Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ezekiel -- 47 and 48

Study 34 – Ezekiel 47:1-12

  1. The river of Ezekiel 47 has its origins beneath the altar of sacrifice. True spiritual renewal must begin at the point of sacrifice.

  2. The further the water went out from the temple the deeper it became and the more it affected. Likewise, we should continue to thrive and ‘deepen’ the further we go from our initial contact with the Cross of Christ.

  3. Christ had His greatest impact upon the poor and the disenfranchised of His day. He once said, “It is not the healthy that need a physician, but the sick.” The church in our day must do better at reaching out to those that society has discarded.

Study 35 – Ezekiel 47:13-48:35

  1. Our world is in constant political turmoil and the U.S. has recently fought two wars that were begun by terrorists over reasons which could have been avoided had Israel remained obedient to the  verses of Ezekiel 47:21-23 when they returned to their homeland following WWII. The Palestinians never would have been relocated on the modern day reservations of Gaza and the West Bank had the returning Israelites obeyed the command of the Lord as outline in these verses. Their failure to do so is a source of constant tension in our world today and has cost untold loss of life and limb as well as trillions of dollars which could otherwise have been spent on meeting the needs of the poor among us.

    As the Apostle Paul states, “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” Israel was meant to foreshadow Christ and open its arms to the aliens in the same way that Christ opens His arms to every tribe, nation, and tongue. The Church more often than not stands on the wrong side of this issue in regards to the role of Israel in the world. Yes, they are God’s chosen people, but they were chosen to foreshadow Christ and to point towards Him. They were to model the Messiah, instead they chose to reject Him and their rejection of the aliens living among them is a reflection of that. The words of Ezekiel are no less important to the future of Israel today than they were a few thousand years ago.

  2. Seven to the North and Five to the South. Judah and Benjamin – were closest to the central zone containing the sanctuary. Judah was singled out because of the coming King – Jesus and Benjamin was singled out because it represented King David.

  3. The new name to be given to the city was “THE LORD IS THERE.”
    The purpose of the last vision of Ezekiel was to reinforce the centrality of the presence of God among His people. For there to be life and vitality among the people of Israel the altar and the Ark of the Covenant must be at the center of their society. From that altar would flow streams of living water that would bring healing to their land. The important thing was the presence of God – not the land. What a pity that Israel has still not learned that vital lesson. They fight for land that they refuse to allow the aliens to have an inheritance in yet they express little concern for the lack of God’s presence among them. Ezekiel would truly be grieved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Ezekiel

Study 31 – Ezekiel 42:1-43:12

  1. There was an emphasis on the holiness of God  and the separation of the holy from the profane in the temple worship system. Only the priests could enter the Lord’s presence. Even the clothes that he wore in the presence of the Lord were to be removed.

  2. The death of Christ on the cross removed this barrier as our great high priest became our ‘once and for all’ sacrifice for sin. The cross removed the barriers that separate us from the presence of a holy God.

Study 32 – Ezekiel 43:13-44:31

  1. Before the altar could be used for the sacrifices of the people the altar had to be cleansed so that the priests could offer a sacrifice for their own sins before offering one for the sins of their people.

  2. There are long lasting consequences to sin even in the midst of reconciliation. Israel was allowed to return, but certain people only returned in a ‘limited sense’ while others were able to experience all of the blessings of God. Sin has consequences!

Study 33 – Ezekiel 45 and 46

  1. One cannot be a follower of Jehovah without being concerned about the injustices in our world. To turn one’s back on oppression is to turn one’s back toward the Lord. Honesty in advertising and concern for the poor among us are concerns of the Lord as well.

  2. The purpose of sacrifice was to make atonement on behalf of the people of Israel. Without a sacrifice of atonement there is no way that we can approach the presence of the Lord. Christ provided the sacrifice that allows us access into the presence of the Father.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Ezekiel

Study 23 – Ezekiel 34

  1. The leaders of Israel had placed all of their own wants, desires, needs, and concerns over and above those of everybody else. They were neck deep in the sin of selfishness. They remind me of the United States Congress.

  2. The Messiah offers hope to the disenfranchised and those that are not able to buy their way into affluence. The Lord promises to take care of those that the world deems as unimportant, but He also reminds them that as He provides for them that they must remember not to shoulder others away from the trough or to muddy the clean waters from which they have already had the privilege to drink.

Study 24 – Ezekiel 35:1-36:15

  1. Edom was being judged for: harboring ancient hostilities that began between Jacob and Esau, for turning over Israel to their enemies, and for desiring the lands of Israel and Judah for their own. While the Lord may, for a season, allow the wicked to prosper; you can rest assured that they will be punished in the end and that the people of God will be blessed after they learn obedience through the trial.

