November 16, 2018
A BENEDICTION OF SANCTIFICATION
This prayer for our equipping and sanctification reveals God’s method for making us “pleasing to him.” It is none other than the power of Christ in us. We can pray this prayer too. Praying it for ourselves, we yield our wills to His, and acknowledge our dependence on Christ’s power. Praying it for others, we focus on Christ-at-work in others, rather than their shortcomings.
November 15, 2018
THE GOD OF THE OLD IS THE GOD OF THE NEW
The apostle quoted Moses, “For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24), clearly showing that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The image of God as a devouring ( KJV “consuming”) fire is one that seeks to reveal the strictness of his justice, the purity of his holiness and the passion of his love for us. We may boldly approach him through Christ, our Great High Priest, yet we do so reminded of how Moses approached the mountain of God with fear and trembling.
November 14, 2018
PREACHING FOR GOD’S APPROVAL ALONE
Ezekiel, like many of God’s prophets, was not respected by his contemporaries. He was tasked with making known God’s future plans for men and nations that would soon come to pass. Yet, no generation wants its comfort disturbed. They would rather risk the warnings of an approaching hurricane than leave their beach vacation early. Today, Ezekiel is respected. His prophecies have been borne out. But people have not changed. God’s Word is still warning us to get ready, while much of humanity continues in its deafness to His voice. This does not excuse us from being like Ezekiel and warning them anyway. We do this for God’s approval, not theirs.
November 13, 2018
A FUNERAL DIRGE FOR A FALLEN KING
The Lord gave the prophet Ezekiel the words for a dirge to be sung for the king of Tyre. Yet, the words to the funeral song seem to at times describe the state of Satan before he was cast down. The lyrics might be seen as portraying Satan assigning divine attributes and honors to himself through his influence over the earthly king of Tyre. In some ways, this description of the king of Tyre foreshadows the beast spoken of in Daniel and Revelation.
So, who is this lament for? As the Scripture says, it is for the king of Tyre. Yet, it pulls back the curtain on the spiritual world, revealing both the influences and dark forces at work behind the scenes and the sovereign power of God over such realms.
November 12, 2018
GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH
There is only one way to be right with God. And that is to receive the righteousness of God through faith. Noah’s faith was in contrast to the rest of the world, which thought they could earn God’s favor. Noah received God’s justification by grace as a gift through faith. Whereas the world sought to earn God’s favor through self-effort, earning sin’s wages, which is death. Noah did not have the full light of the gospel, yet he had sufficient light to trust not in the ark, but in the God who told him to build it. It was not Noah’s faith that saved him, but the object of his faith. Noah believed God.
Today, we live in the full light of the gospel, seeing that the righteousness of God has appeared. For the righteousness of God is a Person, not a philosophy, a Savior, not a standard, a Lamb, not a law. For the righteousness of God is Jesus Christ. His coming fulfilled Noah’s forward-looking faith, as well as our faith that looks back to the cross, so that God “might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
November 11, 2018
DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH
After a season of suffering we are tempted to timidity and cowardice. We fear persecution and pain, so we hide from the fight. We lose a battle, so we retreat from the war. Yet, the Word teaches us not to “throw away” our “confident trust,” which is the boldness of faith.
There is a metaphoric reference here that compares losing one’s boldness to a soldier who throws away his shield. It is said that certain Greek mothers, when they gave shields to their sons, would say, “Either bring this back, or be brought back upon it.” Thus urging their sons to be bold in battle and in protecting their family and tribe. The captains of armies often urged their soldiers to beat their swords against their shields and shout in preparation for an assault. Thus building up their own confidence, while striking fear in the enemy.
Faithful soldiers do not throw away their shields. Nor do faithful believers cast aside their boldness. Faithful believers persevere, remembering the great reward that the Captain of our faith brings with Him at His coming.
