November - Reading 2

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Nov 2, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    We see the first of Ezekiel's symbolic acts in todays reading. Making the model of the seige of jerusalem must have been quite a spectacle for those who witnessed it. Ezekiel's active presence in the model signified the Lord's involvement with the seige. Other noteon chapter 4: the use of cow dung as a fuel is still done in many parts of the world. However, cooking over it is NOT a common practice. I expect Ezekiel made his point that the seige would cause many hardships for the occupants of the city.
    Beginning in chapter 8 Ezekiel narrates another vision. This time he is taken to the beseiged city. He is shown the idol worship that was taking place not only throughout the city, but within the Temple as well. The idol in question is likely Asherah whose wooden poles were repeatedly removed from the Temple by the good kings of Judah in our readings of 2Kings and 2Chronicles.

    In John today we see Nicodemus, who came to Christ under the cover of darkness in chapter 3 stand in defense of the Pharisees wishing to prosecute Christ with no trial. The irony in the passage is that the Pharisees who state that the mob knows nothing of the Law is subsequently rebuked by Nicodemus for exactly the same transgression.

    Our reading in 2Peter today gives us a clue to Peter's actual authorship. The author claims to have been present at the Transfiguration in verse 16 & 17. We also see in verse 20 & 21 a defense of the inspiration of Scripture. It is likely that the prophets did not understand all that they were shown or told but were merely the vessels through whom God spoke.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lesson 6/12/05

    Ezekiel 7

    For an accurate view of the 7th chapter of Ezekiel, we must back up a few chapters and examine the situation in which Ezekiel found himself. As was established in the first few verses of chapter 1, Ezekiel was among the early exiles deported from Judah in 597BC. He and his fellow captives lived far to the east in what we know as Iraq while the remainder of the Judeans remained in the crumbling nation of Judah. It may be that many of the exiles that constituted Ezekiel’s audience felt that their band represented the extent of the punishment of Judah by God for their many transgressions against the Lord. Beginning in chapter 4, the word of the Lord occurs to Ezekiel and he delivers the message, in word and pantomime, that their deportation had been only the beginning of God’s Judgment.

    While spoken words are sometimes quickly forgotten, symbolic action leaves a memorable print ion the mind’s eye. While many of the Old Testament prophets used this form of prophesying, Ezekiel is noted for employing it with the most regularity.

    The first of the symbolic acts performed by Ezekiel is to lay siege to a brick! The bricks that have been discovered from that era are roughly 12” X 12” X 3” and are usually inscribed with writing. The brick described in the Scripture had a likeness of Jerusalem on it. Ezekiel He then surrounds it with the devices of warfare of the era: ramps, battering rams, and military camps. He is the instructed to set an iron grilling pan between himself and the brick. The symbolism is quite transparent. The brick is Jerusalem, the items of war are the Babylonians laying siege to the city and the iron pan separating him from the brick represents God separating Himself from aiding the city as He had done so often in the past.

    The second symbolic act was to lay on his left side, bound either physically or by ecstatic control, for 390 days to represent the time for the punishment of the Northern Kingdom and upon his right side for an additional 40 days to represent the time for the punishment of Judah. Each day was to represent a year and there is some question as to the number 390, a puzzle we will explore, Lord willing, another day.

    The third of the symbolic acts was to gather a variety of grains at God’s instruction, grind them into flour and cook them into bread using human dung as fuel. This bread would be his nourishment during the time of his lying upon his sides. Ezekiel protested to God that the use of human dung was too abhorrent to one who had remained so faithful to the Levitical code and God graciously relents and allows him to use cow dung instead, an allowance that would not be afforded the inhabitants of the besieged city of Jerusalem. The bread is to be carefully weighed out before he consumes it and he is allotted a small amount of water per day. This symbolic act basically demonstrated a starvation diet representing the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The time was soon coming that they would all watch each other starve.

    Next, the prophet is instructed to shave his head, hair and beard, with a sword. He is then to divide the hair into three piles save a few he was to hide in his robe. The first pile he was to burn. The second was to be hacked up with the sword and the third he was to scatter in the wind. In this act, the prophet represents the Jewish people, his hair is the people, the razor is the Chaldeans. The shaving of the head was a sign of mourning. The hair that is burned represents the people who would die in the city during the siege from famine and disease. The hair that is hacked represents those who would die in defense of the city. Those that were scattered represented those that would be taken into captivity. The few that he kept in his robe represented those that would stay behind, as Jeremiah did, under Gedaliah. Some of these last were then cast into the fire representing the fate of those who fled to Egypt after the assassination of Gedaliah.

