“When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate. […] When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.”
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Today’s reading from Ezekiel continues his final vision of a restored and rebuilt temple. Yesterday, we read how God’s glory returned to his temple. God entered the temple through the outermost East Gate. Ezekiel 45 opens with the declaration that this gate should remain shut – no one shall ever enter or exit through this gate again. This implies that God will not be leaving. His presence with His people is permanent. It is eternal.
But one allowance is made…
Only the prince may sit in [the East gate] 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 (Ezekiel 45:3).
The prince. He is an interesting character. This is the first mention of him in this vision, but Ezekiel has made mention of a prince before in 34:23-24 and 37:24-25. These passages refer to the prince as “my servant David” and having “forever” rule.
Ezekiel’s language echoes Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning this future leader…
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land (Jeremiah 23:5).
These words from Jeremiah match perfectly the descriptions of the prince in Ezekiel’s vision. The prince is to ensure justice (45:7-12) and be a leader in worship (45:17; 22). Even though he is set apart to share fellowship with God in the holy East gate, he is still considered to be one of the people. He is instructed to enter the temple when the people go in, and exit the temple when the people go out (46:10). He is one of them. He identifies with them.
Does this sound like someone you know??
Paul spoke of Him to the philosophers of Athens. He said that God had appointed a man who will “judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Isn’t that what Jeremiah said? And isn’t that what Ezekiel described?
Friends, our prince is Jesus. He is just. He sits at God’s right hand and intercedes for us because he identifies with us. He rules with righteousness. And his love for us compelled him to die in our place. What else could we ask for? What else could we need?