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 Yahweh unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because Yahweh, the Elohim of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.
...he must have been speaking of the outermost gate on the eastern side. This gate has its porch "inward" or projecting into the outer court, of necessity then anyone approaching the gate from the inside of the house would pass through the porch on entering. The Prince, therefore, sits in the innermost recess of the temple (speaking as from the centre of the house) on the eastern side on those occasions when this service of bread is eaten.
He does not appear to stand in the same position when His sacrifice is offered, but in the porch of the inner gate, or about one hundred and fifty cubits further from the outside wall in the direction of the centre.
This eating of bread by the Prince may not be of the ordinary kind. There may be an antitypical fulfilment of the eating which took place in the wilderness. Man did then partake of "angels' food" (Ps. 78:27). And since
"the people of the land worship at the door of this gate,"
i.e., they assemble in the inner court in front of the openings which lead into the outer court on the eastern side, at such times as the Prince worships inside, it appears reasonable to think this "eating of bread" is extended to them also (chap. 46:2, 3).
If there is such a feeding of the multitude on state occasions (and what is more likely, since the thing was done on an extensive scale, not once, nor twice by Christ), is it not as reasonable to suppose that the Master of the feast (Christ) will furnish bread or manna?
But no reason exists why the food should not be prepared by the "ministers of the house" in the ordinary way. Angelic beings have eaten of food cooked by man (Gen. 18:1–8; 27). The bread used, therefore, might, or might not, be wholly of divine production; but, in any case, the eating will take place in due course as Ezekiel foretells.
It must also be remembered that there are many gates on the eastern side, and were it a case of one man sitting on one seat there could only be one man there. Yet all these gates are to be occupied by "the Prince." As before pointed out, there is a multitudinous Prince as well as an individual Prince. The Prince and "His sons" can very well fill all the gates on the eastern side. Concerning the saints it is written,
"It is a faithful saying: if we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2:12).
"I appoint unto you a kingdom as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;"
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne" (Luke 22:29–30; Rev. 3:21).
Those included in this prophecy not only fill "the gate," but they can also occupy the whole of the buildings of the outer court on the eastern side in its length, breadth, and height; and even if they number in the aggregate "ten times ten thousand," the space would not be too strait for them, for it cannot be supposed that all the rulers of the earth would assemble at Jerusalem every Sabbath.
A great number would be there doubtless, but not all. They "ascend and descend" upon the Son of Man, as seen in vision by Jacob (Gen. 28:12). Nathanael being among them (John 1:51), a continual going up to Jerusalem and returning, so that they may walk to and fro in the earth, and as "Sons of God," note the evil and the good.
Those in the "Holy City," at the time appointed, would be ready to enter into this service, which is more likely to be a memorial service of bread and wine than otherwise. Concerning that ordinance Jesus said,
"This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins, but I say unto you, I will not henceforth drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:27–29);
"With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:15–16).
Now, if the eating is to be done unto the Deity, and to the honour and glory of His great name, of necessity a place for this service must be provided in such a manner as to be easily known and seen by the people. The eastern outer court is just such a place, and concerning it we read "it is for the Prince," in order that He may "eat before the Lord."
The Christadelphian, Oct 1888
3 It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before Yahweh; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.
...the most interesting and significant part of the subject. The Prince is unquestionably Christ. Sound brethren have had no doubt on this from the beginning. It is obvious beyond question to all who understand the Truth. Bro. Thomas so applies it in Elpis Israel as a self-evident fact (p. 297, 1910 edition).
First of all, if the Prince isn't Christ, then Christ-who is the heart and center of the whole picture-doesn't appear at all. This is impossible. Secondly, of itself, and even more so in the light of other Scriptures, an individual introduced into the center of the Temple picture without any explanation, as "THE Prince," cannot be other than Jesus.
Modern usage of the term "prince" may take some of the force away. Scripturally used, "prince" meant the Supreme Ruler, the Principal, the Head, the Chief-of whatever was being considered. It was not a secondary title, as it is today.
Christ is "Messiah the Prince" (Dan. 9:25). He is "Prince of the kings of the earth" (Rv.1:5)-the superior of all kings. He is "Michael the great Prince" who stands up to deliver Israel at the Last Day (Dan. 12:1). He it is whom God hath exalted to His right hand-the place of highest majesty-to be a "Prince and a Saviour" (Acts 5:31).
And thirdly, the very first mention of the Prince in Ezekiel's Temple chapters is in itself conclusive (44:2-3)-
''The East gate shall be shut ... no man shall enter by it, because Yahweh Elohim of Israel hath entered by it ... It is for the Prince.''
