Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel, and more specifically, is found in the forty-fourth chapter of the book. If you read this chapter, you will find that the first fourteen verses deal specifically and exclusively with the gate which was reserved for the prince. Verses fifteen through thirty-one present us with the ordinances for the Levites—those who would minister before the Lord in His holy Temple. When this chapter opens up, it opens up with the prophet being brought back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east. There was a key difference between Ezekiel’s vision of the gate which faced toward the east in the previous chapter, and the vision of the same gate this time. If you read the first verse in its entirety, you will find these words recorded within it—“Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the east; AND IT WAS SHUT.” In the first verse of this chapter we read that the gate which faces the east was shut, and in the very next verse we read the reason this gate was shut. “The Lord said to me, This gate shall but shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.” When Ezekiel saw this gate for the second time, he found that the gate was shut, and not only was the gate shut, but it would remain shut, and would not be opened, nor would anyone enter by it. There was a very specific reason why this gate had been shut, and why the gate was to remain shut—“the Lord God of Israel has entered by it.” This gate was to remain shut because the glory of the Lord had passed through it—His glory and His presence had passed through it, and therefore, it wasn’t an ordinary or common gate. This gate had been deliberately and intentionally shut by the Lord, and was so, for the gate itself had been consecrated by the glory of the Lord which had passed through it. The Lord was not willing that anyone pass through this gate. This gate was not to be opened, nor was anyone to enter by it, for it had been reserved by the Lord Himself. The Lord has passed through the gate, and therefore He had reserved this entrance into the midst of His holy sanctuary.
Oh that we would pay close attention to this reality, for there is a powerful prophetic picture that is contained within it. The Lord Himself had passed through it, and therefore it wasn’t to be used for ordinary or common use. The Lord had reserved His own personal and private entrance to His sanctuary, and He would not allow it to be profaned or defiled by man any longer. This gate was to be shut, for only the Lord Himself could enter by way of it and come to the sanctuary. There was a very specific holiness and sanctity that surrounded this gate, and the Lord was not willing to allow it to be used for ordinary or common use. This presents us with a very specific truth concerning our lives, and how we treat that which the Lord has sanctified, consecrated and made holy. Ezekiel saw this gate opened and the glory of the Lord passing through and entering the sanctuary by way of it, and now this gate was shut, and was to remain shut. The question that I can’t help but ask as I read this particular passage is what we are doing to guard those places within our lives which the Lord has consecrated and sanctified by His presence and glory. The glory of the Lord had consecrated and made this gate holy to be used for His purposes alone, and we must recognize this reality, for it has direct application to our own lives. The glory of the Lord has passed through specific areas of our lives, and His glory and presence has sanctified them. The truth of the matter is that there have been far too many times when we have failed to guard those places in our lives which the glory of the Lord has entered, and we have allowed that which is common and ordinary to pass through it. There is a powerful call in this passage to guard that which the Lord has passed through, and that which the Lord has consecrated for His purposes. If there is one thing we must recognize and realize when studying the Temple, it’s that whatever the glory of the Lord touched became consecrated and set apart for His purposes, and could not be used for anything common or ordinary.
RUINED FOR THE ORDINARY! RUINED FOR THE COMMON! This is perhaps the single greatest reality when studying the Temple, for whatever the Lord had made holy could never be used for earthly, carnal, ordinary or common purposes. This is why the sin and transgression of Belshazzar king of Babylon was so great, for he took that which was sacred and holy, and used it for common purposes. He took the sacred vessels of the Temple and used them for ordinary purposes. Not only this, but he defiled and profaned them by using them in the midst of a feast he threw in his palace. If you study the Old Testament, you will find that if that which is holy touched anything that wasn’t holy, one of two things happened—either that which was holy made what it touched holy, or it was profaned and defiled by that which was unholy. This is a question we must ask ourselves in our daily lives, for when that which is holy touches that which is unholy—even if it is by accident or chance—it can have one of two effects. As I am sitting here this evening, I am finding myself thinking about the level of holiness and consecration that is found within my own life. Has the Lord truly consecrated and made me holy? It was the Lord Himself who instructed and commanded the children of Israel to be holy even as He Himself was holy. Oh, what does your holiness look like? Has the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord truly made you holy? Has the Lord truly consecrated and sanctified you? If the Lord has truly consecrated and made you holy, you must be completely ruined for the ordinary and the common. There is absolutely no room for the ordinary and the common in the presence of that which is holy and sanctified. This outer gate of the sanctuary which faces the east experienced the glory of the Lord passing through it, and therefore, it was to remain shut, in order that that which is ordinary and common might not pass through or enter by it. Oh, we must pay close attention to the fact that this gate was shut, and that it was to remain shut, for how many times have we opened up in our lives that which was to remain shut? How many times have we opened up that which was to remain shut, and have opened it up to that which is corrupt and that which is polluted? How many times have we opened that which was to be shut in our lives to the presence of enemies and adversaries?
