Ezekiel 46: Offerings
Saturday, February 4, 2017
I am struck by several things as I read this chapter in isolation from the rest of the text: in Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem, the faithful make offerings each morning, the princes are to provide for their sons from their own resources rather than the resources of the people, and the temple offerings are cooked in the temple kitchens to prevent the risk of transmitting holiness to the people.
Commentaries give us important information that puts the writing of this priest-in-exile in context for us. Ezekiel, as we can see by his calling the secular celebrant prince rather than king, is clear about the importance of cultic authority over the secular. (Barton and Mulliman 562) The downside of this is, of course, that priests – be they Levites, Zadokites or princes – serve as intermediaries for the people . . . keeping God’s holiness apart and reserved for the specially anointed.
We live in the Messianic Age, a time at which our high priest has come to walk among us as one of us. This priest, Christ, has torn down the temple to rebuild it in three days. He grants access to all who seek authentic intimacy with God. He comes to break down the barriers between God and man . . . and to transmit holiness to the people.
As we rise each morning, we – like the Levites, the Zadokites and the princes before us – run the risk of allowing the demands of everyday life to erode this intimacy with God. As we attend to our needs and wants, we run the risk of entering into a mechanical relationship with God – one in which we fulfill a requirement but leave our hearts and minds elsewhere. Meeting deadlines, replenishing resources, tending to a million little tasks each day are activities which are necessary but which must be kept in proper perspective. For there is no joy that lasts but for the joy we know in loving God with body, mind and soul.
When we commit to praying at regular times each day, as we might if we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we find that we have opportunities to offer both our anxieties and gifts of the previous day back to God. If we able to lay to rest all our worries and anxieties of that present day, we need not carry them into the next. Children, grandchildren, friends, family, house chores, car chores, appointments, work . . . all of these we are better able to see as gifts from God, as this is what they truly are. And all of our anxieties and worries about these gifts, we offer back along with our best attempts to do the best we are able in each circumstance.
Offerings . . . burnt sacrifices from our lives . . . these we offer to God each day. Yet what our gracious and loving God truly desires is our clear and open hearts, hearts that are broken and dispirited and are ready to know true and lasting joy, hearts ready to take him in, ready to make a home for the Spirit.
Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin offering you do not require; so I said: “Here I am”; your commands for me are written in the scroll. Psalm 40:7-8.
Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23.
For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart. Psalm 51:18-19.
For God remembers your every offering, graciously accepts your holocaust, grants what is in your heart, fulfills your every plan. Psalm 20:5-5. Amen.
Blessings on all today.
Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 562. Print.
Adapted from a Favorite written on January 29, 2009.
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