Ezekiel 44:1 - 6: "Then he brought me by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces the East, and it was shut. And the Lord said to me, 'This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it. Therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, he shall sit in it as a prince to eat bread before the Lord. He shall enter by way of the portico gate and go out by the same way.
"Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell on my face. And the Lord said to me, 'Son of man, mark well; see with your eyes, hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the Lord, and concerning all its laws. And mark well the entrance of the house with all exits of the sanctuary.
"'And you shall say to the rebellious ones, the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord: 'Enough of all your abominations!'"'"
Continuing with verse 8: "And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have sent foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary. Thus says the Lord God: 'No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary. But the Levites, who went far from Me when Israel went astray, who went astray from Me after their idols, shall bear the punishment for their iniquities. Yet they shall be ministers in My sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the house, and ministering in the house. They shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them and minister to them. But because they ministered to them before their idols, and became a stumbling block of iniquity to Israel, therefore I have sworn against them,' declares the Lord, 'that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity. They shall not come near to Me to serve as priests to Me, nor near to any of My holy things, the things that are most holy to Me; but they shall bear the disgrace of the abominations, which they have committed. Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the house, of all its servants, and of all that shall be done in it.
"'But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the sons of Israel went astray from Me, shall come near to Me to minister to Me, and they shall stand before Me to offer Me the fat and the blood,' declares the Lord God. 'They shall also enter My sanctuary, they shall come near to My table to minister to Me, and keep My charge.
"'And it shall be that when they enter the gates of the inner courts they shall be clothed with linen garments, and wool shall not be on them while they are ministering in the gates of the inner court of the house. Linen turbans shall be on their heads, and linen undergarments shall be on their loins. They shall not gird themselves in anything which makes them sweat. And when they go out into the outer court, into the outer court to the people, they shall put up their garments in which they have been ministering and they shall lay them in the holy chambers. Then they shall put on garments, that they might not transmit holiness to the people with their garments.
"'Also, they shall not shave their heads, yet they shall not let their locks grow long. They shall only trim the hair of their heads. Nor shall any of the priests drink wine when they enter the inner courts. They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but shall take virgins from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the clean and the unclean.
"'If there is a dispute, they shall take their stand to judge. They shall judge it according to My ordinances. They shall also keep My laws and My statutes and all My appointed feasts, and sanctify My Sabbath.'"
Ezekiel's name in Hebrew means 'in the strength of God'. Like all of Israel's prophets, his name indicates something about his character and the nature of his ministry. Also like all of the Hebrew prophets (he was specifically a prophet to Judah), he prophesied for three time frames: he prophesied for his own time, for the first coming of Jesus, and for the Return of Christ. Thirdly, like all of the Hebrew prophets, Ezekiel is a type -- an Old Testament foreshadowing -- of the Messiah. He is the only person in the Bible other than Jesus who is called 'the son of man'.
In the book of Daniel it says that the king saw 'one walking as the son of man', and I have personally always been convinced that that was a Christophany; an Old Testament manifestation of Jesus Christ. Again, the only person called 'the son of man' with the definite article, other than Jesus, is Ezekiel. He is a picture of Jesus eschatologically, specifically in the Millennium. The second half of Ezekiel's book is largely concerned with the millennial reign of Jesus; that is its ultimate meaning.
This week you have perhaps heard about the riots and the shootings going on at the Temple Mount; we are certainly getting closer and closer to the Return of the Lord. Zechariah chapter 12 tells us that Jerusalem will be a stumbling block to the nations round about it; the ultimate issue in the Middle East will not be the Golan Heights, nor the West Bank or the Gaza Strip -- it will be Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where Satan received his biggest defeat, and it is also where he will receive his final defeat; he knows this. Therefore, Jerusalem is a source of contention; there is a spiritual battle going on over that particular piece of turf.
