November 19

Ezekiel 39:1–40:27

Ezekiel is commanded to prophecy against Gog, the leader of a coalition of nations who will be drawn in to attack Israel, but utterly defeated by God Himself. The LORD will flex His muscles and show His glory to Jew and Gentile alike. HIStory will be clear, that Israel was scattered because of their sin against God, regathered because of the grace and glory of God, and Israel’s invaders will be thoroughly defeated by the Lord their God. The God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – this God who came in the flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ, is the one true God.

Ezkiel 39:22a (NKJV) “The house of Israel shall know…”

Ezekiel 39:23a NKJV) “The Gentiles shall know…”

We can’t know for certain, but there are some Bible teachers who believe that God’s judgment upon the invaders is somehow poisonous, even nuclear in nature which explains the reason for seven years of professional burials of the bodies. 

God’s judgment will not only be on the invading armies in Israel, God will also judge the land of Magog (Ezkiel 39:6), revealing once again that He is the God who rules over all heaven and earth.

As we get closer to the end of time, we know that these are the days when God works spiritually in the people of Israel, He will do a New Testament work in the heart of the Jews. Their blindness (Romans 11:25) will be taken away, something we read in:

Ezekiel 39:29 (NKJV) “‘And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 40 gives us a detailed description of a Temple. There are different views on this Temple:

1. A description of Solomon’s Temple (no)

2. Some say its a goal for those who would return from captivity (no)

3. The ideal temple that never has been and never will be rebuilt (no)

4. Some say its figurative and symbolic (no)

5. The Temple rebuilt for the restored Jewish people during the Millennial Kingdom (yes)

“According to many Christian Bible scholars, the Fourth Temple (Ezekiel 40-45) will be “memorial” – a teaching center apparently to instruct men about the holiness of God and proper worship during the coming kingdom of Jesus on the earth. As sinful men and women continue to be born into the world in the millennium, the temple is supposed to remind everyone of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross, as the “Lamb of God,” some two thousand years earlier.”

Warren Wiersbe, “The city of Jerusalem and the temple had been destroyed, the land had been taken over by the Babylonians, and the people had been scattered or exiled. It was not a time of good news. But Ezekiel did what God’s people always must do in times of trial: he looked ahead to the glorious future God had planned. One day the scattered people would be regathered and the defiled people cleansed. The land would be restored to beauty and fruitfulness, and there would be a new city, a new temple, and a new priesthood serving the Lord in holiness.”

Ezekiel’s Temple – Source, Logos Bible

Ezekiel sees an angel, who commands him to focus, to fix his eyes on what he’s about to see, and declare it to the house of Israel…it may serve as a sort of blueprint that will be used one day in the construction of this Millennial Temple. The Eastern Gate, the Outer Court, the Northern Gateway, the Southern Gateway, the Gateways of the Inner Courts, the Chambers for Singers and Priests, and the Dimensions of the Inner Court and Vestibule.

Features Unique to Ezekiel’s Temple (Temple Mount Institute)

No wall of partition to exclude Gentiles (compare Ephesians 2:14). The Gentiles were previously welcome in the Outer Courts, but excluded from the inner courts on pain of death.

No Court of Women (compare Galatians 3:28 – Outer Court and Inner Court only)

No Laver (see Ezekiel 36:24-27; John 15:3)

No Table of Shewbread (see Micah 5:4; John 6:35)

No Lampstand or Menorah (see Isaiah 49:6; John 8:12)

No Golden Altar of Incense (Zechariah 8:20-23; John 14:6)

No Veil (Isaiah 25:6-8, Matthew 27:51)

No Ark of the Covenant (Jeremiah 3:16; John 10:30-33)

Major Changes to the Altar: The sacrificial Altar will be approached by a ramp from the East. Previous altars were all approached from the South. Now there will be stairs to the altar, not a ramp as previously. The top of the altar is now described by the Hebrew word “ariel” [Isaiah 29:1; Ezekiel 43:15] meaning “hearth of God” or “lion of God.” [Revelation 5:5]

James 2:18-3:18

The key to this section on faith and works is:

James 2:18b (NKJV) “…I will show you my faith by my works.”

How do we know, from a human perspective, that a person is saved? By their works. Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “James and Paul do not contradict each other (Romans 4:1–5; 5:1); they complement each other. We are justified (declared righteous) before God by faith, but we are justified before men, by works. God can see our faith, but men can see only our works.”

