April 14, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 10

What an amazing picture this passage would be to see in real life. Could you imagine it? Looking at the temple where God’s glory resides and, all of a sudden, that glory begins to move out and is suddenly gone. For the people of Israel, having God’s presence there with them in the temple was everything. It was their symbol of protection, provision and victory. Without it they would be hopeless, helpless and lost. 

What is really interesting in the passage today, however, is this man in linen clothing. He comes seemingly out of nowhere and is involved in a remarkable transition that much of Israel will miss but will change the world forever. It is found in John 1:

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (‭John‬ ‭1‬:‭14‬ NLT)‬‬‬

God had a new plan for His presence to be among His people. No longer would He be hidden in a cloud in the temple. No longer would He be unapproachable. This “man in linen clothing” would be to us “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). God was coming to be with His people. What an amazing thought and truth for us to ponder today. 

In Jesus, we have the presence of the God of the universe with us, Emmanuel (God with us)

Let that sink in as you go about your day today. Remember that Jesus is with you wherever you go and that He is the new and better presence of God to us. Not veiled in a temple in unapproachable light but one we can come to boldly and confidently and one with whom we can have relationship with. 

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 13, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 9

The vision God gave Ezekiel was one of punishment and destruction for the unholiness of Israel.  Six men, or six angels of execution, were going to be sent into the city to kill all the people of Jerusalem.  One angel, though, was sent into the city to mark the foreheads of those people who did NOT love the abominations and evil deeds that were being committed.  Those who were marked would NOT be destroyed.


The “mark” that was to be put on the foreheads of the people who were NOT to be destroyed is literally the Hebrew letter “Tau.”  Look at this commentary from Barnes Notes on the Bible:


A mark – literally, “Tau,” the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The old form of the letter was that of a cross. The Jews have interpreted this sign variously, some considering that “Tau,” being the last of the Hebrew letters, and so closing the alphabet, denoted completeness, and thus the mark indicated the completeness of the sorrow for sin in those upon whom it was placed. Others again observed that “Tau” was the first letter of Torah (“the Law”) and that the foreheads were marked as of men obedient to the Law. Christians, noting the resemblance of this letter in its most ancient form to a cross, have seen herein a reference to the cross with which Christians were signed.


Regardless of which of those three interpretations of the use of the word “Tau” is correct, it is very symbolic of the “mark” we have as Christ followers. 


It’s easy to look at a passage like Ezekiel 9 and ask how a loving God could be so wrathful.  I mean, He is about to execute an entire city of people.  Maybe a better question is, how a holy God could be so loving as to rescue even just one single person who had the mark.  


Here’s another way to put it.  Instead of asking, “How is it fair that a loving God would send people to hell?” ask instead, “How is it fair for a holy God to allow such sinful people as us to be allowed into His kingdom?”  


Well the answer to that question is that Christ took our sin upon Himself and gave us His righteousness in exchange.  Now, instead of being marked by our sin nature, we are marked by Christ’s blood and righteousness.  Only those who are marked by Christ’s blood and righteousness will be passed over and will avoid destruction in the end.


Thank the Lord if you’ve been marked by the cross.  Surrender to the Lord if you haven’t.

Posted by: Rich Duffield 

April 11, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 8

In our passage today Ezekiel is having another vision from the Lord. He was transported in his vision to the temple in Jerusalem to see what was taking place. To say that God was not happy about the worship of other gods is an understatement. The elders had engraved images of idols on the walls of the court and they were worshipping them (v.7-13). There was ritual prostitution happening at the gate of the house of the Lord (v.14). There were twenty five men on the porch of the temple (believed to be priests) who was worshipping the sun (v.16-18). It really shows how far Israel had fallen away from the Lord and judgment was coming. I will go ahead and say that if God’s wrath is directed at me I am going to beg and plead for his forgiveness. Do you all what happened to Jesus on the cross? Yeah that should have been for you and me. 

It would be easy to throw stones at Israel for their prideful arrogance to worship other idols when they knew that God put that command at the top of the list. Not only did they worship these other idols but they had the audacity to do it in God’s house. Before we give the Israelites a well deserved hard time I want to pose a question for us the think about. Don’t we do the exact same thing today? I would go further to say that maybe what we do is worse. We no longer have a singular temple that God dwells in but God now dwells in each of us who believe in the name of Jesus as savior

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:29-31)

This means when we sin or turn to our idols in our lives we are grieving the Holy Spirit of God that lives in us. I know many of us think God only sees us at church but that is just a lie. God sees us at all times in all places and is with us always. So what are your idols that you turn to instead of God? What do you trust in the day to day to satisfy you or to provide for you?

The good news is that if we are in Christ Jesus he is in everything and with us always. So be encouraged by the following verses. 

 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)

Posted by: Chad Wiles

April 10, 2015

Today you should read: Ezekiel 7

Ezekiel is one of the most descriptively prophetic books of the Bible, mirroring the quality (and quantity) of detail found in Revelation. It carries with it the same vein of thought that we find in Daniel and Joel. Ezekiel is also one of the most challenging reads you’ll find in scripture. It seems as if every other chapter has a negative connotation.

I encourage you, though, to see the hope that is found in this book. And really, the wise way for us to read it is with Revelation 19-21 in mind. Take 20 extra minutes and read it this weekend. The bigger landscape of God’s redemptive plan makes the seemingly mundane detail and melancholy tone of the book a little more palatable. That, and the crazy cool prophecies (dry bones, etc.) that are sprinkled among the darker parts.

Today, we find ourselves in chapter 7 which is God’s passionate promise regarding the end of things as we know them. He will reign down judgment on this earth, and then bring about new heavens and a new earth. These prophecies, or oracles, are specifically against the land. Literally, Ezekiel is prophesying about the soil of Israel. There is a really neat correlation between this passage and Amos’ foretelling of the end. Check this study footnote out (ESVSB):

The address to the “land [soil] of Israel” (v. 2) links this chapter to the previous one against the “mountains of Israel” (6:2). Two features of this chapter pull in different directions: the Hebrew is at points quite obscure and translation is difficult (see the “uncertain” readings in esv footnotes); yet the imagery is striking and the overall sense plain. Although laid out as prose, many see Ezekiel’s diction here inclining to poetry, as short staccato lines echo content. As in ch. 6, the “recognition formula” (7:4, 9, 27; cf. Introduction: Style) gives internal shape to the oracle, which falls into two main parts (vv. 1–9, 10–27). Together they form a “sermon” whose text is Amos 8. The resonance of language and overlap of themes and sequence between these chapters is impressive, and it seems likely that Ezekiel’s oracle develops Amos’s earlier prophecy.

I love this, because it’s scripture strengthening scripture, which gives us a greater confidence in God’s words to us. He is trustworthy and His plan is immutable. Also, beginning in verse 10, the idea of “the day of the Lord” shows up yet again. We’ve covered this many times here at Jumpstart. Once again, from cover to cover, God’s Word proves to be true.

One aspect of Ezekiel, and especially this chapter that cannot be overstated is this: future prophecy is a call to present repentance. God gives us these glimpses to remind us that the only worthwhile way to live is in His presence & will. When you read something in the Bible about the future, consider that a personal phone call from God inviting you to follow Him in the now.

So, what did you learn today? What has the Lord been teaching you through this roller-coaster book?

Posted by: Todd Thomas