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EZEKIEL - CHAPTER 44
THE GATE FOR THE PRINCE
Verses 1, 2 recount that the measuring angel brought Ezekiel back from the sanctuary by way of the outer gate, the court of the priests, toward the east gate and it was shut, Ezekiel 43:1. Then the Lord told him that this gate (Eastern Gate) should be shut, shut to the people, opened only on special occasions for the prince, the ruler who held the place of God in civil and political things, as the priest did in spiritual things, Ezekiel 46:1; Exodus 19:21-22; Exodus 19:24. only a prince (ruler), of the house of David, might sit down in the priest’s court. As a mark of respect to an Eastern monarch, the gate by which he enters is hereafter shut to all other persons, Job 12:14; Isaiah 22:22.
Verse 3 certifies that this Eastern gate was to be restrictedly for the prince or civil and political ruler of Israel, who only was permitted to enter and eat bread before the Lord, in connection with the sacrifices, Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12; Exodus 24:11; 1 Corinthians 10:18. Prior to this only priests had been permitted to eat with or in the presence of the priests.
GLORY FILLED THE HOUSE
Verse 4 relates that Ezekiel was then led in vision by way of the north gate, where sacrifice animals were prepared from without. From there he beheld the glory of the Lord come upon and fill the house of the Lord, Ezekiel 3:13; Ezekiel 43:15; Then he fell upon his face in awe as in Ezekiel 1:28.
Verse 5 recounts the Lord’s new charge to Ezekiel as Son of man to mark well, pay specific attention, scrutinizing with his eyes, and hearing accurately with his ears all that the Lord had to say: concerning all the ordinances of the restored house of the Lord, with all of its laws. Then he was also directed to "mark well" the entering in of the house (the purpose or motive for which one entered it, and every going forth or departure from the sanctuary), which was to be nobly motivated for spiritual purposes, John 4:24; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Verse 6 directed Ezekiel to address the rebellious ones, even of the house of Israel, the whole nation, telling them that he had a message to them, directly from the Lord, as in Ezekiel 2:5. They were told to let it be sufficient to act upon, in turning from all their abominations with which they had offended God, Ezekiel 45:9; 1 Peter 4:3. For it was at the north gate, v. 4, that Ezekiel had been shown the idolatries of his people, Ezekiel 8:5.
Verses 7, 8 charge specific sins of idolatry to Israel, of such things as they had brought into the sanctified temple area, of the former house of the Lord, to defile it. They-had brought in strangers, heathen, the uncircumcised in heart and in the flesh, into His sanctuary to pollute it. There these heathen had joined the Israelites in polluting the house of the Lord in offering bread, the fat, and the blood. Thus with their compromise outward form of worship; Both in violation or breach of the Law, and in absence of the Spirit, they had defiled or polluted His Holy place. Even priests, unregenerated, were heathen at heart, Acts 7:51; and as such were regarded as aliens or strangers to the commonwealth of Israel. They too had become lax in permitting foreigners, uncircumcised, to partake of their sacrificial worship, without circumcision, Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 17:10; See also v. 9; Ezekiel 43:8; Acts 21:28. It is further concluded, v. 8, that the priests had set the uncircumcised strangers at their own pleasure in holy parts of the temple, area, doing as they pleased, rather than themselves performing their Divinely described duties and rites, as described Joshua 9:27; Ezra 8:20; Numbers 9:23; Numbers 16:40; 1 Kings 12:31.
Verse 9 reminds the priests and people of restored Israel that it is the Law of their Lord that no stranger, uncircumcised in either heart or the flesh should enter into His sanctuary, no matter how friendly he may be to any Israelite among His people; See that which it symbolized, Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 21:24; See also Psalms 50:16.
Verse 10 states that those Levites who had already defiled the Lord in these matters and in sanctioning idolatry, should bear the judgment consequence of their own willful and presumptuous iniquities, 2 Kings 23:8. These priests were not to be restored to their place in the house of the Lord.
Verse 11 indicates the body of Levites that did not turn to idolatry, though having suffered in the captivity, could be restored to minister in the sanctuary, having charges at the gates of the house, where the sacrifices were washed and slain, and personally slay the burnt offering for the people, standing before the people to minister to them, 2 Chronicles 21:13; 1 Chronicles 16:1; Numbers 16:9.
Verse 12 restates that because these Levite priests had ministered to the masses of Israel and strangers among them, before idols in former days, and caused Israel to fall into a practice of iniquity. He had lifted up His hand against them to cause them to suffer for their iniquities. For sin does "find one out," in places high and low, Numbers 32:23; Galatians 6:7-8; Psalms 106:26.
Verse 13 adds specifically that because of their abominable sins they should not come near to minister to the Lord in His sanctuary, in their priesthood office, but be made to bear the same of ostracism for their willful, presumptive abominations as described, Numbers 18:3; 2 Kings 23:9.
Verse 14 states, however, that the Lord would make or permit them to be standers, guardians, or "keepers at the gates," or "keepers of the charge" of the house, for all the service, and for "all that shall be done in the house of the Lord," Numbers 18:4; 1 Chronicles 23:28-32. Ordained and anointed leaders of the Lord, because of open sins, may also be cut off from or deprived of, certain positions and honors of service, even in the church of the Lord today, as set forth by precedence and example of both old and new testament orders of worship and services, Psalms 84:10; Mark was thus rebuffed for a time by Paul but later called for and commended as helpful and needful in his labors, Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11.
