2325.) Good Friday Truth!

March 30, 2018

Good Friday Truth!

Phillips Brooks:
“We may say that on the first Good Friday afternoon was completed that great act by which light conquered darkness and goodness conquered sin. That is the wonder of our Saviour’s crucifixion. There have been victories all over the world, but wherever we look for the victor we expect to find him with his heel upon the neck of the vanquished. The wonder of Good Friday is that the victor lies vanquished by the vanquished one. We have to look deeper into the very heart and essence of things before we can see how real the victory is that thus hides under the guise of defeat.”

.

Augustus William Hare:
“The cross was two pieces of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it.”

.

1 Peter 2:24   (NIV)
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

_________________________

Music:

One of the greatest hymns ever.  HERE  is “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” written by Isaac Watts and sung here by Fernando Ortega.

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–Calligraphy “Crown” by Michael Podesta, http://michaelpodesta.com

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2324.) Maundy Thursday

March 29, 2018

Thoughts on Maundy Thursday.

Derivation of the name “Maundy”

Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word “mandate”), the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another”). This statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

–Wikipedia

John 13:1-34   (The Passion Translation)

Jesus Washes Feet

In the story of the footwashing, then, we have the most profound revelation of the heart of God apart from the crucifixion itself. We also learn more of the relation between Jesus and his disciples, the relation of the disciples with one another in humble service, and the mission of the disciples to the world. The community that Jesus has been forming here takes more definite shape, revealing its essence, which is humble, self-sacrificing love.

–IVP New Testament Commentary

13 Jesus knew that the night before Passover would be his last night on earth before leaving this world to return to the Father’s side. All throughout his time with his disciples, Jesus had demonstrated a deep and tender love for them. And now he longed to show them the full measure of his love. 2 Before their evening meal had begun, the accuser had already planted betrayal into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

3 Now Jesus was fully aware that the Father had placed all things under his control, for he had come from God and was about to go back to be with him. 4 So he got up from the meal and took off his outer robe, and took a towel and wrapped it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ dirty feet and dry them with his towel.

6 But when Jesus got to Simon Peter, he objected and said, “I can’t let you wash my dirty feet—you’re my Lord!”

7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand yet the meaning of what I’m doing, but soon it will be clear to you.”

8 Peter looked at Jesus and said, “You’ll never wash my dirty feet—never!”

“But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet,” Jesus responded, “then you will not be able to share life with me.”

9 So Peter said, “Lord, in that case, don’t just wash my feet, wash my hands and my head too!”

10 Jesus said to him, “You are already clean. You’ve been washed completely and you just need your feet to be cleansed—but that can’t be said of all of you.” For Jesus knew which one was about to betray him, 11 and that’s why he told them that not all of them were clean.

12 After washing their feet, he put his robe on and returned to his place at the table. “Do you understand what I just did?” Jesus said. 13 “You’ve called me your teacher and lord, and you’re right, for that’s who I am. 14–15 So if I’m your teacher and lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow the example that I’ve set for you and wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you. 16 I speak to you timeless truth: a servant is not superior to his master, and an apostle is never greater than the one who sent him. 17 So now put into practice what I have done for you, and you will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings!”

“When I am clean, Lord, keep me too,
For that is more than I can do.”

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 “I don’t refer to all of you when I tell you these things, for I know the ones I’ve chosen—to fulfill the Scripture that says, ‘The one who shared supper with me treacherously betrays me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it happens, so that when the prophecy comes to pass you will be convinced that I AM. 20 “Listen to this timeless truth: whoever receives the messenger I send receives me, and the one who receives me receives the Father who sent me.”

21 Then Jesus was moved deeply in his spirit. Looking at his disciples, he announced, “I tell you the truth—one of you is about to betray me.”

22 Eyeing each other, his disciples puzzled over which one of them could do such a thing. 23 The disciple that Jesus dearly loved was at the right of him at the table and was leaning his head on Jesus. 24 Peter gestured to this disciple to ask Jesus who it was he was referring to. 25 Then the dearly loved disciple leaned into Jesus’ chest and whispered, “Master, who is it?”

26 “The one I give this piece of bread to after I’ve dipped it in the bowl,” Jesus replied. Then he dipped the piece of bread into the bowl and handed it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And when Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus looked at Judas and said, “What you are planning to do, go do it now.” 28 None of those around the table realized what was happening. 29 Some thought that Judas, their trusted treasurer, was being told to go buy what was needed for the Passover celebration, or perhaps to go give something to the poor. 30 So Judas left quickly and went out into the dark night to betray Jesus.

31 After Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the glory of God to surround the Son of Man, and God will be greatly glorified through what happens to me. 32 And very soon God will unveil the glory of the Son of Man.

