“Then he brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary, which looks toward the east; and it was shut. And Jehovah said unto me, This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, neither shall any man enter in by it; for the Lord God of Israel, has entered in by it; therefore it shall be shut” (Ezekiel 44:1-2).
This vision of Ezekiel creates a dilemma for the Jews; the East Gate is known in Hebrew as shaar HaRachamin – the “Gate of Mercy”; it lies opposite the Mount of Olives and was the gate through which the Messiah was to enter as prophesied by Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king comes unto you; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).
When Palestine was overrun by the Ottoman Turks, the Sultan, learning of this vision of Ezekiel, bricked up the gateway and placed a Muslim graveyard in the field in front of it. Thus, no Jew could enter the gate even if it were opened since to enter via a Muslim cemetery would be ritually defiling.
For believers however, the vision of Ezekiel was fulfilled when the Messiah, the Lord God of Israel, entered by the East gate on the back of a donkey colt, as prophesied by Zechariah. Thus, the gate has been shut, as God commanded. The recording of this event fulfilling the prophetic scriptures, is told in Luke’s gospel;
“And they brought it to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the young donkey, and put Jesus on it. And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road. And as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, declaring, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:35-38).
Thus we see another example of the beauty and harmony of the Holy Scriptures.