Daily Reflections October 11, 2017
Chapters 40 – 48 constitute one complete, closing section. It provides an interesting summary to Ezekiel’s prophecy. While there are good Christians who disagree on the exact interpretation, the predominant reformed view is that this section must be understood as apocalyptic literature.
Apocalyptic literature uses symbols and images to tell a story. In this instance, the symbols and images being employed include a rebuilt temple, a reinstated priesthood, a re-dispersed land and a river that flows out to the nations.
Today’s chapter will pick up the imagery of the priesthood but for today’s purposes I’d like to draw your attention to the first three verses. The outer gate is shut and the angelic being accompanying Ezekiel explains:
“This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it.” (Ezekiel 44:2 ESV)
Why is the outer gate set apart as “off-limits”? Why is this detail included?
The entrance must be set apart because God Himself has used it. No-one else is to enter the city by this gate because they would defile that which had been made holy.
Remember, Ezekiel was a priest and he was ministering to a people who understood the priesthood and the worship requirements. They knew that sacred things were meant to be kept sacred and they had instituted strict procedures to protect against defilement.
But the Israelites had grown lax in their commitment to purity. They had shown a blatant disregard for God and His orderly worship. This nonchalant attitude towards God’s holiness is what led God’s people into the rebellion that caused their fall and ultimately their exile.
Thus, Ezekiel begins his description of the reinstated priesthood with this specific command regarding the outer gate. His people would have understood the purpose of the imagery. The image conveys a proper attitude towards worship that trembles before the holiness of God. This is the worship that will characterize God’s people in the eternal state.
Practically speaking, this text reminds me that, even in heaven, God’s people will worship Him with a great spirit of reverence and holy fear. My cultural sensitivities lead me to emphasize the freedom and intimacy that are inherent in my relationship with my Heavenly Father yet, while those things are wonderful, they do not constitute the complete picture of who He is. God is described as intimate and near but He is also described as a Consuming Fire. Our worship, both privately and corporately must communicate and revere the transcendent holiness of God.
Ezekiel’s prophecy commends a careful obedience to God. How careful are we to live in alignment with God’s commands? Are we displaying a nonchalant attitude toward God and His commandments with the way we live our lives? These are questions we should frequently ask ourselves in the Christian life. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.”
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Tune into local or international news and whether it concerns issues of diplomacy, disease, disaster or death, it appears our world is out of control. Fear grips hearts and minds around the globe. Is it any wonder anxieties abound?
Contrary to what we can see, there IS a master plan in the hands of a Master Planner. Therefore, we can be at peace! The Bible declares triumphantly,
The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (Psalm 97:1 ESV)
What a declaration! “The Lord reigns.” As a result, we can have joy! In times of crisis it is meant to continually cheer the hearts of God’s people and give us courage. It reminds us that even in the face of disease, disaster and death, God is exercising his kingly authority. This group of Psalms (93-99) emphatically stresses God is unrivalled, unequalled, and incomparable! He is on his throne and he is God alone!
To assure us of the full scope of God’s reign, the Psalmist tells us that he is Lord of ALL the earth. This has cosmic consequences. God’s reign is universal and complete. Heaven and earth are his. He reigns in righteousness. All places and all things are under his reign. As you read Psalm 97 note the number of references to the word, “all”: ALL the earth worships. ALL creation testifies to his power and ALL the peoples see his glory. All the elements do his bidding. ALL idols and ALL idolaters will bow before the Lord.
We also see God cares for all his children. He is faithful to his people in all generations. His reign is joy for the believer, but the manifestation of his glory, like in the Exodus (Exodus 19:16-20), brings terror to the ungodly. The manifestations of his power in clouds, thick darkness, fire and lightning warn of his majestic holiness and coming judgement. There is no escape from a holy God and his righteous justice.
What then should our response be to our righteous, reigning King? We should obey the Lord in these ways:
1. Love The Lord and Hate Evil.
O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10 ESV)
To love God is to hate sin. We need to live lives of righteousness in the power of the Holy Spirit. In a hostile culture and against a formidable foe, this is a costly stand. However, the Lord watches over us and delivers us from the perils of living uprightly in a crooked and perverse generation.
2. Keep Perspective and Keep Rejoicing!
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous…(Psalm 97:12 ESV)
Fullness of joy, full restoration, and full victory is already on its way. Though we live in the “now and not yet”, light has dawned for us. The “not yet” is a future reality. Jesus purchased it on the cross. His victory is our inheritance.
3. Keep Praising and Trusting His Promises
…and give thanks to his holy name! (Psalm 97:12 ESV)
In all times, remember he is the Great I Am. He is the Lord Most High. He is faithful to his promises and faithful to his children. The Lord is coming with his blessings. Eagerly await the fullness of his kingdom. O for that day when our joy will be without end! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross