Daily Encouragement

November 19 – Ezekiel’s Temple, Solomon on Bureaucrats, and Justification by Works?

November 19
Ezekiel 39:1-40:27
James 2:18-3:18
Psalm 118:1-18
Proverbs 28:2

Ezekiel 39:1 – Notice the repeat from the previous chapter (similar to Genesis 1 & Genesis 2). From Enduring Word:

In Hebrew literature it was common to give an account and then to repeat it to give emphasis and a few additional details. Ezekiel 39:1-8is a summary of what was described in Ezekiel 38.

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/ezekiel-chapter-39/

Ezekiel 39:2 – Notice the size of the destruction – 83% of the army is wiped out! It will take seven years to burn the captured weapons! (Ezekiel 39:9). Why would they burn the weapons? 

Usually weapons left by a defeated enemy would be added to the victor’s cache of arms. After all, there would be other battles to fight. The war against Gog was to be no ordinary war. It will be the final battle, whose conclusion will make armaments obsolete.”

Vawter & Hoppe

Ezekiel 39:22 – Again one of the 80 times we read that God acts so that people can know He is the LORD their God! Give God your attention and your obedience before He has to compel it!

Ezekiel 40 – Here’s a 3D Model of the Temple (this really helps reading the chapter)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNmERZkT6JM

And a 2D Sketch of what it could look like

Here’s a link to another sketch of Ezekiel’s Temple – because of copyright I can’t embed the picture but you can click thru and see it.

James 2:21 – Martin Luther famously referred to James as “a right strawy epistle,” for you like him may have run into people that claim James teaches “justification by works.” Let’s see what James means by “works.” James did not say Abraham was justified by the amount he gave to Melchizidek in tithes, or in his lifetime good deeds, but James points to one solitary action. Let’s look at how this incident is recorded across Scripture:

  • Genesis 22:1-2 “God did tempt Abraham…offer him there for a burnt offering”
  • Hebrews 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac:”
  • James 2:21 “Abraham…justified by works, when he had offered Isaac”

God tried Abraham, Abraham had faith in God, and proved his faith by obedience.

If you want to say (in spite of cross referencing) that James is saying you can be justified by doing generic good works – let’s look at the key text that says you can work your way to heaven, Leviticus 18:5. “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” Moses repeats it in Deuteronomy 4:1. The prophets come back to this theme (Nehemiah 9:29, Isaiah 55:3, Ezekiel 18:9, Ezekiel 20:11, Ezekiel 20:13). Jesus reiterated there is life for those who keep the commandments (Luke 10:28). Paul echoes it as well (Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12).

If you want to be saved by the law, and claim James as your proof text, then you better backup to James 2:10  that we read yesterday (just 11 verses up!) and remind yourself that you better keep all 613 laws perfectly for your entire life! (See Romans 3:23 before attempting).

James 3:8 – James compares the tongue to a bridle for a horse (James 3:3), a rudder for a ship (James 3:4), and a fire (James 3:5-6). It can bless God and curse men (James 3:9). As James says, if you claim to be a Christian, you should act like a Christian (James 3:10).

Psalm 118:6 – As Carl Kerby says, Be Bold! Trust God, do His will, and He will protect you!

Proverbs 28:2 – Bureaucrats are part of the judgment of the land. There are over 2 million employees of the U.S. government, not counting the postal service or the military. If you are a government employee – Solomon is not saying your work is bad, but he’s saying many federal jobs would probably be unnecessary if this was a nation of righteous people (there are 105,000 full time federal law enforcement officers alone). 

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

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Daily Encouragement

November 18 – What turns a valley of dead bones into a standing army?

November 18
Ezekiel 37:1-38:23
James 1:19-2:17
Psalm 117:1-2
Proverbs 28:1

Ezekiel 37:3 – Ezekiel didn’t have the answers but was full of obedience (Ezekiel 37:7). Contrast this humble servant to the arrogant rebel Jonah who was full of answers (Jonah 4:2) and didn’t have obedience (Jonah 1:3).