    So on the heels of these four pantomimes beginning in chapter 6, Ezekiel begins to preach the judgment that was coming on Jerusalem and Judah as a whole and the reason behind that judgment. Characteristically, the first sin listed is the breaking of the Second Commandment. The Israelites propensity towards foreign gods and idols marks the greatest insult against God. The people repeatedly built altars on mountains and high hills as places of pagan worship. Josiah had removed these during his reform but soon after his death they were rebuilt according to accounts such as Isaiah 57. Ezekiel goes on to preach that though the prophets had been warning of coming destruction for many, many years (basically all the way back to Leviticus 26) the time was now at hand. The apostate state of God’s Covenant people was about to climax in the final destruction of all they held valuable.

    And so as chapter 7 begins, Ezekiel is preaching to the early exiles the fate of their brothers far to the west and the reasons for their fall.

    Ezekiel 7:1-9 The Stored Wrath of God

    With the betrayal of Israel as a nation exposed, the wrath of God will now sweep over them with cataclysmic results. The term “four corners of the land” implies complete destruction, an end to all the land. The sudden onslaught of God’s vengeance is a common Old Testament theme, but it is never portrayed as a lasting attribute. It is instead a sporadic activity resulting from constant stubbornness on the part of man. It is always performed as an act that purges and renews.

    There will be no pity in the coming judgment and it will be characterized by repetitive blows (disaster after disaster). It will be a time of panic and tumult, literally, “a rushing to and fro madly.” It is a reversal of the anticipated “joyful shouting upon the mountains.” This phrase can be interpreted as either the sounds of the grape harvesters on the mountain slopes or the revelry of the idolatrous pagan worshippers in the high places.

    For Judah this would be a day of great tragedy. These people, as many moderns, simply did not believe that God would execute judgment. They would soon experience His wrath. The word “wrath” implies furious, burning rage that would erupt furiously and then subside. This was the fate awaiting the Jews in Judah.

    Ezekiel 7:10-23a The Day of the Lord

    The coming Day of Judgment described here is a common message among the prophets (Isaiah 2:11-12; Malachi 4:1). In this particular instance it is not referring to some future eschatological event but rather to the fate of Jerusalem. As their rebellion reaches its zenith, God’s wrath pours forth on them. The bent of the people to do evil and their propensity towards violence has made their destruction imminent. As their evil fully ripened, God’s judgment blossomed. The two opposing conditions were ready for a confrontation of finality.

    Judah’s prosperity and status had given her a false sense of security. What they failed to recognize was that temporal things, material possessions, never give real security as they are subject to changing conditions in life. While socio-political status may impress men, it can never avert the judgment or delay the punishment of God. When that temporal wealth is stripped from Judah by the invaders, panic ensues. With the coming siege, those who lived in security within the city walls will succumb to famine and pestilence. Those without will be savagely cut down by the marauders.

    In verses 14-18, the imagery is that of watchmen on the walls of the city sounding the alarm. They blow upon horns as a call to arms but the only response they get is mourning. Ezekiel likens their mourning to that of doves that roosted on desolated cliffs and filled the valleys with their sad calls.

    The suddenness of the onslaught of God’s wrath leaves the inhabitants with uncontrollable weakness. Despite the legislation against head shaving as a mourning sign for the dead, they do so in lieu of gathering arms (Deuteronomy 14:1).

    What had once constituted their base of security becomes as nothing to them. Gold and silver is cast aside as an abomination. Their wealth becomes absolutely useless. What good is money if there is no food to buy? The point made here, however, is that their misuse of their wealth was their downfall. They had used their gold and silver to make and adorn idols which were as useless against God’s judgment as their money.

    Even the Temple, God’s “precious place,” would not be spared as it too had become defiled and contaminated through the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

    Ezekiel 7:23b-27 The People Judged as They Have Judged

    To add insult to injury, the destruction of what had been the holiest of cities would come by the hands of the worst, or most evil, of all the nonbelievers. Thus, for the most evil offender against God, Judah, He will use the most evil of avengers. In verse 25, we see that characteristic of people, they will sue for peace when it is too late. There will be no hope on the day of the Lord.

