Exact Ezekiel; Chapters 44-46
April 1, 2018

C. R. Oliver

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April 1, 2018

Exact Ezekiel
Chapters 44-46

     In the previous chapter, the big question was: "Why do you put your door next to My door?" The issue being a compromised Temple, with a compromised officialdom, presenting itself as the "way to God" to the world, when the real door into God's presence was through holiness. This same issue prevails today!

     Chapter 44 introduces a new issue: "Who minister's in the new Temple?" Simply put, "a Holy Temple requires a Holy Priesthood." Everything in this restored view of the true place of God's Presence must be Holy, and only those who qualify can minister to God.

     Two subjects are magnified in Chapter 44, the Prince and the Sons of Zadok - both are holy participants in the earthly and the spiritual Temple. Both are to be accommodated specially. The Prince is to be afforded place in the earthly and spiritual Temple ministry (including a portion of the inheritance), just as the Sons of Zadok are to have special accommodations separate from the other priests.

     Early in this chapter is the matter of the Holy Eastern Gate. God said He alone would enter by that Gate. This was His avenue of ingress and egress and no other dare use it or profane its honor. Only one exception would be made: The Prince could sit in the Gate to eat bread before the Lord. (Some view this as meaning the eastern gate of the inner court.)

     Here begins the speculation: "Who is this Prince?" In the former Temple, a King or a person of high regard was offered a special place, but only a priest could partake of the shewbread and partake of the offerings. Jewish Rabbis point to the Messiah and declare, "He is the Prince." (Isaiah's "Prince of Peace" or David's Princely place in Ezekiel 34 point the same direction.)

     One must keep in mind the central theme of these last chapters of Ezekiel's prophecy which is "a new day has dawned." No longer is there tolerated an idolatrous corrupted clergy yielding authority over God's people. No longer will the princes of Israel be afforded levity, for they are to "stop" their charade of piety. The Lord has given understanding of what it means to Minister to Him.

Ezekiel 44:1-3:
Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. 2 And the Lord said to me, "This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore, it shall be shut. 3 As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway and go out the same way."

"Because He is the prince," is the key. In Chapter 45, he is shown observing Temple processes and keeping the Law with the added profile of eating before the Lord. Jesus fulfilled the Law and worshipped and taught in the restored Temple.

Ezekiel 44 also sets a revised "standard" of acceptability in worship. Because this was the twenty-fifth year of Babylonian captivity, there were still fifty more years before Israel's release. God is instructing how things should be in the one Jesus (the Prince) will enter.

"Make Room" for the Prince and the Righteous priests (Zadok is Hebrew for Righteous) would be a fitting title for this mandate. Instead, Israel/Judah returned to build a Temple that did neither. They eventually crucified the Prince of Glory and afforded a priesthood that had no semblance of righteousness (the High Priest during Jesus' day, for example).

Again, God instructed Ezekiel to reference the sinful former regime. This time, God separated the profligate Levites to a diminished ministry (separate from the sons of Zadok). The religious establishment was forbidden to minister to God; they could only minister to the congregation. This dichotomy is alive today in order to give the observer a tool to determine what service or church function they are attending-is it ministering to the multitudes or ministering to God or both?

The following passage even restricts who may enter into the new Temple - which the religious system of Jesus' day totally disregarded.

Ezekiel 44:4-10:
Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house 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 say to you concerning all the ordinances of the house of the Lord and all its laws. Mark well who may enter the house and all who go out from the sanctuary.

6 "Now say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God: "O house of Israel, let Us have no more of all your abominations. 7 When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it - My house - and when you offered My food, the fat and the blood, then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations. 8 And you have not kept charge of My holy things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you." 9 Thus says the Lord God: "No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.

God the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit joined in the command to have no more abomination in the House of the Lord. What would be wrong in asking the same for the modern church, especially focusing on those with "uncircumcised heart?"
God explored the priesthood of the destroyed Temple and what caused its demise. He shockingly pulls back the cover of their hypocrisy (as in former chapters) and separates their priesthood from the Sons of Zadok. Twenty-five years was enough for true repentance to take place-alas, there was none!

Ezekiel 44:10-14:
"And the Levites who went far from Me, when Israel went astray, who strayed away from Me after their idols, they shall bear their iniquity. 11 Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, as gatekeepers of the house and ministers of the house; they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister to them. 12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity, therefore I have raised My hand in an oath against them," says the Lord God, "that they shall bear their iniquity. 13 And they shall not come near Me to minister to Me as priest, nor come near any of My holy things, nor into the Most Holy Place; but they shall bear their shame and their abominations which they have committed. 14 Nevertheless I will make them keep charge of the temple, for all its work, and for all that has to be done in it.

