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24 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 58 — Psalms 74

Study 58 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 74

The psalm starts in anguish, because of the ruined sanctuary. At verse 12 it changes completely into a resounding hymn of praise to God, Creator and Redeemer. But both sections contain earnest pleas for God to act on behalf of His name and of His own.
1.     Consider (a) the psalmist’s survey and summary of Israel’s shattering defeat (verses 1-11); and (b) how he then reminds himself that God is Creator, Redeemer and King (verses 12-17). As a Christian, can you face disaster and discomfort with such an assurance about God? Cf. Rom. 8:18, 28.
2.     Note the boldness and the persistence of the psalmist’s requests. See verses 2, 3, 10, 11, 18-23. What is the basis of his confidence? Have you learnt thus to plead in prayer both for Church and nation? Note the reasons the psalmist gives why God should answer.
Note. Verses 4, 9. ‘Our signs’: i.e., the outward signs of the worship of God had been replaced by heathen ‘signs’ setup by their enemies.

23 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 57 — Psalms 73

Study 57 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 73

Pss. 73-83 are all entitled ‘of Asaph’ (cf. 2 Ch. 35:15; Ezr. 2:41; 3:10). These psalms are marked by certain characteristic features, among which may be mentioned the representation of God as Judge and also as the Shepherd of His people. They are, in the main, national psalms, and look back to the past history of Israel to draw from it encouragement and warning.
1.     The problem of the prosperity of the ungodly oppressed the psalmist sorely. See verses 2, 13, 16. Real life seemed to mock the assertion of verse 1. What was the root of the psalmist’s distress? See verses 3, 22; Cf. Pr. 23:17; Ps. 37:1. What is the ‘more excellent way’? Cf. 1 Cor. 13:4; 1 Pet. 2:1.
2.     How did the psalmist discover the grossness of this error? What did he come to see with regard to the wicked (verses 17-20), and what did he find that he possessed in God (verses 23-26)? Can you honestly and enthusiastically make the confession of verse 25?
3.     What may we learn from the psalmist’s example (a) in verses 15-17 (for ‘the sanctuary’, cf. Pss. 63:2, 3; 68:35), and (b) in verse 28? Do you delight in being near to God, and in speaking not of doubts (verse 15), but of God’s mighty works?
1.     Verse 15. The psalmist realizes that to parade his doubt (verses 13, 14), or to speak like the wicked (verse 9), would be to betray the family of God.
2.     Verse 20. The sense is, ‘The wicked are like a dream when one awakes; and when you, O Lord, awake, you will despise their shadow.’

22 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 21 — Ezekiel 31 and 32

Study 21 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 31 and 32

With this study, we are taking a pause to go through a few chapters of the book of Psalms and we will go right back studying the second installment of the book of Ezekiel.

These chapters contain three more prophecies concerning Egypt. In chapter 31, Egypt is likened to a might cedar, whose fall causes the other threes to mourn. In 32: 1-6 the figure of the dragon or crocodile is resumed cf. 29:3-5), and in 32:7, 8 Egypt is likened to a bright star. The imagery is very vivid, depicting the utter destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts. In 32:17-32 the prophet in a vision follows Pharaoh and his armies into Sheol, and sees them among others also slain by the sword who bear the shame of their lack of proper burial.
1.     How does chapter 31 further enforce the lesson of chapter 30? What is the reason given for the tree’s destruction, and what effect is this intended to have on other nations?
2.     Observe how often in these chapters the personal pronoun ‘I’ occurs. Do we realize enough that God is the thief actor in the developments of history? Over what realms, in addition to that of Israel, is His dominion here asserted?
Note. 32:17-32. This is not to be regarded as a literal description of the state of men after death, but as an imaginative picture intended to show that all who use violence and lawless might, causing terror on the earth (cf. Verse 23 ff), shall alike meet with retribution. Pharaoh’s only consolation will be in the multitude of his companions (verse 31).

21 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 20 — Ezekiel 29 and 30

Study 20 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 29 and 30

The prophet’s gaze is now directed toward Egypt, pictured in 29:1-16 as a great dragon or crocodile, whose destruction is at hand.  The remainder of Today’s portion consists of three further prophecies of similar import, namely 29:17-20; 30:1-19; and 30:20-26.
1.     Compare the explanation of the allegory in 29:8-12 with the allegory itself in 29:3-7. What are the two sins in particular which caused God’s judgment to fall on Egypt? With 29:7, cf. verse 16 and Is. 30:5.
2.     29:17-21. This is a prophecy dated sixteen years after that of verses 1-16, i.e., in 571 BC. It appears to indicate that Nebuchadrezzar had not gained the spoils of war at Tyre as he expected, and is now promised a recompense from the conquest of Egypt. What light does this passage throw on the way in which God treats heathen nations?
3.     ‘Her proud might shall come down’ (30:6; cf. 30:18). Why cannot anyone ultimately prosper who trust, as Pharaoh did, in his own resources and achievements? Cf. Jb. 9:4; Lk. 1:51.
1.     29:14-15. Egypt is not to be finally destroyed, like Tyre (26:21; 27:36; 28:19), but reduced in status.
2.     29:18. A reference to the chafing of helmets and the carrying of packs.

