The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel (young priest who had been taken captive to Babylon) was a man of “visions” (plural) that came directly from the Sovereign Lord. He spoke ONLY as the Lord directed, primarily to the horrific sins of Israel, but also to the coming judgment of God on surrounding nations. Sixty-two (62) times, Ezekiel repeats the phrase, “They shall know that I am the Lord…” As with the message of many Old Testament prophets, the Almighty offers hope and restoration through the voice of Ezekiel if/when there was true heart repentance. Consequently, the last one-third of the book relates to the future restoration of the nation of Israel. Specifically,the final eight chapters (Ezekiel 40-48) address the glory of the restored Temple during Christ’s reign on earth. In the truest definition of a prophet, Ezekiel was both “forth telling” (current circumstances) and “foretelling” (future events).
The verse that intrigued me in a recent study: “But when the people come in through the north gateway to worship the Lord…they must leave by the south gateway. And those who entered through the south gateway must leave by the north gateway. They must never leave by the same gateway they came in, but must always use the opposite gateway” (Ezekiel 46:9 NLT,emphasis mine).
Indeed, a strange instruction. The worshipers were to enter one door and exit on the opposite end of the Temple. The exact reason for this instruction could only be speculation; however, several thoughts could be possibilities for consideration.
- This would provide for an orderly flow of the “coming-going” of the worshipers. Surely, we serve a God who is very disciplined and orderly. Just consider the precise nature of every aspect of the creation, to say nothing of the human body which is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:13-16). The incredible advances in scientific studies about the universe should cause us to shout with an even louder voice than David the songwriting shepherd, “When I consider Your heavens…which you have set in place…” (Psalm 8:3, emphasis mine). There are estimates of 40-50 billion stars in the Milky Way (galaxy in which the earth is positioned) and according to the Psalmist, “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names” (Psalms 147:4 MEV, emphasis mine). (see Isaiah 40:26)
- Perhaps, in some manner, the intention was to maintain a sacred decorum in His holy house. As an aside (personally), I have to strain a bit to connect the casual attitude in HIS house (i.e., eating, drinking in the sanctuary during worship music/preaching of the Word) with the holiness of the Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer. If absolute holiness is a divine attribute of the Almighty (Isaiah 6:1-3), and worship is a primary function of the believer (Psalms 96:8-9), the two must be inextricably joined in the deepest of humility and reverence. To come into the “house of worship” in a cavalier or preoccupied manner will quite likely result in “leaving the same way we came in” or perhaps even worse spiritually. Is it possible that our “informality” in God’s House has somewhat dulled our senses to the sacred privilege of being in the presence of the Eternal Sovereign God? This is not about liturgy or restricting the flow of the Holy Spirit. Reverence is basic to receiving. All through the Scriptural record, the clear picture is that men/women fell on their faces when they recognized the presence of the Almighty. OK, OK, moving right along…
- The most striking explanation is perhaps the simplest. The symbolism is readily understood. It has nothing to do with a passageway for entrance or egress. Never leave the Lord’s House the same way you entered. That speaks to individuals at every level of spiritual maturity and to every type of human need. It requires a mindset of faith–expecting that you will personally meet with the Father/Son/Holy Spirit and the blessed Trinity will supernaturally interact with your spirit, mind, and body. Having been witness to some of the earlier days of “tent revivals” and personally seeing many outstanding miracles, one thing was obvious–the people who desired supernatural intervention/healing/deliverance from the Lord came with a heightened expectation. (Of course, there were some excesses, but those were the actions of humans desiring to claim God’s glory or for reasons of selfish exploitation. In spite of this, God’s power is not abated, and He stills honors true faith.)
God is indeed my friend, but I am certainly not His equal!!
It is only by incomprehensible grace that we can enter into His Holy presence. And, that only through the sacrifice of His Son to redeem us from the Adamic (sinful) nature.
- Every hymn, song, or chorus should be about Him/ honoring Him/glorifying Him.
- Every sermon from the Word should penetrate my heart, and when applied by the Holy Spirit should guide me to change, resulting in an ever-increasing dimension of Christ-likeness.
- Every prayer should with humility acknowledge His Sovereignty authority in my life, as well as the entire course of human history.
It is as basic as believing “I have a need–He has the answer”!
The very next time you enter the Lord’s House…
Go in reverently and expectantly, so that by His love, power, grace you will go out with joy and peace.
You will come in one way–and go out another!!