For 'hath entered,' Rotherham has 'doth enter,' which is both more accurate and more significant. The East gate is that by which Yahweh Elohim doth enter, it is for the Prince, no man shall use it.
The fact, too, that the East Portion of the Temple is associated with the Prince, both here and later, and not with the people generally, is another proof he is Christ, the High Priest. (His brethren, of course, are included with him in all).
The Mosaic Tabernacle and the Temples all faced east. East was the front, the side of honour and preeminence.
Here originally dwelt Moses the great Mediator, and Aaron the first High Priest. Here, in Tabernacle and Temple, was the main entrance-the only entrance-into God's House. East is Sun's Rising.
On every sabbath and new moon, the worship is centered around the Prince, who leads it (46:1-7). Likewise he leads the worship on the great yearly festivals of Passover and Tabernacles (45:21-25). Mosaically, this was the work of the High Priest, and none else. There can be no High Priest but Christ.
The Prince possesses the central royal portion of the land, the site of the Throne of David. The Holy Oblation and the Temple are IN his Portion. His portion is the same as God's: Judah,
"His portion in the Holy Land" (Zec. 2:12).
The highest priesthood in this Temple, the heart-center of the rulership of the Kingdom, must be immortal (1 Cor. 15:50). Where are they in all this service, if they be not the Prince and the Sons of Zadok?
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.18.
There is no difficulty in Christ as Yahweh eating before Yahweh. He is both the manifestation of God, and the Son of God. Before men, he bears the Name of God: before God, he is the ever submissive Son. Similarly, the Christ-Priest offered the Christ-Sacrifice on the Christ-Altar. There is no difficulty in his simultaneous fulfillment of many different types and shadows, for all converge in him.
He certainly does not eat bread in the East Court alone. Apart from the fact that he does nothing alone, we have his specific promise that he would partake of the Memorials anew with his brethren in his Kingdom (Mt. 26:29), and that the faithful should eat bread there.
In this first reference to the Prince in the Temple, we have the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Memorials terminate with this joyful reunion, for their purpose is to keep in memory ''until he come," but the Marriage Supper is but the beginning of an endless companionship of never-diminishing bliss.
Bro Growcott - BYT 4.18.
Probably the most interesting thing said about "The Prince" is that the east gate of the inner court is set apart for Him in order that He may "sit in it to eat bread before Yahweh" (chap. 44:3). This is the first intimation in the prophecy that the future ruler over men will publicly and openly accord honour and supremacy to the Father. It is "on the Sabbath, and in the day of the new moon" when this is done. Likewise
"the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before Yahweh in the Sabbaths and in the new moons" (chap. 46:1–3).
The fitness of things requires some such arrangement. If the prince, king, or ruler of the earth did not himself honour or worship Deity himself the people would inevitably fall to worshipping the prince. This would lead to idolatry and popery. For the honour first bestowed upon Christ and his brethren would be quickly transferred to some Absalom or Jehu.
It must not be supposed that the divine and superhuman attributes of Christ and his brethren will be for ever displayed before the children of men throughout the millennial age. The apostle John shows that
"when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about and the beloved city" (Rev. 20:7–9).
Such a heading up in rebellion against Divine authority and power could never take place if the true relationship of "The Prince" to the Deity were known throughout his reign. During the millennial age He and His pass in and out of the Temple, appearing like ordinary mortals, just as the angels have often done. Concerning the appearance of the Prince in the midst of the people who enter the Temple it is written:
"And the Prince in the midst of them, when they go in, shall go in; and when they go forth shall go forth" (chap. 46:10).
In fact, the whole service of the Temple appears to be carefully contrived, so as to hide to a considerable extent the Divine character of those immortal rulers whom Christ will make "kings and princes in the earth." The mighty acts and wondrous events which will usher in the kingdom may not have any counterpart during the actual reign of the Beloved One. Then, as now, it will be impossible without faith to please God. And after a sufficient demonstration of supreme power before the eyes of the children of men a period of waiting comes wherein no special miracle is performed.
Such a conclusion seems the more reasonable when we remember that the length of human life will in that day be much extended.
"For the child shall die an hundred years old, as the days of a tree are the days of my people" (Isa. 65:20–22).
Those who saw the kingdom in the beginning, therefore, will remember the wonder of its initiation. The father to the children will make known the truth of the matter. Assuming that human life will attain the period allotted to some of the early descendants of Adam, we my reasonably expect that some who are alive at the beginning of the thousand years will be alive at the end; that such will hear from their fathers all that could be told of the conquest of the nations prior to the establishment of the rule of Christ.
