Ezekiel 44:1
The man then brought me back to outer gate of the sanctuary that faced east, but it was shut.
Sermons
The Shut Gate: ReverenceW. Clarkson Ezekiel 44:1, 2
The Prerogative of the PrinceJ.R. Thomson Ezekiel 44:1-3


The regulation prescribed in these verses is very remarkable, and is not free from difficulties. It appears that a peculiar sanctity attached to the eastern gate of the temple, owing to the fact that it was by this gate that the glory of the Lord entered, and by this same gate that the glory of the Lord had previously forsaken, the sacred precincts. To mark this sacredness, the gate was kept shut, and no one was permitted to pass through it, except the prince. He, as the head, the representative, the ruler, of Israel, was permitted to enter and to depart by this gate. And further, it was appointed that he should in this gateway eat bread - whether by this be meant the meat offering or the showbread. This was a priestly privilege, but it seems to have been shared by the prince, who, after the return from the Captivity, was not only the representative of the consecrated people, but also the representative of the premised Messiah. This singular prerogative suggests to our minds certain principles which have a special application to a religious community and state.

I. THE UNITY OF A RELIGIOUS AND CONSECRATED NATION IS PERSONIFIED IN A RELIGIOUS SOVEREIGN. David was not only the greatest of the Hebrew monarchs; he was the representative of the Hebrew monarchy and theocracy. In the prophets and in the later national religions literature, David appears as the ideal king, personifying the people of the covenant and foreshadowing the promised Messiah. And the" prince" of the people is, in this and other passages, regarded as the successor of the cherished son of Jesse. The prince is looked upon as worthy of his station, worthy of his illustrious and beloved predecessor. The true head of a great and religious people is that people's representative, not only before man, but before God.

II. THERE IS IMPLIED IN THIS PROVISION THE DIVINE ORIGIN AND CHARACTER OF POLITICAL AUTHORITY. There are some students of Scripture who find in the Word of God much relating to the authority of the Church, but who fail to remark the many assertions of the Divine authority of the state and of its officials and rulers. But it is very instructive for those in such a position to remark how, in this and similar passages, stress is laid upon the position and power of the prince. "The powers that be are ordained of God;" the state is as much Divine in its origin and sanction as is the Church. In the theocracy the monarch no doubt occupied a very special position. But religion certainly has for one of its functions the upholding of government as a Divine institution and of authority as a Divine principle. Independently of the form of government, and of the designation of the chief ruler of the state, it is for teachers of religion to follow the example of the scriptural writers in requiring justice from the governor and loyalty from the governed.

III. THE OBLIGATION IS APPARENT THAT THOSE IN AUTHORITY SHOULD CULTIVATE AND PRACTICE TRUE RELIGION. It is taken for granted by the prophet that the prince will appreciate and will use the prerogative here described. Nevertheless, it is probable that some who occupied the highest position in the nation were far from being truly devout and pious men. In every age and country men are found who come short of the ideal of their station. This, however, does not affect the fact that the occupation of a high position, the primacy of a great people, imposes upon a man a peculiar obligation to honor God, the Fountain of all authority and the Judge of every earthly sovereign. He who leads a people should lead them in the ways of righteousness and of piety. - T.







The glory of the Lord filled the house.
Though God may forsake His people for a small moment, He will return with everlasting loving kindness. God's glory filled the house, as it had filled the tabernacle which Moses set up and thee temple of Solomon. Now we do not find that ever the Shekinah did in that manner take possession of the second temple, and therefore this was to have its accomplishment in that glory of the Divine grace which shines so brightly in the Gospel Church, and fills it. Here is no mention of a cloud filling the house as formerly, for we now with open face behold the glory of the Lord, in the face of Christ, and not as of old through the cloud of types.

( M. Henry.)

p with God: — The Spirit took Ezekiel up and brought him into the inner court, I want you to observe that while the prophet was in the inner court he saw the glory of God and heard God speaking to him. That inner court represents to us the innermost fellowship with God.

I. IN THE INNER COURT HE SAW THE GLORY OF GOD. You stand outside some great cathedral, looking at the large stained-glass window that is said to be of such immense value and noted for its exquisite loveliness. You have heard of its beautiful design, of its rich colouring and delicate shadings. But you are disappointed. All you can see is a dim, dull easement, blotched here and there. But that is because you have been judging it from the standpoint of the exterior of the building. In that position you can see no glory. Get into the interior, — into the inner court, and your opinion will suddenly change. The scientist, if an unbeliever, cannot see the glory of God in Nature as can the man who has been brought into the inner court of fellowship with God. The man in the outer court may see a great deal of beauty in natural phenomena, and a wonderful design in "the operations and effects of natural laws"; but there are beauties in Nature to the believer that far surpass those. Jonathan Edwards, speaking of his own experience of having enjoyed a wonderful sense of God's pardoning mercy, said, "The wisdom, purity, and love of God seemed to appear in everything: in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water and all nature, which greatly fixed my mind. I beheld the sweet glory of God in all these things, and in the meantime sang with a low voice my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer." As with Nature, so with Revelation. The Bible has been called a glorious temple. "When He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth." There our Lord indicates the faculty of spiritual perception and interpretation. How little of the glory of God we have seen! How seldom, as by a mystic hand, are we led beyond the vestibule into the inner sanctuary of the Most High! There was a time when God, maintaining strict reserve, dwelt in a peculiar way in the Holy of Holies of the ancient Temple. On the mercy seat was the Shekinah — the great symbol of His presence and unapproachable glory — which burned and glowed perpetually in bright and vivid splendour. Before this was hung the closely woven veil. There was no admission save for the High Priest, and he might pass within but once a year. But now we have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say His flesh." The High Priest of old could not look at the glory without seeing the blood that was sprinkled on the mercy seat. "The same blood, the same atonement by which we draw near to God, is the same by which we must remain in communion with God." "And," says the prophet Ezekiel, "the man stood by me." Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the glory of God. "God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The Holy Spirit is the light of God that we may see Him.

II. WHILE EZEKIEL WAS IN THE INNER COURT, GOD SPAKE TO HIM. Few live in the higher condition of perpetual fellowship with the Father and the Son; but it is in that higher condition that the noblest faculties of the soul are brought into use, Habakkuk said, "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me" (Habakkuk 2:1). He would get above the crush and clamour of worldly things. As he who stands upon some eminence of cliff is not disturbed by the murmuring wavelets channelling the sands beneath, so the "lifted up" spirit, liberated from a narrow, mundane view, is unaffected by the carking cares which annoy and the anxieties which absorb the many, — the frettings which disturb serenity and scare away peace. We want to live above the corroding, cloying, flippant, superficial pleasures of time. We must get into a calm atmosphere, — the "sphere of silence," — the unbroken solitudes of "the heavenlies," if we are to hear His voice. Professor Smythe was engaged for some weeks in making astronomical observations on the Rock of Teneriffe. When he and his party descended from the height, they were surprised to find that a storm had been raging of which they had heard and seen nothing.

(A. W. Welch.)

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