2406.) Ezekiel 44

July 23, 2018

Instructions for the priests.

Ezekiel 44   (CEV)

The East Gate Must Remain Closed

The man took me back to the outer courtyard, near the east gate of the temple area. I saw that the doors to this gate were closed. The Lord said:

I, the Lord God of Israel, came through this gate, so it must remain closed forever! No one must ever use it. 

“The closure of the gate then is not a menacing symbol but an encouraging one… Since Yahweh entered the temple through this gate, it is unseemly that others should use it. Since God will never leave the temple again, the gate will remain closed.”

–Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe

The ruler of Israel may come here to eat a sacrificial meal that has been offered to me, but he must use only the entrance room of this gate.

The identity of this leader is a matter of much discussion among Bible commentators and teachers. A few take it to be Jesus the Messiah, and some that he is a civil leader or a high priest. The fact that he must offer a sin offering (Ezekiel 45:22) and has sons Ezekiel 46:16)  means it is unlikely that he is Jesus Messiah.

–David Guzik

People Who Are Not Allowed in the Temple

Then the man took me through the north gate to the front of the temple. I saw that the brightness of the Lord’s glory had filled the temple, and I immediately bowed with my face to the ground.

The Lord said:

Ezekiel, son of man, I am going to give you the laws for my temple. So pay attention and listen carefully to what kind of people are allowed to come in the temple, and what kind are not. Tell those rebellious people of Israel:

I, the Lord God, command you to stop your evil ways! My temple has been disgraced, because you have let godless, stubborn foreigners come here when sacrifices are being offered to me. You have sinned and have broken our solemn agreement. Instead of following the proper ways to worship me, you have put foreigners in charge of worship at my temple.

And so I, the Lord God, say that no godless foreigner who disobeys me will be allowed in my temple. This includes any foreigner living in Israel.

“Under no circumstances should aliens or the uncircumcised in the heart or flesh serve in the sanctuary of Jehovah. This had been the sin of the past, and must not be repeated.”

–James Campbell Morgan

“It is clear from vs. 5-8 that in the last days of Solomon’s Temple the priests had allowed anyone, even uncovenanted pagans, to act as priests and temple servants. Either they had been lazy or busy with their own affairs, and had hired others to do their work; or they had taken bribes from pagans who wanted to serve in the Temple, perhaps for the offerings that they were able to take home and resell.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

The Levites Are Punished

The Lord said:

10 Some of the Levites turned their backs on me and joined the other people of Israel in worshiping idols. So these Levites must be punished! 11 They will still be allowed to serve me as temple workers by guarding the gates and by killing the animals to be sacrificed and by helping the worshipers. 12 But because these Levites served the people of Israel when they worshiped idols, I, the Lord God, promise that the Levites will be punished. They did not stop the Israelites from sinning, 13 and now I will no longer let the Levites serve as my priests or come near anything sacred to me. They must suffer shame and disgrace for their disgusting sins. 14 They will be responsible for all the hard work that must be done in the temple.

The Levites would not be excluded from all service relevant to the temple, only the work of priestly sacrifice.

“Yet mercy is not lacking, for they will not be excluded from all types of priestly ministry. It is only that they will lose the dignity of the higher services of the priesthood, such as were performed in the holy place or the first compartment of the tabernacle and temple.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

“These were menial tasks. Nevertheless, they were tasks which had to be done and the ordinary people were not permitted to do them, so we must beware of denigrating the duties of the Levites in Ezekiel’s temple. They have their counterparts today in all aspects of church life and doubtless then, as now, many reckoned it a privilege to be attending on the people of God in the more mundane details of their religion. After all, they were doing their duties by divine appointment.”

–John B. Taylor

Rules for Priests

The Lord said:

15 The priests of the Levi tribe who are descendants of Zadok the priest were faithful to me, even when the rest of the Israelites turned away.

The sons of Zadok were of the tribe of Levi and were of the family of Aaron (the priests). Zadok received the right to the priesthood in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 2:35). They were not like the other Levites in general, being noted for their faithfulness.

And so, these priests will continue to serve as my priests and to offer the fat and the blood of sacrifices. 16 They will come into my temple, where they will offer sacrifices at my altar and lead others in worship.

17 When they come to the inner courtyard, they must wear their linen priestly clothes. My priests must never wear anything made of wool when they are on duty in this courtyard or in the temple. 18 Even their turbans and underwear must be made of linen to keep my priests from sweating when they work. 

“The linen not only depicted purity by its whiteness, but its coolness kept the priests from perspiring and thereby becoming unclean.”

–Ralph H. Alexander

19 And before they leave to join the other people in the outer courtyard, they must take off their priestly clothes, then place them in the sacred rooms and put on their regular clothes. That way, no one will touch their sacred clothes and be harmed.

20 Priests must never shave their heads when they are mourning. But they must keep their hair properly trimmed and not let it grow too long. 

“Like scarred skin, both the shaved head and long, unkempt hair were considered signs of disfigurement (cf. Leviticus 19:27). If the sacrificial animals were to be without defect or blemish, how much more those functionaries who stand before the holy God in service?”

–Daniel I. Block

21 They must not drink wine before going to the inner courtyard.

22 A priest must not marry a divorced woman; he can marry only a virgin from Israel or the widow of another priest.

23 Priests must teach my people the difference between what is sacred and what is ordinary, and between what is clean and what is unclean. 24 They will make decisions in difficult legal cases, according to my own laws. They must also observe the religious festivals my Law requires and must always respect the Sabbath.

