Bible reading for Oct 11 -- 12
Oct 11 -- Ezekiel 44 and Psalms 97-98
Oct 12 -- Ezekiel 45 and Psalms 99-101
"They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean." (Ezekiel 44:23)
PRINCES, LEVITES, PRIESTS (ch 44). We are reading Ezekiel's vision of a future temple and the worship which takes place there. Commentators differ on how these things are to be understood. Here are four possibilities: 1) This was to be the standard and plan for Jewish worship after the return from Babylonian exile, until Messiah should come (covering about 500 years). 2) This is applied symbolically to the church age. 3) This is fulfilled during the thousand-year period spoken of in Revelation 20. 4) This is a foreshadowing of the future eternal state (Rev 21-22). It may be that some (or all) of these apply at some point (in some way) in interpreting Ezekiel. One thing that helps us is that the principles written here are applicable to every phase of redemptive history. Leaders are to rule justly and sacrificially, and God's servants are to be holy and separated from moral uncleanness. Verse 23 (above) hearkens back both to the Mosaic Law (Lev 10:10-11) and to the church age (1 Pet 1:13-16; Heb 5:14) and into the future (Rev 21:27). God's people are to be separated from all evil, from worldly compromise, and from idolatry, injustice, and immorality. We are to be different, set apart: "...as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Pet 1:15-16). The last judgment will be the final separation between the clean and the unclean. Note: the clean are clean not because of some inherent purity but because they have been cleansed by the blood of Christ (Rev 7:14; 22:14).
THE HOLY PRECINCT (ch 45). Again, notice the plan involves squares (vv 1-6; cf Rev 21:16), just as the Holy of Holies was laid out. The prince, or rather the lineage of princes (vv 7-25), is to provide justice, fair dealing, generosity, and sacrifice in leading the community in worship. There is no mention of a king, and there was no Davidic king enthroned after the exile, until the Lord Jesus Christ came. The Lord himself is King. Yet, it does seem that during the millennium, or eternal state, there will be rulers (or "princes") who help govern the people of God. Jesus spoke of faithful servants in the future "having authority over cities" (Luke 19:17, 19). And the Apostle John speaks of the "kings of the earth" bringing their glory into the holy City (Rev 21:24). One principle is certain: Christlike leadership here on earth will be rewarded in the new creation.
NO SWEAT. One interesting side note for me was Ezek 44:18, about priests wearing linen rather than wool, because of their sweat. That may relate to ceremonial purity, but I wonder if it looks back to Gen 3:19, where sweat was a part of the curse of the fall. God's temple is a picture of the future new creation, and therefore it should be a place of productive, pleasurable work rather than the work of thorns, thistles, and the sweat of the brow. (Just thinking out loud here.)
"The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne." (Psalm 97:1-2)
THE JOY OF HIS REIGN (Ps 97). These psalms are part of a series calling us to rejoice in God's righteous rule. Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." (Matt 6:33) Joy fills both of these psalms. Though God's justice and his ways are not always perceived ("clouds and thick darkness", v 2), yet, we know his character: righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne (i.e., his rule, v 2). He shall resolve all matters in time with complete justice. Our own nation is currently going through such difficult times due to perceived injustices and the responses to these. Some are responding with vengeance, bringing even more injustice. We should heed these sobering words of Jesus, spoken to those who thought they were morally superior: "...but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus Christ -- and the forgiveness he brings, the humility he begets, the love he pours out, the dignity he bestows, and the equality he grants -- truly is the only answer to the deep problems we are facing today.
WHY WE SING (Ps 98). God's salvation, his steadfast love, and his righteousness are cause for our singing and making music to him (vv 1, 4-6, 9). Creation sings with us (vv 7-8)! A note on vv 1-3: not only has God accomplished our salvation, but he himself has made it known and revealed it to us. This means that God's revelation (his written Word, the Scriptures) is part of God's salvation. It would not make sense that God would save us and we would not know what we needed to know about that salvation. Not only is his salvation complete and perfect in Christ, but his revelation in word is also perfect and complete, fully sufficient for us (2 Tim 3:16-17).
PRAISE, THANKSGIVING, AND INTEGRITY (Ps 99-101). Psalm 99 calls us to exalt and praise the Lord, who reigns with justice and righteousness. Psalm 100 is a beloved favorite of many believers. I love this psalm sung to the Old Hundredth tune. Psalm 101 speaks of the importance of spiritual and moral integrity in our homes. There is an emphasis on what we see or look at. We cannot be sure whether this psalm was written before or after David's own fall into sin (2 Sam 11), but this is applicable to us all. For many years in our family we had these verses (vv 2-3) printed on a card and placed beside our TV screen: "I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless." (Psalm 101:2b-3a). Not just for our children, but for all of us, this is true: "Be careful, little eyes, what you see."
Image credit. Photo by FLY:D on Unsplash. 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.
Bible reading for Oct 11 -- 12