Day 254: Who is the Prince in Ezekiel 44-46?

“Abraham, Melchizedek, and Jesus” from The Bible Project

12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

Hebrews 7:12-14

Through the Bible: Ezekiel 46-48

A comic book staple is the idea of parallel universes, where things are almost the same as in our universe, but not quite (Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse is a great example of this). Often, a heroic figure from an alternate universe is the key to saving the people of earth.

In many ways, Ezekiel’s description of the temple, the prince, and the sacrifices feels like a parallel universe storyline.

I know this is a bizarre comparison, but stay with me.

On Day 253, I noted the strong Messianic imagery in the vision of the prince of Jerusalem coming to the temple through the East Gate and offering sacrifice. I connected this to Zechariah’s well known prophecy about the king riding in to Jerusalem on a donkey. I stopped short of saying that this was Jesus, although there are some interpretations that lean that way.

One reader pointed out that the prince described in 44:1-3 can’t possibly be Jesus, because in chapter 45, the prince offers a sin offering for himself and for the people. This lines up with what I looked up on GotQuestions:

Finally, and most importantly, the “prince” in Ezekiel 46 is not the Messiah. Rather, he is the overseer of Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom. He is not Jesus, but he serves under Jesus’ authority. We know that this prince is not the Lord because he must make a sin offering for himself as well as the people: “On that day the prince is to provide a bull as a sin offering for himself and for all the people of the land” (Ezekiel 45:22). Whoever the prince is, he is a man with a sin nature that must be atoned for.

“What is the Significance of the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem?” gotquestions.org

While I agree that this isn’t Jesus, there’s two big questions that I haven’t found an answer for:

Is Ezekiel describing Passover, the Day of Atonement, or something else?

Ezekiel 45:21-22 explicitly describes Passover:

 21 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten. 22 On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a young bull for a sin offering.

Ezekiel 45:21-22

This is the date Leviticus 23:5 mandates. Passover happens in the Spring.

Here’s where it gets a little weird. Ezekiel is clearly referring to Passover. But the offering he prescribes for the prince to offer is the one Leviticus 16 appoints for the Day of Atonement. According to verse 6,

6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house.

Leviticus 16:6, ESV

On Passover, a lamb is sacrificed, and it is to be done by every household. On the Day of Atonement, a bull is sacrificed. Passover is a spring feast. The Day of Atonement happens in the fall.

Finally, Ezekiel goes on to say that for the seven days of the feast,

23 …he shall provide as a burnt offering to the Lord seven young bulls and seven rams without blemish, on each of the seven days; and a male goat daily for a sin offering.

Ezekiel 45:23

None of the appointed feast days on the Jewish calendar prescribe seven bulls and seven rams for seven days. Numbers 28 prescribes two bulls, one ram, and seven lambs for each of the seven days of Passover. The Day of Atonement specifies one bull, one ram, and seven lambs for one day. The only places in scripture where seven bulls and seven rams are sacrificed are Job 42:8, where Job makes an offering for his children; Numbers 23:1-29, where Balaam seems to be trolling Balak; 1 Chronicles 15:26, when the ark was returned to Jerusalem; and 2 Chronicles 29:21, where Hezekiah cleansed the temple after his father Ahaz had shut it down.

Most importantly, the High Priest, not the prince, is the one that is to make the sacrifice for the people.

Which brings us to the second big question:

Why is the Prince making Sacrifices?

Throughout the Bible, bad things happened when a human king attempted to do what only the priest was supposed to do. Saul lost the kingdom when he did it (see 1 Samuel 13:8-14). Uzziah got leprosy when he did it (see 2 Chronicles 26:16-21).

It’s not complicated: kings ruled civilly on God‘s authority. Levites and priests administered sacrifices. Israel actually had a good model for separation of church and state, only it was only intended to keep the state from overstepping its bounds, not to divorce religion from civil rule.

In a nutshell, for a Prince to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the people, he had to also be a priest. And that doesn’t happen under the Aaronic priesthood (fancy term for the priestly line descended from Aaron). Priests came from the tribe of Levi, and every king of Israel after Saul came from Judah.

There was one priest-king in the Old Testament. We’ve got to go back a long way to find him. His name is Melchizedek, and he shows up in Genesis 14 to bless Abram, after Abram rescued his nephew Lot from his enemies, the King of Sodom came out to meet Abram. Apparently he wanted to negotiate Abram’s share of the spoils of war. And with no preamble or further explanation, we meet a figure named Melchizedek:

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭14‬:‭18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So why the parallel universe?

Remember that the comic book trope is that sometimes it takes someone from the parallel universe to save the people of earth. And maybe, just maybe, this is why Ezekiel’s temple vision doesn’t quite match up. The “almost, but not quite” details of the vision might be there to alert the reader that this is something new. That salvation for the Jews (and for the rest of planet earth) would not come from the Levitical sacrificial system. It wouldn’t come from a temple built with human hands.

The Hero would come from another place.

For a Prince to offer a sacrifice, he must also be a priest.

We only see Melchizedek one more time in the Old Testament (Psalm 110:4). But in the New Testament book of Hebrews, he shows up again, in a big way:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

Hebrews 7:1-3

Hebrews calls Jesus a priest forever on the order of Melchizedek. That’s because, like Melchizedek, Jesus is both priest and prince. He is a priest, but not from the line of Aaron. He is. a king, but one who is able to make sacrifices

Melchizedek is “king of Salem, that is, king of peace.” A prince is the son of a king. And so, what would you call the son of the king of peace?

You would call HIm the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus Christ, who, just as Melchizedek gave Abram bread and wine, gives us the bread of His body and the wine of His blood. Jesus is the Hero from another reality.

He alone is the sovereign who could offer a sacrifice.

Dear friends: I am hoping to return to Honduras in December as part of a mission team through ricebowls.org. If you have benefitted from this blog, please consider a one time or ongoing donation to help me get there. Thank you! Click here to give



, ,



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: