At the time this devotion is being written the election for the president of the United States will take place in five days. As American Christians the realities of democracy, patriotism, and freedom run deep in our veins. The way Jesus describes his kingdom to Pilate in John 18 is something not only each American Christian needs to be reminded of but each Christian wherever they live needs to be reminded of. As Christians our primary citizenship is not the country we currently reside in, it is the kingdom of God.
Jesus says to Pilate in John 18.36, “My kingdom is not of this world”. “Not of this world” means, not of this present world system. The kingdom Jesus presides over operates in a totally different realm than the kingdoms of this present evil age do. And because we belong to God this means we are citizens of a different kingdom (Phil. 3.20). We are citizens of the kingdom of God first then citizens of our natural country second.
While all of us are saturated with the current country and culture we live in, we should remember, our citizenship is with the kingdom of God primarily and we are to live out the kingdom life in whatever context we live in. As followers of Christ our lives are to be lived against the grain of the current ways of life, just like how Jesus said his servants wouldn’t fight over him because they belonged to a kingdom that was not of this world
“‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards. Ezekiel 44:15-16 (NIV)
Yesterday we discussed God’s holiness and how it must be separated from the common. Today we will continue along those lines but in terms of ministering in the presence of such holiness. The temple was the place where God’s presence was located on earth and was considered the holiest place on the planet; it was a sacred space. Not just anyone could visit the temple; Israel was ripped by God for allowing uncircumcised (of heart and body) non-Jews to go into the temple (Ez. 44:7). After laying out the dimensions for a new holy temple in the last few chapters, God turns Ezekiel’s attention to who gets to minister there and in what capacity.
Israel had not taken seriously the holiness of God, even in the temple, where the Holy of Holies was found. The Levitical priests, despite being chosen to act as ministers in the temple, couldn’t fulfill their duties without corruption. They allowed the unworthy to come into the temple and served as priests to idols. These priests may not have been, but Yahweh certainly was serious about keeping His temple holy and having the right people ministering there. So, in this new temple, those who hadn’t appreciated the importance of the job would miss out. Those who remained firm, those who did not go with the crowd, those who did appreciate the holiness of the temple, the Zadokites (descendants of Zadok), would be lifted up as an example and given the jobs the less than faithful had forfeited.
Today there isn’t a grand temple complex where we must minister before God. We don’t have to make animal sacrifices, wear special clothes, or worry about remaining ceremonially clean. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t just as serious today about those who represent Him as ministers. The sacrifices of today are spiritual in nature and offered by those who have chosen to follow Christ as their High Priest. We are to act as royal priests who, following the example of our High Priest, surrender ourselves completely to the will of God and do the ministry He calls us to. Just like the Zadokites, who were lauded for their faithfulness despite Israel’s disobedience, we need to make sure we stay true to who we are as disciples of Christ and God’s representatives on earth, regardless of how others act–Christian or not. Our God still cares about holiness and has put His spirit within us, let us guard the new temple with the same (or greater) fervor and faithfulness as (than) the Zadokites did.
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at Biblegateway here –Ezekiel 44-45
Tomorrow we will finish the book of Ezekiel (chapters 46-48) as we continue on our
Throughout history God has lead his people many ways. To a few he spoke audibly, others in dreams but he used the tabernacle to lead the Israelites. They set up the tabernacle to the very detail as God requested. After it was complete, 40:34 says
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
God made his presence known and clearly began to lead the people on their travels. Whenever the cloud left the people knew it was time to get up and go. Whenever the cloud would stop the people would also stop.
Sometimes I wish that God led us today in such an obvious manner. I need fool proof directions just to get across town let alone the race we are called to run as followers of Christ.
Although it is not as obvious, God still leads his people. He still tells us when and where to go and also when and where to stay.
The tabernacle was a dedicated place for God in the lives of the Israelites. They gave of their time, energy and resources to have a spot for God in their lives. Many often claim that they want direction from God but have not made space for his leading in their lives. They have not made time or space for God.
After the ascension of Christ, the believers were blessed with God’s presence in an even better way than the tabernacle. God’s power, his presence, his spirit can dwell in YOU!
Will you make time and space in your life – for the glory of God to lead you where he would have you go? And further, are you willing to follow that lead?