Showing posts with label Ezekiel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ezekiel. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Sighing and Groaning

“Put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed.”

Our brothers in Christ over in the Reformed camp are haggling back and forth about Christian Nationalism a great deal these days. But any differences of opinion within the ranks of the fastest growing faction in evangelicalism are not concerning the question of whether a political movement to bring the nations of the world under the government of Christ is a good idea. They decided that issue long ago. Their eschatology and theology both demand it.

From the Reformed perspective, it’s not about whether we should fight, but about how we do it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Little History and a Look Down the Road

The famous Phoenician seaport of Tyre has a long history intertwined with the history of Israel. When Canaan was first divided into tribal allotments under Joshua, the border of the territory assigned to the tribe of Asher ran right along Old Tyre’s city limits.

This immediate proximity to one of the greatest trading centers of the ancient world made it natural for the people of Israel to engage in commerce with their northern neighbor, so that when David needed to build himself a palace, the materials, carpenters and masons all came from the friendly king of Tyre.

David recognized in this act of friendship an indication that God had established his kingdom. He was not wrong.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Provided We Suffer

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Simon Peter didn’t want to suffer with Jesus.

Oh, he said he did. He thought he did. When he made his promises of loyalty, he wasn’t virtue signaling to the other disciples or pretending to love his Lord more than he really did. At least, it doesn’t read that way to me in the gospels. “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Emphatic statements made from the heart, and quite ingenuous.

Then, to his horror, Peter found he wasn’t up to the job. His aspirations exceeded his execution. Put to the test, he discovered he wasn’t really ready to suffer with the Lord Jesus after all.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Judgment and Clarity

I know a man whose whole view of God was shaped by his religious family’s reaction to the death of his mother from cancer early in his childhood. When she became ill, various devout family members offered speculation and conjecture about what the poor woman had done to incur God’s ire.

Appalled at their rush to judgment, the boy rejected Christians and everything we believe. Today, he still gets worked up if God’s name is mentioned even in passing.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

You Don’t Know My Father

Let me tell you a story about my father.

Once upon a time (actually, more than once), a very badly behaved little boy sat in the back seat of the family car during a long road trip, deliberately provoking the driver by ramming his pointy little knees into the small of the driver’s back. It was a source of great pleasure to the boy, who disliked long car trips, had become bored and was looking for something fun to do.

From the front seat of the car came a series of calm responses something like this: “Stop that, please” … “I believe I told you to stop that” … “If you don’t stop that, there are going to be consequences”, and eventually, “The next time you do that, we’re going to have to pull over.”

Finally, after the third or fourth transparently intentional provocation, the car eased over to the shoulder of the highway, and child and parent made a trip into the woods together for some clarification as to who was in charge.

Keep this story in mind, if you will.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Falling and Standing

“Son of Adam, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”

Ezekiel the priest had fallen on his face at the sight of the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. As a son of fallen Adam, that was where he belonged. That is where we all belong, naturally speaking. Down through history, whenever men glimpsed the glory of the Lord even in smaller ways than the spectacular view afforded Ezekiel, they have tended to keel over.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Recommend-a-blog (32)

Free trade is “a policy followed by some international markets in which countries’ governments do not restrict imports from, or exports to, other countries.” Or so reads the Infogalactic entry on the subject. The history of free trade goes back centuries, at very least to Adam Smith in 1776, but its global application really awaited the decades following WWII. I grew up with the idea, and accepted it unquestioningly as a “good” of sorts, a necessary corollary to freedom, capitalism and economic growth that benefits all.

After all, who wants to be a commie pinko, right?

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Ezekiel and the Future of Palestine

To whom does Palestine really belong?

The student of history encounters arguments for both sides, most of which transparently serve the agendas of their writers and pass themselves off as factual while trading largely on sentiment. But any careful reader of scripture understands that the Jewish claim to the land of Palestine goes back a whole lot further than May 15, 1948.

Having been unilaterally gifted the land then called Canaan via God’s covenant with their forefather Abraham around 2000 BC, Israel has spent more time in exile from the land of promise than actually living there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Merchant of Menace

We don’t get a lot of detail about pre-Genesis Satan in our Bibles, though few things have had a more dramatic and far-reaching influence on our world than his interference in God’s creation.

There is no straightforward literal retelling of the history of Lucifer’s rebellion to be found in either Old Testament or New. Rather, we are treated to a series of vignettes that cast light on various aspects of the demonic rebel heart. They illuminate Satan’s real nature by comparing him to historic figures and to the sort of people we know very well indeed: characters that populate our literature and people whom we can observe all around us.

Satan is a liar, an accuser and a murderer. So says the scripture. So it is.

