Find Another Gate

by Joanna Deffner on August 14, 2019

Our family has grown so much in the last 10 years that we gave up trying to sit at the same dinner table a long time ago. Instead, we dine in various locations throughout the house, and because of this, it’s necessary to have a centralized location for everyone to fill their plates: the kitchen peninsula.

With dozens of people getting plates from different rooms and heading into the kitchen at the same time, there’s potential for a serious traffic jam. Therefore, I ordained an official traffic flow to the buffet to avoid any bottlenecks. Diners are required to enter the kitchen via one route and exit via another.

I’m always on traffic-duty at the beginning of dinner. Why? Because as simple as it seems, some people always forget how to navigate in and out of the kitchen via the established traffic route. Is it a big deal? Yes. Food-related accidents are treacherous. I’ve seen some close-calls in my day when relatives try to enter the kitchen via the exit route, almost dropping plates and/or spilling drinks. But in 10 years of service, we’ve had zero casualties on my watch. It’s very important not to return the way you came.

But when the people of the land shall come before the LORD in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate: he shall not return by the way of the gate whereby he came in, but shall go forth over against it (Ezekiel 46:9, KJV).

You might think my enforced mealtime traffic route is a bit excessive, but it’s a Scriptural principle. In the Old Testament, when God’s people came to the temple to observe appointed feasts, there was an ordained traffic flow. If you came in one way, you left through another doorway.

The obvious reason for this edict is common sense (this clarification is mainly for certain family members reading this post). You shouldn’t try to squeeze out the same doorway other people are coming in. Duh! But, in all seriousness, the traffic pattern had a spiritual significance as well.

My main reason for conducting meal-time traffic is to make sure people don’t create a mess by spilling food all over the floor (or each other). Who wants to slop food or liquid and then have others trek it all over the house? God wasn’t necessarily concerned about His people spilling food, but He wanted them to avoid another, albeit more critical mess—their sin.

When we come to God’s house to worship and commune with Him, we shouldn’t leave the same way. We should seek a transformation, to become new creatures in Christ. Thus, we don’t leave by the same spiritual doorway and return to our former sinful ways—language, thoughts, and actions that don’t please God. Instead, we choose an exit that leads to abundant life!

If we go out the same (old) doorway, we return to our former uncleanliness, which is a terrible mess God has given us the power to avoid. If we choose to return to the old, via the same doorway, we can easily knock into, delay, or dirty someone else in the process. Like spilled food, our sin has the same potential of spreading and no one is leaving that encounter stain-free.

Abiding by the “rules of the road” when it comes to entering and exiting our worship (feasts) with God may seem unnecessary, but in reality, is quite significant. God has put them in place for a reason because it’s eternally important that we enter one way and leave another. We need to leave changed after being in God’s presence and feasting at His table. The next time you come and dine, take a different pathway out of His kitchen.