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Ezekiel 44 (New Century Version)

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1 Then the man brought me back to the outer east gateway of the Temple area, but the gate was shut. 2 The Lord said to me, "This gate will stay shut; it will not be opened. No one may enter through it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered through it. So it must stay shut. 3 Only the ruler himself may sit in the gateway to eat a meal in the presence of the Lord. He must enter through the porch of the gateway and go out the same way." 4 Then the man brought me through the outer north gate to the front of the Temple. As I looked, I saw the glory of the Lord filling the Temple of the Lord, and I bowed facedown on the ground. 5 The Lord said to me, "Human, pay attention. Use your eyes to see, and your ears to hear. See and hear everything I tell you about all the rules and teachings of the Temple of the Lord. Pay attention to the entrance to the Temple and to all the exits from the Temple area. 6 Then speak to those who refuse to obey. Say to the people of Israel, 'This is what the Lord God says: Stop doing all your acts that I hate, Israel! 7 You brought foreigners into my Holy Place who were not circumcised in the flesh and had not given themselves to serving me. You dishonored my Temple when you offered me food, fat, and blood. You broke my agreement by all the things you did that I hate. 8 You did not take care of my holy things yourselves but put foreigners in charge of my Temple. 9 This is what the Lord God says: Foreigners who are not circumcised in flesh and who do not give themselves to serving me may not enter my Temple. Not even a foreigner living among the people of Israel may enter. 10 "'But the Levites who stopped obeying me when Israel left me and who followed their idols must be punished for their sin. 11 These Levites are to be servants in my Holy Place. They may guard the gates of the Temple and serve in the Temple area. They may kill the animals for the burnt offering and the sacrifices for the people. They may stand before the people to serve them. 12 But these Levites helped the people worship their idols and caused the people of Israel to fall, so I make this promise: They will be punished for their sin, says the Lord God. 13 They will not come near me to serve as priests, nor will they come near any of my holy things or the most holy offerings. But they will be made ashamed of the things they did that I hate. 14 I will put them in charge of taking care of the Temple area, all the work that must be done in it. 15 "'But the priests who are Levites and descendants of Zadok took care of my Holy Place when Israel left me, so they may come near to serve me. They may stand in my presence to offer me the fat and blood of the animals they sacrifice, says the Lord God. 16 They are the only ones who may enter my Holy Place. Only they may come near my table to serve me and take care of the things I gave them to do. 17 "'When they enter the gates of the inner courtyard, they must wear linen robes. They must not wear wool to serve at the gates of the inner courtyard or in the Temple. 18 They will wear linen turbans on their heads and linen underclothes. They will not wear anything that makes them perspire. 19 When they go out into the outer courtyard to the people, they must take off their serving clothes before they go. They must leave these clothes in the holy rooms and put on other clothes. Then they will not let their holy clothes hurt the people. 20 "'They must not shave their heads or let their hair grow long but must keep the hair of their heads trimmed. 21 None of the priests may drink wine when they enter the inner courtyard. 22 The priests must not marry widows or divorced women. They may marry only virgins from the people of Israel or widows of priests. 23 They must teach my people the difference between what is holy and what is not holy. They must help my people know what is unclean and what is clean. 24 "'In court they will act as judges. When they judge, they will follow my teachings. They must obey my laws and my rules at all my special feasts and keep my Sabbaths holy. 25 "'They must not go near a dead person, making themselves unclean. But they are allowed to make themselves unclean if the dead person is their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or a sister who has not married. 26 After a priest has been made clean again, he must wait seven days. 27 Then he may go into the inner courtyard to serve in the Temple, but he must offer a sin offering for himself, says the Lord God. 28 "'These are the rules about the priests and their property: They will have me instead of property. You will not give them any land to own in Israel; I am what they will own. 29 They will eat the grain offerings, sin offerings, and penalty offerings. Everything Israel gives to me will be theirs. 30 The best fruits of all the first harvests and all the special gifts offered to me will belong to the priests. You will also give to the priests the first part of your grain that you grind and so bring a blessing on your family. 31 The priests must not eat any bird or animal that died a natural death or one that has been torn by wild animals.
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