I am constitutionally wired for worry. I fully expect my DNA contains a dedicated worry gene. I can worry about everything, the things I can control and the things I can’t. Thus, I need the encouragement of Ezekiel 44. Maybe you do too.
In this chapter, the Lord addresses his requirements for the priestly family of Zadok, who will serve him in the temple. They will be set apart from ordinary Israelites, not only in their work, but also in many aspects of their lifestyle. One of the chief priestly distinctives is their source of income for living. Unlike ordinary Jews, who will grow their food or work to earn money to buy it, the priests will get their nourishment from the offerings given by the people. Moreover, the priests will not own property so as to derive benefit from it and pass it down to their children. Rather, the Lord says, “As for their inheritance, I am their inheritance. They won’t be given family property in Israel. I am their family property” (44:28).
In effect, what this means is that the priests will live in consistent dependence upon God and the temple. They will not have the means to support their families apart from the sacrifices offered in the temple and the land set apart for them, land they will never actually own. In an agrarian society, this would put the priests in a precarious financial position, to be sure.
How would you like to be in this kind of vulnerable position? I must confess that it would tempt me to worry. I like the security that comes from making a salary and owning a home (or, at least the portion of my home that is not owned by the bank). Sometimes I can even fool myself into thinking that I am fully self-reliant. But, inevitably, something comes up to remind me of my weakness, fallibility, neediness, and mortality. And then I start to worry.
Yet, if I could accept the fact that my situation is really like that of the priests in Ezekiel 44, then I could begin to find freedom from worry. In truth, you and I depend on God each moment, even if we don’t recognize it. The very fabric of creation relies on God’s power. You and I need him for our next breath, our next thought, our next action. The more we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord, the more we will learn to rely on his faithful provision, and the less we will worry, because God is faithful.
As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?” (Matt. 6:25-26).
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you inclined to worry? Why or why not? What makes you worry? What helps you to trust God more, so as not to worry?
PRAYER: Faithful God, even as the priests depended on you, so do we. Of course, we may own our own property and have a source of income. But, in recent years, we have seen how unreliable these resources can be. Moreover, when we reflect upon our lives, we realize just how much we really do depend on you, even if we tend to forget it.
Gracious Lord, may I acknowledge my dependence on you today and tomorrow and each day ahead. May I learn to trust you, to count on your faithfulness. Help me to put worry aside as I depend on you.
All praise be to you, O God, because your faithfulness is great. Your mercies are new every morning. Amen.