WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA REQUIRES:
– SECURING THE SANCTITY OF THE SANCTUARY
– STOPPING THE FORMER PRACTICE OF GREED AND EXPLOITATION BY THE CORRUPT LEADERS IN FAVOR OF FAIR BUSINESS DEALINGS
– SUPPORTING THE PRINCE IN HIS ROLE OF ADMINISTERING THE VARIOUS OFFERINGS
– CELEBRATING THE SPECIAL NATIONAL FEASTS WITH APPROPRIATE OFFERINGS
Peter Wallace: What is the relationship between worship and justice? If there is no justice, God does not receive our worship! If our assemblies are not characterized by righteousness – in all our relationships, then they are despicable in the sight of God. . .
I would suggest that each times God says “thus says the Lord GOD” there is a coherent claim in each passage. And together these claims demand that justice be expressed in our worship.
1. Justice in the Economics of Worship (45:9-17) —
2. Justice in the Prince’s Offerings for the Feasts of the LORD (45:18-25) –Verses 18-25 then speak of the particulars of the sacrifices.
3. The Gates, the Prince, and the People (46:1-15) —
46:1-8 then deal with the sacrifices and ritual for the Sabbath and the new moon – the only times when the east gate of the inner court would be open.
Lamar Cooper: Seven sets of regulations were given to the prince and the priests. These regulations are presented in the seven divisions of this section.
– First is a demand for just standards (45:9–12).
– Second are offerings for the prince (45:13–17).
– Third are regulations for the feasts (45:18–25).
– Fourth are regulations for the Sabbath (46:1–8).
– Fifth are general regulations for worship (46:9–15).
– Sixth are regulations concerning the prince and his property (46:16–18).
– Seventh are regulations for cooking (46:19–24).
I. (:1-8) WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA REQUIRES SECURING THE SANCTITY OF THE SANCTUARY –
SACRED LAND ALLOTMENT – ISRAEL’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE LORD
A. (:1-5) Allotment for the Lord, for the Sanctuary, and for the Priests and Levites
1. (:1) Summary Allotment for the Lord
“And when you shall divide by lot the land for inheritance, you shall offer an allotment to the LORD, a holy portion of the land; the length shall be the length of 25,000 cubits, and the width shall be 10,000. It shall be holy within all its boundary round about.”
Daniel Block: The switch from priestly to princely concerns occurs within vv. 1–8a, with vv. 1–5 dealing with the priestly real estate allotments (ʾăḥuzzâ), v. 6 with the whole house of Israel, and vv. 7–8a with the prince. . . The use of the lot reflects the conviction that Yahweh owns the land and has authority to distribute it to whomever he pleases.
Ralph Alexander: A specific portion of Israel’s land in the Millennium would be set aside for a sacred area for the priests and the sanctuary. The entire area would be a contribution to the Lord by Israel. That land would not really belong to the priests but to the Lord. In this sense, also, the Lord would continue to be the priests’ inheritance.
2. (:2-3) Allotment for the Sanctuary
“Out of this there shall be for the holy place a square round about five hundred by five hundred cubits, and fifty cubits for its open space round about. 3 And from this area you shall measure a length of 25,000 cubits, and a width of 10,000 cubits; and in it shall be the sanctuary, the most holy place.”
3. (:4-5) Allotment for the Priests and the Levites
a. (:4) For the Priests
“It shall be the holy portion of the land;
it shall be for the priests, the ministers of the sanctuary, who come near to minister to the LORD,
and it shall be a place for their houses and a holy place for the sanctuary.”
b. (:5) For the Levites
“And an area 25,000 cubits in length and 10,000 in width shall be for the Levites, the ministers of the house, and for their possession cities to dwell in.”
Leslie Allen: What is called “the sacred reservation” was to be divided into two strips, each 25,000 x l0,000 cubits. One was to possess the highest degree of sanctity: it would contain the temple area and also provide habitation for the priests. In the other strip the Levites were to reside.
Daniel Block: Reflecting the distinctions drawn in ch. 44, the second 25,000-by-10,000 cubit strip of land was allocated for the second-rank cult personnel, the Levites, who are described professionally as mĕšārĕtê habbayit, “ministers of the temple complex.” In this context only the priests’ portion is referred to by naḥălâ; the land of the Levites (and the people) is designated their ʾăḥuzzâ. With this distinction, Ezekiel has drawn another literary wedge between the two classes of priests. The prophet anticipates the Levitical tract to be dotted by cities where they would live.
