Sunday, August 31, 2014


In Chapter 40, Ezekiel described the outer and inner courts of the temple complex as he saw it in his vision. He followed his guide from the outside of the complex further and further inward toward the temple building.

In chapter 41, the guide, the man of bronze, measured the temple building while Ezekiel watched. Ezekiel described the building and gave the measurements.

The temple building has three parts: a portico, the outer sanctuary and inner sanctuary. The portico is described in 41:48-49. It is like the porch of the house, but very fancy. The man measured it.It was 20 cubits wide and 12 cubits long. Pillars lined the sides.

Walking through the portico into the temple, Ezekiel and his guide first came to the outer sanctuary (NIV) or nave (ESV and NASB). First, we see that the entrance was only 10 cubits wide, compared to the portico, which was 10 cubits wide. (2) This is a severe narrowing. This symbolizes restricted access to the holier place. In fact, it does not appear that Ezekiel went into it. Rather the guide went in, measured it, then returned to tell Ezekiel the measurements. Ezekiel did not describe the outer or inner sanctuary. He just repeated the measurements the guide gave him.

Next, the guide measured the inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place. The entrance was only six cubits wide. (3) The access to the Most Holy Place is the most restricted.

The sanctuary itself was a perfect square, 20 cubits by 20 cubits. Again, the symbolizes its holiness. It is the only completely square space within the temple building.

Around the temple building are three stories of rooms. There are 90 in all. (5-11) Ezekiel does not tell us what the rooms were for. There is one interesting note, though. Verse 6 says “there were ledges all around the wall of the temple to serve as supports for the side rooms, so that the supports were to inserted into the wall of the temple.” There was no intrusion of the profane into the sacred.

There was also a building on the west side. That would locate it behind the temple building. Its measurements are given, but no description. (12) It may have been there for the purpose of preventing access to the temple from the back side.

The temple was completely paneled with wood. It was decorated with the images of palm trees and cherubim. (17-18) The cherubim had two faces: one of a man and one of a lion. The walls of the outer sanctuary were covered with cherubim. It is a picture of God’s domain attended by angels.

Only one piece of furniture is mentioned. It is a wooden altar . The man said it is the table that is before the LORD (Yahweh). (22) I think that is the table where the bread of the Presence was set before the Lord. The original table is described in Exodus 25:23-30. The measurements are not the same. The original table was covered in gold. Twelve loaves of bread were put in two stacks on the table. There was one loaf for each of the12 tribes.

Aaron, the high priest, and his sons, ate the bread as representatives for the people. It was a sort of communion meal. It was holy and had to be eaten in the holy place. It was also a food offering to God. Since God does not eat, he gave it back to the priests for their sustenance. There is a sense here of peace with God resulting in the provision of God.

Chapter 42 will continue the description of the temple.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Giving to the Poor - Psalm 41

Psalm 41 says a man is blessed when he considers the poor. The Lord will bless him with deliverance from trouble, protection, life, health and a recognition from others that he is blessed.

Jesus said "give to everyone who begs from you" (Luke 6:30) and "…lend, expecting nothing in return and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35) And, "give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)

Giving to the poor reflects God's merciful character, pleases him and results in blessings to ourselves.

Sunday, August 24, 2014



Chapters 40-48 contain Ezekiel’s final vision. Here is where we are in this book.

God promised, through Ezekiel, to protect his holy name and to display his glory by destroying the city and temple of his people, who were profaning his name. He in fact destroyed it.

God promised to vindicate his holiness and display his glory by restoring Israel.

God promised to vindicate his holiness and display his glory by defeating the forces of the world represented by Gog. In this he showed his supremacy.

In 40 through 48, God promises to vindicate his holiness and display his glory among his own people, shown or symbolized in the building of a huge city with a temple. A temple is where God dwells with his people. This vision will show a renewed worship by God’s people.

