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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 ‘Our signs’: i.e., the outward signs of the worship of God had been replaced by heathen ‘signs’ setup by their enemies.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?
Notes
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.
Notes
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?
Notes
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

INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO CHAPTERS 25-32

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.
Notes
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.
Notes
1.     Verse 23. The people would be too stunned by the evil tidings to take any action.
2.     Verse 27. Cf. 3:26, 27.



17 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 16 — Ezekiel 23

Study 16 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 23

This chapter resembles chapter 16. Samaria and Jerusalem are condemned for their unfaithfulness in seeking alliances with foreign nations and their gods. Their conduct is represented in unusually realistic figures to make it appear how loathsome and repulsive it has been.
1.     What is the main content of each of the four divisions of this chapter, namely verses 1-10, 11-21, 22-35 and 36-49?
2.      Trace how Jerusalem walked in the way of Samaria and even exceeded her in wickedness, and therefore must drain to the dregs the same cup of judgment. What were the origins of here idolatrous tendencies, both on the historical and on the religious level (verses 8, 19, 27, 35)? What warning does this contain for God’s people today?


16 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 15 — Ezekiel 22

Study 15 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 22

This chapter falls into three divisions: (a) description of the sins committed within the city (verses 1-16); (b) the certainty of judgment (verses 17:22); and (c) and indictment of all classes of the community (verses 23-31).
1.     Group the sins enumerated in verses 1-12 under the following two heads: (a) religious, and (b) social. Notice how, with the loss of a true conception of God, there follows the loss of filial piety, moral purity, and civic justice. How far are the sins mentioned here prevalent among us today?
2.     What four classes are mentioned in verses 24-29, and what charges are made against them? What is the saddest feature of the situation, as stated in verse 30? Cf. verse 19 (‘all become dross’) and Je. 5:1-5.
Notes
1.     Verse 4. ‘Your day’: i.e., the day of your judgment.
2.     Verse 13. Striking the hands was an expression of honour. Cf. 21:14, 17.
3.     Verse 30. ‘Build up the wall’ i.e., act as a bastion against the inroads of wickedness.



15 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 14 — Ezekiel 20: 45 – 21:32

Study 14 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 20: 45 – 21:32

The prophet is bidden to prophesy (a) against the south (of Palestine) 20:45-49), and (b) against Jerusalem and the land of Israel (21:1-17). The sword of the Lord is drawn from its sheath (21:1-7), sharpened and polished (21: 8-13), and smites repeatedly in its deadly work (21:14-17).  In 21:18-27, the explanation is given.  The king of Babylon is seen, standing at the parting of the ways, seeking guidance by divination----Ammon or Jerusalem? The decision falls for Jerusalem, the city is taken, and the king (Zedekiah) slain.  The closing verses of the chapter (verses 28-32) are a short prophecy of utter doom upon Ammon as well.
1.     Who kindles the fire? Whose sword is drawn? Yet it was by a heathen king that the judgment was effected. What does this teach us concerning God’s methods of accomplishing His purposes of judgment in the world? Cf. Je. 25:9 (‘my servant’); Is. 25: 1-4.
2.     When human leaders and confidences all fail and are overthrown, where can we still look for the establishment of a reign of peace? See 21:25-27; cf. Ps. 2:6-9; Lk. 21:25-28.
Notes
1.     21:21 refers to three well-known forms of divination practiced by the Babylonians: drawing marked arrows from a quiver (or throwing them in the air to see how they fall); consulting the teraphim, the ancestral household gods, in some form of necromancy; and studying the marks on the entrails of sacrificial victims.
2.     21:27. ‘Whose right is’: i. e., the Davidic Messiah who is entitled to the kingship. Cf. Gn. 49:10


14 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 13 — Ezekiel 20: 1-44

Study 13 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 20:1-44

This section is a review of Israel’s history (verses 5:31), with a prophecy of what God will yet do (verses 32-44).  The review of history covers (a) the time in Egypt (verses 5-9); (b) in the wilderness (verses 10-17 and 18-26); and (c) in the land of Canaan (verses 27-31). With verses 1-3, cf. 14:1, 2.
1.     Analyze the repeated poetical pattern found in verses 5-9, 10-14, 15-17, 18-22. What restrained God from pouring out His wrath? What does this reveal of God’s character? How does it show what is the one and only guarantee of our salvation? Cf. 1 Sa. 12:22.
2.     To what tow conclusions does God say He will ultimately bring His people Israel (verse 42-44)? Has a like conviction been wrought in us?
Notes
1.     Verse 25 is a Hebrew way of saying, ‘I gave them good statutes but they had a bad effect; I thereby condemned those who were disobedient and I defiled those who performed human sacrifices.’ Cf. Rom. 5:20.
2.     Verse 37. ‘Pass under the rod’: the eastern shepherd makes his sheep pass one by one under his staff, held horizontally, to count and examine them.