November 10, 2018
UNTIL THE ONE APPEARS
The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy destruction over the kingdom of Judah because of their sin. This prophecy in the Hebrew repeats the word “avah” three times (עַוָּה עַוָּה עַוָּה), which adds to both the finality and the certainty of it. “Avah! Avah! Avah!” (“Destruction! Destruction! Destruction!”) says the Lord. Some suggest that the three-time repetition points to the three conquests of Jerusalem, in which the last Davidic kings, Jehoiakim, Jeconiah, and Zedekiah, were overthrown.
Yet, more significant than the certainty of Judah’s destruction, is the prophecy concerning its future restoration by “the one” who is to appear. This “one” is identified by four features. (1) He will restore David’s kingdom. (2) By implication this means that he is from the line of David. (3) He has the “right to judge.” And (4) the Lord Himself will “hand it over to him.”
Who is this “one?” Was it Zerubbabel? No, although Zerubbabel was in the line of David and led the returning exiles to rebuild the Temple, he was never king. Was it one of the Herods? No, although the Herods carried the title of king, they were just political puppets under Rome and certainly not from the line of David.
So, who is this “one?” When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus this question: “Are you the one?” (Matt. 11:3). Jesus told them to go back to John and tell him what they had seen and heard, that the “the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor” (Matt. 11:5). Jesus is “the One!”
Someday Christ will return to completely fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy. And so we wait “until the One appears.”
November 9, 2018
CHRIST’S SINGULARLY SUFFICIENT SACRIFICE
The Mosaic sacrificial system was a copy of the “greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven” (Heb. 9:11). It existed to prepare God’s people for the true Lamb of God that would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). In the Mosaic system, regular and recurring sacrifices had to be made. But Christ’s sacrifice was singularly sufficient. He does not need to repeat it. For it radiates out into time past and time future to cover the sins of those who believed both before and after His appearing. Christ died “once for all time.” Indeed, from God’s perspective, the Lamb of God was slain “before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
Christ’s sacrifice marked the “end of the age” for Temple sacrifices. For the sacrifice of animals was always like an IOU written on a future payment, which was paid-in-full when Christ declared from the cross, “It is finished!”
November 8, 2018
THE TEMPLE FORESHADOWED THAT WHICH CHRIST FULFILLED
The two rooms of the Tabernacle were symbolic of the spiritual separation existing between God and man. Only priests could enter the first room called the Holy Place. And only the High Priest could enter the second room called the Most Holy Place, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). Yet, when Christ died on the cross, the curtain of separation was rent and the way to the Father was opened. Because of Jesus we may approach the throne of God, clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Jesus has opened the way for us, not by having us keep religious “regulations,” but by believing in Him and receiving Him in relationship as Lord and Savior.
The Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, ending its religious sacrifices and practices, in 70 A.D. It was always only a foreshadowing of that which Christ is the fulfillment. Christ has opened a new and living way to a right relationship with God.
November 5, 2018
IF GOD SAYS IT, IT WILL HAPPEN
The people of Judah would not listen to the warnings that God spoke through His prophet, Ezekiel. Indeed, a kind of proverb or saying was being repeated during his day: “Time passes, and prophecies come to nothing” (Ez. 12:22). The people had become hardened in their hearts, closing their ears to God’s word. They heard the warnings, but either discounted them as false, or delayed their consideration by saying they wouldn’t happen during their lifetimes. They were wrong on both accounts. For God did judge Jerusalem exactly as He said He would and during the very lifetimes of those who wouldn’t listen.
I wonder whether we are guilty of the same thinking sometimes? I’m sure there are those who doubt Christ’s second coming and the final judgment even though they have heard the warnings. Yet, there are even more who don’t doubt that it will happen, but lazily live their lives as though Christ will not come during their lifetimes. The prophecies concerning Christ’s return are 2,000 years old and still we have heard no trumpet, nor seen the parting of the heavens. So, many are lulled into lethargy.
Didn’t Jesus himself instruct us to “watch” and “be ready” (Matt. 24:42, 44), because He would return at an hour we do not expect? So, we watch, not passively, but actively, being ready by being busy about what Christ has commanded us to do until He returns. We do this because we believe that if God says it, it will happen.