This was one of fundamental duties of the priests of Israel. They were by both instruction and example to teach Israel the difference between the unclean and the clean. The priests of ancient Israel could also serve as judges or mediators. This was because they were supposed to be well versed in the laws and statutes of God, and able to apply them in given situations.

“Ezra provides an outstanding example of such leadership, with the added observation that he made the law a matter of personal study as well. An admirable example to all who minister God’s word, Ezra’s triple commitment to the law was to study it, to do it and to teach it. If only leaders in the Christian church had the same depth and breadth of commitment to the Scriptures! For it hardly needs to be said that these same duties belong to the task of pastoral leadership in the church and are strongly commended in the New Testament. Not only did Paul impress on Timothy and Titus the importance of teaching, careful handling of disputes, and setting an example of personal godliness and integrity; he modelled all three in his own ministry.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

25 Touching a dead body will make a person unclean. So a priest must not go near a dead body, unless it is one of his parents or children, or his brother or unmarried sister. 26 If a priest touches a dead body, he is unclean and must go through a ceremony to make himself clean. Then seven days later, 27 he must go to the inner courtyard of the temple and offer a sacrifice for sin. After that, he may once again serve as my priest. I, the Lord God, have spoken.

28 I myself will provide for my priests, and so they won’t receive any land of their own. 29 Instead, they will receive part of the grain sacrifices, as well as part of the sacrifices for sin and sacrifices to make things right. They will also be given everything in Israel that has been completely dedicated to me. 30 The first part of every harvest will belong to the priests. They will also receive part of all special gifts and offerings the Israelites bring to me. And whenever any of my people bake bread, they will give their first loaf as an offering to the priests, and I will bless the homes of the people when they do this.

“Like the Old Testament priests, the kingdom priests will not have an inheritance of land but will have the Lord as their inheritance and be able to live from the temple offerings.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

31 Priests must not eat any bird or animal that dies a natural death or that has been killed by a wild animal.

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Music:

As we read these chapters about plans for a temple, a place to worship the Most High God and the people who lead the congregation, I want us to hear some of the hymns that have been sung for many generations in many different countries and denominations. These are some of a Christian’s most precious treasures!  HERE  is “Holy, Holy, Holy,” written by Reginald Heber (1783–1826), an English Anglican priest who was for the last few years of his life the Bishop of Calcutta

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man, Thy glory may not see:
Only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, Holy, Holy! merciful and mighty,
God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!

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2405.) Psalm 24

July 20, 2018

Ps24 v7

Psalm 24 (New King James Version)

A Psalm of David.

Many think this Psalm was written upon the occasion of the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem during the reign of David (2 Samuel 6). Yet Spurgeon correctly wrote, “The eye of the Psalmist looked, however, beyond the typical upgoing of the ark to the sublime ascension of the King of glory.”

–David Guzik

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?

There are two eminences in the city of Jerusalem, Mount Zion with the royal palace to the south, and Mount Moriah with the temple site to the north: these are the hill and the house/place of the psalm. The candidate to take possession of them must be both a king and a priest.

–all text in red from T. Ernest Wilson

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.

Here are four moral qualifications required of the person worthy to occupy the hill and the house.

The first applicant was Satan. At our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, he claimed to have possession of all the kingdoms of this world and the glory of them (Luke 4:5-6). But clearly that was a usurper’s claim and he certainly does not fulfill the credentials or qualifications.

Then we have the four great Gentile world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, with the names of Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, and Augustus Caesar. In more modern times there have been Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. When we compare them with the required moral qualifications, we see how far short they come.

Adolf Hitler boasted that he would found an empire that would last a thousand years. Does he have clean hands? They are stained with the blood of six million Jews cruelly done to death in the gas ovens of Europe. Does Nero, the Roman emperor have a pure heart? He was a human monster who murdered his own mother and who killed his wife with a kick when she was pregnant with his unborn child.

Napoleon lifted up his soul unto vanity. When he was being crowned emperor, it was suggested to him that the pope should be invited to perform the ceremony. This he disdainfully refused, and with inflated pride, set the crown on his own head.

Stalin swore deceitfully when he signed political alliances and later broke them. He, too, is said to have been responsible for the planned extermination of eleven million persons in the Ukraine and other parts of Russia.

Certainly none of these would-be rulers fulfill the moral qualifications to occupy the throne of world dominion. But let us think of another Man—Jesus of Nazareth. Does He meet the standard?

Did He have clean hands? His hands were pure, powerful, pierced, and priestly hands. They were laid in compassion on the leper, on the blind, and on the heads of little children while He blessed them.

Did He have a pure heart? He was sinless and impeccable. There was no traitor within the gates of His mind or heart to open the door to the tempter. He could throw out the challenge to the world: “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” (John 8:46). There was no answer to that challenge.

Was His soul lifted up unto vanity? He could say: “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Pride was Satan’s original sin. He reached up, but Jesus stooped down to the death of the cross.

Did He ever swear deceitfully? He was truth personified. He could say: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

All the political leaders who have ever appeared in this world have failed the moral test: the only One who has come up to the standard is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the only perfect moral Person the world has ever seen.

5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face.  Selah

The Eastern Gate, also known as the Golden Gate or the Gate of Mercy, in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  In Jewish tradition, this is the gate through which the Messiah will enter Jerusalem.

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.

“Ancient rabbinical sources tell us that, in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, we may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem.”

–James Montgomery Boice

8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory.  Selah

When our Lord came in humiliation at His first advent, He was designated “King of the Jews.” Such was His title in rejection. In His manifestation in the millennium, He will be King of kings and Lord of lords. But in relation to His people, He is the King of glory. He will be the Priest-King, “a Priest upon His throne, and He shall bear the glory” (Zechariah 6:12-13).