Ezekiel 37:12 – Further in this chapter we’ll read about the coming King (Ezekiel 37:24). When that King made a way for man to connect to God (Matthew 27:51), this passage was literally fulfilled (Matthew 27:52). The bones came together (Ezekiel 37:7), breath came into them (Ezekiel 37:10), and the graves opened, and they came out into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 37:12).

Ezekiel 37:19 – This is the “two sticks prophecy.” What does it mean? Does it refer to the union of the people who will reign with Christ to those who will dwell on the New Earth as the JW’s teach? Does it refer to the union of the Bible and the Book of Mormon as the LDS teach? The union of non-Jewish believers and Jewish believers under Torah Observance? Does it refer to two Jewish nations that will exist in the Tribulation as Jimmy DeYoung teaches?  I’m inclined to see it partially fulfilled in the post-Exilic Israel – God gathered them together into the one nation, but not fully fulfilled because the King has not come (Ezekiel 37:22).

Ezekiel 37:24 – Ezekiel often repeats his key themes. The end fulfillment will be David the King ruling over Israel dwelling in their land (Ezekiel 37:25), as part of an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 37:26), faithful to the LORD (Ezekiel 37:27). This hasn’t happened yet – there is no King in Israel. King Alexander Jannaeus of the Hasmonean Dynasty in the first century BC reclaimed much of the land, but illegally combined the office of King and Priest, and by no means was identified with peace (Ezekiel 37:26).

Ezekiel 38:2 – What is this battleof Gog and Magog? From Jimmy DeYoung:

In verse 2, “Magog” is modern-day Russia, “Meshech and Tubal” along with “Gomer and Togarmah”, in verse 6 is present-day Turkey. “Persia” in verse 5 is Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The other two names, “Ethiopia and Libya”, are also nations that will join the “alignment” to attack Israel.

These nations make up the “who” in this passage. The “when” is revealed to us in two verses, verses 8 and 11. These verses speak of the time when the Jewish people come back into the land in the last days and are “dwelling safely” in the land. They also will be living in “unwalled villages”.

Both terms are referring to a time when there is “peace” in the land. It will not be the time when Jesus has brought “peace” but a time of a “pseudo-peace” one that will be a “short-lived” peace. This “peace” comes when the Antichrist has established a “peace” in the land, which is in the very beginning of the Tribulation.

The “what” is the unfolding of the war to destroy the Jewish people and take the “land” that God has given the Jews. As these nations attack Israel, God intercedes, verses 18 to 23. Couple this with the verses found in Ezekiel 39, verses 1 to 6, and you come to an understanding that the Lord protects His “Chosen People”.

http://devotional.prophecytoday.com/2015/11/ezekiel-3818.html

Ezekiel 38:22 – How will God judge Gog & Magog? Similar to how He judged Sodom and Gomorrah – with fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24, Luke 17:29). The earthly judgment is but a foreshadowing of the eternal lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10, Revelation 21:8).

James 1:21 – The best illustration of “superfluity of naughtiness” was from an evangelist who told about a new intern on his team, who was tasked with emptying the sewage tank on the evangelist’s RV – if you haven’t dumped an RV, it is an interesting experience! Apparently the hose wasn’t connected properly, and gallons of raw sewage poured forth over the new intern, covering him in a superfluity of naughtiness. It’s a vivid picture of the despicableness of sin.

James 1:22 – James points out some behaviors incompatible with the Christian life:

  • Lazy listeners (James 1:22)
  • Loose tongues (James 1:26)
  • Leaving the fatherless and widows (James 1:27)
  • Leaning to the rich (James 2:1)

James 2:10 – There were 613 laws under the Torah. James declares that we can keep 612 of the commandments perfectly, and yet still break the entire law!

