Ezekiel 44


The prophet, having finished his account of the temple, or place of

worship, proceeds, in the second section of his vision (chapters 44-46.), to

set forth the culture, or ritual, to be performed in the temple; treating first

of the several classes in the new community, and of their relation to the

sanctuary (here); next of the regulations to be observed in the

maintenance of worship (ch. 45.); and, thirdly, of certain

supplementary orders for the prince, the people, and the priests, when

engaged in the solemnities of their religion (ch. 46.). In particular, the

present chapter deals


  • with the relation of the prince to the sanctuary (vs. 1-3);
  • with that of the people, Levites, and priests (vs. 4-16); and
  • with the duties and emoluments of the priests (vs. 17-31).



The Relation of the Prince to the Sanctuary (vs. 1-3)


1 “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward

sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut.

The gate of the outward sanctuary, the outer gate of the

sanctuary (Revised Version) — which looketh toward the east. To this

door the prophet was conducted back, by way of the inner north or south

gate, from the inner court, in which he had received the measurements of

the altar and the instructions for its consecration (ch. 43:5).

Whether Ezekiel stood upon the outside of this door as in (ibid. v, 1),

or upon its inside, cannot as yet be determined; but in either case he

observed that it was shut — again, whether on the east side towards the

temple precincts, or on the west towards the outer court, is not mentioned,

and cannot at this stage be decided. What led the seer to notice that the

gate was closed was probably the circumstance that the last time he stood

beside it it was open (ibid.), though proof cannot be given that

he passed through it (ibid. v. 5), conjoined with the fact that it

formed the principal entrance to the temple, and as such had been

described to him and measured (ch. 40:6).  (See photos in previous

chapter, ch. 43, this website – CY – 2017)


2 Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not

be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the

God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.”

This gate shall be shut, The prophet must have noted this as

an important difference between the new sanctuary and the old (whether

temple or tabernacle), in which the east gate stood always open. That the

gate of the new temple was to be closed only on the six working days

Ewald mistakenly infers from ch. 46:1, where he reads, after the Septuagint,

the outer instead of the inner court. But (ibid.) refers to the east gate of the

inner court. Of the east gate of the outer court it is declared emphatically

that it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it, meaning

that it should be closed in perpetuity; and that not, as Abar-banel and

Lightfoot have supposed, to express the idea that the glory of Jehovah

should no more depart from the temple, but abide in it forever, but to

inspire an exalted conception of the sanctity of the “house”

and all its belongings, as Jehovah explained, Because the Lord, the God

of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.




The Shut Gate: Reverence (vs. 1-2)


What is the true significance of this closure? Much has been made of it by

fanciful exposition; but surely the true lesson is that which lies upon the

surface, viz. that the closed gate would be a continual reminder that the

people must reverently abstain from using the entrance through which the

Most High Himself had once passed. It was another symbolic utterance of

the truth that we must “put off our shoes” when we stand, as Moses, on

“holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) (My personal view is that this is the gate

which God left when He no longer dwelt among Israel and is concreted

up until the Messiah will enter it in the end times.  See ch. 43 - this

website - and the related comments there - CY - 2017)  The fact that there

was a closed gate in this visionary, this ideal temple, may not unfittingly

suggest to us (though it cannot be said to teach us):


  • THE WAY THAT IS BARRED. If we try to enter the kingdom of God

by the way or the gate of:


Ø      A false independence; if we attempt to reach the saving and redeeming

truth of God by our unaided intelligence, unwilling to learn of Him who

came to teach us, to be to us “the Wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24),

then we shall find no entrance there (see Matthew 18:3; I Corinthians 3:18).

The same may be said of:


Ø      Unholy indulgence; and of:


Ø      The favorable opportunity in the future. Whoever seeks to enter the

kingdom of Christ by these doers will find no open gate, but a barred way;

he must enter by the way of childlike faith, of purity, of immediate

decision. The closed gate may also suggest to us, by contrast:


  • THE OPENNESS OF THE KINGDOM. There is a very valuable and

most precious sense in which no gate is shut that was ever open into the

kingdom of God. No man, let him be who or what he may, let him have

been anything whatever in the past, coming to the gate of the kingdom of

Christ in sincere penitence and simple faith, will find it closed against him.

By whatever path he may have approached, by whatever influences

constrained, if he be earnestly desirous of seeking God and serving Him, he

will find himself before an open door. Christ Himself is the Door, and He is

ever saying, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.”

(John 6:37)  But the true lesson of the passage is:



AND SERVICE OF GOD. The shut gate said (in effect), “Where God has

come, you may not enter; there must be another way for the feeble and

sinful creature than that taken by the Almighty and Holy Creator; realize the

immeasurable difference between yourself and Him.” It is well that there

should be raised, now and again, the reminder that the Lord whom we

serve is the Most High and the Most Holy One; that it becomes us to

worship Him and to speak for Him in the spirit of deepest reverence; that if

a “holy boldness” may be cultivated, an unholy irreverence is to be most

sedulously shunned; that our dearest Friend is our Divine Lord, worthy of

the profoundest homage our hearts can pay Him, claiming the fullest

subjection we can bring to His feet, as we worship in His house or work in

His vineyard.


3 “It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before

the LORD; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and

shall go out by the way of the same.”  It is for the prince conveys an

erroneous impression, as if the edict, excluding all from passing through the

east outer gate, did not apply to the prince; but even for him the gate was not

to serve as a mode of entrance into the temple, or, if so, only on exceptional

occasions (see on ch. 46:2), but merely as a place to sit in. The Revised Version

accurately renders the words, As for the prince, he shall sit therein as

prince, etc. That the “prince” here alluded to (הַגָּשִׂיא) could not have been

the Prince David, i.e. the Messiah already spoken of (ch. 34:23-24; 37:24),

but must have denoted the civic authorities of the new community of Israel,

“the civil head of the theocracy,” Havernick infers from ch. 45:8-9, where

the coming “prince” is contrasted with Israel’s previous rulers who oppressed

their subjects, from the absence of some such characteristic predicate as

“shepherd” or “king,” which would, he thinks, have been attached to the word

“prince” had it been intended to designate Messiah, from the prince’s offering

for himself a sin offering (ch. 45:22), from the allusion to his sons (ch.46:16),

and from what is recorded about his behavior in worship (ibid. v. 2); but

none of these statements concerning the “prince’ forbids his identification

with Messiah, unless on the supposition that it was already understood

Messiah should be a Divine-human Personage. This, however, had not then

been so distinctly revealed as to be widely and accurately known. Hence it

seems enough to say that while the “prince” would have his highest

antitype in the Messiah, he would also have, though in a lower and lesser

degree, an antitype in every righteous ruler (if ever there should be such)

who might subsequently preside over Israel (see on ch. 37:25). The

phrase, to eat bread before the Lord, while referring in the first instance

to those sacrificial meals which, under the Law, commonly accompanied

unbloody offerings, as the meat offerings (Leviticus 2:3), the shewbread

(Leviticus 24:9), and the unleavened leaves of the Passover (Exodus 12:18;

Leviticus 23:6 Numbers 28:17; Deuteronomy 16:3), and could only be partaken

of by the priests, in the second instance signified to partake of sacrificial meals

in general, even of such as consisted of the portions of flesh which were eaten

in connection with ordinary bloody offerings (Genesis 31:54; Exodus 18:12).

If, after Kliefoth, the former be adopted as the import of the phrase here, then

the thought will be that in the new cultus the prince should enjoy a privilege

which under the old was not possessed even by the king; if, after Keil, the

second view be preferred, the sense will amount to this, that under the

regulations of the future the prince should have the favor accorded him

“of holding his sacrificial meals in the gate,” whereas the people should only

be permitted to hold theirs “in the court,” or “in the vicinity of the sacrificial

kitchens.”  The way of the porch is mentioned as the ingress and egress for the

prince; which implies that he should obtain access to the outer court by

either the north or the south gate, since the outer door of the east gate was

shut. This renders it probable that Ezekiel was himself standing on the

outside of the east gate (see on v. 1).



The Prerogative of the Prince (vs. 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.




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.




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” (Romans 13:1), 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.




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.




The Shut Gate (vs. 2-3)


The “Golden Gate” at Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the temple area,

looking towards the Mount of Olives, is now built up, so that it can only be

traced by means of the form of the arches and carved work embedded in a

line of wall. Tradition associates this now inaccessible archway with the

gate which Ezekiel said should be shut till the Prince passed through it.

There is a striking symbolism in Ezekiel’s description of the shut gate.

(See photo in ch. 43, this website – CY – 2017)




Ø      The way to God was closed. Man once had free access to his Father. Sin

barred the door and shut him out in the waste.


Ø      The way to life was closed. Cherubim with flaming swords, stood

between Adam and the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Fallen man cannot

recover his spiritual life; he has forfeited eternal life, and it is beyond his

power to regain it.


Ø      The way to happiness was closed. The tree of life stood in Eden, and

Eden was shut against fallen man.


Ø      The way to heaven was closed. The door was shut against the foolish

virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13)  The bliss of futurity is denied to man in

his sin.



through the gate; therefore it was to be closed against man. This suggests a

painful thought; where God is man may not be. The same idea was

prominent at Horeb, when no man or beast was to come near the mount

while God descended upon it (Exodus 19:13; Hebrews 12:20). There is a

natural feeling of the supreme majesty of God that leads to a thought of

utter separateness. No being approaches Him in greatness or rank. The

Sovereign of all is alone in His awful majesty. Yet we must not associate

vulgar ideas of pomp and ceremony with God. He does not need the

artificial dignity of separateness. He is necessarily apart from us in SHEER

GREATNESS.   But He desires to be near to His children. The real secret of

the separateness IS SIN!   Man cannot come where God is because man is

sinful and God is holy.



alone, realizes the Messianic vision of Hebrew prophecy. He is the Prince

par excellence. Christ has a right of access to God by reason of His

sinlessness, and by reason of His nature as “the Only Begotten of the

Father.” He has made a way to God by His intercession and His sacrifice.

The door, long barred by sin, is now opened by grace. First our Prince

goes through it, and Himself realizes communion with God. But He does

not keep this as a rare privilege for Himself alone. He is the “Firstborn

among many brethren” (Romans 8:29); and He opens the door of access

to God for all men. He leads all His people to the tree of life, for “he that

hath the Son hath life” (I John 5:12). He gives true blessedness to His

people. He unbars the golden gate of heaven. All who sleep in Jesus will

awake in the glorious resurrection-life of which He is the Source and

Center who could say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25).



The Relations of the People, Levites, and Priests to the Sanctuary

(vs. 4-16)


4  “Then brought he me the way of the north gate before the house:

and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house

of the LORD: and I fell upon my face.”  From the outside of the east gate of

the outer court the prophet was brought the way of the north gate, but whether

of the outer or of the inner is uncertain, and set down before the house. On the

ground that the prophet at his new station was in front of the temple, Hitzig,

Keil, and others decide for the north gate of the inner court; whereas Kliefoth,

looking to the circumstance that the first communications made to the

prophet at his new post concerned “the entering in of the house,” and “the

going forth of the sanctuary,” prefers the north gate of the outer court. But

at whichever of the gates the prophet was set down he perceived a second

time (compare ch. 43:5) that the glory of the Lord filled the house

of the Lord, and this, perhaps, should cast the balance in favor of the inner

court entrance, from which the interior of the “house” could be more easily




Reverence (v. 4)


The prophet was brought “the way of the north gate before the house,”

because it was thence that, on a previous occasion, he had been directed to

gaze upon the provision for idolatrous worship which aroused the

indignation of Jehovah. Instructions were about to be given which would

be the means of preventing a repetition of the infamous defilement of

God’s holy place which in times past had taken place within the temple

precincts. And that a suitable impression might be made, “the glory of the

Lord filled the house of the Lord.” It was upon this occasion that the

prophet, filled with reverence and awe, fell upon his face.




