Ezekiel 46 details regulations for worship and offerings in the future messianic kingdom. This chapter continues the vision Ezekiel received in chapters 40-48 regarding the future temple. After seeing the structure and chambers of the temple in previous chapters, Ezekiel now sees instructions for worship within this temple.
This section provides a glimpse into spiritual life during the millennium. It reveals that there will be systematic worship in the messianic kingdom. The prince, priests, and people will all participate in various offerings and feasts.
Key Takeaways from Ezekiel 46:
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- There are specific regulations for Sabbath worship and the offerings of the prince.
- The east gate of the inner court is shut on weekdays but opened on the Sabbath and New Moons.
- The prince provides offerings on Sabbath, New Moons, and appointed feasts.
- The priests cook the prince’s offerings and eat them in the holy chambers.
- The prince cannot consecrate any of his sons as priests.
- The common people also worship on the Sabbath and New Moons at the gateways.
- The kitchens used to cook the offerings are on the outer court near the northern and southern gates.
- The Lord warns against sacrificing anywhere except the designated inner court.
In Ezekiel 46, we gain insight into the centralized worship that will occur during Christ’s millennial reign from Jerusalem. As we study this passage, we should remember that true worship stems from the heart, no matter the external regulations. God seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.
Commentary on Ezekiel 46
Sabbath Worship Procedure (46:1-8)
Thus says the Lord God: “The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside, and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gateway and then go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the Lord on the Sabbaths and the New Moons. The burnt offering that the prince offers to the Lord on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish; and the grain offering shall be one ephah for a ram, and the grain offering for the lambs, as much as he wants to give, as well as a hin of oil with every ephah. On the day of the New Moon it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish. He shall prepare a grain offering of an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah. When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.” (NKJV)
On weekdays, the east inner court gate is shut, but on the Sabbath and New Moons, it is opened. This emphasizes the importance of Sabbath worship, which God instituted at creation (Gen. 2:2-3). The Sabbath will remain significant in the messianic kingdom.
The prince enters through the gate and stands by the doorpost in the gateway. The priests have already prepared his burnt and peace offerings in the inner court. Burnt offerings picture complete dedication and obedience to God. Peace offerings represent fellowship between God and man. The prince’s offerings demonstrate his submission to the Lord.
After presenting his offerings, the prince worships at the threshold of the gateway, then departs. The gate remains open the rest of the day so the people can also come worship on the Sabbath and New Moons. They are to worship before the Lord at the entrance of this same gate. The Sabbath is a day for both the ruler and the common people to draw near to God.
The Prince’s Sabbath Offerings (46:4)
On the Sabbath, the prince presents six unblemished lambs, one unblemished ram, and a grain offering. The grain offering proportions are one ephah for the ram and as much as he desires for the lambs, along with a hin of oil per ephah. An ephah is about twenty quarts dry volume. A hin is one gallon liquid volume. Thus, the prince gives a substantial grain offering in addition to the animal sacrifices.
The Prince’s New Moon Offerings (46:6-7)
On the first day of each month, i.e. the New Moon, the prince’s offerings increase:
- 1 young bull without blemish
- 6 lambs without blemish
- 1 ram without blemish
- Grain offering: 1 ephah for bull, 1 ephah for ram, as much as desired for lambs, 1 hin oil per ephah
The larger offerings on New Moons highlight their importance as well. Like the Sabbath, the New Moon will be marked by sacrificial worship in the kingdom age.
The Prince Enters and Exits the Same Way (46:8)
Whether for a Sabbath or New Moon, the prince follows the same entrance procedure each time. He enters through the gate vestibule and stands by the doorpost as his offering is prepared in the inner court. Then after worshiping at the threshold, he exits the same way he came.
The People’s Sabbath Worship (46:9)
“But when the people of the land come before the Lord on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate. The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out.” (NKJV)
In contrast to the prince, the people are to enter by the north or south gate, worship in the inner court, then exit through the opposite gate. Rather than retracing their steps, they are to completely traverse the inner court as part of their worship routine.
The prince positions himself among the people as they stream in and out. He models worship by participating alongside them on these holy days. Though occupying a position of leadership, the prince is not isolated from the common people in worship. All share equal access to God’s presence.
