The prophet Ezekiel had described in chapter 40, verses 35 to 43, the details of the activities at the northern gates. From a northern gate he moved into the inner court for the first time.

The Inner Court

 The inner court was the region between the outside square rows of buildings and the circular central part of the Temple. Ezekiel 40:44—46 briefly refer to the buildings that were in the inner court. These were quite clear of, and distinct from, the buildings already described in chapter 40.

Ezekiel 40:44 “And without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court, which was at the side of the north gate; and their prospect was toward the south: one at the side of the east gate having the prospect toward the north.”

 The word “without” means “outside”. Ezekiel was outside the northern inner gate. He was looking at a building consisting of chambers where the singers resided. He described this section of chambers as having a “prospect toward the south”. That is, the chambers had a southerly direction.

The latter part of verse 44 had been difficult to interpret. How could a chamber be at the side of the east gate and yet have a northern prospect? Some translators met the difficulty by altering the word “east” to “south” (for example the Septuagint). It took Brother Sulley seven years to unlock the key and supply an answer to the verse. A half circular building, curving from the east side to the west, could be constructed and still have a prospect northward.

After ten years of study, Brother Sulley’s first book appeared. It was an answer to one of the greatest problems of the Bible. It is available to us today—in the last days—a solution found and we benefit. It excites our motivation and helps our vision.

The Singers

 The northern semi-circle of buildings in the inner court will be for the singers. There will be a renewal of the service of song in the day of the Temple of the Kingdom. It had formed an important feature in the Tabernacle and in Solomon’s Temple. No doubt singing will be one of the methods by which mortals will be taught.

At Creation, the angels sang. At the birth of the Lord, angels sang. Angels rejoice at the time of a baptism. There is right emotion. Saints will have it in the Millennial Age. As immortals, the saints will not experience pain or suffering or the pressure of sin, but they will have right emotions. They will feel joy, happiness and praise. They will sing the new song of Revelation Chapter 5. Imagine it; thousands upon thousands of immortal voices singing:

“Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever”.

 Compare the words recorded in Psalms 71:22–23, 87:5,7, 92:1–2, 95:1–2, 96:1, 98:1 and Isa 42:10.

The Mortal Priests

 Ezekiel 40:45 “And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the house.”

 This is the first class of priests that will operate in the circular range of chambers! These will be the mortal Levites. They will be in the northern semi-circle of buildings.

Ezekiel 44:11 “Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.”

 Ezekiel 44:13 “And they shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place….”

 The mortal priests will have restricted activity in the Temple. They will have charge at the gates, slaying the burnt offerings and the sacrifices for the people. They will minister unto the people coming to the Temple. There will then be a restoration of the Levitical priesthood chosen from among the Israelites alive in the day of the Kingdom. However they will not be permitted to enter the “most holy” area of the Temple precincts. They will not be able to go near unto Yahweh.

Several characteristics of the mortal Levites are given in Ezekiel 44:17–25. For example, they sweat (vv17–18), they marry (v22), they keep laws and statutes (v24) and they can be defiled (v25).

The Immortal Priests

 Ezekiel 40:46 “And the chamber whose prospect is toward the north is for the priests, the keepers of the charge of the altar: these are the sons of Zadok among the sons of Levi, which come near to the LORD to minister unto him.”

 This second class of priests will be in charge of the altar. The altar will be in the centre area of the circular buildings, on top of the hill of Zion. It will be in the Most Holy Place. Only the immortal saints will be permitted into that precinct to minister before Yahweh. No mortals will ascend to the altar.

In Ezekiel 44:10–14, 17–25 we have many details concerning the mortal Levites. In verses 15–16 we have a separate section.

Ezekiel 44:15–16 But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.”

 Verse 15 begins with “But”. It is showing a contrast, indicating a group distinct from the mortal Levites. They represent a higher order of priests, over and above and in contrast to the Levitical priests. These elevated priests “come near to Yahweh”. The Levitical priests “shall not come near” (v13). There will then be a class of immortal, righteous ones, engaged in the intimate work of the priesthood.

Anyone, or any class of people, of whom it may be said that in their days of mortal probation they “kept the charge” of Deity, will not be in the Kingdom as mortals. These are the glorified saints who “come near to Yahweh”. They are styled in Ezekiel’s record as the “sons of Zadok”. This is a figurative term. The meaning of Zadok is “just”, from the words righteous, justified or upright. “The Just One” is a title of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 7:52). The “sons of Zadok” is a title that represents a class of people in the Kingdom as the just ones. The historical setting for the figurative term is found in David and Solomon’s eras (1 Kings 1 & 2). Zadok was a king-priest in Solomon’s typical reign of peace. The sons of Zadok of Ezekiel’s record (including Zadok himself) will be priests with Christ in the Kingdom.

Revelation 5:9–10 “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

 The saints are also presented in the Apocalypse as twenty four elders. This symbol takes us back to David’s administration for the first Temple. There were twenty four courses in which priests ministered. Zadok’s seed was one of the principal orders. The details are found in 1 Chronicles 24. It may be that each of the saints shall spend one month every two years in ministration of Temple worship and education.

In New Testament times, the visitation by an angel to Zacharias told him of his future son, John the Baptist.

Luke 1:8–9, 11 “And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord… And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.”

 There was Zacharias (mortal) in the order of his course with the angel (immortal) together in the Temple of Herod’s day. In the millennial age, mortals (Levites) and immortals (Sons of Zadok) will be officiating together in the Temple. It will not be a precedent as some want to imagine and hence reject. It will be a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, “King of Righteousness” (Heb 5:5–7), the Lord Jesus Christ being the High Priest of this order.