The latter part of the previous chapter (Ezekiel 43), which described the altar and its consecration, and the present chapter (Ezekiel 44), both give specific regulations concerning the Temple and the priesthood. In chapter 43:12, Ezekiel spoke of the “law of the Temple.” Although the content of the present chapter seems diverse it can all come under the heading of “law of the Temple.”
The first section of this chapter deals with the prince (the secular ruler), and the east gate. The east gate is to be permanently closed because it is the means by which God entered the Temple. This reinforces Ezekiel 43:7 which states that God will never again leave his Temple. There will never again be an exit by God because the gate is shut permanently. Any time one enters the Temple the closed east gate is a reminder of God’s permanent presence with His people.
The rest of the chapter deals with who may enter the Temple and also with the priests. Most of the laws in this section parallel the laws already given in Leviticus, especially Leviticus chapters 17-26. The core principle is found in Leviticus 19:2, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” The priests and these laws are meant to teach the people the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean. If people are to approach God they must be holy by being separate from sin and sinners.
Sin is the thing that has led to judgment and the loss of God’s presence. In Israel’s new restored city, sin is to be separated from God so God’s presence can remain. All of Ezekiel’s regulations are to support this holiness and the presence of God. Does this separation from sin and holiness to God matter to us today?
Walla Walla University