Friday, October 28, 2016

Psalm 143: Helpless

Say what you want about David and his errors.  The man had a right understanding of our proper posture before the Lord!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Daniel 1: Strangers In A Strange Land

Can you imagine being conquered by another country and then taken away from your homeland to live in exile?  For young Daniel and his three friends, this fate was their reality.  Their lives were completely upended when they were removed from all that was familiar and brought to the foreign nation of Babylon.

Joel 3: God's Address

In one sense, Christians believe that God does not dwell on the earth.  Even the highest heavens cannot contain Him, as Solomon observed at the dedication of the temple (II Chronicles 6:18).  However, from another point of view, God does indeed have an earthly "address" where He has chosen to make His dwelling place known: Zion!

Joel 2: Seeds

For a brief Old Testament book concerned primarily with a swarm of locusts, Joel contains some startling passages of prophecy that will bear fruit in the New Testament!

Joel 1: First World Problems

People today joke about the modern-day annoyances and aggravations we face in life.  These are called "first world problems": things like not having enough storage space for all our stuff or the time it takes for our web pages to load.  But if we go back to the experiences of people who lived thousands of years ago, we might get a whole new appreciation for how devastating real "first world" problems could be.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ezekiel 48: The Lord Is There

The Book of Ezekiel ends with the prophet's fantastic vision of the city of God.  The Lord's sanctuary is in the middle of the tribes of Israel (vs. 10) and God's presence is there with His people.  In fact, the very name of the city shall be "The Lord Is There."  After years of struggle against the destruction that sin wreaks in our relationship with God, finally we have peace.  Just as Jesus, the One whose name Emmanuel means "God with us" signifies God's presence with His people, so, too, does this holy city reflect that truth.  Despite its many chapters of gloom and doom, the book ends on an incredibly positive note.  The final verse of Ezekiel reads: "The circumference of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord is There" (vs. 35).  Amen!  Hallelujah!

Ezekiel 47: Leaves For Healing

"On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing" (vs. 12).  Now, doesn't this sound familiar?  Where else have we heard something like this?

Psalm 142: When God Is The Only One In Your Corner...

...He's the only one you need!

Ezekiel 46: What Might Have Been?

One final theory to consider about Ezekiel's temple vision is that it was only meant to be a conditional prophecy, one that hinged on Israel's repentance and future obedience upon their return from exile.  If the people failed this test, the proposed temple would be left as an unfulfilled plan reminding them of "what might have been".

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ezekiel 45: We Are The Temple?

Another possibility that has been advanced regarding Ezekiel's temple vision is that he is speaking spiritually of the Church or perhaps individual Christians, known as the Temple for the Spirit of the Lord in the New Testament age.

Ezekiel 44: A Temple To Be Named Later?

If the temple seen by Ezekiel in a vision in chapters 40 through 47 is not any of the historic temples built or remodeled by Solomon, Zerubbabel, or Herod, could it be a prophecy of a structure yet to come?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ezekiel 43: Herod's Temple?

If Ezekiel's vision cannot properly be understood to apply to Solomon's Temple or to Zerubbabel's Temple, is it possible that it refers to Herod's?

Ezekiel 42: Zerubbabel's Temple?

If Ezekiel was not thinking back to Solomon's Temple in his vision, perhaps he was looking forward and seeing a glimpse of the "second Temple" that would be built by the returning exiles from Babylon?  This rebuilt structure is often called Zerubbabel's Temple as Zerubbabel was a leader among the captives allowed to return to Jerusalem.  Zerubbabel was a grandson of Jehoichin and thus a descendant of David.  He was eventually appointed governor by Darius.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ezekiel 41: Solomon's Temple?

One theory about what Ezekiel was seeing in his final vision is that he was remembering Solomon's Temple from his youth before his captivity in exile.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ezekiel 40: Ezekiel's Problematic Vision

In researching this section of the Book of Ezekiel, I have found it described as one of the most hotly debated and troublesome passages of scripture!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Psalm 141: A Different Kind Of Protection

Many of the psalms cry out to God for rescue and deliverance from one's enemies.  Psalm 141 appeals to Him to provide a different kind of protection.

