Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 37-38:23; James 1:19-2:17; Psalm 117:1-2; Proverbs 28:1
Ezekiel had already received some amazing visions from God and the one in Ezekiel 37 is pretty special too. Through it God demonstrates that He will restore Israel. At this point the exiled people of Israel had given up hope (Ezekiel 37:11). But with God nothing is impossible. Its not uncommon for us to think that God has abandoned us when we go through difficult situations. But God always has His eye on us. And is always willing to restore us.
God had already told Israel that they would be conquered and restored (we’ve read this prophecy several times in other prophetic books). But they weren’t paying attention. If they had only done a better job of reading their Scriptures, they would not have had to be so depressed about their situation.
God did recreate Israel (in 1948). But He also promised a spiritual restoration (Ezekiel 37:14). This still-future event is a time when the Jews will accept Jesus as God, their Savior.
Just like the bones in this vision, each of us is naturally spiritually dead due to our sins. Only God can breathe new life into us. Notice that this is what He wants to do. The bones didn’t ask to be given new life and neither did we. God took the initiative to revive us when we didn’t even know we needed it.
Ezekiel 38 describes the very famous future war of Gog and Magog. In these passages Gog is a title of a man, probably a ruler of the nation of Magog. On many antique maps Magog is identified as modern-day Russia. Marco Polo referred to Magog as being the land north of China. According to this prophecy Magog will join forces with many other nations (Ezekiel 38:5-6). Some of the nations mentioned retain their names today (Ethiopia, Libya). Some have been renamed recently (in 1935 Persia became Iran). The modern-day equivalent of the rest include Turkey, Syria, Sudan and other nations that currently surround Israel.
At some point in the future, when Israel is prosperous and at peace, these nations, motivated by greed, will join forces to invade (Ezekiel 38:11-12). It will seem that Israel is toast. But miraculously God will intervene, causing confusion among the invaders and causing them to kill each other (Ezekiel 38:21). While this might sound unbelievable, God has done this exact same thing before (2 Chronicles 20:22, 1 Samuel 14:15-20, Joshua 10:10). As we learned the other day, God does not change. He will use the same methods today that He used thousands of years ago. And why not… they work.
Notice that God is motivated by His intense love for His people (Ezekiel 38:18-19). This is the same love that He has for all of us. When someone is born-again and is adopted into God’s eternal family, He is forever on their side and will fight against their enemies (human and spiritual) with the same intensity as He fights for Israel in these passages.
The War of Gog and Magog will start off seemingly one-sided in favor of Israel’s enemies. But the result will be the opposite of what people expect, causing the entire world to take notice (Ezekiel 38:23). I think that one of the results of this war will be that many people will come to faith in Jesus.
Biblical eschatology is my favorite Bible subject. If you are interested in reading about the events that will take place in the future I highly recommend reading any book by Mark Hitchcock or Joel C. Rosenberg. They are the two best authors, in my opinion, on the subject.
Its okay to be angry. Anger is not a sin. But what motivates us to anger can be sin as can be the way we handle it. The way we properly control anger is to listen more and talk less (James 1:19). A famous saying goes “We have two ears and one tongue. We should use them proportionately”. So often we get angry because we don’t have all the facts. This is because we spend too much time talking and not enough time listening. We can’t learn when we’re speaking. We can only learn when we are listening.
Notice that there is a human-type of anger (James 1:20) as opposed to a God-type of anger. God gets angry when we are hurt. His anger is motivated by love. We get angry when we are hurt. Our anger is self-serving.
One of the things we should spend more time listening to is the word of God (James 1:22). We can do this by going to church and attending a weekly bible study and/or small group. We can also listen to podcasts at work or in our cars. A list of churches whose podcasts I regularly listen to can be found by clicking the “Media” link at the top of this blog.
But just listening is not enough. In fact, it is pointless if we don’t obey what we hear (James 1:22-25). We spend endless amounts of time in front of a mirror making sure we look just right. By comparison, we spend hardly anytime in the Bible, which is a mirror into our souls, making sure we are spiritually right. The Greek word translated “look into” means a deep introspection. We aren’t to just read the Bible for the sake of reading. We are to delve into what it says, thinking about it and absorbing it until it becomes a part of us.
God hates partiality (James 2:1). This would include racism, sexism, ageism, and partiality based on wealth. Jesus came to break down the walls between classes and genders and races (Deuteronomy 10:17, Acts 10:34, Galatians 3:28). Christians should not show any partiality either. Our job is to demonstrate Jesus to the world. One way we can do this is by not showing favoritism.
Likewise we can’t show partiality towards God’s law. We can’t pick-and-choose which parts we like and will obey and which parts we won’t. We all agree with the Bible that murder is wrong. But we don’t want to agree on what it says about same-sex marriage or abortion being wrong. We can’t have it both ways. Its an all or nothing deal (James 2:10).
Notice that even if a person just told one lie during their entire life they would be guilty of breaking every single one of God’s laws. All sin will be judged. Even the sins that human beings deemed to be minor. There are no inconsequential sins in God’s view. We don’t get to decide what is right and what is wrong.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.