Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 44 and Revelation 12

Ezekiel 44 – Meanwhile the east gate of the sanctuary is to be kept shut since the Lord Himself has passed through it. The prince may take his meals there [note says this was connected with the communion sacrifice].

 

He goes on to describe the rules about who are and who are not to be admitted into the sanctuary. No “rebels,” “aliens,” or those “uncircumcised in heart and body” (44:9) are to be permitted in.  The Levites, who abandoned Yahweh to follow idols, are to guard the gates and serve the Temple but never again shall “perform the priestly office in my presence, or to touch my holy things”(44:12-13).

 

Only the sons of Zadok, the Levitical priests who remained faithful, shall be permitted to “stand in my presence to offer me the fat and blood” (44:15). They must wear linen vestments, no wool inside the inner court. And they must wear linen caps and breeches – these vestments are to be removed when they leave the Holy Place. He describes how they shall cut their hair, those to whom they are permitted to marry, and what they should do. They may not go near a dead person unless it is a close relative. They may not inherit material things nor are they to receive a “patrimony.” They may not eat anything that has died a natural death.

Revelation 12 – He sees a vision – “a woman adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown” (12:1). She is pregnant and crying out.

 

A huge red dragon appears with seven heads (each crowned) and ten horns. Its tail pulls a third of all the stars to the earth. The dragon stops to await the woman’s child to eat it.

 

She gives birth to a child “the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron scepter, and the child was taken straight up to God” (12:5) while the woman escapes into the desert.

           

War breaks out in heaven. Michael and his angels attack the dragon – the “primeval serpent” – is hurled out of heaven. “’Victory and power and empire forever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ” (12:10).

 

“They have triumphed over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the witness of their martyrdom, because even in the face of death they would not cling to life” (12:11).

 

Now the devil is down on the earth and he is angry because his days are numbered. He purses the mother of the child, but she is given eagle’s wings to flee him. He cannot catch the mother, so he goes seeking revenge on God’s loyal children.

 

If the author of this book is the gospel writer of John or if he was of the Johannine school, it seems very likely to me that the allegory taking place here is at least in part a reference to that very important proto-evangelium or ur-promise made in Genesis 3:15 about the “seed” of Eve winning a victory over the primal serpent/dragon/devil. Exactly how the allegory reflected the history of the time or the existential victory of Christ and his Church over the powers of evil in the world, I feel beyond my powers to understand, but the “big picture” seems obvious.

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