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Gatekeepers of the Temple

Do modern churches have gatekeepers? Yes, but unfortunately the reason has changed. As reported in Christianity Today, “Armed security at churches is becoming a new norm.” Why? “An estimated 617 worshipers have been killed in violent incidents in the U.S. since 1999, and the number of attacks at houses of worship has risen almost every year.”

The 212 gatekeepers of Solomon’s temple filled important “positions of trust” (v. 22). They were drawn from among the Levites, with rotating shifts that manned guard stations on all four sides of the temple (1 Chron. 26:12–18). Phinehas, son of Eleazar, had been in charge of the tabernacle gatekeepers, so this group had a heritage of zeal for God’s name (v. 20). In Numbers 25, Phinehas took action against a brazen example of sexual immorality and idolatry and thereby turned God’s anger away from Israel.

What were the gatekeepers’ responsibilities? These varied at different times in history, but their main duty was to guard the gates of the tabernacle or temple (v. 23). This wasn’t because God needed protection, but to prevent people from intentionally or unintentionally doing disrespectful or blasphemous things in God’s house. They had charge of the keys (v. 27), kept watch over the treasuries (v. 26), and served as stewards of the various articles and supplies needed for worship (vv. 28–29).

Gatekeeper functions recorded elsewhere in Scripture include preventing ceremonially unclean people from entering (2 Chron. 23:19) and collecting and distributing freewill offerings (2 Chron. 31:4; 34:9). They assisted in Josiah’s revival specifically by removing pagan idols from the temple (2 Kings 23:4). They were individuals who served behind the scenes with excellence!

>> Ushers or greeters serve as one kind of “gatekeeper” in our churches today. Today, thank one or more ushers for their service to your congregation.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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