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21 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 35 — Ezekiel 47:13 – 48:35

Study 35 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 47:13 – 48:35
With this study we end the book of Ezekiel. Tomorrow, we will dive into the book of colossians.

Finally the prophet is shown in vision the boundaries of the land (47:13-21) and the portions of the tribes (48:1-29). The land was to be divided into parallel zones, running from the west coast to the Jordan.

1.     What gospel principle is foreshadowed in 47:22, 23? Eph. 2:11-13, 19; Col. 3:11.
2.     How many tribes had their portion north of the broad zone assigned to the Lord in 45:1 and how many south of it? Which tribes had portions immediately adjacent to the central zone containing the sanctuary? What do you think was the reason for this privilege?
3.     What does the new name of the city reveal about God’s purpose in relation to His people? Looking back upon the vision as a whole, write down the main lessons which it teaches, and consider how these stand out still more clearly in the light of the revelation given us in Christ.



20 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 34 — Ezekiel 47:1-12

Study 34 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 47:1-12

The prophet is shown another aspect of what it means when God dwells in the midst of His redeemed and reconciled people.
1.     Notice particularly where the river comes from. What may those who seek reform, whether it be social, political, or moral learn from the revelation here given to Ezekiel? Cf. Ps. 46:4; Is. 33:21; Rev. 22:1, 2.
2.     What is symbolized by the increasing depth and extend of the waters? How long is it since you first came to Christ, and became a temple for His indwelling? Are the living waters flowing from your life in increasing measure? If not, what is wrong? Cf. Jn.7:37-39
3.     The river of life sought out the most desolate and seemingly irrecoverable region in all the land, and brought life and healing. Recall how this was also Christ’s method. Cf. Mk. 2:16, 17; Lk. 15:1, 2; 19:10; 23:42, 43. What have these things to say to us?
Notes
1.     Verse 1. The waters flowed from the sanctuary across the inner court, south of the altar, and appeared on the right -hand side of the outer east gate.
2.     Verse 8. ‘The sea’: i.e., Dead Sea, in which nothing can live.
3.     Verse 12. Cf. Ps. 1:3; Je. 17:8; Rev. 22:2.



19 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 33 — Ezekiel 45 and 46

Study 33 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 45 and 46

Not only was the Temple different in many respects from that of Solomon, but the whole land was to be divided up in a new way. A broad strip of land, extending right across the country from the Mediterranean to the Jordan and including the Temple, was to be set apart for the Lord (45:1-8). Verses 9-17 lay down regulations as regards, weights and measures, and the dues to be paid by the people to the prince.  The remainder is chiefly concerned with the feasts and offerings (45:18-46:15), but at the end are two notes, one about the right of the prince to bestow part of his territory upon his sons or servants (46:16-18), and the other about rooms in the Temple courts to be used as kitchens for boiling the flesh of the sacrifices (46:19-24).
1.     How does 45:8-12 show that the holiness which Jehovah requires is not only religious but moral? What light do these verses throw upon God’s attitude to injustice and oppression, and to commercial dishonesty? Cf. 46:18; Lv. 19:35, 36; Pr. 11:1; 1 Pet. 1:14-16.
2.     What is said three times in 45:15-20 to be the purpose of the sacrifices? If they had not been offered, could the people have had any assurance in drawing nigh to God? What in the New Testament is revealed as the true ground of atonement? Cf. Heb. 10:4-10; 1 Jn. 2:1, 2.
Notes
1.     45:1. The holy district consisted of 25, 000 cubits was about eight miles
2.     45:10-12. There was a vast amount of local variation in ancient Israel regarding weights and measures, and this was the cause of much commercial malpractice. Ezekiel is here demanding in God’s name strict standardization.
3.     46:19 defines the positions of the priest’ kitchens, as verses 21-24 do the position of the people’s kitchens



18 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 32 — Ezekiel 43:13 – 44:31

Study 32 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 43:13 – 44:31

This section opens with a description of the great altar in the centre of the inner court, together with the sacrifices by which it is to be cleansed and purified (43:13-27). The altar rested upon a square base and was built of three square blocks of stone, each smaller than the one below, so as to leave at each level a projecting ledge.  The uppermost block had four horns and was twelve cubits’ square.  It was reached by steps on the east side. Chapter 44 lays down three ordinances, the first concerning the use of the East gate (verse 1-3), the second concerning the Levites (verse 4-14), and the third concerning the priests (verses 15-31).
1.     Why had the altar to be cleansed before the offerings made upon it were acceptable to God? See 43:27 and cf. Lv. 16:18, 19; Col. 1:19-22; Heb. 9:23.
2.     What lessons are taught in 44:10-16 regarding God’s judgments upon faithful and unfaithful service? Cf. Lk. 19:17; 2 Cor. 5:9, 10; 1 Tim. 1:12.
Notes
1.     44:7, 8. It had evidently been the custom before the exile to allow foreigners to officiate in the sanctuary and in its ministry, even though it may have been only in menial duties.
2.     44:19. They shall not bring their holy garments into contact with the people. Cf. Ex. 30:29.


