Ezekiel 44

1Then the man brought me back to the east gate of the temple area. We were outside the gate and the gate was shut. 2The Lord said to me, “This gate will stay shut. It won’t be opened. No one will enter through it. Why? Because the Lord of Israel has entered through it. So it must stay shut. 3Only the ruler of the people may sit at this gate when he eats a meal with the Lord. He must enter through the porch of the gateway and go out the same way.” 4Then the man led me through the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked and saw the Glory of the Lord filling the Lord’s temple. I bowed with my face touching the ground. 5The Lord said to me, “Son of man, look very carefully! Use your eyes and ears. Look at these things. And listen very carefully to everything that I tell you about all the rules and laws about the Lord’s temple. Look carefully at the entrances to the temple and at all the exits from the holy place. 6Then give this message to all the people of Israel that refused to obey me. Tell them, 'The Lord my Master says these things: Family of Israel, I have had enough of the terrible things you have done! 7You brought foreigners into my temple—and those people were not truly circumcised—they did not give themselves completely to me. In this way you made my temple unclean. You broke our agreement and did terrible things, and then you gave me the offerings of bread, the fat, and the blood. But this only made my temple unclean. 8You did not take care of my holy things. No, you let foreigners have responsibility of my holy place!’” 9The Lord my Master says these things, “A foreigner that is not truly circumcised must not come into my temple—not even a foreigner living permanently among the people of Israel. He must be circumcised and he must give himself completely to me ˻before he can come into my temple˼. 10In the past, the Levites left me when Israel turned away from me. Israel left me to follow their idols. The Levites will be punished for their sin. 11The Levites were chosen to serve in my holy place. They guarded the gates of the temple. They served in the temple. They killed the animals for the sacrifices and burnt offerings for the people. They were chosen to help the people and to serve them. 12But those Levites helped the people sin against me! They helped the people worship their idols! So I am making this promise against them: 'They will be punished for their sin.’” The Lord my Master said this. 13“So the Levites will not bring offerings to me like the priests. They won’t come near any of my holy things or the things that are most holy. They must carry their shame because of the terrible things that they did. 14But I will let them take care of the temple. They will work in the temple and do the things that must be done in it. 15“The priests are all from the family group of Levi. But only priests from Zadok’s family took care of my holy place when the people of Israel turned away from me. So only Zadok’s descendants will bring offerings to me. They will stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood from the animals they sacrifice.” The Lord my Master said those things! 16“They will enter my holy place. They will come near my table to serve me. They will take care of the things I gave them. 17When they enter the gates of the inner courtyard, they will wear linen clothes. They won’t wear wool while they serve at the gates of the inner courtyard and in the temple. 18They will wear linen turbans on their heads. And they will wear linen underwear. They won’t wear anything that makes them sweat. 19Before they go out into the outer courtyard to the people, they will take off the clothes they wear while serving me. They will put these clothes away in the holy rooms. Then they will put on other clothes. In this way, they will not let people touch those holy clothes. 20“These priests won’t shave their heads or let their hair grow long. ˻This would show they are sad, and the priests must be happy about serving the Lord.˼ The priests may only trim the hair of their heads. 21None of the priests may drink wine when they go into the inner courtyard. 22The priests must not marry a widow or a divorced woman. No, they must marry only a virgin from the family of Israel or a woman whose dead husband was a priest. 23“Also, the priests must teach my people the difference between the holy things and the things that are not holy. They must help my people know what is clean and what is unclean. 24The priests will be the judges in court. They will follow my laws when they judge people. They will obey my laws and my rules at all my special feasts. They will respect my special days of rest and keep them holy. 25They won’t go near a dead person to make themselves unclean. But they may make themselves unclean if the dead person is their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or a sister that is not married. 26˻This will make the priest unclean.˼ After the priest has been made clean, he must wait seven days. 27Then he can go back into the holy place. But on the day he goes into the inner courtyard to serve in the holy place, he must offer a sin offering for himself.” The Lord my Master said these things. 28“About the land that will belong to the Levites: I am their property. You won’t give the Levites any property ˻(land)˼ in Israel. I am their share in Israel. 29They will get to eat the grain offerings, the sin offerings, and the guilt offerings. Everything the people in Israel give to the Lord will be theirs. 30And the first part of the harvest from every kind of crop will be for the priests. You will also give the priests the first of your dough. This will bring blessings to your house. 31The priests must not eat any bird or animal that died a natural death or had been torn to pieces ˻by a wild animal˼.

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