Chapter 44:1-14 (ESV) - Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”
Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple of the Lord. And I fell on my face. And the Lord said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the Lord and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary.
“Thus says the Lord God: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple and ministering in the temple. They shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before the people, to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord God, and they shall bear their punishment. They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my holy things and the things that are most holy, but they shall bear their shame and the abominations that they have committed. Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its service and all that is to be done in it.
Question to consider: Who is this prince who is able to enter the sanctuary for us?
In the heavenly temple not built by hands, God appointed a prince who would keep the new covenant on behalf of the people because the people failed to keep the covenant of Moses, and His holy temple was defiled. This is signified by the shutting of the gate so that only the prince could eat before the Lord. In the earthly temple, the appointed priests ate the showbread after replacing it on the table, and only the high priest who went into the presence of the Lord once a year to offer a sacrifice for the people. Before they were able to do this, they had to make sacrifices for their own sins. This prince, however, would fulfill the role and make sure that the temple was never profaned without having to offer a sacrifice for his own sins.
In the book of Hebrews, we find out that this prince who serves as our high priest did so with His own blood by the perfect sacrifice that would not need to be offered over and over again. He of course was circumcised in both heart and flesh, and would keep anyone else out who was not. In Colossians 2:11-12, we learn from Paul, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” We don’t need to be circumcised in the flesh because we were baptized into the circumcision of Christ.
The reason the new covenant is called everlasting is because our mediator and prince is everlasting, and His sacrifice was perfect. Even though we fall short of the “statutes of the temple and all its laws,” Christ has kept them for us perfectly. We have been given rest from works of the Law in Christ who is our Sabbath rest, and because we are clothed in His righteousness, we do good works out of an outpouring of God’s Spirit in us.
This is the “service” that we have been appointed to do. As Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) The writer of Hebrews added, “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:12-16)
Dear heavenly father, help us to do the good works that You have created us to do. May we never get prideful of our position in Christ but stay contrite and remember the shame from which we’ve been saved through Christ Jesus. Amen.