    Not only will the horror of the siege be cause for panic, but the people will find themselves completely without leadership to lean upon. There will be none to give them counsel, none to distinguish rumor from fact, none to speak the word of God and none to give prophetic vision. The mayhem and panic and confusion will be complete.

    Four distinct groups of leaders are mentioned: the prophets, the priests, the elders and the royals. Traditionally, the counsel of these four groups had been held as gifts from God. Even these were to be taken away. Jeremiah had confronted the false prophets who had so corrupted the office that they were unable to receive vision. The elders had abandoned their pursuit of wisdom for the pursuit of status. The priests had fallen from the protectors of the laws and rites to legalism and greed. Even the king, the one upon whom all others relied had fallen into despair. In the confrontation between the Israelite’s apostasy and God’s wrath on the Day of the Lord, God’s wrath would show no mercy. July 18, 586 BC was a bleak day for a wayward people.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Job

    Sunday School 6/4/06 continued

    Job 2:1-6 The Setting in Heaven

    These verse repeat 1:6-8. In verse 4 the adversary repeats his charge. He had been limited by not being allowed to touch Job. Anyone, he claims, would give up all they had to save their health. Job was still a fraud and if he lost his health he would denounce God. The Lord sends the adversary away again with permission to afflict Job. The only stipulation this time is that Job be spared his life.

    Job 2:7-10 The Setting in Job’s House

    In the writings of ancient cultures we often find the descriptions of maladies rather than the diagnosis. Such is the case here. Many have attempted to diagnose poor Job’s disease hut there is no doubt that it was quite vicious. As we continue through the Book we find that the symptoms included boils, the breeding of worms, nightmares, sensations of choking, fetid breath, weakening bones, and blackening and falling off of the skin.

    In an effort to relieve the suffering of the boils, Job took a pottery shard and cut his skin. This may have been to relieve itching or a symbolic act of mourning. He also sits among ashes, a common act for those in mourning in that culture. The man who th day before had been the most highly esteemed man in the land was now a pitiful figure bleeding in a pile of ash.

    The appearance of Job’s wife is somewhat abrupt and unexpected. She has often been interpreted as a colleague of the adversary. It is also possible that she represents the instrument of the adversary as Eve did. In either case she raises the question that reflects the initial challenge in Heaven. She does not question Job’s integrity but she suggests that he curse God as a form of spiritual euthanasia.

    In response Job tells her she speaks like a foolish woman. To use his spirituality as a means to end life would have played into the adversary’s hand. He then makes one of the pivotal statements of the Book. Shall we receive good from God but not evil? He has answered the adversary’s initial question at this point. Does Job fear God for naught? Yes, he did. It required nothing but his existence for Job to fear God.

    In all of this, Job did not sin. But now, he is left with his suffering.

    Job 2:11-13 Job’s friends Introduced

    From the description of Job’s friend’s homes, we can assume that Job had suffered for a great many days when they arrive. It would have taken time for messages to reach the far away places and for the men to mobilize. They may also have thought that he would die soon and that may have delayed their leaving. Time and pain had not, however, worn away Job’s integrity.

    Job was in such a terrible state when they arrive that they do not even recognize him. They enter into his grief as friends should. They sprinkle themselves with dust and sit down with the afflicted man. As was the custom of mourning the dead, they remain silent with him for seven days. The final words of the prologue set us for the next scene when Job speaks. His pain was very great.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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    2 Peter

    2Peter 1:12-21

    As the first chapter of the Epistle continues, Peter begins looking closer at the assurance that Christian knowledge provides. While we have various sources for this knowledge, the two primary are the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. For millennium, these two vessels of God’s truth have offered us comfort, assurance and instruction.

    Peter, of course, had the benefit of knowing Jesus personally and being on the inner circle of disciples who witnessed the Transfiguration and the physically ascended Lord. As such his words carried a great deal of weight with the Christian community. Peter draws upon those experiences in today’s Passage.

    2Peter 1:12-15 Peter’s Motive for Assuring

    The Passage begins by stating Peter’s intention to always reveal to the readers of his Letter the correct way to live as Christians. This community already possessed the truths necessary for proper conduct but he would continue to remind them with every opportunity he had. He states that it was the right thing for him to do as long as he was in the temporary body he had for this life. He looked at it as his duty to always remind the church of God’s way for his people to live. He uses a metaphor of “tent” or “tabernacle” for body. It appears that he has here the wandering of the Jews following the Exodus in mind when the nation as a whole lived in temporary dwellings.