  2. There is nothing lacking at all for those that walk in obedience to the ways of the Lord. Every need will be met and the Lord will eternally be our sustainer.

Study 25 – Ezekiel 36:16-38

  1. The nation of Israel was cast into exile due to the idolatry of the people. The Lord brought them back in order to glorify His name. They were cleansed from their sin and restored to their country. The story of Israel reflect the story of the Christian that was separated from God due to his sin, cleansed from his unrighteousness and brought back into right relationship with the Lord.

  2. The restoration of the people of God would cause the surrounding nations to recognize the delivering power of the Lord and would therefore bring glory to the Lord.

Study 26 – Ezekiel 37

  1. Israel had reached the point of hopelessness. Their prospects of return to their own land were as good as the prospects of a dead army to defeat a powerful enemy. Their position was a completely hopeless one apart from the power of the Lord.

  2. The regeneration of Israel came in their return to a state in which the grip of death seemed more remote (the bones grew flesh) and in the second stage of the breath of life being breathed into them. Ezekiel was intimately involved in both stages.

  3. The five great features of the Messianic kingdom in verses 24 -27:
    a. Christ will be King
    b. Christ will be Shepherd
    c. The Land will be restored
    d. There will be a new covenant
    e. I will dwell in the midst of them

Study 27 --  Ezekiel 38

  1. The Lord causes foreign kingdoms to advance against the nation of Israel, but they are convinced that it was their own decision to invade.

  2. The Lord will defeat the enemy and He will bring His people into a land of blessing.

Study 28 – Ezekiel 39

  1. The defeat of God will be so overwhelming that Israel will use the weapons of their enemies as fuel for a period of seven years. The birds will pick the bones clean of the dead armies. There will be an entire industry that will be set up just to bury the dead enemy. This task will take seven months to complete and not a single bone will be left. All of these things show the extent to which God will punish those that come against His Covenant People. It proves that God is both a jealous God and a covenant keeping God.

  2. ‘I hid my face’ indicates that God withheld His blessing. Verse 29  is a declaration that He has decided to pour out His Spirit upon the nation of Israel once again.

Study 29 – Ezekiel 40:1-47

  1. Ezekiel had the two-fold responsibility of listening and transmitting the message. He was to pay meticulous attention to the what he both saw and heard in the vision.

  2. N/A

  3. God is clearly a god of order and not of disorder.

Study 30 – Ezekiel 40:48-41:26

  1. N/A

  2. Ezekiel did not enter into the inner sanctuary because he was not the high priest of Israel. The death of Christ on the cross removes that restriction from us.

  3. Both inwardly and outwardly we should reflect the presence of the life giving power of Christ in the midst of the wilderness of this world.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Ezekiel

Study 22 – Ezekiel 33

  1. Repentance is the only hope that Israel has of escaping the judgment of the Lord.
    This repentance must be followed by obedience. A return to the old ways is unacceptable.

  2. In verse 10 Israel is wondering how they will survive and the Lord says that repentance will offer them victory. In verse 24 Israel is confident in their numbers and the Lord tells them to prepare for destruction due to their disobedient behavior.

  3. The prophet becomes bolder as his audience size increases and as the audience size increases the more curious the people become. The problem is that large crowds and curious onlookers do not always translate into repentance.

Search The Scriptures -- Psalms

Study 70 – Psalm 89:38-52

1.      The psalmist desperately wants to see a turnaround in the situation in Israel before his death. He asked the Lord to return to “your former great love . . .” Thus, the psalmist appeals to God’s mercy and love. He also appeals for the Lord to remember the promises made to David.

2.   God sees the beginning from the end and will do whatever is necessary in the short term to achieve His will in the long-term.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Psalms

Study 65 – Psalm 84

1.      To dwell in the House of the Lord is likened to dwelling in the palace of the King. In the palace of the King protection, peace, and abundance are available to all that dwell there and everyone on the grounds praises the King. The same is true for the House of The Lord – praise abounds!

2.      In the same way that Israel was provided for in the desert we can be assured that the Lord will provide every step of our journey. He will bring the rain, the food, and the provisions that we need to reach our heavenly home. No need to worry!
The journey will be well worth it!

Study 66 – Psalm 85

1.      The psalmist appeals to the Lord for the forgiveness and the restoration of the people of God by reminding the Lord of the past ways in which He showed His mercy and His grace toward a disobedient people. It is my prayer that God would bless that part of the American Church that is repenting of its past missteps. I pray that He will once again visit us with His power and will once again allow us to be mighty participants in His harvest.

