Bible reading for Oct 13 -- 14
Oct 13 -- Ezekiel 46 and Psalm 102
Oct 14 -- Ezekiel 47 and Psalm 103
"And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes." (Ezekiel 47:9)
THE PRINCE, THE PRIESTS, AND THE RIVER (ch 46-47). We are continuing to read about Ezekiel's vision of the temple, the city, the leaders, the ministers, and the geography. It is visionary language, and it is in the future from Ezekiel's perspective. There are connections here with Revelation, and also with the Mosaic laws in Leviticus. In these chapters we see that the prince is to lead worship by his example; there are instructions about gates, gifts, offerings, holy spaces, and preparation of food. There springs from the temple a remarkable, ever-expanding stream of fresh water. Also, there is to be fair distribution of the land inheritance (47:13-14, 21), and also provision is to be made for the resident alien or sojourner.
THE NATURE OF PROPHECY. The visions of Ezekiel stand as a sort of prophetic bridge between the Old and New Testaments. It is not necessary that we take it only literally or only symbolically. Take, for example, the prophecy of Judas' betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:12-13; Matt 27:9-10). It is literal in the sense of the 30 pieces of silver and in the action of throwing the money. It is symbolic in that the money is cast to "the potter" (a person), when the prophecy was fulfilled in buying "the potter's field". Also, what was not clear to the hearers of that time was that this prophecy referred to the betrayal of Messiah. It was the assessment that the Jews would place upon the value of the Lord as shepherd. The nature of this prophecy was a mix of literal and symbolic and it did not become clear until after its fulfillment. The validity of biblical prophecy does not lie in our being able to understand it clearly ahead of time and so to be able to predict the future. It's validity is seen more clearly at the time of its fulfillment, as being clearly from the Lord. And then also the literal and symbolic elements can be better seen.
CONTINUITY AND DISCONTINUITY. The images of worship, nourishment, life, refreshment, justice, and inheritance are themes that run throughout the Bible. There are also significant differences in the worship of God as prescribed in Leviticus, here in Ezekiel, and as described in the future world of Revelation 21-22. The image of the life-giving river of God can be traced from Eden (Gen 2:10-11) to the new creation (Rev 22:1). Again, there may be a mix of literal and symbolic. In the Psalms, the Lord himself is our life-giving stream (Ps 36:8; 46:4). And in the prophets: "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isa 55:1). And Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (Jn 7:37-38).
ABIDING PRINCIPLES. Even as we read the prophetic passages in these chapters we can find principles to apply devotionally to ourselves. For example, God makes provision of food for his servants (46:20-24), which includes followers of Christ (Matt 6:11, 25-26; Phil 4:13-19). The Lord gives life, refreshment, and a fair inheritance. Good leaders are to lead with piety and justice. There is to be a safe place for sojourners. Holiness is vitally important. And one very obvious principle is that worship is central to life. There will ultimately be no human flourishing on earth (or heaven) apart from the true worship of God.
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." (Psalm 103:1-5)
WORN OUT (Ps 102). Like a desert owl or a lonely sparrow upon the rooftop (vv 6-7) the psalmist feels alone, abandoned, and fading away. As you read this take note of the many images and descriptions he gives of his condition. Yet, he takes the long view, both of God and of his work down through the generations. He rests upon the eternal immutability of the Lord: "They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end" (vv 26-27). We shall all change -- in time grow old and weak -- but the Lord will never change.
BLESS THE LORD (Ps 103)! What a wonderful psalm of praise and thanksgiving to pray aloud as a morning or evening prayer! Observe all the things for which David gives thanks... Here too is an awareness of one's days being as the grass that withers (v 15). These two psalms (102-103) deal with the extremes of the believer's life, from sadness to blessedness. Who hasn't felt a bit of each of these at one time or another? The book of Psalms covers the full spectrum of human experience and emotion. However, it is the unchanging goodness of God which undergirds us in the changes of life.
Image credit. Above, my photo of Sinking Creek in Newport, VA. 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.