The "non-Zadok" priests were not destroyed or cast out for their behavior-they were allowed to remain in position and minister to the congregation. The people needed their counsel and someone to offer sacrifices with them and "someone to marry them or show their healings to." BUT, they could not come near the Lord or seek to minister to Him. Yes, they had worshipped idols, even in their apartments after offering the Lord's food for the people. In other words, God allowed priests that were disqualified to offer for the people. God's love for those priests qualified them for duty-but it was a limited duty. Is it possible such is the case today?

Applied to the modern church the question must be "where is your ministry directed?" Most of it seems to be a ministry to the masses, while few enter into worship and seek to minister to God. Remember, after the return from Babylon and the rebuilding of the Temple, it was four hundred years of hearing nothing from the Lord. Then Jesus came!

In showing the "Church to the Church," God was revealing how far the congregations had slipped from the spiritual body that He planned. It is again time for the Sons of Zadok to assert themselves and show the Church to the Church. In those days, it was entirely possible the Levites resented the Sons of Zadok, for now the masses could see the difference between those who taught the people the difference between the holy and the profane and those who did not--which must have included pointing out the wayward clergy. The Sons of Zadok also taught spiritual discernment, a trait which is sadly lacking among today's congregants.

Chapter 44 is full of contrasts, but none greater than the details about the Zadok priesthood. The Sons of Zadok's faithfulness to the true Priesthood is compared to Jesus' position as High Priest in Hebrews ("after the order of Melchizedek who was a Zadok priest, who ministered to Abraham").

Everything about the Zadok Priests was different than the ordinary Levite, down to what they ate, what clothes they wore, with whom they associated, whom they married, how they presented themselves in public and what they taught. They modeled the ideal-which is something needed today!

Ezekiel 44:15-31:
"But the priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood," says the Lord God. 16 "They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge. 17 And it shall be, whenever they enter the gates of the inner court, that they shall put on linen garments; no wool shall come upon them while they minister within the gates of the inner court or within the house. 18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads and linen trousers on their bodies; they shall not clothe themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19 When they go out to the outer court, to the outer court to the people, they shall take off their garments in which they have ministered, leave them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments; and in their holy garments they shall not sanctify the people.

20 "They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well-trimmed. 21 No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22 They shall not take as wife a widow or a divorced woman but take virgins of the descendants of the house of Israel, or widows of priests.

23 "And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 In controversy they shall stand as judges and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths.

25 "They shall not defile themselves by coming near a dead person. Only for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister may they defile themselves. 26 After he is cleansed, they shall count seven days for him. 27 And on the day that he goes to the sanctuary to minister in the sanctuary, he must offer his sin offering in the inner court," says the Lord God.

28 "It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering; every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 The best of all firstfruits of any kind, and every sacrifice of any kind from all your sacrifices, shall be the priest's; also, you shall give to the priest the first of your ground meal, to cause a blessing to rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat anything, bird or beast, that died naturally or was torn by wild beasts."

Ministry to God is different from ministry to the multitudes. To enter the holy chambers of His Presence requires holiness. Zadok Priest's garments were White Linen in His presence-clean and pure.

They only wore this attire to minister to Him, then they were to disrobe and store the garments and turbans in a holy chamber. The garments must remain undefiled

Among the people, Zadok Priests had two duties: show them the difference between the holy and the profane and conduct themselves differently. Their hair neat and trimmed, their garments different from those of official duty and their dietary habits must be different even to the excluding of wine and certain foods (v.31) when ministering. They were not to defile themselves in certain ways (v.25ff) and if they did, they had to be cleansed. They were limited in who their life companions would be (v.21). The priests remuneration was different (v29ff), for they were afforded high regard at the table. The priests inheritance was the Lord (Chapter 45 shows different provision in distribution for them and the Prince).

Their chief responsibilities were spelled out in verse twenty-three. The people were to be taught the difference between the holy and the unholy (this might include critiquing the other priests). Social issues and behavioral responsibility fell their lot. They had to teach spiritual discernment (one of the gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament). Spiritual discernment is one of the great needs of the modern church!

Secondly, Zadok Priests were to judge civil matters with God's judgements (not catering to any outside influence). This facet often called for "moral absolutes" and an unbending adherence to God's Law. These priests were instructed to keep the Law and all other requisites.

"They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths."

Eli's priestly prodigy, Hophni and Phineas, were disgusting representatives. They lay with the women of the Tabernacle. They took more than their allotted share of offerings and lost the ark of the covenant in battle and were the shame of the people. The Zadok Priests presented a model of holiness that had been lost.