The Vision Begins

Ezekiel specifically dated the time of this vision. It is 14 years after the destruction of Jerusalem, 25 years after the beginning of the exile. Remember there was a group taken into exile years before the city was destroyed and the survivors taken into exile. It is also about 12 years since the last vision.

The first vision of Ezekiel showed the heavenly king on his throne and that vision was dated from the exile of the earthly king. This vision of the heavenly city is dated from the destruction of the earthly city.

The date also seems to have a reference to the Jubilee. On the 10th day of the seventh month, on the Day of Atonement, every 50th year, the Jubilee was declared. Slaves were set free, land was returned to the original owners. (Leviticus 25) It was a restoration of land and freedom and heritage. The original audience of Ezekiel, the exiles, were landless and enslaved. The idea of looking forward to a Jubilee of sorts, that would restore them, was hopeful. At 25 years they would be halfway to restoration in the Jubilee calculation. This would be symbolic, since the captivity was to last 70 years according to Jeremiah. There are also several references to the number 25 and its multiples in the measurements of the Temple.

In this vision, Ezekiel is “taken” to Israel from Babylon. He is physically in Babylon but sees events in Israel in the future. He said the hand of Yahweh was on him and took him to the city. The city is never named.

God took Ezekiel to a very high mountain. There really are not any very high mountains in Israel. But you have a theological geography here. It is to make a point. The dry bones were lying in the valley in chapter 37, then were restored to life. The restored people are elevated from a dead valley to a mountain top where God dwells and is worshipped. It is a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Jesus described his followers this way in Matthew 5:14.

Mountains have often been the meeting place of God and man in the Bible. Moses met God and received the law on Mount Sinai. Ezekiel is now going to repeat that process, revealing the requirements for worship. Moses received the design of the tabernacle while on the mountain. Ezekiel receives the design for the new city or sanctuary on this mountain. Moses saw the promised land from Mount Nebo, but would not enter it. (Deuteronomy 32:48-52) Ezekiel would see a vision the new dwelling place of God’s people, but would not enter it during this lifetime. Satan tried to copy this by taking Jesus to a high mountain to convince Jesus to worship him. (Matthew 4:8)

There is also a reflection of Isaiah 2:2-3 here. Isaiah prophesied that the mountain of the Lord’s temple would be established as the chief among mountains. Which is similar to a vision of a very high mountain.

On this mountain, there was a structure that looked like a city on the south side. The temple appears like a city to Ezekiel or was within a city.

God also gave Ezekiel a tour guide. (3) He looked like a man, but his appearance was like bronze. He had a linen cord and a measuring reed in his hand. These are both measuring devices. The reed is usually for a short measurement and the cord for a longer one. It corresponds to a ruler we use for short measurements and a “tape” we use for long ones.

The guide gave Ezekiel 4 instructions:
set your heart upon what you see
declare it to Israel. (4)

One thing we should notice here is that this vision is a counterpart to the vision in chapters 8 through 11. In that vision, Ezekiel also got a tour of the temple. The tour guide also looked like a man and had a sash around his waist, but of fire. He also looked like gleaming metal on his upper body. (8:2) In that vision, the man showed Ezekiel the abominations Israel was committing in the temple. In contrast, the vision of 40-48 will shows the splendor or glory of God.

The Wall & East Gate

This structure is very large. It has a wall around it. The wall has gates in it, one facing each direction. It has a court or plaza inside the wall. In the middle of the plaza is a temple structure. Each area is elevated as it moves toward the holiest place. You go up steps to each area. There are 3 elevations from the front to the holiest place. It starts wide at the gate and narrows as it approaches the holiest place. The whole structure faced east.

The guide began with the outside wall. He measured it. Ezekiel explained the measurements in terms of the length of the reed and the cubit. The reed is 6 cubits long. This is 10 feet. So, the wall is 10 feet high and 10 feet thick. It is perfectly symmetrical in that sense. And it is substantial. It is the barrier between sacred and profane. It is too thick to break too high to climb. It reminds me of Revelation 21:27: “…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written written in the Lamb’s book of life”

The east gate is the main gate, so the guide started there. He had to go up steps to enter the gate and its vestibule, so we see the first elevation. There were seven steps.