They would hear of the resurrection of the dead if they did not actually know it by ocular demonstration. They would see the record of those who lived in a prior age, and would have infallible proof of the divine character of the work just accomplished. But, like those who fell in the wilderness, they would in time forget the works of the Most High (Ps. 78:10–12) and would become disobedient to His commandments.
Their children, who never saw any form of government but this, and seeing the rulers go in and out amongst them, looking like ordinary men, would inevitably come to regard them as "like unto themselves," and would be very ready to say, "Ye take too much upon you; are not all the people holy as well as you?" Hence the uprise of the great rebellion, which will bring with it the second resurrection and the total destruction of sinful flesh foretold in the Apocalypse.
Bro Henry Sulley
The Christadelphian, Oct 1888
5 And Yahweh 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 Yahweh, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.
1. Ezekiel is styled " Son of man."
2. Deep and sincere concentration of mind is essential for the comprehension of the vision.
3. Such comprehension can only come by carefully collating every fact stated, even to the minutest detail, and that such a conspectus must include every "law" every " ordinance" every "coming in," and every "going forth" of the sanctuary.
4. All Ezekiel saw and heard he was to make known to the house of Israel.
Ezekiel will be there, and take a prominent part in the organisation of the Temple worship.
He thus stands forth as a representative of the resurrected class, and therefore is a man of sign to the Spiritual House of Israel, as he was to the natural descendants of Abraham. From
this, it would follow that the injunction given to Ezekiel is also intended for every prospective constituent of the spiritual house, of which he forms a part.
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.
It is clear ... that the racial descendants of Zadok cannot all have remained faithful. The sons of Zadok, therefore, must be sons of Zadok on another principle, and immortal. But there is a sense in which the Levites as a race under the law went astray.
...Now if the Levites were spoken of in an undivided sense, and were in that relation to bear their iniquity, what would be the result?-Death surely. In view of this and what we read in verse 11, we must conclude that the prophecy relates to the natural descendants of the Levites as a class, who thus bear the condemnation of their fathers.
... the way in which Phineas appears to be related to "an everlasting priesthood" by covenant is indicated in Psalm 106:30-31.
"Then stood up Phineas, and executed judgment, and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted unto him for righteousness, unto all generations for evermore."
This involves his resurrection from the dead, and a participation in the priesthood of Christ the "Just One."
Questions answered by Bro Henry Sulley
The Christadelphian, June 1888
PRIESTLY SERVICES DEFINED
It is a service not of spiritual sacrifices, but of bloody sacrifices of spiritual significance. The lower order of the prieshood, mortal Levites, slay them for the people, and pass the fat and blood from the tables at the north gate to the Altar where they are burned and sprinkled by the higher or immortal priests "the seed of Zadok," before the Lord.
The past sins of the nation having been amnestied at the delivering of the Covenant, there is henceforth no more remembrance of sins once a year. The old Mosaic annual atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month, at which the tribes were to "afflict their souls," is not revived under the New Covenant. It will form no part of the service then. It was one of those things made, or appointed, that was removed when the Lord shook the Mosaic heaven by the Roman power.
There will be no laver of water between the Temple and Altar for the seed of Zadok to wash themselves before they enter the temple. These washings and carnal ordinances are also abolished; for those who approach the altar and enter in are like their Prince, holy and undefiled, being devoid of evil in the flesh.
"Faith in the Last Days,"
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 Adonai Yahweh
THE SERVICE of The temple
to be performed within its courts and walls by the "priests to God" and to the people. These, as we have shown, are immortal and mortal men, the sons of Zadok and the sons of Aaron. So long as sin and death are in the world, the Melchisedec service of the Messiah-erected temple will continue; and the sons of Zadok, the Prince, or Just One, members of his immortal flesh and bones, will also with him be sacerdotally regarded as identified with the sins and trespasses of the people.
Therefore it is, that the priesthood under the New Covenant of the kingdom is not purely immortal, but of a mixed character. A priesthood composed entirely of resurrection men, of angelic or spiritual nature, in whose flesh there was no sin or evil principle, would not be in harmony with the institution, and therefore unfit to perform a service for the purification of the erring and the ignorant; for priesthood must be sympathetically related to the ignorant who worship through it, having infirmity in itself, that it may offer for itself as well as for the people.
The infirmity of the New Covenant priesthood of the kingdom resides not in Zadok and his sons, but in the priests, the Levites, who minister to the people, and perform the humbler duties of the order. Nevertheless, the Just One and his sons are represented in the service as offering their burnt offerings, and peace offerings; not for themselves as individuals and sinners, but only in their priestly capacity as part of a priesthood of mixed character, which partakes of Christ's mortal flesh, as well as his immortal nature, in reckoning the mortal descendants of Levi and Aaron among its constituents.
It would be discordant with the fitness of things that the priesthood should be wholly mortal, or entirely constituted of immortals, seeing that the kingdom itself is a mixed institution the subjects thereof being Israelites in flesh and blood; and its higher order of kings or rulers, incorruptible men. The Twelve Tribes will then be obedient, and keep the covenant of Yahweh, and be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This is said of Israel in flesh and blood subsisting. They will be the secondary kings and priests over the nations; the intermediate order between these and Zadok and his sons, the kings and priests to God over them and all the earth.
The kingdom and priesthood under the Mosaic law was of an unmixed character, the members of its civil and ecclesiastical orders being all of them subject to death. Not so, however, with the kingdom and its orders in the Age to Come. Its subjects and inheritors are an intermingling of flesh and spirit, until the kingdom shall be surrendered to the Father at "The End;" when the people, and all their superiors worthy of exaltation, shall be all spirits, or incorruptible men; and priesthood and priestly service, but not the royalty, will be done away.
Israel and the nations subjected to them will bring of the flocks and herds of Kedar, and of the rams of Nebaioth, and present them for sin offerings, and burnt offerings, and thank offerings at the north gate of the inner court of the temple; and present them to the Levites of Aaron's seed. These, who are not permitted to approach the altar, nor to minister before the Lord in the temple, will have the "charge at the gates of the house, and minister to the house" "for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein."
They will therefore take charge of the people's gifts; and "they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them." They will slay the sacrifices, namely, "the burnt offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offerings," upon the eight tables of hewn stone in the porch of the north gate, and at the right and left side of the north entrance without. They will then wash them in the place appointed at this gate; and divide a portion to the people, and reserve that devoted to the Lord.
The people's part of the sacrifices they will boil in the corner courts of the paved outer court of the sanctuary; but "the most holy things," or parts of the sacrifices and offerings dedicated to the Lord, of the meat offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering, will be boiled and baked in "the holy chambers of the priests" on the two sides west of the inner court, and eaten there by the sons of Zadok, "the priests that approach unto the Lord." After this arrangement will
"all they that sacrifice come and take of the pots of the Lord's house, and seethe therein"-Zechariah 14: 21.
While the Levites are slaying the sacrifices and passing to and fro in the inner court, they are to wear linen garments that perspiration may not be produced. But they are not to go forth into the outer court with these upon them; but to put them off "and lay them in the holy chambers, and put on other garments:" and the reason given is, that "they shall not sanctify the people in their garments."
It will be their duty after washing the sacrifices, to transfer the fat and the blood to the sons of Zadok, who on the Eighth Day, which is our First Day of the week, and the Sabbath of the Age to Come, instead of the Seventh, as under Moses' law-on the Eighth, shall they burn the fat upon the altar, and sprinkle the blood upon it.
This is the duty of Zadok's seed. They are privileged to approach the altar and to enter into the temple, and stand before the Lord; but not the Levites, the people's priests. They are ministers of death to the sacrifices before the people; but the sons of Zadok, everliving ministers, salvation-clothed, before the Lord. The former slay the unblemished yearling lamb for the daily morning offering by fire, the voluntary offerings of the Prince, and the things devoted of the people; while the latter cause their rich odour to ascend in clouds from Hah ariail haharail, the Altar, or Lion of the Mountain of God.
The Herald of the Kingdom and Coming Age, Sept 1851
Sacrifice and offering in the Millennial Age
They will be "pure" and "pleasant" offerings to Yahweh; because they will be perfect offerings, and offered in righteousness by a purified priesthood. They will be perfect, because they will be perfected by the sacrifice of Him whose expiatory death they represent.
They will be pure offerings and pleasant, because the offerers will present them with enlightened faith and purified hearts.
...Such however, was not the case in the Mosaic Age. The offerings were neither perfect, pure, nor pleasant to Yahweh. They were imperfect, not having been perfected by the expiation they typified; but keeping up a remembrance of unpardoned offences every year.
This will not be the case with the perfect offerings of the Age to Come. These will not be remembrances of transgressions unforgiven; but memorials of pardon through the sacrifice of Messiah the Prince.
There is no day of annual atonement in the future age. Israel's offences are blotted out once for all as a thick cloud when the New Covenant is made with them on their re-settlement in
the Holy Land when that age begins; a forgiveness of national offences which lasts for ever, as it is written,
"I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more."
- "Faith in the Last Days."