We must understand that this gate was to remain shut—not only to that which is common and ordinary, but it was also to remain shut to the presence of the enemy and adversary. It’s imperative that we recognize that Ezekiel didn’t just see this gate shut, but he also heard the declaration that this gate was to remain shut. This gate was to remain shut because the glory of the Lord had passed through it, and in order that the prince might pass through it. This particular passage is one of the countless Messianic passages in the Scripture, and refers to Jesus the Christ who would enter through this gate. If you study Scripture, you will find that Jesus did indeed enter through this gate when He descended the Mount of Olives, and made His way to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. Jesus the Christ entered through this gate at His first coming, and entered through this gate in order that He might come to the Temple of the Lord which was found in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. There is yet a second time when Jesus the Christ will enter through this gate, and will once more make His way to the sanctuary of the Lord in the earth. The glory of the Lord has passed through this gate in the vision which Ezekiel saw, and when Jesus Christ of Nazareth entered through this gate, it was a prophetic fulfillment of that which Ezekiel Himself had seen according to the Spirit. When Jesus of Nazareth entered through this gate, it was as if the glory of the Lord was entering through it once more. We know that Jesus Christ was deity and eternity in the form of human flesh, and that the glory of God dwelt in Him fully and completely. When Jesus entered through this gate, and when He came to the sanctuary in the midst of Jerusalem, it was a complete reenactment of what the prophet Ezekiel had seen, for Jesus the Christ was and is the prince whom Ezekiel saw in the vision he received from the Lord. When Jesus passed through this gate during His first coming, the glory of the Lord was once more passing through this gate. When Jesus Christ entered the sanctuary and Temple of the Lord God in the city of Jerusalem, it was the glory of the Lord entering into the sanctuary once more.
I am convinced that this gate was to remain shut, and is shut even to this very day, because not only did the glory of the Lord pass through it in the vision which Ezekiel saw, but Jesus Christ Himself had passed through and entered by way of this gate. In other words, not only did the glory of the Lord pass through this gate in the Old Covenant, but the glory of the Lord passed through this gate in the New Covenant through the person of Jesus Christ. This gate was to be shut, and was to remain shut, for the glory of the God of Israel, and Jesus the Christ had passed through it. This gate—this Eastern Gate—in the Old City of Jerusalem is presently shut, and will be remained shut until that appointed time when the prince will once more pass through it. Tell me dear brother and sister—what effort are you putting into guarding that which has been sanctified and consecrated by the glory of the Lord in your life? Are you opening that which is to remain shut within your life, and allowing that which is ordinary and common to pass through it? Are you opening that which is to remain shut within your life, and allowing the enemy and adversary to enter through it? There is a powerful prophetic call in this generation, and in these Last Days to guard that which has been sanctified by the glory and presence of the Lord. I know for a fact that I myself haven’t been diligent in guarding that which has been consecrated and sanctified by the glory of the Lord within my life. I believe with all my heart that there is a powerful call in this generation to be completely ruined to the ordinary within our lives. There is a powerful call in this generation from the Spirit of Almighty God to be completely ruined to that which is common in the earth. There is a powerful call to guard with all diligence and perseverance that which the glory of the Lord has passed through, and to not allow that which is common, carnal or ordinary to pass through. Ezekiel saw this gate shut, which suggests the possibility that this gate was not shut by or with human hands, but was shut by a supernatural manifestation of the power of the Lord. There was specific instruction that this gate was to remain shut, and that it was not to be opened at all, for the glory of the Lord God of Israel had passed through it. OH that we would guard with all diligence and perseverance that which the glory of the Lord has passed through within our lives.
THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL HAS ENTERED BY IT; THEREFORE IT SHALL BE SHUT! This gate was to remain shut simply because the glory of the Lord God of Israel had passed through it, and was to remain shut because nothing else was permitted to pass through that gate. That gate and its threshold had been consecrated and set apart for the King of glory to pass through. Oh, I’m reminded of the words of the psalmist David in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up His soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of His salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah. LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, O GATES! AND BE LIFTED UP, O ANCIENT DOORS, THAT THE KING OF GLORY MAY COME IN. WHO IS THIS KING OF GLORY? THE LORD STRONG IN MIGHTY , THE LORD MIGHTY IN BATTLE! LIFT UP YOUR HEADS, O GATES! AND LIFT THEM UP, O ANCIENT DOORS, THAT THE KING OF GLORY MAY COME IN. WHO IS THIS KING OF GLORY? THE LORD OF HOSTS, HE IS THE KING OF GLORY! SELAH” (Psalm 24:1-10). With these words, the psalmist calls for the gates and ancient doors to be lifted up in order that the King of glory may come in. The psalmist calls for the ancient doors and gates to be lifted up in order that access and entrance might be granted to the Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty and battle. When I consider the words of the Lord in the vision which Ezekiel saw, and the words which David prayed before the Lord in the book of Psalms, I am convinced that we bear a two-fold responsibility in our lives in this generation. I am convinced that we must diligently cry out before the Lord that the gates and ancient doors might be opened in our lives in order that He might enter, and we must carefully and diligently guard those gates to ensure that nothing ordinary or common passes through that which the Lord Himself has passed through. This gate was that one place which was reserved by the Lord and for the Lord, in order that He and He alone might enter in through it. This gate is currently sealed, and has been sealed for more than four-hundred years—a gate through which the God of Israel and Jesus the Christ both entered the sanctuary by passing through.
It’s interesting to note that the Lord provided additional instruction as this chapter progresses concerning the sanctuary—instruction regarding that which was not allowed access and entrance into the sanctuary of the Lord. “You shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God, Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel, WHEN YOU BROUGHT IN FOREIGNERS, UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART AND UNCIRCUMCISED IN FLESH, TO BE IN MY SANCTUARY TO PROFANE IT, EVEN MY HOUSE, when you offered my food, the fat and the flood; FOR THEY MADE MY COVENANT VOID—this in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of my sanctuary. Thus says the Lord God, NO FOREIGNER UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART AND UNCIRCUMCISED IN FLESH, OF THE ALL THE FOREIGNERS WHO ARE AMONG THE SONS OF ISRAEL, SHALL ENTER MY SANCTUARY. But the Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray, who went astray from me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquity” (Ezekiel 44:6-10). The Lord speaks to the prophet Ezekiel concerning the transgression and iniquity of the sanctuary, and how the Levites allowed foreigners—those who were uncircumcised in flesh and in heart to enter into it, thus profaning and polluting it. This was in clear violation to the command and instruction which the Lord gave to Moses the servant of God in the wilderness when He gave him the pattern and design for the Tabernacle. What’s more, is that this was an issue during the days of Ezra, for the exiles who had returned allowed foreigners to enter into the sanctuary, and were rebuked by the Lord for doing so. The Lord was very clear that only that which was circumcised both inwardly and outwardly could have access to His sanctuary and His holy Temple.
What a tremendous warning and word of caution is found in this, for not only was the gate which the God of Israel passed through to remain shut, but the Levites were to guard the sanctuary, in order that they might ensure that no foreigner enter into the midst of it. The Levites were tasked with more than just ministering before the Lord, but actually guarding the holiness of the sanctuary. The Levites were tasked with the responsibility of guarding the sanctuary of the Lord, and not allowing that which was uncircumcised in flesh and heart to enter. The Levites, however, failed in their responsibility and duty to guard the sanctuary of the Lord, and allowed foreigners to have access and entrance to it. Oh, we as the people of God must be very careful what we allow to have access to our Temple and to the sanctuary of God in our lives, for if we aren’t careful, we might find fire being cast into the sanctuary. “Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place; they set up their own signs for signs. They were like those who swing axes in a forest of trees. And all its carved wood they broke down with hatchets and hammers. They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground. They said to themselves, We will utterly subdue them; they burned all the meeting places of God in the land. We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet, and there is none among us who knows how long” (Psalm 73:4-9). THEY SET YOUR SANCTUARY ON FIRE! THEY PROFANED THE DWELLING PLACE OF YOUR NAME! Let us mark these words and mark them well, for if we aren’t careful what we allow access and entrance into the sanctuary of God in our lives, we might very well find the enemy casting fire into the midst of it, and profaning the dwelling place of the name of our God. Let us as the people of God guard with all diligence and perseverance the sanctuary of His great and holy name in our lives. Let us restrict access from that which would profane, pollute, corrupt and defile the sanctuary of the Lord our God in our hearts, in our homes, and in our lives. Let us not treat lightly, nor treat with contempt the glory of the Lord our God—the God of Israel who entered the sanctuary of the Lord in Jerusalem by way of the Eastern Gate.
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