Our reading today continues Ezekiel’s vision of the new Temple. Ezekiel finds himself (once again) at the east gate (44:1). The gate is permanently shut because God has entered the sanctuary (v. 2). The only One allowed in the gate is the Prince (v. 3). He alone can enter in and go out. This, of course, is Christ, Who opens and no one will shut, and Who shuts and no one will open (see Rev 3:7). He is the spiritual door to God’s presence – we enter in to God’s presence through Christ. We enter into the Temple because we are in Christ.
Ezekiel then goes to the north gate and sees the Temple filled with the glory of the Lord (v. 4 – see 43:4). God tells Ezekiel to pay attention to the rules of the Temple (v. 5) and He indicts Israel for her sin (vv. 6-8). God then says that no foreigner can enter the Temple (v. 9). He then says that the Levites will be punished for their sin (v. 10), then that they will minister to the people at the periphery of the Temple (v. 11) but they will not be allowed into His presence as priests (v. 13) though they will keep charge of the Temple from the outer court (v. 14).
Then, in verse 15, the sons of Zadok are said to be allowed into His presence. They will be allowed to approach the table (the humble wooden table – see 41:22) to minister directly to God (v. 16) in the inner court (v. 17). We see in verses 18-19 the inherent holiness within the Temple. The commands in verses 20-27 symbolize the holiness those in the Temple are called to. In verses 28-31, we see that the sons of Zadok are the “new” Levites (no physical inheritance) and the “new” priests (share in the benefits of the offering).
The Levites of verses 10-14 are physical Israel. They will serve as ministers to the people from the outside of the Temple. The Temple, in other words, will come from within them. This is the physical preservation of Israel to bring forth Christ. These are those not in Christ. The sons of Zadok (the new Levites and priests) are the spiritual people of God who are in Christ and allowed in His presence.
Chapter 45 is again a call to holiness. The “holy district” around the Temple (45:1-6) symbolizes the extending of the borders of the land (see Isa 26:15). Everything within these new, extended borders will be holy unto God. And it will be the property of the Prince (v. 7). This is the church. God then calls physical Israel to repentance again (which is what Christ did when He came!) in verses 9-15. They do this by offering it to the Prince (v. 16) Who will fulfill the ceremonial requirements of the law Himself (vv. 17-25).
Chapter 46 begins by describing offerings being made through the Prince (46:1-2). This worship will forever be through the Prince for those who walk a straight path (vv. 9-10). The descriptions of the offerings speak to the holiness of the offering. Note that is the Prince making the offering (v. 4, 12), and Who gives gifts to the sons (v. 17) which are everlasting (v. 19), and He gifts to His servants which will be given back to Him at the Jubilee (v. 18). What Christ gives us is everlasting. But what He gives us is His and we will surrender it all to Him at His Second Coming.
In verse 20, we see again the call to holiness in the Temple. However, in the four corners of the Temple’s outer wall, there are places where the priests come into contact with “the people” to boil their sacrifices (vv. 22-24). The expanded Temple represents the inclusion of all God’s people from all nations – the whole earth. And what (or who) is in the Temple is to be holy. And yet, God’s holy people are to meet outsiders at the “four corners” of the Temple, which expands over the whole earth. This is the “four corners” of the earth. We, God’s holy people, still need to bring the Gospel to the whole world (see Acts 1:8). We will make contact with the unholy of the whole earth that God may make them holy, and bring them into His Temple.