Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The True Israel

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

After reading Ezekiel 15 (which compares Israel to a vine tree), my littlest brother said, "But Jesus is the vine, so Jesus is the true Israel."

Yes, Jesus is the vine and we His servants are the branches. So if in Ezekiel 15 the vine is Israel, then Jesus must also be Israel; making Him the true Israel.

Jesus = Vine (John 15)
Vine = Israel (Ezekiel 15)
Jesus = Israel

Logically, this makes sense. However, I disagreed at first. Jesus, the true Israel? Somehow it did not connect in my mind.

But my dad pointed out this Scripture:
"...Israel is My son, even My firstborn... (Exodus 4:22).
So, the Bible supports that the logic makes sense. :-)

Jesus was called out of Egypt just as Israel of old had been freed from Egypt (Matthew 2:15). Jesus was baptized just as Israel had been when they crossed through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2). Both were commissioned to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6; Acts 13:47).

Those are just a few of the many parallels between physical Israel and the True Prince of God. But what about spiritual Israel - the church?

We are to fully imitate the True Israel. We are to come out and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. We are to be baptized with both water and the Spirit. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

But more than that: The spiritual Israel will fully reflect the beauty of holiness and achieve perfection of character that our Example attained. We must strive to be like Him in thought, word, and deed. Wherever we go, people should be able to see Christ in us, the hope of glory.

How do I obtain this? Spend time in His presence; learn at His feet; behold His glory, full of grace and truth.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..."(Proverbs 23:7).

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (John 15:4).

Monday, January 12, 2015

Made to Bear Fruit to the Glory of God

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

What is my purpose on this earth? Why did God make me?

This evening in worship, we read from Ezekiel 15. Its eight verses left a deep impression and an important lesson. God did for me for a purpose. And He strives to lead me in that purpose. But, I can only attain to that purpose when I am fully connected to Him.

Are you connected?

My dad connected the chapter with John 15:5-6, 8:
I [Jesus] am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. ...
Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.
The Lord points out to Ezekiel that the vine tree's purpose is not decorative or constructive or organizational. Vines are not used to make pegs and pins for hanging things; nor are they used to build houses. No: vines are made to bear fruit. Hundreds of years before, in the book of Isaiah, we see that Israel was meant to bear grapes - but instead they brought forth wild, unruly, and sour grapes. What good is it then?

I am made to bear fruit. That is what glorifies the Father; that is what proclaims the Son; that is what justifies Their character. If I do not fulfill my God-appointed mission, what then am I good for?

Sometimes we want to be like the other "trees of the forest." We want sing like them, dress like them, attend the schools they do, etc. But is that what God meant you to be? Is that where He intends you to go?

For me, the struggle was learning to play sacred music on the French horn. Who does that? To learn classical music seems to make sense, to be expected of me. On the other hand, many younger musicians are perfecting pop and other genres on the horn. But what glorifies God? "...Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God..."

What is your struggle? What pull does the world have on you? In what areas of your life do you struggle to abide fully in Christ and His will?

Oh be careful little eyes what you see;
Oh be careful little eyes what you see!
For the Father up above is looking down in love:
Oh be careful little eyes what you see!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who Created the World?

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

 After writing last night's post ("The Word of God"), I realized that the Bible teaches that the Son of God was the active agent in Creation. In other words, God the Father planned it, and God the Son executed it.

How do we come to that conclusion? Well we learned that Jesus is the Word - that He has always been the Word, even before His incarnation. We also learned that the Son of God does in fact take commands from the Father; that is their order of things.

With those lessons in mind, consider this text: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6). The surface meaning is that God spoke and things happened. This is proven by Christ's ability to command the winds and sea to obey Him.

But it can also have deeper meaning. "By the Son of God were the heavens made..." In other words, Jesus, being the Word of God, formed the heavens (and the earth) Himself. This, too, is confirmed by Scripture in Colossians 1:16. It would neat to know that Psalms was a second witness to Colossians!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Word of God

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

How many men were commissioned by God in Ezekiel 9? There are six with swords; but among them was a man in linen with an inkhorn at his side...

In Revelation 1, Jesus is said to be walking among the candlesticks. But is that humanly possible? (We are allowed to consider the human element of the Son of God because John says, "one like unto the Son of man," a reference for the Son of God incarnate or made flesh.)

Jesus would not be in the candlesticks or be a candlestick Himself; no, He would be in the general area of the candlesticks - in their presence, so to speak. The same can be said of Him in Ezekiel 9. (For a brief review on Jesus being the man in linen, see the post entitled "A Duty to Report.")

That being the case, we can say that the man in linen is a seventh person. Seven is a number representing perfection: a fitting description of our Lord.