Ezekiel describes the main gate in great detail. The gate is elaborate and large. It is the gate of a fortress. It has a threshold that was 10 by 10. There were side rooms for guards. There was a barrier to protect them. (12)Gates with this design have been discovered in Hazor by archeologists. There were windows. The window jambs were carved with the images of palm trees. The overall size is about 45 feet wide and nine feet deep. (13, 15) It is very secure. It has a vestibule. The vestibule is not on the outside, but on the inside. (8)

There were gates facing north and south also. These gates are described in verses 20 through 27. They are built to the same plan as the East Gate, so they are not described in as great a detail.

There is no west gate, because the back of the temple faces west (the front to the east) and the holiest place is at the back of the temple and must be protected.

The Outer Court

The guide took Ezekiel up the steps and through the East Gate into the outer court. It was paved with stones. There were chambers inside the wall facing the court. These were probably for storage also. Ezekiel saw the north gate and south gate. Ezekiel does not spend much time describing the outer court.

The North & South Gates

These verses contain descriptions of the north and south gates. They are designed the same way as the east gate.

The Inner Court

From the south gate, the guide took Ezekiel into the inner court. (28)
Here the guide also showed Ezekiel the detail of the north gate. It had facilities for the sacrifices. There was a chamber to wash the offerings, tables on which the offerings were slaughtered, tables for the instruments of slaughter and tables on which the actual offerings were laid before being offered in sacrifice. There was one set of gates from the outside to the outer court, and one set of gates from the outer court to the inner court. There were eight steps up from the outer court to the inner court. (31)

Chambers for the Priests

One chamber was for priests that have charge of the temple. (45) These are guys who make sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and that everything is cleaned up. The other chamber is for the priests who have charge of the altar. (46) By that, he means they offer the sacrifices. All priests have to be sons of Levi descended from Aaron. But only those who came through the line of Zadok may offer sacrifices. (46)

God chose the Levites for his service because they stood with Moses and the Lord when the Israelites made the golden calf. This is recorded in Exodus 32. Moses said “Today you have been ordained for the service os the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and his brother so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.” (Exodus 32:29) Moses and Aaron were Levites. Levy was one of Jacob’s sons, and, therefore, his family or tribe was one of the 12 tribes of Israel, the Levites.

Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests in Leviticus 8. Each of the families within the Levite tribe were given specific responsibilities. These are described in Leviticus and Numbers.

Zadok was a priest descended from Aaron. He was loyal to David when Absalom executed a coup against David. He was loyal to Solomon when Adonijah tried to become king. David made Zakok and his sons the high priestly line and allowed only them to serve at the tent when he returned to power. So, Ezekiel shows them as the sole ministers at the altar as a sign of pure worship.

The Inner Court: Measurements & Altar

The inner court, the area immediately outside the temple building, was a prefect square. it was 100 cubits long and wide. In the court, in front of the temple, was the altar of sacrifice. This reflects its placement in both the Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple.

The inner court also contained the altar. It sat in front of the temple. This is a prominent place. Some believe it is in the geographic center of the inner court. Its prominence suggests the importance of sacrifice to atone for sins.

The Vestibule of the Temple

The man next shows Ezekiel the vestibule of the temple itself. He measured it also. A vestibule is like a lobby. It is the first area you come to after you pass through the door.

You had to walk up 10 steps to get to the vestibule. (49) So, the image here is a temple complex on a high mountain, separated by 7 steps from the ground and 8 steps to the outer court.

