"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezek. 3:17).
The inner gateways are for the “sanctified priests,” those who purified their souls and did not rebel against the Lord and excessively pilfer the people’s money.
It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok, who are sanctified, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray (Ezek. 48:11).
It says that the sons of Zadok, which means "righteousness," are sanctified. This implies the other priests, those who have charge over the outer gateways of the outer court, have not been sanctified.
The Zadok priests of the inner gateways have charge of the altar in the inner court and the temple. The watchmen of the outer gateways are not allowed to go into the temple or perform the sacrifices to the Lord. They are, however, involved in the sacrifices of the people.
The Zadok priests also have charge of the music and worship as did the division of priests in 1 Chronicles during the time of David. The Levites could help with the worship, but the priests were in charge of it. It is significant that the watchmen of the outer gateways are not involved with the sacrifices to the Lord, temple services, and worship. These things are reserved for those with a higher level of sanctity. Worship is a very important function of a church; and in the new church order, it is reserved for those of the highest integrity.
Asaph, who was in charge of worship in the time of David, was a “seer.” This was an older name for prophet in the Scriptures.
Moreover, King Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshiped (2 Chron. 29:30).
This is very significant – the leader of worship was also a prophet. Prophecy and worship are associated together several times in the Scriptures. The Bible seems to take for granted that those in charge of worship were mature prophets. Indeed, we have the book of the Israelite’s songs (the Psalms) as testimony that their songs were very much prophecy as well. It is clear that at least some of the watchmen of the inner gateways are prophets, if not all of them. Others could help play instruments and sing in worship, but there should be a mature prophet overseeing the worship.
In order for some of the watchmen of the inner gateways to be prophets, presumably they first had been baptized in the Holy Spirit (to activate their prophetic ministry). The inner gateways (or at least the northern one) was surrounded by eight tables for slaying the sacrifices. Eight is the number for Spirit life and new beginnings. The length of the inner gateway is 50 cubits. The meaning of Pentecost is “fifty,” another reason to see the inner gateway as Pentecost and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. (Although the outer gateways are also 50 cubits long, six cubits of that is taken up by the outer wall of the courtyard.) Also eight steps are ascended to reach the inner gateways while the outer gateways have only seven steps each.
In the books of Moses, we learn that the tribe of Levi was responsible for the tabernacle and its services, but not all of the Levites qualified to be priests. Only a descendant of Aaron could be a priest, and they had to go through a consecration process. The Levites were to help the anointed priests in their duties, but the priests were responsible for those duties. Again, it is only the “sanctified priests” who are allowed in the inner gateways. The outer gateways are where the “Levites,” who help with the temple ministry, keep watch. As we have seen, these Levites of the millennial temple are not allowed to minister before the Lord because they went astray.
Twenty-Four Divisions of Priests
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Ps. 84:10).
One reason the New Testament does not spend much space on church structure is that it is already contained in the Old Testament. David divided the priests into 24 divisions (1 Chron. 23). He also divided the Levites into 24 divisions. Twenty-four is an important number for church order and watchmen or shepherds. We know that in the time of Jesus, there were still 24 divisions of priests for the temple. Each division served in the temple two weeks out of the year. During the remaining weeks at the festival times, all the divisions served. The 24 divisions of Levites were each assigned to a division of priests to help.
In Ezekiel’s temple, we also see the number 24 in the gates for the guards. Each gateway had 6 alcoves or rooms for a guard. There are 6 priests in the northern inner gateway and 6 in the southern inner gateway. Six watchmen of Levites are in the northern outer gateway and 6 in the southern. That is a total of 12 priests in the inner gateways and 12 Levites in the outer gateways, making a total of 24 shepherds for the “city” of Ezekiel’s temple. The eastern gateways were not used because they were sacred and only the “prince” could use them (Ezek. 44:1-3, 46:1-3). If the two eastern gates do have guards, they are set apart from the others. A total of twenty-four watchmen deal with the people.
We also find in the model of heaven in Revelation that 24 watchmen or elders surrounded the throne. They represent the 24 overseers of the 24 divisions of priests – just as it was in David’s orders.
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads (Rev. 4:4).
These 24 elders have been exalted to their thrones. No doubt they lived very humble lives of self-sacrifice on earth to be exalted like this. Which of these 24 elders is the predominant chief shepherd? The only chief shepherd in this heavenly model is Jesus. In David’s orders, in the pattern city of Ezekiel’s temple, and in the model in heaven, we find 24 elders/shepherds with no one man standing out in preeminence among them. This is how it will be in the new church order.