Ø      When men revere worldly greatness and splendor.


Ø      When men revere idols and deities, which are nothing but the work

of their own hands and the invention of their own minds.



was that felt and manifested by Ezekiel in the presence of the glory of the



Ø      The nature of man is capable of true and profound reverence. There

is groveling and degrading homage offered to men or to supposed

supernatural powers — homage not worthy to be designated

reverence.  But man has the capacity of honoring the noblest and

the best; and this is among the sublimest capacities of his nature.


Ø      The attributes, the character, of God deserve such reverence. The more

the Eternal is studied, as manifested in His works and in His Word, the

more will it be felt that He is the one fit Object of reverential regard and

worship.  The admonition of the angel addressed to the seer of the

Apocalypse was just and is universally applicable, “Worship God!”

          (Revelation 19:10; 22:9)



AND ADORATION. A natural manifestation of reverence is that accorded

in the text: “I fell upon my face.” The attitude of the body and the expression

of the countenance are the natural revelation of the deep feelings of awe and

veneration. A more articulate expression is the language of prayer and praise,

which must indeed always be inadequate, which yet may in all conceivable

circumstances be employed by the Church of Christ. All attitudes and all

language are vain except as the manifestation of the deep feelings of the

heart. Yet it is not possible for men to have a just view of God, to feel

aright towards Him, without presenting some audible or visible, some

manifest expression of such thought and emotion. Man is both soul and

body, and the movements, the attitudes, the utterances, of the bodily

nature are the expressions of what is intellectual and spiritual.

Worship, to be acceptable, must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), they

who are in the flesh will bow in reverence or kneel in supplication, will

pour forth their gratitude in song, and their faith and adoration in petition

and in praise.


5 “And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold

with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee

concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all

the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with

every going forth of the sanctuary.”  Having fallen on his face before the

renewed theophany, the prophet was summoned as once before (ch. 40:4), but

with greater emphasis than before, to mark well, or set his heart to observe, the

communications about to be made to him concerning all the ordinances of the

house of the Lord, and all the laws thereof (see on ch. 43:11), more especially

with regard to the persons who should have a right to participate in its services.




The Attentive Consideration of Religious Truth (v. 5)


Ezekiel was to mark well the minute directions which were given to him

concerning the temple. He was not a builder, and there is no reason to

think that he was expected to consider these matters with a view to

carrying out the work of constructing the new temple. But it was important

that he should attend to the suggestiveness of every detail, because all that

was here set forth was symbolical of spiritual truth. The smallest points of

this truth should be considered with exactness, while every effort is made

to grasp and comprehend it in its vast length and breadth.



Great attention is required for a man’s business if that is to be made

successful. Politics absorb the thoughts of those who are much

engaged in them. Pleasure, and what is called “sport” command

earnest attention. Is it right that these things should occupy all a man’s

faculties, and that religion should be treated in an off-hand style as not

worth much thought? Yet the conduct of multitudes would suggest that

this supreme interest could be sufficiently considered by occasional and

listless attendance at public worship. But note how important it is.


Ø      It concerns God. Surely He — Maker of all things, Ruler of the universe,

“in whom we live and move and have our being,” our Father and our God

IS WORTHY of some thoughtful attention.


Ø      It concerns our duty. The chief thing to be thought of is what we ought

to do. To give much attention to our worldly interests and pleasures, and

to treat our duty with thoughtless indifference, is to show shameful

negligence of what is supremely important to us.


Ø      It concerns our eternal welfare. Religion is a matter of life and death. Its

truth embraces eternity. When the petty affairs of this brief life are

forgotten, its mighty issues will still proceed to work our highest

blessedness or our utter destruction.



is not to be taken in with indolent ease. A man cannot comprehend his

Bible at a glance, as he would his newspaper. Religious truth requires

thought for several reasons.


Ø      It is remote from our common experience. It should not be so; but sin

has introduced an entirely different train of ideas. We require an effort to

bring thoughts of religion vividly to mind.


Ø      It is concerned with great mysteries. We can never understand it

perfectly; but there is room in it for the explorations of the greatest minds.

We must never forget, indeed, that its most precious pearls are for simple,

childlike minds; that God has revealed to babes what He has hidden from

the wise (Matthew 11:25). But who gives such absorbing attention to

what interests them as children? We just need the child’s whole-hearted

listening, as when he drinks in a tale, every detail of which he pictures to

himself in his fresh imagination.  (“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be

converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the

kingdom of heaven.”  - Matthew 18:3)



We now come to the practical point — How are we to give full attention to

this great subject?


Ø      We must fix attention. “Mark well.” The mind tends to float away from

difficult subjects. The anchor to hold it is some keen interest. The love of

truth, or, better, the love of Christ, should serve as such an anchor.


Ø      We must look into truth. “And behold with thine eyes, and ‘hear with

thine cars.” We must, so to speak, visualize truth. To make it real we must

see it before us. But first we must look for it.  (“Ask, and it shall be

given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto

you.”  - Matthew 7:7)   There is a seeing and hearing by experience that

is better than all indirect testimony. As soon as we thus come into personal

contact with truth it is likely to be interesting to us.  Then it is a real thing.

Above all, it is well to follow the Greeks, who “would see Jesus,”

(John 12:21) and by living experience to know Him for ourselves.


6 “And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel,

Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all

your abominations,”  Let it suffice you of all your abominations. It was not

without significance that at the north gate, which had formerly been

represented as the scene of Israel’s idolatries (ch. 8:5), the prophet

should be reminded of those past iniquities of his nation, and receive

instructions as to how the new community should be preserved from

lapsing into similar transgressions.



A Sufficiency of Sin  (v. 6)



sin is in excess of what it should be, for no sin is permissible. How, then,

can there be such a thing as a sufficiency of it? We may regard this as an

ironical idea, or as a thought that is useful in the argumentum ad hominem

(the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing

a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the

soundness of the argument.)  It is as though a man had said he must have some

sin, and now the question is raised — Has he not had enough? Those who

sin greatly may be said to have had more than enough — to have attained

what James calls “a superfluity of naughtiness” (James 1:21). The

sufficiency of sin may be tested in three ways.


Ø      By its magnitude. What more can the sinner desire? Would he still add

to his enormous pile of guilt? Surely no mortal man could crave a heavier



Ø      By its fruits. The pleasures of sin soon cloy, and the foolish slave of vice

has to turn from one to another form of evil to whet his jaded appetite.

One would have thought that he had got his surfeit. Is there yet more

pleasure to be extracted from the rotten root of sin? Certainly the more

it is drawn upon the less really enjoyable are its products.


Ø      By its penalties. All this sin must be paid for, and the time of reckoning

is at hand. Is not the sin already committed enough to have to answer for?

It will be a heavy account as it is, if no more be added.




Ø      It should not be increased. It is great enough; let us add no more to it.

This awful tale of guilt can never be met; it would be madness to proceed

still further in piling up accusations against one’s self.


Ø      It should be regarded with profound penitence. There are not many

things of which the sinner is full. In regard to his better nature he seems to

be a helpless bankrupt. Indeed, he has but one perfect thing — his sin. He

is rich only in one commodity — wickedness. Surely the consciousness of

such a state of affairs should overwhelm him with grief and shame.


Ø      It should be brought to God for pardon. Man cannot undo the past, nor

can he compensate for the many misdeeds he has committed. Were his sin

but small, it would still be impossible for him to atone for it. With a fullness

of sin to account for, there can be no possibility for hope in man alone. But

great as man’s sin is, THE LOVE OF GOD IS GREATER!   Heavy as is

his guilt, the merits of Christ outweigh it all. Thanks be to God, the sufficiency

of man’s sin is met by the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement. The sin was great

to require the death of the Son of God; but since Christ has died for it, the

SUPREME WORK OF REDEMPTION  has been accomplished. Even a

surfeit of past sin is now no barrier to GOD’S FULL PARDON of His

penitent children.


7 “In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised

in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it,

even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they

have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.”

The special sin chargeable against Israel in the past had been the

introduction into the sanctuary, while the priests were engaged in sacrifice,

of strangers — aliens (Revised Version); literally, sons of a stranger —

uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, in express

contravention of Jehovah’s covenant. Ewald, Havernick, Hengstenberg,

Schroder, and Currey restrict the designation “strangers” to unfaithful and

unauthorized priests, who, as in the days of Israel’s apostasy, notoriously

under Jeroboam (I Kings 12:31; II Chronicles 11:15), may, in the

confluence of idolatries that took place in Jerusalem during the reigns of

Ahaz (II Kings 16:3-4, 10-15; II Chronicles 28:2-4, 23-25) and

Manasseh (II Kings 21:2-7, 11, 15; II Chronicles 33:2-7), have been

admitted to participate in the temple services; but Kliefoth, Delitzsch, Keil,

Smend, and Plumptre, with better judgment, recognize in the “strangers”

foreigners who had not incorporated themselves with Israel by submitting

to circumcision, but, though dwelling in the midst of Israel, were still

uncircumcised heathen in both heart and flesh. With regard to these

foreigners, the Law of Moses (Leviticus 17:8,10) enacted that, by

accepting circumcision, they might become members of the Israelitish

commonwealth, but that without this they could not be permitted to

partake of the Passover, the highest symbol of national and religious unity

(Exodus 12:48-49). Nevertheless, it was open to them, on giving a

certain measure of obedience to the Law (ibid. v. 19; 20:10; Leviticus 17:10, 12;

18:26; 20:2; 24:16, 22), to enter the sanctuary and present all sorts of offerings

to Jehovah (Leviticus 17:8; Numbers 15:14, 29) Hence Israel’s offence had not

been the admission of such “sons of the stranger” into the sanctuary, but the

admission of them without insisting on the above specified conditions, in other

words, the admission of such as not only lacked the bodily mark of circumcision —

which would not have excluded them — but were destitute as well of the first

elements of Hebrew piety, i.e. were as uncircumcised in heart as they were in the

flesh. The sanctioning of such within the temple courts, while Jehovah’s

bread, the fat and the blood, was being offered, i.e. while sacrificial

worship was being performed, was not simply a desecration of the “house,”

but was an express violation of the covenant Jehovah had made with Israel

with reference to these very “sons of the stranger.”


8 And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have

set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves.”