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Music:

HERE  is “Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates”  from Handel’s Messiah.  Performed by the Engelbrekts Chamber Choir and members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bengt Eklund, Conductor.

Concert in Engelbrektskyrkan, Stockholm, December 16, 2012

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New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Images courtesy of:
Lift up your heads, o gates!   http://markryman.com/BLOG/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/psalm24-7.jpg
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?   https://i1.wp.com/www.nancykaygrace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Day8.-Psalm-24-3-4-graceimpact.png
Eastern Gate in Jerusalem.     https://oneyeardevotional.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/golden_gate_jerusalem_02.jpg

2404.) Ezekiel 43

July 19, 2018

Ezekiel 43   (CEV)

The Lord’s Glory Returns to the Temple

The man took me back to the east gate of the temple, 

This was where Ezekiel’s visionary tour of the temple began (Ezekiel 40:6). Also, many years before, in a vision Ezekiel saw the glory of God depart from the temple, and it left through the east gate (Ezekiel 11:23). 

where I saw the brightness of the glory of Israel’s God coming from the east.

Ezekiel’s temple was nothing more than a building. With the glory of God, it was a sacred place, a habitation for God and the radiance of His presence.

It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. The Bible says that God’s glory radiates throughout all His creation (Psalm 19:1-4). Yet there is also the concept of the visible, tangible glory of God – the shekinah – and this is scattered about the Old Testament. In many cases it is described as a cloud.

· This is the cloud that stood by Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
· This is the cloud of glory that God spoke to Israel from (Exodus 16:10).
· This is the cloud from which God met with Moses and others (Exodus 19:9, 24:15-18, Numbers 11:25, 12:5, 16:42).
· This is the cloud that stood by the door of the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:9-10).
· This is the cloud from which God appeared to the High Priest in the Holy Place inside the veil (Leviticus 16:2).
· This is the cloud of Ezekiel’s vision, filling the temple of God with the brightness of His glory (Ezekiel 10:4).
· This is the cloud of glory that overshadowed Mary when she conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
· This is the cloud present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:34-35).
· This is the cloud of glory that received Jesus into heaven at His ascension (Acts 1:9).
· This is the cloud that will display the glory of Jesus Christ when He returns in triumph to this earth (Luke 21:27, Revelation 1:7).

–David Guzik

The sound I heard was as loud as ocean waves, and everything around was shining with the dazzling brightness of his glory. This vision was like the one I had seen when God came to destroy Jerusalem and like the one I had seen near the Chebar River.

I immediately bowed with my face to the ground, 

Though Ezekiel had seen this vision of the glory of God twice before (in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10-11), it was in no way a familiar or comfortable sight. In holy reverence to God, he fell on his face (ESV). The sense is that Ezekiel didn’t choose to do this; it was a natural response.

“In reverence to his majesty, in admiration of his mercy, and in the sense of mine own unworthiness. The nearer any one cometh to God, the lower he falleth in his own eyes.”

–John Trapp (English Anglican Bible commentator, 1601-1669)

and the Lord’s glory came through the east gate and into the temple. The Lord’s Spirit lifted me to my feet and carried me to the inner courtyard, where I saw that the Lord’s glory had filled the temple.

“When Moses dedicated the tabernacle (Exodus 40) and Solomon the temple (2 Chronicles 5:11-14), the glory of God moved in, signifying that the Lord had accepted their worship and approved of their work.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe (American pastor, Bible teacher, and writer, born 1929)

 “Now that the temple had been described, it was necessary to signify that the building was accepted by God.”

–Charles L. Feinberg (American Biblical scholar, raised an Orthodox Jew, converted to Christianity at age 20, 1909-1995)

The man was standing beside me, and I heard the Lord say from inside the temple:

Ezekiel, son of man, this temple is my throne on earth. I will live here among the people of Israel forever.

Yahweh proclaimed that He had come back to the temple to reign. It was His throne, where He would stand and where He would abide. 

“The word forever made this declaration more far-reaching than anything which was spoken concerning the Tabernacle of Moses or the Temple of Solomon.”

–Chuck Smith (American pastor, 1927-2013)

They and their kings will never again disgrace me by worshiping idols at local shrines or by setting up memorials to their dead kings. Israel’s kings built their palaces so close to my holy temple that only a wall separated them from me. Then these kings disgraced me with their evil ways, and in my fierce anger I destroyed them. But if the people and their kings stop worshiping other gods and tear down those memorials, I will live among them forever.

“This passage reminds us that people who frequent ‘holy places’ ought to be ‘holy people.’ The Jewish remnant that returned to their land to rebuild the temple would need to take this message to heart, and we need to take it to heart today.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

When Israel thought of themselves living near or beside God, they did not honor and obey Him fully. God’s true desire was to dwell in their midst forever, and to do so as part of a new covenant transformation of Israel.

–David Guzik

10 The people of Israel must suffer shame for sinning against me, so tell them about my holy temple. Let them think about it, 11 then if they are truly sorry, describe for them the design and shape of the temple, the gates, the measurements, and how the buildings are arranged. Explain the regulations about worshiping there, then write down these things, so they can study and obey them.

The greater message for Ezekiel and the exile community was, God isn’t finished with you yet. He will gather, rebuild, restore, and bring His glory. Yet this message wasn’t communicated with fairy tales and wild stories, but with the prophetic declaration of real things that would surely happen.

12 The temple area on my holy mountain must be kept sacred! This is the most important law about the temple.

The Altar

After the description of God’s glory and the promise of His abiding presence, Ezekiel went back to describing the place of sacrifice. Like every true altar of Yahweh, this altar points to the cross, and the finished work of Jesus Messiah upon the cross.

13 According to the official standards, the altar in the temple had the following measurements: Around the bottom of the altar was a gutter twenty inches wide and twenty inches deep, with a ten inch ledge on the outer rim. 14-17 The altar rested on a base and had three sections, each one of them square. The bottom section was twenty-seven feet on each side and three feet high. The middle section was twenty-four feet on each side and seven feet high, and it had a ten inch rim around its outer edge. The top section, which was twenty feet on each side and seven feet high, was the place where sacrifices were burned, and the four corners of the top section looked like the horns of a bull. The steps leading up to the altar were on the east side.

The Dedication of the Altar

18 The Lord God said:

Ezekiel, son of man, after the altar is built, it must be dedicated by offering sacrifices on it and by splattering it with blood. Here is what you must do: 

These may be fairly regarded as memorials pointing back to the work of Jesus. Animal sacrifices were never actually effective for the cleansing of sin, only as representations and shadows of the future reality fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah in His crucifixion. Even so, the literal presence of these sacrifices does not mean that they should or could be regarded as effective for the cleansing of sin. Much as the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Table is a powerful spiritual representation and memorial of Jesus’ work on the cross, these sacrifices can be regarded in a similar way.

–David Guzik

19 The priests of the Levi tribe from the family of Zadok the priest are the only ones who may serve in my temple—this is my law. So give them a young bull to slaughter as a sacrifice for sin. 20 Take some of the animal’s blood and smear it on the four corners of the altar, some on the corners of the middle section, and some more on the rim around its edge. That will purify the altar and make it fit for offering sacrifices to me. 21 Then take the body of the bull outside the temple area and burn it at the special place.

22 The next day, a goat that has nothing wrong with it must be offered as a sacrifice for sin. Purify the altar with its blood, just as you did with the blood of the bull. 23 Then choose a young bull and a young ram that have nothing wrong with them, 24 and bring them to my temple. The priests will sprinkle salt on them and offer them as sacrifices to please me. 

25 Each day for the next seven days, you must offer a goat and a bull and a ram as sacrifices for sin. These animals must have nothing wrong with them. 26 The priests will purify the altar during those days, so that it will be acceptable to me and ready to use. 27 From then on, the priests will use this altar to offer sacrifices to please me and sacrifices to ask my blessing. 

These sacrifices have traditionally been called “peace offerings” or “offerings of well-being.” The CEV sometimes calls them “sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.”

“Through the Levitical offerings the sacrifices of Israel and they themselves as well were accepted by the Lord. Thus Ezekiel is not presenting a new administrative principle with God, for acceptance with God is on the basis of sacrifice.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

Then I will be pleased with the people of Israel. I, the Lord God, have spoken.

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Music:

As we read these chapters about plans for a temple, a place to worship the Most High God, I want us to hear some of the hymns that have been sung for many generations in many different countries and denominations. These are some of a Christian’s most precious treasures!  HERE  is “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.”  The hymn is often called the “National Anthem of Christendom.” The lyrics, written by Edward Perronet while he served as a missionary in India, first appeared in the November 1779 issue of the Gospel Magazine,  which was edited by the author of “Rock of Ages,” Augustus Toplady.

Performed at “Join To Sing The Great Salvation,” a worship service serving as the graduate conducting recital of Michael Devine for the Luther Seminary/St. Olaf College Master of Sacred Music program. May 7, 2012 — Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

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2403.) Ezekiel 42

July 18, 2018

Ezekiel 42   (CEV)

The Sacred Rooms for the Priests

1-2 After the man and I left the temple and walked back to the outer courtyard, he showed me a set of rooms on the north side of the west building. This set of rooms was one hundred seventy feet long and eighty-five feet wide. On one side of them was the thirty-four feet of open space that ran alongside the temple, and on the other side was the sidewalk that circled the outer courtyard. The rooms were arranged in three levels with doors that opened toward the north, and in front of them was a walkway seventeen feet wide and one hundred seventy feet long. The rooms on the top level were narrower than those on the middle level, and the rooms on the middle level were narrower than those on the bottom level. The rooms on the bottom level supported those on the two upper levels, and so these rooms did not have columns like other buildings in the courtyard. 7-8 To the north was a privacy wall eighty-five feet long, 9-10 and at the east end of this wall was the door leading from the courtyard to these rooms.

Ezekiel’s radiant guide took him away from the temple building back to the outer court. There they noted gallery against gallery in three stories. These held chambers or rooms.

–David Guzik

There was also a set of rooms on the south side of the west building. 11 These rooms were exactly like those on the north side, and they also had a walkway in front of them. 12 The door to these rooms was at the east end of the wall that stood in front of them.

13 The man then said to me:

These rooms on the north and south sides of the temple are the sacred rooms where the Lord’s priests will eat the most holy offerings. These offerings include the grain sacrifices, the sacrifices for sin, and the sacrifices to make things right. 

“Such storage space housed ritual equipment, votive gifts, and the revenue taken in by the temple. Since revenue was not in money but in kind, enormous space was required for sacks of grain, amphorae of oil, and the kegs of wine, not to mention other kinds of goods that found their way into the priests’ hands.”

–Daniel I. Block

14 When the priests are ready to leave the temple, they must go through these rooms before they return to the outer courtyard. They must leave their sacred clothes in these rooms and put on regular clothes before going anywhere near other people.

The Size of the Temple Area

15 After the man had finished measuring the buildings inside the temple area, he took me back through the east gate and measured the wall around this area. 16 He used his measuring stick to measure the east side of this wall; it was eight hundred forty feet long. 17-19 Then he measured the north side, the south side, and the west side of the wall, and they were each eight hundred forty feet long, 20 and so the temple area was a perfect square.