33 “My dear friends, I only have a brief time left to be with you. And then you will search and long for me. But I tell you what I told the Jewish leaders: you’ll not be able to come where I am.
34 “So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. 35 For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”

It is so simple — love one another.
It is so difficult — love one another.
It is so necessary — love one another.
It is so helpful — love one another.
It is so Christ-like — love one another.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “A New Commandment” in song. Sung by  the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music 2010.

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Images courtesy of:
a foot being washed.   http://request.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/11_Jesus_washes_feet_1024.jpg
Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.   https://apronsandappetites.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/jesus-washing-feet.jpg
Love one another.    http://i.pinimg.com/736x/0a/10/e5/0a10e5b0c11d388ee821092708144730.jpg

 


2323.) Psalm 119:161-176

March 28, 2018

Psalm 119:161-176   (NIV)

The final verses of the great Psalm 119.

ש Sin and Shin

161
Rulers persecute me without cause,
but my heart trembles at your word.
162
I rejoice in your promise
like one who finds great spoil.

Matthew 13:45-46  (NKJV)

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

163
I hate and detest falsehood
but I love your law.
164
Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous laws.
165
Great peace have those who love your law,
and nothing can make them stumble.

“Shalom is a large, embracing word for the good that comes to the one God favors.”

–James Montgomery Boice

166
I wait for your salvation, Lord,
and I follow your commands.

“I wait for your salvation” is faith. “I follow your commands” is works. Here is what James proclaims later in the New Testament. Faith and works go together.

167
I obey your statutes,
for I love them greatly.
168
I obey your precepts and your statutes,
for all my ways are known to you.

ת Taw

169
May my cry come before you, Lord;
give me understanding according to your word.

This is very much the same kind of thought the Apostle Paul expressed in Romans 12:-2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The Psalmist wanted his understanding of life and the world shaped – transformed – by the word of God.

170
May my supplication come before you;
deliver me according to your promise.
171
May my lips overflow with praise,
for you teach me your decrees.

The hymnist tells us that 

“Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.”

Scripture tells us that the oceans roar and the trees clap their hands!

Surely our mouths should not keep silence! (see next verse)

172
May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous.
173
May your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
174
I long for your salvation, Lord,
and your law gives me delight.

These two expressions go together. Because God’s salvation is from and according to His word (1 Peter 1:23), it was natural for him to delight in God’s word as he longed for God’s salvation.
–David Guzik

175
Let me live that I may praise you,
and may your laws sustain me.
176
I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.

The Psalm ends on the reminder that the power and greatness of God’s word does not rest only in its literary brilliance. Its greatness and glory is in the fact that God comes to us and seeks us in and through His word.

_________________________

Music:

The last verse takes me back to another great psalm!  HERE  is Ralph Carmichael’s “The New Twenty-Third,” sung by the Faith Alumni Chorale.

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New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
verse 174.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/191191946653609687/
pearl.   http://thebiblestudy.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/pearl.jpg
Shalom.   http://hirnhomeschoolers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/shalom.jpg
faith and works.   http://pr.ak.vresp.com/db4b752cb/b.vimeocdn.com/ts/666/699/66669910_640.jpg?__nocache__=1
waterfall.   https://i.pinimg.com/564x/6e/4b/89/6e4b892ce72562fbb352e3c9a4f6353f.jpg
lost sheep.   http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7505/27526223975_583bce826c_m.jpg

2322.) Ezekiel 11

March 27, 2018


Ezekiel 11
   (ESV)

Judgment on Wicked Counselors

The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of the house of the Lord, which faces east. And behold, at the entrance of the gateway there were twenty-five men. And I saw among them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.And he said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and who give wicked counsel in this city; who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses. This city is the cauldron, and we are the meat.’Therefore prophesy against them; prophesy, O son of man.”

The unrighteous men in Jerusalem are saying — “Isn’t it time, a good time, to build houses? Jerusalem will be safe. What Babylonian threat? Just as meat is protected in a cauldron, so we are protected here.” They continue to scorn the messages of God’s prophets, and Ezekiel understands their talk as wicked advice from wicked leaders.

And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city and have filled its streets with the slain.

God knows their sin — not only their actions, but also their thoughts.

Therefore thus says the Lord God: Your slain whom you have laid in the midst of it, they are the meat, and this city is the cauldron, but you shall be brought out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword, and I will bring the sword upon you, declares the Lord God. And I will bring you out of the midst of it, and give you into the hands of foreigners, and execute judgments upon you.10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 11 This city shall not be your cauldron, nor shall you be the meat in the midst of it.