We can’t be saved by acknowledging the gospel intellectually, (belief in the brain – the demons believe and tremble), no, we’re saved by faith in the heart (Romans 10:9). Such faith will lead to love and works of benevolence and obedience, there will be no partiality. “Your faith is not a faith that saves, unless it is a faith that works.” – Sandy Adams

In James 3 he issues a heavy warning that a teacher of God’s Word will receive a stricter judgment, therefore such a “title” and even task must be pursued with caution and care. I agree with Sandy Adams who said, “A Bible teacher must be accurate and authentic.” So this warning has to do with my entire life, and my every word.

We all stumble, (which is different from falling) but we need to tame that tendency to stumble in speech. The person who does good in this area, manifests spiritual maturity.

As a teacher I need to make sure that God has tamed my tongue, for no man can tame it. The tongue is a relatively small member of my body, but boy does it pack a punch! It’s like a bit in the mouth of that strong stallion, so small yet used by the rider to steer the beast. Or that little rudder under that massive ship…is it controlled by the captain? If so, the ship and people aboard will reach their destination. The tongue can do so much good, but it can also do infinite evil. James compares it to a little spark (just a few uncontrolled words or sentences) that in the end…burns down an entire forest.

I’m getting a little older now, and it never ceases to amaze me how every conversation, every teaching, every WORD is vital, and not only what I say but how I say it, the tone of voice is a critical part of communication.

It’s such a terrible thought to think that with this mouth we can bless God and then with the same mouth we can curse people created in the image of God. If this happens frequently, consistently, unapologetically, James instructs that person to check their heart (their salvation). Can the same spring give both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits…” (Matthew 7:16, 20).

What a clear contrast James give in 3:13-18 between the wisdom from above and the wisdom from below. James returns to the concept that if we’re saved it’ll show. Such ugly characteristics are listed in James 3:14 – “bitter envy,” and “self-seeking.” Lord, do I have any of this in my life? Do I get jealous when others get blessed? Do I have a hard time when someone else is acknowledged, complimented, or appreciated? How ugly is that? That’s not only earthly evil it’s downright demonic. The wisdom from above is so beautiful – it’s pure, it wants peace, it’s gentle, willing to yield (surrender our rights).

I like the way the NLT translates:

James 3:18 (NLT) “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” 

Am I a peacemaker as Jesus called me to be? I hope so (Matthew 5:9).

Psalm 118:1-18

“His mercy endures forever,” is a phrase we find 41 times in the Bible. It’s found in 5 different Psalms, highlighted especially in Psalm 136. I’ll be the first to say, God has been merciful to me, He’s not given me the judgment I deserve, considering the sinner that I am…I know first hand He mercy endures forever.

Again we see a progression of expression, from Israel, to the High Priest, to those who fear the LORD, and then the Psalmist makes it personal. 

Somehow the writer was hit hard by the enemy, but he also admits – it was the LORD disciplining him.

All this brought him to prayer. God has a way of bringing us to our knees, doesn’t He? And meeting our needs.

Psalm 118:5 (NKJV) “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.”

I’m so grateful that the LORD is on my side, and there is absolutely no need to fear men, or what men might do to me.

Psalm 118:6 (NKJV) “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

It’s for that reason, my trust is in Him.

Imagine being surrounded by “all nations,” like bees (Psalm 118:10). Do you ever feel that way? If not now, you may one day, but don’t worry, for you’re also surrounded by God (Psalm 125:2). God will allow us to experience pain, and be “punished,” but will also protect us that we might proclaim His wonderful works…this is why we live.

Psalm 118:17–18 (NKJV) “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. 18 The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death.”

Proverbs 28:2

Proverbs 28:2 (NKJV) “Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.”

“Unrest and rebellion in a nation results in turnover of leadership. For example, the Northern Kingdom had many rulers, 20 kings in 9 dynasties. Order, however, is maintained in a nation by good rulers who have insight and knowledge about how to govern.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

Proverbs 28:2 (NLT) “When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.”

There were some good kings in Judah, but not one good king in the Northern Kingdom of Israel!

“In just over two centuries, northern Israel, for its sins, had nine dynasties, each, after the first, inaugurated by an assassination (see God’s comments in Hosea 7:7; 8:4; 13:11). In three and a half centuries, Judah, for David’s sake, had only one.” – Derek Kidner

There are some who also see this, not as multiple dynasties, but big government (many are its princes). “This speaks of how a large, complex, and multi-layered government can be a curse to a people, sent because of the transgression of a land.” – David Guzik

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