Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 24 November 18:
1. Ezekiel 47:1-12 – “Behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple…. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes…. 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.” The river of life flows from the temple, bringing life to all who draw near to it and providing all that is needed for life. Jesus is the Living Water, and true followers of Christ are now the temple (more on this topic below). Our job is the allow the living water of Jesus to flow through us, not to attempt to create our own ‘water’ to give to others. We should not seek to share mere ‘good ideas’ with others, our personal opinions, or the latest humanistic answers to life’s problems; nor should we merely seek to make people feel a bit more comfortable apart from Jesus. Our mission is to speak as Ambassadors for Christ, using only His words, not ours. Of those who exchange the Gospel for moralism, concepts of ethics, or fuzzy ideas of an all-accepting god, the Bible says, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) The only thing we have to offer the world is Jesus, nothing else matters.
2. Ezekiel 47:6, 9 — “’Son of man, have you seen this?’… wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live.” Much of Ezekiel’s prophesies (chapters 34-48) deal with the future Kingdom of God on earth and should be studied in unison and in context with the other prophesies in the Bible related to the same topic. Similar to how Bible prophesy enabled the ‘wise men’ and Herod’s religious scholars to determine the time and location of Jesus’ birth, diligent study of Bible prophesy can give us a good understanding of what will happen in the future; however, most prophesy is written in such a manner that you will ‘know it when you see it.’ Most of it is intended so that current believers can maintain hope while they wait and so that future believers who will experience these events first-hand will be able to recognize the ‘signs of the times.’ Jesus warned that no one knew when He would return but the Father. Of course, we must be careful not to attempt to make prophesy ‘fit’ with current circumstances where it really doesn’t. I once witnessed a patrol of troops (having been air-dropped at night in the wrong location) navigate confidently several miles from a map of an entirely different area, all the while convincing themselves that what they saw around them was what was portrayed on the map, though it wasn’t. Their problem was that they continually made course adjustments from their perceptions of where they were, based off of what they were interpreting from the wrong map – their decisions where guided by their imaginations and false interpretations rather than the truth. There was nothing wrong with the map; it accurately depicted the intended terrain. The patrol simply applied the map out of context and used their imaginations to make it fit their current location and situation. We don’t want to do that with Bible prophesy. We must judge all prophesy from the context of the whole Bible which is why it is so important to diligently study the whole Bible, not just morsels from daily devotionals or sermons. And the Holy Spirit, rather than our imaginations, must guide our understanding as to how prophesy applies to our current situation.
3. Ezekiel 47:15-20 — The divided land is similar to Numbers 34 but does not include land east of the Jordan so that the people are unified.
4. Ezekiel 47:22, 23 – “You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the sojourner resides, there you shall assign him his inheritance, declares the Lord God.” God commanded that the aliens who lived among the Jews and who assimilated into the faith and culture were to be taken in as part of the family. God’s plan treats settled aliens as native-born.
5. Ezekiel 48 — God rearranged the land so that the sons of Leah and Rachel are closer to the temple and the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah are farther away. Do you understand why?
6. Ezekiel 48:1-7, 24-28 — God gave each tribe equal land.
7. Ezekiel 48:14 – “They shall not sell or exchange any of it. They shall not alienate this choice portion of the land, for it is holy to the Lord.” God gave man no rights over the temple property. You are God’s temple. No other person has rights over God’s temple which is your body. You have no independent rights over yourself or your body either – it is solely dedicated for God’s will on earth. Your authority over your body is only to do God’s will with your body. Most unbelievers could neither understand such a statement nor tolerate it.
8. Ezekiel 48:11 – “This shall be for the consecrated priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept my charge, who did not go astray when the people of Israel went astray, as the Levites did. And it shall belong to them as a special portion from the holy portion of the land, a most holy place, adjoining the territory of the Levites.”
– Ezekiel extols the sons of Zadok as staunch opponents of paganism during the era of its pagan worship and indicates their birthright to unique duties and privileges in the future temple (Ezekiel 42:13, 43:19). Because of their faithfulness, they earned praise and responsibilities over the Levites.