2.      The Lord promises restoration and blessing to His people, but that is contingent upon them not returning to their former ‘folly.’ The Lord takes no pleasure in withholding His blessings – quite the contrary – He takes tremendous pleasure in pouring out His blessings.

Study 67 – Psalm 86 and 87

1.      The psalmist asks for help, mercy, and the return of joy. He has confidence that the Lord will respond because the Lord is ‘abounding in Love.’ The psalmist is also well aware of the worship and praise that the intervention of the Lord on his behalf would bring to the throne room of God.

2.      What a wonderful psalm! The psalmist boldly declares that the nations of the world will become a part of the family of God. Psalm 87:6 is particularly stirring: “The Lord will write in the register of the peoples; ‘This one was born in Zion.’” Wow! I’m glad that my name appears on that list in spite of the fact that my DNA does not include a single gene from the nation of Israel.

Study 68 – Psalm 88

1.      The psalmist is definitely having a bad day! He writes as if the doctor has just told him that he will be dead within the week! His friends are gone, his money is gone, his hope is gone, and there is nothing left but death. Yet, the psalmist still cries out to the Lord for help. The reality is that the Lord is our only help in times of utter distress. The psalmist appeals to the Lord by saying that the dead cannot make His name known and offer Him praise.

2.      The psalmist fails to acknowledge that death opens up the doors to the House of God in heaven where praise is continuously uttered. He appeals to the Lord for healing and deliverance claiming that in death no one is able to offer the Lord praise. He is of course referring to the fact that praise cannot be offered to the Lord amongst the ungodly of this earth. The New Testament, of course, teaches us that “to live is Christ, but to die is – gain!” This is something that the psalmist, and most Americans today, seem to have forgotten. We cling to life as if this life was all there was to offer – how tragic.

Study 69 – Psalm 89:1-37

1.      God’s power, justice, faithfulness and love are highlighted in the opening 18 verses of this psalm. Those that follow in the path marked out by the Lord are assured that they walk in the strength and the glory of God and are assured blessing.

2.   The promise that God made to David was one that not even the horrendous disobedience of his sons could keep the Lord from fulfilling. The fulfillment of God’s promise to David was ultimately fulfilled through Christ who now sits forever on the throne exercising justice on our behalf.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Psalms

Study 62 – Psalm 78:40-72

1.      They served as reminders of the love, mercy, and grace of God in the history of Israel!

2.      Idolatry caused the greatest disaster of all – God ‘rejected’ Israel completely in verse 59. In His grace God raised up the dynasty of David to bring the people back to where they needed to be by destroying the enemy and ridding Israel of idolatry. This is a foreshadowing of Christ defeating our enemies upon the cross.

Study 63 – Psalm 79 and 80

1.      In the New Testament God’s plan for Israel had been accomplished in Christ. Now God was going to use the promise to Israel – Christ – to save the world. The goal is not to destroy the disobedient, but to redeem them.

2.      Israel feels abandoned in this psalm and they are reminded of how God cared for them in the past and the glory which they once possessed: If God had redeemed them once then certainly He could do it again.

Study 64 – Psalm 81-83

1.      God demands praise of His people for their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and His provision in the desert. He challenges them to obedience with the assurance that their obedience to Him will bring about the defeat of their enemies.

2.      God demands that earthly rulers care for the oppressed and the needy. Failure to do so will lead to anarchy and the eventual destruction of the very fabric that holds society together. The only hope in solving the social ills of our society is obedience to the commands of the Lord.

3.  The psalmist pleads for relief by stating that the destruction of the enemies of Israel will increase the renown of the name of the Lord in the land. God calls for repentance and obedience on the part of His people. God is always ready to act on behalf of those that He has chosen, but He will only do so if we are an obedient people. Our prayer on behalf of the wicked today is no longer for their destruction, but for the destruction of what motivates them. Our war is not against flesh and blood, but against what makes that flesh and blood wicked.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Psalm 78:1-39

Study 61 – Psalm 78:1-39

1.      The main purpose of the first eight verses is to call the people to pass on the blessings and the commands of God to the next generation. He does not want future generations to make the same mistakes of their forefathers. It is vital that we explain the teachings of God and the reason for our faith to our children. The next generation needs to have their own experience, but they need us to point them in the right direction. They have questions and we must provide them with sound biblical answers.

2.      God delivered the people from Egypt; He opened a way across the Red Sea; He led they by the miraculous presence of a cloud by day that lit the way by night; He opened up rocks to provide water for millions of people in the middle of a desert. Yet, the people demanded that the Lord provide meat because they were not happy with the manna from heaven. Because of their sin He destroyed a generation in the desert but was merciful and did not utterly wipe the nation from the pages of history.

