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Ezekiel 43:13-27 - Homilies By W. Clarkson

Purification and preparation.

Almost all the regulations pertaining to the sacrifices under the old economy bore upon the supreme question of sanctity. God would impress upon his people, by every means and in every way, that the Holy One of Israel must be approached by those only who were pure and holy; that if they would "ascend unto the hill of the Lord" they must come "with clean hands and a pure heart." Hence everything and every one had to be carefully purified or consecrated in preparation for the solemn service. In these verses we have the same idea once more affirmed in the prophet's vision. The priests who officiated were to be duly consecrated ( Ezekiel 43:26 ); the animals slain were to be very carefully selected, only those without blemish being allowed ( Ezekiel 43:22 , Ezekiel 43:23 , Ezekiel 43:25 ). And even the altar itself, which might have been thought to be incapable of any impurity, had to be formally purged and cleansed ( Ezekiel 43:20 ). Sin offerings and burnt offering were to be presented, not forgetting the salt ( Ezekiel 43:25 ), that the altar might be perfectly prepared for use, and that the worshippers who approached it might find acceptance with the Lord ( Ezekiel 43:27 ). Such preparation by sacrifice is unknown to the Church of Christ, the old ritual having happily become obsolete. But the essential idea of it remains and will never disappear. Before we draw near to God in public worship it becomes us to make-Reparation answering- to the purification of the older time. There is—

I. THE PREPARATION OF THE BODY . Our Lord said there was a certain "kind" of evil which could only be expelled after prayer and fasting ( Matthew 17:21 ). We must recognize the fact that one bodily condition is much more favorable to pure and sustained devotion than another; e.g. a wakeful rather than a somnolent one; a wisely and moderately nourished state in preference to one incapacitated by indulgence on the one hand or by prolonged abstinence on the other. Not in weariness and exhaustion, nor yet in a disabling and unfitting fullness, should we bring our offering of prayer or praise, of exhortation or docility, unto the house of the Lord.

II. THE PREPARATION OF THE MIND . They who have undertaken the sacred task of speaking for God should surely prepare for this high and exalted work. If we carefully prepare to speak in our own name, how much more should we do so when we speak in his! Should we not gather all the knowledge we can anywise obtain, think our subject through to the best of our ability, search the Scriptures to sustain the truth we are to utter by the Word of God, lay all our mental acquisitions and information under contribution to give clearness and cogency to our argument or appeal, order and arrange our thoughts that we may present them as freely and as forcibly as we can?

III. THE PREPARATION OF THE HEART . This preparation, more than that of the body or the mind, answers to the purification described in the text. Our hearts need to be "cleansed and purged" ( Ezekiel 43:20 ). It has to be cleansed from:

1. All self-seeking; so that we aim, not at our own honor or advancement, but at the glory of Christ and the good of men.

2. All worldliness and vanity; so that when we bow in prayer or assume the attitude of attentiveness we are not lost in the remembrance or the anticipation of bargains in the market or of pleasures in society.

3. The search for enjoyment rather than the seeking after God; the temptation to come to the house of the Lord to partake of that which is sweet unto our taste rather than that which is strengthening to our character and nourishing to our soul. Such preparation or purification as this must be wrought in the secret chamber of devotion, when we are alone with God, in solemn contemplation and in earnest and believing prayer.—C.

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