This is a large area, much larger than the present temple mount. 

“The entire area was much too large for Mount Moriah where Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s temples stood. The scheme requires a great change in the topography of the land which will occur as indicated in Zechariah 14:9-11, the very future time which Ezekiel had in view.”

–Charles L. Feinberg

The wall around this area separated what was sacred from what was ordinary.

“Verse 20 concludes with a note explaining the function of the outside walls. They are not constructed to keep enemy forces out, if by these forces one means human foes of Israel, but to protect the sanctity of the sacred area from the pollution of common touch and to prevent the contagion of holiness from touching the people.”

–Daniel I. Block

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Music:

As we read these chapters about plans for a temple, a place to worship the Most High God, I want us to hear some of the hymns that have been sung for many generations in many different countries and denominations. These are some of a Christian’s most precious treasures!  HERE  is “Be Thou My Vision,” a traditional hymn from Ireland. The words are based on a Middle Irish poem often attributed to the sixth-century Irish Christian poet Dallan Forgaill. The best-known English version, with some minor variations, was translated by Eleanor Hull and published in 1912. Since 1919 it has been commonly sung to the Irish folk tune “Slane.”

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Contemporary English Version (CEV)Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
3-story gallery in the temple.   http://bible.ag/en/enezekieltranscript.htm

2402.) Ezekiel 41

July 17, 2018

Ezekiel 41   (CEV)

Next we went into the main room of the temple. The man measured the doorway of this room: It was ten feet wide, seventeen feet long, and the distance from the doorway to the wall on either side was eight feet. The main room itself was sixty-eight feet by thirty-four feet.

Because Ezekiel was a priest himself, he could go into the sanctuary – the holy place – with his radiant guide. Ezekiel did not follow his radiant guide into the Most Holy Place. Ezekiel was not the high priest, who alone had access into the holy of holies. 

–David Guzik

3-4 Then the man walked to the far end of the temple’s main room and said, “Beyond this doorway is the most holy place.” He first measured the doorway: It was three feet wide, ten feet long, and the distance from the doorway to the wall on either side was twelve feet. Then he measured the most holy place, and it was thirty-four feet square.

A New Most Holy Place

Under the old covenant, God made His presence known most strongly in the Most Holy Place, or Holy of Holies, the most sacred area of the tabernacle/temple. This presence among Israel was contingent upon the loyalty of the nation to the Law (2 Chronicles 7:19-22), a loyalty that was seen the majority of time only in the lives of a holy remnant within the nation. Most Israelites failed to keep covenant and ended up defiling the temple, with the result that God moved out of the Holy of Holies (Ezek. 10) and allowed foreigners to burn the temple to the ground (2 Kings 25:1-21).

We can hardly overestimate the tragedy this must have been in the eyes of Ezekiel, who witnessed the temple’s destruction, for he was of the priestly lineage that served in the temple (Ezekiel 1:3). Much of the book that bears his name is concerned with the threat of exile and the promise of judgment upon the people of God for their sins. But this is not all the book has to offer, as it also looks forward to the day when the Lord would restore His people and bless them once more. This is especially clear in Ezekiel’s vision of a renewed temple in chapters 40–48.

Today, many people believe this account of the temple is a blueprint for a literal temple that will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. This is an inappropriate reading, as the dimensions of this temple would make it impossible to be built according to the plan in chapters 40–48. We do not have the space to go into all the details, but if we were to add up all the measurements of the temple, we would get a length of 4,500 feet. Ancient Jerusalem could not have accommodated such a large building on Mt. Zion; it would have to extend outside of the city. Moreover, the imagery of a life-giving river and trees that bear fruit perpetually are clearly symbolic and thus expressive of the blessings that will flow from God’s sanctuary to all the earth (47:1–12).

What, then, do we learn from this vision of the new temple and new Holy of Holies in today’s passage? Keeping in mind that Ezekiel was a priest, a revelation of a grand temple was a clear way for the Lord to show him that there was yet a glorious future ahead for the faithful Israelites. Upon their restoration, God’s presence and glory would extend past the borders of Jerusalem to the outlying lands. All creation would be His temple, for all creation would then be holy (Isaiah 11:9).

–Ligonier Ministries

The Storage Rooms of the Temple

The man measured the wall of the temple, and it was ten feet thick. Storage rooms seven feet wide were built against the outside of the wall. There were three levels of rooms, with thirty rooms on each level, and they rested on ledges that were attached to the temple walls, so that nothing was built into the walls. The walls of the temple were thicker at the bottom than at the top, which meant that the storage rooms on the top level were wider than those on the bottom level. Steps led from the bottom level, through the middle level, and into the top level.

The temple rested on a stone base ten feet high, which also served as the foundation for the storage rooms. The outside walls of the storage rooms were eight feet thick; there was nothing between these walls 10 and the nearest buildings thirty-four feet away. 11 One door led into the storage rooms on the north side of the temple, and another door led to those on the south side. The stone base extended eight feet beyond the outside wall of the storage rooms.

“The description of the side rooms (verses 5-11) is difficult to follow. They were probably used to store gifts and tithes and various temple vessels.”

–Christopher J. H. Wright

The West Building and the Measurements of the Temple

12 I noticed another building: It faced the west end of the temple and was one hundred seventeen feet wide, one hundred fifty feet long, and had walls over eight feet thick.

13 The man measured the length of the temple, and it was one hundred seventy feet. He then measured from the back wall of the temple, across the open space behind the temple, to the back wall of the west building; it was one hundred seventy feet. 14 The distance across the front of the temple, including the open space on either side, was also one hundred seventy feet.