Who then are these sons of Zadok upon whom is bestowed so great a privilege and to whom is assigned such a high vocation ? They cannot be literal descendants of the man Zadok who ministered before David and Solomon. Their description in Chapter XLIV., verse 15, precludes this idea. The Sons of Zadok are said to have
" kept the charge of Yahweh's sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray."
Now Israel went astray not only in the lifetime of Zadok, but frequently after the time in which he lived ; therefore the description could not apply to his lineal descendants. If it were contended that the text referred to literal sons of Zadok, it would be necessary to show that all his descendants were faithful, and that such a race now exists, and will continue for all time.
Since this is not so, it must be admitted that none of the merely natural descendants of the Levitical priesthood are worthy of the description of Ezekiel.
Further, since the gift of immortality is predicated upon righteousness, and since the word Zadok means just, we may presume that the term " Sons of Zadok " is a representative name indicative of immortal Sons of a Just One serving as priests in the Temple with the Levites.
But who of all the Adamic race is entitled to the title "The Just One" and where are to be found those who are worthy to be called his sons ?
In the days of His flesh Jesus said, " Which of you convicteth me of sin ? " (John 8. 46, R.V.). The challenge was unanswerable, and the righteousness of Him who put the question was subsequently declared by the apostle to the Gentiles, who speaks of Him thus :
Jesus Christ, born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the son of God with Power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (Rom. 1. 1-4.)
Without question God would not have raised Jesus from the dead apart from His righteous character, respecting which it is written that He was " holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners" (Heb. 7. 26.)
Again, as the offspring of David (Rev. 22. 16) he is prophetically referred to in Isaiah as righteous ; thus ;
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit, . . . with righteousness shall He judge the poor, . . . and righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Chap. xi. 1-5.)
In view of these evidences is it not manifest that the resurrected immortal Son of Mary is the JUST ONE ? (See also Isa. ix. 6-7 ; Luke 1. 31-35.)
Then as to " SONS of the Just One" we read concerning Jesus:
Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity ; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with'the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Heb. 1. 9.)
The expression " anointed with the oil of gladness above thy fellows " indicates that there are others who are fellows with Him. These " fellows " must be physically and morally like their Chief and Head. They are referred to by the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Hebrews when defining the mission of the Son of God, who became triumphant over sin, and who is able also to bestow eternal life upon his fellows, thus:
For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one : for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the
midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold, I and the children which God hath given me. (Heb. 11. 10-13.)
The Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy 5.2.3.
16 They [THE SONS OF ZADOK] shall enter into my sanctuary [THE MOST HOLY], and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.
The mortal priests "they shall not come near unto me" 41: 22. This privilege is for the sons of Zakok
THE CHAMBERS OF THE SINGERS
The buildings forming the inner circle in the inner court are said to be the cellae of the "singers." (Chap. XL. 44.)
This designation is significant and of deep interest. The term indicates a renewal of a similar service of song which formed such an important feature in the Tabernacle and Temple of old. (1st Chron. xxv.)
Service of song may be one of the methods by which the people will be taught the judgments of the Lord. What can be more impressive than an innumerable company of
messengers chanting divine precepts, or hymning words of praise ? Presumably the angels sang at the birth of Jesus (Luke 11.13,14) in anticipation of
" glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men "
—a prophecy which yet awaits fulfilment, when the rule of David's son is established for all the earth. (Isa. ix. 6-7; Psalm 11. 6-8.) What paeans of praise will ascend from the buildings in the inner court which then become an everlasting monumental memorial of angelic song and are therefore called the " chambers," cellae, of the SINGERS ! (Psa. XXVII. 4-6; CXLIX. 5-6.)
But there are other uses for the chambers of the singers. Thus we read :
This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge oj the house. And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the
priests, the keepers oj the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok, which from among the sons of Levi come near to the Lord to minister unto Him. (Chap. XL. 45-46, R.V.)
We have seen that certain Levites when clothed with suitable garments
" minister in the inner court gates and within" (Chap. XLIV. 17.)
Ministration within must mean ministration in the cella buildings in the inner court (see M.M.—N.N., Plate II.), not within the buildings flanking the inner court, because those buildings are entered from the outer court, whereas the " chambers " of the singers are in the inner court.
From these verses we learn that two sets and two orders of priests serve in these buildings—one section of the circular range, having its prospect southward, is said to be for " the use of the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house " (Chapter XL. verse 45), and the other section for " the use of the priests the keepers of the charge of the altar " (Chap. XL. 45-46), i.e., one set of mortal and immortal priests are provided for each section.