Instead of having exercised a holy solicitude for the purity of

the temple and the regularity of its rites, by keeping strict watch over the

holy things of Jehovah, the house of Israel had set keepers; literally, had

set them, i.e. the uncircumcised “strangers” above referred to, as keepers

of Jehovah’s charge in His sanctuary for themselves, i.e. to please

themselves, irrespective altogether of Jehovah’s enactments. From this it

has been argued, by Wellhausen, Smend, Driver, and others, that the

“strangers” above mentioned had been not only allowed access to the outer

court as spectators or as worshippers while the priests were offering

sacrifice, but admitted to the inner court as assistants to the priests in their

altar duties, that this, the employment of these heathen hierodules, had

been the special wickedness of which Israel had been guilty, and that

henceforward these “foreign ministers” were to be thrust out from their

offices, and their places supplied by the about-to-be-degraded Levites. It is,

however, doubtful if the phrase, keepers of my charge in the sanctuary,

can be made to signify more than has already been expressed by the clause,

“to be in my sanctuary… when ye offer my bread” (v. 7), by which, as

Kliefoth and Keil explain, Israel had practically made these strangers

“keepers of Jehovah’s charge,” i.e. observers of the rites of worship

prescribed by him, though observers in their way, not in his; if more can be

extracted from the words, then the most they can be legitimately made to

affirm (as there is no mention of the inner court) is that these “strangers,”

in addition to obtaining access to the outer court to witness the sacrifices,

or perhaps offer such for themselves, had been more or less frequently

employed in performing subordinate offices towards the Levites, who were

the proper priests’ assistants, like the Gibeonites, whom Joshua (9:27)

made “hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for

the altar of the Lord unto this day,” and like the Nethinim, whom,

according to Ezra (8:20), David and the princes had given for the service

of the Levites (see Delitzsch, Luthardt’sZeitschrift fur kirchliche

Wissenschaft,’ 1880, p. 283). (On the phrase, “to keep the charge of

Jehovah,” as signifying to follow His directions or comply with His

prescriptions, see Numbers 9:23.) “In the sanctuary” explains that the

prescriptions alluded to were those pertaining to the sanctuary or to the

worship of Jehovah.



Religion by Proxy (v. 8)


The people had neglected their own duty in regard to the worship of God,

and had appointed hirelings to discharge the sacred offices in their stead.

This was a case of trying to practice religion by proxy. We often see the

attempt made in various ways now, but it is doomed to failure.



PROXY. There are now many Jews in Jerusalem kept in idleness by their

more wealthy brethren in Europe, who hope by this expedient to secure for

themselves the merit of living and dying in the Holy City, without

undergoing the irksome experience of actual residence. In Roman Catholic

countries it is common to devote a sum of money to the payment of the

priest who is to say so many Masses on behalf of a person. Among

ourselves there is an unconfessed but common notion that the minister in

some way performs the offices of religion on behalf of the people, who

stand by as idle spectators, and yet enjoy the fruits of his vicarious service.

The development of elaborate ritual and the cultivation of highly ornate

choral services tend in this direction, by taking the acts of worship out of

the grasp of the people, and consigning them to the clergy and choir.

Where this is not the case, there is a common feeling that the mere

attendance at church when a service is being conducted is of some religious

efficacy, the officiating minister carrying on the real worship on behalf of

the congregation, which may be listless and indifferent, so long as he

discharges his duty faithfully. Or perhaps the religion by proxy is attempted

in the way of money payments. The rich man who will make no moral

sacrifice, and who is unwilling to worship God or serve Him, subscribes to

charities and Missionary Societies, and consoles himself by the thought that

he is supporting religion and other good works. He is not a pillar of the

church within the sacred building, but he is a sort of buttress outside it. By

this indirect service of a money payment he thinks to compound for his

irreligion. Lastly, living in a Christian land, belonging to a Christian home,

and having Christian associates are regarded as matters of some religious

value by people who possess no real religion of their own. Thus they too

would be religious by proxy.



his own personal dealings with God. There are such things as mediation,

intercession, and vicarious sacrifices. The good mother is spiritually helpful

to her children. Christ’s righteousness, His obedience, and His sacrifice are

for the good of the world. But none of these things will compensate for

irreligion in those who would avail themselves of their advantages.

Moreover, God looks to the heart. Money gifts not offered by a grateful,

devout heart, but only paid in fines to exonerate a man from the

consequences of his misdeeds and negligence, are of no value whatever in

the sight of God. There is no merit in helping the religion of other people if

no right motive inspires the action. The very desire to be religious by proxy

reveals a wrong state of the heart, for it shows that those people who

experience it have no love for God and no real inclination for religion. The

man whose heart is right with God will not wish to be religious by proxy.

The son who has true affections will have no inclination to pay a substitute

to take his place in the family circle. When his heart is renewed the

Christian is most eager to be near to God, for then worship is glad and



Vs. 9-16. Accordingly, that no such abuses might creep in to

desecrate the temple of the future, a new Torah was promulgated

concerning the persons who should have a right to participate in its

services. If the “prince” is omitted, the reason probably was that a special

section is subsequently devoted to him (Ezekiel 46:1-8).


9 “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.”  The ordinance for the people. No stranger

(or, alien), uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter

into my sanctuary. The publication of this edict marked a clear advance upon

preceding legislation. The old Torah conceded right of access to a

foreigner, though uncircumcised, on certain conditions (v. 7); this new

Torah would accord such right of access to a foreigner on no conditions.

Even should he be circumcised in the flesh, unless he possessed also that

which the bodily mark symbolized, viz. circumcision of heart, he must

remain without. Does not this look as if Ezekiel were posterior to the

priest-code, rather than vice versa, as Wellhausen contends?



The Exclusion of the Stranger (v. 9)


There was a strict exclusiveness about the Hebrew religion. Only the

circumcised were to share in its privileges. In regard to outward ordinances

and national distinctions, this exclusiveness is destroyed by Christ, and His

gospel is free to Gentile as well as Jew, to the uncircumcised as well as the

circumcised (Galatians 5:6). Nevertheless, in spite of the new breadth

of Christianity, the ideas suggested by the old, narrow exclusiveness still

obtain, though now only in spiritual relations.



PRIVILEGES OF RELIGION. It matters not what nation he belongs to;

now we have to do with spiritual, not national distinctions. Thus it is

possible that the Jew or the Christian may be a stranger to God, while the

Gentile and one of a heathen nation may really know and love God. But

where the distinction is it does involve serious consequences. It is a

mistake to treat a Christian nation as though all its citizens enjoyed the

favor of Heaven; and it is a mistake to address a Christian congregation as

though all its members were devout men and women. Now, so long as a

man is alienated from God, he is excluded from all the highest blessings of

the gospel. The door of heaven is shut against the hard, the worldly, the

impenitent. Surely some Church discipline should be exercised in regard to

those whose alienation from God is undisguised. To keep up the name of

Church-fellowship with people in this unhappy condition is to delude them

with false hopes.



Even in the directions that concern the old Jewish ritual this class is named

as well as that of the uncircumcised in flesh. The one great question is as to

the state of a man’s heart. The uncircumcised heart is given up to sinful

naturalism. Pure human nature should be fit for the presence of God, but

sinful human nature is not. Unclean and degraded, it needs a spiritual

circumcision before it can be accepted by God. In the state of sin man is

thus far from God, and so excluded from the privileges of enjoying

heavenly Blessings. But the estrangement that results from this sinful

condition involves a state of ignorance. Alienated from God, sinful man

does not know his loss. He is out in the darkness, a heathen, though

bearing the Christian name.




PRIVILEGE OF ACCESS TO GOD. The hindrance must first be



Ø      There must be a change of heart. The mischief is in the heart; thither the

cure must be brought. Thus the first thing is for a man to pray that God

would create in him a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).


Ø      This can only be brought about by a Divine renewal, which may be

called the circumcision of the heart. God, and He only, can create, and we

need to be new creatures in Christ Jesus.


Ø      This may be realized through the gospel of Christ. He has come to call

in the strangers. By His great all-embracing love He reconciles “them that

are afar off” as well as “them that are near”  (Ephesians 2:17)  There are

now no barriers which the grace of Christ cannot break through. It only

remains for the strangers and uncircumcised in heart to avail themselves

of that grace by penitent confession of sin and active trust in Christ.




Church-Worship Vital to the Soul (vs. 4-9)


As the heart is vital to the body, and sends its tide of life to every organ in

the system, so the sanctuary is the central source of spiritual life to the

human commonwealth. What the Church is, the home will be, the town will

be, the nation will be. The guilt contracted by Israel in the temple was a

fount of iniquity whence defilement spread to every part of the body

politic. The sin of the sanctuary was the sin of sins. On the other hand, the

sanctuary may be a well-spring of salvation. The loftiest expectations

cherished here God will satisfy. “This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell.”

(Psalm 132:14)  Here, “he that asks, receives.” “I looked, and, behold,

the glory of the Lord filled the house.” (v. 4)



mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, all that I

say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house.” Of such moment

to human interests are these laws and ordinances, that the prophet must

give concentrated attention to the matter. Every faculty of soul must be

engaged to learn the will of God, and to do it. There are subtle bonds of

vital connection between the human soul and temple-worship, which easily

escape the notice of the eye. To gain the good which God intends we must

prepare the heart and mind beforehand. “Mark well the entering in of the

house” High expectation of blessing should be raised. A state of mind free

from selfish care should be fostered. As the photographer carefully

prepares his plate to receive a faithful impression, so equally concerned

should we be to prepare our hearts for high and intimate converse with

God. Nor should we be unmindful how we depart from that august

Presence. What care is needed to bury deep in our memory the truths we

have received! What care ought there be to retain the anointing of holy

influence upon the soul!



INVISIBLE. To be acceptable worshippers God required that they should

be circumcised in flesh and circumcised in heart. The one was designed to

be the visible symbol of the other. To circumcise the flesh would be

useless if there was not also the circumcision of the heart. The circumcision

of the flesh was instructive and disciplinary — was a test of obedience. To

neglect this was a willful and open breach of the covenant made with

Israel. In our present earthly state, outward religions forms are highly

useful; but if they remain only forms — done without heart -

— they are barren of blessing to men. As the race advances in religious

culture, simpler and fewer forms will suffice. Men will be able to rise to

communion with God without the intervention of rites. In the heavenly

home no temple is found, for GOD HIMSELF IS THE TEMPLE,

and the redeemed have immediate access to His presence. But for the

present, visible ordinances are the best channels by which we can gain

fellowship with God.



the God of Israel demanded internal purity as the condition of approaching

Him, He would have shut out the whole race of men from His house. But His

high design is to create holy character among men, and every arrangement

of temple-worship has purification for its end. The uncircumcised Gentiles

were allowed to enter an outer court; the circumcised could have nearer

approach; an inner circle was reserved for the children of Levi; and only

one of all the human race was permitted to enter the holiest sanctuary —

the very presence-chamber of Jehovah. In this way the world was taught

the value of moral purity. In proportion to holiness of character is the

nearness of access to God, The pure in heart shall see Him. Hence the

cardinal distinction between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, which

God so wisely imposed. With that man God dwells who has a humble and

contrite heart. (Isaiah 66:2)  To promote moral purity is the proper design

of Church-worship.



is to repel God in the act of His most gracious approach to men. It is to

wound God in the tenderest part of His nature. Sacrilege has always been

counted a most heinous offence. To secularize the temple is to destroy the

only ladder by which we can climb to heaven. To trifle with religion is to

commit spiritual suicide. On this head our Lord asks, “If the light that is in

thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”  (Matthew 6:23)  As

new-fallen snow is among the most beautiful of natural objects, so

tarnished snow is most offensive to the eye. If the only fount of living

water be poisoned, how can the life of men Be sustained? To abuse the

ordinances of the sanctuary is to starve one’s own soul, is to make religion

obnoxious to our fellows, is to insult Jehovah. This is man’s crowning sin —

“a sin unto death.”



“Ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers

of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves." In the eyes of God it was a

foul offence that the priests had delegated their work to others — to

persons whom Jehovah had not appointed and did not approve! It is

impossible for any man to devolve his service for God upon another

person. God’s service cannot be discharged by proxy. Just as no man can

transfer to another his talents, or his qualities, or his position, so no man

can transfer his responsibilities or his work. Already God has supreme

claim to the entire service of that man to whom I may wish to transfer my

task. Already he is under tribute to serve the same Master. Moreover, by

abandoning my service, I abandon my reward and my joy. Delegation of

service in God’s kingdom is forbidden. “Each one of us must give account

of himself before God.”  (Romans 14:12)  Rightly understood, service is

privilege. To serve is to reign.



    The True Circumcision and the True Worshipper (v. 9)


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.



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






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,





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 (John 3:7)

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.




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. (Revelation 21:27)  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.


10  “And the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went

astray, which went astray away from me after their idols; they shall

even bear their iniquity.  11 Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary,

having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they

shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall

stand before them to minister unto them.  12 Because they ministered unto

them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity;

therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and

they shall bear their iniquity.  13 And they shall not come near unto me, to do

the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in

the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations

which they have committed. 14 But I will make them keepers of the charge

of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein.”

The ordinance for the Levites. According to the so-called priest-code, the Levites

were Levi’s descendants, who were chosen by Jehovah for service in the tabernacle

(Numbers 3:6-13; 16:9), to minister to the priests when these sacrificed in the

tabernacle (ibid. ch.8:19; 18:6), and in particular to keep the charge of the tabernacle,

i.e. of the house and all its vessels (ibid. ch.1:53), as distinguished from the

charge of the sanctuary and of the altar, which pertained to Aaron and his

sons alone as priests (ibid. ch. 18:2-6, 23). The Deuteronomic code,

says Wellhausen (‘Geschichte Israels,’ pp. 121, etc.), was unacquainted

with any such distinction between Levites and priests, who, it is alleged,

composed one homogeneous body, the tribe of Levi, whose members were

equally empowered to officiate at the altar (Deuteronomy 10:8), the

lower duties of the tabernacle having been performed by the aforesaid

strangers, and the subordination of Levites to priests having first been

suggested by Ezekiel (compare  Smend, ‘Der Prophet Ezekiel,’ p. 361, “Der

unterschied zwischen Priestern und Leviten ist hier im Enstehn

begriffen”), and first formally carried out alter the exile. This theory,

however, cannot be admitted as made out in face of


(1) Deuteronomy 18., which (v. 1) recognizes “the priests” and "the

Levites” as constituting “the whole tribe of Levi,” and (v. 3, 6)

distinguishes between “the priest” and “the Levite;”


(2) II Samuel 15:24, which associates with Zadok the priest, the Levites

as carriers of the ark;


(3) I Kings 8:4, in which the same distinction between the two bodies

is recognized;


(4) I and II Chronicles, passim, which attest the existence of priests and

Levites as separate temple officials in pre-exilic times; and


(5) Ezra 1:5, 62; 3:8, 10; 6:20, which show that the distinction, alleged

to have been first made by Ezekiel, was well known to the first company of

exiles who returned under Zerubbabel to Jerusalem, and was by them

traced back to pre-exilic times (see Keil, on Deuteronomy 18:1;

Curtiss’sLevitical Priests,’ pp. 22, etc.; Delitzsch, in Luthardt’sZeitschrift

fur kirchliche Wissensehaft,’ pp. 286, etc., aud in Riehm’s

Handworterbuch des Biblischen Alterthums,’ art. “Leviten;” Oehler, in

Herzog’s ‘Real-Encyclopadie,’ art. “Levi”).


The question, therefore, of which Levites Ezekiel speaks in this verse, whether of

those whose duties were of a menial order or of those whose functions partook of

a priestly character, is not difficult to resolve. It could hardly have been the

former, since in vs. 11-14 Ezekiel’s Levites are represented as about to be

degraded by being relegated to inferior tasks than those they had formerly

performed; it must have been the latter, because in the present verse they

are designated the Levites that are gone away (or, went) far from me,

when Israel went astray. Now, Israel’s apostasy from Jehovah and

declension towards idolatry began with Solomon’s unfaithfulness

(I Kings 11:4-8), and continued with greater or less intensity in every

subsequent reign till the exile; it certainly cannot be restricted, as Keil and

Currey propose, to Jeroboam’s conduct in setting up rival sanctuaries in

Dan and Bethel, with altars and priests, for the accommodation of the

northern kingdom (ibid. ch. 12:26-33). Nor is there room for doubting,

although historical notices of the fact are not abundant, that in this

apostasy the priesthood largely led the way (Jeremiah 26:7, 11; II Kings

16:11-16; Zephaniah 1:4), becoming priests of the high places,

ministering for the people at heathen altars, and so causing them to fall into

iniquity (v. 12). Hengstenberg and Plumptre suggest that the reason why

these apostate priests are now called Levites was to intimate that they were

no more worthy of the priesthood, and were about to be reduced to the

lower ministry of the Levites so called. Consequently, under the new

Torah, those among the priests (who were also Levites) who had been

guilty of this flagrant wickedness (i.e., says Delitzsch, all the Aaronides

who were not Zadokitos) would no more, either in themselves or their

descendants, be suffered to retain the priestly office, but would be

degraded to the status of ordinary Levites, and, like them, should be

ministers in Jehovah’s sanctuary, having charge — or, oversight

(Revised Version) — at the gates of the house, and ministering, to (or, in)

the house, i.e. in its courts, serving as keepers of the charge of the house

(v. 14), as watchers at the gates of the house (v. 11), as slaughterers of

the sacrificial victims (v. 11), but should not, like their brethren who had

remained faithful, be allowed to do the office of a priest, i.e. approach the

altar to offer sacrifice, or to enter into the holy place (v. 13). In this way

they should bear their iniquity (vs. 10,12) — a favorite expression in

the middle books of the Pentateuch (Exodus 28:38, 43; Leviticus

5:1; 10:17; 20:19; Numbers 5:31; 18:1), but never occurring in

Deuteronomy, and meaning “to be requited” on account of, and make

expiation for, sin and their shame and their abominations, i.e. the shame

due to them for their abominations — a specially Ezekelian phrase

(compare ch. 16:52, 54; 32:30; 36:7).



Divine Discrimination (vs. 9-14)


The prophet is necessarily expressing himself in the terms of the old

dispensation; and he declares, in God’s name, that no man who has not

received a right spirit (uncircumcised in heart), and that no man who has

not been admitted to the citizenship of the kingdom of God

(“uncircumcised in flesh”), can “enter the sanctuary” — can come into

closest contact with, and render holiest service unto, the Lord (see v. 9).

And he further declares that those of his people who had grievously sinned

against Him by their guilty apostasy should be excluded from the more

sacred offices of the priesthood; yet that they should be admitted to the

humbler posts of guarding the doors, of slaying ‘the sacrificial animals, and

of ministering to those priests who were worthier than themselves (vs. 11, 14).

The general lesson we learn is that God deals with us graciously

and generously, but discriminately. He gives to all His children, but He does

not give the same kind, nor does He give the same measure, to all; He is

merciful to the penitent, but He does not let His mercy obscure or reduce His

righteousness. Those who have done serious wrong “bear their iniquity”

(v. 10), they “bear their shame” (v. 13); and yet they have their place

and do their work in the day of restoration (see vs. 11, 14). In that

kingdom of God wherein we now stand we see illustrations of this Divine

discrimination in:



all His creatures, to all His children; but He gives much more to some than

He does to others. Herein is no favoritism or injustice. It is simply the

presence of a most desirable variety; the conferring upon every one more

than he deserves or can claim, and upon some a very large inheritance of

good. Not any one of us is entitled to our being, or our comforts, or our

powers; but God, in the fullness of His bounty, gives us these. Shall we

complain because there are those to whom He has been even more

bountifully than He has to us? Shall we not rather rejoice and be grateful

that He has not limited His love as He might well have done? In fact,

although very much inequality here is due to our own poor use  of wisdom,

much is due to the variety in the Divine distribution. To some He gives more

vigorous health, a clearer or more active mind, a stronger will, a fuller or

longer life. Surely gratitude and not complaint is the note of the wise and

the good.



While there is no one who may not and who should not bring his

contribution to the cause of Christ and of man, it is clear that some may do

a much higher and a much greater work than others can. To some it is

given to guard the door only; to others to present the sacrifice unto the

Lord. Some with a feeble intelligence and a scanty knowledge may be quite

equal to a humble post; others with versatile and vigorous powers and a

well-stored mind may render most important and vital service. And there

are many degrees between the humblest and the highest office in the

Christian ranks. Let every man feel that to be or to do anything for Christ

is a joy and an honor; let those who are invited to the “chief seats” remind

themselves that they “have nothing which they have not received,” and let

them do everything “as with the ability which God giveth.”


  • THE EXERCISE OF DIVINE MERCY. The “Levites that went

astray after their idols” were to receive the Divine mercy; they were to be

restored to their place in the commonwealth of Israel; they were to be

admitted to service at and indeed in the sanctuary (see vs. 11, 14); but

they could not wholly regain what they had lost; some of their iniquity (or

shame, v. 13) they would have to bear; at a certain point their privileges

stopped. Now, in the kingdom of Christ, we have the same kind of Divine



Ø      There is mercy for those who have gone furthest astray. Into whatever

alienation of heart, rejection by the mind, guiltiness of behavior, they have

wandered, there is forgiveness to be had in Jesus Christ.  (Psalm 130:4,7)


Ø      The mercy of God means much. It means the absolute pardon of all past

sin; the restoration of the soul to the favor and the friendship of God;

access, full and free, to His praise, His throne, His table; liberty to serve

Him in the broad field of sacred usefulness.


Ø      But there is some serious and necessary qualification. They who have

gone very far into wrong-doing, or have spent many years in sinful

estrangement, must “bear their iniquity” in one sense — they must suffer

the injury which their sin has wrought in the formation of evil habits

(mental or physical) which cannot be immediately cast forth; in the loss of

reputation which cannot be at once regained; in the enfeeblement of the

soul (or, at any rate, the loss of strength and influence that might have been

acquired) which has to be endured. Sin means some considerable measure

of absolutely irreparable loss.


