Here, in the first eight verses, directions are given for the dividing of the land of Canaan after the exiled Jews’ return to it. It would be welcome news to the captives to hear that they would not only return to their own land; but also that even though they were currently few in number, they would increase and multiply so as to replenish it. But this never had its full and final accomplishment in the Jewish nation after their return out of Babylonian captivity. Rather, it was to be a foreshadowing of the model of the Christian Church, which was perfectly new; for this division of the land that is here described is quite different from that in Joshua’s time, and it was greatly enlarged by the inclusion of the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations into it. This spiritual division of the spiritual Promised Land will be ultimately perfected in the heavenly Kingdom, of which the physical land of Canaan had always stood as a picture.
As Ezekiel is given the spiritual description of how this spiritual Promised Land is to be divvied up, a portion of land is first assigned to the Lord’s sanctuary. There the spiritual Temple was to be built, with all its courts; and the rest of the grounds around it were for the dwellings of the priests and Levites who labored therein. This was a holy portion of the land; and it was to be marked out first, as the firstfruits of the inheritance. Next to the lands of the sanctuary, the city-lands are assigned – upon which the holy city was to be built. It was for the whole family of Israel, and not just one or two tribes. Then a portion is reserved for the lands belonging to the prince. As for the rest of this spiritual holy land, it was to be distributed to the people according to their tribes; and we shall have a fuller description of these allotments in chapter 48.
In verses 9-12, some general rules of justice are laid down for both the prince and the people; for Godliness without honesty is only an empty form of Godliness, which will neither please the Lord nor serve the people. It has been enacted, by the authority of the Church’s King and God, that princes and government leaders may not oppress their subjects; but rather, they are to faithfully administer justice among them! It is also enjoined that one neighbor may not cheat another in trade or business. God’s people must be very just in all their dealings, and very punctual and exact in rendering to everyone their rightful dues. They, above all other people, ought to be very cautious to do wrong to no one; because otherwise, they spoil the acceptableness of their religious profession with God, and the reputation of it before their fellow-men.
Having laid down the rules of righteousness toward men, which are really a branch of true religion; the Lord comes next to give some directions for the outworkings of His people’s religion toward Himself (verses 13-25). First, it is required that they offer a sacrifice to the Lord out of their personal property, as an acknowledgement of their dependence upon Him for the blessings they enjoyed, and also of their obligations toward Him. Whatever our property may be, we must honor God with it, by giving Him His rightful dues out of it. Not that He has any need of anything that we can give Him (Ps. 50:9), for it is only an offering that we are making to Him; the benefit of it returns back to the poor among His people, and to His ministers who serve Him continually for our good. The people were told that they must not offer to God anything for burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, except that which was from the best that they had. The burnt-offerings were intended to be for the giving of glory to Jehovah, while the peace-offerings were for the fetching in of mercy, grace, and peace from Him. And in our spiritual sacrifices, these are also our two great errands at the throne of grace. But these sacrifices were offered up to make reconciliation for the people, so that they would be accepted by the Lord. Christ is our perfect Sacrifice of atonement, by whom reconciliation is made; and to Him, therefore, we must have an eye in our sacrifices of acknowledgment.
Some particular solemnities are appointed in these verses. Not the least of these was the Passover, which was to be religiously observed at the appointed time. Of course, the Passover foreshadowed how Jesus became our spotless Lamb Who was sacrificed for us. In the Lord’s Supper – our Passover-feast – we celebrate the memorial of that sacrifice, and we feast upon it. We triumph in our deliverance out of the Egyptian slavery of sin, and we rejoice in our preservation from the sword of the destroying angel of Divine justice! In these feasts and celebrations that were to be observed by the Lord’s people of old, we may clearly see the deficiency of the sacrifices for sin under the Old Testament system; they were often repeated – not only every year, but also at every feast, and even on every day of the feast, because they could not make those who offered them perfect (Heb. 10:1, 3). All of these things pointed to the new Church that was to be set up under the Gospel, which – in extent and in purity – would far exceed that of the Old Testament! And although Christ’s perfect Sacrifice of atonement has been offered once and for all, yet our spiritual sacrifices of acknowledgement – our sacrifices of a broken heart, and of a thankful heart, which are acceptable to God through Jesus – must still be offered daily.
Lord, we confess that we are indeed guilty sinners, who deserve nothing but eternal death and separation from You; but we give thanks that Jesus became our great Sin-offering and our perfect Sacrifice of atonement which was offered once and for all! Amen.
If you prefer to listen, today’s Family Bible guide is available in audio format on both SermonAudio and YouTube.
Join other families all around the globe and receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Dallas Totra | Lightstock.com