Not By the Same Gate

By, Rev. Cody Sandahl, Pastor for Discipleship at FPCBethlehem

Confession time: I sometimes zone out when I read the painstakingly detailed dimensions of the Temple in the Old Testament. I can only take so many cubits before my brain cubits its way elsewhere. My inner monologue says, “OK. God cares about details. Moving on.”

But like Transformers, there’s more than meets the eye.

During one miraculous Scripture reading session spanning several chapters in Ezekiel, I actually paid attention through the entire cubit fest! And lo and behold, God actually had something to say.

Ezekiel 46:9-10 (NIV) - “‘When the people of the land come before the Lord at the appointed festivals, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which they entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate. The prince is to be among them, going in when they go in and going out when they go out.”

This reminds me of a famous building I visited (either Willis Tower or the Empire State Building – I can’t remember). After spending three eternities in a winding forest of lines, you enter this little theater and watch a short film. Then you file out the other side so the next group can enter while you leave. The key point – you don’t go back the way you came.

Now why do they build theaters like this? Simple: they want to get as many people to experience it as possible (let’s ignore the whole part about making more money for a moment). There’s something similar with the Temple. I believe God smiles when more and more people around the world are brought into the Temple to worship.

As we consider our worship, though, I believe there’s something more to this passage than numbers. After all, this traffic pattern isn’t one way. You have people coming and going in all directions. This part really grabbed me.

I can come to worship if I enter from the east – a time of sunrise, possibility and beginnings. I can come to worship if I enter from the north – the most vulnerable side of Jerusalem and a place of worry. I can come to worship if I enter from the west – a time of sunset, transition and endings. I can come to worship if I enter from the south – the cursed valley of Gehenna and a place of torment. No matter where I am coming from, I can come to worship. The gate is open.

But even more importantly, you don’t go back the way you came when you worship. No one leaves the presence of God unchanged.

God is ready to meet everyone who is willing to meet with him. So enter the gate – any gate – and let God meet you. Let God take you out a different gate than you entered. Because in the midst of all those cubits is an encounter with the Living God.

Parting Thoughts

  1. When you come to worship, by what gate are you entering?
  2. When have you allowed God to send you out a different gate, changed forever? 
  3. Is there a part of Scripture you have trouble reading? Give it another chance! 

About the Author

Cody has a passion for "growing the Kingdom in my home, in the Church, and in the world." To learn more about Cody click here.