The Outer Gate of the Sanctuary Which Faced East and the Temple Court
Speaker: Reverend Philip Lee
Service: Moriah, 2nd Service
Date: June 21, 2020
The route to the east gate and to the temple court
In the last hour, we took a look at the 19th place, the “altar of burnt offering.” Today, we are looking at the 20th place which is the “outer gate facing the east" and the "temple court.” The route to the 20th place starts from the altar of burnt offering. From here, God took Ezekiel from the “man whose appearance was that of bronze” through both the inner and outer gates facing the north to the outside and then all the way around the temple to show the outer gate of the sanctuary which faced east, the 20th place. Upon arrival at the east gate, God showed Ezekiel that the door to the east gate was shut (Ezek 44:1). God then took Ezekiel back using the same route in which he came through, the outer and inner gates that face north into the “temple court,” to show him that the court was filled with the “glory of God,” and this is the 20th route that God showed to Ezekiel. Today’s question is: why was the east gate shut?
Why was the east gate shut?
The door on the east gate was shut because God used this door to exit and God also entered through this gate facing the east. So, the fact that the door is shut means God’s glory that had entered into the temple will never leave again; and this is God’s promise (Ezek 44:2, 4). The glory of the Lord came into the temple by way of the gate facing toward the east and filled the house; the glory of God represents God Himself (Ezek 43:4-5). The door being shut signifies the eternal presence of God and indicates that Ezekiel’s temple is a place of God’s perpetual dwelling (Ezek 44:2).
Secondly, the door on the east gate was shut to reflect the difference between the “Creator” and the “creation.” According to Ezekiel 44:2, God Himself has entered by the door and therefore no man can enter by it. This sets apart God the Creator and man the creation. Those who have received the Word of God are “gods” with a small “g” in plural form (John 10:35). However, “God” is always signified with a capital “G” in the singular, demonstrating a clear distinction between the Creator and His creation; this will never change perpetually. Also, according to Ezekiel, even a prince cannot enter through this gate in the east to enter the temple, for he too must enter from the gate facing the north and make his way to the east gate to the porch where he can eat and drink only (Ezek 44:3).
Thirdly, the door on the east gate was shut so that God can protect and prevent foreigners from entering the temple. Ezekiel received this revelation when God’s people had already experienced the first and second attacks by the Babylonians in which they destroyed the city wall and the temple. Here, God is promising that no longer will foreigners invade and destroy the temple. This is the New Jerusalem; God’s domain and Kingdom in which no foreigners nor satanic forces can enter or conquer (Ezek 44:9).
The worship that God receives
When Ezekiel was brought back through the outer and inner gates facing north to the temple court in front of the sanctuary, he saw that the glory of the Lord filled the house and immediately fell on his face. It was here that God points out the worship that He accepts--the worship of when we “fall on our faces” (Ezek 44:4). Likewise, Abraham fell on his face when he met God and God promised him that he would become the father of all nations (Gen 17:1-4). Therefore, when we worship God we must fall on our faces. Even a prince must fall and worship before God (Ezek 46:2). The phrase, “Worship at the threshold of the gate” means that in order for the prince to worship, he must come through the outer gate facing the north and then through the inner gate facing the east and stop at the threshold before entering into the inner court. This borderline right before entering the inner court is called the “threshold.” In the inner court, there is the altar of burnt offering, and the threshold right before the inner court cannot be crossed over by the prince. It is at the threshold where the prince will worship. The word “worship” in Hebrew means to bow ourselves down. So, even a prince will have to bow down before God as he worships. This means when we come to church, our hearts need to really be humble and bow down before God, desperately seeking for His lovingkindness, grace, and love. We must die to ourselves in order to give true worship to our God.
Secondly, the kind of worship that God will receive is a “holistic worship.” A holistic worship is referring to offering everything that we have to God. Thus our hearts, eyes, and ears are mobilized to worshiping God (Ezek 44:5). God says our hearts are not focused on Him because we love Him not. For those who really love God, there are things that He has prepared for them which no eye has seen or ear has heard (1 Cor 2:9). Today, if we really love God, let us focus on God with our hearts, eyes, and ears so that there will be a great and mighty work that takes place through worship services.
In Ezekiel 44:9, it says that no foreigner can enter the sanctuary. But when we look at this expression more closely, God says those who are uncircumcised in the heart and the flesh cannot enter. However, a foreigner who is circumcised in the heart and the flesh can enter the sanctuary. The New Testament meaning or the redemptive-historical meaning of circumcision is “baptism.” Thus, those who are baptized can enter into Ezekiel’s temple (Col 2:11-12). Therefore, according to the Word of God the circumcision of Christ is baptism. The true meaning of circumcision is “together,” or “with Him.” Why? Because we are buried with Jesus and raised up with Jesus. This is the true meaning of baptism--being raised up with Him (Rom 6:8). The Apostle Paul said he crucified his flesh to the cross and nailed his passion and greed to the cross (Gal 5:24). As a result of this, the apostle Paul says, "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer 'I' who lives but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20). Through prophet Ezekiel, God shows us that the worship that is acceptable to Him is when we bow down and fall to our faces and focus all of our hearts, eyes, and ears on God, and it is that person who has entered Ezekiel’s temple.