Ezekiel 44:15, 16
But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me…
We do not suppose that the statement respecting the sons of Zadok is to be pressed to historical exactitude. Their steadfastness is assumed for the purpose of exhortation, to point out the reward of fidelity in the kingdom of God. We have -
I. THE FACT AND THE ACCOUNT OF UNFAITHFULNESS. There is no more patent fact before our eyes than that men do "go astray;' they go astray, like these Levites, from God, from truth, from wisdom, from purity, from their earlier convictions and their noble life. The frequency of the fact cannot dull our eyes to the extreme sadness of it. What sadness was there in the tone of the Master's question, "Will ye also go away?" With what profound regret do we now witness the descent or' a human soul from the heights of heavenly wisdom to the depths of disbelief or iniquity! If we are asked to account for it, we suggest three powerful temptations which prove too strong for resistance.
1. The fascinations of novelty; the love of looking at things in new lights or of treading new paths.
2. The strength of the social current; the unconscious and (often) the wholly unreasonable deference we pay to the opinions of those around us. It is difficult to row against the stream of current thought and practice; it is pleasant to go with the tide, even though we suspect it is bearing us out to the open sea of uncertainty and unbelief.
3. Concern for our temporal interests; for it often happens that a firm adherence to conviction means a painful parting, not only from friends, but from the source of "food and raiment."
II. THE SUMMONS TO FIDELITY. Many things demand of us that we should be faithful even to the end. Fidelity is:
1. Obligatory. We cannot leave the service of God or of truth without breaking the most sacred bonds, without laying ourselves open to self-reproach and doing that which we shall look back upon with shame and sorrow. We owe it to those who are coming up after us - especially to our own children - that we turn not our back on our old principles.
2. Excellent. There is something honorable and admirable in a very high degree in a consistent and faithful life; not, of course, the unintelligent repetition of the old sounds, but the adherence, through good report and evil report, through storm and sunshine, to the vital principles we learnt at the feet of Jesus Christ. The head that has grown white with the consistent advocacy and illustration of elevating and ennobling truth does wear a glorious crown.
3. Attended with a large and a true reward. Steadfastness, as compared with vacillation or apostasy, not only commands the esteem of men, and not only enables its possessor to enjoy his own self-respect, but it secures for him the abiding favor of God. God calls such men not only to the gate or door of the sanctuary; he bids them "enter into it," and "come near to his table," to "minister unto him." For them is reserved the closer fellowship and the more honorable and essential service. In the service of Christ fidelity not only aspires to the higher and better service of the Master and of mankind below, but it looks forward to an admission within the blessed gates, and sitting down to the "table" of the Lord in the heavenly kingdom (Luke 22:30). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD:
WEB: But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who performed the duty of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister to me; and they shall stand before me to offer to me the fat and the blood, says the Lord Yahweh: