Ezekiel 45-46 — Setting apart our hearts for God

In these two chapters, God gives the people instructions for when they return to the land.  A lot of this (as well as the things in chapters 43-44) are repetitions of instructions God had originally given Moses.

But as I look at this, one verse struck me.  God told the people,

When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district…the entire area will be holy…In the sacred district…will be the sanctuary, the Most Holy Place.  (45:1,3)

One of the first things the people were to do when they returned to the land and divided it among the tribes was to set apart a certain part of it to the Lord for his sanctuary.

God was basically saying to the people.  “When you return to the land I’ve given you, set apart space for me.  Remember that I’m dwelling among you and that I am your Lord.”

It reminds me of what Peter said,

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  (I Peter 3:15)

What does that mean?  Part of it is making sure he has the throne of your heart.  That you set apart the throne of your heart for him, and him alone.

But God gave other instructions to the people.  To the princes, he said,

You have gone far enough, O princes of Israel!  Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right.  (45:9)

God tells us the same.  In setting apart Christ as Lord, we are to give up our evil practices and do what is right before God.

He then told the priests to sacrifice a bull and use its blood to purify the sanctuary.  This was not a one time thing, either.  It was done every year.

We too are to make sure that we keep a pure sanctuary, and we do that by confession.  Praying for forgiveness for our sins, and asking that the blood of Jesus cleanse us.

God told the priests to make atonement for people who sinned unintentionally or through ignorance.  We may have not meant to sin, but even so, all of our sins must be atoned for and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  And so as David prayed, so should we:

Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults.  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.  (Psalm 19:12-13)

The people were also to remember the Passover, their deliverance from the land of Egypt.  We too should remember our deliverance from sin and Satan’s kingdom.  Too often, we forget why we set our hearts apart for him.  It’s out of our love for him and all that he has done for us.  As John wrote,

We love because he first loved us.  (I John 4:19)

Chapter 46 repeats these themes as it goes over all the offerings that were offered.  I’ve touched on this in another blog, but it’s worth repeating.

The burnt offering was used for atonement for sin, and it also showed a complete surrender to God (the offering was completely burnt up).

The grain offering was an offering of thanksgiving.

The fellowship offering again had the idea of atonement, with the animal taking on the guilt of the offerer, but also had the idea that with our sins taken care of, we now have fellowship with God.

One last point.  When the people came to worship, they had to enter one gate (north or south) and exit the opposite gate.  To me this symbolizes that as we enter his presence to worship, we cannot help but come out changed.  Having been washed by Jesus’ blood, with hearts that have been justified and sanctified, and Jesus sitting on the throne of our hearts, we have become new people.  As Paul wrote,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  (II Corinthians 5:17)

As God’s new creations, let us set apart our hearts for him each day.

 

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About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com
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