Ezekiel chapter 46 is Ezekiel’s way of showing that God is not an oblivious parent and that selfish behavior, or ‘getting away with it’, is not acceptable.
Ever take a child to the neighborhood playground and watch them climb around on jungle-gym/slide combo equipment? Seems like as often as not that there is someone’s kid hanging around at the top of the slide making it difficult for the other kids to take a turn at the slide. You know the situation, you’ve seen it before. The kid goes down the slide and then turns around and walks back up the slide to take another turn. This blocks up the whole pattern and builds frustration with the other kids who are patiently waiting to share the slide. It is a selfish, and self centered behavior that is encouraged every time that child’s parents are oblivious to the actions of their own children.
For the most part, children are still growing and learning, but adults should know better. That is the point that Ezekiel was making in this chapter, and it is a point that is consistent with themes from his other chapters.
At verse 9, Ezekiel makes an astonishing directive. Anyone who enters the temple through the north door, must leave through the south door – including the Prince. He’s supposed to follow the same path as everyone else. Anyone who enters the temple through the south door, must leave through the north.
It would seem that Ezekiel’s sense of practicality is surfacing here. Though this may sound trivial, there is common sense here because it prevents the very scenario I describe in the introduction of this chapter regarding the playground slide. There is no possibility that someone with an inflated sense of self-importance could enter the door to the inner sanctuary and post ‘body-guards’ to block the way for everyone else until they come back out. This arrangement goes a long way towards discouraging a VIP mindset among the self-described elite.
The other message is that sharing is a two way street. In a very real sense, Ezekiel envisioned a community of holy worshippers who came to this place of offering, sacrifice, and prayer, all sharing it equally. To that end, sharing requires both giving and receiving. Giving way for others to come before the Lord, receiving a place to worship in turn. Sharing is always a two way street because it empowers healthy respect for others as well as a healthy self-respect. It can start with one person, one side of sharing, but should spread to the other side, the other person, if it is done with the right spirit. If it is not doing that, then it is not sharing.
The very end of the chapter 46 is an interesting little bit of functional sharing. It became more clear when I built the 3D model in minecraft. Verses 22-24 describe the roasting pits, or outdoor cooking areas placed in each corner of the outer court. This is the area that has all those equal sized rooms all along the avenue. In today’s terms, these are Bar-B-Q pits stationed equally around the area where the priests are to cook the people’s offerings. No backlogging here, take it and go please. But in this way, it emphasizes the point that even among the priesthood that serve the temple, there is enough for all and there are not special areas for some and not for others.
Ezekiel has proven true to his themes yet again in this whole passage: fairness, sharing, equality, justice, service, and consideration.