 “No longer is Jerusalem a crock in which food is securely stored; she is a pot over the fire in which the meat is cooked.”

–Daniel I. Block

I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you.”

13 And it came to pass, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell down on my face and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will you make a full end of the remnant of Israel?”

Well, that makes it real! Ezekiel is overcome and wonders if any will survive.

Israel’s New Heart and Spirit

14 And the word of the Lord came to me: 15 “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’

“This statement is without parallel in the OT. The sanctuary was normally conceived of as a cult site or building rendered sacred by the presence of the deity. Here Yahweh promises to be for the exiles what the temple has heretofore been for them in Jerusalem.”

–Daniel I Block

He promises never to leave us or forsake us . . .

17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations.

God promised that Israel’s time of exile would be a cleansing time, a time to take away their previous devotion to idols. This was fulfilled in history; the people of Israel did not have the same problem with the idols of the nations after the exile as they did before.

–David Guzik

19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

 Take my heart, O Father, take it!
Make and keep it all Thine own;
Let Thy Spirit melt and break it,
This proud heart of sin and stone.

 Father, make it pure and lowly,
Fond of peace and far from strife;
Turning from the paths unholy,
Of this vain and sinful life.

 Ever let Thy race surround me,
Strengthen me with pow’r divine;
By Thy cords of love that bound me,
Make me to be wholly Thine.

 May the blood of Jesus heal me,
And my sins be all forgiv’n;
Holy Spirit, take and seal me, 
Guide me in the path to heav’n.

21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”

22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. 23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. 24 And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 And I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me.

The vision is completed. Ezekiel wasn’t given this message for his own amazement, but to instruct and warn the people and elders of Israel. They were perhaps shocked at the depths of Jerusalem’s depravity, the severity of the coming judgment, and the promised departure of God’s glory.

–David Guzik

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Music:

HERE  is an old hymn, “Jesus Paid It All,” which includes a line in verse 2 that alludes to our passage today: “. . . and melt the heart of stone.” Kristian Stanfill sings.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
two hearts.   https://year27.com/wp-content/uploads/120802_Ezekiel11_19.jpg
red heart.   https://www.pinterest.com/pin/490751690634408066/

2321.) Ezekiel 10

March 26, 2018

Ezekiel 10   (ESV)

The Glory of the Lord Leaves the Temple

Ezekiel 8-11 is an extended description of the prophet’s vision of corruption and judgment at the temple in Jerusalem. Another important part of this vision is the glory of God, described in the same terms as what Ezekiel saw in the vision of his calling in Ezekiel 1-3. Here is the description of a firmament (sky or space) that was above the head of the cherubim.

–David Guzik

Then I looked, and behold, on the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in appearance like a throne. And he said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the whirling wheels underneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he went in before my eyes. 

This was the command directed to the man clothed with linen, who was the one who marked the few faithful in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 8). God commanded this angel to take the burning coals and scatter them over the city.

Previously we read that Jerusalem would be judged by siege, slaughter, famine, and disease. Now we learn that Jerusalem will also be burnt, and the fire comes from the throne and glory of God itself; the coals of fire come from among the cherubim.

“In Isaiah 6 the coals were for the purification of the prophet; here they were for the destruction of the wicked. Where evil is concerned, it is true that ‘our God is a consuming fire’ as stated in Hebrews 12:29. Emphasis on fire in this chapter is noteworthy, because it looked forward to the fire which destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (II Kings 25:9).”     

–Charles L. Feinberg 

Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house, when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court.

This was the cloud of glory, seen often in the Old and New Testaments, sometimes called the cloud of Shekinah glory. It is hard to define the glory of God; we could call it the radiant outshining of His character and presence. Here it was given some visible representation in the 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 that so filled the temple when Solomon dedicated it that the priests could not continue to serve  (I Kings 8:1-11). 

· 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

And the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the Lord. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

And when he commanded the man clothed in linen, “Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim,” he went in and stood beside a wheel. And a cherub stretched out his hand from between the cherubim to the fire that was between the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.

The fire that will destroy Jerusalem comes from the hand of the Lord, who is holy and just.

“Fire that proceeds from Him will be absolutely just in its activity. It will harm nothing save that which is evil. The wrath of God is terrible, but it is never passion overleaping the boundaries of righteous action. It is always restrained by the strictest justice.” 

–G. Campbell Morgan

And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings, and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had.

Ezekiel 1:18 described eyes in connection with the wheels. Here we learn that the cherubim themselves were full of eyes all around. This matches the later description of cherubim found in Revelation 4:6. 

13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

“The image seems bizarre to the modern reader, but one must remember that this is a visionary experience, and surrealistic features may overwhelm realism.” 