Jesus chose 12 apostles, a number so important to God’s pattern that, when Judas killed himself, the disciples knew they had to appoint another one to keep the number at 12 (Acts 1:15-26). Significantly, the church started out with 12 apostles, and the Old Testament had 12 sons of Israel. Under the Old Covenant, there were 12 patriarchs to make 2 gateways of the outer court of God’s temple. Under the New Covenant Christ choose 12 more watchmen for His inner gateways.
The New Jerusalem includes all 24 watchmen. The 12 gates in the heavenly Zion in Revelation are named after the 12 patriarchs. The 12 apostles are named in the 12 foundations. Also in the book of Revelation, we find 144,000 chosen saints, 12,000 from 12 tribes of Israel, who will rule God’s millennial kingdom. The number 144,000 is 24 x 6000. Do you think maybe we have a pattern here, or are all these examples of 24 shepherds just a coincidence?
In a big city that has, say, a million people, it is obvious that 24 elders would not be enough to serve the people. So the 24 watchmen of the gateways of Ezekiel’s temple represent the leaders of 24 divisions. There would be many meeting places with several having elders. The city should have 24 divisions of elders with 24 divisions of deacons to help them (like the priests had Levites to help them), consisting of 24 leaders who serve full-time. The leaders of each division are the main 24 watchmen for the city. They share oversight of the city watch so no one man has predominance at any given time. This seems to be a very important factor in God’s leadership. He has certainly put safeguards against the one-man rule to guard against false motives and ruling like the Gentiles. As has already been pointed out, when going through one of these gates, a Christian would encounter 6 watchmen, 2 at a time. The people of Ezekiel’s temple are commanded to exit out of the northern gateway if they enter the southern and visa-versa (Ezek. 46:9). If they went in a straight line, they would have to go through a total of 4 gateways and encounter 24 watchmen or shepherds.
What is the significance of the number 24? The most obvious reasons for the number 24 comes from time. The months of the year are 12, around which David ordered the 24 divisions (2x12). Another rather obvious reason for 24 shepherds or divisions of shepherds is the 24 hours of a day. Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? (John 11:9). As we know, there are also 12 hours of night - 24 hours. These are the twenty-four hour watches for each full day that forms a circle (or square) of protection for the city-church. During the restoration of the temple of Israel after Babylon, the first thing Nehemiah did was to begin building a wall of protection. If a watch is missing, the circle is broken and someone is needed to step up to the plate and “stand in the gap.”
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them (Ezek. 22:30-31a).
Jesus taught that a watchman (or shepherd) is responsible for watching a minimum of one hour:
“Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’" (Matt. 26:40-41).
This is very important because a whole city can be destroyed in one hour if the pastors do not fulfill their job of watching:
“They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate' “(Rev. 18:19).
If the shepherds neglect the duty of their hour watch, anything can happen. The main 24 elders are responsible for overseeing the 24-hour watches. They can have many others also praying and watching, but they are responsible for it.
The entire antichrist kingdom will reign for one hour because of the neglect of someone’s hour watch!
The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast (Rev. 17:12).
I am just being facetious here – I think – but maybe this is a subtle innuendo of the neglect of keeping a watch. Are you beginning to see the necessity of setting a watch over our cities and churches to keep the enemy out? Nehemiah, in his restored temple order, saw the need for setting up a watch.
Nevertheless, we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night (Neh. 4:9).
Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many. And I said to them, "Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house" (Neh. 7:1-3).
As we read Nehemiah, we see they needed to set up a watch because of all their enemies; yet it never seems to occur to us that this is a type of the true restoration temple – the church of the end of the age.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Cor 10:11).
What happens if the shepherds do not unite together and keep watch over the city-wide church? Then the enemy has already taken the city! Because of the condition of our cities, this statement needs no further proof or confirmation. This is why we need 24 one-hour watches, and divisions for each month of the year. One of the main jobs of shepherds, whether they be in the outer or inner gateways, is to keep watch!
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8).
Again I will remind you that the word “pastor” (from the Latin) means “shepherd.” We can see from this verse that one of the main jobs of a shepherd was to keep watch.
Windows were inside of the prayer rooms of the gateways (40:16). In the natural these windows would have allowed the watchmen to keep watch in those in the courts. In the spiritual realm these windows are windows to heaven through prayer. They, so to speak, allow us to see what the Lord is doing so we can discern what we need to do. These windows had lattice over them which at least kept birds out. Birds can sometimes represent evil spirits in Scripture. We see in the Song of Solomon a type of the Lord looking through the lattice of his betrothed’s prayer room and He finds her sleeping instead of keeping watch for Him!
