Tuesday, May 10
Reader: “Enough, you princes of Israel!”
Response: “Stop your violence and oppression and do what is just and right.”
Scripture: Ezekiel 45:1-9
“When you divide the land among the tribes of Israel, you must set aside a section for the Lord as his holy portion. This piece of land will be 8 1⁄3 miles long and 6 2⁄3 miles wide. The entire area will be holy. A section of this land, measuring 875 feet by 875 feet, will be set aside for the Temple. An additional strip of land 87 1⁄2 feet wide is to be left empty all around it. Within the larger sacred area, measure out a portion of land 8 1⁄3 miles long and 3 1⁄3 miles wide. Within it the sanctuary of the Most Holy Place will be located. This area will be holy, set aside for the priests who minister to the Lord in the sanctuary. They will use it for their homes, and my Temple will be located within it. The strip of sacred land next to it, also 8 1⁄3 miles long and 3 1⁄3 miles wide, will be a living area for the Levites who work at the Temple. It will be their possession and a place for their towns.
“Adjacent to the larger sacred area will be a section of land 8 1⁄3 miles long and 1 2⁄3 miles wide. This will be set aside for a city where anyone in Israel can live.
“Two special sections of land will be set apart for the prince. One section will share a border with the east side of the sacred lands and city, and the second section will share a border on the west side. Then the far eastern and western borders of the prince’s lands will line up with the eastern and western boundaries of the tribal areas. These sections of land will be the prince’s allotment. Then my princes will no longer oppress and rob my people; they will assign the rest of the land to the people, giving an allotment to each tribe.
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Enough, you princes of Israel! Stop your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Quit robbing and cheating my people out of their land. Stop expelling them from their homes, says the Sovereign Lord.
p.1381 of NLT Study Bible
After reading today’s pericope my guess you are wondering what in the world this has to do with your life today. Let’s take a closer look. Admittedly these seem to be tedious details to what end? Ezekiel is both a priest and a prophet. First off, his descriptions are different from those given to Moses and to King David in the building of the Tabernacle and the plans for the Temple which Solomon built in Jerusalem. (Chapters 40:1-43:27) This temple described by Ezekiel was never built. His description both of the temple and of the divisions of the land are theological statements.
His vision describes a new world in which there are boundaries between the holy and the unholy. But the human pattern on earth is treating the holy, the sacred, as common with little to no regard for the holiness of God. I am sure you will have no trouble in noting how our society, our various cultures have muddied or completely ignored the boundaries of the sacred. In large parts of society, humans have become their own gods deciding what is truth and what is moral―setting their own boundaries. To them, the God of the Bible is irrelevant, a myth, or non-existent.
In Ezekiel’s day, the wickedness of the people and their idolatrous worship had driven the presence of the Lord out of the Temple. The princes and rulers were to treat the people fairly and not oppress and cheat them as they were doing. If God was to again dwell with his people, then the holy and the unholy boundaries must be re-established. Read today’s pericope as a theological statement. Ezekiel is describing a “zone of holiness” if you will from a pre-Messiah Jewish perspective. This Temple is at the geographic and spiritual heart of the new Israel. The presence of the holy God was at the very center of everything. Everything revolved around the Lord.
What Ezekiel described in such detail in this section (chapters 40-48) of which we read a middle portion, concluded with naming this city Yahweh Shammah, “The Lord is There.” It is worth noting that the end of the book of Revelation gives the same message. (Rev 21-22) All holiness is fulfilled in Christ. The presence of God is now with his people. There will be no temple for God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.
Our words for today remind us that our God is holy and desires to dwell in the midst of our bodies for they are the temple and his dwelling place within us. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (I Cor 6:19-20) Living within God’s boundaries results in a holy life honoring God. Would Yahweh Shammah describe your life?
Music: “Sanctus” Faure Voces8
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory,
Hosanna in the highest.
Prayer:Thanks be to thee, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast won for us, for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day. Amen. ―Richard of Chichester (1197-1253) from Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.31