Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20: Ezekiel 40:28 – 41; Psalm 118:15-29; Proverbs 28:3-5; James 4



Overview

            Ezekiel: Ezekiel is being shown a vision in which a “man” measures the future temple. He is guided through the inner court by the south gate. The rooms, windows are all measured. Palm trees were on the door jambs. The same happened on the east side and then the north.
            There was a chamber in each gateway where the burnt and sin offerings were slaughtered. There were 8 tables for slaughtering and four tables with the utensils needed. There was a room facing south for the priests who care for the temple and one facing north for the priests who care for the altar, the sons of Zadok. They are the only ones that can come near the Lord.
            He then measured the temple from the entrance with its 10 steps and pillars. Then he measured the outer part of the sanctuary then the inner called the Most Holy Place. He measured the walls (9 feet thick), side rooms, supports on all three levels. The upper levels were wider than the lower ones. He measured the foundations.
            He measured a building facing the temple on the west. And then the outside of the temple, courts, and buildings. He measured anything and everything that could be measured. He measured the distance between cherubim and palm trees carved around the temple. He described a wooden altar that the man said was the table before the Lord. He described the doors of the temple and the entrance to the temple.
            Psalm: Salvation comes to the righteous from the Lord’s right hand. Even though disciplined, the Psalmist will survive to tell of God’s deeds.
            God’s righteousness is like a gate he must enter. When he does, he gives thanks to the Lord for his salvation. The Lord has made the rejected stone the cornerstone. It is marvelous and in the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice.
            The one who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed. For the Lord is God and his light shines on us. The Lord is our God, so we thank and extol him for his goodness and love.
            Proverbs: It is a horrible thing to have a poor person oppress another poor person because they will have even less than before. Lawbreakers uphold wicked people, but lawful people fight against wickedness. Wicked people don’t want true justice as those who seek the Lord.
            James: We have quarrel, fights, murder, and other evils because we don’t get what we want. We don’t ask God for the things we need or want and when we do, we ask with the wrong motives, to fulfill our lusts. That is called friendship with the world, which is hatred toward God. If we want to be like the world then we will be enemies with God.
            God has put his Spirit in us and he is jealous for it. Therefore, he gives us grace to be humble or he would have to oppose us when we are proud. We need to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will leave. When we come close to God, he comes close to us. We do this by getting rid of the sin in our hearts and our double-mindedness. We need to mourn over our sins instead of laughing about them. That is the way to humble ourselves and let God lift us up.
            We shouldn’t judge other Christians either. When we do, we are becoming judges in place of God. That is evil and breaks the law instead of obeying it. God is the only judge who can save or destroy.
            Anyone who thinks he can make plans like going someplace to make money is fooling himself. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, we may be dead because our lives are so fleeting. We should always submit those plans to God’s will rather than boasting about them because boasting is evil. Also, if we know what is right and don’t do it, that is sin also.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “In front of the Holy Place was something resembling an altar of wood … He said to me, ‘This is the table that is before the Lord.’” (Ezek 41:21-22).
            Psalm: “The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death” (Ps 118:18).
            Proverbs: “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely” (Prov 28:5).
            James: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Insight

            Ezekiel: This man that looks like bronze goes from place to place in the temple and Ezekiel records all the measurements and describes some of the features of the temple. From the beginning of this process the man has spoken only four times so far. He instructed Ezekiel to tell what he saw (Ezek 40:4), that two rooms were for the priests, descendants of Zadok, who took care of the temple and altar (Ezek 40:45-46), that they were in the Most Holy Place (Ezek 41:4), and that the wooden altar was before the Lord (Ezek 41:22).
            The lack of any other communication during this time of measuring makes his statements appear to have some significance. When this temple is built, there will be priest from the line of Zadok. Zadok was the priest that remained faithful to David when Adonijah tried to become king instead of Solomon. This faithfulness is seen in his descendants being the ones that serve close to the Lord.
            The significance of the Most Holy Place is seen when the man tells Ezekiel that they are standing there measuring it. Ezekiel must have been shaken because he should not have been there without the proper sacrifice. It is also worth noting what is missing. The Ark of the covenant is not described or the huge cherubim that were in Solomon’s temple. In fact, none of the furnishing of Solomon’s temple are listed or described.
            The wooden altar or table that is in the outer sanctuary is identified as the table that is before the Lord. This is odd because all the altars and table in the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple were covered with gold.
            These anomalies lead me to believe that this temple is going to be something quite different than the previously earthly temples. They were the point of meeting God through the sacrificial system. Though there is provision for sin sacrifices (Ezek 40:41), there isn’t a mercy seat on which to sprinkle the blood. Ezekiel is allowed in the Most Holy Place without bringing blood. Perhaps this is all because the new temple has not yet been dedicated, or it is showing that the new temple will belong to a new era.
            One thing is certain. We have a new covenant and whatever is going to happen with this temple will not change that. Because of the blood of Jesus, we who trust in Jesus for our salvation, will always be welcome in God’s presence.
            Psalm: There is one thing we can always count on when we face troubles. The Lord will use these to discipline us and develop our character. We’ve seen this in Romans 5:3-5, Hebrews 12:3-11, and James 1:2-4. This discipline is not necessarily punishment as some think of it, but is more like a personal trainer who toughens us to be able to handle the marathon of life. Its purpose is not to bring us to death but to give us a life that far exceeds anything we would have without it. Yes, we will die sometime, but that isn’t the purpose of discipline, that is our graduation ceremony.
            Proverbs: A few days ago, we read in Ezekiel that the Israelites were saying that God was not just. They didn’t like the fact that God has a different understanding of justice than they did. Theirs was corrupt because they wanted punishment for the innocent because their fathers or sons had done wrong. Proverbs 28:5 spells it out for them. They are wicked, so they can’t really understand what justice is. We are fortunate because God does know what true justice is, but he also sent Jesus to die for our sins, and by his death we can be justified when we trust in him. Yet, even in this, it is only by God’s grace that we are able to believe. That doesn’t sound like justice to the world, but it is the way God works or we would all be lost forever.
            James: What is wrong with us when we can’t seem to get along with others, steal, lie, or do anything sinful? James makes it clear. We have desires in our hearts that we simply value higher than doing what is right. If we know what is right and don’t do it, it is a result of putting what we think is more important ahead of what God has told us is more important.
            Some of those desires may be encouraged in us by the devil, but we can’t really blame him because we go along with it. Just like Adam and Eve, the devil only made the suggestions and twisted God’s word. They made the choice and they didn’t have to sin. When we recognize our sinful desires, we need to go to God and ask for his grace to overcome our desires that are in opposition to his. If we don’t, then we are proud and think we can handle it on our own. We won’t get any grace in that situation and God will not draw close to us and the devil will keep on giving us more ideas of how to sin.
            We always need to be drawing close to God. If we don’t, we won’t even be able to recognize the sinful desires. God’s word is able to save us only when we have it and listen to him.

Application

             I need to do just as James says. I need to draw close to God. If I don’t, then I won’t have the grace to overcome the sin in my heart. I will listen to the devil and add to those desires more worldly desires than I had before. Before I know it, I’ll be an enemy of God. Lord, help me to avoid that.

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