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The Closed Gate


Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. 2The Lord said to me: This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. 3Only the prince, because he is a prince, may sit in it to eat food before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.

Admission to the Temple

4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; and I looked, and lo! the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord; and I fell upon my face. 5The Lord said to me: Mortal, mark well, look closely, and listen attentively to all that I shall tell you concerning all the ordinances of the temple of the Lord and all its laws; and mark well those who may be admitted to the temple and all those who are to be excluded from the sanctuary. 6Say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: O house of Israel, let there be an end to all your abominations 7in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant with all your abominations. 8And you have not kept charge of my sacred offerings; but you have appointed foreigners to act for you in keeping my charge in my sanctuary.

9 Thus says the Lord God: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. 10But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. 11They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple, and serving in the temple; they shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall attend on them and serve them. 12Because they ministered to them before their idols and made the house of Israel stumble into iniquity, therefore I have sworn concerning them, says the Lord God, that they shall bear their punishment. 13They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my sacred offerings, the things that are most sacred; but they shall bear their shame, and the consequences of the abominations that they have committed. 14Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its chores, all that is to be done in it.

The Levitical Priests

15 But the levitical priests, the descendants of Zadok, who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me; and they shall attend me to offer me the fat and the blood, says the Lord God. 16It is they who shall enter my sanctuary, it is they who shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge. 17When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen vestments; they shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. 18They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments on their loins; they shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19When they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall remove the vestments in which they have been ministering, and lay them in the holy chambers; and they shall put on other garments, so that they may not communicate holiness to the people with their vestments. 20They shall not shave their heads or let their locks grow long; they shall only trim the hair of their heads. 21No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22They shall not marry a widow, or a divorced woman, but only a virgin of the stock of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. 23They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. 24In a controversy they shall act as judges, and they shall decide it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes regarding all my appointed festivals, and they shall keep my sabbaths holy. 25They shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person; for father or mother, however, and for son or daughter, and for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. 26After he has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. 27On the day that he goes into the holy place, into the inner court, to minister in the holy place, he shall offer his sin offering, says the Lord God.

28 This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no holding in Israel; I am their holding. 29They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30The first of all the first fruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests; you shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, in order that a blessing may rest on your house. 31The priests shall not eat of anything, whether bird or animal, that died of itself or was torn by animals.

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Eze 44:1-31. Ordinances for the Prince and the Priests.

2. shut … not be opened—(Job 12:14; Isa 22:22; Re 3:7). "Shut" to the people (Ex 19:21, 22), but open to "the prince" (Eze 44:3), he holding the place of God in political concerns, as the priests do in spiritual. As a mark of respect to an Eastern monarch, the gate by which he enters is thenceforth shut to all other persons (compare Ex 19:24).

3. the prince—not King Messiah, as He never would offer a burnt offering for Himself, as the prince is to do (Eze 46:4). The prince must mean the civil ruler under Messiah. His connection with the east gate (by which the Lord had returned to His temple) implies, that, as ruling under God, he is to stand in a place of peculiar nearness to God. He represents Messiah, who entered heaven, the true sanctuary, by a way that none other could, namely, by His own holiness; all others must enter as sinners by faith in His blood, through grace.

eat bread before the Lord—a custom connected with sacrifices (Ge 31:54; Ex 18:12; 24:11; 1Co 10:18).

4-6. Directions as to the priests. Their acts of desecration are attributed to "the house of Israel" (Eze 44:6, 7), as the sins of the priesthood and of the people acted and reacted on one another; "like people, like priest" (Jer 5:31; Ho 4:9).

7. uncircumcised in heart—Israelites circumcised outwardly, but wanting the true circumcision of the heart (De 10:16; Ac 7:51).

uncircumcised in flesh—not having even the outward badge of the covenant-people.

8. keepers … for yourselves—such as you yourselves thought fit, not such as I approve of. Or else, "Ye have not yourselves kept the charge of My holy things, but have set others as keepers of My charge in My sanctuary for yourselves" [Maurer].

10, 11. Levites … shall … bear—namely, the punishment of

their iniquity … Yet they shall be ministers—So Mark, a Levite, nephew of Barnabas (Ac 4:36), was punished by Paul for losing an opportunity of bearing the cross of Christ, and yet was afterwards admitted into his friendship again, and showed his zeal (Ac 13:13; 15:37; Col 4:10; 2Ti 4:11). One may be a believer, and that too in a distinguished place, and yet lose some special honor—be acknowledged as pious, yet be excluded from some dignity [Bengel].

charge at the gates—Better to be "a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Ps 84:10). Though standing as a mere doorkeeper, it is in the house of God, which hath foundations: whereas he who dwells with the wicked, dwells in but shifting tents.

15. Zadok—The priests of the line of Ithamar were to be discharged from ministrations in the temple, because of their corruptions, following in the steps of Eli's sons, against whom the same denunciation was uttered (1Sa 2:32, 35). Zadok, according to his name (which means "righteous") and his line, were to succeed (1Ki 2:35; 1Ch 24:3), as they did not take part in the general apostasy to the same degree, and perhaps [Fairbairn] the prophet, referring to their original state, speaks of them as they appeared when first chosen to the office.

17. linen—symbolical of purity. Wool soon induces perspiration in the sultry East and so becomes uncleanly.

18. bonnets—turbans.

19. not sanctify the people with their garments—namely, those peculiarly priestly vestments in which they ministered in the sanctuary.

20. Neither … shave … heads—as mourners do (Le 21:1-5). The worshippers of the Egyptian idols Serapis and Isis shaved their heads; another reason why Jehovah's priests are not to do so.

nor suffer … locks to grow long—as the luxurious, barbarians, and soldiers in warfare did [Jerome].

21. Neither … wine—lest the holy enthusiasm of their devotion should be mistaken for inebriation, as in Peter's case (Ac 2:13, 15, 18).

28. I am their inheritance—(Nu 18:20; De 10:9; 18:1; Jos 13:14, 32).

30. give … priest the first … that he may cause the blessing to rest—(Pr 3:9, 10; Mal 3:10).