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