But Satan is also a deal-maker, a trafficker, a trader and a businessman. Perhaps we are less inclined to think of these things as intrinsically evil.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Having It Both Ways

Charles Cutler Torrey was an American historian, archeologist and scholar. In 1901, he founded the American School of Archeology in Jerusalem and taught Semitic languages at Yale for almost 30 years.

Eighty-eight years ago, Torrey’s record was as credible as any other secular authority whose job was analyzing and dating ancient manuscripts. Then his book Pseudo-Ezekiel and the Original Prophecy (1930) was released, setting out his theory that the canonical book of Ezekiel was actually written much later than originally thought, in the third century B.C.

Torrey’s book remains of sufficient interest that it was reprinted both in 2008 and 2013. Amazon calls it “culturally important”.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Skepticism and Renown

Director David Lynch says this about U.S. President Donald Trump:

“He could go down as one of the greatest presidents in history because he has disrupted the thing so much. No one is able to counter this guy in an intelligent way.”

Lynch is not necessarily expressing approval here; note that his metric for presidential greatness is the ability to disrupt. That would not be everyone’s measure of a man, let alone a U.S. president.

What Lynch’s comment does point out, though, is that it is not the least bit outrageous for a man to mull over how a contemporary stacks up against the all-timers in his field, whether or not his verdict is a favorable one. This sort of comparison is made all the time, even when only a year or two have passed.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Semi-Random Musings (10)

When the question arises as to what God will do about the “good people” in our world who have never heard the gospel, it is almost always sick babies or hypothetical aboriginals in jungles half way across the planet the questioner has in view, as opposed to his own mother-in-law who declines to give a moment’s consideration to the lifetime of Christian testimony with which she has been presented.

We also hear many more sermons on Genesis than Ezekiel, so when complaints about God’s justice are raised, it is usually Genesis to which we resort in response: Abraham’s conviction that God does not “put the righteous to death with the wicked”; the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood; Lot’s deliverance from Sodom.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Patriots and Propagandists

The lack of historical perspective and context among the general public is not a new problem. It might be at an all-time high today, though I doubt it; the earthly powers-that-be always have practical reasons for sowing confusion, and the spiritual Powers-That-Be even more so.

But even if ahistoricism is not setting some kind of new record, many of us have a legitimate concern that the media narrative currently being pushed on us is profoundly out of step with reality. Labeling modern conservatives “Nazis”, for instance, is either naive or remarkably devious.

Either way, it is politically useful. Not accurate, but useful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Heart Behind the Sword

Christians struggle to explain Cain’s wife. Christians struggle to explain Lot’s wife.

Meh. Those two are a comparative walk in the park. You want tough? Try explaining Ezekiel’s wife. No bonus points for falling back on “Well, God is sovereign and there are things about life we can’t really understand.”

Yeah, and the sun is hot and water is wet.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Action, Meet Consequence

Do children bear the sins of the fathers or not? In one sense, absolutely.

Actions have consequences. My body and yours will not last forever because “in Adam all die”. The default mode of human existence is death, and every week, month and year on our march toward futility, decrepitude and (in some cases) eternal judgment drives home that reality.

Thanks, Adam. If it’s any consolation, I have no evidence from my own experience that I’d have done a better job as federal head of humanity.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ezekiel and the Future of Palestine

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Get the Message

“I am the Lord.”

That’s Ezekiel summed up in four words.

God has a point he wishes to make, and we are wise to hear it in a day when most recognize no final authority beyond their own opinions, prejudices and desires.

The phrase “they will know” (or “you will know”) that “I am the Lord” occurs 72 times in Ezekiel. Only 11 of its first 39 chapters don’t have it. It’s the bottom line to every declaration God makes to his people through the prophet. It’s a message we need to internalize at the very core of our beings. Until that happens, we do not really understand our place in the universe.

Without it, our assessment of reality is warped and disproportionate. We think it’s all about us.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Let’s Play ‘Spot the Agenda’

Daniel B. Wallace is a Bible scholar with a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary who has been teaching Greek at graduate school level since 1979. That’s just in case credentials matter to you.

In this article he attempts to referee a (very polite) disagreement between two other equally educated men about a verse in Ezekiel that I happened to read again this morning.

Everybody involved has an agenda.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Human Nature Is What It Is

The false prophets condemned by God through Ezekiel are an interesting bunch — and not just because they were ancient, mysterious wise men believed by many to be heralds of truth when in fact they were spinning webs of lies that affected thousands.

No, they interest me because they remind me of people I know. Circumstances change. History moves on. But fallen human nature does not improve itself, even thousands of years later. Many of these false prophets could make a decent living today: as religious gurus, philosophers, authors and respected media figures.

And not all of them seemed aware that their pronouncements were untrue.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Obvious Answer …

… is not always the correct one. We all make assumptions. With our limited grasp of the big picture, we take many things for granted.

