Discover His heart: “You must be holy because I am holy.”
“And the glory of the Lord came into the Temple through the east gateway…and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.” (43:1-5) What a moment in the life of Ezekiel! How he had grieved when his earlier vision revealed that the glory of the Lord had left the Temple (11:23). But now after years in exile, a new vision, a new future for Israel was foretold to him, and the plans for a new Temple were given to him. Many believe this Temple revelation was two-fold: a Temple for the returning Babylonian exiles and a Temple for the Millennial Jews. Regardless, it was envisioned as a beautiful Temple filled with the glorious presence of God.
@ Ezekiel 46
Six chapters today filled with Ezekiel’s vision of the return of the glorious presence of the Lord to the temple, but I’m focused on the kitchens. “The Temple Kitchens -In my vision, the man brought me through the entrance beside the gateway and led me to the sacred rooms assigned to the priests, ‘This is where the priests will cook the meat from the guilt offerings and sin offerings and bake the flour from the grain offerings into bread’…Then he brought me back to the outer courtyard and led me to each of its four corners. ‘These are the kitchens to be used by the Temple assistants to boil the sacrifices offered by the people.’” (19-24)
While reading about the sacrifices in Leviticus, I must admit I’ve often wondered about all the food prep and where it took place. I mean, really, daily sacrifices for several million people involving butchering, seasoning and boiling meat as well as bread baking with whole grains and olive oil – there had to be a place where the food prep took place! We know from these verses that spacious areas were provided for this in the new Temple.
More importantly, these verses in Ezekiel 46 include a very intriguing passage. The Priests had sacred kitchens where they cooked and baked, “They will do it here to avoid carrying the sacrifices through the outer courtyard and endangering the people by transmitting holiness to them.” (20) Would transmitting holiness be a bad thing? Apparently so.
Everything inside the Temple – furniture, sacrifices, priests – was holy. “And this is the basic law of the Temple: absolute holiness!” (43:12) With sin in their lives, Israelites in the outer court would be endangered by a Holy sacrifice carried past them by the priests. Thus the special kitchens in the priests’ quarters were provided. This reminds me of the scene in the Indiana Jones movie when the ark was opened by the evil Nazi and the only ones spared from the consuming fire of God’s holiness as it was portrayed were those with pure motives. The Israelites may even have been so bold as to think that just being in the presence of the sacrifice would make them holy, a false assumption to be sure. Therefore, for the safety of everyone, only priests who had been purified and made holy would be allowed in the presence of the atonement sacrifice.
We may consider all the legalese of Ezekiel somewhat irrelevant, but the truth in it is more current than we would imagine. God’s basic law is still absolute holiness in we His temple, “Now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16) In our Communion service, when we remember Jesus, the sacrifice for our sins, we would do well to purify our hearts as did the priests, “For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.”(I Corinthians 11:27-31)
Communion isn’t a moment of careless observance with a hope of becoming holy through it. It first requires careful examination of our hearts to be certain that we partake with pure motives and pure hearts, holy before the Lord, and then our souls will not be in danger. A perfect end to the Book of Ezekiel – a call to absolute holiness!
Moving Forward: My prayer for a holy nation must first begin with me, examining my life, purifying my temple and experiencing His Holiness.
Tomorrow @ John 1-2