Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 44-45:12; 1 Peter 1:1-12; Psalm 119:17-32; Proverbs 28:8-10
One of my favorite Biblical prophecies is recorded in Ezekiel 44. The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is the gate through which Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, a week before His crucifixion. According to these passages, God declared that this gate would be closed after He entered (Ezekiel 44:1-3). In 1541 Ottoman Sultan Suleiman ordered the eastern gate to be sealed because of the Bible prophecy that says the Jewish Messiah will return and enter through this gate. Suleiman was trying to prevent this from happening. What he didn’t realize was that he was helping to fulfill Biblical prophecy. Pretty cool, huh?
If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the eastern gate and the related prophecy, I found this interesting video on YouTube which does a great job of describing it: The Eastern Gate in Prophecy.
We’ve already seen that during the Millenium the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifice will again take place, albeit for a different purpose. Similarly the concept of a Sabbaths’ day’s rest will apparently be reestablished as will the position of judges (Ezekiel 44:24).
Today we begin reading the book of 1 Peter which is a letter written by Peter, one of Jesus’ direct disciples. Peter was most likely the oldest of the disciples with the rest being teenagers (Peter was over 20 years old). In the Gospel accounts Peter is recorded as speaking more than any person other than Jesus. So, despite his impulsive personality, Peter was the de-facto leader of the twelve disciples. It is this leadership position that Peter points to as authority for this letter (1 Peter 1:1).
We’ve already read that eternal life comes not from our own good works but solely by God’s grace. Grace is the giving of something that is undeserved. None of us deserve to go to heaven due to our sinfulness. But God, out of His grace, gives us that privilege. It is also by God’s mercy that we have eternal life. Mercy is not giving something that is deserved. We deserve to be separated from God forever (we call that hell). But God, out of His mercy, offers to withhold that punishment to those who are born-again (1 Peter 1:3).
Those who accept God’s gracious and merciful offer have an inheritance waiting in heaven (1 Peter 1:4). God is keeping this inheritance there so it does not get ruined, which it would if it were here on earth. Everything on earth decays and eventually fades away and is forgotten. But God wants to reward us with something that lasts forever. Anything God gives is far more valuable than the most valuable item on earth.
Notice that believers (this letter was written to Christians) “have to” endure many trials while on earth (1 Peter 1:6). Difficulty is not optional, even though we do all we can to avoid it. Having an easy life is not something to boast about because those who have it easy have very little, if any, faith. Just like fire reveals the purity of a precious metal, trials and difficulties reveal our level of faith (1 Peter 1:7). Going through trouble helps us realize that we need to increase our faith (through Bible study, prayer, etc).
God’s salvation plan was not a new concept when it was written about by New Testament authors. The Old Testament prophets knew about this grace, through the Holy Spirit, but didn’t fully understand it (1 Peter 1:10-11). Those of us living today have an advantage of understanding this now. But there are still many things that those of us living today don’t fully understand, including the Millenium which we’ve been reading about in Ezekiel.
I think God likes to give us “coming attractions” into the future. But just like movie coming attractions, God doesn’t want to give us too much information – just enough to whet our appetite and leave us wanting to know more. Even the angels are anxious to see what happens next (1 Peter 1:12).
It is impossible for a person to see God’s truth in the Bible if her eyes are closed to that truth (Psalm 119:18). For years my eyes were closed. I had no interest in anything related to the Bible. But then my eyes were opened. Not by me… notice that it is God who opens people’s eyes to the truth. Perhaps someone prayed for my openness. If so, I’m thankful to that unknown person. We should likewise be praying, asking God to open the eyes and minds of the unbelievers we know.
Understanding of the Bible does not come through osmosis. We can’t just skim over the pages and expect to understand, especially since the Bible was written in a different culture than the one we live in now. We must meditate on it in order to fully comprehend it (Psalm 119:27). Without the Bible in one’s life, a person lies to themself (Psalm 119:29). Our own mind is not capable of finding truth about God. For years I was 100% sure I was right about the Bible – that it was a completely worthless document filled with hateful commands and inaccurate historical facts. That was a lie I told myself. Once God thankfully opened my eyes, I realized I was wrong.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.