15 Finally, the man measured the length of the west building, including the side rooms on each end, and it was also one hundred seventy feet.

The measurements indicate a massive, substantial building.

The Inside of the Temple

The inside walls of the temple’s porch and main room 16 were paneled with wood all the way from the floor to the windows, while the doorways, the small windows, and the three side rooms were trimmed in wood. 17 The paneling stopped just above the doorway. These walls were decorated 18-20 with carvings of winged creatures and had a carving of a palm tree between the creatures. Each winged creature had two faces: A human face looking at the palm tree on one side, and a lion’s face looking at the palm tree on the other side. These designs were carved into the paneling all the way around the two rooms.

The design of palm trees has been frequently noted before in Ezekiel’s temple, and was also noted Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:29-35). The design of cherubim was prominent in both the previous tabernacle and temple (Exodus 25:18-22 and 26:1; 1 Kings 6:23-35). 

“In these figures aspirations of life and prosperity (palm) and security (cherubim) coalesce. In Israelite thought, the divine resident of this house was the source of both.” 

–Daniel I. Block

21 The doorframe to the temple’s main room was in the shape of a rectangle.

The Wooden Altar

In front of the doorway to the most holy place was something that looked like 22 a wooden altar. It was five feet high and four feet square, and its corners, its base, and its sides were made of wood. The man said, “This is a reminder that the Lord is constantly watching over his temple.”

Made of wood and normally covered with metal, this is likely the altar of incense that stood inside the temple building. It was a representation of the prayers of God’s people.

The Doors in the Temple

23 Both the doorway to the main room of the temple and the doorway to the most holy place had two doors, 24 and each door had two sections that could fold open. 25 The doors to the main room were decorated with carvings of winged creatures and palm trees just like those on the walls, and there was a wooden covering over the porch just outside these doors. 26 The walls on each side of this porch had small windows and were also decorated with carvings of palm trees.

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Music:

As we read these chapters about plans for a temple, a place to worship the Most High God, I want us to hear some of the hymns that have been sung for many generations in many different countries and denominations. These are some of a Christian’s most precious treasures!  HERE  is a hymn I want sung at my funeral!  “A Mighty Fortress,” with both words and tune written by Martin Luther sometime between 1527 and 1529.

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2401.) Ezekiel 40

July 16, 2018

Ezekiel 40   (CEV)

Ezekiel Sees the Future Temple in Jerusalem

This final, great vision of Ezekiel is recorded in chapters 40 through 48. It is dated many years after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.

1-2 Twenty-five years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylonia, and fourteen years after the Babylonians had captured Jerusalem, the Lord’s power took control of me on the tenth day of the first month. The Lord showed me some visions in which I was carried to the top of a high mountain in Jerusalem. I looked to the south and saw what looked like a city full of buildings. In my vision the Lord took me closer, and I saw a man who was sparkling like polished bronze.

–likely an angelic being?

He was standing near one of the gates and was holding a tape measure in one hand and a measuring stick in the other. The man said, “Ezekiel, son of man, pay close attention to everything I’m going to show you—that’s why you’ve been brought here. Listen carefully, because you must tell the people of Israel what you see.”

“Ezekiel is to concentrate on what the guide is about to show him. After all, he is not simply a tourist visiting an historical site, or even a worshiper on a pilgrimage to a shrine. He is a mediator of divine revelation.”

–Daniel I. Block

“Ezekiel’s experience might be likened to a young couple who go frequently to the site of their future dream home. They step off the dimensions of the home, perhaps sketch in the dust its configuration. They relish every moment of the anticipation. In their minds they can visualize that home in all its grandeur.”

–Chuck Smith

“The temple will be a place of learning for both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 2:1-3), and no doubt the worshipers will study the Old Testament law and learn more about Jesus. They will study the New Testament as well and see the deeper significance of the sacrifices and the feasts.”

–Warren W. Wiersbe

HERE  you will see a schematic of this temple, which I find quite helpful for making sense of all the measurements below!

The East Gate

This gate, in the eastern Temple-Mount wall, may be the best-known of all the gates of Jerusalem. Called the Golden Gate or the Eastern Gate, it has been blocked for centuries, and is said to be awaiting a miraculous opening when the Messiah comes and the dead are resurrected.

The first thing I saw was an outer wall that completely surrounded the temple area.

This wall around the temple compound is what helped to make the whole scene look something like a city (as in Ezekiel 40:2).

The man took his measuring stick, which was ten feet long, and measured the wall; it was ten feet high and ten feet thick. 6-7 Then he went to the east gate,

“It is significant that the entrance into the temple is from the east, since it was toward the east that God left the temple according to Ezekiel 11:23.”

–Bruce Vawter and Leslie J. Hoppe

The gate was actually something of a tower, with rooms and compartments or side rooms.

where he walked up steps that led to a long passageway. On each side of this passageway were three guardrooms, which were ten feet square, and they were separated by walls over eight feet thick. The man measured the distance between the opening of the gate and the first guardroom, and it was ten feet, the thickness of the outer wall.

At the far end of this passageway, I saw an entrance room that faced the courtyard of the temple itself. There was also a distance of ten feet between the last guardroom and the entrance room 8-9 at the end of the passageway. The man measured this room: It was thirteen feet from the doorway to the opposite wall, and the distance from the doorway to the wall on either side was three feet. 10 The three guardrooms on each side of the passageway were the same size, and the walls that separated them were the same thickness.