– The choicest position, a most holy place, is given to the faithful sons of Zadok who remained faithfully obedient to God despite the fact that all the other priests didn’t. Ezekiel mentions the sons of Zadok three times, despite the fact that he was not a descendant of Zadok. You can review the story of Zadok’s faithfulness in opposition to popular opinion in 2 Samuel 15-1 Kings 4. Do we have the faith in God and the substance of character to go the way we think is right even if everyone else goes the other direction? That was the resolve of Zadok, and we are in desperate need of that kind of leadership right now. Where are the voices like John the Baptist who would challenge the Herods of our day?
9. Ezekiel 48:35 – “The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” One of our challenges is that Bible prophesy uses a lot of symbolism. Ezekiel 47 and 48 use a lot of symbolism when describing the future Temple and Holy City where the Lord will dwell – “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord Is There.” One important example of that symbolism is that of the Life Giving Water. We are very fortunate because we as Christians have been given the greater revelation that the Life Giving Water is the Spirit which flows from Jesus – “…but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life…. Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 4:14; John 7:37-39) From our more enlightened position, we can learn more from Ezekiel than people could have when it was written. Consider what Ezekiel reveals about the Spirit flowing from Jesus – a small ‘trickle’ emanating from the Temple turns into a mighty river (swimming depths) which follows a geographically impossible path (countering gravity) and brings incredible life to everything it touches. Compare this picture with the parables Jesus gives about the Kingdom. In the prophesy the river “flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea” – impossible. (v. 47:8) The sea is the Dead Sea, and to get there from Jerusalem via the route Ezekiel describes, it would have to flow down to the Kidron Valley, up over the Mount of Olives, and then cross through a series of other valleys and mountain ranges. Gravity and other forces and pressures make this impossible for an ordinary river, but this is no ordinary river, and that is further confirmed by what happens when the river reaches the Dead Sea. The salinity of the Dead Sea is so great that nothing lives in it. But when the river from the temple reaches it, the water is instantly transformed and can support fish “of very many kinds” (vv. 47:8–10). Fruit trees line the river that flows through what was a desert in Ezekiel’s era and remains so today (v. 47:12). This vision describes the power of the Spirit flowing from Jesus and merely ‘trickling’ down the walls of the Temple – Wow! One day, God will rebuild His Temple (literally and/or figuratively) on a New Earth, but until that day, what does the New Testament say about the temple on earth?
— 1 Corinthians 3:16 — Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
— 1 Corinthians 3:17 — If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19 — Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
— 2 Corinthians 3:3 — And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
— Ephesians 2:18-22 — For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
— Revelation 3:12 — The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
10. Proverbs 24:10 – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” You don’t know what you are made of until you are tested. Strength is something you must build up before you need it.
11. Proverbs 24:21 – “My son, fear the Lord and the king.” Christians strive to obey all authority. Christians only defy authority when that authority demands disobedience to God. Christians obey God above all else.
12. Proverbs 24:29 – “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.’” This is easy to understand but often hard to do. It is easier for us to imagine obeying this command with big things – if someone robs us, we can accept not robbing them in return. However, it is in little everyday ways that we fail to obey this command. When someone speaks harshly to us, we are tempted to speak harshly back. When someone blatantly takes our parking spot, we want to yell at them. When someone puts their own interests ahead of ours, we, in turn, want to put our own interests ahead of theirs, though the Bible tells us to put the needs of others first. Today, focus on responding only with selfless, gracious love when others act selfishly and mistreat you.
13. Psalm 137 – God wants you to share your resentment of others with Him and turn it over to Him. Remember, God know what is happening to you and remains in complete control. Vengeance belongs to Him and not you. Be honest with God in your prayers, for your sake, not His. Praying to God is not like speaking to another person. You can’t hide what is really on your heart – He knows your heart far better than you do. When you are honest with God in prayer, it might be the only time you are truly honest with yourself. This confession is good for your soul. Remember, in prayer, you are in the presences of the Omniscient, Almighty, Holy God. Present to Him the full sacrifice of self in prayer. Only pride causes you to pray vanities and platitudes. It takes total humility to freely expose the whole ugly you to Him, and it takes confidence in His love, mercy and grace.
14. Psalm 137:1-6 — There are two pains: the small daily pains of disciplined obedience or the crushing pain of regret while reflecting upon what you have lost to sin. Choose the path of the disciple who is willing to live the disciplined life for the Glory of God and to experience the fullness of joy.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 Nov 18: Today, resolve to be a ‘son (or daughter) of Zadok. (Ezekiel 48:11)