Voluntary Offerings (46:10-12)
“The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out. At the festivals and the appointed feast days the grain offering shall be an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah. Now when the prince makes a voluntary burnt offering or voluntary peace offering to the Lord, the gate that faces toward the east shall then be opened for him; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he did on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he goes out the gate shall be shut.” (NKJV)
In addition to mandatory offerings on Sabbaths and feast days, the prince also provides voluntary burnt and peace offerings. When he chooses to make these extra offerings, the east inner court gate is opened for him. He follows the same procedure as the regular Sabbath: entering through the gate, making his offering, worshiping at the threshold, then exiting.
The grain offering proportions for the mandatory offerings on feast days mirror those for the New Moon: one ephah per bull and ram, and as much as desired per lamb, along with the hin of oil per ephah.
The Daily Offering (46:13-15)
“You shall daily make a burnt offering to the Lord of a lamb of the first year without blemish; you shall prepare it every morning. And you shall prepare a grain offering with it every morning, a sixth of an ephah, and a third of a hin of oil to moisten the fine flour. This grain offering is a perpetual ordinance, to be made regularly to the Lord. Thus they shall prepare the lamb, the grain offering, and the oil, as a regular burnt offering every morning.” (NKJV)
In addition to Sabbaths, New Moons, and feasts, there will also be a daily burnt offering. This involves an unblemished first-year lamb offered every morning, along with a perpetual grain offering. The grain proportions are one-sixth ephah of flour (~3 quarts) and one-third hin of oil (~1 quart).
The daily offerings point to the need for continual cleansing and renewed devotion. They will serve as a reminder of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
The Prince’s Land Inheritance (46:16-18)
‘Thus says the Lord God: “If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.”’” (NKJV)
Unlike other kings of the earth, the messianic prince does not accumulate land and riches for himself. Rather, he uses his resources to provide for his people. Any land gifts he gives to his sons become their permanent possession. Gifts to his servants return to him in the year of liberty (Jubilee).
Moreover, the prince does not take land from the people as his own inheritance. He provides for his sons out of his own property. This ensures the people remain on their rightful land inheritances.
No Consecrated Offerings Taken Outside (46:19-20)
Then he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests which face toward the north; and there a place was situated at their extreme western end. And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, so that they do not bring them out into the outer court to sanctify the people.” (NKJV)
Ezekiel is now brought into the holy chambers on the north side of the inner court. This is where the priests will boil the trespass and sin offerings, and bake the grain offerings. The idea is that these consecrated offerings should only be consumed in the holy chambers, away from the people in the outer court.
Sanctified offerings are not to be taken outside to the general public. The priests alone can eat them after cooking them in these chambers. This maintains the offerings’ sanctity.
No Priests Among the Prince’s Inheritance (46:21-24)
Then he brought me out into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and in fact, in every corner of the court there was another court. In the four corners of the court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; all four corners were the same size. There was a row of building stones all around in them, all around the four of them; and cooking hearths were made under the rows of stones all around. And he said to me, “These are the kitchens where the ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.” (NKJV)
The outer court contains smaller enclosures in each corner. These serve as kitchens for cooking the people’s sacrifices. The hearths are under rows of stones surrounding these cooking areas.
Then he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, so that they do not bring them out into the outer court to sanctify the people.” (NKJV)
The note is again made that the priests must not take consecrated offerings out into the outer court. They are only to be eaten in the inner court chambers.
This segregation makes it clear the prince’s sons cannot become consecrated priests just because they are descendants of David. Only those called by God from the tribe of Levi can minister as priests (Ezekiel 44:15-16). The prince’s children can inherit land, but not priestly duties.
Ezekiel 46 reveals that true worship will remain central in the messianic kingdom. Sabbaths, New Moons, and festivals will continue to be celebrated with offerings and praise before the Lord. The prince will lead the people in worship by providing generous sacrifices. His offerings point to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ for sin.
This passage underscores that worship requires both faithful leaders and willing participants among the common people. All who belong to God’s kingdom have the privilege of ministering to Him out of loving and sincere hearts. As we anticipate the glory of the future kingdom, may we worship the Lord even now in spirit and truth.