Ezekiel 44:9-16: Levite or Zadokite?

Reverence or the fear of the Lord in the Old Testament
means specifically faithfulness and obedience to the covenant demands of God
and this is synonymous with true religion.
— David Peterson (Engaging with God)

Jesus told a story about talents. Let me refresh your memory.

A master goes on a trip. Before he leaves, entrusts some of his wealth to his slaves to manage. He gave the one who could handle five talents five. He have the one who could handle two, two. He only gave one talent to the third person.

When the master returned, he called the slaves to account. The one who had five made five more. The one who had two made two more. The one who had only one talent expressed his fear: he knew the master was a tough guy, and was afraid to lose his money so he buried it in the ground.

The point of this parable is reflected surprisingly accurately in the theme of Spider-Man. With great power comes great responsibility. What you do with what God’s entrusted you determines what God can entrust you with in the future.

Over to Ezekiel.

. . .

God returned to his Temple, so he had to reinstitute proper worship. There was one big problem: the Levites who were formerly entrusted with guarding the Temple let down their guard and passed the responsibility off on foreigners who didn’t even know Yahweh.

In this passage, God applies the parable of the talents (please forgive the anachronism). The Levites in general, who let down their guard, will have less responsibility in the new Temple. However, those Levites who were faithful to Yahweh through it all—the Zadokites—would have more responsibility.

Look at the difference between the responsibilities of Levites contrasted with the Zadokites:

  1. The Levites couldn’t approach Yahweh, the Zadokites were authorized.
  2. The Levites served the people, the Zadokites served Yahweh.
  3. The Levites guarded the sanctuary, the Zadokites entered it.
  4. The Levites slaughtered animals for the people, the Zadokites came right up to Yahweh’s table.
  5. The Levites guarded the temple complex, the Zadokites guarded Yahweh.

In the words of Jesus (from a different parable about a master and servant):

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. (Luke 12:48, NRSV)

. . .

Lord God, help me to steward your blessings wisely. You’ve blessed me with much; help me to be faithful with it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 44:6-8 | Don’t Delegate

Ezekiel 44:17-27 | Contagious Holiness >

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One Response to Ezekiel 44:9-16: Levite or Zadokite?

  1. Larry M. Southwick December 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    The Levitical and Zadokite structure of scribes, priests and judges for the practice and administration of the Jewish religion, combined with the political structure of Pharisees, Sadducees and other groups represented a bureaucracy which would not, and could not yield to the changes that Jesus brought.

    No animal sacrifies, no frequent ritual washings and cleansings, personal access to God through Christ with him as our heavenly high priest and advocate, direct forgiveness of sins, all with none of the existing ritual trappings wrapped up in Zadokites and Levites, and no worry of who’s in charge between one high priest and the other, Annas or Caiaphas.

    This ponderous complexity of ritual, rules, administrators, priests and officials was “too big to fail”. Yet is did fail. It failed its people, it failed its God, it failed its destiny. And so it fell.

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