The spiritual worship (Dan 3:16-3:17)

“Yet with a contrite heart,

With a humble spirit,

May we be accepted,

As though it were

With burnt offerings

Of rams,

Of bulls,

With tens of thousands

Of fat lambs!

Such may our sacrifice be

In your sight,

Today!

May we unreservedly

Follow you!

No shame

Will come

To those

Who trust in you!”

Thus, Azariah pointed out that their religion must become more spiritual than cultic, without a Temple to offer sacrifices. With a contrite heart and humble spirit, Azariah asked that his attitude might take the place of the cultic burnt offerings of rams, bulls, and lambs. He wanted his attitude to be the equivalent of ritual sacrifices. He did not want shame to come to those who trusted in God and followed his commandments. This is a clear movement away from the ritual temple worship.

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The feast of Passover (Ezek 45:21-45:22)

“In the first month,

On the fourteenth day

Of the month,

You shall celebrate

The festival

Of the Passover.

For seven days

Unleavened bread

Shall be eaten.

On that day

The prince shall provide

For himself,

As well as for all the people

Of the land,

A young bull

For a sin offering.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, reiterated the time of Passover celebration, the 14th day of the 1st month. During 7 days, they would eat only unleavened bread, the traditional Passover celebration food. On the day of Passover itself, the prince would offer a young bull for a sin offering for himself and all the people of the land.

The defilement of the dead (Ezek 44:25-44:27)

“‘They shall not defile

Themselves

By getting near

To a dead person.

However,

They may defile

Themselves

For a father,

For a mother,

For a son,

For a daughter,

For a brother,

Or for an unmarried sister.

After he has become clean,

They shall count

Seven days for him.

Then he shall be clean.

On the day

That he goes

Into the holy place,

Into the inner court,

To minister

In the holy place,

He shall offer

His sin offering.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh God told Ezekiel what to do about the Zadok Levitical priests who defiled themselves by going near a dead person. They were not supposed to go close to a dead person. However, there were occasions when these priests could go near a dead person, and thus, defile themselves. In particular, this usually meant a close family member, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, or an unmarried sister. Yet they would have to become clean again. They would have to wait 7 days before they could be clean. Then they would have to offer a sin offering for themselves in the holy place.

The Zadok Levitical priests (Ezek 44:15-44:16)

“‘But the Levitical priests,

The descendants of Zadok,

Who kept the charge

Of my sanctuary,

When the people of Israel

Went astray

From me,

Shall come near

To me

To minister

To me.

They shall attend me

To offer me

The fat

With the blood.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘They shall enter

My sanctuary.

They shall approach

My table.

They shall

Minister

To me.

They shall

Keep my charge.’”

It was a different story for the Zadok Levitical priests, as mentioned in the previous chapter. These Levitical priests from the family of Zadok came from a righteous priest, who was descended from Eleazar, the son of Aaron. This Zadok aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom in 2 Samuel, chapters 13-22. Then this Zadok helped bring King Solomon to the throne in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2. After Solomon’s building of The First Temple in Jerusalem, this Zadok was the first High Priest to serve there in 1 Kings, chapter 4. Thus, the house of Zadok occupied the high priesthood throughout much of the Second Temple period. These Zadok Levitical priests had been loyal to Yahweh, when the other Levites went astray. They were the ones who could come near to Yahweh to minister to him. They would offer the fat and the blood. They would enter Yahweh’s sanctuary and approach his table. They would be in charge and directly minister to Yahweh.

The seven days of sin offerings (Ezek 43:25-43:27)

“‘For seven days,

You shall provide daily

A goat

For a sin offering.

Also,

A bull

With a ram

From the flock,

Without blemish,

Shall be provided.

Seven days

Shall they make atonement

For the altar.

They will cleanse it.

They will so consecrate it.

When these days

Are over,

Then from the eighth day

Onward,

The priests shall offer

Upon the altar

Your burnt offerings

With your peace offerings.

Then I will accept you.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh gave Ezekiel this first week of instructions about the altar. During this week, each day they had to provide an unblemished goat, bull, and ram from their flock. During these 7 days, they were to make atonement for the altar, by cleansing and consecrating it. After these 7 days were over, the priests would then be able to offer their burnt offerings and peace offerings on this altar at any time.  Yahweh said that he would then accept these offerings.

The burnt sin offerings of various animals (Ezek 43:22-43:24)

“On the second day,

You shall offer

A male goat

Without blemish

For a sin offering.

The altar

Shall be purified,

As it was purified

With the bull.

When you have finished

Purifying it,

You shall offer

A bull

Without blemish.

You shall offer

A ram

From the flock

Without blemish.

You shall present them

Before Yahweh.

The priests

Shall sprinkle salt

On them.

They will offer them up

As a burnt offering

To Yahweh.”

After the first day of consecrating the altar, the following day they were to offer an unblemished male goat as a sin offering. However, the altar had to be purified as it had been the previous day. Then, they were to offer another unblemished bull, as well as an unblemished ram. These burnt offerings were to be offered to Yahweh. The priests should sprinkle salt on them, before they were offered up to Yahweh.

The final punishment (Ezek 21:29-21:32)

“They offer false visions

For you.

They divine lies

For you.

They place you

Over the necks

Of the vile wicked ones.

Their day has come.

The time of final punishment

Has come.

Return it to its sheath!

In the place

Where you were created,

In the land of your origin,

I will judge you.

I will pour out

My indignation

Upon you,

With the fire

Of my wrath.

I will blow

Upon you.

I will deliver you

Into brutish hands,

Those skilful to destroy.

You shall be fuel

For the fire.

Your blood

Shall enter the earth.

You shall be remembered

No more.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

These unfaithful ones offer false visions and lies. The vile wicked ones will be over their necks. The day of final punishment has come. They have returned their swords to their sheaths. Yahweh was going to judge them in the place where they were created, the land of their origins. Yahweh was going to pour out his indignation upon them with the fire of his wrath. He was going to blow upon them. He was going to deliver them into skilful brutish hands that would destroy them, so that they would become fuel for the fire. Their blood would fall on the earth. No one would remember them. Yahweh has spoken clearly.