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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 4–9
Verses 4–9

This is much to the same purport with what we had in the beginning of Ezek. 43:1-31 As the prophet must look again upon what he had before seen, so he must be told again what he had before heard. Here, as before, he sees the house filled with the glory of the Lord, which strikes an awe upon him, so that he falls prostrate at the sight, the humblest posture of adoration and the expression of a holy awe: I fell upon my face, Ezek. 44:4. Note, The more we see of the glory of God the more low we shall lie in our own eyes. Now here,

I. God charges the prophet to take a very particular notice of all he saw, and all that was said to him (Ezek. 44:5): “Behold with thy eyes what is shown thee, particularly the entering in of the house and every going forth of it, all the inlets and all the outlets of the sanctuary;” those he must take special notice of. Note, In acquainting ourselves with divine things we must not aim so much at an abstract speculation of the things themselves as at finding the plain appointed way of converse and communion with those things, that we may go in and out and find pasture. 2. Hear with thy ears all that I say unto thee about the laws and ordinancesof the house, which he was to instruct the people in. Note, Those who are appointed to be teachers have need to be very diligent careful learners, that they may neither forget any of the things they are entrusted with nor mistake concerning them.

II. He sends him upon an errand to the people, to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Ezek. 44:6. It is sad to think that the house of Israel should deserve this character from him who perfectly knew them, that a people in covenant with God should be rebellious against him. Who are his subjects if the house of Israel be rebels? But it is an instance of God’s rich mercy that, though they had been rebellious, yet, being the house of Israel, he does not cast them off, but sends an ambassador to them, to invite and encourage them to return to their allegiance, which he would not have done if he had been pleased to kill them. The whole race of mankind has fallen under the character here given of the house of Israel; but our Lord Jesus, when he ascended on high, received gifts for men, yea, even for the rebellious also, that, as here, the Lord God might dwell among them, Ps. 68:18.

1. He must tell them of their faults, must show them their rebellions, must show the house of Jacob their sins. Note, Those that are sent to comfort God’s people must first convince them, and so prepare them for comfort. Let it suffice you of all your abominations, Ezek. 44:6. Note, It is time for those that have continued long in sin to reckon it long enough, and too long, and to begin to think of taking up in time, and leaving off their evil courses. “Let the time past of your lives suffice, for by this time, surely, you have surfeited upon your abominations and have become sick of them,” 1 Pet. 4:3. That which is here charged upon them is, (1.) That they had admitted those to the privileges of the sanctuary that were not entitled to them; whereas God had said, The stranger that comes nigh shall be put to death, they had not only connived at the intrusion of strangers into the sanctuary, but had themselves introduced them (Ezek. 44:7): You brought in strangers uncircumcised in flesh, and therefore under a legal incapacity to enter into the sanctuary, which was a breaking of the covenant of circumcision, throwing down the hedge of their peculiarity, and laying themselves in common with the rest of the world. Yet if these strangers had been devout and good, though they were not circumcised, the crime would not have been so great; but they were uncircumcised in heart too, unhumbled, unreformed, and strangers indeed to God and all goodness. When they came to offer sacrifice they brought these with them to feast with them upon the sacrifice, because they were fond of their company, and this was one of their abominations, wherewith they polluted God’s sanctuary; it was giving that which was holy unto dogs, Matt. 7:6. Note, The admission of those who are openly wicked and profane to special ordinances is a polluting of God’s sanctuary and a great provocation to him. (2.) That they had employed those in the service of the sanctuary who were not fit for it. Though none but priests and Levites were to minister in the sanctuary, yet we may suppose that all who were priests and Levites did not immediately attend there, but chosen men of them, who were best qualified, who were most wise, serious, and conscientious, and most likely to keep the charge of the holy things carefully; but, in making this choice, they had not regard to merit and qualification for the work: “You have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves, such as you had some favour or affection for, such as you either had got, or hoped to get, money by, or such as would comply with your humours and would dispense with the laws of the sanctuary to please you; thus you have not kept the charge of my holy things.” Note, Those who have the choice of the keepers of the holy things, if, to serve some secular selfish purpose, they choose such as are unfit and unfaithful, will justly have it laid at their door, that they have betrayed the holy things by lodging them in bad hands.

2. He must tell them their duty (Ezek. 44:9): “No stranger shall enter into my sanctuary till he has first submitted to the laws of it.” But, lest any should think that this excluded the penitent believing Gentiles from the church, the stranger here is described to be one that is uncircumcised in heart, not in sincerity consenting to the covenant, nor putting away the filth of the flesh; whereas the believing Gentiles were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, Col. 2:11. This circumcision of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter, was what the unbelieving Jews were strangers to and unconcerned about, while yet they were zealous to keep out of the sanctuary uncircumcised Gentiles, witness their rage against Paul when they did but suspect him to have brought Greeks into the temple, Acts 21:28.