Ezekiel 44:1-2 gate... toward the east... was shut... and no man shall enter in by it because the Lord... hath entered in by it
John the Baptist felt unworthy to unlatch the shoes of the Messiah; he felt unworthy to baptize the Messiah, and Peter felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as the Christ choosing rather to be crucified upside down. If these great servants of the Lord were unworthy then shouldn't we feel unworthy to enter the temple by the same entrance as He did? The Millennial Jews should feel that same inadequacy. There is a difference between the Lord and his servants; the closed gate symbolizes that difference.
The glory of the Lord filling the temple will also emphasize that difference. When Ezekiel saw the house of the Lord filled with his glory the second time, he fell on his face out of fear and respect (v. 4). The north and south gates will allow worshippers to enter the temple, but this will be done in an orderly fashion. Those who enter by the north gate must leave by the south gate; those who enter by the south gate must leave by the north gate (Ezek. 46:9).
Ezekiel 44:3 the prince... shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord
The area for the prince is the inner gate on the east, not the outer gate by which the Lord entered. "The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened" (Ezek. 46:1). The inner gate is the entrance to the holy portion of the temple; it is the entrance to the dwelling place of the Lord. That is why "the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the Lord in the Sabbaths and in the new moons" (Ezek. 46:3). The prince spoken of is likely the David Ezekiel has previously spoken of (Ezek. 37:35).
Ezekiel 44:9 No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary
The Temple of Solomon had been defiled both by the priests and the patrons. We need to be careful we don't make the same mistake.
Spencer W. Kimball
Holy temples may also be defiled and desecrated by members of the Church who go into the temple and make covenants unworthily or which they are not prepared or willing to accept and carry forward. When people go to the temple and then make light of its sacred principles, they are defiling it. When unrepentant people accept the holy ordinances without full determination to prove worthy of them, they are helping to violate the sacredness [page 7] of the holy temple and they are desecrating holy places.
When promises are made and covenants are entered into without serious or pure intent to magnify them, pollutions may occur in the holy temples. It is not only a matter of receiving a recommend to enter the temples of the Lord, but it is also a matter of one having a pure, sweet, and repentant spirit as well. When we enter the door of the house of the Lord, we might well remember a theme that was mentioned in the Washington Temple:
Enter this door as if the floor within were gold;
And every wall of jewels all of wealth untold;
As if a choir in robes of fire were singing here;
Nor shout nor rush but hush ... for God is here.
(From "Words of Life," p. 45.)
("The Things of Eternity-Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, Jan. 1977, 6-7)
Gordon B. Hinckley
I believe that most who hold temple recommends meet all of the requirements. I regret to acknowledge, however, that there may be a few who do not and who should not enter the House of the Lord. I know it is difficult for a bishop to deny a recommend to someone who is in his ward and who may be on the borderline with reference to personal behavior. Such denial may be offensive to the applicant. But he or she should know that unless there is true worthiness, there will be no blessing gained, and condemnation will fall upon the head of him or her who unworthily crosses the threshold of the House of God. ("Keeping the Temple Holy," Ensign, May 1990, 52)
Richard G. Scott
If you are now ready to receive the ordinances of the temple, prepare carefully for that crowning event. Before entering the temple, you will be interviewed by your bishop and stake president for your temple recommend. Be honest and candid with them. That interview is not a test to be passed but an important step to confirm that you have the maturity and spirituality to receive the supernal ordinances and make and keep the edifying covenants offered in the house of the Lord. Personal worthiness is an essential requirement to enjoy the blessings of the temple. Anyone foolish enough to enter the temple unworthily will receive condemnation. ("Receive the Temple Blessings," Ensign, May 1999, 25)
Ezekiel 44:10-11 the Levites... shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people
The widow Sister Schmidt has a lot of money. Once the Millennial Temple is dedicated, she decides to fly to Israel and visit the temple. She enters by the north gate as instructed. Then she enters the inner courtyard of this beautiful temple; she sees Levite priests dressed in their temple attire killing and butchering the ram for the burnt offering. With blood stained hands and clothing, they look up and give her a smile. She is horrified and wonders what kind of temple this is? What is the lesson of this terrifying experience for Sister Schmidt? Apparently, she forgot to read Ezekiel before leaving on her trip.
Oliver B. Huntington
I heard the Prophet reply to the question: "Will there ever be any more offering of sheep and heifers and bullocks upon altars, as used to be required of Israel?"
