For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

44:1.  “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.”


44:2.  “Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.”


The JFB Commentary explains this, “Shut to the people ... but open to the prince ... he holding the place of God in political concerns, as the priests do in spiritual.  As a mark of respect to an Eastern monarch, the gate by which he enters is thenceforth shut to all other persons (cf. Exodus 19:24).”


44:3.  “It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.”


This clearly refers, not to the Lord Jesus Christ, but to the descendant of David who will be king over Israel in the Millennium, sitting upon the throne in Jerusalem, while Christ will be reigning over the millennial earth from the heavenly Jerusalem, which will then be poised over the earth in the atmospheric heavens.  His eating bread before the Lord means that he will offer the same Levitical sacrifices as were used in the OT age, a part of which were eaten by the offerer, this being incontrovertible proof that the person mentioned here is not the Lord Jesus Christ Who does not offer worship.  As the second Person of the Godhead He receives worship.


44:4.  “Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord: and I fell upon my face.”


The glory here is seen by most expositors as being the Shekinah glory which hovered over the mercy seat in the most holy place of the Tabernacle.  The prophet’s falling upon his face is symbolic of worship, the association with the north gate reminding us that the north is the direction of human intelligence, which in the unconverted man is invariably at enmity with God.  But relative to the new man it speaks of a renewed mind, as it is written, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Pr 9:10.


It is to be noted that worship is not an emotional experience divorced from the control of the intellect.  It does involve emotion, for true worship is impelled by love for the Lord Jesus Christ, but the expression of worship is to proceed from the intellect under the control of the Holy Spirit.  The extravagant emotional excesses of the so-called worship of the charismatics is an affront to God, for it is completely separated from a Spirit controlled intellect.


44:5.  “And the Lord said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.”


Ezekiel was commanded to pay the closest attention to every detail of what he saw and heard, and to permit nothing to distract him, because he was being commissioned to transmit all of it to the men of Israel.


44:6.  “And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations,”


Wicked Israel is here commanded to cease her filthy practices which had surpassed all bounds.


44:7.  “In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.”


Israel had brought into the Temple Gentiles who were neither circumcised physically nor spiritually.  They are generally believed to have been slaves or captives who were used in assisting with the preparation of the sacrifices, that work involving considerable physical effort.


44:8.  “And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.”


Apparently weary of performing their God-appointed service in the  Tabernacle, they had appointed unqualified men of their own choosing to do that work.


44:9.  “Thus saith the Lord God; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.”


Only Gentiles who were physically circumcised and who walked in obedience before God were permitted to enter His Temple.


44:10.  “And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall even bear their iniquity.”


Many of the Levites had also been guilty of idolatry when the people had turned from God to worship idols, and as a result God was now imposing limitations on the service He would permit them to render in connection with the Temple ritual.


44:11.  “Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.”


Their limited service would include being guards at the entrance to the Temple, slaying the animal sacrifices, and standing always ready to serve the people.


44:12.  “Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord God, and they shall bear their iniquity.”


Because they had served the Israelites as priests in connection with the worship of idols, and had thus led the people into iniquity, their priestly ministry was to be curtailed as noted in verse 11 above.


44:13.  “And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed.”


This continues the list of prohibitions imposed upon the Levites relative to their service: they were no longer permitted to present the prescribed offerings, nor to enter into the most holy place in the Temple.


44:14.  “But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein.”


They would retain responsibility for the maintenance of the Temple.


44:15.  “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord God:”


44:16.  “They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”


Those priests of the line of Zadok, who had remained faithful to God when the nation had apostatized, would be recompensed by being permitted to continue entering into the Holy Place with the fat and blood of the sacrifices.


44:17.  “And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within.”


The linen was pure white, and symbolized righteousness.  No reason is given for their being forbidden to wear anything made of wool, except that it was likely to cause them to sweat in the hot weather, see next verse.


44:18.  “They shall have linen bonnets (turbans) upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins, they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.”


The white linen turbans spoke symbolically of purity of thought as well as of deed; and the white linen breeches likewise symbolized purity in the private life as well as that which was open to the eyes of others.