15 “But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of

my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall

come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me

to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD:

16 They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to

my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”

The ordinance for the priests. That Ezekiel derived the phrase,

the priests the Levites, from Deuteronomy (17:9; 18:1; 24:8; 27:9) may

be granted without admitting that the Levites were all priests, or

that the phrase had other import than that the priests were, as the

Deuteronomist says, “sons of Levi” (ch. 21:5; 31:9). The priesthood, at its

institution, having been entrusted to Aaron and his sons (Exodus 27:20-21;

28:1-4; 29:9, 44; Numbers 3:10; 16:40; 18:7; 25:13), on Aaron’s

death the high priesthood passed into the hands of Eleazar, his eldest

(living) son (Numbers 20:26-28), and after Eleazar’s death into those

of Phinehas, his eldest son (Numbers 25:11-13). In the last days of the

judges, when the ark and tabernacle stood at Shiloh? The high priesthood

belonged to Eli, of the line of Ithamar (compare I Samuel 14:3 and 22:20

with I Chronicles 24:3), in which line it continued till the reign of

David, when it was held conjointly by Abiathar (called also Ahimelech) of

the line of Ithamar, and Zadok of the line of Eleazar (II Samuel 8:17; 20:25;

I Kings 4:4). This arrangement, however, Solomon eventually

overturned, by deposing the former for espousing Adonijah’s pretensions

to the throne (I Kings 1:7; 2:26), and from that time forward till the

exile the high priesthood remained with Zadok and his sons (I Kings 2:35;

I Chronicles 29:22). When, therefore, it is announced to Ezekiel

that his vision-sanctuary should have as priests the sons of Zadok, that

kept the charge of Jehovah’s sanctuary, when the children of Israel

went astray from Him; the first question that arises is — To what does

this allude? Kliefoth holds it cannot mean that, while Israel as a whole

declined into idolatry, the Zadokite priests remained faithful to the worship

of Jehovah, because the vision of Judah’s idolatries granted to the prophet,

in ch. 8:16, revealed quite clearly that the priesthood was as much

caught in the national apostasy as were the princes or the people. Nor is

the language of the text perfectly satisfied by the view of Havernick, Keil,

Delitzsch, and others, that it goes beck to Zadok’s fidelity to the throne of

David at the time of Absalom’s rebellion (II Samuel 15:24-29), a

fidelity exhibited also by Abiathar, or to his adherence to Solomon in

preference to Adonijah (I Kings 1:8, 39), this time without Abiathar’s

concurrence, rather in the face of his opposition. In neither of these

instances was Zadok’s fidelity specially directed towards Jehovah’s

sanctuary, but concerned expressly and exclusively David’s throne. Hence

the commendation of the Zadokites’ fidelity can only signify that, while the

priesthood as a body were corrupt like the people, there were among them,

as among the people, some who, like Ezekiel, continued steadfast to

Jehovah’s sanctuary; that these faithful few were Zadokites (see

ch. 48:11), and that to these should be entrusted the priesthood in

the new sanctuary. But, at this point, a second question starts — Was it

intended to declare that the new priesthood should be Zadokites in body,

i.e. in respect of lineal descent, or only in soul, i.e. in respect of moral and

religious excellence? The former is contended by Kuenen, Wellhausen,

Smend, and others, who see in the vision-sanctuary a plan of the second, or

post-exilic, temple, and in its ordinances a program for the establishment of

the Levitical hierarchy; but this contention shatters itself on the fact that no

proof exists either that the second temple was constructed after Ezekiel’s

as a model, or that those who served in it were exclusively flesh and blood

Zadokites. The latter opinion, favored by Kliefoth, appears the more

correct, that moral and spiritual resemblance to the sons of Zadok should

form the first qualification for the priesthood in this ideal sanctuary of the

future (see note at the end of ch. 48.).




    The Degradation of the Levites  (vs. 10-16)


From this interesting passage it would appear that there was a time when

the Levites enjoyed free access to the altar, and were allowed to serve as

priests before the Lord. But they had abused their privileges in admitting

heathen people to the sacred enclosure, in doing their work by proxy, in

even going aside to idolatry. Therefore they were degraded from their high

functions — all of them except one family, that of Zadok. As the members

of this family had remained true, the priesthood was now settled

exclusively on them, while the rest of the Levites were put down to serve

in secondary offices in connection with the temple ritual.



unfaithful priest is deprived of his rank and ministry. Of Judas it was said,

“His bishopric let another take” (Acts 1:20). The hireling may direct

the flock for a season to his own advantage. Even the thief and the wolf

may be in office. We cannot judge of a man’s character by his rank, nor can

we tell what is his position in the eyes of God by observing his

ecclesiastical status. Much is expected of those to whom much has been

given. (Luke 12:48)  Therefore the disloyal servant who stands in a high

position will be most sternly judged. His first penalty will be loss of office.

The man who had buried his talent is deprived of it (Matthew 25:28).



HUMBLER DUTIES. The Levites are not discharged; they are only put to

lower offices. God inflicts no heavier penalties than are absolutely

necessary, He bears no grudge against any of His servants. If we have failed

in a more honorable position, we need not despair; there may be a lowly

work which we can still perform. It must have been most painful for the

Levites to be thus forced to take a lower place. Possibly at first they would

rather have given up the whole temple service, and have devoted

themselves to secular pursuits. It speaks well for them that they silently

confessed the justice of what was done, and quietly took the lower place. It

is hard, like John the Baptist, to step back and give way for a new man;

hard to say, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). But

he who has the cause of Christ at heart will be willing to do anything for

the service of his Master. Many would be willing to take the rank of

priests. The test is whether we will obey when we are called to the more

humble work of the Levites.




is the gain of the family of Zadok. The talent that is taken from the idle

servant is given to the servant with ten talents. We may here see a hierarchy

in the making. Merit and practical utility lie at the foundation of institutions

that have subsequently become more formal. But merit and utility should

always govern the appointment to office. There is no higher honor than to

have been true in a time of general unfaithfulness.




Reward and Punishment on Earth (vs. 10-16)


According to rank and position in the Church is responsibility. Example is

contagious. Treachery by a military officer is a graver sin than treachery by

a soldier in the ranks. Pollution at the fount is a greater evil than pollution

in a branch-stream. Disease in the heart is a more serious matter than

disease in the skin or at the extremities. If the priests of God sanction

idolatry, the whole nation will follow suit, and the cause of God is

betrayed. The sin of Judas lay in this — that he had been a trusted friend

and companion of Jesus. God’s ministers hold responsible posts.



race is mainly tempted to infidelity, but the earlier generations of men were

tempted to idolatry. As infidelity is now the ally of vice, so was and is

idolatry. Both chime in with the lower passions of human nature. In the

period preceding Ezekiel’s birth Israel had gone astray after idols. On

every side false deities were being set up. Idolatry was in the atmosphere.

A great opportunity opened to the Levites. As ministers of Jehovah, set

apart for the service of religion, they should have stood in the gap and

raised barriers against the inflowing tide of idolatry (ch. 22:30), the honor

of God was in their keeping. The well-being of the nation rested with them.

They were the trustees of God’s truth for the world. It was a testing-time. Men’s

favor or God’s — which would they choose? Popularity for the moment or

enduring fidelity — which? Alas! they made a suicidal choice! They chose

the path of selfish ease. Like a physician summoned to a critical case, they

too might have abated the raging fever and saved the patient’s life. But

they had no religious earnestness. They were mere functionaries of a

system; and so long as duty was light and a livelihood secure, religion

might take care of itself. Honored with a tremendous trust, they proved

themselves unworthy and faithless. Regard for God was lacking. Moral

prowess was lacking. They drifted with the stream. Their sin was the

sowing of evil tares, which developed into a harvest of misery and disaster.



the stress of temptation men can either resist or yield. In no case is it a

necessity to succumb. Moral principle in man has withstood the incoming

deluge of temptation, and it always can. Unseen resources are on the side

of him who steadfastly adheres to right. GOD is at his side.  ("There hath

not temptation taken you but such as is common to man:  but God  is

faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that  ye are able;

but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be

able to bear it."  (I Corinthians 10:13)  So far as public action went,

Elijah stood alone in the days of Jezebel’s idolatry. In Babylon

Daniel stood erect as the sole witness for Jehovah, and notable triumph

was his. Martin Luther was for years the only champion of Bible truth on

the continent of Europe — one man against the world; yet he prevailed.

So, in the instance narrated here, one family remained faithful. The sons of

Zadok were worthy sons of a worthy sire. A good name is a good heritage,

and no better name can a man wear than Zadok, i.e. “Righteousness.” If a

man trusts to his good name, he is a fool; but if he lives up to a good name

— makes that his model — he is wiser than Solomon. A rotten ship will

not survive the storm, though she is named Impregnable. These sons of

Zadok were like Abdiel, “faithful among the faithless found.” “They kept

the charge of the sanctuary” when Israel went astray. They had moral

backbone — some iron principle in their blood. It is the basest cowardice

merely to go with the majority. Numbers are not the arbiter of truth or of

right. (This is a great sin in America because of the stock put in polls of

what men think!  CY - 2017)   Men who deserve the name inquire for

themselves, judge for themselves, seek guidance from the Unerring Source,

and act according to the result. There was no external necessity to follow

the crowd of idolaters.  ("Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" -

Exodus 23:2)  The sons of Zadok resisted. So in every case a man’s

conduct is the outcome of his own choice.  (I recommend Proverbs

ch. 14 v. 14 -  Spurgeon Sermon - How a Man's Conduct Comes Home

to Him - this website - CY  - 2017)



KINDS OF AWARD. It is only the blindness of men that supposes that

God’s justice ever slumbers or ever mistakes. God can patiently wait His

time, and can generously forbear. Yet with perfect calmness He metes out

justice to every man. Touching these Levites He declares, “they shall even

bear their iniquity.” If any sensitiveness of soul was left in them, they must

have been sorely pained, during the seventy years of captivity, with the

self-conviction that their unfaithfulness had been a main cause of Israel’s

disaster. Nor was this all. A perpetual stigma was upon their name. An

everlasting degradation was imposed on them and on their posterity. Their

children and their children’s children through many generations were

involved in the disgrace and in the deprivation of office. So far as it had

been an honor to be a Levite, now it shall be reversed — it shall be a

dishonor. “They shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest

unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy

place.” They had put God far away from them; it was simple retribution

that God should forbid them to come near to Him. Sin always bears its own

NATURAL FRUIT!   Still, judgment was tempered with mercy. They shall

not be entirely superseded. They shall not be banished from the new temple.

Inferior office they may yet fill; subordinate service they may yet perform.

And in their degraded rank they shall learn that God’s service is real honor;

that nearness to God is man’s heaven. “They shall be ministers in my

sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the

house; they shall slay, the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people.”

But, on the other hand, special honor is conferred on the loyal sons of

Zadok. “They shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall

stand before me... They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come

near to my table,” etc. Here is unmistakable promotion. “They had kept the

charge of the sanctuary;” now “they shall keep my charge.” In other words,

“They shall be my treasures: I will entrust my honor and all my precious

things unto them.” Their fidelity is established; yea, is strengthened and

enlarged by this strain of temptation. Their characters have come forth

from the furnace like burnished gold. They shall be trusted in the heavenly

kingdom because they are trustworthy. The omniscient eye of God does

not overlook the least meritorious deed. High reward is in course of

preparation for the righteous. Men often deceive themselves with specious

hopes of escape. They often deceive others with plausible semblances, they

can never deceive GOD!



Appointed Ministrations (vs. 15-16)


The priests were an essential element in the Mosaic system, and their duties

were prescribed with a precise exactness. After the Captivity, they still

fulfilled their appointed duties, although their relative importance was

probably diminished, whilst the scribes became growingly the religious

leaders and teachers of the people. In the dispensation of the Spirit, the

priesthood, so far as it is perpetuated, has been widened so as to include

the whole Christian congregation.



As the priesthood was instituted by Divine wisdom, so the will and

pleasure of the great Head of the Church is that the members of the

spiritual society should regard themselves as called by God to the

fulfillment of varied duties as His servants.



MINISTRY OF CHRIST THE HEAD. The Son of man came, not to be

ministered unto, but to minister.  (Matthew 20:28)  The Lord was Himself

Servant of all, and those who are His are summoned to follow the example

of Him who declared that He was among His people as One who served. 

