Thus said the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary…
Provisions such as this were no doubt of an educational character, and were intended to teach the Israelites the necessity and the duty of holiness. The consecrated nation was called to present to Jehovah a pure offering. The alien was denied the privileges appointed for the Israelite; being uncircumcised, and not a child of the covenant, he was forbidden access to the holy place.
I. THE SANCTUARY WAS A SYMBOL OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE, FELLOWSHIP, AND FAVOR. The Lord's holy temple was the scene of the especial manifestation vouchsafed by Jehovah to Israel. The Divine presence, naturally ubiquitous, was for a purpose localized. Here was, so to speak, the point of contact between the God of Israel and his chosen people; the media of communication being the sacrifices and services ministered by the consecrated priesthood. Here the acceptance and good will of Jehovah were sealed. They who conformed to Divine appointments were ceremonially justified and cleansed; and they who drew near with hearts prepared to receive a spiritual blessing were abundantly rewarded.
II. THE SELECTION OF THE CIRCUMCISED AND CONSECRATED, AND THE EXCLUSION OF THE UNCIRCUMCISED AND THE ALIEN, WERE SYMBOLICAL OF THE SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP. No one can suppose that there was "favoritism" in the treatment of worshippers by the just, impartial God; we know that in every nation those who wrought righteousness were accepted. But so far as the temple at Jerusalem was concerned, there were regulations intended to draw attention to the character of true worship, and to the qualifications of acceptable worshippers. No doubt impure Israelites were admitted, and just and benevolent aliens were excluded. But all were taught the indispensable necessity of compliance with Divine regulations, and of the possession of prescribed qualifications. This provision was a preparation for the introduction amongst men of a higher and purer conception of true holiness, that which is not ceremonial, but real.
III. IN CHRISTIANITY WE HAVE THE FULFILMENT OF THE TYPE AND PROMISE OF THIS PREPARATORY DISPENSATION. The religion of Christ lays stress upon the new nature, the new heart, the new birth, the new life. It requires a cleansing, a putting off of the old nature, the circumcision of the spirit. It requires a naturalization in the new and Divine kingdom, a citizenship such as no physical birth and no external legislation can impart. A man must be born anew and from above in order to enter into the kingdom of God, of heaven. The conditions of acceptable worship at Jerusalem have to be translated into the language of spiritual reality in order to be applicable to the new dispensation.
IV. THE CONDITIONS OF ENTRANCE INTO THE HEBREW SANCTUARY WERE AN ANTICIPATION OF THE TERMS OF HEAVENLY CITIZENSHIP. In this, as in so many passages; the prophecies of Ezekiel point on to the language of the Apocalypse, and the reader of the New Testament interprets these ancient declarations, prescriptions, and promises in the light of the closing book of the canon. The ceremonial preparation required of the Hebrew worshipper prefigured the qualifications laid down as a condition of admission into the celestial temple. Into the abodes of immortal purity there enters nothing that worketh abomination or maketh a lie. The citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem are renewed and purified and thus fitted for the privileges and occupations of the city whose Builder and Maker is God.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.