Unlike the priests during the downfall of Judah to the Babylonians with their profligate life of hypocrisy (claiming innocence while openly sinning), the Zadok Priests were a contrast in purity and righteousness,

(Note: if ever there was an age and time which needed an absolute moral and spiritual value, it is now! The modern Sons of Zadok must cease being silent and begin to show the difference in ministry! They must cease to be silent and take their stand for holiness and righteousness.)

Chapter 45:

Ezekiel 45:1-6:
Moreover, when you divide the land by lot into inheritance, you shall set apart a district for the Lord, a holy section of the land; its length shall be twenty-five thousand cubits, and the width ten thousand. It shall be holy throughout its territory all around. 2 Of this there shall be a square plot for the sanctuary, five hundred by five hundred rods, with fifty cubits around it for an open space. 3 So this is the district you shall measure: twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide; in it shall be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. 4 It shall be a holy section of the land, belonging to the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the Lord; it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary. 5 An area twenty-five thousand cubits long and ten thousand wide shall belong to the Levites, the ministers of the temple; they shall have twenty chambers as a possession.

Holiness is the theme for this chapter, whether referring to the restored Temple or the spiritual one of Chapters 40-43, The territory of Israel must have holy places for holy people. The prince has his possession and the Zadok Priests have their apartments and God has a place for the sanctuary.

The whole order surrounding the Temple must be considered holy.

Ezekiel 45:6-8:
You shall appoint as the property of the city an area five thousand cubits wide and twenty-five thousand long, adjacent to the district of the holy section; it shall belong to the whole house of Israel.

7 "The prince shall have a section on one side and the other of the holy district and the city's property; and bordering on the holy district and the city's property, extending westward on the west side and eastward on the east side, the length shall be side by side with one of the tribal portions, from the west border to the east border. 8 The land shall be his possession in Israel; and My princes shall no more oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel, according to their tribes."

Instructions in this chapter are explicit and "Exact Ezekiel" doesn't miss one of them. Even the returning heads of tribes in Israel are remonstrated to "no more oppress My people (v.8-12)." The cheating ways of slick promoters is targeted (as they should be today). Just as provision is made for the leaders, place is also provided for the common folk (vs. 6,8).

Ezekiel 45:9-12:
9 'Thus says the Lord God: "Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people," says the Lord God. 10 "You shall have honest scales, an honest ephah, and an honest bath. 11 The ephah and the bath shall be of the same measure, so that the bath contains one-tenth of a homer, and the ephah one-tenth of a homer; their measure shall be according to the homer. 12 The shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your mina.

Verse 9 declared "enough." That should be the cry today! Enough, of the false and hypocritical. Enough, of the "new age" erosion into the church. Enough, of the church of the compromised. The Sons must take their stand and declare: "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered."

In the following passage, the Lord corrected the Princes of the house of Israel in how they must prepare and execute their offerings. In essence, "Stop doing what you have been doing and let the Prince teach you what is acceptable." Basically, it is removing the corruption and making holy that which should have been holy in the beginning. No new feasts are introduced or different offering than are laid out in original Scripture, but when holy hands with an upright heart prepare them, God can approve them.

These are, however, the Scriptures used by commentators to prove the Prince is not the Messiah. They reason that Jesus would never have to offer a sin offering. The Prince is simply showing the house of Israel how things should be offered. Keep in mind, Jesus satisfied in His offering all the others combined!

Ezekiel 45:13-18:
"This is the offering which you shall offer: you shall give one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of wheat, and one-sixth of an ephah from a homer of barley. 14 The ordinance concerning oil, the bath of oil, is one-tenth of a bath from a kor. A kor is a homer or ten baths, for ten baths are a homer. 15 And one lamb shall be given from a flock of two hundred, from the rich pastures of Israel. These shall be for grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them," says the Lord God. 16 "All the people of the land shall give this offering for the prince in Israel. 17 Then it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel."

The Princes (leaders of the Tribes) should oversee the whole house of Israel, for they are the elders. So, they also should monitor the priestly activities. Lapse of these duties caused the destruction of Jerusalem. The people now had been in captivity long enough to have only memories of the order of matters in the Temple-these admonishments are to set matters aright in order to "make atonement for the house of Israel."

Now, the priests are directed in these next verses, to make sure there is unity in the house.

Ezekiel 45:18-25:
'Thus says the Lord God: "In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary. 19 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the gateposts of the gate of the inner court. 20 And so you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance. Thus you shall make atonement for the temple.

21 "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 22 And on that day the prince shall prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering. 23 On the seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, daily for seven days, and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. 24 And he shall prepare a grain offering of one ephah for each bull and one ephah for each ram, together with a hin of oil for each ephah.

