Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 42-43:27; James 5:1-20; Psalm 119:1-16; Proverbs 28:6-7
Ezekiel continues to get the grand tour of the future millenium Temple in Ezekiel 42. The original Hebrew text contains some words regarding the architectural specifications that are difficult to translate. But that is not the point of these passages. Throughout the tour, Ezekiel is reminded just how holy the Temple is (Ezekiel 42:13, 43:7-9). Whereas the original Temple, built by Solomon, had been defiled by idol worship, this Temple would not be.
God had left Solomon’s temple (Ezekiel 10:18-19, 11:22-25) and had not returned when the Temple was rebuilt after the exile or when King Herod refurbished it. But God plans on permanently returning to the Temple described here (Ezekiel 42:7).
In yesterday’s passages in James he admonished us to humble ourselves and walk closely with God. In chapter 5 he has a special warning for those who are probably the most likely not to do this – the wealthy.
Wealth does not last. No matter whether it is clothes, or material possessions, or money, it will become worthless (James 5:2). Clothes wear out. Material possessions eventually break down or become obsolete. We see this happening at an extreme pace in our current world where technology becomes obsolete after just a few years. Even things that are still in perfectly good running order are often replaced simply so we can have the latest-and-greatest (e.g. cars). Even money loses its purchasing power over time. Therefore it is not wise to count on these things to provide security (James 5:3).
Many (but certainly not all) wealthy people have little regard for those who are poor. They do not share their wealth and may have even become wealthy at the expense of other people. Even though they may not care for those who are hurting, God cares (James 5:4). Notice that the wealthy people are too deaf to hear the cries of those around them. But those in heaven hear. God knows every single thing that has gone on on this earth since Day One.
Those of us who are enduring hardship in this world, as those mentioned above, need to be patient. Jesus will return. But there are some things that simply take time. Just like the farmers have no choice but to what for their crops to grow, we must be patient too as we wait for Jesus (James 5:7-8). While we wait we should not complain or withhold love from one another (James 5:9). This is a tough command. Its hard to be loving towards people who might be abusing you. But Jesus was loving towards those who beat, and mocked, and killed Him. We are to be the same.
The Bible is filled with stories of people who endured hardships. Many of these situations were worse than we could ever have it. We can look to these faithful heroes for inspiration (James 5:10-11). Here is another reason why reading and meditating on our Bibles is very important.
When we are suffering we must not neglect prayer (James 5:13). Sometimes it can be hard to take our minds off our problems and pray. But it does us no good to dwell on our circumstances. James also gives us a great reminder to praise God when things are going well (James 5:13). If there’s one thing we do less than pray, its praise. We have a habit of only talking to God when we are in need. But its just as important – maybe more so – to praise and thank Him when life is good.
The Bible should be the central point of our lives. Not our jobs. Not sports. Not television. Not even our families. All of these things have their place (well, maybe not television) but none have the power to change our lives. Studying and reflecting on the information God has given us in the Bible will give us the fulfillment we seek via so many other aspects of life (Psalm 119:15-16).
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