Bible reading for September 6 -- 7
Sep 6 -- Ezekiel 9 and Psalm 48
Sep 7 -- Ezekiel 10 and Psalm 49
"Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim." (Ezekiel 10:18)
MARKED OUT (ch 9). In a vision Ezekiel sees Jerusalem's upcoming destruction from a heavenly point of view. Executioners (lit., officers, guards) approach the city along with an angelic scribe. The individuals to be spared are marked with a tav, last letter of Hebrew alphabet, which at that time looked like an x or + (v 4). Compare this with Revelation 7:3, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." Besides idolatry the people were punished for their violence and injustice (v 9). For an excellent pictorial overview of the book of Ezekiel I recommend this Bible Project video.
THE GLORY DEPARTING (ch 10). In the vision Ezekiel is seeing the appearance of God's glory leaving the temple. We learn here (also in 9:3) that the four creatures (compare Revelation 4) are cherubim (sing., cherub). These are not the cute baby angels of Renaissance paintings, but angelic guardians, powerful beings who first appear in Genesis 3:24, and whose likeness was sculpted into the top of the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:18). Some commentators have observed that these four angels are like a heavenly throne, or chariot, symbolizing that God's presence is not fixed in one geographic location. Note also the imagery of God riding upon a cherub from the Psalms (Ps 18:10; 80:1; 99:1). We find out later in Ezekiel that Satan, or Lucifer, was originally among these cherubim (Ezek 28:14-16).
IN THE FUTURE GOD'S GLORY will return to the city (Ezek 43:5). His glory filled the tabernacle in Moses' day (Ex 40:34-38), the temple Solomon built (1 Kgs 8:10), and over the New Jerusalem in the new creation (Rev 21:23-24). This is ever the purpose of God, that there shall be a holy creation (without unrighteousness) where God will dwell with, and be seen by, his redeemed people forever (Lev 26:12; Rev 21:3; 22:3-4). This is the story line of the Bible and of history. We are therefore called to be "waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet 3:12-13).
"As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever. Selah " (Ps 48:8)
THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING (Ps 48). This psalm is one of the "Songs (or Canticles) of Zion" (cf Ps 46, 76, 84, 87, and 122). It provides a contrast with what we've been reading in Ezekiel. What made Jerusalem great was not its ethnicity, nor wealth, nor power, nor even the presence of God's temple on the mount called Zion. It's special because of God's presence. It's the city of the great King (v 2). God made a covenant with David that one of his descendants would rule in righteousness forever. Jesus is Zion's King (Heb 12:22-24). Jerusalem is a special place even today, but it's glory will only be restored when our Lord returns. God's desire for a holy and eternal City where God and man dwell together will not be thwarted. The earthly Jerusalem foreshadows the coming new Jerusalem (Rev 21:2-3). This is why we are to communicate to our children the great eternal truths about our God, for he himself will lead us into this glorious future (vv 13-14).
HUMAN GLORY FADES (Ps 49). This psalm provides counterpoint with the previous one. God will bring about the eternal glory of his people (Ps 48) -- but it will not come about through the wealth and power of sinful men (Ps 49). "Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish" (v 20). We cannot save ourselves. We cannot create a lasting, harmonious, holy community of people, apart from God.
GOD'S GLORY RESTS UPON HIS PEOPLE. God saves individuals by his mercy and grace, and by his mercy and grace he places these individuals into a family, a home, a community, a kingdom. What a beautiful phrase Jesus used when he said, "In my Father's house..." (John 14:1-3). A new and glorious and eternal kingdom is coming where the Father will dwell with his children forever. The church is a foreshadowing of that future world. The Spirit indwells the church today as the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17). However imperfect she may be, the church is a foretaste and a training academy to prepare us for the eternal City of God. Churches today who remain faithful to God and his word are a phase of God's kingdom, a manifestation of those living under Christ's kingship. The following hymn is one of my favorites, which we sang in congregational worship just this morning:
I love Thy kingdom, Lord, The house of Thine abode,
The Church our blest Redeemer bought With His own precious blood.
I love thy church, O God her walls before thee stand,
dear as the apple of thine eye and graven on thy hand.
Lyrics by Timothy Dwight (1752-1817)
Hear this hymn sung by the congregation of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA.
Image credit: the Citadel in Jerusalem, photo source unknown. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.