Ezekiel did this. He saw a man — an elder, a symbol of authority in Israel — struck down before his eyes. Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. It appears the man keeled over right when Ezekiel was in the middle of prophesying about his wickedness.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Mark on the Forehead

Three rather obvious lessons from a fairly obscure passage of scripture.

Ezekiel the prophet is sitting at home with a group of Judah’s elders around him when he has one of those very intense visionary experiences that seemed to characterize his relationship with the God of Israel. Some prophets heard voices and others dreamed, but Ezekiel saw overwhelming heavenly splendor — in the middle of his own living room, one assumes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ritual and Validation

There is an idea in circulation that has become increasingly popular, and it is that God needs or is somehow validated by our attention, our acts of worship or our fawning, groveling subservience.

In this view, man speaks well of God or prostrates himself before him because God has a well-developed taste for burnt offerings and ritual; because he wants to rub in our faces how magnificent he is and how horrible human beings are by comparison.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

“It’s All Under Control …”

“Nothing happening here. You can move along any time now ...”
How many times have you heard that line?

If someone doesn’t come right out and say it (or something quite like it), a distraction is served up in the timeliest possible fashion. Remember Bill Clinton’s famous four-day bombing of Iraq just as the House of Representatives commenced his own impeachment hearing?

Or the problem may magically just go away, as in the disappearance from the news for the last month or so of anything whatsoever to do with the Ebola virus, when well over 1,000 Americans are now potentially infected.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Inbox: The Sin of Sodom

In response to Thursday’s post on homosexuality, a reader writes:

Q: “Was [Matthew] Vines referring to Ezek. 16:49 which lists Sodom’s sin as being made up of a combination of pride, gluttony, indifference and unwillingness to share one’s bread (inhospitable?) but notably, no mention of aberrant sexual conduct? How would you answer?”

A: Well, let’s look at what Ezekiel says, for starters:
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You Don’t Know My Father

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Things That Are Prepared

The idea of heaven is necessarily a blurry concept to earthly beings. We navigate the world around us via our senses, so it is unsurprising to find a certain conceptual impenetrability to those things we cannot see, touch, taste, smell or hear in this present life. Those who are unacquainted with the Lord might well say, “The reason you can’t conceive these things is that they don’t exist”.

Except they do. We have our Lord’s word on it. He tells his disciples explicitly that “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” And he says it as if he’s wondering why on earth we would for a moment expect anything else.

This conceptual fuzziness about heavenly things is a consistent feature of prophetic revelation, both Old Testament and New. Ezekiel peppers his description of the heavenlies with the words “appearance” and “likeness”, as if to say, “I know my account is hopelessly inadequate, but this is the closest I can get”. John, in Revelation, does exactly the same thing, using the word “like” over and over again.

To the believer, it’s emotionally stirring, certainly, but I have to admit to a certain intellectual dissatisfaction with the lack of detail.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Will There Really Be A Millennial Temple? [Part 2]

The concluding chapters of the prophetic book of Ezekiel are among the most hotly debated in all of Scripture. Neither the figurative nor the literal approach to these chapters is adequate to explain every detail, unravel every mystery. However, it is not necessary for us to know all the answers in order to understand the passage properly. Despite the potential for controversy, Scripture does supply us with enough information to answer the main questions associated with the passage, which are as follows: 

1.    Is the temple and its worship literal, or figurative?
2.    Do these things take place at a time now past or at some point in the future?
3.    If the time is future, does it involve the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth, or the heavenly state
4.    In any case, what is the purpose of the sacrifices described? 

In a previous post, we tried to offer answers to the first two questions.

Let’s consider the remaining two:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Will There Really Be A Millennial Temple? [Part 1]

The concluding chapters of the prophetic book of Ezekiel are among the most hotly debated in all of Scripture. Many differing and conflicting interpretations have been proposed by scholars, each according to his own school of eschatological thought. Are these chapters, which describe a great temple, speaking figuratively or literally? Do they refer to a time now past, or to a future state?

The opportunities for controversy are manifold, and a mere consideration of the chapters themselves, in isolation, is insufficient to provide all the answers. For instance, this temple description occurs at the end of a book heavy with symbolism, yet contains precise details and measurements suggesting a more literal approach. There are mysteries in chapters 40-48, as well — who is the ‘prince’ or leader involved in the temple worship?

Neither the figurative nor the literal approach to these chapters is adequate to explain every detail, unravel every mystery. However, it is not necessary for us to know all the answers in order to understand the passage properly. Despite the potential for controversy, Scripture does supply us with enough information to answer the main questions associated with the passage, which are as follows: 

1.    Is the temple and its worship literal, or figurative?
2.    Do these things take place at a time now past or at some point in the future?
3.    If the time is future, does it involve the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth, or the heavenly state?
4.    In any case, what is the purpose of the sacrifices described? 

Let’s consider these issues and attempt to provide some sound and scriptural answers.