Purchasing land in Bangladesh can be a frustrating experience because of the difficulty of determining exactly how much land a given parcel contains.
Depending upon the area of the country one is in, land may be measured by acres, hectares, decimals (hundredths of an acre), or cotah. To make it more complicated different sections use different definitions of a cotah. It may be sixty feet by sixty feet in one area, but a totally different size elsewhere. And not everyone will agree on definitions.
In Ezekiel’s visions of the future kingdom of Israel, he sees a man measuring the temple and its courts (Ezekiel 40:5). For those measurements he uses a rod which is “six cubits long.” But each cubit is then described as a cubit and a handbreadth. In other words, he is using a “long cubit” to determine heights, breadths and lengths.
The use of different definitions of terms does not create insurmountable problems so long as the precise definition used for a particular item is understood. Travelers in the United States know that a gallon of gasoline will be of a particular size, whereas those in Canada will expect a different sized gallon.
Confusion arises when different standards are used indiscriminately, or when an item is described by one standard but delivered in accordance to a different one. This goes to the particular definition of the word “standard” itself. It is simply an agreed upon principle or object that defines one’s words.
In spiritual matters we have such a standard. It is the Bible, the Word of God. In ancient times measuring rods such as that used by the man in Ezekiel’s vision were called “canons.” That term gradually came to mean the collection of sacred books which made up Scripture. This canon of Scripture (collection of inspired books) is the standard of Christian faith and practice.
Jesus confirmed this: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; cf. John 17:17).
Unfortunately Scripture means different things to different people. Some add additional books to the Christian Old and New Testaments. Some have totally different sacred volumes, not recognizing the Bible at all. Others seek to honor two or more holy books, choosing sometimes the teaching of one, sometimes the other.
The result of such random selection and variable definitions is the loss of any authoritative standard. Each one does what he desires to do, and justifies it by the “scripture,” which seems to agree. Paul spoke of those with “itching ears” who would “not endure sound doctrine” but rather follow their own desires; “they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The principle proposed by great reformers of the past was “Sola Scriptura” – the Bible only. By this principle they called all men to recognize a standard by which all doctrines and religious activities could be measured.
Such a standard depended upon truth and presumed that man can know the truth and by it be free (John 8:32).
The cubit of Ezekiel was different from cubits used at other times. In the modern world dollars and gallons may vary in value or quantity.
But when it comes to Spiritual matters, there is one and only one Canon – one standard which all must follow if truth is to be obeyed and God’s will obtained. That is the Bible, the inspired word of God.