The importance of the temple itself is shown by the 10 steps from the inner court to the to the vestibule. The temple building is elevated above all else. It is elevated to show its importance. Its holiness is shown by its restricted access through gates to the proper areas and the perfectly square design of the court. Chapter 41 will give us a description of the design of the temple building.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Trust & Contentment

Psalm 37 is a wisdom song. Its message is: trust in the Lord to take care of things and be content. The writer acknowledges that evildoers success on earth. But we are not to fret over them. We are to trust God to dispense justice in his own time. We are to trust him. We reflect our trust in our trusting actions. We are to do good, be faithful, delight in the Lord, commit our way to him, be still before him, wait patiently for him, refrain from anger, and again, do not fret. In other words, let God take care of the bad folks and trust him to be just while you reflect God's gracious character in the way you treat people and in your attitude toward life.

The promise in Psalms is that the meek, those who live in trusting obedience to God, will inherit the land. For Jews that meant living in peace in the allotment they were given in Israel. Note, though, that Jesus expanded the promise. He said "the meek will inherit the earth". (Matthew 5:6) Those who trust in God through faith in Jesus will inherit the whole earth. Revelation completes the picture for us, showing us a restored earth with a beautiful new city where the redeemed will live in the presence of the Lord forever.

Don't worry. Trust. Live graciously.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper on the night he was betrayed. Three of the gospel accounts record this. (Matthew 26:2629; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20) According to Mathew, while Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, he took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the disciples. H said "take eat, this is my body".

Then he took his cup of wine, gave thanks, and gave it to them also. He said "Drink from it, al of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant which is see for many for the remission of sins".

Paul instructed the Corinthians in the matter in 1 Corinthians 11. After reciting the words of Jesus, Paul added "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till he comes."

When we participate in the Lord's Supper, we acknowledge and give thanks for the atoning death of Jesus. He gave his body and his blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. That work is finished. We believe he did it, we thank him for it and we proclaim that he did it through our participation.

The church will celebrate the Lord's Supper until the Lord returns. While we in the present acknowledge his death for us in the past, our continuing participation is a witness to our believe that he will return.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

RESTORATION OF ISRAEL - Ezekiel 39:22-29

Restoration of Israel

The Lord explained the exile of Israel in covenant terms in verses 23-24. The Lord sent them away because they dealt treacherously with him. Their iniquity was great. so, the Lord hid his face from Israel. When Israel kept the covenant, the Lord’s face was toward them. He looked favorably on them. Consider the blessing the Lord told Aaron to give to Israel:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift us his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

One of the facets of life in the New Earth is that the throne of the Father and the throne of the Son will be there and we will see the Lord’s face. (Revelation 22:4)

But, when Israel broke the covenant, the Lord did the opposite: he turned his face away or hid his face from them. Deuteronomy 31:16-18 is a good example. As Moses was about to die, the Lord told him Israel would break the covenant and go after other gods. The Lord’s reaction would be to become angry, to forsake them and hide his face from them. The people in Ezekiel’s time acknowledged this when they said “the Lord does not see us”. (Ezekiel 8:12)

When the Lord hid his face from Israel, they were conquered by their enemies. This was a punishment the Lord set out in the covenant. Leviticus 26:14-21 sets this out, along with the remainder of the chapter.

The story of the Old Testament is the story of Israel’s breaking the covenant repeatedly, being conquered by enemies, then being restored by God. The Babylonian exile was the ultimate defeat. God restored Israel afterward, but here looks forward to a permanent restoration in the future.

At the end of this oracle, the Lord turns back to Israel and says he will restore it. Jacob is a synonym for Israel. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with the Lord in Genesis 32. Verse 25 tells us the Lord will do this out of mercy, for Israel does not deserve it.

This restoration after punishment is also part of the covenant. Leviticus 26:44-45 records the Lord saying he would not destroy Israel completely. He would remember the covenant that he might be their God. Deuteronomy 4:25-30 speaks of Israel returning to the Lord in the “latter days” because the Lord is merciful. It would have been a great word of encouragement to the exiles of Ezekiel’s day.

In addition to mercy, though, the Lord acts because he is jealous for his holy name. (25) He does not want people to think he has no power to protect his people and his land, or that he does not keep his covenant. In verse 27 he speaks of vindicating his holinesss by restoring his people.

