November - Reading 17

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 17, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    In this reading of the Gospel of John we see that the plot to kill Jesus is spurred by the fact that many Jews who were "on the fence" came to believe in Christ because of the raising of Lazarus. We see an interesting act in the statement by Caiaphas. Since Caiaphas was the high priest, his words carried a prophetic tone. It is doubtful that Caiaphas knew how this prophecy would be carried out or even that he was prophecying. He was concerned more about the Romans because of the potential for political unrest that may have brought about Roman action on Israel. Instead, he was actually prophecying Jesus' death. Ironically, the Romans would come and destroy Jerusalem anyway just a few decades later.

    In 1John we read about testing the spirits, a warning that not all spirits would be from God. I did not like the wording in my NIV for this reading in verse 3 as it appeared a double negative:
    In this particular instance, I felt much better about the wording of the KJV:
    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 7/31/05

    Ezekiel 43:1-12

    Chapters 40-48, which conclude the Book of Ezekiel, contain the account of the final recorded ecstatic visions of the prophet. With the final defeat of Gog, a new era is implemented in the lives and the land of God’s chosen people. Central to this new era is the dwelling of God in His Temple and the Zadokite* priests as His servants. Ezekiel is in these Passages describing to us the utopian religio-political state.

    *ZADOK
    The son of Ahitub, and father of Ahimaaz, high-priest of the Jews in the reigns of Saul and David. – American Tract Standard Dictionary


    In order for this state to exist, certain criteria must be fulfilled. (1) The nations must acknowledge God’s role in history. (2) There must be a general respect for the holiness of God. (3) The Jews must once again claim Israel. (4) There must be a ritual purification of the people and of the land. All of these conditions must be met in order for God’s Glory to return to the new Temple. Further, it was the duty of the priests to guard the reverence of the holiness of God at all costs. It was only this reverence that could assure the state’s continuance.

    These chapters are quite significant in that in them we see Ezekiel as a central figure in anchoring the Temple into the nation’s life. He, more than any other, became the central philosopher for the reformation of the organization of the ecclesiastical order after the exile. He instilled a dogma and ritualism into the daily order of worship and re-centered the Sabbath as the fundamental institution in post-exilic worship.

    While the practices and rituals described by Ezekiel were based in the Deuteronomic Law, there is a new mode of expression for traditional religion. Israel was in the midst of its most trying period concerning its relationship with God. When this bridge was crossed, it would require a rigid code to insure that the conditions of God’s remaining among His people stay intact.

    Ezekiel also seems to see no need for prophets in the new order. The function of the prophets had always been to first pronounce doom followed by a message of hope if a call to repentance was answered. In the new order, such an office would not be necessary. The doom had occurred with the exile. Hope had been achieved in the restoration. Ethical living would now be accomplished through the new imperative form of the Law. True religion would be restored but the priests would become the3 watchdog of it.

    It was this radical shifting from the traditional prophetic-priestly stance to the priestly prophetic view that nearly cost the Book of Ezekiel its place in the Canon. The rabbis of his day were so entrenched in the pre-exilic order that any break from it was, for them, of great concern. The difference in the old order and Ezekiel’s new order can be seen in comparing the following concepts: Zadokite vs. Levitical priesthood; a prince vs. a king as head of state; traditional offerings for sin being amended.

    Yet for all the controversy that surrounded the final visions of Ezekiel, the prophet comes to a forceful and logical conclusion. A divine messenger, not God Himself speaks to the prophet in these final chapters giving him direction on the message he is to deliver to the people. The Temple described by Ezekiel is the grandest and most spectacular to ever grace Jerusalem, eclipsing even Solomon’s in its wonder. As such, it would become the perpetual abode of God and the religious and political center of the new state. It would be from this new Temple that the forces that would bless the people and the land would emanate.

    Once again, there are several popular lines of interpretation to these Passages. Once again, this commentator will not take a firm stand on a particular line of interpretation but will present the schools of thought and, Lord willing, take the text as it stands.

    1. Some scholars feel that Ezekiel was describing the Temple the Israelites were to build upon their return to the Promised Land after the exile. When Cyrus released the captives in 538 BC to return home the Temple was indeed rebuilt but not to the grand scale described by Ezekiel. Nor has any such secular Temple ever been built.

    2. Other interpreters feel that Ezekiel’s visions have been fulfilled in the incarnation of the New Testament church. The detailed ritualistic sacrifices symbolize the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Within this view are many messianic related interpretations of the architecture of the edifice described.

    3. Still others see these chapters as describing a future Israel. This view is often associated with the similarities of Ezekiel and Revelation in message and imagery and is used as a building block in the popular view of the Millennial kingdom in a post-rapture world.

    4. The final line of thought follows that is that the description of the restored Jerusalem is symbolic of a future state when His people are finally united eternally with God, a parallel to the final chapter of Revelation.

    Ezekiel 43:1-12 – The Return of God’s Glory to the Temple

    In a moment of ecstatic vision, Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord returning to the Temple. This adds a literary balance to the account of the prophet’s ministry as in Ezekiel 10:1-19, he had seen God leave the Temple. The imagery and sounds of the event indicate that it is God Himself who returned, not a divine agent or messenger.

    Upon His return, He is once again enthroned in the holiest of holies, the inner sanctum within the Temple. It is notable that ezekiel makes no effort to enter that room within the Temple but takes a position from without to observe the emanating glory and listen to the voice from within.

    In this discourse, a heretofore-unmentioned charge is made against the inhabitants of Israel. In the time before the exile, some fourteen kings had been buried in Jerusalem on the southeast hill, an area within the confines of the Temple/Palace complex. This was considered an infringement upon the holy Temple and an act of ritual defilement.

    After it is established that such a practice will no longer be practiced, Ezekiel is instructed to reveal to the people the laws and ordinances related to the Temple. Though many regulations are listed in subsequent chapters, one law is paramount above the rest: the entire Temple was to be considered most holy. There was to be no worship of the edifice itself but of the abiding presence of God that filled it.

    The Temple would not be sacred in and of itself, but because of what it represented. Even today, the vandalism or burning of a church is viewed as an abhorrent crime, not because they are completely sufficient, but because they are places of worship symbolizing God’s presence among His people.

    And so ends our extremely abbreviated review of the Book and the man, Ezekiel. While the pinnacle hope is realized in these final chapters, the entire ministry of the man demonstrates to us how active God is in the lives of those who follow Him. When the Israelites were the most down, when it would have been easiest to abandon hope, God appointed an earthly messenger to reveal His presence among His chosen. Our’s is a God who will not abandon us even when the consequences of our sin are running their course. This is the basic message of Grace. It is the undeserved favor of the God of history.

    Ezekiel was what the people needed at the time and he appeared upon a landscape of a changing world. The God of Israel required vindication, not for Himself, but for a people who would eventually bring about a Messiah that would save the world. His legalistic reforms had lasting effects that carried the Jews into the New Testament era. God was sovereign and He had a plan. It would take Christ to bring that plan to fulfillment.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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