Ezekiel 44:28-31: A Choice

It is the nature of desire not to be satisfied,
and most human beings live only for the gratification of it.
— Aristotle

Have you ever been faced with a choice between what you want and what you need? A new CD or rent? A doughnut or a shiny apple? An extra canoe trip or family time? (In case you’re wondering, that last one is technically more of a both/and than an either/or—sorry Kierkegaard.)

The Zadokites don’t get to choose their lot in Israel’s history—God simply tells them what he expects. He gives them much more than it would have been reasonable to hope for. Still, I wonder if it’s what they wanted. If I was faced with the choice they didn’t have, what would I prefer?

. . .

One of Jewish theology’s most important categories is land—specifically, that strip of soil sandwiched between Europe and Africa, between sea and desert. At this point in Ezekiel, Yahweh has returned to his temple, so it’s only logical to reiterate the distribution of the land. But the Zadokites—the ones God had just rewarded with extra responsibility—don’t get any. Here’s why:

This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance;
and you shall give them no holding in Israel; I am their holding. (v. 18, NRSV)

There’s a couple of important words in that verse. Inheritance (nahălâ) was family terminology: when a father passed away, he would leave his children their inheritance. The second term is more formal. Holding (āhaz) is a legal term which means to seize or grasp. Basically, Ezekiel is using two synonyms with slightly different meanings to emphasize what the Zadokites are entitled to.

Verse 29 goes on to state that since they have no land to work, the Zadokites will be able to eat all the food that is consecrated to God as a sacrifice. This is more than just a consolation prize for not having land of your own—this was an invitation from the Creator of the Universe to eat his food at his table! Revelation echoes this offer:

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. (3:20, NRSV)

. . .

A simple question flashed across my mind when I started to think about this passage: if I was around in that day, would I choose to be a Zadokite?

The Zadokites didn’t have a choice. They were being rewarded for their past faithfulness by having the Lord as their inheritance, their holding. I wonder if some of them got so overly familiar with their situation, they just longed for a small patch of land to grow some crops and raise a family on?

We have a choice. The New Testament makes it clear that as sons of God, we have an inheritance—but do we ever ignore our inheritance and run after the things that makes the rest of the world happy? Do we make like the prodigal son and leave the source of our inheritance to enjoy everything that the Source hates?

I guess our behavior, more than our mind, tells us what we have chosen.

. . .

Our Father, help us to daily be more content and satisfied with you—our inheritance and our holding.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

< Ezekiel 44:17-27 | Contagious Holiness

Ezekiel 45:1-8a | Own It >

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One Response to Ezekiel 44:28-31: A Choice

  1. Robin November 8, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    One thing about the Zadokites, I think, is that they had already demonstrated an understanding of the value (I’m looking for a stronger word, but can’t find it) of forsaking all in dedication to YHWH. If they were the type of people who would run after land or anything else, I’m sure they would have already sold themselves out to the foreign nations and their idols just as the Levites had done.

    Why mention this? Well, sometimes I have wondered what temptation would be enough to lure me away from faithfully serving my God. In fact, a few of them have come my way pretty recently. Things that would have grabbed my attention and had me rolling up my pant legs, tearing off my socks and shoes and running barefoot in the grass to their cool, clear, sun-dappled waters now only evoke a “Minionesque” “Meh” (if anyone reading this is scratching their heads, just look up “Despicable Me.” 🙂 ).

    Apparently, I have come to a point in my life where “the things of earth have grown strangely dim” and there is only one inheritance worth having, and that is the Lord. AND I get to eat with him? No way! I’m not saying my eyes never stray from the Lord, because they often do, mostly toward the land of Self Doubt and Uncertainty, and then on to Self Pity and Despair for a short stopover until the Lord brings me back to reliance on him. But I have relinquished any claim at all to the things I used to cling to.
    Nothing seems to compare to the Lord.

    So, I guess that, at the point in time where the Lord was talking to Ezekiel, the true Zadokites were the ones who knew that there was only one way to go, only One God to serve and I’m sure they had already passed through that fire of temptation to exchange their inheritance for that of the rest of the Israelites.

    As followers of Christ, we are all at different points in our office of priests under Jesus, our High Priest. Some of us are just beginning and the things of earth are anything but dim. Some of us have undergone trial by fire and have had the stuff burned off of us: man, it hurt, but how free, pure and light we feel and there’s not much that can distract us anymore. Some of us are somewhere in between.

    On our own, there’s no way any of us can be a Zadokite. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we die to self and live for Christ. Be encouraged that, no matter where you are in your office as priest, the Lord will see out his purpose for you. 🙂

    “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:9-14).

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