-Ezekiel is brought back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces to the east, by the LORD. The gate was shut by decree of the Almighty, not to be opened and with no one else entering by it, “for the LORD God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut (Ezekiel 44:1-2).” Then there is talk of the prince. Whether this is the Messiah or someone else is a matter of conjecture and interpretation. From the text it is not completely clear. This prince will eat before the LORD, and he shall enter by the way of the porch of the gate and shall go out the same way. He, if this is the same prince, seems to be a mortal from the description in Ezekiel 46, since he has an inheritance and sons (Ezekiel 46:16-18). Nonetheless, as Ezekiel is brought by God by way of the north gate to the front of the Temple house, he looked and saw the glory of the LORD filling the house of the LORD causing him to fall on his face in holy reverence (Ezekiel 44:3-4). The LORD speaks to him, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the LORD and concerning all its laws; and mark well the entrance of the house, with all exits of the sanctuary (Ezekiel 44:5).” He goes further in telling His prophet to speak to the rebellious house of Israel that the LORD says, “Enough of all your abominations (Ezekiel 44:6).” He chastises them for allowing the foreigners who were uncircumcised in heart and flesh to enter into His sanctuary to profane it making His covenant with them void. God rightfully accuses them of not keeping His charge of His holy things and letting these foreign-pagan worshipers take control. The reiteration is made that no foreigners that were allowed to live among the sons of Israel, who are uncircumcised in heart or flesh, shall enter His sanctuary (Ezekiel 44:7-9). Then the word of the LORD is critical toward the Levites who went far from Him when Israel went astray after idols. They would bear the punishment for their iniquity. Yet, they will still have ministerial duties and certain charges, but their responsibilities certainly will be limited and in lesser capacities. They were banished because they had been a stumbling block to the people and had great iniquity before the LORD causing Him to swear against them. These will not come before Him to serve as a priest unto God, nor will they come near His most holy things. These will bear their shame and abominations, which they have committed. However, in God’s grace they are not completely out of the Kingdom (Ezekiel 44:10-14).
-The favored Levitical priests are the sons of Zadok, who kept the LORD’s charge of His sanctuary even when the sons of Israel went astray from their God. These are the ones who will be allowed to come before Him in His holy places to stand before Him and offer Him the fat and the blood by the LORD’s declaration. Their clothing will be linen with nothing that will make them sweat as they minister in the inner court and in the house. No wool is to be worn in the holy place. There are also strict hair codes as they are not to have shaved heads, nor are they to let their locks grow long. They are to keep their hair trimmed and neat, but not bald. They are not to have any wine when they enter the inner court. They are not allowed to marry a widow (except a widow of a priest) or a divorced woman. They are only allowed to take virgins from the offspring of the house of Israel for marriage partners. They have the charge of teaching the people the things of God in differentiation between the holy and the profane. They will be responsible for helping people discern the clean from the unclean. In disputes, the priests of Zadok will take their stand to judge according to the Laws of the LORD, and they will keep all of His appointed feasts and sanctify His Sabbaths. They shall not go to a dead person to defile themselves, but there are some lawful exceptions here. Cleansing rituals are reiterated and the proper ways to present offerings before the LORD. Their inheritance will be from the LORD for He is their possession, not land. They will eat from the sacrifices in abundance from every devoted thing and first fruits contributions in Israel. In fact, the houses of the Kingdom will be blessed as they bless the priests and their work before the LORD (Ezekiel 44:15-31). These rites and rituals are from the Law of Moses given in Exodus and Leviticus during the wilderness wanderings, but now they come full circle in the eschaton. They represent the importance of approaching the LORD God with respect and awe.
-*Application* Too often in our progressive times we approach the King with flippancy and carelessness. He is holy and expects holiness from His faithful subjects. Come before the Lord the right way with reverence, awe, and appreciation in your worship. He is worthy!
Verses to Memorize: Ezekiel 44:1-2