Sweat is produced by strenuous physical activity, so that the prohibition against any garment that would cause the wearer to sweat, speaks of the need to ensure that the energy of the flesh doesn’t mar the activity of the Spirit.


44:19.  “And when they go forth into the utter (outer) court, even into the utter court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.”


When they left the Holy Place, and before going out to the outer court of the Temple, they were to remove the white linen garments, putting them in the designated holy rooms, and putting on their regular clothes, so that holiness would not be transmitted to the people by the priestly garments.  This appears to be the symbolic presentation of the truth that personal holiness can neither be transferred nor appropriated: it must be the product of each individual’s personal life.


44:20.  “Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads.”


There were to be no extremes of hair length such as shaving the head or never cutting the hair; it was to be kept at a reasonable length.


44:21.  “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.”


Practically, this avoided the possibility of a priest’s becoming drunk: symbolically, it speaks of the need to guard against carelessness or levity in connection with any part of the Temple worship.


44:22.  “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before.”


The wife represents the expression of a man’s spiritual life; the godly wife representing the spiritual life of a believer; the ungodly wife representing what passes with the unconverted for what he thinks is spiritual life.  The truth being symbolically presented here is that the expression of a man’s spiritual life, i.e., his manner of living, is to be such as will confirm the reality of his professed faith.


44:23.  “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”


The priests were responsible to teach the people the difference between what was holy or sacred, and what was common or secular; and to teach them how to distinguish what was unclean and what was clean.


44:24.  “And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and the shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.”


The priests were to act as impartial judges in the settlement of disputes that might arise amongst the people; the judgment they rendered being according to God’s Word rather than their own personal inclination.  They themselves were to obey God’s rules and regulations; and they were to keep the sabbaths as special days set apart by Him for the rest and well-being of man and beast.


44:25.  “And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves: but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister that hath had no husband, they may defile themselves.”


To touch a dead body was to incur defilement, hence God’s law against contact with a dead body; but in gracious condescension to the ties of nature, He permitted the touch impelled by love even though it was ceremonially defiling.


44:26.  “And after he is cleansed, they shall reckon unto him seven days.” 


This is the somewhat ambiguous announcement of the fact that seven days were to elapse between a person’s contracting defilement and his becoming ceremonially clean again.


44:27.  “And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord God.”


At the beginning of each period of service in the sanctuary, the priest was to offer a sin offering for the expiation of any sin of which he may have been guilty, the practical lesson being that every known sin must be confessed, repented of, and forsaken before we attempt to render any service to God, for He will not use an unclean vessel.


44:28.  “And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession.”


Every Israelite had a God-given permanent inheritance of a portion of land in Canaan to provide for his temporal needs, the priests being the exception to this arrangement.  They were to have no such inheritance, except for the small piece of land mentioned in 45:4, God Himself promising to be their portion.


The practical lesson in this is that all believers are constituted a royal kingdom of priests, see 1 Pe 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people ....” and as such we are not to be scrabbling for place and position here on earth, but are to rest peacefully in God’s promise, “... be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Heb 13:5.


44:29.  “They shall eat the meat (meal) offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering: and every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs.”


Of the above mentioned mandated offerings brought by the people, a portion was appointed by God to be for the food of the priests, the same rule applying also to freewill offerings.


44:30.  “And the first (best) of all the first-fruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.”


God appointed the best of the first-fruits and every voluntary offering, for the priests, including the first batch of fresh dough, His response being to bless the house of the offerer.


The same principle governs the lives of believers today, as it is written, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,” 1 Cor 16:2.  When a man is so foolish as to rob God of His due, he robs himself of something far more valuable: God’s blessing.


44:31.  “The priests shall not eat of any thing that is dead of itself, or torn, whether it be fowl or beast.”


At least one reason for this proscription is that such a bird or animal would not have been bled, so that the eater would have made himself guilty of disobeying God relative to His command forbidding the eating of blood, see Gen 9:4.

[Ezekiel 45]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough