Bible reading for Oct 6 -- 7
Oct 6 -- Ezekiel 39 and Psalm 90
Oct 7 -- Ezekiel 40 and Psalm 91
"Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God, because I sent them into exile among the nations and then assembled them into their own land. I will leave none of them remaining among the nations anymore. And I will not hide my face anymore from them, when I pour out my Spirit upon the house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 39:28-29)
ISRAEL REGATHERED, GOG DESTROYED (ch 39). The Gog / Magogite alliance fails in their attack upon Israel. One of our readers asked if the re-establishment of Israel as a nation following World War 2 (in 1948) was the fulfillment of Israel's regathering seen in Ezekiel 37? Here's what I wrote back... "I take it that the return from Babylon was one stage in the return to the land, but not long afterwards the Jews rejected the Messiah who came to inaugurate the new covenant. There was a hardening upon Israel as a nation (Rom 9--11). Jerusalem fell to the Romans and many Jews were scattered and exiled once again. The gospel was sent to the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled (the gospel having been offered to all nations). The year 1948, and again in 1967 (the recapture of Jerusalem), marks a new, perhaps the final, regathering. But what must be noted in my opinion is that the final return from exile is in conjunction with the circumcision of the heart of the nation, in the reception of their Messiah (Zech 12). The end of the exile, and the final restoration of the nation occurs with Messiah's return, or near that time. (The 12 tribes are seen as united in Rev. 7, during the Tribulation period.) There is a unity in the gospel now for all believers, Jew and Gentile. And there is a kind of political unity in Israel today. But the restoration of the nation as a nation serving the Lord awaits Christ's return. I think most commentators would see 1948 as a stage, or one step, toward that restoration. I think everyone agrees that the preservation of Israel as an ethnic entity, a nation for over 3500 years, is itself a miracle of God's providence!"
THE NEW TEMPLE (ch 40). Sometimes when you study biblical prophecy you scratch your head and wonder what you're looking at. Ezekiel 40 to 48 is a bit that way for me. The Lord said earlier, "I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore" (37:26). What follows from chapter 40 onward is a description of this temple, the city, and the re-allotment of the land. Is it literal, symbolic, or some of both? Some scholars believe this to have been the intended plan for the exiles returning from Babylon to Israel. But it never came to pass this way. Some believe it to be symbolic of the church age or the future eternal state. Yet, it's so detailed and specific with measurements, number of steps, etc., and the various geographical markers of the land. It would be hard to see exactly what that symbolizes. I take it as a yet-future fulfillment, likely during the Millennium, the thousand year period described in Revelation 20. Yet that view of Ezekiel's temple is not without its problems, too. Check out Tom Constable's notes here.
DON'T MISS THE BIG PICTURE. The Lord has revealed what we need to know, but that does not mean it includes all that we would like to know (Deut 29:29). Or that everything we read would be of equal clarity. One of my seminary professors used to say, "The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things." What's clear: God is in control of history and will hold nations and individuals accountable. Evil will be judged and banished. God will fulfill his promises to his people, and he will dwell with them forever. That's the big picture, and it is clear.
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
THE ETERNAL GOD (Ps 90). The first psalm of the fourth book (collection) within Psalms is attributed to Moses, who compares the brevity of his life with the eternality of God. The "eternity" of God is more than just many days (longer time) compared to our few days (shorter time). It's not just quantitative. "From everlasting to everlasting" means there was no beginning, as well as no end. Verse four is echoed in 2 Peter 3:8... "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Time itself is a created dimension, like space, and hence, God is not only not constrained by it, he's not even contained in it, as any creature would be. One of my professors used to say, "God is 'at' every point in space and time, but being infinite (without limits) he is not 'in' space and time. C. S. Lewis wrote, "God is not hurried along in the time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel."
OUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED. What are we to do with this attribute of God? Moses speaks of the shortness and misery of our lives as being due to sin. That does not mean any particular person's length of life or level of misery is directly related to his or her own personal sin. It may be, or it may be due to the sins of others. But we should keep in mind that all sin -- and therefore God's just anger toward sin -- tracks back to the great sin and fall of Adam, the head of our race. Moses prays a number of things in response. First, he says, "teach us to number our days" (v 12). The NLT translates this, "teach us to realize the brevity of life". We have only so many days to work with and we need to value them accordingly. We need to seek wisdom on how best to invest our days and weeks, our months and years. Secondly, we should seek the satisfaction and joy of God's steadfast love (v 14). Thirdly, we should seek to know the work and power of God, rather than focus on our own interests and works (v 16; cf Matt 6:33; Eph 2:10). And fourthly, we should ask the Lord to take delight in, and establish, the works of our hands. That is, that we would have something beautiful and lasting to come from our lives (v 17).
GOD, OUR DWELLING PLACE (Ps 91). The psalmist says that trust in God places us under divine protection. The threats being faced include military (arrows), natural disaster (pestilence and plague), and possibly spiritual forces (the lion, adder, and serpent). Evil shall not come near to the one whose trust is in the Lord, and who takes shelter under his wings. Does this mean that if we trust God we won't experience any of these threats? Verses 11 and 12 help us: they were quoted by Satan to Jesus in order to get him to test the Lord by jumping from the pinnacle (Matt 4:5-7). The uniqueness and comprehensiveness of these promises (protection from every evil), would lead us to understand this as a Messianic psalm, applying directly to Jesus. Of course, it applies secondarily to all of us who are in Christ (2 Cor 1:20; Eph 1:3). This doesn't mean that we will never stumble or die of a disease, but rather, that none of these things will ever (ever) separate us from God because of our eternal union with Christ (Rom 8:31-39; Eph 2:6). We belong to the Lord and no one will snatch us out of his hand (John 10:28-29; Rom 8:38-39).
=> Hear Kristyn Getty and Phil Keaggy perform "My Dwelling Place (Ps 91)" here.
=> And Shane and Shane perform "On Eagles' Wings", also based on Psalm 91.
Image credit. Photo above by noor Younis 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 6 -- 7