Ezekiel 44:17
When they enter the gates of the inner court, they are to wear linen garments; they must not wear anything made of wool when they minister at the gates of the inner court or inside the temple.
Sermons
A Good Minister of Jesus ChristW. Clarkson Ezekiel 44:17-31


What the faithful priest was under the Law, that the "good minister" is under Christ (1 Timothy 4:6). And while the form of service is altogether different, the spirit should be the same. The ideal priest, as here delineated, is, mutatis mutandis, the true bishop or pastor of the New Testament. The latter is -

I. STUDIOUS OF HIS MASTER'S WILL, EVEN IN SMALL PARTICULARS. The priest was to carry out very minute instructions (see vers. 17-20). The minister of Christ is freed from the observance of such particulars, but still he is to be regardful of the will of Christ in everything. He is to carry a Christian temper and bearing everywhere. If in the view of the Master there was a right and a wrong way of entering a room and taking a seat (see Luke 14:7-10), so may there be a right and a wrong way of entering a pulpit, or reading a chapter, or visiting a cottage.

II. CAREFUL TO BE AT HIS BEST IN PUBLIC MINISTRATIONS. The priest was to avoid the drinking of wine at or near the time of sacrifice (ver. 21). The true minister of Christ will

(1) shun everything in the way of bodily indulgence which unfits him, and

(2) study and practice every habit, whether physical or mental, which will qualify him, for the discharge of his sacred duties with the utmost efficiency.

III. AN EXEMPLAR IN ALL MATTERS OF PURITY. (Vers. 22, 25, 26.) In all domestic relations, as husband and father (see 1 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:6). And in all his relations with either sex it becomes him to be a pattern of purity; not only shunning that which is positively wrong and guilty, that which is condemned in terms, but avoiding even the approaches to evil in this direction, knowing the great importance that he should encourage all, more especially the young, in that thorough purity (of heart, of word, and of deed) without which no character can be beautiful in the sight of God.

IV. ONE THAT EXPOUNDS AND ENFORCES PRACTICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Ver. 23.) What the people have a right to look for from their Christian teacher is:

1. A full, clear, forcible declaration of those truths which determine their relation to God, First of all, men want to be brought into a right relation with him; until that is done it may be said that nothing is done; estranged and separated from God, there is no rest or rightness for the human heart. Then comes:

2. A clear enunciation of Christian morals; such an exposition of duty that men shall know and feel the distinction between what is right and what is wrong in all their dealings with their fellow-men, in all their home relations, in all the varied spheres in which they, move.. The minister of Christ is to be, like Noah, a "preacher of righteousness, he is so to speak that those who hear him will be powerfully encouraged in every virtue, strongly dissuaded from every evil way and all unworthiness in temper and spirit.

V. A MAN OF AN ESSENTIALLY DEVOUT LIFE. (Vers. 24, 27, 28.) One that delights in the worship of God, that does not fail to use well the privileges provided by the day and the house of the Lord, that finds his chief and best inheritance in God himself; to whom the Fatherhood of God and the friendship and service of Jesus Christ are (and not merely bring) an "exceeding great reward." He is to be a man who can say that "to him to live is Christ," and that, conversely, to know and love and serve Christ is life indeed. - C.







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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