“Their inheritance is to be this: I Myself am their inheritance. You are not to grant them any possession in Israel – I Myself am their possession.” Ezekiel 44:28
Priests were chosen from the line of Aaron’s descent. However, a further narrowing of the priestly line took place at the time of David, when Zadok the priest successfully backed Solomon as David’s successor. Only those Levites descended from Aaron through Zadok could serve as priests at the Temple.
According to Ezekiel, the Zadokites alone remained free from the charge of apostasy during the reign of the Israelite kings. Only those priests were allowed to offer sacrifices of “fat and blood.” Following the sacrifice, the fat was burned, and the blood poured out on the altar as gifts to the Lord.
One would suppose that this people group, so favored by the Lord, should expect God’s favor to include wealth and worldly possessions. In fact, many Christian leaders would claim that God’s people should expect wealth and prosperity to be the natural out-flow of faithfulness. Nothing could be more untrue.
The priests were given no inheritance in the land of Israel. Though a portion of the land surrounding the Temple was given to them, God Himself was to be their inheritance. They were to live off the various sacrifices in which they were allowed to share. The pastor’s office as a “spiritual shepherd” does not include fleecing or butchering the “sheep” for a profit. Instead, it is to tend to and care for the flock of the Master.
This is a point the New Testament makes clear, underlining the principle that those who live by the Gospel are to be maintained by the Gospel but not exploit it. Paul tells that Elders who direct the affairs of the congregation are worthy of double honor – not double pay, as some preachers of our day have suggested. Those doing the work of the Gospel were to receive a twofold honor: the honor of respect and the honor of remuneration. (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9)
Those who might consider ministry purely as an entrepreneurial pursuit should consider changing their motives and expectations to align themselves with God’s Word!
Of course, the New Testament calls ALL believers “priests.” This means we should all maintain a temporal view of Worldly things and a continual understanding that our “inheritance” is other-worldly: serving & worshipping the Lord for all eternity.
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