25 "In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall do likewise for seven days, according to the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the oil."

Blood on the doorposts, altar, gateposts reminds one of the Passover. Note the Prince's part in verses 21-25. Perhaps, these verses might lead one to a conclusion "the Prince" is not the Messiah because He would have no reason to offer a sin offering for himself. What if in His death all these items were completed? He was covered with our sins and offered Himself "for all the people of the land?"

Ezekiel 46:1-8:
Thus says the Lord God: "The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. 2 The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. 3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths and the New Moons. 4 The burnt offering that the prince offers to the Lord on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish; 5 and the grain offering shall be one ephah for a ram, and the grain offering for the lambs, as much as he wants to give, as well as a hin of oil with every ephah. 6 On the day of the New Moon it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish. 7 He shall prepare a grain offering of an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah. 8 When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of the gateway and go out the same way."

Not unlike the "Ideal Temple" of Chapters 40-43, the Prince is the "Ideal Functionary." He is not a lineal priest; He is a person of authority, but under authority; He is separate from the system, yet working through the Levitical system. Jesus was all of the above. The Prince is afforded special privileges and is allowed levity to make His own decisions (v.7). He has similarity of being a "king-priest," like Melchizedek. He operates on a larger scale than the system-much like the Sons of Zadok who are vastly different than their system peers. In the first eight verses alone, there is evidence of a master person showing how things should be done (as would occur in a model Temple) rather than making sacrifice for Himself--He sacrifices Himself. Later, when reference is made concerning inheritance, there appears a graphic picture, much like The Song of Solomon.

Ezekiel 46:9-15:
9 "But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came but shall go out through the opposite gate. 10 The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out. 11 At the festivals and the appointed feast days the grain offering shall be an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah.

12 "Now when the prince makes a voluntary burnt offering or voluntary peace offering to the Lord, the gate that faces toward the east shall then be opened for him; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he did on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he goes out the gate shall be shut.

13 "You shall daily make a burnt offering to the Lord of a lamb of the first year without blemish; you shall prepare it every morning. 14 And you shall prepare a grain offering with it every morning, a sixth of an ephah, and a third of a hin of oil to moisten the fine flour. This grain offering is a perpetual ordinance, to be made regularly to the Lord. 15 Thus they shall prepare the lamb, the grain offering, and the oil, as a regular burnt offering every morning."

Exalted preference is given to the Prince in the next passage. He is to possess premium lands and He makes decisions as to "sons and servants." The reason these two things are important is they reflect the position Jesus has today. He sits in holy, heavenly places and gives gifts to the "sons of God (yet to be revealed)" while establishing His servants with provision for their duties.

Ezekiel 46:16-18:
16 'Thus says the Lord God: "If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. 17 But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. 18 Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people's inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property."'

These distinctions are clearly explained in verse 18: "So that none of My people may be scattered from HIS property." In the Song of Solomon, the King gives His bride treasures, "both old and new," which brings joy to both the giver and the receiver---it is the same here! Time has eroded this picture from the modern church; it is time to show how endowed are the "sons and servants." Often these are NOT two groups!

Ezekiel leaves this particular venue and with the word "Now," embarks with the Spirit to a new realm of understanding.

Ezekiel 46:19-20:
19 Now he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests which face toward the north; and there a place was situated at their extreme western end. 20 And he said to me, "This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, so that they do not bring them out into the outer court to sanctify the people."

This is a place called, "There." In order to minister unto Him, special accommodations and methods are employed. Foremost is the matter of separation from others. Priests, living in Holy Chambers, are afforded a separate place for their ministry. Today, the commonality of clergy has caused a lack of understanding as to the requisites of the HOLY!

True ministry is doing what God instructs, when, where, with whom and at His time. Futility is assured when these criteria are disregarded. The Spirit of God protects and blesses when the saint regards the instructions he is given. The new order being revealed through the prophet will come to pass as the church's challenging days lie ahead.

Ezekiel 46:21-24
21 Then he brought me out into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and in fact, in every corner of the court there was another court. 22 In the four corners of the court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; all four corners were the same size. 23 There was a row of building stones all around in them, all around the four of them; and cooking hearths were made under the rows of stones all around. 24 And he said to me, "These are the kitchens where the ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people."

Revelatory sequence comes on the tiny word, "then." "Brought me" and "Caused me" are important verbs. Ezekiel's view of the outer court was expanded to see additional courts connected to each of its four corners. Building stones used to make hearths were abundant.

A work in progress is going on---ministry for and to the people is an ongoing task for those who are "ministers of the temple." Their place of service is separated from those priests who minister to God.

Could it be that this separation is now taking place?

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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