11 Next, the man measured the width of the passageway, and it was twenty-two feet, but the two doors of the gate were only sixteen feet wide. 12 In front of the guardrooms, which were ten feet square, was a railing about twenty inches high and twenty inches thick. 13 The man measured the distance from the back wall of one of these rooms to the same spot in the room directly across the passageway, and it was forty-two feet. 14 He measured the entrance room at the far end of the passageway, and it was thirty-four feet wide. 15 Finally, he measured the total length of the passageway, from the outer wall to the entrance room, and it was eighty-five feet. 16 The three walls in the guardrooms had small windows in them, just like the ones in the entrance room. The walls along the passageway were decorated with carvings of palm trees.

carved by Hayley Diamond

“Engraven with curious art for beauty, and whose upper branches spreading themselves along under the arches seemed to bear up the arches.”

–Matthew Poole

The Outer Courtyard

17 The man then led me through the passageway and into the outer courtyard of the temple, where I saw thirty rooms built around the outside of the courtyard. These side rooms were built against the outer wall, and in front of them was a sidewalk that circled the courtyard. 18 This was known as the lower sidewalk, and it was eighty-five feet wide.

19 I saw the gates that led to the inner courtyard of the temple and noticed that they were higher than those leading to the outer courtyard. The man measured the distance between the outer and inner gates, and it was one hundred seventy feet.

Having entered through the eastern gate, now Ezekiel saw the outer court. There was a lower pavement, meaning that there were at least two levels to the outer court.

The North Gate

This most imposing of Jerusalem’s current gateways faces north and is named for the grand city from which Jerusalem’s rulers once came. It is always a busy thoroughfare, thanks to the bustling markets within. Below the 16th-century gate, archaeologists have uncovered part of the entryway built by Emperor Hadrian in the second century CE.

20 Next, the man measured the north gate that led to the outer courtyard. 21 This gate also had three guardrooms on each side of a passageway. The measurements of these rooms, the walls between them, and the entrance room at the far end of the passageway were exactly the same as those of the east gate. The north gate was also eighty-five feet long and forty-two feet wide, 22 and the windows, the entrance room, and the carvings of palm trees were just like those in the east gate. The entrance room also faced the courtyard of the temple and had seven steps leading up to it. 23 Directly across the outer courtyard was a gate that led to the inner courtyard, just as there was for the east gate. The man measured the distance between the outer and inner gate, and it was one hundred seventy feet.

The South Gate

One of the gates on the south side of modern day Jerusalem is Zion Gate, which was built in July 1540,

24 The man then took me to the south gate. He measured the walls and the entrance room of this gate, and the measurements were exactly the same as those of the other two gates. 

The East Gate, North Gate, and South Gate are all the same size. There was no gate on the western side, since the temple was situated closer to the western wall.

25 There were windows in the guardrooms of this gate and in the entrance room, just like the others, and this gate was also eighty-five feet long and forty-two feet wide. 26 Seven steps led up to the gate; the entrance room was at the far end of the passageway and faced the courtyard of the temple. Carvings of palm trees decorated the walls along the passageway. 27 And directly across the outer courtyard was a gate on the south side of the inner courtyard. The man measured the distance between the outer and inner gate, and it was also one hundred seventy feet.

The Gates Leading to the Inner Courtyard

28 We then went into the inner courtyard, through the gate on the south side of the temple. The man measured the gate, and it was the same size as the gates in the outer wall. 29-30 In fact, everything along the passageway was also the same size, including the guardrooms, the walls separating them, the entrance room at the far end, and the windows. This gate, like the others, was eighty-five feet long and forty-two feet wide. 31 The entrance room of this gate faced the outer courtyard, and carvings of palm trees decorated the walls of the passageway. Eight steps led up to this gate.

In his vision and directed by his guide, Ezekiel came to the inner court of the temple structure. There is no mention made of a specific court of the Gentiles or court of the women, as we know were part of Herod’s Temple at the time of Jesus.

32 Next, we went through the east gate to the inner courtyard. The man measured this gate, and it was the same size as the others. 33 The guardrooms, the walls separating them, and its entrance room had the same measurements as the other gates. The guardrooms and the entrance room had windows, and the gate was eighty-five feet long and forty-two feet wide. 34 The entrance room faced the outer courtyard, and the walls in the passageway were decorated with carvings of palm trees. Eight steps also led up to this gate.

35 Then the man took me to the north gate. He measured it, and it was the same size as the others, 36 including the guardrooms, the walls separating them, and the entrance room. There were also windows in this gate. It was eighty-five feet long and forty-two feet wide, 37 and like the other inner gates, its entrance room faced the outer courtyard, and its walls were decorated with carvings of palm trees. Eight steps also led up to this gate.

The Rooms for Sacrificing Animals

38-39 Inside the entrance room of the north gate, I saw four tables, two on each side of the room, where the animals to be sacrificed were killed. Just outside this room was a small building used for washing the animals before they were offered as sacrifices to please the Lord or sacrifices for sin or sacrifices to make things right. 

It is not necessary that the emphasis of each of these offerings be for the atonement of sin. Though they sometimes had that association, they also were used with the emphasis of complete consecration and purification.

· “The ritual of the burnt offering involved the total consumption of the offering by fire; no portion was ever eaten by humans.” 
· “Purification offerings functioned only to decontaminate sacred objects and places (see Ezekiel 43:19-27).”
· Guilt offering: “In principle the offering is perceived as restitution, reparation, for sullying a sacred object or person.” 

–Daniel I. Block

“The sin and guilt offerings, therefore, reminded the Israelite that he was sinful and that he needed the Messiah’s innocent blood, typified in the animal, to cleanse him of his sin and to bring forgiveness from God.”

