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
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.
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!
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
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!
"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?
...He's the only one you need!
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
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.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
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
Monday, October 17, 2016
Sunday, October 16, 2016
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
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?
Friday, October 14, 2016
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
Monday, October 10, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016
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
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?
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
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
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!
There's only one problem. That is NOT Ezekiel 25:17!