“My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice. My beloved spoke, and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” (Song 2:9-10).
Keeping watch means praying. In the new temple order, it will not be said of the church,
“My house shall be called a house of sermons.” What God said through Isaiah will become a reality: “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:7).
Can we even imagine how much better our cities would have been if God’s pattern had been implemented? Our cities are falling to spiritual ruins, and our nation is being snared into captivity by the enemy. If ever we needed a city-wide prayer watch in the gateways, it is now. We need the shepherds to “turn back the battle at the gate” (Isa. 28:6b).
If the churches had set up watches and all meetings had been unified by a city-wide church government, they would have also had a much greater influence over who was elected to rule those cities. Politicians would have needed a unified church’s vote, and our cities would have a much higher caliber of people in office. Then in turn the cities and counties would have greater influence on a state level. This is just one advantage of following God’s pattern.
As God wants it to be for Jerusalem, so should it be for every city.
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7).
Armies for the Kingdom of God
Besides the 24 divisions of priests and Levites, David also set up 12 divisions of 24,000 soldiers for his army in each month.
And the children of Israel, according to their number, the heads of fathers' houses, the captains of thousands and hundreds and their officers, served the king in every matter of the military divisions. These divisions came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year, each division having twenty-four thousand (1 Chron. 27:1).
David claimed to have gotten his plans for the temple and its orders straight from the Spirit, and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit (1 Chron. 28:12a). His divisions of the army is also based on the number 12 – the same order in heaven of which Jesus made mention:
Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? (Matt. 26:53).
The city that David did this for was Zion; the church is called Zion (Heb. 12:22-23). Do we get the hint after 2000 years? For whatever things were written before were written for our learning . . . (Rom. 15:4). The Old Testament structure David received lines up with the heavenly orders and the church pattern of Ezekiel’s temple.
David’s armies were in addition to the temple watchmen for the city. They were the warriors of the whole nation, while the priestly orders were for the temple in Jerusalem when built. For us today these armies would represent all the prayer warriors of all the kingdom of God who could be called upon to pray where there was need. Every able man should be subscripted to this army of prayer watches. Maybe after the church has been almost totally subdued by the enemy forces, it will dawn on us as an afterthought that we should have built prayer watches for our cities and nations, as in the biblical patterns.
I don’t know about you, but just knowing about these watches and that our cities and churches do not have them makes me feel very vulnerable. When the elders stop gathering at the gates, it is something to lament about. The elders have ceased gathering at the gate, and the young men from their music (Lam 5:14). It seems the enemy could come in at will and take over our nation because we are a nation of unwalled cities.
'Thus says the Lord God: "On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: You will say, 'I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates' – to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezek. 38:10-12).
When a person gets saved, he or she has just joined the Lord’s army whether they know it or not, whether they fight or not. They are thrust into a spiritual war that is invisible but nevertheless is waging war against every Christian and church. A new believer should be taught about this warfare and prepared to fight in it. Instead, most sit and hear a sermon once a week and believe they have fulfilled their Christian duty. Many pastors feel they have fulfilled their duty to prepare the sheep by a sermon on Sunday. Many will never survive spiritually. Being serenaded by sermons does not prepare the soldier for war. In boot camp they may have some classroom instructions, but the real training is when you are actually practicing for battle. Most Christians never get a real boot camp; they only get classroom instructions continually. So it is no surprise to see so many defeats in the church these days.
A good example is when one atheist woman in the got rid of prayer in schools in the sixties with little resistance. It is easy to see today that schools have no wall of protection around them anymore. They have literally become a battle ground with real guns and bullets, with students literally being killed. Now atheists are challenging every little bit of ground the church has left, again with many victories and very little resistance. I do not mean physical resistance; I mean prayer and worship. This is where spiritual battle takes place first and foremost. The devil is trying to totally wipe out any trace of the church in this nation while there is virtually no wall of prayer and protection.
Scriptural Suggestion: Become a watchman (or watchwoman). “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming – in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning – lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Mark 13:33-37).
* There are two levels of pastors/shepherds: those called Levites and the “sanctified” priests.
* The orders that David set up are for the church today.
* The number 24 is found in the O.T. temple, Ezekiel’s gateways, and the book of Revelation.
* The elders/shepherds are watchmen called to keep watch and pray over the city church.
* The neglect of our church leaders to keep watch over the gates of our cites has been devastating.