Ezekiel prophesies about this, and he sees the East Gate being shut. Now ultimately, this will take place in the Millennium when Jesus reigns from the City of David and the Shekinah goes through the East Gate. Ultimately, that is its meaning. However, it has a partial historic fulfillment already: Hebrew prophecy is a pattern. The Jews believed due to Zechariah 9:9 that the Messiah would come on a donkey, and they believed that He would enter the East Gate, or what we call in Hebrew shaar HaRachamin, which is literally 'The Gate of Mercy'. It lies on the western slope of the Temple Mount, opposite the Mount of Olives, with the Kidron Valley in the middle. If you have seen the East Gate, it is now cemented up. This happened because there was once a Turkish sultan during the Ottoman Empire, after they had conquered Israel, who knew that the Messiah would have to come through that gate according to Jewish beliefs. So he put an Islamic cemetery in front of the East Gate so that the Messiah could not go through it without being ritually defiled, and he cemented up the gate. He did not know, of course, that he was in part causing the prophecy to be fulfilled concerning the East Gate.
When the second Temple was built, the Hebrew was promised that its glory would exceed that of the first Temple. Its architecture was not as great as that of the first Temple, but even more importantly, it did not have the Ark of the Covenant. Yet they were promised in the days of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai that its glory would exceed that of the first. Indeed it has; its glory exceeded that of the first temple because the Lord God Himself entered the second temple. Yet after the Lord had entered it, the gate would be sealed up. Therefore, Jewish people today who do not believe in Jesus have a problem: if the gate is sealed, the Lord God had to have already entered by it. When did God enter it? Jesus, of course, was the Messiah, and He entered it. But again, the ultimate fulfillment of this will be in the Millennium.
A born-again evangelical Christian archaeologist by the name of Dr. Jim Fleming found Herodian stones beneath the present East Gate; so we know that it is built on the same site as the gate, which Jesus went through.
In Ezekiel's day, something, which had been predicted by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Joel, was already underway. The northern tribes had already gone into captivity in 720 B.C.; now God's judgment was coming on the south -- on Judah. Isaiah and Joel warned about this, but their message was rejected. Jeremiah warned about it, and was persecuted. People preferred to listen to the false prophets. By Ezekiel's day, it was underway, thus proving that Jeremiah had been right, while the popular false prophets were proven wrong. Yet remarkably, the people still would not repent. The captivity was already underway; Nebuchadnezzar had invaded four times. In fact, Ezekiel himself was prophesying from the captivity. People were saying things like, "It's not so bad", "It's going to get better", "It will be short-lived", when in fact it was going to get worse.
What happens here? It is an amazing thing: false prophets do not repent even when proven wrong, and then people forget that they prophesied falsely, and simply go on listening to the next false prophecy. Meanwhile, the true prophet is proven right, but they still reject him. Now they are rejecting Ezekiel in the same way they rejected Jeremiah before him.
Ezekiel shows a contrast between two kinds of clergy: the sons of Zadok and the ordinary Levites. Not all Levites were Zadokites, but all Zadokites were Levites. Let us begin by understanding about Zadok: the name comes from the Hebrew word Tsodek meaning 'to be right', which is also the Hebrew word for 'to be correct', which is also related to the Hebrew word for 'to be righteous'. The Hebrew word for 'a righteous one' is Tsadek; one who is righteous. The Hebrew word for 'righteousness' is also the Hebrew word for 'charity'. This word is Tsdaka.
As I have previously explained, in Hebrew thought sonship means more than pedigree; it means 'in the character of'. For example, we have two pictures of the Messiah in the Hebrew faith: ha Moshiach ben Yosef and ha Moshiach ben David; Messiah the Son of Joseph, who is a suffering servant, and Messiah the Son of David, who is a conquering king. Jesus came in the character of Joseph at His first coming, but He will return in the character of David to set up His kingdom. In Matthew 16 Jesus rebukes Peter, but before He rebukes him he calls him 'Simon bar Jonah', in Aramaic 'son of' Jonah. Why? In one sense, one of Peter's father's names may have been Jonah, like the prophet. But in Biblical times Jews would name their children after heroes and characters of Israel's more ancient Biblical history, in the aspiration that the child would grow up to emulate the virtues of these figures. Jonah was somebody who argued with God; his first argument with God was at Joppa. What happens at Joppa with Peter in Acts chapter 10? He begins arguing with God. Jonah did not want to go to the Gentiles; neither did Peter. Simon bar Jonah; he is in the character of Jonah. Jesus Son of David is in the character of David; His biological father was not David, though David was one of His ancestors. In the same way, the Zadokites were in the character of Zadok. Zadok was the Old Testament priest who remained loyal to David through the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba. He was a righteous priest who remained loyal. Now, loyalty to David is an Old Testament foreshadowing of loyalty to Christ, the Son of David, the Good Shepherd.
