Ezekiel 43-45 No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, shall enter my sanctuary

From Ezekiel 43-45

26 Ezekiel Scroll fed thumbEzekiel is lead to the north gate of the sanctuary. There the LORD fills the temple with his glory and instructs Ezekiel never to allow foreigners into the temple to serve there. The Levites did it before, never again. Today we need the LORD to raise up people who will serve him in the harvest.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The LORD in the form of a man leads Ezekiel outside to the outer gate. He has a few instructions for who is allowed to enter by it.

26 outer gate sanctaury44 Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. 2 And the LORD said to me, “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. Therefore it shall remain shut. 3 Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”(Eze 44.1-3)

The LORD has entered by the gate. No one else is allowed. No one else is worthy.

The gate will remain shut thereafter. But the prince (king) of the people will be allowed to sit before it and eat before the LORD. Eating was a sign of fellowship. Even he has a special way he will be require to approach the LORD.

26 Ezekiels temple4 Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple,

and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple 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 shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the LORD and all its laws.

And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary.(Eze 44.4-5)

Like several times before in Israel’s history, the glory of the LORD filled the temple (Ex 40.34-35; 1 Ki 8.11; 2 Ch 5.14; 7.1-2). The event is a wonderful sign of the LORD’s blessing.

Have you ever been filled with the LORD’s presence?

Ezekiel is to acknowledge (‘mark well’) a few things. To remember what the law of Moses says about the priestly duties and the laws concerning worship and sacrifice. This is important because of Israel’s past and numerous failures concerning proper worship.

dark heart6 And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, 7 in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. 8 And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary. (Eze 44.6-8)

Ezekiel is commanded to instruct the house of Israel not to allow any foreigners into the sanctuary and especially to remove them from all forms of temple service and ministry.

They are not to allow foreigners of uncircumcised heart and flesh into the sanctuary.

Circumcised in flesh refers to all Israelites under the covenant (Gen 17). Circumcised in heart (Dt 30) refers to only those who have rendered their heart and cut away the evil from their lives. Devoting themselves to him. All others are banned from temple service.

It is these foreigners who have originally profaned the temple, and the Israelites have broken covenant with the LORD by allowing them to do so.

Therefore the LORD emphasises the point once more.

9 “Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. (Eze 44.9)

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

“The practices being condemned in vv. 7–8—bringing foreigners into the sanctuary (cf. Neh 13:4–9), giving unauthorized individuals charge over holy things, and desecrating the temple with unholy foreign worship (44:7–8) cannot be identified historically with certainty. Rabbinic tradition says the “detestable practices” consisted of the employment of priests who were unqualified to minister before the Lord because of their evil deeds. It also may refer to the unauthorized use of prisoners of war to perform menial tasks in the temple. Perhaps these sins were committed during Ezekiel’s exile in Babylon. They are not directly attributed to the Levites, however, whose sin is said to have been idolatry and encouraging Israel in idolatry (vv. 10, 12). There is nothing to suggest that their guilt involved serving as priests at the high places.” (Cooper, L.E., 1994. Ezekiel, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

Story of Jesus

Service to the Lord requires high moral and spiritual standards. Ezekiel describes the failure of the Levites in allowing foreigners – unbelievers into the sanctuary to service the LORD.

Those who serve God in leadership roles must present an unblemished example (1 Tim 3:1–13). A holy God demands no less. We need the LORD to raise up people like these.

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 9.35-38)

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