Have you ever gone to church and only come away tired, bored or let down? Ever spend time with God and feel like you got nothing out of it? Perhaps we all experience this at times. However, in the future, life will be very different as we come face to face with the LORD. Ezekiel 46:9 says: When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed times, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship must go out by way of the south gate, and whoever enters by way of the south gate must go out by way of the north gate. No one must return through the gate by which he entered, but must go out by the opposite gate. This verse seems very intriguing, and at first glace sounds as though it addresses traffic flow and crowd control.
However, on closer examination (and I have to admit I read this interpretation somewhere else), it appears that those who come leave different than how they came. Seeing the Prince changes everyone! If they enter by the south, they leave by the north. If they enter by the north, they leave by the south. Imagine if every encounter with God left you changed in some way! It should. Of course, now we are trapped between Eden and the New Earth, so a variety of factors will often leave us empty after a time of seeking God. Nevertheless, we can look forward to the future when every encounter will leave us changed.
While we can’t expect all encounters with Christ to be perfect, perhaps we should come more expectant to our times with Him, be they church, personal prayer and study or a group Bible study. Note that Ezekiel 46:9 requires the worshipers to exit by a different entrance. What would happen if we required ourselves to leave changed every time we encountered the Lord Jesus. What if we sat down to pray when discouraged and told God, “I’m not leaving until you change my discouragement into peace.” What if we came to God when we were rushed and declared “I’m not leaving until my heart is calmed in You.” Of course, we can’t boss God around, but coming with a determination to be changed by the encounter definitely seems to be appropriate. Consider all of the people Jesus interacted with. Those who determined to see Him generally received the most blessings. I’m thinking of the Bartimaeus who continued to cry out when others told him to be quiet, of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see Jesus, and Mary Magdalene who “wasted” (according to others) an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus.
Let’s be changed by every encounter with the Lord Jesus!