Bible: What Does Ezekiel 44-46 Teach Us About Holiness and Worship in the Millennium?
The Eastern Gate
The Golden Gate
Is the present-day Eastern Gate the same one Ezekiel sees here?
The Prince and the Eastern Gate
From the inner court, the LORD takes Ezekiel to the outer gate of the sanctuary, now shut (v. 1).
God does not allow anyone to enter the complex from this Eastern Gate because He has entered it (v. 2; cf. 43:4).
The "prince" alone may sit in it, but he must enter "by way of the vestibule of the gateway" (vv. 2-3).
They move again, this time by the north gate to the front of the temple where Ezekiel beholds God's glory filling the house (v. 4).
Yahweh charges the prophet to listen carefully to His instructions about temple ordinances.
He desires Israel's holy worship, so He commands that "no foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh," should enter the temple sanctuary (vv. 5-9).
Priests in the Millennium
In addition, He speaks to Ezekiel about the duties and moral responsibilities of priests.
Above all, they ought to be faithful in their service to Him, to have ministered to the people of God, and to have not gone astray after idols.
Because certain Levites did apostatize, Yahweh will punish them (vv. 10-12).
Although God still gives them charge of the temple, they will not minister to Him at the altar (vv. 13-14).
Nevertheless, Levites who did remain faithful during the apostasy Yahweh will honor by allowing them to minister to Him (vv. 15-16).
They must, however, follow strict regulations with regard to their lifestyle and appearance for such service.
(1) Wear garments of linen, not wool, so as to prevent soiling by perspiration (vv. 17-18), and they must remove them before ministering to the people (v. 19).
(2) Maintain neatness with regard to facial hair (v. 20).
(3) Refrain from drinking wine while ministering (v. 21).
(4) Be married to a morally pure partner (v. 22).
(5) Be faithful to teach holiness to the people (v. 23).
(6) Judge according to God's laws and show themselves examples through their own obedience to these laws (v. 24).
(7) Maintain ritual cleanness (vv. 25-27).
(8) Be satisfied with Yahweh as their inheritance (v. 28).
(9) Eat every "dedicated thing" in Israel (vv. 29-31), i.e., the people will give to them, as gifts to the LORD, various sacrifices which they will gladly receive.
Therefore, they are, in a very real sense, dependent upon the faithfulness of the people for their support.
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Speaking of inheritance, Yahweh discusses a sanctified district of sizable proportions that the people should make available for the LORD's service.
This land "shall belong to the Levites, the ministers of the temple" (vv. 1-5), yet the whole house of Israel shall also possess land "as the property of the city" (v. 6).
Likewise, the prince has an inheritance set aside for him among the other sanctified lands (v. 7).
Fair distribution of the land and freedom to use it are the emphases here (v. 8).
Verses 9-17 report Yahweh's concern for righteous economic dealing among His people.
He exhorts the princes to make sure that they do not cheat the common-folk, but justly determine the ephah, bath, and shekel.
The people shall offer a specific gift to the prince (vv. 13-16) and, in turn, the prince must provide offerings at the annual feasts and other events to make atonement for Israel (v. 17).
On these feast days the priests must perform certain functions.
On New Year's Day (that is, the first of Nisan) the official should take blood of a slaughtered bull and cleanse the sanctuary.
[Note where he should put the blood (vv. 18-19)].
On the seventh day he should lead another special service (v. 20).
The prince is active during the seven-day Passover, sacrificing bulls and rams as sin offerings and burnt offerings (vv. 21-24).
He also participates during the Feast of Tabernacles, preparing four different sacrifices (v. 25).
Sacrifices in the Millennium
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Yahweh regulates the worship of both the prince and the people, commanding them to come to a certain place (the entrance to the gateway of the inner court) on certain days (Sabbaths and New Moons) [vv. 1-3].
Verses 4-5 detail the sacrifices that the prince must offer on the Sabbath, and verses 6-7 include those he must bring on the New Moon.
God emphasizes also that both the prince and the people must exit the opposite way they entered the gateway (vv. 8-10).
Why this is so is not elucidated.
On "festivals and appointed feast days," they must offer correct "sacrifice packages" (v. 11; cf. vv. 5, 7).
Special, voluntary offerings of the prince elicit special Eastern Gate openings (v. 12).
Then suddenly, the pronoun changes from third person to second person plural (v. 13).
The princes must be the referents, for no other plural group has been addressed in this section (cf. 45: 9-10).
Daily sacrifice responsibilities—burnt offerings and grain offerings—fall to them, too (vv. 13-15).
Next, Yahweh returns to a discussion of the inheritance (vv. 16-18; cf. 44:28-45:8).
He gives the prince explicit instructions regarding the disposal of some of his land to his sons and servants.
Strangely, He also provides protection for His people from any action that the prince might take against them in order to acquire additional land for his sons.
[Is it possible that the prince is not the resurrected David, since the context simply precludes this possibility?
Apparently, he can do wrong, so he must be a prince of that day].
Ezekiel's narrative resumes with the Angel guiding the prophet to chambers where the priests prepare the sin and grain offerings (vv. 19-20).
Then He brings him into the outer court to kitchens where the "ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people" (vv. 21-24).
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