Monday, August 27, 2012

Ezekiel 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. 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. 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.”

“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. 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. 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, 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. 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. 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.”

“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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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: 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.”

“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. 18 They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird [themselves] with any thing that causeth sweat. 19 And when they go forth into the utter 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. 20 Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow long; they shall only poll their heads. 21 Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court. 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. 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. 24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; [and] they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths. 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. 26 And after he is cleansed, they shall reckon unto him seven days. 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. 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. 29 They shall eat the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; and every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 And the first of all the firstfruits 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. 31 The priests shall not eat of any thing that is dead of itself, or torn, whether it be fowl or beast.” (Ezekiel 44:1-31 AV)

Priests and *sacrifices – Ezekiel 44:1 to 46:24

Chapter 44

The East Gate – Ezekiel 44:1-3

v1 Then the man brought me back to the outer gate east of the *temple. But the gate was closed. v2 The *LORD said to me, ‘This gate must remain closed. Nobody may open it or enter by it. The *LORD, the God of *Israel, has entered by it so it must remain closed. v3 Only the prince may enter this gate. He will sit there and he will eat in front of the *LORD. The prince will enter through the hall of this gate. And he will go out the same way.’

Verses 1-3 The East Gate was a special gate. The *Lord had entered the *temple by this gate. Only the prince could go into this gate. There he could eat bread in front of the *Lord.
The prince will be the leader of the people. He will not be Christ because the prince needs to make a *sacrifice because of his own *sins (45:22). Christ does not need such a *sacrifice because he has no *sin. Unlike Christ, the prince has natural children (46:16). He will not be a priest but Christ will be the chief priest. Christ will be the king. So, this man will lead the people as Christ orders him.
The prince will be from the family of David. He will be a man who will be like David. The prince will love the *Lord as David did. And he will serve the *Lord as David did. God promised David that his family would rule his people (see 2 Samuel 7:16).

The priests who work in the *temple – Ezekiel 44:4-16

v4 Then the man brought me through the outer north gate to the front of the *temple. As I looked, I saw the *LORD’s *glory. It filled the *temple of the *LORD. And I fell down with my face to the ground.
v5 The *LORD said to me, ‘*Son of man, concentrate your mind. Look carefully. Listen well. Listen to all that I say to you. I will tell you all about the rules and regulations of the *LORD’s *temple. Look carefully at the entrance to the *temple and all the exits from the *temple area. v6 Then speak to those people who refuse to obey me. Say to the *Israelites: This is what the *LORD your King says to you. *Israelites, you must not do all those evil things that I hate. v7 You brought foreigners into my *holy place where they should not be. They have not received *circumcision in either their hearts or their bodies. They do not *worship me. You have ruined the honour of my *temple. You made *sacrifices of food, fat and blood to me. But you have not obeyed me. v8 You did not take care of my *holy things. But you gave foreigners control over my *temple. v9 This is what the *LORD your King says. Foreigners, who have not received *circumcision in their hearts and bodies, must not enter my *temple. Not even those foreigners who live among the *Israelites can enter.
v10 Some *Levites went far away from me when *Israel *turned from me. They followed their false gods. I will punish these *Levites because of their *sin. v11 These *Levites will be servants in my *holy place. They will guard the gates of the *temple. They will serve in the *temple area. They will kill the animals for the *burnt *sacrifices. They will make *sacrifices on behalf of the people. They will stand in front of the people to serve them. v12 But these *Levites helped the people to *worship their false gods. They caused the *Israelites to *sin. So, I have lifted up my hand as I made this judgement against them. I, the *LORD your King, will cause them to suffer the punishment because of their *sin. v13 They will not come near me to serve as priests. They will not come near any of my *holy things. They will not come near my most *holy *sacrifices. They will be ashamed of the things that they did. I hate those things. v14 But, I will appoint them so that they will be responsible for the duties in the *temple. They will take care of all the work that they must do in it.
v15 But some priests who are *Levites by Zadok their *ancestor were loyal to me. These *Levites did their duty to me in my *temple when the *Israelites *turned away from me. They will come near to serve me. They will stand in front of me to offer the fat and blood of the animals. They will make the *sacrifices to me, says the *LORD your King. v16 They are the only ones who may enter my *holy place. Only they may come near my table to serve me. They will take care of the things that I give to them to do.’