Feinberg: The temple was the heart and focal point of the national life in times past, and it will be in the millennial era as well. Notice the priests’ area will be on the east and west, the Levites’ portion on the north, and the prince’s domain outside that of the priests; all in a sense protecting the sanctuary from profanation.
B. (:6-8) Allotment for the City and for the Prince
1. (:6) For the City
“And you shall give the city possession of an area 5,000 cubits wide and 25,000 cubits long, alongside the allotment of the holy portion;
it shall be for the whole house of Israel.”
Daniel Block: These verses move on to the next level of land holdings, referred to enigmatically as ʾăḥazzat hāʿîr. This tract is to be 5,000 cubits (about 1.6 mi.) wide and 25,000 cubits (about 8 mi.) long, and is to be situated adjacent to the sacred reserve. It is accessible to the whole house of Israel, perhaps offering dormitory space for worshipers making their annual pilgrimages to the temple. To learn whether this strip was north or south of the sanctuary the reader must await ch. 48.
2. (:7) For the Prince
“And the prince shall have land on either side of the holy allotment and the property of the city, adjacent to the holy allotment and the property of the city, on the west side toward the west and on the east side toward the east, and in length comparable to one of the portions, from the west border to the east border.”
3. (:8) Summary
“This shall be his land for a possession in Israel; so My princes shall no longer oppress My people, but they shall give the rest of the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes.”
Iain Duguid: The primary purpose of this sacred district is to provide a zone of graded holiness outside the temple, exactly analogous to that inside the temple. The entire temple complex is, from the perspective of the land, a “Most Holy Place” (45:3). The area immediately around the sanctuary is therefore reserved for the priests, in which they are to build their homes (45:3–4). The strip parallel to the priestly portion and to its north is reserved for the Levites and their cities (45:5), while the half-size strip to its south is for the city (45:6).4 To the east and west of the 25,000 cubit sacred square, the remainder of the sacred strip is to be allocated to the prince (nāśîʾ) as his personal (or rather familial) inheritance. . .
Holiness is thus the key principle underlying the division of the land, as is evident from the fact that the word qōdeš and its cognates occur no fewer than eleven times in Ezek. 45:1–6. At the center of this Holy Land is the temple, not the city or the king. The old Zion theology, which found its focus in the twin pillars of the election of Jerusalem and David, is now refocused on the central assertion of Yahweh’s kingship and rule in the temple.
II. (:9-12) WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA REQUIRES STOPPING THE FORMER PRACTICE OF GREED AND EXPLOITATION BY THE CORRUPT LEADERS IN FAVOR OF FAIR BUSINESS DEALINGS
“Thus says the Lord God,”
A. (:9b) Prohibitions against Injustice
1. Put off Injustice / Put on Justice
“Enough, you princes of Israel;
put away violence and destruction,
and practice justice and righteousness.”
2. Stop Exploitation
“‘Stop your expropriations from My people,’ declares the Lord God.”
B. (:10-12) Positive Measures to Ensure Justice
“You shall have just balances, a just ephah, and a just bath. 11 The ephah and the bath shall be the same quantity, so that the bath may contain a tenth of a homer, and the ephah a tenth of a homer; their standard shall be according to the homer. 12 And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs; twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels shall be your maneh.”
Constable: They should also be fair in their commercial dealings. Their basic dry and liquid measures, “an ephah” (about one-half bushel) and “a bath” (about six gallons), were to be standard and equal. An ephah should always be a tenth of an homer (five to six bushels), and a bath should always be a tenth of an homer (five to six bushels).
Likewise weights should be the same (consistent, unchanging). One shekel (about two-fifths of an ounce) should (always) equal 20 gerahs (about one-fiftieth of an ounce). Twenty shekels plus 25 shekels plus 15 shekels (60 shekels) should (always) equal one mina (about one and one-quarter pounds).