Zadok's sons remained in his character; they were not only biologically descended from him, but they also remained faithful when the rest of the Levitical clergy became corrupt. They stayed faithful for generations, even for centuries. All the way to the time of the Maccabees there were Zadokites, all the way through the Hasmonian period. Finally, then they became corrupt. In Hebrew, Zadokites were called tzadukim. What Ezekiel is doing is comparing the righteous clergy -- who were by far the minority, only descending from one lineage -- with the other Levites, the popular clergy, who were unrighteous. He begins highlighting the differences between the ordinary Levites and the Zadokites. They were all sons of Levi.
In Biblical thought, in the Hebrew language -- which Paul tries to communicate to Greeks in Philippi, as I will show you momentarily -- one cannot be righteous unless one is right. If one is not tzodek, one cannot be a tzadek. In other words, if what you believe is wrong, you have no chance of being righteous. The fact that what you believe is right, however, does not guarantee that you are righteous. One can believe what is right and still be unrighteous; Paul tells us this in I Corinthians 13. It cannot be assumed that because someone's doctrine is right, they are also right. It may be an indication of righteousness, and in fact it is; however, it does not prove righteousness. However, if what someone believes is wrong, that person cannot be righteous.
Philippians 1:9: "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment." Notice that real love, agape love, is dependent on Biblical knowledge and discernment. If there is no discernment and no knowledge of the Scripture, real love cannot abound. The political correctness of the world has found its way into the church, and it makes love and truth mutually exclusive. In actual fact, however, God says that they are mutually dependent. One cannot really love if one has unbelief. (This is dealt with also in the teaching on Leviticus 2, The Typology of the Grain Offering, with the honey and the leaven.)
Ephesians 6:13: "Therefore take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness." Notice that truth comes before righteousness. I once saw actual Roman armor at the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome. People were smaller then, but even by modern standards it is fairly heavy. The armor had to be put on in a certain way and in a certain order; Paul goes through that order in which the armor had to be put on. The gird was pulled up above the waist, and held the heavier pieces of armor in place. Unless you put on the gird first, you could not keep the breastplate on. In the same way, unless you have truth, you cannot be righteous; truth comes first, righteousness second. If what you believe is false, you cannot be righteous.
Today we find people talking a lot of garbage, which goes something like this: "Well, I know this man is wrong about his belief in faith-prosperity, but he is still a good brother"; "I know that Pensacola is really not a revival, but the leader is such a loving man". But if he lacks knowledge of God's Word and is undiscerning, he is not a loving man. Love can only abound where there is knowledge and discernment. I once met Bill Hybels briefly. Is he a nice man? Oh, a very nice man. But is he a righteous man? No, he is not, because what he believes is false. Truth comes before righteousness, because unless you know the truth, you won't know what righteousness is. One cannot know the difference between right and wrong unless one first has the truth.
Yet people protest: "Oh, but he's such a good brother", "Oh, but they are such nice people", "Oh, they're so charitable, so caring, so loving, they do so much for the poor". No. Mother Teresa was very charitable; yet several months before she died, she made it clear that she only converted Hindus and Moslems to be better Hindus and Moslems; she sent those people to hell without Christ in the name of being charitable. Love can only abound where there is discernment and knowledge. The Bible tells us that other gods are demons; the gods of Hinduism are demonic. Mother Teresa had no discernment, nor did she have any knowledge of God's Word; therefore true love could not abound. What real good is it to pick people up, clean them off, give them a place to die with dignity -- and there is a lot more to that than most people have heard; we've mainly heard the embellished public relations stories, but when you talk to those in the medical profession who worked with her, you find there was much to be desired in what she did -- and then send them to hell for a Christless eternity? Charity depends upon truth and discernment.
Notice that the first difference Ezekiel points out between the sons of Zadok and the ordinary Levites is this, in chapter 44:8: ". . . they set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary." Whenever there was a true move of God, the foreigner was kicked out. The Levite gave place to the secretly hostile alien; the Zadokites would kick the aliens out.