20 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 19 — Ezekiel 27 and 28

Study 19 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 27 and 28

Further prophecies concerning Tyre. In chapter 27 the city is pictured as a safely ship. Verse 5:11 give a description of the ship: verses 12-25 of her cargo; and verses 26:36 of her shipwreck and total loss, with the widespread mourning that ensued. In chapter 28 the prince of Tyre is regarded as personifying the genius or spirit of the city, and as incarnating in his person the principle of evil which animated it. The terms used concerning him (especially in verses 11-19) are such that the figure of the human ruler seems to merge into Satan himself, the originator of the sins of which Ture was guilty.
1.     Contrast men’s judgement of Tyre (27:4, 33) and Tyre’s view of herself (27:3) with God’s judgment of her (28:2-8). What was the pre-eminent sin of Tyre? Cf. Dn. 4:29-32.
2.     In what sense did Tyre become ‘a terror’ (Av 27:35, 36)? See also 26:21; 28:19. To what kind of fear should such a catastrophe give rise in our won hearts? Cf. Dt. 17:12, 13; Rom. 11:20; 1 Tim. 5:20.
3.     28:20-26 is a short prophecy against Sidon, which was closely linked with Tyre. What is said in verses 20-26 to be the twofold purpose of God’s judgments (a) in relation to Himself, and (b) in relation to His people?
1.     27:36. Hissing expressed astonishment, rather like whistling today.
2.     28:3. ‘Daniel’: see Study 9. Note 1.

19 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 18 — Ezekiel 25 and 26


These chapters are a series of prophetic utterances against seven foreign nations.  They are intended to show that the calamities which were falling on Judah were not arbitrary, nor an evidence of God’s weakness, but that, on the contrary, He is supreme over all peoples and all His acts are governed by fixed moral principles which reveal His holy nature. By their position in the book they separate the prophecies that belong to the period of Ezekiel’s ministry prior to the fall of Jerusalem from those that followed later. (see Introduction.)

Study 18 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 25 and 26
Chapter 25 contains four prophecies directed against Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistines respectively. Chapter 26 is a prophecy of the approaching destruction of the Tyre through the armies of Nebuchadrezzar, together with a vivid description of far-reaching effects of her overthrow.
1.     In chapter 25, find four ways in which unbelievers and enemies of the truth act towards the people of God when the latter are brought low by calamity. How will such adversaries be dealt with, and why? Cf. Pss. 94:1-5, 21-23; 46:8-10; Is. 26:9b.
2.     What, according to 26:2, was the ground of God’s judgment upon Tyre? As we try to imagine the scenes described in 26:7-14, and measure the fame and worldly greatness of Tyre by the dismay caused by her fall (15-18), what lesson may we learn? Cf. Je. 9:23, 24; Lk. 12:15-21.
1.     25:10. ‘The people of the East’ are the tribes of the desert. Moab and Ammon were before long overrun by the Nabataeans.
2.     26:2. Jerusalem had been as an open gate, by which commerce had been diverted from Tyre.
3.     26:6. ‘Her daughters’: i.e., towns on the mainland dependent upon Tyre.

18 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 17 — Ezekiel 24

Study 17 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 24

A last picture of Jerusalem before its destruction---a rusted pot set on a fire, with flesh being boiled in it. The flesh is taken out and scattered, symbolizing the dispersion of the people of the city; and the pot is then left on the fire, a symbol of the city lying waste and burned.
1.     Verses 1-14. Compare what the chief men of Jerusalem said in 11:3 (see Study 7, Question 1) with what God says here concerning the city and its people. What may we learn from this?  Cf. 1 Thes. 5:3; 2 Pet. 3:4.
2.     Verses 15-27. How is Ezekiel’s wife described in verse 16? Yet God make this painful experience also a means of ministry. What was it designed to demonstrate? See verses 24 and 27. Can you think of other instances where the sufferings of a servant of God have been made to serve God’s design, no matter at what cost to the sufferer? Cf. Col. 1:24.
1.     Verse 23. The people would be too stunned by the evil tidings to take any action.
2.     Verse 27. Cf. 3:26, 27.