Ezekiel 44 – 45:6 and 46:19-24
It seems to me that at a certain point in life your choices permit you continuations rather than do overs. There are exceptions to the rule, but a complete restart with a new lease on life are meant to be infrequent rather than common threads in our lives. We are created to be built up not consistently broken down to our foundation. Repairs will always pop up but as a new creation in Christ, we are not destined for regression. We are not meant to stay in a broken condition.
I remember playing video games when I was younger, and when I failed to complete a level (my character would die), I was asked, “would you like to continue?” If the game had the option of saving my progress, I 95% of the time would select “yes.” You don’t stop playing a game on a sour note unless your parents or friend turns it off on you. Pssht parents. Pssht friends. What are those, am I right? Whether it’s a video game, a project in need of completion, or life in general, the desire for completion is what drives those of us who remain hopeful forward.
In Ezekiel 44, both prince and priests are pushed to take their next steps. The prince is encouraged to walk through a gate reserved for him alone. Inside the gate the prince is permitted to eat bread in the presence of the Lord. He is invited into communion with God.
As for the priests from the tribe of Levi, one specific group of Levites were not permitted to continue in service as priests but still maintained some ministerial tasks. They are cut off from the most holy things, but the sons of Zadok are the individuals encouraged to minister to God as the priesthood. They are to wear specific garbs for specific tasks. They aren’t supposed to get sweaty and they must change their garments to prevent holiness from transmitting to the common folk.
The priests are supposed to live differently to demonstrate to the rest of Israel the separation between that which is holy and that which is common. The priests are to abstain from wine, they aren’t supposed to shave their heads or let their hair grow too long, they are supposed to marry pure individuals, they can’t go near the dead, they boil and bake the sacrificial offerings of the people.
Lastly, the priest had no possessions in Israel. God is their possession so they only eat from the sacrifices that the rest of Israel devotes to God. As for their land, the Levites were to live in a holy district near the temple, but they did own the land. The land belonged to the whole house of Israel. For the priests to continue, to subsist, they relied on God moving the hearts of the people. If the people turned away from God the priests could potentially starve were they to remain faithful.
Would you like to Continue?
In an arcade, to continue, one adds quarters to a machine, your continuation is predicated on cost. I once spent $9.50 to beat the arcade version of Time-splitters. I’m not sure how much the person I was playing with spent. In life, it costs more than $9.50. The cost to continue is often toil and suffering with a great joy set before us. Which is why the cost to continue is far less than the cost to not.
The cost of giving up or starting completely over costs you the front end of what lies before you if you kept going and costs you all it takes to start from scratch. There are times it’s worth it to start over; I’ve done it; I think it was worth it?
To continue forward, not in a circle is always worth it. The apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12-14 illustrates what it means to press on, to continue in Christ for the goal that exists in the fullness of life in Jesus.
Phil 2:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.