(Luke 22:27)



sometimes taken for granted that there are certain persons who minister to

their fellow-Christians, whilst the rest simply receive and enjoy the

advantages of their services. But in reality there is no one member of the

true Church who is not commissioned for some special work which it is

for him to do, who has not some gifts and opportunities for serving his

fellow disciples, for the edification of the body of Christ.



WORLD. The Jewish Church was restricted; the Christian Church has a

universal mission — a mission for the benefit of mankind. They who have

Christ’s Spirit will live as disciples of Him who said, “I, if I be lifted up

from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  (John 12:32)



TO GOD. With calling and gifts and influence there is associated

responsibility. And this responsibility is to Him who is the one, only,

all-sufficient Judge and Lord. From this responsibility there is no escape;

and it must ever be the aim and the hope of every Christian that he himself

and his work may be acceptable and approved at last, when every man

shall have praise of God.  (I Corinthians 4:5)


Fidelity and Its Reward (vs. 15-16)


We do not suppose that the statement respecting the sons of Zadok is to be

pressed to historical exactitude. Their steadfastness is assumed for the

purpose of exhortation, to point out the reward of fidelity in the kingdom

of God. We have:



no more patent fact before our eyes than that men do “go astray;’ they go

astray, like these Levites, from God, from truth, from wisdom, from purity,

from their earlier convictions and their noble life. The frequency of the fact

cannot dull our eyes to the extreme sadness of it. What sadness was there

in the tone of the Master’s question, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67)

With what profound regret do we now witness the descent or’ a human soul

from the heights of heavenly wisdom to the depths of disbelief or iniquity!

If we are asked to account for it, we suggest three powerful temptations

which prove too strong for resistance.


Ø      The fascinations of novelty; the love of looking at things in new lights or

of treading new paths.


Ø      The strength of the social current; the unconscious and (often) the

wholly unreasonable deference we pay to the opinions of those around us.

It is difficult to row against the stream of current thought and practice; it is

pleasant to go with the tide, even though we suspect it is bearing us out to

the open sea of uncertainty and unbelief.


Ø      Concern for our temporal interests; for it often happens that a firm

adherence to conviction means a painful parting, not only from friends, but

from the source of “food and raiment.”


  • THE SUMMONS TO FIDELITY. Many things demand of us that we

should be faithful even to the end. Fidelity is:


Ø      Obligatory. We cannot leave the service of God or of truth without

breaking the most sacred bonds, without laying ourselves open to self-

reproach and doing that which we shall look back upon with shame and

sorrow. We owe it to those who are coming up after us — especially to

our own children — that we turn not our back on our old principles.


Ø      Excellent. There is something honorable and admirable in a very high

degree in a consistent and faithful life; not, of course, the unintelligent

repetition of the old sounds, but the adherence, through good report and

evil report, through storm and sunshine, to the vital principles we learned at

the feet of Jesus Christ. The head that has grown white with the consistent

advocacy and illustration of elevating and ennobling truth does wear a

glorious crown.


Ø      Attended with a large and a true reward. Steadfastness, as compared

with vacillation or apostasy, not only commands the esteem of men, and

not only enables its possessor to enjoy his own self-respect, but it secures

for him the abiding favor of God. God calls such men not only to the gate

or door of the sanctuary; He bids them “enter into it,” and “come near to

His table,” to “minister unto Him.” For them is reserved the closer

fellowship and the more honorable and essential service. In the service of

Christ fidelity not only aspires to the higher and better service of the

Master and of mankind below, but it looks forward to an admission within

the blessed gates, and sitting down to the “table” of the Lord in the

heavenly kingdom (Luke 22:30).



The Duties and Emoluments of the Priests (vs. 17-31)


17  “And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of

the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no

wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of

the inner court, and within.”  Beginning with their attire when engaged in

temple service, this verse states, in a general way, that the priests should be

clothed with linen garments, as the priests were under the Law (Exodus 28:40-43;

39:27-29; Leviticus 6:10), with this difference, that whereas under the

Law the terms employed were שֵׁשׁ, the white byssus of Egypt, and בַּד,,

“fine white linen,” here the word is פִּשְׁתֶּה, or “flax” — a difference which

assists newer critics to perceive in the so-called priest-code a refinement on

Ezekiel, and therefore an evidence that the priest-code arose later than

Ezekiel.   But if the so-called priest-code had already indicated that the linen

for priests’ garments should be of the finest quality, Ezekiel may have felt

there was no occasion for him to use other than the generic term for

“linen,” which פִעשׁתֶּה (pishteh) seems to have been (compare Leviticus

13:47-48, 52, 59; Deuteronomy 22:11; Jeremiah 13:1). That this

was so is suggested by the statement that no wool, צֶמֶר, “perhaps so

called from its being shorn off” (Gesenius), should come upon them

whiles they ministered in the gates of the inner court, or within the

court itself, or the house — the contrast being between what was of

vegetable and what was of animal production. The reason for the

prohibition of wool is hinted at in v. 18 — it was apt to cause sweat, and

thus entail impurity; the clean white linen, on the other hand, was designed

both for hygienic reasons and as an emblem of purity (compare Revelation

19:8, 14).


18 “They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have

linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with

any thing that causeth sweat.”  In particular the priests should have linen

bonnets upon their heads — literally, linen tires shall be upon their heads —

and linen breeches upon their loins. To infer from the use of מִגְבָּעות in

Leviticus 8:13 and of פְאֵר here for the head-dress of the priests, that

Ezekiel was composed before Leviticus, is not convincing. Smend explains

the latter term as the customary headdress of common people, and the

former as a specially ornamental tiara or turban. Gesenius reverses this

meaning, making the former the ordinary round cap, and the latter a tiara

(see for the former, Exodus 28:40; 29:9; 39:28; and for the latter, (ibid.);

Isaiah 61:10; here ch. 24:17, 23). In addition, the priests should not gird

themselves with any thing that causeth sweat; literally, should not gird

themselves in, or with sweat, which was another way of forbidding them to

wear woollen clothing, which might cause them to sweat and so lead to



19 “And when they go forth into the utter court, even into the utter court to

the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they ministered, and

lay them in the holy chambers, and they shall put on other garments; and

they shall not sanctify the people with their garments.”  When the priests

retired from the inner court, and before they passed into the outer court to

mingle with the people, they were enjoined to lay aside their official robes,

depositing them in the holy chambers already described (ch. 42:1-14), and to

put on other, i.e. their ordinary, clothes (compare Leviticus 6:11). The reason

for this injunction was that they might not sanctify the people (compare ch. 46:20)

through the people’s coming in contact with their garments. These, being

in a manner, i.e. ceremonially, holy, would impart to the people a levitical

or ritualistic sanctity which would disqualify them, for a time, at least, from

attending to the common duties of life, as under the Law those were who

touched the sacrificial flesh (Leviticus 6:18, 27), the altar (Exodus 29:37),

and the vessels of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:29).


20 “Neither shall they shave their heads, nor suffer their locks to grow

long; they shall only poll their heads.”  The next rubric concerned the mode in

which the priests should wear their hair. It should neither be shaved nor worn

long, thus avoiding excess on either side (compare for the first, Leviticus 21:5;

and for the second, Leviticus 10:6; 21:10, Revised Version), but should

merely be polled. The obligation to let the hair grow freely was imposed

upon the Nazarite only during the period of his vow (Numbers 6:5).

The verb “to poll,” or “cut” (כָּסַם), occurs nowhere else. Smend thinks

what is here denied to the priests collectively is in the priest-code denied

solely to the high priest (Leviticus 21:10, Revised Version; compare,

however, Leviticus 10:6, Revised Version), and discovers in this a sign of the

later origin of Leviticus. Ezekiel’s raising the priesthood as a body to the

rank of the high priest, of whom in connection with this temple is no trace,

rather proves Ezekiel to have been later than Leviticus.


21 “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner

court.”  The prohibition of wine to the priests when engaged in temple

service accorded with Mosaic legislation (Leviticus 10:9). Total abstinence at

other times was not enjoined.


22 “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put

away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel,

or a widow that had a priest before.” As to marriage (since the priests in

Ezekiel’s “house” were no more expected to be celibates than were those employed

about Moses’ tabernacle or Solomon’s temple), they were forbidden to marry

widows (which the Levitical priests were not, though the high priest was) or

divorced women, and allowed to wed only virgins of the house of Israel, or

(the sole exception) widows of such as had been priests (compare with the

priest-code, Leviticus 21:7, 13-14). Ezekiel’s enactment discovers two

variations — first, that it does not formally forbid to the priests marriage

with a harlot; and, second, that it sanctions marriage with a priest’s widow.

But the first was implied in the prohibition of marriage with an adulteress,

and the second was a sign of the higher sanctity of the priesthood

belonging to Ezekiel’s temple. Hence, so far from indicating the priority of

Ezekiel, it rather points to the priority of Leviticus.


23 “And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and

profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.

24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge

it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my

statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.”

Among the priests’ official duties four things are prescribed.


(1) The education of the people in the fundamental principles of their religion,

viz. that a distinction existed between the “holy” and “profane,” or “common,”

and in the practical application of that principle, the art of discerning between the

“unclean” and the “clean.” This duty had been laid upon the priests of Mosaism

(Leviticus 10:10; Deuteronomy 24:8; 33:10), but in the last years of the monarchy

had been neglected (Malachi 2:7-9).


(2) The administration of justice in all disputes arising out of and connected

with the practices of their religion. This office had pertained to the priests

under the Law (Numbers 5:14-31; Deuteronomy 17:8-13; 19:17-21; 21:5),

and was exercised in pre-exilic times (Hosea 4:6; Micah 3:11; Isaiah 28:7;

Jeremiah 18:18), though not always in accordance with Jehovah s judgments.

That the juridical authority of the priests was purely of a moral kind (Wellhausen,

Smend), can be maintained only by rejecting II Chronicles 17:7-9 and 19:5-11

as unhistorical


(3) The regulation of all festal assemblies in accordance with the Divine

statutes. For errors in the celebration of these festivals, the priests should

be answerable, as they had always been; only under the new regime there

should be no errors.


(4) The hallowing of Jehovahs sabbaths. This they should do both by

resting on the seventh day and by offering the sabbath sacrifices, the

shewbread, and the burnt offering; both of which things the priests under

the Law had been commanded to do (see Exodus 20:8-11; 31:13-17:

Leviticus 23:3; 24:8; Numbers 28:9), but had not done (here ch. 20:12-13,

20-21; 22:8; 23:28).