This restoration will include:
forgetting their shame (26);
dwelling securely in their land;
knowledge that Yahweh is their God;
restored access to God through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This restoration will be permanent. Verse 29 says “I will not hide my face anymore from them when I pour out my Spirit upon them”. The Lord’s victory over Gog and his forces demonstrates this truth. Instead of pouring out his wrath on Israel, he will pour out his Spirit. It is a complete reversal of fortunes. The pouring out of the Spirit is a sign or mark of ownership. The Lord owns his people. He will never abandon them.

So, when does this great battle, victory of the Lord and restoration occur? The Lord said it would be in the “latter years” in Ezekiel 38:8. John appears to explain it as happening at the end of this age in in the defeat of the Beast in Revelation 19. In verse 11, heaven is opened and John saw Jesus. The Lord Jesus appeared on a white horse, wearing a crown. We know it is Jesus because he is called “the Word of God”. (14) John called Jesus this very thing in the first chapter of his gospel. He said “in the beginning was the Word”. (John 1:1) This Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

But, in Revelation 19, Jesus is not the suffering savior of his first coming, but the conquering Lord. He judges in righteousness and he makes war upon the enemies of God. His robe is dipped in their blood. This is his second coming and he comes this time to judge his enemies and defeat them.

He strikes down the nations with a sword that comes from his mouth. (11) He pours out the wrath of the Father on his enemies. (15) An angel then invites the birds to feast on the dead bodies as Ezekiel did in Ezekiel 39. Then the beast is captured and thrown into the Lake of Fire that burns with sulfur. Gog is not mentioned by name, but the beast represents him (or they both represent the same figure). Sulfur was used in the judgment of Gog in Ezekiel 38:22. (Revelation 19:20) The remainder of the enemies are slain by the sword, again reflecting the story in Ezekiel 39. This time, however, the sword comes from the mouth of Jesus. (21)

John then retells the story as the defeat of Satan in Revelation 20:7-10. There he specifically mentions Gog and Magog coming out for battle against the camp of the saints and the beloved city. But fire comes down from heaven and consumes them. (Revelation 20:9) Satan is thrown into the lake of fire. (10) Premillenialists see this battle as separate from the battle of chapter 19.

Remember that Ezekiel placed this event in the “latter days”. John places the event at the very end of days, the end of this age. It is the ultimate event of this age. It shows that our God is the lord of human history. It shows him as sovereign over men, no matter how powerful the men are. He is also sovereign over Satan and his forces. He defeats them all and casts them into Hell.

Once the Lord’s enemies are defeated, he reveals the restored or new heavens and earth in Revelation 21 and 22. It is occupied by the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven. In our Ezekiel study, we will see that the remaining chapters are devoted to a vision of a new temple and city where the Lord dwells.

It shows him keeping covenant. Not only will the Lord ultimately win, he will deliver his people into his victory. He will ultimately restore his people to perfection, where sin no longer pollutes the land or the people.

Finally, it shows that God is not only a God of judgment, but a God of mercy. He sends the gospel over the whole earth so that rebellious men and women can be saved. He saves believers from this terrible battle and judgment. It is his mercy to which we cling in faith, believing he will save us as he promised. And because it is a function of his mercy, not our worth or righteousness, we are humble and grateful in this presence.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Attributes of God

Nehemiah 9 is a prayer, but it describes many of God's attributes in the form of praise. Of course, praise is the acknowledgement of God's wonderful attributes. Here is a list:

1. The only God (6)

2. Creator

3. Life giver & sustainer

4. Exalted of his name (10)

5. Just (13)

6. Right

7. Good

8. Makes himself known (14)

9. Provider (15)

10. Forgiving (17)

11. Gracious

12. Compassionate

13. Slow to anger

14. Abounding in love

15. Giver of the Holy Spirit (20)

16. Merciful (31)

17. Covenant keeping (32)

18. Great

19. Mighty

20. Awesome

21. Faithful (33)

That should keep us busy praying for a while! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul again makes clear that we should order our lives so that "we may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord". (1 Corinthians 7:35)

Things of this earth, position, money or even marital status are not to divide our devotion. Paul pursued Christ single-mindedly. He believed the "world in its present form was passing away" (31), so he lived for the world to come.