Respecting the subordinate priests who " keep the charge of the altar," we have seen that they slay the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people, and stand before them to minister (Chap. XLIV. 10,11), but they are excluded from the higher functions of the priesthood. Thus we read concerning the restored tribe of Levi [v12,13]:
But the sons of Zadok, [v15,16]
i.e., exercise supreme judgment in the house.
The duties of the restored tribe of Levi, therefore, end with the preparation of the meal offerings and sacrifices, separating such portions as are to be offered on the altar from those which are to be eaten. They are not permitted to offer the fat and the blood nor to minister at " the table of the Lord," a privilege appertaining only to the " sons of Zadok."
Nevertheless they have important duties to perform in addition to the menial work of the
sanctuary. These subordinate priests not only have control of the gates (verse 11), but have the oversight of the Temple. Thus we read :
Yet will I make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. (Verse 14.)
They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane; and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Verse 23.)
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. (Verse 24.)
The Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy - 5.2.3.
These verses seem to imply that the sacrificial elements are presented at the table before the sons of Zadok, and are offered upon the altar in the Most Holy under their direction.
The declared purpose of Deity dividing the Levitical order of priests, in the Temple service, into two classes is more than interesting. In consequence of the pollution of the priestly office during the ministration of Eli he was told that the iniquity of his house, i.e., of the house of Aaron (1st Sam. 11. 27, 28),
" should not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever,"
and yet the purpose of Deity should not fail. Hence we read :
I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind ; and I will build him a sure house ; and he shall walk bejore mine anointed for ever. (1st Sam. 11. 35.)
For this reason we find impositions upon the restored tribe of Levi, and the appointment of a higher order of priests foretold in Ezekiel.
Just as the promise of a son to David (2nd Sam. 7. 12-16) involved the coming of an immortal king, so the promise of a priest who should walk before God's Anointed for ever implies that the faithful priest referred to will be an immortal priest.
This faithful priest is referred to in the 15th and 16th verses of Ezekiel XLIV. which have been a puzzle to many because, at first sight, the regulations following appear to relate to the higher order of priests therein mentioned. These verses really are a parenthesis, inserted in order to show, the limitations of the Levitical order of priests. This should be clearly understood.
There are many passages of Scripture in which similar parenthetical statements occur; these must always be discerningly divided from the context if they are to be correctly interpreted. One of the most obvious is that of the vows of a widow referred to parenthetically in the definitions of the limitation of the vows of a wife (see Numbers xxx. verse 9).
Now the sons of Zadok mentioned in verse 15 must be an immortal race, because they are said to be those
" who kept the charge of Yahweh's sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray."
Select whatever period we may, those who " kept the charge " are now dead. The sons of Zadok must, therefore, be raised from the dead before they can minister in the presence of Deity at the restoration.
If raised from the dead, and accounted worthy to attain unto that age, they are immortal and consequently " equal unto the angels and cannot die any more, being children of the resurrection". Neither do they marry nor are given in marriage (Luke xx. 35,36). In view of this, the 22nd and following verses and some other portions of the chapter must refer to the mortal Levites, not to the Sons of Zadok.
The Temple of Ezekiel's prophecy - 5.2.3.
THE SUBORDINATE PRIESTHOOD
17 And it shall come to pass, that when they [THE MORTAL LEVITES] 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.
TWO CLASSES OF PRIESTS
It may be asked, Why should there be such a combination of the human with the divine ?
There must be a reason ; probably it is because, to a certain extent, the Father intends to veil His hand. This has been done in His past dealing with the children of men ; as, for instance, when the angel and Moses conjointly led the children of Israel out of Egypt (Exod. 3,14,17) ; or, when there was divine co-operation with Joshua (Chap. V. 14, 15).
This higher and divine control through and by human agency is observed in the administration of Israelitish affairs in the time of the Judges (Judges 2.1 ; 13), while in another aspect it is seen in the attendance of angels on the ministrations of Jesus (Luke 11.
8-17) ; xxii. 43).
Probably the organization of the Kingdom of God will not differ in this respect from precedent, and when the Judges of Israel
" are restored as at first, and their counsellors as at the beginning" (Isa. 1. 26)
this feature will be an element of that restoration.
The Temple of Ezekiel's Prophecy 5.2.3.
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.
...since the Levites must not wear garments causing " sweat" they must be mortal men, an inference clearly indicated also by the following verses...These ministers of the house, therefore, are mortal descendants of the house of Levi, who are restored to the land of their fathers with the rest of the Israelitish nation.
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.
This regulation respecting change of garments in the ministrations of priests (Chap, XLII.) and of the Levites (Chap, XLIV.) indicates that the " chambers " flanking the outer court are the " chambers " referred to. These are conveniently placed for the use of the Levites who are the " priests " referred to and who serve in the manner described in the prophecy.
