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The eastern gate January 6, 2011

Posted by daniel ayad in Biblical.

There is an interesting gate mentioned in the book of Ezekiel. On three separate occasions, the Spirit of the Lord brings him to this eastern gate. However, this gate is unusual in that it is shut and no man shall enter it.


It’s arguably the most important gate in the world….


Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut. And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut. As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.” (Ezek 44: 1-3)  


What is the shut gate, through which only the Lord entered and no man can enter it? It is the undefiled virginal womb of St Mary[1]. The Lord Christ came incarnate from the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. She gave birth to Him, and her virginity remained sealed.


The Lord Christ is the prince; he can enter the vestibule of the gateway and go out the same way.


Interestingly the word prince is repeated twice. Arguably this is because Christ is the Minister of the Old Testament, the unseen word of God, and He is the Minister of the New Testament, the incarnate word of God[2].


This is why in the Coptic month of Kiahk we say:


Ezekiel prophesied     

In a vision and said,

“I saw an eastern door

Closed at all sides


Therein entered and came forth

The Most High King

And no harm came to it         

And it was continuously sealed.[3]


The temple has four gateways; north, south, east, and west. Each gateway has three gate chambers on one side and three on the other. These remind us of the New Jerusalem mentioned in revelation, “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.” (Rev 21:12-13) 


Of the four directions it’s no surprise that the gate, which symbolises the womb of St Mary, faces east. In the east the Lord Christ was born and His star appeared in the east (Matt 2:2). God’s glory is in the east, and hence most theologians say that the second coming of the Lord will be from the east.


The east has become a symbol to us because it raises our hearts in deep contemplations, henceforth all our prayers and churches face east.



[1] Fr Tadros Malaty, A patristic commentary on Ezekiel, pg 337, 2003

[2] Ibid

[3] Kiahk Psalmody, St George and St Joseph Coptic Orthodox Church, slide 304 



1. bishoymarcus - January 6, 2011

excellent summary – realllly good read

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