Ezekiel 44:1–14

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The Lord takes Ezekiel back to the eastern gate of the outer court, and he sees that it is now shut. The Lord explains that it will remain that way because He Himself used that gate to enter the temple, and no one else may use it any more, because it is set apart for Him. Instead, the prince of the city will use the gateway as a room to eat bread before the Lord. He will have to enter from the court and sit underneath the wall (which is thick enough to make a whole room when the outer gate is shut).

Finally we are told the reasons for the priesthood to be restricted to the family of Zadok out of all the descendents of Aaron. During the long history of Israel, they were faithful to keep charge of the sanctuary while everyone else was following after foreign gods. At least part of reason for this going astray is attributed to foreigners being allowed in the temple. But before anyone gets riled up thinking the Lord is being racist, these foreigners are said to be “uncircumcised in heart and flesh” (vv. 7 and 9). This means they were not even approaching following the commandments of the Lord, they had not joined His covenant community, and thus had no business being inside the Lord’s sanctuary, where not even the devout lay Israelites were supposed to go. Contrast these with the stories of Ruth, Rahab, and the wives of Joseph and Moses.

Though the Levites and most of the priests led the people astray, they may still serve in the sanctuary, though the priests have been “demoted” to doing the same menial jobs as the Levites. They will slaughter the sacrifices, guard the gates, and minister to the people. But they will not go in to the Holy Place to minister before the Lord.

You are faithful to keep Your covenant and Your promises, even when we fail to uphold ours.

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