The Difference between the Holy and Profane (v. 23)


  • THERE IS A REAL DIFFERENCE. Men have been much concerned

with wholly fictitious distinctions, and a most artificial line has been drawn

between what has been accounted sacred and what has been regarded as

profane. But this is only the abuse and the degeneracy of what should be

discovered in its high and true condition as a genuine difference. The

formal distinctions of the Jewish Law were all intended to symbolize moral

and spiritual differences. Some of them were obviously concerned with

matters of common cleanliness and decency; some had a more immediate

bearing on sanitary laws; others, perhaps, were too suggestive of Jewish

exclusiveness or conventional propriety; but even these latter regulations

could not but impress upon the minds of thoughtful men the separateness

of true holiness. The one real distinction is moral. It is the line of

demarcation that separates sin from righteousness. This, and not the

supposed distinction between the secular and the sacred, is the real

difference between clean and unclean. St. Peter was taught to call none of

the creatures of God common or unclean (Acts 10:15). It is not they

that are so, but the uncleanness is in us, in our use of them. “Unto the pure

all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is

nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus

1:15). Similarly, men make an artificial distinction between sacred and

profane history. Coming from the pen of a Josephus, the history of Israel is

profane; written by an Arnold, the history of Rome is sacred. He who sees

God in history beholds a sacredness in it. To him who is worldly and




EDUCATION. The priests were to teach the people the difference

between the clean and the unclean. No doubt the elaborate external

regulations of the Jewish Law required careful study, and men needed to

be thoroughly instructed in regard to them, in order that they might avoid

even unconscious offences. This was a necessary adjunct of a ceremonial

religion. A religion of law needed lawyers for its priests. Now that system

is wholly swept away. We live in the glorious liberty of the sons of God,

and there is no need for us to be instructed in elaborate rules of ceremonial

purification. Still, moral education is now needed, though in another

direction. Conscience must be educated, so that it may be sensitive and

keen to discern what is right, and separate this from what is evil. This

education is not to be a drilling in casuistry (the use of clever but unsound

reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions), which would be a return to

the old bondage of the Law; but it is to be an enlightening in regard to the

great principles of Christian righteousness, and still more a quickening of

the soul to feel the force of those principles, and to apply them without

delay to every case as it arises. It is important that the religious teaching of

children should be directed more to this end. One great function of the

pulpit is to awaken men’s sense of the great distinction between sin and

purity. We live too much by compromise. We need to learn more of the

absolute claims of righteousness.



            The Difference between the Holy and Profane (v. 23)


It was one great office of the Jewish priesthood to instruct the people to

discern between the unclean and the clean. No doubt this office was often

discharged in a perfunctory manner; yet a valuable purpose was answered

by the importance which the Israelites were thus encouraged to attach to

obedience to the behests of the great King.



BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE. Such is the distinction

drawn in heathen communities, simply in the interests of the priests

themselves, with no moral bearing or intention.



BETWEEN THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE. Such was the difference

which was established by the Law given by Moses to the Israelites, and

maintained by Divine command by the instrumentality of the priests of




THE HOLY AND THE PROFANE. It cannot be doubted that the

ceremonial differences were intended to be the emblems of deeper and

more real distinctions of a moral nature. In the Christian dispensation men

were early taught upon the highest authority to call nothing common or

unclean. But whilst Christ abolished distinctions, which were a means to an

end, which served a temporary purpose of preparation, he emphasized

those distinctions which, in the sight of a holy God, are real and important.

Especially was this the case with the eternal difference between moral good

and evil, between what is in accordance with, and what is repugnant to, the

nature, the character, and the will of God. This distinction is one which the

Church of Christ is bound to maintain, both by teaching and by conduct,

before a sinful and disobedient world.


25  “And they shall come at no dead person to defile themselves: but for

father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for

sister that hath had no husband, they may defile themselves.

26 And after he is cleansed, they shall reckon unto him seven days.

27  And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner

court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering,

saith the Lord GOD.”  Regulations are next given for preserving the

priesthood from defilement through coming in contact with the dead, and for

removing such defilement in case of its having been contracted. As under

the Law, so in the ideal constitution of Ezekiel, the priests should not be at

liberty to contract ceremonial impurity through touching a corpse except in

the case of near relations (compare Leviticus 21:1-4). That neither in

Leviticus nor in Ezekiel is the priest’s wife among the excepted is

surprising, and hardly to be explained, with Knobel, on the ground that a

wife is not a blood-relation, since according to the Divine conception of

marriage husband and wife are one (Genesis 2:24), but either by

holding, with Keil, that the wife, who stands nearer her husband than any

of the relatives named, was viewed as included under the phrase, “and for

his kin that is near unto him” (Leviticus 21:2), or by supposing it self-evident

that such defilement could not be avoided in the case of a wife and

was therefore tacitly allowed. Smend, as usual, finds signs of Ezekiel’s

priority to the priest-code, first in the circumstance that Ezekiel regarded it

as perfectly natural that a priest should sorrow for his wife (ch. 24:15-18),

which showed he had no acquaintance with Leviticus 21.; and

secondly, in the fact that Leviticus 21:11 prohibits absolutely to the

high priest all contact with a corpse, which, it is argued, betrays a greater

strictness than existed in the days of Ezekiel. But as the prohibition in

Leviticus 21:11 applies only to the high priest, who in Ezekiel’s temple

has no place, an argument as to which of the books had priority of origin

cannot properly be founded on so insecure a basis. Knobel remarks on

Leviticus 21:1-4 that “among the Greeks, priests and priestesses

remained at a distance from funerals (Plato, ‘De Legg.,’ 12. p. 947); while

among the Romans ought the Flamen dialis to touch no corpse (Gell.,

10:15), the augur perform no funeral rites (Tacit., ‘Ann.,’ 1:31), and the

pontifex accompany no funeral procession (Die Cass., 56:31); not at all

should he behold a dead body (Serv., ‘Ad AEn.,’ 6:176),and in case he had

occasion to pronounce a funeral oration, a curtain should hang between

him and the corpse.” As to the cleansing of a defiled priest, that should be

conducted in accordance with the customary regulations (compare Numbers

19.),with this difference — that on the termination of the ordinary rites,

which extended over seven days, an additional seven days, according to

Havernick and Keil (though Hengstenberg and Plumptre decide for only

one heptade), should elapse, at the end of which, on the presentation of a

sin offering, he should be restored to service in the inner sanctuary.


Vs. 28-31 state the emoluments which should Be enjoyed by the priests.


28 “And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance:

and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession.”

The Authorized Version conveys the impression that the first

portion of the priests’ sustenance should be derived from the sin offering,

which is not mentioned till the following verse. And it shall be unto them

for an inheritance ought rather to be rendered, and there shall be to them

(what shall be) for an inheritance; or more simply, and they shall have an

inheritance (Revised Version), which, it is next declared, as in the Law

(Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9; 18:1-2), should be Jehovah,

and not any territorial possession or tribal tract such as should be assigned

to the other tribes (see Ezekiel 48.). Smend thinks Ezekiel was scarcely

accurate in describing the priests as landless in the sense intended by the

Deuteronomist and the priest-code, since in Ezekiel 45:4 they are, after

all, furnished with a plot of ground on which to build their houses and erect

their sanctuary; whilst Wellhansen (‘Gesehichte Israels,’ p. 165) holds the

priest-code to have somewhat romanced in adopting the same language

about the Aaronides and Levites, since, if they really did obtain forty-eight

cities, “what were these if not a lot and a land tract, and that too a

comparatively great and important one?” Neither view stands in need of



Taking God as an Inheritance (v. 28)


The priests were to have no share in the partition of the land. They were to

be supported by means of the sacrificial offerings of the people; and in so

living they were said to take God for their Inheritance. Viewing their

position from the lowest point of view, we have the thought that they were

dependent on what was dedicated to God, as their livelihood was derived

from God’s share of the produce of the land; a higher consideration would

lead them to see that it was through God’s relation to His people that they

received their maintenance; and the highest view to which they could attain

would be to regard God Himself as their real Inheritance (Was He not

already their “Shield and exceeding Great Reward” ? -  Genesis 15:1 –

CY – 2017) and the sacrificial offerings merely as necessary means of

living. Let us see how God may be regarded as an Inheritance and a Possession.


  • GOD MAY BE RECEIVED. An inheritance is not some distant

territory that one simply knows of or beholds at a distance. We may believe

in God, and even look towards Him from afar, and yet not think of having

any inheritance in Him. But it is possible to have more close relations with



Ø      The inheritance is received as a birthright. The priests had a hereditary

claim on their portion. All men are by nature children of God. By new

birth we recover our original birthright. The Christian is an heir of God.

(“....we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God,

and joint-heirs with Christ;”  - Romans 7:16-17)


Ø      The inheritance is received through death. One dies, and another

receives his inheritance. That was seen in Old Testament times in the

succession of the priests. To us it is remarkable, as witnessed in the great

fact that Christ died to give us our heavenly inheritance.


  • GOD MAY BE OWNED. When we receive God as an Inheritance, we

take Him as our Possession. There is thus a certain ownership in God

established. But in the most complete way He owns us. How, then, can we

also own God? There is a spiritual appropriation by which we personally

accept God as our God, and hold to Him in faith. It is much to be able to

say from the heart, “O God, thou art my God!” All religion centers in

THAT EXPERIENCE! The priests were to enjoy special Divine privileges

in the Jewish system; all Christians are now to own God as their peculiar

Possession.  (For a different perspective, I recommend 

Deuteronomy ch 32 v 9 – God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink  - this website

CY – 2017)


  • GOD MAY BE ENJOYED. The inheritance is made use of and

valued for what it gives, and on its own account.


Ø      When God is our Inheritance, Divine blessings are our portion. A rich

inheritance contains many treasures — acres of fertile soil, well-timbered

land, farms and orchards, perhaps mines and houses. He who takes God for

his Portion has all the wealth of God to supply his need. It is true he may

still receive but little of this world’s goods; that is because God sees that it

is best for him to be tried with poverty. But he will have a true sufficiency.

If he trusts in God, and does what is right, he has the promise that he shall

be fed (Psalm 37:3). Ultimately he will have great possessions. “All

things are yours” (I Corinthians 3:22-23).


Ø      God is Himself the greatest Blessing for His people. The inheritance

itself is more valuable than all that it is the means of procuring for us. To

own God is to be rich indeed. When the Lord is our Portion we have a

wealth of treasures for our souls. His presence, His love, His truth, His life,

He Himself dwelling within, make those who own Him rich in the highest




The Lord the Inheritance of His people (v. 28)


There was a special sense in which the Lord was the Inheritance of the

Levites and priests among the sons of Israel. A provision was made for

them to compensate them for the lack of a territory such as was

apportioned to the other tribes. Jehovah Himself undertook the care of

those who ministered in His sanctuary; He was their Inheritance. This

declaration is suggestive of a wider truth, viz. that God is the Portion and

Inheritance of all His people.











  • APPLICATION. Such a declaration as this should assist those who

profess themselves to be God’s people to overcome the natural tendency to

be anxious and careful concerning their temporal state and prospects. It

should encourage them to set their affection upon things above

(Colossians 3:2), upon "the true riches" (Luke 16:11). “Where your

 treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  (Matthew 6:21)


29 “They shall eat the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the

trespass offering: and every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs.”

To the priests should be allocated, in addition, what already

had been assigned them by the Law for their support, the meat (or, meal)

offering, consisting of flour, corn, or bread (compare Leviticus 2:1-16;

6:16; Numbers 28:12-13), and the sin offering (see Leviticus 6:25-29; 7:6;

Numbers 18:9-10), and the trespass (or, guilt) offering (compare Leviticus

7:28-38), and every dedicated (or, devoted) thing in Israel (see Leviticus 27:21;

Numbers 18:14). The burnt offering is omitted, because it was entirely consumed

upon the altar, with the exception of the hide or skin, which under the Law became

a perquisite of the officiating priest (Leviticus 7:8). That Ezekiel is silent about this,

while the requirement of Leviticus 7:30, that the priest should obtain

the breast with the right shoulder of every fire offering, goes beyond the

prescription of Deuteronomy 18:3, that the shoulder, two cheeks, and

the maw should be the priest’s portion, is regarded by Wellhausen and

Smend as a proof that Ezekiel stands between Deuteronomy and the priestcode.