Verse 15 certifies, however, that those Levite priests of the sons of Zadok, who had kept the sanctuary of Israel when the people went astray, should now come and stand before the Lord to administer the sacrifices of the fat and of the blood, Ezekiel 40:46; 1 Samuel 2:35; Deuteronomy 10:8. See also 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 2 Samuel 20:25.
Verse 16 indicates that only those Levite priests who had kept themselves from idolatry in the past, could come into the inner court to minister to the Lord at the table of shewbread, and to keep his charge in matters of direct burning of incense and offering of sacrifices at the brazen altar; These are those who did not take part in the apostacy, 1 Kings 2:35; 2 Chronicles 24:3. In contrast, the priests of the line of Ithamar were excluded or discharged from this ministration in the temple, because of their moral corruption, similar to that of the sons of Eli against whom the same denunciation was spoken, 1 Samuel 2:32; 1 Samuel 2:35.
Verse 17 directs that the priests were to enter the gates of the inner court for their ministry, wearing linen or cotton garments, as directed by the law. They were forbidden to wear woolen garments in their ministry, within the gates of the inner court, because of the heat and perspiring uncleanness that it would generate in their ministry.
Verses 18, 19 direct that they should wear linen bonnets upon their head, and linen breeches, a symbol of purity, upon their loins, avoiding girding with anything that would cause sweat to increase, Exodus 28:40; Exodus 28:42; Exodus 39:28. They were then directed to remove the ministering garments and leave them in their holy residence chambers and put on other garments before going into the outer court, court of the Gentiles to the people. They were to sanctify other garments before going into the outer court, court of the Gentiles to the people. They were to sanctify the people without wearing holy garments, Ezekiel 46:20; Leviticus 6:27; Matthew 23:17; Matthew 23:19.
Verse 20 further states that they were not to shave their heads, as mourners did, nor permit their locks to grow long, as the priests were formerly forbidden to do, Leviticus 21:1-5. Only the luxurious, barbarians, and soldiers in warfare let their locks grow long, according to Jerome, Isaiah 28:7; 1 Timothy 3:8. Excess and flare was to be avoided on both sides. The obligation to let the hair grow freely, (uncut) was imposed upon the Nazarite, and only during the period of his vow, Numbers 6:5.
Verse 21 imposed total abstinence from wine upon the priest, while he was ministering in temple service; Such was not enjoined on them at other times, Leviticus 10:9. This restriction was a preventive or protective one, so that no enthusiasm of their devotional ministration might erroneously be attributed to their inebriation, or drunkenness, as in Peter’s case at Pentecost, Acts 2:13; Acts 2:15; Acts 2:18.
Verse 22 forbids a priest from taking a widow as a wife, or a divorced woman as a wife, lest they should seem to sanction adultery, Leviticus 21:7; Leviticus 21:13-14. But they were permitted to take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, who had an Israelite father, or the widow that had a priest as a former husband; This was in order that they might be looked upon as good examples of sanctification in their moral and ethical social lives.
Verse 23 specifies that priests were to be teachers and examples of the law of the Lord in life, showing a clear distinction between the clean, (sanctioned by the Lord) and the unclean, condemned by the Lord, as reflecting both His holiness and justice in character, as described Leviticus 10:10-11; Ezekiel 22:26; Malachi 2:7. All was to encourage sanctification in life and service of the people of God, Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Verse 24 directs that in matters of controversy over principles of the law of the Lord, the priests were to stand in judgment, take a stand, guarding the commandments and judgments of the Lord in all His assemblies, hallowing His sabbaths, as Divinely directed, Deuteronomy 17:8; 2 Chronicles 19:8; 2 Chronicles 19:10; 1 Timothy 4:12; Ezekiel 22:26.
Verses 25, 26 direct that the priests should not go near or touch a dead person to defile themselves, except it should be for compassionate purposes where the dead person had no close relative alive at all to dispose of their corpse. After the priests had cared for such a dead person, they are to reckon to him seven days of separation, after he is cleansed, before he can go back into the holy sanctuary for Divine service, Numbers 6:10; Numbers 19:11.
Verse 27 directs that on the day the priest returns to the inner sanctuary to minister he must offer for himself a sin offering, (for) with reference to, his cleansing, or sanctification, as prescribed Leviticus 4:3.
Verse 28 asserts that the sanctuary shall be to them for an inheritance, then the Lord added, "I am their inheritance, and ye shall give them no possession in Israel," for the Lord affirmed that He was their possession, Numbers 18:20. He is the all sufficient supply and possession for His servants, Deuteronomy 18:1; Joshua 13:14; Joshua 13:33.
Verse 29 directs that the ministering priest should eat (of) the: 1) meat offering, 2) the sin offering, and 3) of the trespass offering. And every dedicated or devoted thing in Israel was also to fall to them, as prescribed, Leviticus 6:18; Leviticus 7:6; Leviticus 27:21; Numbers 18:14.
Verse 30 adds that the: 1) firstfruits of all; 2) every oblation of all kinds, and 3) the first of their dough, was to go to the priests. This was to provide for the physical needs of him and his family, in order that spiritual blessings might, through him, come upon the homes of all to whom they ministered in spiritual matters, Numbers 15:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; 1 Corinthians 9:9-14.
Verse 31 finally concludes that the priest shall not eat of anything that is dead of itself, or torn (crippled), either of fowl or beast, a thing that was defiling or unclean under the law, Leviticus 17:15; Leviticus 22:8. In this manner the law of holiness was strictly enforced, Exodus 22:31.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Ezekiel 44". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany