- This chapter contains ordinances relative to the true priests. The prince evidently means Christ, and the words in ver. ( Ezekiel 44:2 ) , may remind us that no other can enter heaven, the true sanctuary, as Christ did; namely, by virtue of his own excellency, and his personal holiness, righteousness, and strength. He who is the Brightness of Jehovah's glory entered by his own holiness; but that way is shut to the whole human race, and we all must enter as sinners, by faith in his blood, and by the power of his grace.
Ezekiel 44:1-31 . ORDINANCES FOR THE PRINCE AND THE PRIESTS.
2. shut . . . not be opened--( Job 12:14 , Isaiah 22:22 , Revelation 3:7 ). "Shut" to the people ( Exodus 19:21 Exodus 19:22 ), but open to "the prince" ( Ezekiel 44:3 ), he holding the place of God in political concerns, as the priests do in spiritual. As a mark of respect to an Eastern monarch, the gate by which he enters is thenceforth shut to all other persons (compare Exodus 19:24 ).
3. the prince--not King Messiah, as He never would offer a burnt offering for Himself, as the prince is to do ( Ezekiel 46:4 ). The prince must mean the civil ruler under Messiah. His connection with the east gate (by which the Lord had returned to His temple) implies, that, as ruling under God, he is to stand in a place of peculiar nearness to God. He represents Messiah, who entered heaven, the true sanctuary, by a way that none other could, namely, by His own holiness; all others must enter as sinners by faith in His blood, through grace.
eat bread before the Lord--a custom connected with sacrifices ( Genesis 31:54 , Exodus 18:12 , 24:11 , 1 Corinthians 10:18 ).
4-6. Directions as to the priests. Their acts of desecration are attributed to "the house of Israel" ( Ezekiel 44:6 Ezekiel 44:7 ), as the sins of the priesthood and of the people acted and reacted on one another; "like people, like priest" ( Jeremiah 5:31 , Hosea 4:9 ).
7. uncircumcised in heart--Israelites circumcised outwardly, but wanting the true circumcision of the heart ( Deuteronomy 10:16 , Acts 7:51 ).
uncircumcised in flesh--not having even the outward badge of the covenant-people.
8. keepers . . . for yourselves--such as you yourselves thought fit, not such as I approve of. Or else, "Ye have not yourselves kept the charge of My holy things, but have set others as keepers of My charge in My sanctuary for yourselves" [MAURER].
10, 11. Levites . . . shall . . . bear--namely, the punishment of
their iniquity . . . Yet they shall be ministers--So Mark, a Levite, nephew of Barnabas ( Acts 4:36 ), was punished by Paul for losing an opportunity of bearing the cross of Christ, and yet was afterwards admitted into his friendship again, and showed his zeal ( Acts 13:13 , 15:37 , Colossians 4:10 , 2 Timothy 4:11 ). One may be a believer, and that too in a distinguished place, and yet lose some special honor--be acknowledged as pious, yet be excluded from some dignity [BENGEL].
charge at the gates--Better to be "a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness" ( Psalms 84:10 ). Though standing as a mere doorkeeper, it is in the house of God, which hath foundations: whereas he who dwells with the wicked, dwells in but shifting tents.
15. Zadok--The priests of the line of Ithamar were to be discharged from ministrations in the temple, because of their corruptions, following in the steps of Eli's sons, against whom the same denunciation was uttered ( 1 Samuel 2:32 1 Samuel 2:35 ). Zadok, according to his name (which means "righteous") and his line, were to succeed ( 1 Kings 2:35 , 1 Chronicles 24:3 ), as they did not take part in the general apostasy to the same degree, and perhaps [FAIRBAIRN] the prophet, referring to their original state, speaks of them as they appeared when first chosen to the office.
17. linen--symbolical of purity. Wool soon induces perspiration in the sultry East and so becomes uncleanly.
19. not sanctify the people with their garments--namely, those peculiarly priestly vestments in which they ministered in the sanctuary.
20. Neither . . . shave . . . heads--as mourners do ( Leviticus 21:1-5 ). The worshippers of the Egyptian idols Serapis and Isis shaved their heads; another reason why Jehovah's priests are not to do so.
nor suffer . . . locks to grow long--as the luxurious, barbarians, and soldiers in warfare did [JEROME].
21. Neither . . . wine--lest the holy enthusiasm of their devotion should be mistaken for inebriation, as in Peter's case ( Acts 2:13 Acts 2:15 Acts 2:18 ).
28. I am their inheritance--( Numbers 18:20 , Deuteronomy 10:9 , 18:1 , Joshua 13:14 Joshua 13:32 ).
30. give . . . priest the first . . . that he may cause the blessing to rest--( Proverbs 3:9 Proverbs 3:10 , Malachi 3:10 ).