Ezekiel 44 & Psalm 97-98

Ezekiel 44

    Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east. And it was shut. And the LORD said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it. Therefore it shall remain shut. Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD. He shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way.”

    Then he brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple, and I looked, and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple of the LORD. And I fell on my face. And the LORD said to me, “Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I shall tell you concerning all the statutes of the temple of the LORD and all its laws. And mark well the entrance to the temple and all the exits from the sanctuary. And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations, in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations. And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary.

    “Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary. But the Levites who went far from me, going astray from me after their idols when Israel went astray, shall bear their punishment. They shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having oversight at the gates of the temple and ministering in the temple. They shall slaughter the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before the people, to minister to them. Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn concerning them, declares the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their punishment. They shall not come near to me, to serve me as priest, nor come near any of my holy things and the things that are most holy, but they shall bear their shame and the abominations that they have committed. Yet I will appoint them to keep charge of the temple, to do all its service and all that is to be done in it.

    “But the Levitical priests, the sons 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. And they shall stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord GOD. They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge. When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments. They shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers. And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments. They shall not shave their heads or let their locks grow long; they shall surely trim the hair of their heads. No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only virgins of the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. In a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my Sabbaths holy. They shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person. However, for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. After he has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. And 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, declares the Lord GOD.

    “This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house. The priests shall not eat of anything, whether bird or beast, that has died of itself or is torn by wild animals.

(Ezekiel 44 ESV)

Psalm 97

    The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
        let the many coastlands be glad!
    Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
        righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
    Fire goes before him
        and burns up his adversaries all around.
    His lightnings light up the world;
        the earth sees and trembles.
    The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
        before the Lord of all the earth.
    The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
        and all the peoples see his glory.
    All worshipers of images are put to shame,
        who make their boast in worthless idols;
        worship him, all you gods!
    Zion hears and is glad,
        and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
        because of your judgments, O LORD.
    For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
        you are exalted far above all gods.
    O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
        He preserves the lives of his saints;
        he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
    Light is sown for the righteous,
        and joy for the upright in heart.
    Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
        and give thanks to his holy name!

(Psalm 97 ESV)

Psalm 98

A Psalm.

    Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
        for he has done marvelous things!
    His right hand and his holy arm
        have worked salvation for him.
    The LORD has made known his salvation;
        he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
    He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
        to the house of Israel.
    All the ends of the earth have seen
        the salvation of our God.
    Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
        break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
    Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
        with the lyre and the sound of melody!
    With trumpets and the sound of the horn
        make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
    Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
        the world and those who dwell in it!
    Let the rivers clap their hands;
        let the hills sing for joy together
    before the LORD, for he comes
        to judge the earth.
    He will judge the world with righteousness,
        and the peoples with equity.

(Psalm 98 ESV)

 The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...


IN THE ANGLICAN BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, Psalm 98 is known as the Cantate Domino (“Sing to the Lord”) and is placed between the evening Old Testament reading and its New Testament counterpart. It overflows with exhilarating worship and joy.

The psalm has three stanzas. The first (98:1-3) celebrates the “salvation” of God (found in each verse). The word is perhaps more comprehensive than the way it is used today. It includes victory over enemies: this “salvation” or victory was effected by the Lord’s “right hand and his holy arm” (98:1). But it also includes what we mean by salvation: God reconciles people to himself and transforms them by his grace. While God “has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel” (98:3), the glorious truth is that he “has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations” (98:2); “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (98:3). Small wonder, then, we must sing to the Lord “a new song” (98:1). The expression signals not so much a new composition, written for the occasion perhaps, as a fresh response to new mercies showered upon us.

The second stanza (98:4-6) responds to the first. The first celebrates God’s coming in power and salvation, the second responds to every act of God in exhilarated worship. Indeed, because the full salvation briefly described awaits the consummation, all our acts of worship are an anticipation of the end. We “shout for joy before the LORD, the King” (98:6) as a prelude and an announcement of the consummation of his reign. The instruments listed here were regularly used as part of temple worship (cf. 1 Chron. 16:5-6) or on joyous occasions such as the accession of a new king (e.g., 1 Kings 1:39).

If the praise of the second stanza is carefully put together in orchestrated singing, the praise of the third stanza (98:7-9) is inarticulate. But it is no less powerful for being artless. Even now the whole universe declares the glory of God. But if various Old Testament passages anticipate a vast renewing of the created order (Ps. 96:11-13; Isa. 2; 11; 55:11-12), Paul not only anticipates the same but recognizes that the fulfillment depends on the transformation of human beings at the end:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-21).