The language of these chapters is so strong, personal and intended to be shocking to Ezekiel’s audience. Your mother is a Hittite and your father is an Amorite. (I did just stop blogging for a moment to go watch a clip of Remember the Titans where the guys are all making “yo mama” jokes in the locker room.) Family connections to Gentiles was a huge insult to Israelites. To have God making those insults through his prophet would have been shocking. Even worse, it says that Israel has become so sinful and shameful that the evil pagan nations look good. Keep in mind, we are talking about Sodom, which was destroyed by fire from the sky because there weren’t 10 good people. Remember that we are talking about the Amorites and Hittites, part of the Canaanite people whose evil had become complete enough for God’s people to wipe them out. Israel is not only associated with them, but told they have become even more vile than those people.
And yet, God doesn’t call down fire from heaven to destroy them. God doesn’t wipe them out. God will bring punishment on them in the form of exile, but throughout all of this he promises to be a sanctuary to those in exile and a safe return to those who remain faithful. He is the God of the faithful remnant who refuses to give up on these unfaithful people.
The last time we saw a story about a high priest and Jesus, it was Caiaphas and other Jewish leaders conspiring to illegally and falsely arrest, convict and crucify him in the middle of the night. Several Apostles were also called before the Sanhedrin and the high priest. God has fulfilled his plan to be new life and new creation to the world and it didn’t happen through the order of Levitical priests. In fact, it happened in spite of them. The priesthood failed to be a light to the world. The priesthood failed to anoint and crown the king, the Messiah of Israel, handing him over to Gentiles to be killed instead. The priesthood failed to recognize God’s plan to offer grace and forgiveness to all people, choosing instead to become the primary persecutor of the New Testament church.
So as Christians, we are no longer under this failed priesthood. We have a High Priest who sits alongside God. We have a High Priest who sits in a heavenly Tabernacle, not a manmade Temple. Our High Priest is one who provides for us a better covenant, based on better promises. The new covenant has been ushered in and the old one is obsolete.
What does that look like? Find out tomorrow when we continue our one year journey through the Bible…