13 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 12 — Ezekiel 18 and 19

Study 12 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 18 and 19

The teaching of national retribution in chapter 16 and other passages seems to have raised doubts as to the justice of God’s dealings with individuals (18:2, 29). This is the subject of chapter 18. Chapter 19 is a lament.
1.     Two fundamental principles are stated in 18:4 in answer to the people’s complaint in 18:2. How would you express these in your own words? What verses in the New Testament can you think of which emphasize the same ideas?
2.     In the remainder of chapter 18 two questions are answered: (a) Is each man responsible to God for his own acts, and for these alone (see verses 5-20)?  (b) If a man turn from his past way of life, will that past affect God’s judgment upon him (see verses 21-29)? How does this teaching reveal not only God’s justice, but also His mercy? Why does it lead on immediately to the call to repentance of verses 30-32?
3.     Chapter 19 is a lament over three of the kings of Judah.  Try to identify these by comparing verses 3 and 4 with 2 Ki. 23:31-34; verses 5-9 with 2 Ki. 24:8-15; and verses 10-14 with 2 Ki. 25:4-11. What did they all have in common?
Notes
1.     18:6, 11, 15. ‘Eat upon the mountains’: i.e., join in idolatrous forms of worship. Cf. 6:1-4.
2.     19:14. The fire which brought destruction sprang from the ruler himself, i.e., Zedekiah.  See 17:19-21.



12 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 11 — Ezekiel 17

Study 11 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 17

In 588 BC Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadrezzar who, nine years previously, had installed him as puppet-king of Judah, at the time when Jehoiachim had been taken captive to Babylon.  His rebellion encouraged false hopes among the exiles of a speedy end to their captivity, but Ezekiel silenced these with this parable about the eagle, the cedar and the vine.  The first eagle (verse 3) was Nebuchadrezzar, removing the Davidic King Jeha Johoiachin (the cedar twig, verse 4). Those who remained in Jerusalem under Zedekiah (the vine, verse 6) flourished for a time, but then turned towards the king of Egypt (the second eagle, verse 7), whose influence caused them to wither away.
1.     What sin is the prophet specifically rebuking here?  With verses 13-16, cf. 2 Ch. 36:13; and with verses 7 and 15, cf. Je. 37:5-8.
2.     How do verses 22-24 show that neither the ambitious designs nor the perfidies of men can frustrate the purposes of God? Notice the emphatic and repeated ‘I’. Cf. Pr. 19:21; Is. 46:8-13.



11 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 10 — Ezekiel 16

Study 10 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 16

In this vivid allegory the prophet seeks to break down the pride of Jerusalem. She appears as the bride of the Lord God, who loved her from infancy, and did everything for her, but whose love she had required with persistent and shameful idolatry. The chapter falls into four sections (i) Jerusalem as a child and as a bride (verses 1-14); (ii) her sin (verses 15-34) (iii) her judgment (verses 35-52); (iv) her restoration (verses 53-63).
1.     What was God’s complaint against Jerusalem?  With verse 22 and 32, cf. Dt. 32:15-18. Notice also that God regards her sin as greater than that of Samaria and of Sodom. Verse 46-52 and cf. Mt. 11:23, 24.
2.     How may the teaching of this chapter be applied to one who has been truly converted, but has backslidden? What can we learn here for our warning of the peril and folly of the sin of unfaithfulness? Cf. Je. 2:13, 19; Jas. 4:4-10.



10 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 9 — Ezekiel 14 and 15

Study 9 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 14 and 15

1.     14:1-11. (a) If men whose hearts are inwardly alienated from God come professing to seek guidance from Hi, will God answer them? What must they first do? If they do not so do, what will be their end? (b) If a prophet should fail to follow this rule, and attempt to give guidance, how will God deal with him?
2.     People might ask, ‘Will not the presence of righteous men among a sinful nation save it from destruction’? Cf., e.g., Gn. 18:23-26. How does God in reply show that in the present instance the righteous will be saved out of the destruction, but will not be able to save others? Cf. 9:4-6; Je. 15:1. If any should escape, what purpose will this accomplish (see 14:22, 23)?
Notes
1.     Noah, Daniel and Job are probably all three patriarchal characters. It is not likely that Ezekiel would be thinking of his contemporary in exile, Daniel the prophet. We know of a Daniel from the Ras Shamra tablets of 1400 BC, and this is a more likely identification.
2.     15:2. For another example of Israel as God’s vine, see Is. 5:1-7