All of our lives are like those of Israel. God blesses, but we are not satisfied and demand more. Praise be to the Lord that His mercy is as powerful today as it was in the days of the early history of Israel or none of us would live to see tomorrow. For that we all should give Him praise today!

Search The Scriptures -- Psalms 73 - 77

Study 57 – Psalm 73

1.      The root of the psalmist’s distress was that he was afflicted while trying to live a righteous life while the wicked were being blessed while flaunting their sin.

2.      The psalmist discovered his error when he entered the sanctuary of the Lord. When he entered the Lord’s presence he was enlightened as to the ultimate future of the wicked. He realized that the wicked were going to be severely judged in the end and that he would receive the forgiveness and protection of the Lord.

3.      When we have difficulties understanding the ways of the Lord, the best place to find our answer is in His sanctuary. It is there in His presence that those things that are difficult to understand are made clear.

Study 58 – Psalm 74

1.      In the opening eleven verses of this psalm, the psalmist goes to great lengths to describe what it must have looked like in the final battle for Jerusalem and the utter devastation of the sanctuary of the Lord and the city of Zion. Yet, in spite of these moments when it seems as if God was nowhere to be found, the psalmist reminds himself of all of the wonderful ways in which God has intervened for His people throughout history. As horrific as the current disaster was, there was comfort in knowing that God was always triumphant over every disaster of the past. The word makes clear, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world!” There is indeed great comfort in knowing that.

2.      The psalmist is well aware that God loves His children and will not abandon those to whom He has entered into covenant with. The purpose of His judgment is to bring His children back in line with their role in the covenant in order that God may be able to fulfill His role of covenant blessing.

Study 59 – Psalm 75 and 76

1.      God chooses the time and means of His judgment and both are always perfect! The obvious response is to break out in praise and be ready to aid in the battle!

2.      In 76:1-3 the psalmist is ‘sounding a trumpet blast’ of victory declaring that the Lord has won! In verses 4-6 he describes the battle field strewn with the fallen enemy. In verses 7-9 he declares the Majesty and Superiority of the Lord and His right alone to judge the earth. In the final three verses the psalmist calls his listeners to a renewed commitment to and fear of the Lord.

3.      It is the Lord that exalts and that brings low. He exalts the humble and humbles the exalted. He makes the last first and the first last. This type of language should definitely curb our fleshly ambitions and cause us to realize that getting to ‘the top’ requires the lifting of a cross and a life of servanthood. It is the servant that becomes the leader in the Kingdom.

Study 60 – Psalm 77

1.      The psalmist was truly in the depths of depression. He had come to wonder if God had forgotten Israel and if His anger would withhold His compassion forever. He found an answer to his questions by remembering the deeds of the Lord.

2.   God intervenes in every aspect of His creation from the people, to the storm clouds, the seas, and the quaking of the very earth itself. There is truly no other like Him. The very elements are at His command and if need be He will shake the very earth in order to get the attention of His people. When we are depressed we need to remember this psalm as the only way out of the depths of depression are by remembering the greatness of our loving God.

Search The Scriptures -- Ezekiel

Study 21 – Ezekiel 31 and 32

  1. The destruction of the ‘tree’ or Assyria in chapter 31 was due to its arrogance and refusal to submit to Yahweh.  Their destruction was intended to be a form of redemption for others in that they were to learn from the judgment of Assyria that obedience to Yahweh was a must.

  2. God’s dominion is over the entire earth. His dominion is clearly not limited to Israel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ezekiel 29 and 30

Study 20 – Ezekiel 29 and 30

  1. In the opening verses Pharaoh is described as a crocodile that dominates the waters of Egypt. The Lord tells him that he will be removed from the safety of the waters of Egypt and that all of those around him would cling to him in their worship of him and they too would be drug out upon the land where they would no longer be able to survive. This was to be fulfilled at the hands of the King of Babylon.  It was the arrogance of Pharaoh that was the principal cause of this judgment. The nation of Israel and the surrounding nations that depended upon the strength of this great nation would no longer come to it for help. The nation that they had trusted in was the reason for their demise.

  2. God uses the heathen nations as instruments to accomplish His will. He dispenses His mercy, grace, and judgment in a just way to all peoples. The requirement for all is the same whether they are of Israel or Babylon – acknowledgment of and obedience to – Him!

  3. Apart from the Lord we can do nothing! When we decide that our knowledge and the further pursuit of our own wisdom apart from obedience to God will win the day then we place ourselves in the position of Adam that went from being provided for by the Lord in Eden to needing to provide for himself. When we head down that path we are destined to produce more weeds than fruit from our labor.