James 2:14 – James declared in James 2:10 that we cannot keep the law. Those who try to be saved by works fall greatly short. We are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5). But a life that displays behaviors incompatible with the Christian life needs to go back to the warning passages of Hebrews, and know that Jesus said we can know a Christian by his fruits (Matthew 7:15). James is reiterating what Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18).

James 2:17 – Jesus said “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit” (faith without works) “is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19). We are commanded to bear much fruit (John 15:8). This is why we were created (Ephesians 2:10). But we cannot do good works without the antecedent of faith, for our good works are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The proof that we have turned from sin to Christ is that we Bring Forth Fruit!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdHmcz678X0

Psalm 117:1 – Worship need not always be long, but it should be frequent! Reminds me of 1 John 4:9 – Why do we love Him? Because He first loved us!

Proverbs 28:1 – We need some Christians that are bold as a lion to take the news of Jesus to people everywhere!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKxWpzi4zf8

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370

Daily Encouragement

November 17 – Lazy students know this verse but many Christian adults don’t.

November 17
Ezekiel 35:1-36:38
James 1:1-18
Psalm 116:1-19
Proverbs 27:23-27

Ezekiel 35:2 – Why is God focusing on the Edomites (the residents of Mount Seir)? Enduring Word:

ii. Alexander noted a long history of conflict between the Edomites and the kings of Israel (and Judah), during the reigns of: Saul (1 Samuel 14:47), Solomon (1 Kings 11:14–22), Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1–23), Jehoram (2 Kings 8:21), Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:17).

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/ezekiel-chapter-35/
Jordan Rift Valley
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Israel#/media/File:Yarden_0182.JPG

Ezekiel 36:4 – There is something special about being in the land of the Bible. I’m proud to be an American, but America doesn’t have the land prophesied to her. The Old Testament is full of descriptions of mountains (518x),  hills (136x), rivers (247x), valleys (166x), even wastes (88x). The Old Testament is rooted in geography, and there is no better way to study the land of the Bible than in the land of the Bible!

Ezekiel 36:11 From Jimmy DeYoung:

The Lord even promises the Jews that the land they return to in the last days will be better than it was in the days of their forefathers, verse 11. By doing these things, for the Jews, with His promised land, they shall know that He is the Lord and they shall turn to Him.

Each year, around May 14, the Jewish people celebrate the “birthday” of the Jewish State of Israel and the productivity of the land He has given these Jewish people. This celebration of God’s work in fulfilling His promises about the “land of Israel” has been a witness to the entire world….

It’s not because of Israel or Judah that the Lord does what He does, but for “His Holy names sake.” By the way, that is why He does anything for each of us, as well, for “His Holy names sake.”

http://devotional.prophecytoday.com/search/label/Ezekiel

Ezekiel 36:26 – This verse is almost a repeat of Ezekiel 11:29. God’s not promising rehabilitation, but transformation! He’s giving us the power of His Spirit to obey His Statutes (Ezekiel 36:27). Throughout the Old Testament we see disobedience after disobedience. Now we can walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

James 1:5 – This verse is often the hasty prayer of the student who has neglected his studies, yet too many adults neglect this passage when needing wisdom. We don’t need Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura, or Oprah giving us wisdom, but we need the LORD’s wisdom! 

James 1:9-10 – Matthew 23:12, Proverbs 29:23, Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:6, all teach that the humble are exalted, and the exalted are humbled. Flip thru the television dial and American culture prizes the the fastest athletes, winning politicians, famous Kardashians, the people who get the most screen time, etc. God’s priorities are completely opposite.

James 1:12 – There are five crowns that are possible for believers to receive:

  • Incorruptible Crown – 1 Corinthians 9:25  – for the faithful
  • Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thessalonians 2:19 – for the witness
  • Crown of life – James 1:12 – for the tempted
  • Crown of righteousness – for the watching
  • Crown of glory – 1 Peter 5:4 – for the pastors

James 1:14 – Don’t boast in the fact that you are not tempted to drink, steal, commit fornication, etc – if you are tempted to view pornography, lie, and be proud.Paul warns us that we are “drawn away of his own lust” – a pastor referred to these as “designer lusts” – custom designed to hit your weak points! Beware – it brings forth death (James 1:15)

Psalm 116:6 – Speaking of the low – God helps those who are low! 

