Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November 21: Ezekiel 42 – 43; Psalm 119:1-16; Proverbs 28:6-7; James 5



Overview

            Ezekiel: Ezekiel continues to describe the measurement of the temple and the surrounding building. The adjoining buildings had three levels with the upper level rooms being narrower than the lower. The man explained that these rooms facing the temple courts were the priests’ rooms where they eat the holy offerings. They also store grain and other offerings in them. This is also where they change their garments so that they don’t wear the holy ones outside of the holy temple area. He then measured the outside of the whole temple area and it was 500 cubits square (750 feet).
            The man took Ezekiel to the east gate and he saw the glory of the Lord coming from the east. His glory lighted up the land. The vision was the same as previous visions. The Spirit took him to the inner court and the glory filled the temple. He heard a voice from the temple. The Lord told him he would dwell here forever. Israel will never defile his name again in any of their evil practices. They did it before and that is why he burned them in his anger. They need to get rid of all their evil and he will be with them forever.
            The Lord told Ezekiel to describe the temple so Israel would be ashamed of their sins. When they hear it and if they are ashamed, then he is to tell them all the details including the laws of the temple so they can do them. The land on the top of the mountain will be holy.
            The Lord then gave Ezekiel the measurements of the altar. He told Ezekiel that he was to provide a bull to the family of Zadok to consecrate the altar on the first day. Ezekiel will perform the purification ritual with blood. On the second day he will do the same with a goat. Afterward, he will offer a bull and a ram. The priests will offer them up as burnt offerings. For seven days he will provide a male goat for a sin offering, a bull and a ram also. On the 8th day forward, the priest will make the offerings and peace offerings for the people. The Lord will then accept him.
            Psalm: Those who follow the Law of the Lord are blessed. They do what is right. The Psalmist wants to do that and avoid shame. He will be upright in heart and ask not to be forsaken.
            He can keep his ways pure by living by God’s word, seeking God with his whole heart, and memorizing God’s word. He asks for the Lord to teach him as he speaks of God’s word, delights in it, meditates on it, and fixes his eyes on it.
            Proverbs: It is better to be poor and honest than rich and a crook. A good son keeps the law and understands why, but the son who is a glutton brings same to his father.
            James: Rich people should mourn because they will lose it all. Riches rot and corrode their lives. They use them to defraud the people who work for them and these things will be their judge before the Lord. Living for self like this just adds fat to the fire of judgment guaranteeing conviction of murdering the righteous people who don’t resist.
            We need to be patient and wait for the Lord to come back. Farmers are patient and have to wait for the rains. We must not give up because the Lord’s coming is close. We shouldn’t grumble against each other because we will be judged for it. The Judge is near. The prophets were patient in waiting and suffering. The ones that were steadfast we consider blessed, like Job. We see that the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
            We should not make oaths by heaven earth or anything else. When we say “yes” or “no,” that should be enough. Doing more will bring condemnation.
            If anyone is having problems, they should pray and if all is going well, then they should praise. If someone is sick, they should have the elders pray for them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. A faithful pray will result in healing and forgiveness of sins. Therefore, we should confess our sins and pray for each other. When a righteous person prays, miracles happen. Elijah was a righteous prayer warrior praying for both rain to stop for three years and for it to start again.
            We should make every effort to bring back a someone from wandering from the truth. It will save his should and cover all his sins.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out” (Ezek 43:11).
            Psalm: “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” (Ps 119:10).
            Proverbs: “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways” (Prov 28:6).
            James: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you” (James 5:1).

Insight

            Ezekiel: The Lord told Ezekiel that if the people are ashamed, then he should tell them everything about the temple including the laws. In a way, we come to Christ in the same way. When we hear about our sins and that Jesus died to bring us to God and we see that we need to repent, we are saved. We don’t know everything about living a Christian life. We are like the Israelites who were supposed to see the big picture without the detail. That is sufficient to convict them sin. The message of the cross is sufficient to convicted us of our sins. What comes next is sanctification. The Israelites were then supposed to be informed about all the regulations of the temple. After we are saved, we are then informed about how to live godly lives. We find out about trials that mature us. We find out about our own response in putting off our old life and putting on Christ. We find out about the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to resist temptations. While they had laws, we have the Spirit. The purpose for each is to live holy lives.
            Regarding the timing of this temple, I noticed something very interesting. Ezekiel is the one who is to lead the way in purifying the altar for the sacrifices. When the tabernacle was constructed in the desert, Moses had to do the same thing. The fact that the Lord tells Ezekiel to perform this ritual is significant. The reason is that there is no record of Ezekiel returning to Jerusalem and even if he did, he would have been long dead before the temple was reconstructed. The temple after the return from Babylon was nothing like this one. This is a strong indication that this temple must be in our future and exist during the millennium if Ezekiel is the one to purify it. He would have to do this as a resurrected saint.
            Psalm: Halfhearted obedience to God or halfhearted desire to see and follow Jesus just isn’t what the Lord wants from us. James told us that a double-minded person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord (James 1:7-8). Jesus said that anyone who calls him Lord should do what he says (Luke 6:46). The only way we can live pure lives that are pleasing to God is with a whole heart. Otherwise, we are playing footsie with the world and that makes us enemies with God. We need to do as David said if we want to be wholehearted. We should be memorizing God’s word (Ps 119:11), using that to guard our hearts (Ps 119:9), learning God’s will for us (Ps 119:12), sharing the truth with others (Ps 119:13), delighting in God and his word more than anything else (Ps 119:14, keeping him focused in our minds (Ps 119:15), and not forgetting (Ps 119:16).
            Proverbs: In our world that judges a person’s success on how well they do financially, this proverb turns it all upside down. It isn’t only riches that make people walk in crooked ways. It is also power and prestige. Even poor people judge their success by what their peers think of them. When we are not living our lives for the Lord, we will put all those things ahead of simply being honest. The sad truth for people who don’t know Jesus is that real honesty and integrity can’t happen without Jesus in their hearts.
            James: James comes to the conclusion that rich people are in deep trouble spiritually. His warning ties is with Proverbs 28:6. This is not a universal truth that James proclaims, but it probably fits more people than it doesn’t. For unbelievers it is absolutely true, even if the person isn’t fantastically wealthy. The recent #MeToo news that keeps popping up daily emphasizes that men who are rich and in a position of power and influence think they can do just about anything and get away with it. While this covers only sexual perversion, James covers all kinds of sins that come from people who are rich in this world but are paupers spiritually. The sad part is that some of these people are probably professing Christian who have not made a commitment to holy living.
            What should we do? James tells us at the end of his letter. When we see someone who is wandering from the truth, we need to go to them and encourage them to repent and come back. I’ve seen people who were wandering, but they didn’t realize how far the were from living a godly life. They weren’t evil, but the riches of his world had distracted them to the point where they were no longer reading the Bible. They weren’t praying. They went to church on Sunday morning and the rest of the week belonged to them. I’ve seen these people warned and they appreciated the warning. They took steps to get back on the right path. It’s never too late to follow what David told us in Psalm 119:9-16.

Application

             I need to keep my eyes on the Lord just like everyone else. The routines of the world and the things we have to do to live in it can easily drag me away if I don’t. Writing a blog about what I’ve written is a tremendous help.

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