Ezekiel 46 is not the most widely read Scripture in the Bible. But I found a truth in verses 8 through 10 that has blessed me. I hope it does the same for you.
When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way. But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever en- ters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate. The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out. (Ezekiel 46:8-10).
Ezekiel was given an amazing vision of the future Temple in Jerusalem:
• Some say the vision was fulfilled when Herod’s Temple was completed in 63 AD (83 years after construction was started in 19 BC). Peter J. Schertz and Steven Fine, from Biblical Archaeology wrote that “…Josephus [the first century Jewish historian] describes Herod’s Temple extensively in his Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews….” While they note that it is difficult to reconstruct Herod’s Temple from Josephus’ descriptions, the Temple vision in Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48 does not closely match the Jerusalem Temple of Jesus’ time, built by Herod the Great. For instance, in Ezekiel 45:1 God specifies that a large section of land surrounding the temple is to be set aside for holy use. It is to be 25,000 reeds long and 10,000 reeds wide (a reed being about 12 feet long) which equals 1,295 square miles, or 826,446.28 acres. But Herod’s temple had no such large tract of land given to holy use.
• Others, especially those of the pre-millennial persuasion, place the Temple of Ezekiel’s vision in the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth after His return in glory at the end of this age. I am persuaded that this is the correct interpretation.
If the second view stated is correct, then the prince mentioned in Ezekiel 46:8 would prefigure Jesus Christ, whom Daniel refers to as “…Messiah the Prince…” in Daniel 9:25 (see also Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 8:25, Acts 3:25; 5:31; Revelation 1:5). In our featured Scripture, Ezekiel is told in verse 8, “When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.” But concerning everyone else God instructs in verse 9:
...the people of the land [who] come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate.
Why the difference? It’s not just the entrance and exit gates that are in view here. It is the spiritual condition and character of those who come to worship at the Temple!
• Messiah the Prince does not need to have a spiritual or character change from a Temple experience because Jesus was, is, and always will be perfect! As it is written in I Peter 2:22, Jesus “…committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth….” No wonder He could go out the same as He came in!
• But you and I (and every other human being who ever has lived, is living, or will live) need a radical change in heart and life:
✞ ...from a sinner to one proclaimed righteous. ✞ ...from under God’s condemnation to reconcilia- tion with the Father. ✞ ...from hell bound to a citizen of heaven. ✞ ...from a child of the devil to the offspring of God. ✞ ...from the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit. ✞ ...from a wasted life to abundant life for God’s glory. ....and so much more!
We need to come before God one way and leave another way, a totally different way – changed because we have been in His holy presence! Even as Christians, our worship experience should make a difference. We should never leave the same as the way we came unto Him!
But there is also verse 10 in our featured Scripture: “The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out.” If, indeed, the prince prefigures Messiah the Prince, what a blessing to know He shall be in our midst, that He shall go in when we go in, and go out when we go out! This reminds me of two passages from the book of Hebrews:
• Hebrews 13:5: “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ ”
• Hebrews 4:15, 16: “…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus is always with God’s children! He has given us the Holy Spirit, a Comforter just like Himself to abide with us forever. And when He walked upon this earth, in one way or another He experienced everything we could ever experience! And He faced all victoriously! Now, by His presence and power, we also can experience His victory! (See I Corinthians 15:57).
Isn’t it amazing what can be gleaned from and obscure Old Testament Scripture?