09 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Ezekiel 12 and 13

Study 8 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 12 and 13

1.     12:1-20 declares by two vivid symbolic actions on the part of the prophet the doom that was in store both for the people of Jerusalem (verses 3, 4, 18, 19) and for the king (verses 5, 6, 10-16). Having grasped the significance of the prophecy, turn to 2 Ki. 25:1-7 to see how exactly it was fulfilled.
2.     Note the two scoffing remarks in 12:22 and 27.  What do these signify? How are they paralleled in modern attitudes to the second coming of Christ? Cf. 2 Pet. 3:8-10.
3.     Chapter 13. Condemnation of false prophets. By what two vivid images are they described (see 4 and 10, 11), and what is the effect of their prophesying (verse 6, 10a, 22)? What phrase differentiating them from true prophets occurs twice in the chapter?
Note. 13:18-21. The magic armbands and veils were devices used by soothsayers and clairvoyants to deceive gullible victims. A useful section on the interpretation of this passage is to be found in NBD (article ‘Magic and Sorcery’, p.767).  The handfuls of barley and pieces of bread were probably used in forms of divination, forecasting life or death to inquirers.







08 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Ezekiel 11

Study 7 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 11

1.     The political leaders in Jerusalem thought they were safe within the fortification of Jerusalem, as flesh in a pot is safe from the fire (verse 3). What does God say concerning them?  For the fulfillment of the prophecy, see 2 Ki. 25:18-21.
2.     The people of Jerusalem thought that they were the favoured of the Lord, and would be given possession of the land, while those in exile would be cut off (verse 15). But what was God’s purpose concerning those in exile (verses 16-20)?
3.     Trace the steps by which the glory of God withdrew from His temple. See 8:3, 4; 9:3; 10:4; 10:19; 11:1, 23. What hint is given in chapter 11 as to the possibility of the return of the glory and under what conditions? Cf. 43:1-4, 9.
Notes
1.     Verse 1. ‘Jaazaniah the son of Azur’: a different man from the Jaazaniah of 8:11.
2.     Verse 23b. ‘The mountain’: i.e., the Mount of Olives.




07 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Ezekiel 9 and 10

Study 6  From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 9 and 10

Following the prophecy of judgment, which Ezekiel recorded in chapters 6, and 7, and the vision of chapter 8, which illustrated detail why such a judgement in the destruction of both the people (chapter 9) and the city (chapter 10) according to His word in 8:18.
1.     Chapter 9. What was God’s answer to the prophet’s cry of distress? Cf. Je. 14:19; 15:1. Who alone were spared, and why? How were they distinguished from others? Compare the distinguishing marks which similarly brought men salvation, described in Ex. 12:13; Rev. 7:1-3; 14:1.
2.     Chapter 10.  To what use were the burning coals put, and what did they symbolize? How does this differ from their function in Isaiah’s vision (Is. 6:6-7)?
Notes
1.     ‘The Cherubim’ of chapter 10 are the same as the ‘living creatures’ which featured in the vision of chapter 1.
2.     10:14. We would except to find the word ‘ox’ instead of ‘cherub’, and this should probably be understood.


06 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Ezekiel 8

Study  5 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 8

Chapters 8-11 describe what Ezekiel was shown in a prophetic trance fourteen months after his first vision.  Cf. 8:1 and 1:1, 2.
1.     The prophet is carried ‘in visions of God’ (verse 3) to Jerusalem, and is there shown four forms of idolatry, practices in or at the gate of the Temple.  If you were asked what these practices were, how would you describe them? Observe also what classes of the community are seen engaging in them.
2.     The idol-worshipping elders said, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land’ (verse 12). In what sense were their words true (cf.verse 6), and in what sense false? How does this chapter show that all that was happening was under the eyes and under the judgment of God?
Notes
1.     Verse 3. ‘Image of jealousy’: i.e., which provoked God’s jealous anger. Cf. Dt. 32:21.
2.     Verse 14. ‘Women weeping for Tammuz’: i.e., talking part in the heathen festival of mourning the death of the vegetation god, Tammuz, later known in Greek mythology as Adonis.
3.     Verse 16. ‘Between the porch and the altar’: these men must therefore have been priest.  Cf. Joel 2:17.


05 June, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Ezekiel 6 and 7

Study 4 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 6 and 7

1.     Chapter 6. Against what sin is the Lord’s anger particularly directed? In what forms is it found today?
2.     What refrain frequently recurs in these two chapters? What does it teach us about the purpose behind Ezekiel’s prophesying?
3.     Contrast the phrase ‘I will punish you according to your ways’ (7:9) with Ps. 103:10; and see Pr. 1:24, 29-31; 2 Cor. 6:1, 2. What warning for the careless and indifferent does this contrast suggest?
4.     What can be learnt from 7:14-27 about the right and wrong uses of money? In what ways can it become a stumbling-block to the follower of Christ?
Notes
1.     6:3. ‘Your high places’: the word originally meant a height or eminence. But as these were used as the sites of temples and shrines, the word came to mean ‘sanctuaries’, as here. Cf. Dt. 12:2, 3.
2.     7:20. ‘They prided themselves upon the beauty of their silver and their gold, and make out of them…idols’ (Moffat). Cf. Ho. 2:8.