Verses 4-5 The *Lord’s *glory filled the *temple. The effect on Ezekiel was very powerful. The *glory was so great that it caused him to fall down with his face to the ground. Then the *Lord spoke to him. Ezekiel would see and hear the rules for the new *temple. God would tell to Ezekiel the rules for the priests. Ezekiel must tell these rules to the people.
Verses 6-9 Foreigners and strangers could bring their gifts to the *Lord. But they could not act as priests in the *temple. Neither could they be servants in the *temple. The priests and *temple servants had to be from the family of Levi.
In the old *temple, foreigners did come in. The priests of *Israel let them come in. The priests even let foreigners serve in the *temple. This was against the law that God gave to Moses. In the end, the *Israelites were even *worshipping foreign gods in the *temple (Ezekiel chapter 8). Such things must never happen in the *temple that Ezekiel saw.
God told Abraham to *circumcise all the males in his family. Afterwards, *circumcision was the sign of the special promise that God had made to *Israel. Every boy had to receive *circumcision when he was 8 days old. No male could be an *Israelite without *circumcision. All the foreigners who joined *Israel had to receive *circumcision. In this act, they had to obey God. But this is only a physical sign. It is even more important to obey God from the heart. Ezekiel calls this the *circumcision of the heart. Those who would enter the *temple to *worship God must receive *circumcision of heart and body. Christians do not need *circumcision in the body. But they must have the heart attitude that obeys God.
Verses 10-14 As a group, the *Levites had *turned away from God. They had served false gods. In this, they led the *Israelites to *sin. So, the *Lord will punish them. And they will be ashamed of what they did. In future, the families of these *Levites will not be priests. They will not serve at the *altar. They will not go into the *holy place.
The *Levites will guard the *temple gates. There will be strict rules about the people who may come into the *temple. And the *Levites will make sure that the people obey those rules.
The *Levites will be the servants in the *temple. They will be responsible for all the work in the *temple. Also, the *Levites will kill the animals that the people bring to them for *sacrifices.
Verses 15-16 When all the *Israelites *turned from God, some priests remained loyal to God. The *ancestor of these priests was Zadok. Zadok was a priest at the time of David. He remained loyal to David when David’s sons, Absalom and Adonijah, tried to oppose their father (2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Samuel 15:24-29; 1 Kings 1:8). David’s son Solomon appointed Zadok to be the chief priest (1 Kings 2:35).
Because they were loyal, the *Lord will reward the Zadok priests in the new *temple. Only they will be able to serve the *Lord in the *holy place. They will make the *sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. The *Lord will not allow other people to come into the *holy place.

Rules for the priests from Zadok’s family – Ezekiel 44:17-31

v17 ‘When the priests enter the gates of the inner area, they must wear special clothes. The material of the clothes must be the material called linen. They must not wear any wool. So, they may serve me at the gates of the inner area, or inside the *temple. v18 They must wear special hats on their heads. These hats must also be of the material called linen. And the clothes that they wear round their bodies must also be linen. They must not wear anything that will make them damp. v19 When they go out from the inner area, they must remove the special clothes. They must leave these clothes in the *holy rooms and they must put on other clothes. Then they may go out to the people in the outer area. Their special clothes are *holy, and the people must not touch those clothes.
v20 The priests must not shave their heads or let their hair grow long. They must only cut their hair to keep it at a proper length. v21 None of the priests may drink wine when he enters the inner area. v22 The priests must not marry widows. And the priests must not marry women who have received a divorce from their husbands. Priests may marry only women who have not had sex. And these women must be from the *Israelites. But they may marry the widow of a priest. v23 They must teach my people the difference between *holy things, and things that are not *holy. They must help my people to know what is not *clean. And they must show them what is *clean.
v24 When there are legal arguments, the priests shall be the judges. They must decide these arguments by the rules that I have taught. They must obey my laws and my rules for all my special meals. They must keep my *Sabbath days *holy.
v25 Priests must not go near a dead person. If they do, they will not be *clean. If the dead person belonged to the priest’s close family, the priest may go near. The priest may do this for his father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or for his unmarried sister. The priest will not be *clean but he may do this. v26 After a priest has become *clean again, he must wait for 7 days. v27 Then he may go into the inner area to serve in the *temple. But he must make a *sacrifice because of his *sin’, says the *LORD your King.
v28 ‘The priests will have no land to own in *Israel. They will have me instead of property. I will be their possession. v29 They will eat the grain, *sin and blame *sacrifices. Everything that *Israel gives to me, the *LORD, will be theirs. v30 The best fruits of all the first harvests will belong to the priests. And all the special gifts that you give to me will belong to the priests. You will also give to the priests the first part of the flour from your mill. If you do this, God will show his kindness to your family. v31 The priests must not eat any bird or animal that they find dead already. They must not eat anything that wild animals have killed.’
Verses 17-19 God is *holy. Before the priests approach God in the inner area, they must put on special clothes. The material of these clothes must not make the priests hot. They could not be of wool because it would cause them to sweat. (That is, to be damp from the warmth.) So, the material must be linen. Linen is a good quality cloth.
As soon as the priests go out from the inner area, they must change their clothes. These clothes are *holy. The priests must wear them in the inner area only. They must take off these clothes in special *holy rooms (42:13-14). Then other people cannot touch these clothes by accident. People who are not priests must not even touch these clothes.
Verses 20-22 There are several extra rules for the Zadok priests (that is, the priests from Zadok’s family). They must not shave their heads. The priests of false gods often shaved their heads. They gave their hair as a gift to the gods. This may be one of the reasons for this rule.
They must not have long hair. Long hair could mean that a person was sad at the death of someone. The Zadok priests will not be sad. They will serve the *Lord with joy.
These rules about hair are to show that the Zadok priests are *holy to the *Lord.
When the Zadok priest serves in the *temple, he must have complete control of himself. Therefore, while he is on duty he must not drink wine.
He can marry. But his bride must be a woman who has not had sex with a man. But he can marry the widow of another priest. He must not marry any other widow. He must not marry a woman who has left her husband.
These rules are like the rules for the chief priest in the old *temple. But here the rules apply to all the priests from Zadok’s family. This passage does not mention a chief priest because the *Messiah will be the chief priest.
Verses 23-24 These rules show what it means to be *holy. The priests must teach the people to be *holy. They themselves must be *holy. And by their own lives, they must show the people how to live. They must help people to know what is right.
The priests will be the experts in God’s laws. They will be the judges of any problems among the people. They will decide what is right. The *Lord will teach them his laws. And they must use those laws when they make decisions.
They must obey God’s laws themselves. They must obey all the rules about special meals. And they must obey the rules for the *Sabbaths.
Verses 25-27 A priest should not go near to a dead person. He could not go into the *temple’s inner area if he had been near a dead person. He would not be *clean. He could not serve the *Lord as a priest.
He could go near if the dead person belonged to his family. Family here means his parents, his children, his brothers and his sisters. But if his sister is married, she is not part of his family. He must not go near to her body when she dies.
If he did go near a dead relative, he would not be *clean. So, he must get himself *clean. (There are rules about this in Numbers 19:11-13.) When he is *clean again, he must wait 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, he must make a *sacrifice. To go near a dead person is like *sin because by it the priest is not *clean. After he is *clean then he may serve the *Lord in the inner area.
Verses 28-31 The priests will own no property in *Israel. They will depend on the *Lord for all that they need. Their food will come from the *sacrifices that the people give to the *Lord. But they must not eat the meat from birds or animals that they find dead already. And they must not eat anything that wild animals have killed. All that the people give to the *Lord will belong to the priests.
The people must give to the *Lord the first part of their harvests. That part under the old rules would be a 10th of the harvest. Then the *Lord will show his kindness to their families.