The gates of the new temple described by Ezekiel in Chapters 40 – 48 of his book were designed to limit access to the area where God dwelt. Ezekiel recorded, “And the glory of the LORD came into the house by way of the gate whose prospect is toward the east” (Ezekiel 43:4). After the glory of the LORD entered the temple, Ezekiel recorded, “Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut” (Ezekiel 44:1-2).
After announcing that the east gate would be shut, the LORD told Ezekiel that a prince would enter the temple and eat bread with him, and added, ” he shall enter by way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same” (Ezekiel 44:3). The prince that would enter and eat bread with the LORD was most likely king David or one of his descendants. The prince was first mentioned in Ezekiel 21:25-27 where it says, “And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn and it shall be no more until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”
God’s plan to replace the evil kings of Israel with one that would obey him, specifically, king David was identified in Ezekiel 34:23-24 where it says, “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” According to this passage, The new temple Ezekiel was shown was one that would not only exist in the future, but one that would include both living and resurrected members of God’s kingdom. It says in Ezekiel 37: 25, “they shall dwell in the land…even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
The title “prince” was a reference to a human that would rule over God’s kingdom. Although it seems obvious that the mention of David’s name was meant to be taken literally, it is possible the use of the title prince was actually a reference to the Messiah, a man who was expected to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus was expected to do that before he was crucified. Shortly before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus told a parable about a certain nobleman that went into a far country to receive a kingdom for himself (Luke 19:12). It says in Luke 19:11 that Jesus told the parable because his disciples “thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.”
A clue to the true identity of the prince may be found in Ezekiel 44:5. Ezekiel was told to “mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary.” The Hebrew phrase “mark well” means to put it in your heart (7760/3820). In other words, Ezekiel was to pay close attention to or remember which of the gates the prince went into and came out of. The Hebrew word translated entering in, mabo means sunset or the west (3996) and going forth or matso means the rising of the sun or the east (4161). Since there was no gate on the west side of the temple and the east gate was permanently shut, if Ezekiel saw someone entering in from the west and going out through the east gate, that person would have to be able to walk through walls as Jesus did after his resurrection (John 20:26).