Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 45:13-46:24; 1 Peter 1:13-2:10; Psalm 119:33-48; Proverbs 28:11
Interestingly Ezekiel’s account of the Millenium includes mention of two feasts from Old Testament times that would be observed again: the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ezekiel 45:21) – a seven-day observance which includes the day of Passover – and the Festival of Booths (Ezekiel 45:25) – a seven-day observance in which the Jews lived in tents to recall their 40 years of wandering in the desert. The other feasts are not mentioned. This does not mean they won’t be observed. We’ll have to wait and see.
So it appears that much of the Old Testament rituals will be reinstated during the Millenium – the 1,000 years when Jesus reigns on earth. That means that the time we are living now is a “hiatus” – an intermission of sorts. Our present age – known as the “church age” – is the period of time when God builds His relationship with Gentiles (non Jews) through Jesus. Prior to this age and also subsequent to it, God builds His relationship with the Jewish people. This does not mean that Jews can’t come to believe in Jesus during the present age or that Gentiles can’t be saved during the Millenium. It simply means that the focus of God’s attention will be different during these time periods.
Throughout this view of the Millenium Ezekiel has frequently mentioned someone called the “prince”. Some claim that this person refers to Jesus. But this cannot be true as Ezekiel 45:22 tells us that this prince will offer up a sin offering for himself. Jesus, being God and 100% sin-free, would never have a need to do this. Additionally, the prince will worship God in the same way the “common” people would. So it appears that this prince is a human leader who acts as an assistant to Jesus during this time period.
One of the great things about reading the Bible is all the stuff that God doesn’t tell us. This is most notable when it comes to eschatological passages – those dealing with the end times. God has given us a glimpse of the future which is enough to pique our interest but not enough to answer all our questions. After all, if all our questions were answered there would be no need to keep reading the Bible to find more clues. God doesn’t miss a beat. He knows exactly what He is doing.
When we are young we live with a lack of self-control, not thinking about the consequences of our actions. God does not want His children (born-again believers) to live this way (1 Peter 1:13). We are to think before we act, and we are not to act impulsively in a way that meets our immediate desires (1 Peter 1:14). We all act this way when we are kids and teenagers. We didn’t know any better – that is man’s natural way of behaving. But once we give our lives to Jesus, this behavior is no longer tolerable. This is a big stumbling block for many. They don’t want to give up their lifestyle thinking that what God offers is restrictive.
When we are living in sin we think it is freedom and that God wants to take away our freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus came to break the chains of self-absorbed living, which is slavery (John 8:34-36).
Jesus paid a heavy price – a ransom – to rescue us from the slavery to sin that leads to eternal death (1 Peter 1:18). That price was His life. Not many people would give their life for another. But this is the greatest love of all (John 15:13). That is how valuable you are. God did what He didn’t have to do – He left heaven to dwell on this earth – He was slumming – and He went through the agony and fear of a death that He didn’t have to experience to pay for your sins. That is how much it cost to free you from hell.
The result for those who believe is an eternal life spent in the presence of God (1 Peter 1:23). The only thing, besides people, that will last forever is God’s word (1 Peter 1:25). So many times throughout history people have tried to eradicate the Bible. But God will never let that happen as it contains the Good News that everyone needs to hear.
Peter exhorts his readers (who are believers) to desire to know God’s word in the same way that a dehydrated person would desire water – with a deep passion (this is the connotation of the original Greek). We should not crave watching sports on TV. Or shopping. Or money. Or celebrity gossip. We should crave to know more about God, Jesus, and the Bible. That isn’t easy considering all the distractions we face in our modern world. But that is all the more reason we need to leave those temporary, earthly things aside.
In a perfect segue from 1 Peter, our reading in Psalms today confirms that true satisfaction only comes from following God (Psalm 119:35) and turning our eyes away from worthless things, of which there are many in this world (Psalm 119:37). The latest gossip about Justin Bieber or the Kardashians cannot give life. Only God’s word can provide someone with eternal life.
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