To see how this works out in a true move of God, let's look at Nehemiah 13. This is after the captivity is over; they had learned their lessons the hard way, and had longed to come back. Then, when Satan tried to seduce them, it did not work. Nehemiah 13:1: "And that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people." Notice that there was a real move of God, with the rededication of the Temple and the city, the walls being rebuilt the emphasis on Scripture; there was revival here. In Nehemiah 8 there were all-day Bible studies; notice that everything was based on Scripture. When there is a real move of God, the Word of God will be central and paramount; everything else will be derived from what is in the Bible. The minute you see people going to experience or subjective revelation and prophecy, you know it is not a real move of God -- or, if it is a real move of God, it has been corrupted. A real move of God will be based 110% on Scripture. True prophecy is always based on the Bible; it is never a replacement for it, though that is what we see happening today. People are replacing what is in Scripture with personal 'words', following people who are obviously false prophets, such as Kim Clement and Rick Joyner.
"In the hearing of the people, it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. So it came about that when they heard the law, they excluded all foreigners from Israel." Notice that these foreigners who tried to join with Israel had an agenda to take over.
Here with Sanballat and his people, they were enemies pretending to be friends, claiming, "our god is your God, and we're one with you". There was a false basis for unity; they had a hidden agenda.
"Now, prior to this, Eliakim the priest, who was appointed over the chamber of the house of our God, being related to Tobiah" -- now, the word 'related' there is ambiguous. It could mean physically related, but it could also simply mean 'close to' -- "had prepared a large room, where formerly they put the grain offering, the frankincense, the utensils, the tithes of grain, wine and oil prescribed for the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers; the contributions for the priests." Notice that when they brought this alien in, who had a secret agenda, the grain, the wine, and the oil stopped. The grain -- the Word of God. Real anointing -- the oil. Real worship -- the wine. Where the singers used to be, real worship stopped. Real teaching, the feeding of the grain to the people, stopped. The real anointing stopped. It all stops when you bring the alien in.
The alien's name was Tobiah, which in Hebrew means 'the goodness of Yahweh'. He is a bad man with a good name; many of the most sinister people in the Bible had good names. Absalom, for example, was a very bad man with a good name, as was Abimelech. This alludes to something about the Antichrist, though we will not go into that at this time. So here we have a bad man with a good name who is close to the high priest. He was an alien with a secret agenda, he was really bad, he meant them no good, yet he had a good name; and he got in bed with the clergy. The pope has a good name with Billy Graham; but he is an alien. What did the pope say two weeks ago? The Roman church is the one true church, same old story. Last year in Mexico, what did he say? He told the Catholics to rise up against the Protestants. As a result, there were churches burned and Christians killed in Mexico. The pope is an evil man, "All to You, Mary," is written on his sleeve and is his personal belief. The man is an idolater and a necromancer.
Yet he has a good name; Chuck Colson thinks he's wonderful. "He's the holy Father," says Robert Schuller. The Levite will always give place to the secretly hostile alien, but the righteous clergy will kick him out.
Ecumenism is the first step toward the interfaith movement. They say that the pope is a great Christian leader, and the pope says that the Dalai Lama -- a man, who says that there is no God, yet allows himself to be worshiped -- is a great spiritual leader. This is what Revelation warned about; yet he has a good name. He is allowed into God's house.
Today we have many people like Eliakim; Chuck Colson is one of them. Chuck Colson is a very dangerous man; he is more of a danger to the cause of Christ than any homosexual, any pornographer, or any freemason -- he is much more dangerous. An external enemy can be dealt with, but if a cancer is spreading in the body, look out. Colson's wife is a practicing Catholic who says that Catholics should not be witnessed to. If you are an ex-Catholic, the Catholic Church says that you're on your way to hell for leaving the one true church. And Chuck Colson has sold you out.
What was the second contrasting characteristic in Ezekiel 44? Look at verse 10: " . . . the Levites who went astray from Me when Israel went astray".Isaiah begins by castigating the clergy for leading the people astray. Jeremiah begins in the same way. Earlier in his ministry, Ezekiel begins also by following the examples of his predecessors, Isaiah and Jeremiah. However, in the second half of his book, Ezekiel reverses it. He no longer says that it is the leaders leading the people away; the problem becomes the people leading the leaders astray. In other words, the blame of the leaders here is not that they are misleading the people, but that they are failing to be leaders. Instead, they are letting the people dictate what should be done. A Levite will always give the people what they say they want; the Zadokites, on the other hand, will give the people what God says they need.