Lamar Cooper: 45:9–12 — This section is a rebuke of the priests for their dishonesty in the use of scales, weights, and measures used to weigh offerings brought to the temple. Abuse of these tools of the marketplace was a source of frequent mention in the Old Testament (Lev 19:35; Deut 25:13–16; Prov 11:1; Amos 8:5; Mic 6:10–12). Amos preached against insincere worship and dishonest practices (Amos 8:1–6). He painted a sordid picture of people who were impatient because of the arrival of the Sabbath that interrupted their dishonest and deceitful business practices perpetrated on the populace. The people of Amos’s day loved dishonest gain more than they loved God. They were selfish and covetous. Their lack of morality in the market reflected their loose attitude toward all standards of righteousness. These dishonest merchants tampered with the scales, placed false bottoms in the measure used in the sale of grain, mixed chaff with the salable wheat, and shaved metal off the coins used in exchange (Amos 8:5–6). Concern for honesty applied to the temple precincts as well as the marketplace. In the temple animals were bought and money was exchanged by those who came to worship.
Ezekiel already had soundly rebuked the community leaders for their injustices (22:1–31). That he also here rebuked the priests was another reminder of how seriously God views honesty and probity in dealings between individuals. It was a sad testimony to the lack of honesty among the spiritual leaders of Ezekiel’s day and a warning for spiritual leaders in every age (cf. 22:1–22). Such dealings reveal the sincerity or lack of it that is necessary for acceptable worship. Jesus mentioned it in the Sermon on the Mount as a basis for our acceptance before God (Matt 5:23–24).
III. (13-17) WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA REQUIRES SUPPORTING THE PRINCE IN HIS ROLE OF ADMINISTERING THE VARIOUS OFFERINGS
A. (:13-16) Charge to the People
1. (:13-15) Responsibility of the People
“’This is the offering that you shall offer: a sixth of an ephah from a homer of wheat; a sixth of an ephah from a homer of barley; 14 and the prescribed portion of oil (namely, the bath of oil), a tenth of a bath from each kor (which is ten baths or a homer, for ten baths are a homer); 15 and one sheep from each flock of two hundred from the watering places of Israel– for a grain offering, for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make atonement for them,’ declares the Lord God.”
Lamar Cooper: The people were responsible to provide for the operation of the temple, its services, and the priests. Tithes and offerings have always been the acceptable means for funding God’s work. Everyone was to participate in this, the only legitimate method for temple support. The sanctuary was never to be supported by merchandizing.
John Taylor: Specific dues are to be paid over by the people of the land to the prince, and he will have the responsibility of providing the offerings and sacrifices at all the festivals.
2. (:16) Purpose of the Offering = Provide for the Prince
“All the people of the land shall give to this offering
for the prince in Israel.”
B. (:17) Charge to the Prince
1. Responsibility of the Prince in Israel
“And it shall be the prince’s part to provide the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the libations, at the feasts, on the new moons, and on the sabbaths, at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel;”
Leslie Allen: V. 17 serves to introduce the final section, 45:18–46:15, concerning the rites of offerings to be enacted in the new temple. In the present unit, which deals with annual ceremonies, the first part, vv 18–20, announces an annual ritual of decontaminating the inner sanctuary area. It is reminiscent of the dedication of the altar in 43:13–17.
2. Purpose of the Offering = Make Atonement
“he shall provide the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make atonement for the house of Israel.”
Iain Duguid: But although the people provide the materials for the regular offerings (45:15–16), it is the prince’s responsibility from his own resources to provide the offerings for the special occasions: Sabbaths, New Moons, and annual festivals (45:17). In both the regular and the special offerings, the prince has a central role as the representative of the people in worship, presenting the “sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel” (45:17). This is a great privilege, especially given the central significance of purification and atonement in chapters 40–48.
IV. (:18-25) WORSHIP IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA REQUIRES CELEBRATING THE SPECIAL NATIONAL FEASTS WITH APPROPRIATE OFFERINGS
“Thus says the Lord God,”
Douglas Stuart: Ezekiel’s vision does not include provisions for all of the offerings and feasts. If it did, the vision would be much longer, as a perusal of the offering and feast laws in chapter after chapter of the Book of Leviticus makes clear. Instead, we have here a sampling of regulations for offerings and feasts, suggestive rather than exhaustive, intended to give a flavor of the sacrificial calendar obediently kept in the restoration era.