Bro Henry Sulley
When the children of Israel went astray from the commandments of the Deity, the Levites, who, as leaders of the people, ought to have done otherwise, not only went astray with them, but were largely the cause of the declension that took place. As, for instance, when the Levite for gain connived at the theft of Micah's graven image, and established a centre of separate worship in Dan. (Judges 17, 18.)
The priests gave a bad example which the people followed. Hence, " like priest, like people" has become a proverb. For a lasting reproof of this their wickedness, as a standing witness to this frailty of human nature, and as a warning to future would-be leaders of the people, it is the purpose of Deity to place this tribe in a position of menial service before the nation whom they led astray.
How great is their lost privilege! In their former state, under God they were the head of the nation, the medium through whom the oracle spake, the divinely-appointed supreme authority in the land. In the future they will occupy a subordinate position. They are to perform the menial service of the sanctuary. One of their chief duties will be to slay the sacrifices.
Obviously it would be unfitting for the Levites, after slaying beasts or performing other menial acts, to go to the inner Temple and serve there in the same garments ; or, on the other hand, that they should come out from their service in the inner house, clad in the holy garments of fine linen, to enter upon work which would soil and defile.
They are therefore required to change their attire in the buildings flanking the inner court, either when they have finished their course of service in the outer court, or when it is entered upon.
The A.V. somewhat obscures this feature when speaking of " sanctification " by using the word " with " instead of in which is the more literal rendering of the original. The priests sanctify the people in the garments— not " with " them. The idea of sanctifying the
people " with" the priestly vestures probably seemed likely enough to translators acquainted with the arts of Gentile priestcraft, whose votaries, with grovelling superstition, worship bits of stick, stone, embroidery, or bone.
The garments of the priests mentioned in Ezekiel will not be used for sanctification of this sort; the priests " sanctify " the people by preparing their sacrifices for them, as Job did for his household every morning. (Job i. 5·)
The form of these clean linen garments will be a sign of some higher function which the Levites are to perform Within the inner court, and, like the garments of Aaron in Israel, they will be for " glory and beauty " (Exod.XXVIII. 2) ; but their glory will not indicate tribal dignity, but simply a change of function in harmony with the purpose defined in Ezek. XLIV. 17-19. To touch these garments will not give " sanctity " ; sanctification must be obtained by separation from sinfulness, and by offering sacrifices.
The object to be served by setting apart these buildings which stand between the inner and outer courts for the use of the Levites appears to be that the Levites may not eat with the people who assemble in the Temple, and that they may have a place where they can deposit and eat the most holy things.
The extent of the buildings reserved for the Levites is very remarkable. If four hundred and forty-four dining halls are provided for the servants who wait upon the guests, how vast must be the multitude who sit down to feast in other parts of the Temple !
Bro Henry Sulley
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 Ezekiel Law of Marriage
The solution of the difficulty concerning the marriage of the parties named in Ezek. 44:22, will be found in a right division of the word. The fifteenth and sixteenth verses refer to "the sons of Zadok;" from the ninth to the fourteenth, inclusive, and from the seventeenth to the end of the chapter, the subordinate rank of the priesthood, is the subject of the legislation.
They are not only not to take for their wives a widow other than the widow of a priest, but they are to drink no wine on entering the inner court.
"They shall stand before the people to minister for them;" but, "they shall not come near unto me, saith the Lord, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy." "But the sons of Zadok shall stand before me, to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord, they shall come near to my table,"
which will be in the most holy place.-41:22.
Here are evidently two classes of priests, one that may enter the most holy, and the other that may not. The Lord's table is in the most holy, and he said to the apostles,
"Ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom;"
but the others may not drink, and may not come beyond the inner court. They are, therefore, not the sons of Zadok, of whom marriage is affirmed; for they who may not drink are they who may not marry any other widow than the widow of a deceased priest.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1857
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.
This is the whole purpose of life and learning. There is unclean, and death; and there is clean, and life. True knowledge consists of knowing the difference; true wisdom consists of choosing the clean. Everything falls into one category or the other.
God tells Ezekiel to show Israel the pattern of the House, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities (43:10). How would it make them ashamed? How would it make us ashamed?
By its glory and greatness and goodness. It is a beautiful center of goodness and joy and mercy and forgiveness, and of learning to choose the good and eschew the evil. It is a glorious provision and manifestation of God's love and care for Israel and the world. It is such a wonderful contrast to man's present evil condition and ways.
