I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
I’ve got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it’s not, not made by hand
Have you ever tried to find a hotel room only to find out there’s a major event going on in the same city? It’s an awful situation to be in. All you, the weary traveler, wants is a bed for the night—but there’s no room in the inn(s).
When the sacred land in the center of Israel is allocated, God is careful to make room for such travelers. In a culture where pilgrimages were normal, adequate room for visitors became a priority during the various feasts throughout the year.
. . .
Once the Levites and Zadokites have their space, the rest of the reserve—that portion that was lifted up to God—is allocated.
Here are a few things I found interesting about the layout of the land:
- The Prince (whoever that enigmatic figure is) gets land on the outskirts of the reserve. The center of God’s portion of the land is occupied by the Levites and Zadokites. In Ezekiel’s time, there was no understanding of a separation between church and politics—they were one. Still, in the way God allocates land, he gave primacy to religious functions over political functions.
- There is a city with space around it for agriculture in near the centre of the land. In a land where pilgrimage to the Temple is so important, the city would serve the vital function of giving people a place to stay for Passover or other feasts. Hospitality—how foreigners are treated—is important to God.
- There are three levels of holiness. Everyone was welcome in the city. Moving from the city to the Temple you would cross through the Levite’s land, which was more sacred than the city. From there you go to the Zadokite’s land with the Temple in it—the most holy place. God welcomes everyone, but at this point in salvation-history, he is cautious lest the light of his holiness pierce through the dark lives of the unconsecrated.
. . .
The question for us is: how do we look after pilgrims in our land? I’m not suggesting people make a spiritual journey down to “Chemical Valley” in Southwestern Ontario. I do think it’s important to identify those around us who are new to our area and who need someone to show them hospitality and the love of God.
. . .
Lord God, help me to see those who need hospitality during their journey.