Once God returns to the temple (chapter 43), worship may begin anew.
Readers may be tempted to jump through chapter 44 as simply a repeat of the Old Testament law concerning the priests, but in doing so, we will miss some very important points and one in particular, having to do with access.
When Solomon dedicated his temple, he spoke of foreigners who would come there and pray to God and he asked that God would hear their prayer. Later, foreigners, non-Jewish people, were employed for service in the temple. In the new temple, no foreigner would be allowed at all (vs. 9).
Under the law of Moses, when a person brought a sacrifice to the Lord, he was to slaughter it himself. This would no longer be true. Now, the Levites were to slaughter the offerings.
It had formerly been the duty of the Levites to help the priests “ in the service of the temple of the Lord: to be in charge of the courtyards, the side rooms, the purification of all sacred things and the performance of other duties at the house of God. They were in charge of the bread set out on the table, the flour for the grain offerings, the unleavened wafers, the baking and the mixing, and all measurements of quantity and size” (1 Chronicles 23:27ff). In Ezekiel’s temple however, their duties were confined to guarding the temple gates, assisting in the kitchens, and ministering to the people. They were not to “stand before the Lord,” but before the people.
The priests had formerly been made up of the descendants of Aaron – specifically the descendants of Eleazar and Ithamar. Now, the priesthood would be confined to the descendants of Zadok, himself a descendant of Eleazar.
Thus service in the new temple was much more confined and regimented than it had been before. There was greater separation from God. And the Lord explains that it is all because of Israel’s past and her sins.
If we read the chapter carefully, we may also be tempted to thank God this temple was never built, that restriction to God’s presence was opened wider, not closed, through the mediating work of Jesus. But in point of fact, access to God, through Jesus, became even more restrictive. The only access to God today is through His son. The only relationship worth having with God is secured by faith in Jesus and living the holy life he showed us.