God had a special place at “the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east” that was reserved for the coming of the next reigning descendant of David. “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.” Jehovah had come in through that gate to fill the entire holy structure with His glorious presence. “Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord.”
The other sacred regulations listed by the prophet were generally in line with the Old Covenant system. Foreigners were still not allowed into God’s house. The priesthood, even more restricted than under the Law, was limited to the sons of Zadok. All of the distinctions between clean and unclean remained of critical importance to any who would be faithful to God. Holy garments, appointed feasts, and rules concerning marriage and land reinforced the truth that the message of the Almighty in that era was first for the Jews. Secondarily, their communal life and writings would prepare the whole world for the future New Covenant about which Jeremiah had written. (Jeremiah 31:31)
Ezekiel 44 had a distinct prophet, Ezekiel, a particular line of priests, the sons of Zadok, and a special king, “the prince.” The Lord Himself was different from these three prominent servants. God’s Word to His suffering children revealed an idealized Old Testament picture. Faithful exiles had something to yearn for concerning their days under the sun. Of course, they would fail in their own efforts toward holiness, just as their fathers before them. Nonetheless the revelation in these concluding chapters of Ezekiel was for the exiles of the house of Israel long before it was of any use to the Gentiles. Ezekiel’s vision provided an goal of what Jewish life with God ought to have been in their lifetime.
We who have fled to the Son of God have found a better answer to the problems of sin and death than even the most glorious vision of an old ceremonial life. Jehovah has come in person, and He is Jesus, the Son of God. He is also simultaneously our Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus has made all foods clean (Mark 7:19), and has become for us “the Guarantor of a better covenant.” (Hebrews 7:22) Not only that, He has done what no hero of the Hebrew Scriptures could ever do, conquering death for us and inaugurating a new resurrection community of faith. “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him.” (Hebrews 7:25) Even Gentiles have found a permanent and safe way into the presence of God through this one Jewish Messiah.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great Lord, You are the God of Heaven and Earth. Your Son has entered into the eternal sanctuary. We who believe in Him repent of all known sin. We want to be numbered among the Israel that is above. We receive Your Word with joy, and turn away from every foolish desire, thought, saying, action, and inclination. We draw near to You through Jesus Christ. We want to minister to You one day in Your holy sanctuary. Father, we understand that You are preparing us for that day even now. We are assured that our labor in Your Son is not in vain. Forgive us when we have made foolish choices. We have missed many opportunities to suffer for You and to serve You. We are so thankful that with You there is abundant forgiveness.