Psalm 116:18 – Not everyone pays their vows right away – but God remembers. From BGEA:

While clinging to a life raft, Zamperini prayed for one of the first times in his life: “God, if I survive this ordeal and get back to America alive, I’ll seek You and serve You.”

[Four years after the war,] For the first time in years, Zamperini remembered the promise he made to God when he was floating in the south Pacific.

My life passed before my eyes, and I saw an ugly life,” Zamperini said. “Yes, I had a lot of great times. A lot of great experiences, and a lot of escapes from death, but I still didn’t like my life after the war. It was terrible.”

That night in L.A., Zamperini went forward and accepted Christ, and the biggest miracle of his life was set in motion.

https://billygraham.org/story/louis-zamperini-billy-graham-and-a-life-changing-decision-the-rest-of-the-unbroken-story/

Proverbs 27:23 – The Son of the Shepherd King knew the importance of managing your flocks. Whether a pastor, manager, or parent, this is a command for all of us.

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

November 16 – Can the wicked live and the righteous die?

November 16
Ezekiel 33:1-34:31
Hebrews 13:1-25
Psalm 115:1-18
Proverbs 27:21-22

Ezekiel 33:7 – This echoes Ezekiel 3:17. The challenge on the watchman is an expansion of the five verses in Ezekiel 3:17-21, into 9 verses in Ezekiel 33:1-9. But does this warning apply to us today?

The temple laws of Moses were specific to a certain people and a certain building. The warning of Ezekiel to Tyre & Egypt were specific to a certain people at a certain time, but this passage is distinguished. Ezekiel is given a universal principal of the watchman not a ceremonial command.  Ezekiel is specifically appointed a watchman to Israel, but the context implies that there are others who can be called watchmen. In contrast to those that say the church is not responsible for the Great Commission, we have the same message that Ezekiel had, but to a different people and a different time.

  • The wicked shall die (Ezekiel 33:8)
  • The “righteous” will die as well (Ezekiel 33:12-13)
  • Turning (Repentance) saves from death (Ezekiel 33:11)
  • Our sins can be blotted out (Ezekiel 11:16)

Ezekiel 33:17 – Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the worst serial killers. Sodomized, murdered, dismembered, and cannibalized 17 men and boys over 13 years. Found legally sane. 

On July 22nd, 1991, he was caught. He said “For what I did I should be dead.” Over the next two weeks, he confessed to everything. Shortly after he asked for a Bible. He sought legal help from a prominent Christian lawyer in the area. According to his father, books from ICR led him from evolution to the Creator, and becoming a born again Christian.  Yes, it is possible for the wicked to live, and the righteous to die (Ezekiel 33:18-19).

https://youtu.be/gnf1j4hRbjU?t=2248

Ezekiel 33:24 – Israel was trusting in their strength, yet God was judging them for their sin!

Ezekiel 33:25 – In both the Old (Genesis 9:4) and New Testaments (Acts 15:29) God has condemned the eating of blood. The sins that Israel committed (Ezekiel 33:26-27) were universal – condemned in both Testaments.

Ezekiel 33:32 – Be a doer and not just a hearer! (James 1:22)

Ezekiel 34:17 – The Lord GOD (Yahweh Adonai) declares that He, the shepherd of the flock, will judge between the rams and the goats. What did Jesus say in Matthew 25:32? He said that He would “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.”  Jesus claimed to be the Yahweh Adonai of Ezekiel 34:17. Now why wasn’t He stoned for this? Because it was told to the disciples privately (Matthew 24:3) as part of the Olivet Discourse. Those who had followed their rabbi, Y’shua, would not betray him, save one.