I do poorly in comparison. I had a very frustrating day yesterday, exacerbated by lack of sleep. But, sadly, all of my frustrations were related to the world in its present form which is passing away.

Time to repent.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

God’s Execution of Judgment on Gog

First, the Lord asked a question of Gog. The question was whether Gog was the one the prophets said the Lord would bring against Israel. Jeremiah, for example, spoke of the invasion from the North. (Jer. 4:6) But Jeremiah spoke of Nebuchadnezzar, not Gog. There was a tradition of prophesying attacks from the north. But the Lord does not tell us which prophets he means or which prophesies and does not explain further what he means by this question.

But I think the implied answer of Gog is “yes, I am the prophesied enemy from the north”. It shows his ego and his arrogance. But, the Lord shows by what he does that Gog is not that enemy.

In the prophesies concerning Assyria and Babylon, the Lord spoke of the terrible things these enemies would do to Israel and Judah. But in this passage, it is the reverse. When Gog comes, the Lord will do terrible things to him, not Israel.

On the day of attack, the Lord will pour out his wrath on Gog. He will act in blazing wrath, jealousy and anger. (19) This is also expressed in cataclysmic terms. There will be a great earthquake in Israel. I think this is a picture of the Lord coming to Israel to protect it. In fact, verse 20 speaks of his presence.

When the Lord appears, the very earth trembles. For example, when the Lord met Moses on Mount Sinai, the “mountain trembled greatly”. (Exodus 19:18) Isaiah 24:18-19 speaks of the day of the Lord and says “For the windows of heaven are opened and the foundations of the earth tremble. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.” Here in Ezekiel, the earthquake begins in Israel but is felt all over the earth. All creatures on earth will will quake at his presence, fish, birds, beasts, insects and people will all quake at the Lord’s presence. The earthquake will cause mountains and walls to fall down. Nothing will stand against the power of the Lord poured out in wrath.

The Lord will battle people Gog. (21) He will bring sword and pestilence. This is the same language the Lord spoke against Israel in earlier chapters of Ezekiel. In 21:2, the Lord said he would draw his sword and cut them down. Sword and pestilence are expressions of the Lord’s judgment in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah. Here in verse 22, the Lord said “…I will enter into judgment with him”. And that is not all. He will send torrential rain, hail, sulfur and fire down on Gog. (20) Hail was the seventh plague the Lord sent against Pharaoh and Egypt. (Exodus 9:13 et seq) Fire and sulphur remind of us the Lord’s destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19. Psalm 46:6 says “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.”

This passage may be an actual description of real events that will happen in the future. There may be a real battle and a real earthquake. It may also be hyperbole meaning this will be the Lord’s judgment and it will be very bad. We see this type of language in apocalyptic passages.

This chapter ends with verse 23, where the Lord again explains why he will do this: “So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD (Yahweh).” Gog is a powerful enemy. He leads many nations. His forces are well armed. He would roll through many nations with little resistance. But the Lord is more powerful than the most powerful man or angel. The Lord will demonstrate his deity and his great power by his decisive triumph over this man and this powerful group of enemies. And he will demonstrate that he is the divine protector of his people. Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at is swelling.”

The Disposal of Gog

Chapter 39 starts with the language of a new oracle: “and you, on of man, prophesy against God and say…” The first verses restate that pending defeat of Gog.

Verse 4 adds an element: the desecration of the bodies of Gog and his people. We have sent this language before, but applied to Israel. the Lord said he would give their bodies to the birds of prey and beasts of the field to devour. (4) This is the ultimate defeat and disgrace in the Semitic world. Not only are you killed, but your body is not honorable buried. Instead it is eaten by animals and destroyed. The Lord is saying he will completely destroy his enemies and the enemies of his people. It is a judgment against them and their lands. This theme is restated in verses 17 and 18, where Ezekiel is to invite the birds and beasts to come and feast on the bodies. To further the symbolism that the listed nations means all of the earth, the Lord says they will feast on the blood of the “princes of the earth”. (18)

John, in Revelation 19:17 uses this same language. That chapter tells of Jesus coming with the armies of heaven to strike down the nations. It is a pouring out of the wrath of the Father. After the nations are killed, an angel invites the birds to feast on them.

The slaughter will be so great, it will take all those in Israel seven years to burn all the weapons. (9-10) They will take seven months to bury all the bones. (11-16) All of the Lord’s enemies, great in number are destroyed. Their weapons are all destroyed also, symbolizing a permanent peace to come to God’s people. Psalm 46:9 says “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the chariots with fire.” The plunderers became the plundered.

But dead bodies corrupt the land. They must all be buried to cleanse the land. Once the land is cleansed, the Lord may have a totally restored covenant relationship with Israel: a holy God with a holy name a holy people and a holy land.

This resounding victory over his enemies will result in the holy name of the Lord being known among the nations. (7) This slaughterer is a judgment of the Lord upon the nations who are against his people. By this the Lord will demonstrate his glory. (21) Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

They will also know that Israel went into captivity for their iniquity. The Lord executed judgment on Israel by expelling them from the land. But now the nations will know why Israel was driven from its land. It is not that the Lord was unable to protect them. It was in judgment of their breach of the covenant. God protects the holiness of his name. God protects his glory. He will do this even if it means executed judgment on this own people who are in rebellion against him.

Friday, August 08, 2014


Although the book of Ezra shows Yahweh keeping his word to return Israel from captivity, the book makes me sad. The sad part is the continued failiures of the Jews. Sad fact #1: only 43,859 Jews returned from Baylon. The rest stayed there, as we saw in the Pastor's sermons on Esther. For those who stayed in Babylon\Persia, their physical comfort, possessions and position meant more to them that God's covenant and promises.

The world is a powerful draw, isn't it? The Jews succumbed to it reapeatedly. So do we. But jesus warned us repeatedly not to. He told us we cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24) He himself was offered the whole world, but turned it down to worship God. (Matthew 4:9)

Remember that Jesus did not ask us to make him a prioirty. He demanded that we make him our master. The Greek word for Lord means the master of a slave. So Paul called himself. (Romans 1:1) Peter did also. (2 Peter 1:1) Even James did not identify himself as the brother of Jesus, but as his servant. (James 1:1) The other brother, Jude, did the same. (Jude 1) John called us all the servants of Jesus. (Revelation 1:1)

I pray I will not be conformed to this world, but transformed to be like Christ and devoted completely to him. (Romans 12:1-2)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

UNITY IN CHRIST = 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

In 1 Corinthians1:10-13, Paul pleaded with the Corinthians to quit having divisions in their church. Instead, they were to have unity. The divisions in the Corinthian church centered around devotion to particular leaders. Some followed Apollos, some Peter, and some Paul. Some claimed to follow only Christ.

Sadly, the Corinthian church continued to have problems with this issue. Clement was a leader in the church at Rome at the end of the first century. He wrote a letter to the church in Corinth rebuking its jealousy and strife. That means that, half a century after Paul wrote, the church struggled with the same problem.

The problem continues today. Some divisions cannot be helped, as those who pursue false doctrine break off to form cults. But, many churches are split over other issues. Many churches in America struggle with the style of music they will utilize in worship. The members will not compromise and hear some of each style. So, either the church provides multiple services or one group splits off to form a new church. Both have happened in our city.

Sometimes churches divide over powerful persons in the church, somewhat as in Corinth. Various leaders vie for power with each other. There are many things we can divide over us.

But Paul points out that Christ is not divided. (1:13) Therefore, Christ's disciples should not be divided. Ephesians 4:3 says we are to be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Love should abound, grace should prevail and humility should be the common personality trait.