Iain Duguid: Mention of the sacrifices on these special occasions in the ritual calendar leads into a discussion of the ritual calendar itself. Like the vision of the temple itself, Ezekiel’s calendar appears to be a stripped-down, focused edition of what had previously been in force. There is no mention of the Feast of Weeks, the third annual festival, and the remaining two festivals (Passover and Tabernacles) have become virtually symmetrical festivals of purification, celebrated in the first and seventh months of the year respectively (45:18–25). Of the two, the Feast of Passover retains more of its distinctive features: It is explicitly named “the Passover,” and the seven-day feast during which only unleavened bread is to be eaten and the application of sacrificial blood to the doorposts clearly recall the original festival (45:19–21). Yet its original character as a festival of the Lord’s deliverance from Egypt is now subordinated to a concern for purifying the sanctuary.
A. (:18b-20) New Year’s Day Sin Offerings
1. (:18b) Young Bull to Cleanse the Sanctuary on New Year’s Day
“In the first month, on the first of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary.”
Charles Dyer: The New Year’s day celebration, on Nissan 1 (mid-April), will be to purify the sanctuary (v. 18). If someone sins unintentionally, a second purification will be offered on the seventh day of the month (v. 20). This offering and ceremonial cleansing possibly will replace the Day of Atonement (in the seventh month, Lev. 23:26-32).
2. (:19) Sprinkling of the Blood
“And the priest shall take some of the blood from the sin offering and put it on the door posts of the house, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the posts of the gate of the inner court.”
3. (:20) Special Provision on the Seventh Day of the Month
“And thus you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who goes astray or is naive; so you shall make atonement for the house.”
Daniel Block: Although Ezekiel retains the label of the ancient rite of Passover, his ordinance calls for a dramatic transformation of the festival. Like the original Passover (Exod. 12–13), Ezekiel’s celebration has inaugural significance. Through this celebration the nation of Israel becomes the people of God. Whereas the function of the original Passover sacrifice was apotropaic (to ward off Yahweh), however, Ezekiel’s is purgative. Like the rest of this prophet’s Torah, the cult of the new order is preoccupied with holiness: maintaining the sanctity of the temple (v. 20) and of the worshiper (v. 22). Before the rituals can be performed, viz., before the new spiritual relationship between Yahweh and his people can be celebrated, the defilement of the building and the people must be purged. Through the Passover celebration, the temple complex becomes sacred space and the Israelites become a holy people. In this newly constituted theocracy the role of the nāśîʾ is pivotal. As the patron and guardian of cult, he bears the responsibility for the sanctification of the temple and the nation, a subject that ch. 46 will address in greater detail.
B. (:21-25) Passover/Unleavened Bread and Feast of Tabernacles
1. (:21-24) Passover / Unleavened Bread
a. (:21) Command to Observe the Passover / Unleavened Bread
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.”
b. (:22) The Sin Offering
“And on that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.”
c. (:23) The Burnt Offering
“And during the seven days of the feast he shall provide as a burnt offering to the LORD seven bulls and seven rams without blemish on every day of the seven days, and a male goat daily for a sin offering.”
d. (:24) The Grain Offering and the Oil
“And he shall provide as a grain offering an ephah with a bull, an ephah with a ram, and a hin of oil with an ephah.”
2. (:25) Feast of Tabernacles with Identical Offerings
“In the seventh month, on the fifteenth day of the month, at the feast, he shall provide like this, seven days for the sin offering, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the oil.”
Iain Duguid: If the Passover feast is still named and recognizable, the festival in the seventh month, which takes place at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, has lost all its original distinctiveness. It lacks any name or description, except for the fact that the prince is to provide the same offerings for it as at the Passover (45:25). There is apparently no comparable purification ceremony before it, nor is any ceremony recorded that might correspond to the Day of Atonement ceremony associated with this festival in Leviticus 16. The primary annual ritual purification of the central sanctuary now takes place at the beginning of the year. But Ezekiel’s special interest in purification remains clear in the prominent place given to the sin offerings in the list of Ezek. 45:25. Both festivals thereby come to share the same interest in atonement for sin, which is the recurrent theme of Ezekiel’s cult.
Lamar Cooper: The feast of the seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is described in Lev 23:33–36 and Num 29:12–38. Since it too was a seventh-day feast, the same regulations applied (v. 25). Ezekiel saw these feast days as observances to be used by Israel in their millennial worship to celebrate the redemptive work of the Messiah.