It is the heart of the Divine Promise and Purpose from the beginning that-
"All nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3)
...The old Temple was gone. It had been desecrated beyond the possibility of redemption. It had been filled with blood and corruption.
But in a new day to come, there would be a new House of Prayer, far more spacious and splendid, not just for Israel but for the whole world - the center of an earth at rest in holiness and peace.
Bro Growcott - Prophecies in the captivity
30 And the first of all the firstfruits of all things [offered on the South side], 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.
A similar arrangement exists on the south side of the sanctuary, for a recognition of Him from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, with this difference, that on that side sacrifices are not prepared, but offerings of a different kind are received. Thus we read :
The first of all the first fruits of every thing and every oblation of every thing, of all your oblations, shall be for the priests ; ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, to cause a blessing to rest on thine house. (Chap. XLIV. 30, R.V.).
From this we may premise that two kinds of offerings are required at the hands of the worshippers, and since sacrificial tables are specified only on one side of the sanctuary, i.e., on the north side, no doubt the " firstfruits" are to be brought in on the south side, by the south gate, and such portions as are not offered upon the altar deposited within in the recesses of the southern portion of the house.
These offerings are more specifically mentioned in the forty-fifth and in the forty-sixth chapters. They need not be referred to in detail here, but a consideration of the antetypical offerings of the children of Israel when they came into the land of promise indicates that an opportunity for the recognition of the Father's goodness will be provided in the Temple service when offerings
" will be pleasant to Yahweh, as in the days of old and as in ancient years." (Mal. iii. 4.)
Concerning " the days of old " it is written :
Thou shalt take or the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee ; and thou shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go into the place which Yahweh thy Elohim shall choose to cause his name to dwell there...(Deut. xxvi. 2-4, 10, 13-15.)
...In the foregoing testimonies we have prefigured a proceeding which may obtain when the Temple service is established. But no reference will be made to the deliverance from Egypt ; that deliverance will be entirely obscured in the greater event foretold in the book of
Jeremiah thus :
I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds ; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them ; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David .a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
No doubt all those who assemble in the house to worship will bring an offering or a sacrifice.
The Temple of Ezekiel's Prophecy 5.2.5
Considering the extent of the building, and the extensive provisions for sacrifices and offerings, we naturally ask how are these to be presented without confusion, and yet in such a manner that every individual shall take part in the service ; and not only so, but realise that he does take part, and is individually identified with his offering.
We are not without a hint upon the subject, because of the significant and assuring statement that when the " glory of Yahweh " fills the House, henceforth the Most Holy becomes the place of Yahweh's throne, as it is written :
Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever. (Chap. 40: 7.)
Now, if Deity dwell with His people after the pattern of ancient times, the method of manifesting sin and unrighteousness and the method of making His presence known will be just as real as formerly, because the polity of Israel served as a type of yet greater things to come, See 1st Cor. x. 11 ; Num. ix. 22-23.
An all-important element was the sign of Divine acceptance, and other unmistakable methods of judgment. Thus when Moses and Aaron erected the tabernacle, Deity signified His acceptance of the sacrifice by fire, which consumed the offering upon the altar (Lev. ix. 24).
This sign of divine approval appears not only to have been manifested at the inauguration of the tabernacle and temple service but may have been repeated every year when the high priest appeared before the mercy seat within the veil with the blood of atonement (Lev. xvi. 3, 14, 34). Hence the Psalmist, who was once answered by fire, invokes this manifestation in these words :
" Thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth" (Psalm LXXX. 1 ; see also 1st Kings xviii. 24-28.)
In view of the covenant with David this pleading invocation became a prophetic forecast of a greater manifestation of the divine presence (Heb. viii. 5 ; x. 1).
Further, the intimate connection which then existed between the people of Israel and the Deity, their God and ruler, is indicated by the way in which disobedience and crime were detected, or made manifest. By " lot " God's displeasure was revealed to Israel, and by this means Achan's secret theft was made manifest. (1st Sam. xiv. 41 ; Josh. vii. 11 ; Prov. xvi. 33).
When Deity " restores Israel's judges as at the first, and her " counsellors as at the beginning " (Isa. 1. 26), we may look for a restoration of these early, divine, and effective methods of rule and judgment.
By a very simple expedient, after the method indicated in the examples above cited, every worshipper in the house can participate in the offering, and be made to understand that his own individual share in it is as real and significant, yea, even more so, as if he were placing his hand upon the sacrificial victim, or presenting his oblation, while still
" looking unto the rock from which he was hewn, and to the pit from whence he was digged " (Isa. L 1. I)
after the historic manner.
The Temple of Ezekiel's Prophecy 5.2.6