Sunday, August 03, 2014


The Attack of Gog

The point of this message is that God is against Gog (3) and will bring about his destruction. He will do this by having him attack Israel. This will result in his destruction. God does not say why he is against Gog before he attacks Israel.

But God will make Gog attack Israel. In verse 4, God said he will put hooks in his jaws, turn him around, and bring him out of his own land. This is a picture of leading an animal. It was used to describe how captives were taken into captivity. Ironically, in Ezekiel 19:4, 9, it was used to describe the lion of Judah taking into captivity. Ezekiel 19:4 says “They led him with hooks into the land of Egypt”. Then, it is used to describe the defeat of Egypt itself. Ezekiel 29:4 says, when speaking of Egypt, “I will put hooks in your jaws...”

God will make this attack occur. God is sovereign over men, women and nations. As Nebuchadnezzar said “he does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth”. (Daniel 4:35)There will be a “great host” (4) of warriors with weapons who join with Gog. They are well armed with bucklers, shield, and swords.

Gog will think this is his idea. (10) Verse 10 says “on that day, thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme”. Gog will do this for easy money. In verse 12, Gog thinks he will attack this unguarded people to seize spoil and carry off plunder.

But the thoughts come from God. Can the Lord and a person make plans at the same time? Yes. The two ideas are not contradictory. the Lord may use the evil man’s desires to accomplish the Lord’s goals. For example, the Lord knew Pharaoh would not let Israel leave Egypt just because Moses asked him to. So, the Lord would gain glory for himself showing is power over Pharaoh, the most powerful man on earth. The Lord told Moses “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh will not let listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:3-5)

You might also note that Gog’s plan is a perversion of God’s ultimate plan. Isaiah 2:2-4 speaks of the nations coming to the mountain of the LORD to be taught God’s ways. In contrast, Gog wants to bring nations to the mountain of the LORD to destroy God’s people.

When will this happen? No specific date is given. Verse 8 says he will attack “in the latter years” (ESV) The NIV says in “future years”. So, it is a time in the future from Ezekiel’s time. The chapters we have been studying speak of the restoration of Israel to the land under a Davidic king and shepherd, when the Holy Spirit has come to them and empowered them to obey God.

Who will Gog attack? He will attack God’s people. God describes them as a people who:
who have been restored from war (8);
who are gathered from many peoples (8);
dwell securely without walls, bars or gates; (11)
were gathered from the nations; (12)
who have acquired livestock and goods; (12) and
who dwell at the center of the earth (12)

These are descriptions of a restored Israel. They are descriptions of people who fulfill God’s promises in chapters that come right before this one. In Ezekiel 34:25, God said he would make a covenant of peace with them so they may dwell securely. In Ezekiel 36:10, God said he would multiply people of Israel, the whole house of Israel.

The people are living in rural villages, not walled fortresses. They have cast themselves on God for security, and they feel secure. This is similar to God’s command to Nebuchadnezzar to attack Kedar and Hazor in Jeremiah 49:31. God said “Rise up, advance against a nation at ease, that dwells securely, declares the Lord”. But God’s plan there was for Nebuchadnezzar, as a king from the north, to destroy Kedar ands Hazor.

In contrast to the peaceful people living in Israel, Gog will come like a storm. He will be like a great cloud covering the land. (9, 16}

Why would the Lord do this? So that the nations may know him when he vindicates his holiness before the nations in the defeat of Gog. (16) This is similar to what the Lord said about Pharaoh of Egypt in the time of Moses. In Exodus 7:3-5, God said “the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD”. In Exodus 14:4, the Lord said “...I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD”. It is also similar to what the Lord said when he brought judgment on Israel in Ezekiel 6: "then they will know that I am the LORD".

The Lord’s goal is to convince the nations of his presence and his person. He desires all to know him and his holiness. So, the Lord is not trying to teach his people anything, he is instead accomplishing his goal of being known all over the earth.