But notice that the seventh figure has an inkhorn instead of a sword. What for? To mark the righteous as He was commanded? I myself had not really considered anything deeper than that. But in worship one night, Dad said, "Because He is the Word."

He has always been the Word of God - divinely, humanly, figuratively, literally. In the Old Testament and the New. From the beginning (John 1:1-3) all the way through to the end (Revelation 19:13). Jesus is the Word.

Lord, please order my steps in Your Word. I want to be like Jesus. Please crucify me with Christ so that even though I live, it will not be I who lives, but Christ in me. Help me to live day by day by the faith of the Son of God. Help me to remember that He does love me, enough to lay down His life for me.

Amen.

Friday, January 09, 2015

A Duty to Report

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

I learned something wonderful and interesting while reading Ezekiel 9. A job is not complete until it is reported to the one who commanded the work. Example: The man in linen is sent by God to complete a mission. When the mission was complete, the man in linen returns to God and reports the matter.

Now, my belief is that the man in linen is the Son of God based on Daniel 12:5-13. Here, the man in linen tells Daniel that he (Daniel) will stand in his lot at the latter days. In other words, Daniel will pass the judgment and be admitted into heaven at the end of time. Who else has the authority to say who is saved and who is lost but God Himself (Matthew 9:5-7)?

Revelation 10 also parallels with Daniel 12 (and thus Ezekiel 9). It pictures an angel - or messenger - who swears by Him Who liveth forever and ever - just like the man in Daniel 12. Does this have to be the Son of God, too? Consider that God often swears by His own name, because He can swear by none greater (see Genesis 22:16 and Hebrews 6:13).

So, having established that the man in linen is the Son of God, consider this: the Son of God, Who is fully God, Who has complete and equal authority with God the Father, reports a completed mission to His Father.

What an example for us!

When anyone gives us a task to complete, we should not only go to it right away (Ezekiel 9:7); not only should we do it thoroughly (Ecclesiastes 9:10); but we should also return to the commanding authority and let them know the status of the work.

Just think: that is a microcosm of the judgment. Learning to report here on earth prepares us to report to God when He returns. When He asks about our finances (Matthew 25:19), when He asks about our children, siblings, or friends (Jeremiah 13:20), when He asks about our relationship with Him (Matthew 7:23), we should be able to answer and say, "I have done as Thou hast commanded me."

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Sin is Sin... Right?

In family worship, we have reading from the book of Ezekiel. There are a lot of deep and awesome truths found in that book, some of which unlock other controversies that we have yet to understand.

Throughout the coming weeks, I will write about the book of Ezekiel based on various points my family members bring out each night. I pray that you will blessed.

After a family reading of Ezekiel 8, my mom said that it seems there are some sins that God hates more than others. Note God's words to Ezekiel.
"He said furthermore unto me, 'Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations' " (verse 6).
Here is the background: Ezekiel, a civilian* captive in Babylon,was taken in vision back to Jerusalem. God wanted him to see the wickedness of Judah so that he could understand God's justice when Jerusalem was punished. The Lord takes his servant to each arena and shows him the sin being performed there.

But as God moves Ezekiel from place to place, He continues to say that the prophet will see greater abominations. So Ezekiel is shown Judah's sin in increasing order of evil. Each step was more and more abominable to the Lord.

Jesus did note that an inward sin is just as much sin as one physically performed. So hating is essentially killing, lusting is essentially cheating, etc. But the inward sin is less abominable to God than the outward one - according to Ezekiel's vision.

Furthermore, the inward sin has fewer repercussions than the outward sin. As my dad said, the consequences of hating someone and actually killing them are vastly different. Even our modern, secular government treats attempted murder differently from actual murder. In one case, the evil can be averted; in the other, the deed is done

One thing every young person should know is that there are indeed degrees of sin. One prime example is in the area of lust. Thinking it, pursuing it, and going through with it hold different consequences. If you ever find yourself down the path of sexual sin, remember - always remember - that it is not too late to turn back. There will be some damage done, but it does not have to be the worst sort.

A ray of hope is that God will not punish us for what we have not done; moreover that He will take us back no matter how far we have gone. Note that Judah is not yet punished. Crossing over to Jeremiah's book, we see that while Ezekiel sees impending doom, God is yet pleading with Judah.
"Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate (Jeremiah 44:4)." **
And He is yet pleading with you. Will you hear His voice, and harden not your heart?

*Ezekiel was not a part of or associated with the royal family like Daniel was. He was taken in the second round of captivities from Jerusalem, whereas Daniel was taken in the first. And thereafter, he dwelt as a civilian, not a royal official in the Babylonian government.
**This particular passage does not parallel with Ezekiel 8; but Jeremiah 38:14-23 and all of Jeremiah 32 do parallel with Ezekiel 8.