But as Ezekiel does not condescend upon the particular parts which

should be reserved from the fire offerings, it is impossible to say whether

he held with the Deuteronomist or the writer of the priest-code, supposing

them to be different; and, inasmuch as Leviticus 7:30 speaks of an

offerings, by fire that was first paid to Jehovah and by Him afterwards

handed over to Aaron and his sons, while Deuteronomy 18:3 treats of

the dues which should be paid by the people directly to the priests, it is

clear that both practices may have existed together instead of the one (the

former) coming in as an advance upon the other (the latter); see Keil on

Deuteronomy 18:3.



The Devoted Thing (29)


There were objects, both animate and inanimate, in connection with the

worship and the sacrifices of the temple, which were in an especial sense

dedicated and devoted to the Lord. By this provision, spiritual instruction

was afforded, and religious reverence was encouraged. As in the Christian

dispensation nothing is common or unclean, we are taught to regard

everything that belongs to and is associated with the Christian as

consecrated to the Lord.





Ø      Everything is the Lord’s gift. What have we that we did not receive?

Ø      Everything is redeemed by Christ, who, in giving Himself a ransom

for us, redeemed our possessions and our powers unto Himself.





dedication which the true Christian has made of himself to his Savior is



“Yet if I might make some reserve,

    And duty did not call,

I love my Lord with zeal so great

    That I would give thee all!”


As it was foretold that upon the bells of the horses should be inscribed,

“Holiness unto the Lord,” so, as a matter of fact, should the sincere

Christian devote to his Redeemer all the common possessions, all the daily

opportunities, with which Providence enriches him.




is dedicated, and all his property and all his talents and influence are

devoted. He is not his own. Thus the light of heaven is shed upon the

darkness of earth, and common things are not without a glory, because

they are sanctified and ennobled as used for the service and the praise of

God.  (The purpose of Christianity is to sanctify the secular.  C. H.



30 “And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of

all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give

unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to

rest in thine house.” A further portion of the priests’ emoluments is stated as

the first of all the firstfruits of all things — or, of everything (Revised

Version), as e.g. of corn, oil, must, and wool — and every oblation

(תְּרוּמָה) — or, heave offering — of all — or, of everything — with the

first of the people’s dough; or, coarse meal; which again re-echoes the

provisions of the Law, the first of the firstfruits being specified in Exodus

23:19; 34:26; Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 18:4; the oblation, or

terumah (Hebrew), in Numbers 15:19; 18:19; and the dough, or coarse

meal, or groats, in Numbers 15:20-21. Ezekiel’s supposed

(Wellhausen, Smend) silence as regards the firstlings of cattle, which in the

book of the covenant (Exodus 22:29) and in the Deuteronomist

(Deuteronomy 15:19) are to be eaten by the offerer, but in the priest-code

(Numbers 18:21) belong to the priests, is imaginary. The first of

all the first-fruits of everything cannot surely mean of everything except

cattle. If Ezekiel does not give the tenths of the tithes to the priests, he still

assigns them to the sanctuary (see ch. 45:14).



Substantial Wealth (vs. 27-30)


In every part of the world there is hunger, more or less, to possess land. By

long observation men have discovered that to possess land is to possess

influence and honor among their fellow-men. Is not land essential as the

foundation of the harvest-crops? And are not crops of corn and fruit

essential to the life of men? Is not agriculture the mainstay of a nation’s

well-being? Yet without land agriculture is impossible; is it not therefore

reasonable that men should eagerly long to call the land their own? On the

other hand, this anxiety chains down men’s thoughts to inferior

occupations and to a provision for their inferior nature. Such anxiety tends

to draw away their attention from God and to weaken their sense of pious

trust. In order to counteract this disastrous tendency, God appointed a

class of men whose business it should be to keep God prominently before

the eyes of their fellow-men. These servants of God were precluded from

acquiring wealth. They were to be wholly employed in fostering the

religious life in men. For their maintenance God provided in a special

manner. These priests were designed to be models of human life, patterns

of later Christians. God’s method for teaching the race is this — viz., to set

down a good man in their midst, and to inspire others with the desire to

imitate him. If one man can live and prosper by virtue of implicit and

practical faith in God, other men can. By diligent culture of the land, God

has ordained that human life shall be sustained. Yet God is not shut up to

this one system. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that

proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”  (Matthew 4:4)



a blessing, but only a medium of blessing. It is part of God’s system of

means. The land exists with a view to harvest. The harvest is produced

with a view to man’s bodily life. Man’s bodily life is sustained with a view

to his spiritual character. On the whole, it is best that the land should be

appropriated to personal possession. This secures that the land shall be

cultivated in the highest degree, and that the crops shall be protected from

premature use. If all land should remain as common property, there would

be lack of inducement to cultivate it; there would be lack of inducement to

personal exertion; there would be no check to extravagant waste. Personal

possession is best for a community; yet it becomes a waste and an injury if

a man possesses more than he can cultivate. God gives not land to a man in

order that he may be tyrannical, selfish, puffed up with overweening

conceit. This is a miserable perversion of a Divine gift. Land is created for

cultivation. Cultivation of land is designed for the support of human life.

And all the land in the world is worth nothing to me except as it ministers

to the health and vigor of my life.



MEANS. The best proof that, He can do so is the fact that He has done so

on many occasions. It would be the height of folly to suppose that God has

not made the wisest possible arrangement for the well-being of men. Yet if

men abuse the arrangement and push God away from His rightful place,

God can alter His system, and bring about His end by other agencies. He

sustained the life of Abraham, gave him wealth and influence among men,

while, at the same time, he refused to give him a rood (a unit of length

varying locally from 5 ½ to 8 yards) of land. He was the

Special Protector of the Hebrew nation; yet He led them about the desert

for the lifetime of a whole generation, where harvests could not be

gathered, and where land was not desired as a possession. Yet they lacked

not for food or for clothing. GOD WAS TO THEM BETTER THAN

 all harvests. So Jesus Christ called away the twelve from their secular

pursuits; yet He did not suffer them to want any good thing. Jesus Himself

preferred to have no encumbrance of land or wealth. He freely chose the

state of poverty ("For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that,

though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through

His poverty might be rich"  (II Corinthians 8:9). To Him, living in such

intimate union with His Father, landed possession would have been a

needless burden; yet, not only were His own wants supplied, but He royally

spread a table for others. What the Son did on earth was the visible effect

of his Father’s working.



He who forgets himself in his generous kindness is not forgotten by

his fellows — is not forgotten by God. The family of Zadok were

prohibited from being landholders. Nevertheless, they shall not want.

“Every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs.” “The first of all the

firstfruitsshall be theirs. God out-distances all His creatures in generously

rewarding faithful service. In His book every item of devoted toil and

sacrifice is noted; for it ample reward is preparing. Just as one grain of corn

will produce, in the harvest, a hundred grains, so consecrated service is

living seed — it shall produce splendid results. Did Abraham ever

regret his unswerving fidelity to God? Does St. Paul feel today that he

made too great sacrifices of himself for others? Has any one been a loser

for serving God? It almost savors of profanity to propose such a question.

The true servants of God shall enjoy the tribute due to God Himself.

Statesmen, under a mighty king, are rewarded with a goodly share of the

revenue of the empire; so the tribute paid into God’s temple, God

distributes among His priests. For them who serve God well other men

labor. Other men till the ground and prepare the produce. They who do the

highest work shall have the best reward. Thus it was predicted, “Strangers

shall stand and feed your flock, and the sons of the alien shall be your

ploughmen and your vine-dressers; but ye shall be called the Priests of the

Lord.” (Isaiah 61:5-6)  Like many other good things, the name and the office

of the priest have been made a curse. Yet a true priest — God’s servant to

mankind — is a very fount of blessing. He is like salt in the earth —

a preserving and purifying power. Wherever he comes he is a spring-season

of life and joy.  He is to be well cared for, so “that he may cause the

blessing to rest in thine house.”  (v. 30)



PROPRIETORSHIP IN GOD. “I am their Inheritance... I am their

Possession.” An estate is not really ours because we call it ours. We cannot

call anything ours unless it becomes a part and parcel of ourselves. If it

adds to our character and our strength, then, and only then, is it ours. The

land estate is often the master of the man. He lives to improve it rather than

to be improved by it. We possess property when we really get some

advantage out of it. So is it also with respect to God. If we make God our

Friend, we extract advantage from Him. If we believe His promises and

open our souls to His vitalizing grace, we are enriched from Him. God’s

wisdom becomes our wisdom. His righteousness becomes our

righteousness. His love becomes a fountain of love in us. We are

“partakers of the Divine nature.” (II Peter 1:4)  In a very emphatic sense

God gives Himself to us. Every capacity in us may be filled with God.

If we are fully God’s property, God is our Portion — our Inheritance.

This is transcendent condescension, the sublimity of love.



it would have been a superfluity if Jesus had been a Proprietor of wealth.

Of what advantage would it have been for Him to possess fields, if He could

create a sufficient supply of bread by the magic of command? Although the

poorest, he was yet the richest of men. It is understood that he who

possesses the key of the bank possesses the contents of the bank. If the

Creator be mine, if I can call him my Father,” then whatever His creation

contains of good is mine also. It is clear that I must, as a creature, be

dependent.  Is it better to depend:


Ø      on law or on the Lawgiver?

Ø      on the cistern or on the Fount?

Ø      on blind circumstances or Omniscient Wisdom?

Ø      on natural forces or on the all-creative God?


My faith is founded in common sense. God undertakes to be my Friend —

my Father. Then I am His child; and "if a son, then an heir — heir of God"

(Romans 8:17)  “All things are yours, for ye are... God’s."  (II Corinthians



31 “The priests shall not eat of any thing that is dead of itself, or torn,

whether it be fowl or beast.”  The commandment of the Mosaic Law is here

renewed against eating the flesh of any fowl or beast that had either died a

natural death or been mangled in the killing (compare Leviticus 17:15; 22:8) —

a commandment which, while enjoined specially upon the priests (Leviticus 22:8),

was equally binding upon all (Deuteronomy 14:21).



                        A Good Minister of Jesus Christ (vs. 17-31)


What the faithful priest was under the Law, that the “good minister” is under

Christ (I 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 (used when comparing two or more cases or situations) making

necessary alterations while not affecting the main point at issue), the true bishop or

pastor of the New Testament. The latter is:



PARTICULARS. The priest was to carry out very minute instructions (see

vs. 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.



The priest was to avoid the drinking of wine at or near the time of sacrifice

(v. 21). The true minister of Christ will:


Ø      shun everything in the way of bodily indulgence which unfits him, and


Ø      study and practice every habit, whether physical or mental, which will

qualify him, for the discharge of his sacred duties with the utmost




In all domestic relations, as husband and father (see I 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.



RIGHTEOUSNESS. (v. 23.) What the people have a right to look for

from their Christian teacher is:


Ø      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:


Ø      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.



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.” (Genesis 15:1)  He is to be a man who

can say that “for him to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21), and that,

conversely, to know and love and serve Christ is life indeed.



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