This passage starts off with God making it clear that the eastern gate is only for him. He was the one that entered through it, and he was the only one, therefore who could use it.
But a Prince is coming who can use it. That would make the prince equal to God eh?
Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. 2 And the 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. 3 Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”
Sometimes it is hard to really understand what God is doing you know?
I read these words and I’m left with why?
I can understand why those who don’t follow after God aren’t allowed in his sanctuary.. I get that. One doesn’t tend to let enemies into the heart of your home after all. But God has people kill the animals for the sacrifice who had served him poorly in the past. They weren’t allowed to serve him as priest, to enter into that special place to serve HIM. They were punished by only being allowed to serve the people.
4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord. And I fell on my face. 5 And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the Lord and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. 6 And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, 7 in 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, in addition to all your abominations. 8 And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you 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. 10 But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. 11 They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at
the gates of the temple and ministering in the temple. They shall
slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before the people, to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord God, and they shall bear their punishment. 13 They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my holy things and the things that are most holy, but they shall bear their shame and the abominations that they have committed. 14 Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its service and all that is to be done in it.
I think my struggle comes from… why did God allow them to serve at all? Ministering to the people gave them room to minister poorly to the people. Why didn’t God just cut them off from ministering at all?
It requires thoughtfulness I suppose. God tells them they will need to bear the punishment for their actions. So serving the people is one step down from ministering to the Lord. They must serve in this capacity knowing they will never have a chance to serve the Lord himself. Only serve the people.
I want to get into all the wondering you know…the useless wonderings of “I wonder if it made them resentful or if they bore their punishment well”, “I wonder if they took their resentment out on the people”. Wonderings that don’t really further learning from God but just fill my mind with speculation.
I just hope that the priests bore up their punishment and accepted their shame well.
Which of course brings me to this: When you do something wrong and the Holy Spirit calls you on it, do you correct yourself? Do you bear up well under your guilt or do you make excuses? I know what I am prone to do….I grumble and complain and say but … but…(excuse excuse) but eventually I admit my guilt and say “Sorry…whether it’s just to the Lord or to the person that I wronged.” It just sometimes takes me a while.
Going back a bit to Verse 5: And the Lord
said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with
your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the
temple of the Lord and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary.
This verse has me thinking that God will be laying down some rules for his people that Ezekiel had best pay attention to. More than just the rules about the uncircumcised foreigners and the priests who serve only the people.
You can read more in my Ezekiel Studies here and here.
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