"...reason is the enemy of faith..." (Martin Luther)
[We need reason to comprehend things in general, but to be truly successful in life, a person must transcend reason...to deal adequately with the wide range of challenges in a real day-to-day life.]
"...beating yourself on your head over the consequences of sinning is not Gospel-centered living..." (William Holland)
"...be a sinner and sin boldly, but more strongly have faith and and rejoice in Christ..." (Martin Luther)
[Thanks, Brother Marty! Do not wallow in negativity. Be human. Enjoy life. Be grateful for God's grace. Nobody's perfect, not even y'all out there! Enjoy, Savor!]
"...then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them...I will put my Spirit in you and you will live...then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will have done it, declares the Lord..." (Ezekiel 37:13-14)
[The Word doesn't get more powerful than this...]
"...above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to all those He loves is that of overcoming self..." (Francis of Assisi)
"...depression is when something in your life has become more important than God..." (Dr. Jonathan Haidt)
"...you should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the Word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you..." (Martin Luther)
Gracious God, we want to thank you today for your abiding presence in our lives. Often, we figure we know the score...that is...what's happening in our lives. Sometimes we feel we have overcome our human condition and we don't need you anymore...when...all of sudden...we comprehend in the everyday situations of life that we are overwhelmed...or that we simply haven't understood what we've gotten ourselves into.
You provide pleasant circumstances for us --- and in a growing spiritual maturity --- we recognize that unpleasant situations in our lives are necessary to keep us on the straight-and-narrow, as well as, within a divine broadening perspective. We are going to walk with you and know that in all things you will provide abundantly for us, and those we pray for, and those who we can assist in their journey. In short, we commend ourselves into your care and keeping. We know that whatever happens you are there for us and you will reveal your goodness in our behalf. In Jesus' name. Amen.
The message for this Sunday will fall in line with the "live" return to the Bible Study at 9:45 a.m. in Pacifica, which began five years ago and ceased one year ago with our final remarks about the Prophet Jeremiah. The pandemic took over from there up until the present.
I've come to the conclusion that we cannot understand the New Testament until we have thoroughly experienced and understood the Old Testament. Marcion, theologian of the fourth century A.D., was wrong. We cannot dispense with the rich settings of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, in light of having the New Testament.
Some folks, tongue in cheek, suggest that we preachers are really heretics because we normally only teach and preach from "four books" of the Holy Bible. The attempt here is to focus in upon revelation that has had a powerful spiritual impact upon God's people for 2,607 years. Let's start to examine and come to terms with "Ezekiel on Steroids" in preparation for the Bible Study series that begins today. Many Bible students need something in writing, along with a specific focus that will create "mind pictures" and study helps that will leave an impression for years of blessing to come. Let's start this way... Is Ezekiel a true prophet of Yahweh?
Now turn to "Lamentations" to get the full effect of the destruction of Jerusalem. So we note three prophetic voices for God's people in this section of the Bible. Daniel was first to arrive in Babylon way before Ezekiel. Ezekiel, by the time Jerusalem was leveled, had been in Babylon for twelve years. AND...Jeremiah was in Jerusalem to witness the destruction wrought by the King.
The message for me is...God covers "all the bases" when He needs to direct people to live by His Word...the destruction of Jerusalem was not an accident, nor was it a means to punish God's people, as much as it was a "divine intervention" to save the people from their own rulers...and from themselves... [It's not our purpose to go elsewhere at this point, but, did you know, that God's people lost the Torah, the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, including the Ten Commandments, for eight-hundred years? These sacred works were recovered in 622 B.C. during the reign of King Josiah, but, after several years of spiritual revival, the people returned to their old corrupt ways. God needed to finally do something about it, so He used the enemy of God's people to disengage the appearance of holiness and decency, and calls Nebuchadnezzar "my servant". Just for future reference, please note 2 Kings 22:1-20...note also the confusing, head-scratching passage in 1 Samuel 3:1-7 from circa 1000 B.C.]
Meanwhile... In my translation of the text, it is written, "The Glory Departs From the Temple". Ezekiel 10:18 This was to all appearance perhaps the greatest tragedy of all Scripture... other than the picture we may have of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. However, we need to envision beyond appearance. Often it's hard to do when we witness the terrible things that can happen on planet earth... especially when it affects us in a very personal way... Saint Paul says about this, "...and we know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose..." (Romans 8:28)
So...in retrospect...you may understand why I think Ezekiel 33:21 is so very important in interpreting the Bible... 586 B.C. God's people would be called "Jews" for the first time in human history (Jeremiah 32:12c). This is because Israel was defeated and scattered in 721 B.C., leaving only "Judah" to exist as a nation. Evidently the people were called "Jews" as a shortened form of some name that identified them. The name and form of the religion would change. The name of the religion from the time of Abraham up until the destruction of Jerusalem was "Yahwism", after "Yahweh", the correct name of the God of the Bible. With the radically new central focus upon the Scriptures and the development of the Synagogue the new religion would be called Judaism. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, had been long gone by that time, Judaism became the religion of the people of the Southern Kingdom, Judah. The religion would change in form.
The God of the people would remain the same.
"I AM THAT I AM" ...that is to say...Yahweh.
In succeeding messages we'll focus in upon the colorful language and images of Ezekiel's prophesy meant to leave a permanent mark upon our hearts and minds. We'll ask the question, "What's going on here?" and answer that question several times over. Best wishes to all of us as we take on Ezekiel on Steroids.