This week as we study Ezekiel 45-48, we are following these chapters as a map to God’s heart. In Ezekiel 45, verses 8-12, we see God’s heart very clearly in another way. Notice verse 8 where we read God say that the princes must not oppress the people. Who were the princes? God is referring to the kings and leaders of the land. For many, many years before the exile, the kings oppressed the people. How were the princes oppressing people? It was a variety of ways. Forced labor. Stealing land. Heavy taxation. Idol worship.
God says all oppression must cease. The prince is to be satisfied with his allotment of land. He will lead the people well, if he does not oppress the people to try to get more and more land, wealth and possessions.
In this teaching, God shows his heart that his people, no matter their role and position in life, trust in him rather than in money. This is what Jesus taught when he said, “You cannot serve both God and Money.” Instead, our heart attitude avoids greed and the desire for things by living with sacrificial generosity that trusts in Jesus, and seeks gratitude and contentment in him.
When he is satisfied with what he has, the prince will be an example to the people in at least two ways: (1) that he trusts in God and (2) he knows that God is Israel’s true king. Look at verse 9. Whose people are they? God’s people. The king doesn’t own the people. They are God’s people, and the king should see himself as God’s steward.
We also see God’s heart as opposed to oppression in general. When you hear that word “oppression” don’t think in terms of “this heat and humidity is so oppressive.” Instead, the word “oppressive” here has tones of violence, of cheating people to get one over on them. God’s way must never include oppression. That means we, God’s people, should never oppress or exploit others.
There should be no violence. Instead the kings should do what is just and right.
God illustrates this in verses 10-12 by talking about accurate scales. Don’t cheat. Remember the story of Jesus’ interaction with the tax collector Zacchaeus in Luke 19? Zacchaeus was wealthy because he had cheated people out of money. We don’t know quite how it happened, but when Zacchaeus encountered Jesus, he turned from his oppressive ways and pledged to make things right. We should be people who practice economic justice.
What can you do to follow God’s heart to stop oppression?