Ezekiel 34:23 – Who is the Shepherd? David, the Shepherd King who wrote of the Lord as Shepherd (Psalm 23), was dead. In John 10:11, Jesus claims to be the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd of Ezekiel 34:23  is prophesied to come, but in this passage is not identified with the LORD as it was in Ezekiel 34:17. Interestingly this a-divine (not divine, nor anti-divine) claim of identification was made to the Pharisees (John 9:40).

Ezekiel 34:26 – There shall be showers of blessing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrDwO0TQWjM

Ezekiel 34:30-31 – This echoes Psalm 100:3 – knowing the LORD is God, we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture!

Hebrews 13:2 – The Epistles contain many hard to understand statements about angels. We shall judge angels? (1 Corinthians 6:3). The reason for head coverings is because of angels? (1 Corinthians 11:10). We might be secretly visited by angels? (Hebrews 13:2). We understand things angels don’t? (1 Peter 1:12). 

Also note the wide variety of kinds of people covered in this one chapter:

  • Brothers (Hebrews 13:1)
  • Angels (Hebrews 13:2)
  • Inmates (Hebrews 13:3)
  • Adulterers (Hebrews 13:4)
  • Christians (Hebrews 13:5)
  • Oppressors (Hebrews 13:6)
  • Pastors (Hebrews 13:7)
  • Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:8)
  • False Teachers (Hebrews 13:9)
  • Levites (Hebrews 13:10)
  • Beasts (Hebrews 13:11)

Hebrews 13:23Pulpit Commentary thinks that this shows Hebrews was written by Dr. Luke:

It is observable that the word ἀπολύεσθαι, which does not occur in St. Paul’s writings, is, like so many expressions throughout the Epistle, one usual with St. Luke (Luke 22:68Luke 23:16, etc.; Acts 3:13Acts 4:21; where it expresses release from prison or captivity). He uses it also for dismissal of persons on a mission (Acts 13:3Acts 15:30); and hence one view is that Timothy’s having already set out to visit the Church addressed is all that is here meant.

https://biblehub.com/hebrews/13-23.htm

Psalm 115:1 – Praise begins with humility!

Proverbs 27:22 -Several possible interpretations abound – is a man known by the type of people who praise him? by his behavior while praised? by what he is praised for? is a man to test the people who priase him? 

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.

Daily Encouragement

November 15 – The root of bitterness

November 15
Ezekiel 31:1-32:32
Hebrews 12:14-29
Psalm 113:1-114:8
Proverbs 27:18-20

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b8/Cedar_Tree_%287853418286%29.jpg/640px-Cedar_Tree_%287853418286%29.jpg

Ezekiel 31:10 – God hates pride in case you haven’t noticed. Daniel uses the same phrase “lifted up thyself” against Belshazzar (Daniel 5:23).

Ezekiel 32:7 – When will these events be? Ezekiel doesn’t say, but looking at other passages we can tell. Isaiah 13:10 talks about the day of the LORD when the moon will not give its light. Matthew 24:29 says that this immediately follows the Great Tribulation.

Hebrews 12:15 – What do we know about this root of bitterness?

  • It’s crafty – people don’t see it unless they know what they’re looking for.
  • It’s costly – taking away the grace of God.
  • It’s concerning – “trouble you”
  • It’s corrupting – “many be defiled.”

Hebrews 12:24 – Why is Jesus better?  An ignorant beast that touched the Holy Mountain of Moses was to be stoned.  Now, we are invited to the city of the living God (Hebrews 12:22)

Psalm 113:3 – I need to spend more time praising the LORD!

Psalm 113:6 – We pride ourselves on how big of a position we have attained on earth. The LORD “humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” 

Psalm 114:7 – We need a return to the fear of the LORD. 

Proverbs 27:18 -Are we faithful in our service to our master?

Share how reading thru the Bible has been a blessing to you! E-mail us at 2018bible@vcyamerica.org or call and leave a message at 414-885-5370.