Today’s Reading: 1 Kings 16, Ezekiel 46, Psalm 102, Colossians 3.
9 “When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed feasts, he who enters by the north gate to worship shall go out by the south gate, and he who enters by the south gate shall go out by the north gate: no one shall return by way of the gate by which he entered, but each shall go out straight ahead. 10 When they enter, the prince shall enter with them, and when they go out, he shall go out.” Ezekiel 46:9-10
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not fully understand, nor am anywhere close to being any kind of authority on the subject of Old Testament worship. There are some aspects of it I grasp and many I don’t. I am always learning, and needing to learn even more in this regard.
That being said, one – simple, yet potent – implication of these verses is this: leave worship different than when you came.
When you come to worship the Lord, come to worship as He prescribes. Then leave different.
Go out changed.
Being in the presence of the Lord is never intended to be a stagnant deal. In fact, if truly done, I don’t believe that is possible.
For worshippers in the Old Testament, they were to worship during the commanded feasts by entering on one end of the temple, then leaving on the other. After doing what was required, they were to walk out different.
Again, I want to be careful here due to the differences between worship then and now. But I believe it is safe to say that – at the very least – for us this means we too must come to corporate worship expecting to leave differently. We must approach the study of our Bible’s with the anticipation of being changed. We must approach prayer with the eager hope that God will meet with us and change us.
Worship is not something we do as routine. Being in the presence of God means expecting to be dealt with so that when it is over – for that period – you walk away different.
On an even deeper level, in the context of Ezekiel 46, all sorts of sacrifices for sin were required. Bloodshed by spotless animals were commanded. Offerings of grain were prescribed. For the Christian, this has been done – once and for all – by Jesus. When we enter into the “temple” (presence of God) by faith in what He did for us in His life, death, burial, and resurrection – we are changed. We come out “the other side” having “done” all that is required (faith in all Jesus did). In other words, when we come to God through faith in Jesus and He accepts the sacrifice made for our sins – we are changed.
Meeting with God has never been intended to be a “nonchalant,” “passive,” “go-through-the-motions,” deal. It is to be approached with reverent expectation, hope, and assurance that meeting with God will cause us to walk out different than the way we came in.