    He is also motivated by the knowledge of his impending death. This likely is in reference to the prophecy Christ gave him in John 21:18-19. In that final scene in the Gospel of John, it is implied that Peter would be held captive and led to his death and in this way he would glorify God. Peter went through the remainder of his life knowing that martyrdom awaited him in the end. At that point, he would “put off” his body. He would move then to the permanent dwelling that Paul calls the “house not made by hands.” After that time, his readers would still gave this letter to remind them of the right way to conduct themselves.

    2Peter 1:16-21 Peter’s Method of Assuring

    The primary method by which Peter assured his readers of the right way of life was to remind his readers of the Second Coming of Christ. This commonly used expression of “Second Coming” is not a Biblical term. The phrase was coined by Justin Martyr around the turn of the second century. It refers to the second incarnation of Christ upon this earth when the judgment of men will occur. While the phrase “Second Coming” is not in the New Testament, the doctrine most definitely is. The term used by the New Testament authors is the “presence.” It is this concept that is mentioned her and will be the main focus of chapter 3.

    The teachings that Peter’s audience had received were not based upon cleverly designed myths as the Gnostic teachers used. His teachings were based upon his personal experience with the Transcended Christ. This appearance of Christ was interpreted by Peter as a forecast of what Christ’s appearance is now as He sits at the right hand of God. This was something Peter witnessed.

    The Gnostics on the other hand taught that they had learned through special revelation that there were levels of deity. In their system, a god sent forth an emanation that was of a lower form possessing less of the quality that constituted what was divine. This emanation would then perform the same act with the same effect of a third emanation being of an even lesser class. So it would go until the emanations could reach the physical realm and this is how they viewed Christ, as a low classed emanation removed from the full glory of the originating god.

    Peter, of course, had seen Jesus on the mount of transfiguration standing with Moses and Elijah. He had seen the full glory of Jesus as Lord. This was no theory, no assumption. This was an eyewitness account of a man who was fully God. It was not a devised fable. It was on that occasion that Jesus received “honor and glory” when God spoke from the cloud and spoke in majestic glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Peter’s witness to this event was a prophetic word to which his readers should give heed.

    Peter adds to his eyewitness account of Christ’s glory the Scriptures or, as the KJV phrases it, the “word of prophecy.”. Now it should be clear that for Peter, the term “Scriptures” refers only to the Old Testament. The New Testament was still in the process of being written. However, the Old Testament still offered guidance to the Christian community and was integrally tied to the Gospel as displayed in the life of Christ. Peter states that the Scriptures are a lamp shining in a dark place. In most New Testament thought, the world was regarded as being in darkness. The Old Testament prophets served as God’s light shining through that darkness just as a lamp would. The light of the Old Testament would continue until “the morning,” that time being when Christ returns and the darkness ceases in the light of His glory. The term for “morning star” in this Passage is different than in other Passages that reference Venus. More likely the term means the sun rising in the morning.

    Peter does not cite any specific Passages of Old testament prophecy that point to Christ as the light of the morning but it had become a well accepted fact in the early church that certain Old Testament Passages were in direct reference to Jesus. Among these were Numbers 24:17 that spoke of a star coming from Jacob and Malachi 4:2 that speaks of the sun of righteousness rising. The Song of Zechariah in Luke 1:78 speaks of the coming Messiah shining light upon those who sit in darkness.

    The interpretation of Scripture was important to Peter. It was not a matter of personal interpretation. This phrase has raised much debate over the years. What Peter seems to be stressing, however, is that it requires more than mere human understanding to interpret the message in the Scriptures. It took divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit to write the Scriptures and it takes divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures. Neither of these acts did, can or will occur merely by the impulse of man. The only way to understand God’s message is to involve God in the communication.

    Peter is not arguing for the inspiration of Scripture. For him and for his audience that is an accepted fact. He is not defining the nature nor the method for inspiration. He and his audience simply knew the sacred scrolls of the synagogues contained the words of men moved by the Holy Spirit, spoken from God. In the same way, any believer moved by the Holy Spirit can interpret Scripture. No man in this world holds a monopoly on that ability.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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