–Daniel I. Block

Adam Clarke spoke for many who are mystified at the nature and complexity of these descriptions: “And perhaps from the whole of this vision and its difficulties, he will see the propriety of the council of rabbis ordering Rabbi Ananias three hundred barrels of oil to light his lamp during the time it would be necessary for him to employ in explaining this one vision.”

–David Guzik

15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them.17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them.

18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

“The divine King has abandoned his residence.”

–Daniel I. Block

19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.

20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones.”  The first stanza addresses each of the traditional nine choirs of angels. The second stanza focuses on the Virgin Mary. The third stanza urges the faithful departed to join in praising God, including the church patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints. The fourth stanza finally addresses the present congregation to join together in praise. This hymn puts in some detail our belief in the communion of saints and the heavenly host, joining in praising God forever.

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Ezekiel 10:4.   https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Ezek%2010
Ezekiel sees God’s glory.   http://bibleencyclopedia.com/pictures/Ezekiel_10_Ezekiel_Sees_God’s_Glory.htm

2320.) Ezekiel 9

March 23, 2018


Ezekiel 9
   (ESV)

Idolaters Killed

Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.”And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

“Those who had charge over the city were those whom God set to watch over the welfare of the city. They were not earthly agents, but heavenly. Angels are frequently called men because of their outward appearance. These angels carried weapons.” 

–Charles L. Feinberg

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”

The righteousness citizens of Jerusalem were sealed with a protective mark, to save them from destruction later.

And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out.” So they went out and struck in the city. And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord God! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

All others were slain.

Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”

11 And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded me.”

At last, some encouragement for Ezekiel! The righteous people had been noted. God keeps watch over his own.

_________________________

Music:

It’s war. Good and evil fight it out.  HERE  is “Lead On, O King Eternal,” written by Ernest Shurtleff, a Harvard grad in the mid-1800’s, and sung by the Good Shepherd Band.

A couple lines from this hymn have meant a lot to me lately:

“Through days of preparation,
Thy grace has made us strong.”

and

“For not with swords’ loud clashing
or roll of stirring drums–
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.”

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Quote by Solzhenitsyn.     https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/aleksandr_solzhenitsyn_405286
6 men with war clubs.   http://image.slidesharecdn.com/2013-09-29rv03theoldtestamentbackgroundofrevelation-130929185108-phpapp02/95/2013-0929-rv03-the-old-testament-background-of-revelation-33-638.jpg?cb=1380480851

2319.) Ezekiel 8

March 22, 2018

Ezekiel 8   (ESV)

Abominations in the Temple

Ezekiel goes to Jerusalem in a vision . . .

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there.

Ezekiel 8-11 is the record of one long vision. In the beginning of the vision Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord at the temple in Jerusalem. By the end of the vision (chapters 10 and 11), this glory will depart. In the portion of the vision recorded in this chapter, he will see four abominations in the temple.

Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

Here is an idolatrous image right beside the temple! Various past kings had installed and removed and installed and removed idols, and God shows Ezekiel that those idols provoke him to anger and jealousy. The fact that the idol is beside the north gate (see verse 5) means that the present king would see it whenever he entered the temple area, since the palace was on the north side of the temple.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.”

God says that the idol of jealousy alone is enough to drive him from his temple. But there is worse to come. Ezekiel is shown three more abominations: the worship of idols inside the temple; the presence of women worshiping the idol Tammuz within the temple; the priests worshiping the sun, the creation, rather than the Creator.

And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance.And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel.

Mummy of an ibis from ancient Egypt

Many interpreters suggest that these were animal cults picked up from Egypt, since they worshiped just about any animal, including oxen, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, crocodiles, birds, etc.

11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’”

The leaders are publicly worshiping the Lord, yet privately, secretly worshiping idols.

13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

Ezekiel was in a part of the temple reserved for priests; women were not allowed. And particularly women performing rites for a pagan god!

15 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.”

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east.

Even in the Lord’s own temple, these priests are worshiping, publicly, the sun! Such contempt they show for the Lord God Almighty!

17 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

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Music:

Truly, they had forgotten both the power and the kindness of our Lord. He is both the Lion and the Lamb. And  HERE  is Big Daddy Weave, a contemporary Christian band, to remind them, and us!

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English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
eye.   http://stuffyouadore.blogspot.com/2015/02/gate-of-jealousy-heart-of-stone-idol.html
three abominations in the temple.   https://www.slideshare.net/chucho1943/10-destruction-of-jerusalem
ibis mummy.   https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/314900198935392050/
sun worship.    http://www.mikeszone.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/sunworship.gif