–Ralph H. Alexander

40 Four more tables were in the outer courtyard, two on each side of the steps leading into the entrance room. 41 So there was a total of eight tables, four inside and four outside, where the animals were killed, 42-43 and where the meat was placed until it was sacrificed on the altar.

Next to the tables in the entrance room were four stone tables twenty inches high and thirty inches square; the equipment used for killing the animals was kept on top of these tables. All around the walls of this room was a three inch shelf.

All this may be fairly regarded as memorials pointing back to the work of Jesus. Animal sacrifices were never actually effective for the cleansing of sin, only as representations and shadows of the future reality fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah in His crucifixion. Even so, the literal presence of these sacrifices does not mean that they should or could be regarded as effective for the cleansing of sin. Much as the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Table is a powerful spiritual representation and memorial of Jesus’ work on the cross, these sacrifices can be regarded in a similar way.

–David Guzik

The Rooms Belonging to the Priests

44 The man then took me to the inner courtyard, where I saw two buildings, one beside the inner gate on the north and the other beside the inner gate on the south. 45 He said, “The building beside the north gate belongs to the priests who serve in the temple, 46 and the building beside the south gate belongs to those who serve at the altar. All of them are descendants of Zadok and are the only Levites allowed to serve as the Lord’s priests.”

The Inner Courtyard and the Temple

47 Now the man measured the inner courtyard; it was one hundred seventy feet square. I also saw an altar in front of the temple.

48 We walked to the porch of the temple, and the man measured the doorway of the porch: It was twenty-four feet long, eight feet wide, and the distance from the doorway to the wall on either side was five feet. 49 The porch itself was thirty-four feet by twenty feet, with steps leading up to it. There was a column on each side of these steps.

These two columns bring to mind the two pillars in Solomon’s temple named Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:21).

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Music:

As we read these chapters about plans for a temple, a place to worship the Most High God, I want us to hear some of the hymns that have been sung for many generations in many different countries and denominations. These are some of a Christian’s most precious treasures!  HERE  is “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” written by Matthew Bridges in England in 1852.

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2400.) Psalm 122

July 13, 2018
Let us go unto the house of the Lord!

Let us go unto the house of the Lord!

Psalm 122   (NRSV)

Song of Praise and Prayer for Jerusalem

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

The final several chapters of Ezekiel will deal with his vision of the Temple, so here is a Temple song to prepare us.

Psalm 122 carries the title, A Song of Ascents. Of David. It is one of the four Songs of Ascents that is specifically attributed to King David. He wrote it both for what Jerusalem was in his day, and for what it would become under his son and their successors. David perhaps never made pilgrimage from a great distance to one of the major feasts, but he wrote Psalm 122 in the voice of one who did, and who has arrived at the Holy City.

–David Guzik

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet are standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

I lived in Jerusalem for the school year 1978-1979, working as an English teacher at the Anglican International School. (I remember in my 7th grade class, I had 11 students who spoke 11 different languages at home; we all spoke English at school.) I also played the organ every week for the English speaking services at Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Old City.

I lived in Rehavia, a section of the New City (my apartment was not far from the Prime Minister’s official residence). So every Sunday morning I traveled (often walked) to the Old City.  I would enter through Jaffa Gate. I got into the habit of saying the first two verses of Psalm 122 whenever I entered the city on Sunday morning. And it is a habit I have kept up for all these years — most Sunday mornings, when I wake up and begin to get ready to go to church, I say these verses to myself.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
 Our feet have stood
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

Jerusalem—built as a city
    that is bound firmly together.

“During David’s reign and for some time thereafter, Jerusalem was a small city located on the crest of Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, bounded on two sides by steep descents to the Kidron and Tyropaeon valleys, and thus no more than half a mile in breadth. It had a dramatic setting for one approaching it from a distance, and its tight structure would have impressed anyone observing it.”

–James Montgomery Boice

To it the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

One of the reasons David conquered Jerusalem and established it as the capital of both the political and religious life of Israel was because it did not previously belong to a specific tribe, being under Canaanite occupation. Because it belonged to no tribe it belonged to all the tribes, and the tribes of the Lord could come together as one at Jerusalem and the house of the Lord.

For there the thrones for judgment were set up,
    the thrones of the house of David.

P122 pray for peace

The metal dome (lower right) is part of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; the tower (upper left) is part of the Lutheran church of the Redeemer; both in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
    and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your good.

The name “Jerusalem” means city of peace. We pray for peace in the city of peace. The benediction of peace rests upon all who love the city of the Great King.

–William MacDonald

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Music:

HERE  is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing “I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me”  by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918).

Psalm 122 has been sung at the entrance of the monarch at every British coronation since that of King Charles I. Parry’s version was composed for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and revised in 1911 for that of King George V when the familiar introduction was added. This setting employs antiphonal choir effects and brass fanfares. At the first performance of Parry’s arrangement at the 1902 coronation, the director of music, Sir Frederick Bridge, misjudged the timing and had finished the anthem before the King had arrived, having to repeat it when the right moment came. Bridge was saved by the organist, Walter Alcock, who improvised in the interim. This setting of “I Was Glad” was also performed in 2011 at the Westminster Abbey wedding of Prince William and Catherine as the processional music for the bride and her father and the bridal attendants. It had previously been performed at the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
Let us go unto the house of the Lord.    http://closerdaybyday.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/psalm-122.jpg
city of Jerusalem, looking west.    https://mobile.almasdarnews.com/article/u-s-ready-open-jerusalem-embassy-may-state-department/
map of David’s Jerusalem.   http://www.generationword.com/jerusalem101-photos/city-of-david/city-of-david-model.jpg
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/p122-pray-for-peace.jpg