"Yes, there will; for there were never any rites, ordinances of laws in the priesthood of any gospel dispensation upon this earth but what will have to be finished and perfected in this last dispensation of time-the dispensation of all dispensations." (Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet, p. 62)
Ezekiel 44:15-16 The sons of Zadok... shall come near to me to minister unto me
The identity of the sons of Zadok has already been explained (see commentary for Ezek. 43:19; see also D&C 84:32). The literal translation of the term, "sons of Zadok," is actually "sons of righteousness." Therefore, if we accept the assumption that the term "sons of Zadok" really refers to holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, then the rest of chapter 44 makes perfect sense. With that understanding, we realize that Ezekiel is describing a separation between the duties of two sets of priesthood holders: the first are Levites, and the second are a special group with special privileges, i.e. Melchizedek priesthood holders. We understand that only the Melchizedek priesthood holds the keys to dwell in the presence of God (D&C 107:19-20). The "sons of Zadok" are required to minister to the Lord himself, to minister at his table, and to keep his charge-in essence, they dwell directly with the Lord in his House-a privilege belonging to the higher priesthood (D&C 107:19).
Ezekiel 44:17-21 Description of temple workers in the Millennial Temple
Inside the inner court, Ezekiel might have well been describing temple workers of the Salt Lake Temple, the Mexico City Temple, or the Seoul Korea Temple. In Ezekiel's description, we find very familiar elements immediately recognizable to temple patrons. First, their garments are made of linen not wool because they are never worn outside (v. 17). Their heads are covered with caps; they wear linen pants (v. 18). They never sweat because the temperature is comfortable and constant (v. 18). Before they exit the holy portion of the temple, they change clothes so that the temple clothing is only worn indoors (v. 19). They have short hair (v. 20). They don't drink at all (v. 21).
Sounds like latter-day temple patrons to me! The only detail Ezekiel left out were the small suitcases patrons carry on their way to and from the temple!
So in the inner court, the area reserved for ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the temple workers and patrons in the Millennium will look just like they do now, changing clothes in a locker room, wearing the same type of linen temple clothing, and ministering the ordinances of salvation in the House of the Lord. Ezekiel saw Jerusalem in a future day, but the temple workers looked just the same as they do today.
Ezekiel 44:23 teach my people the difference between the holy and profane
Neal A. Maxwell
While this reference pertains to some of the rituals and formal aspects of leadership in ancient Israel, the charge laid on them still constitutes a major leadership goal. There is a vast difference between the holy and the profane, and unless this difference is made clear rather than allowing it to be blurred over, individuals cannot make accurate decisions. There must be a real sensing of the difference. Unless we see, under the direction of a real leader, the crucial differences between the clean and unclean, [the individual is not] really prepared to make a series of decisions by himself. ("A More Excellent Way: Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints," 124-125)
Harold B. Lee
If we seek to follow the adjuration of the Lord to an ancient priesthood leader to "teach my people the difference between the holy and profane" (Ezekiel 44:23), this will take leaders of both faith and skill. The definition of the word profane means not only impure but a lack of concern with spiritual things. Much of the world today is not explicitly hostile to the things of God so much as they are simply "unconcerned." They are like those John upbraided whose attitude was: "I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). It takes skill as well as testimony to reach people so unconcerned.
In a world increasingly surfeited with sensuality, we can expect in the future many individuals to react to the emptiness of life without truth by finally abandoning the pattern of life in which they have "wandered to and fro," flitting from fad to fad, driven because of an inner hunger for the truth which could make them free. The light of the Church and the gospel must shine clearly so that these souls can see our light. We must maintain a high level of institutional and individual integrity, so that we do not compromise the special mission to mankind which we have, so that neither we nor our programs, even unconsciously, are placed between the light of the gospel and those who so desperately need to feel and see its rays. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 598)
Neal A. Maxwell
We must resist the caresses of the world, knowing that insofar as we are already resisting these caresses, these blandishments of Babylon, we are succeeding! Moreover, we are doing so in a time of tremendous temptation, a time when the adversary seeks to blur the distinction between what Ezekiel called "the holy and [the] profane." (Ezek. 44:23.) ("The Christ-Centered Life," Ensign, Aug. 1981, 17)
Ezekiel 44:28 I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel
Traditionally, the Levites were given land in the suburbs among the tribes of Israel. But in the Millennium, the Lord says, "give them no possession." Who needs a house in the suburbs when you get to minister to the Lord in his Holy House? Who needs a big yard? a dog? a three car garage? Who needs real estate? Who needs material possessions when the Lord has promised to give all that the Father hath? (D&C 84:38)