Ezekiel 39: Still Standing

Ezekiel 39 tells of a time coming when the forces of Gog of Magog will oppose Israel.  His army will be defeated, however, and his horde buried in the Valley of the Travelers.  When this happens, Gog will join the long list of those who attacked the people of Israel and ultimately lost: Egyptians, Midianites, Canaanites, Edomites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Seleucids, Romans, Spanish Inquisitors, Nazis, etc.  Many of these groups succeeded for a short time but subsequently faded into history.  Israel, however, is still standing. 

It doesn't pay to oppose Israel!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ezekiel 38: Who Is Gog Of Magog?

Prophecies can get complicated quickly.  In chapter 38, Ezekiel starts looking further down the road and speaks of a coming enemy of God that will threaten Israel.  He speaks of "Gog, of the land of Magog" (vs. 2).  But just who and where is that?

Ezekiel 37: Sticks And Bones

Restoration is the name of the game in Ezekiel 37.  Employing bones and sticks, the prophet uses props to demonstrate that God is going to reverse time's arrow of entropy to build things up rather than break things down.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ezekiel 36: Israel Is A Sign

Ezekiel 36 represents a dramatic switch in God's messages through His prophet.  No longer is the word one of doom and gloom, invasion and exile.  Instead, Ezekiel reveals that Israel is soon to be blessed with the return of the exiles and a repopulation of the Promised Land - but he takes pains to point out that this is not because of her own doing.  It is the Lord's will out of concern for His name.  Just as Israel's punishment was a sign of His holiness, her flowering will be a sign of His grace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ezekiel 35: Wickedness Does Not Pay

Ezekiel 35 contains God's word of judgment against Mount Seir (Edom) for their contemptuous treatment of Israel in its hour of need.

Ezekiel 34: The Good Shepherd

Sometimes it can be hard to tell just what is Old Testament and what is New!  Ezekiel 34 would be right at home in the teachings of Jesus.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ezekiel 33: The Preacher's Nightmare

A preacher (or, more specifically, a prophet in this instance) has to deal with both heavy responsibility and great discouragement.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Psalm 140: Selah, Say Wha?

Psalm 140 is a very typical psalm in many respects.  It is a psalm of David, who is credited with 73 psalms, just under half the total of 150.  It is slightly briefer than most, containing only thirteen verses; the average psalm consists of about sixteen verses.  Its main focus is on God's deliverance from one's evil enemies, a frequent theme found among the psalms.  In addition, Psalm 140 contains three instances of the word "Selah."

Friday, October 7, 2016

Ezekiel 32: The Ash Heap Of History

Ezekiel's dismal message to Pharaoh continues in chapter 32: The nation of Egypt is going down!

Ezekiel 31: The Lessons Of History

You may be wondering what all these ancient prophecies from Ezekiel have to do with us today.  Many of them are about specific situations in the sixth century before Christ to nations that no longer even exist.  For instance, in chapter 31, Ezekiel is sharing a message from the Lord to Egypt using a parable about the long-dead empire of Assyria.  While it may have been "God's Word" 2600 years ago, is it really still God's Word to us today?  How is it relevant?

Ezekiel 30: God's Motivation

Again and again in the book of Ezekiel, you may notice that one phrase in particular is repeated: "Then they shall know that I am the Lord."  This phrase really stands out when you are looking for it.  What if we were to consider this to be God's ultimate motivation for His acts of judgment upon the nations?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ezekiel 29: The Broken Reed

After excoriating Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre and Sidon, it is Egypt's turn to come under the withering glare of the prophet.

Ezekiel 28: The Sin Of Pride

Ezekiel 28 reminds us that one of the chief sins we can commit is pride.

Ezekiel 27: The First World Trade Center

Before New York City, before London, before Rome - there was one ancient city that was regarded as a center of world trade: Tyre.  "When your wares came from the seas, you satisfied many peoples; with your abundant wealth and merchandise you enriched the kings of the earth" (vs. 33).

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ezekiel 26: Tyre Down

Ezekiel has a simple message to the proud city of Tyre, currently exulting in Judah's downfall: You're next.

Ezekiel 25: Pulpit Fiction?

You may remember an iconic, very R-rated scene from the 1994 movie, "Pulp Fiction."  One of the lead characters, a hit man named Jules Winnfield played by Samuel L. Jackson, launches into a fiery speech quoting the Bible.  He says, "There's a passage I got memorized.  Ezekiel 25:17.  The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."  

There's only one problem.  That is NOT Ezekiel 25:17!