to the inner court as being large enough to process as many as 1250 people at a time. The gates were similar to tunnels or long corridors in which stations were set up to perhaps check baggage or the identification of those who wished to pass through. Once inside, the inner court consisted of approximately 360,000 sq ft of standing space for people that wanted to participate in worship services.
Enclosed within the inner court was the temple structure which had to be accessed by three additional gates, one on the east, one on the north, and one on the south. This second set of gates was identical to the ones located in the outer court, except there were tables located along the sides of the gates where animals were killed before they were taken to the altar to be sacrificed. The temple court measured 100 cubits square or 175 ft by 175 ft, approximately 30,000 sq ft. The altar that was used for burnt offerings stood in the center of this court. One final gate or doorway had to be passed through to enter the temple. The size of the entryway was extremely small compared to the other gates. Ezekiel recorded “and he brought me to the porch of the house, and measured each post of the porch, five cubits on this side, and five cubits on that side: and the breadth of the gate was three cubits on this side, and three cubits on that side” (Ezekiel 40:48). Three cubits would have been enough room for only about three men to enter the gate simultaneously.
Jesus taught about entering into the kingdom of heaven through a straight or narrow gate in his Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus may have used the temple gates as an illustration of wide and narrow gates because he wanted his followers to understand that worshipping God was not enough to save them from going to hell. Jesus said of himself “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). The Greek word Jesus used for door, thura means a portal or entrance and is also translated as gate (2374).