Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 47-48:35; 1 Peter 2:11-3:7; Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 28:12-13
Ezekiel concludes recording the amazing vision God gave to him about the Millenium by letting us know that during this 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth a river will flow from Temple, down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47:8). Currently there is no such river nor would the current terrain accommodate such a river. Apparently the landscape of this region will change drastically between now and then. This should not be too surprising considering the earthquakes that God tells us will occur both during the War of Gog and Magog and also when the Trumpet and Bowl judgements are poured out. We’ll read about those when we get to Revelation in a few weeks.
Currently the Dead Sea is, well, dead. Nothing can live in it because its mineral content is 300% higher than normal fresh water lakes. But during the Millenium it will be transformed by the fresh water flowing from the Temple (Ezekiel 47:8) such that fish will “abound” in it. “Life will flourish” wherever this river flows (Ezekiel 47:9). Fruit trees will be found all along this river and they will provide fruit and medicinal leaves year-round (Ezekiel 47:12). All this will happen literally but is obviously symbolic of the life that Jesus gives.
Like the Dead Sea each of us a spiritually dead. It is only by the living water that Jesus provides that we can become alive. In fact, Jesus spoke of Himself as living water to the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). If we allow ourselves to be nourished by Jesus we, too, will flourish and will produce fruit (“good works”). Our lives will take on new and eternal meaning.
We are all just temporary visitors to this planet. We are just passing through on our way to someplace else. Earth is just a fork in the road. As such, God commands His children (i.e. born-again believers) to avoid the things the world has to offer (1 Peter 2:11). They are traps that will draw us away from Him.
The world is always looking for reasons to criticize Christians (sometimes they don’t even need a reason). That is why it is imperative that we live honest and upright lives (1 Peter 2:12). We won’t always get it right. But we are to make every effort to do the best we can so that the accusations that are slung at us will have no basis. Our proper behavior will even act as a witness to God and may cause some of these unbelievers to become believers.
We (believers) are also to respect all human authority (1 Peter 2:13). We do this for Jesus’ sake because all leaders on earth have been appointed by God. He may not always give us good leaders (e.g. Saul) but that is for our own good too as we’ve read a few times this year. I often wonder about totalitarian regimes like North Korea that prohibit religion. I guess their leaders are not familiar with these verses. If they were they would realize that they have nothing to fear from Christians. We aren’t going to overthrow the government or incite riots. We will obey the authorities God has placed on earth, even if we disagree with them.
Even when mistreated believers should not retaliate (1 Peter 2:15, 19). This seems crazy to the non-Christians in the world who would, under similar circumstances, fight for their “rights”. But God isn’t as interested in our earthly “rights” (which, to be honest are very few if there are any at all) as He is in the salvation of those who are not yet saved. Just like Jesus endured beatings, mocking, humiliation, and a long, painful execution (1 Peter 2:21-23) we are to endure the mistreatment we receive as a witness to what Jesus went through. It is more important for us to “speak” to others through undeserved suffering than it is to protect our “rights”.
Decorating ourselves on the outside is meaningless (1 Peter 3:3). Instead we should make sure that we are beautiful on the inside because this pleases God (1 Peter 3:4). I find that people who want to be noticed for their outward appearance are more likely than not, unhappy with who they are on the inside. That is actually a good thing because, if used properly, that inward ugliness is just the right ingredient for God to turn that person into something beautiful. We are all ugly on the inside. That is the point. We need to be transformed into new creatures. Jewelry, make-up, and/or expensive clothes can’t change what we are.
In 1 Peter 3:1, Peter confirms the family leadership hierarchy that Paul had mentioned in Ephesians 6: God assigns men to be the leaders of their families. People need leadership. That is why baseball teams have mangers, companies have CEOs, and schools have principals. Without leadership, we would have chaos. But as we learned when we read Ephesians, being in a subordinate position within an organization (including the family) does not in any way imply inferiority. God is not saying that women/wives are inferior to men. This is confirmed in 1 Peter 3:7 where God clearly states that men and women are equal before Him. Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you that the Bible has a negative or inferior view of women. That is simply not true. Different roles, yes. Different standing before God, no.
God’s timing can be amazing. Today something happened that got me a bit down and depressed. When I prayed about it God told me not to let the things of this world get to me. He then reminded me of the future He has in store for me, making me feel a whole lot better. This is exactly what we read in Psalm 119:50.
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