One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, November 23, 2013: Ezekiel 45:13-46:24
Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel.” Ezekiel 45:17 (NKJV)
In the last chapters of Ezekiel, an individual is often mentioned that has caused no small discussion. That individual is called "the prince."
The Hebrew word for "prince" is nasi, meaning "leader." It is used in the Bible to refer to the head of tribe, a leader of a town (mayor), or the head of a country (king or president). Ezekiel prophesies to Israel that the day is coming when God will once again establish a national leader for them. The short term fulfillment was Nehemiah. But, it's obvious, bigger things are coming.
The last nine chapters is the most extended discussion in the entire Old Testament of the Coming Messiah. Nineteen times the word "prince" is used. But, this not a normal prince like "the prince of Tyre" or "the princes of Israel". It is a singular individual who would fulfill a specific unifying, governing role in the restored nation of Israel. He would be like David. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken. Ezekiel 34:23-24 (NKJV)
By the time Jesus came, passages like Ezekiel chapters 40-48, were taken by the Jews as a LITERAL promise. As a result, many could not recognize the Prince when he showed up. They expected the Coming Prince to divvy up the land allotting special physical territory for himself and reestablishing old property rights for them (Ez. 45:6-8). Their prince would restore Old Testament sacrifices. What they have not seen is that the Prince would BECOME the Old Testament sacrifices.
Today, Orthodox Jews and some Christians still believe these Ezekiel passages lie in the future -- perhaps in a Messianic age or in the Millennium. In doing so, both repeat the error of the Jews in Jesus' day. We can interpret the Scriptures in such a way that we miss the God of the Scriptures.
Instead, I invite you to receive the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). All the details of Ezekiel are fulfilled in our Messiah (just as the details of Leviticus and Deuteronomy). He provides a better sacrifice, in a better temple, according to better promises (the theme of Hebrews).