17 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 31 — Ezekiel 42:1 -43:12

Study  31 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 42:1 -43:12

This section opens with a description of other buildings in the inner court (42:1-12), together with the purposes they are intended to serve (42:13, 14). The measurements of the outer wall, and of the whole Temple area are then stated (42:15-20). In 43:1-9 the prophet sees in a vision the glory of the Lord returning by the east gate, the gate by which, years before, he had seen Him depart (11:1, 22, 23).
1.      Observe the emphasis on the holiness of God. See especially 42:13, 14; 43:7-9, 11, 12. How was the holiness of the Temple to be safeguarded, in order to bear witness to this truth about the Lord?
2.     How for us, have the barriers been removed that separate us from the Holy One? And on what conditions may we draw nigh to God and render His acceptable service? Cf. 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 7:24; 10:14, 19; 1 Pet. 2:5.
Note. 43:7-9. In Solomon’s Temple there was no walled-off outer court separating the Temple from the unconsecrated ground without (cf. 42:20). The Temple, royal palace and other buildings all stood together in  one great enclosure, and the burial-ground of the kings was not far distant.



16 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 30 — Ezekiel 40:48 – 41:26

Study 30  From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 40:48 – 41:26

1.     Follow with the aid of diagrams 1 and 2 the prophet’s further examination of the Temple, as he comes first to the sanctuary itself, with its vestibule and two pillars (40:48, 49), holy place (‘nave’, 41:1), most holy place (‘Inner room’, 41:3, 4), and side chambers or cells built in three storeys (41:5-11). The interior of the sanctuary is described in 41:15b-26.
2.     Note that Ezekiel, as a priest (1:3; cf. 44:16), entered into the vestibule and the holy place, but not into the most holy place (41:3: 4). Why did he not enter the most holy place? Contrast our privileges in Christ. See Heb. 9:6-9, 24; 10:19-22.
3.     There were palm-trees both in the inner sanctuary (41:18-20), and also on the gate-posts of the outer and inner courts (40:16, 22, 31). So, also in Solomon’s Temple (see 1 Ki. 6:29; 7:36). Applying this to the temple of our lives, what does it suggest both as to the hidden life of communion with God, and the outer life seen by all? Cf. Ps. 92:12-14; Je. 17:7, 8.
Notes
1.     Verse 7. The meaning is that at each storey the walls facing the cells were made less thick, to leave a ledge for the beams to rest on, and thus the rooms on each floor were a little broader than the rooms below.
2.     Verse 11b. The sanctuary stood upon a raised platform six cubits higher than the level of the inner court (verse 8), and occupied the whole platform except for a marginal strip running round three sides on the outer edge.
3.     Verses 12-14. Another strip of ground, at the level of the inner court, encompassed the sanctuary platform, and is here called ‘the temple yard’. It marked off the sanctuary from other buildings nearby. (other buildings are mentioned in 42:1-14; 46:19, 20).
4.     Verse 22. The table here spoken of, which looked like an altar of word, was probably the table of shewbread.




15 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 29 — Ezekiel 40:1-47

 Study  29 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 40:1-47

Having been cast into a trance and brought in spirit to the holy land, Ezekiel saw on the top of a high mountain what at first he thought to be a city but was in fact the Temple, with its courts and buildings. It was, however a new Temple. While the sanctuary itself was similar to that of Solomon’s Temple, the surroundings were very different. The prophet was met by a heavenly messenger, who had a measuring-tape of flax and a measuring-rod, and who acted as his guide.
  1. What two responsibilities did the heavenly messenger place upon the prophet? See verse 4. When judged by these standards, ho far is your own Bible study a success?
  2. With the aid of diagram I, follow the prophet’s route as he was shown the outer gateway on the east (verses 6-16), the outer court (verses 17-19), and the gateways on the north and south (verses 20-27); then the inner court on a higher level, also with three gateways (verses 28-37). In the inner court, alongside the north gate, were a chamber and tables (verses 38-43), and there were two chambers for the priests, one near the North gate and another near the south gate (verses 44-47).
  3. Note the symmetry of the ground plan of the Temple. Has this anything to teach us about God?
Notes
  1. Verse 5. Two cubits were in use, one being eighteen inches long and the other twenty-one inches-a ‘handbreadth' extra. The longer cubit was that used by Ezekiel. The measuring-reed would therefore have been 10ft. 6 in.
  2. Verse 12. ‘A barrier’: i.e., projecting wall.
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14 July, 2017

Ezekiel - Introductory Note to Chapters 40-48


Introductory Note to Chapters 40-48

These chapters describe a vision given to Ezekiel some twelve years after the prophecies of chapters 33-37 (cf. 40:1 with 33:21). In these earlier prophecies, he had declared to the exiles in Babylon God’s purpose to restore Israel to the holy land as a nation purified, redeemed and re-united. The question must have been much in the prophet’s mind how this restored community would be fashioned in its religious and political life; and in these chapters God gives to the prophet the answer to his questionings. There is first a description of sanctuary, to which Jehovah will come in glory, and in which He will take up His dwelling (40-43); second, regulations with regard to the ministers of the sanctuary, and to the ‘prince’ who shall rule over the people; and third, the boundaries of the land are defined, and the territories of the tribes.
            The question is sometimes asked whether the vision will be literally fulfilled. Why, however, should we suppose this any more than that the vision of chapter I is a literal portray of the divine Being? It is true that the prophets generally associate great changes in nature with the advent of ‘the day of the Lord’, and this is affirmed also in the New Testament (see, e.g., Rom. 8:21), but this is not to say that the vision which Ezekiel saw will find literal fulfillment. It is rather a setting forth, within the limits of Old Testament symbolism, of fundamental principles concerning God’s relation to His redeemed and sanctified people when He dwells in their midst in His glory. 

13 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 28 — Ezekiel 39

Study 28 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 39

1.     A further prophecy against God emphasizes the completeness of his overthrow. In what three ways is this brought out in verses 9-20, and what attributes of God’s character are thereby revealed (verses 21-29)?
2.     What is meant by the expression ‘I hid my face from them’ (verse 23)? Cf. Dt. 31:17; Pss. 30: 7; 104:29; Is. 8:17; 64:7. Consider the great blessing that is contained in the promise of verse 29.



12 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 27 — Ezekiel 38

Study 27 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 38

In this chapter and the next the prophet foresees in the far distant future an invasion of Israel by nations lying beyond the circle of those with which Israel hitherto has had to do.  They, too must learn that the God of Israel alone is God, and they will learn it through meeting His power as they seek to plunder His land, and through being brought by Him to total defeat. Read Rev. 20:7-10 in conjunction with this chapter.
1.     In what two different ways are the causes of Gog’s invitation described? Contrast verses 4 and 16 with verses 10-12. And yet may not all thee verses describe one and the same cause? Cf. Rom. 9:17, 18.
2.     Cf. verses 18-23 with 37: 25-28. In what two ways will God bring the nations to know that He is God alone? Cf. Rom. 1:16-18; 9:22, 23; 11:17-22
Notes
1.     Verse 2. The name ‘Gog’ is probably Ezekiel’s own invention, formed by removing the first letter from the place-name Magog. It is pointless to try to identify these nations with modern states: they were simply tribes on the fringe of the known word in Ezekiel’s day with he uses for these apocalyptic pronouncements.
2.     Verse 13.  These are merchant nation, stirred to excitement by Gog’s invasion.



11 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 26 — Ezekiel 37

Study 26  From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 37

1.Why were the people unable to believe Ezekiel’s prophecies of restoration and blessing?  See verse 11. Did the vision of verses 1-10 show that things were not so bad as or worse than they seemed? Yet, what happened, and why?
2.Notice that the regeneration of Israel came in two stages (verses 7-10). What would this have signified to Ezekiel? What part did he have to play in the change that took place? Are the spiritually dead coming to life as a result of your witness and praying?
3.Verses 15-28 are a glorious picture of the purified, restored and reunited Israel. Note the five great features of the Messianic kingdom described in verses 24-27. What light does this passage throw upon the conditions and blessings of Christian unity?


10 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 25 — Ezekiel 36:16-38

Study 25 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel  36: 16-38

1.     Consider carefully in this remarkable passage the following points: (a) why the Lord cast the people into exile (verses 16-19); (b) why He brought them back (verses 20-24); (c) the change wrought in their moral and spiritual condition (verses 25-31). Reflect how closely the prophet's teaching here anticipates the New Testament revelation of the steps by which God transforms a sinner into a saint. See particular Rom. 3, 5, 6 and 8.
2.     How will the change in the people and their restored prosperity affect the surrounding nations? See verses 35, 36 and cf. Jn. 17:21, 23.
Notes
1.     Verse 20. ‘They profaned my holy name’: because the nations, seeing them cast out, concluded their God could not protect them.  Cf. Ps. 42:10.
2.     Verse 26.  ‘Heart of stone’: cf. 2:4; 3:7; Zc. 7:12. ‘A heart of flesh’: i.e., sensitive to the divine Word.




09 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 24 — Ezekiel 35:1 – 36:15

Study 24  From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 35:1 – 36:15

In this section the prophet declares that the new ear will be better than the past, because of the greater fertility of the land. When he uttered this prophecy, the land of Israel seemed ruined. Edom (Mount Seir) was seeking to obtain possession (35:10; 36:5), and the mountains of Israel lay desolate (36:4). The prophet declares, first a judgment upon Edom (chapter 35), and then a return of Israel to enjoy times of unprecedented prosperity (36:1-15).
1.     Chapter 35. What are the three sins of Edom, mentioned in verses 5 and 10, for which they will be judged?  Notice how frequently the punishment foretold exactly matches the Edomites’ sin, e.g., verses 5 and 9; verse 6; verses 14, 15. How does Ezekiel show that even in their hour of judgment God still identifies himself with His people, Israel?
2.     Summarize the blessings promised to Israel in 36:8-15. If you interpret the restored land as a picture of our inheritance in Christ, what spiritual blessings are typified in these verses?



08 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 23 — Ezekiel 34

Study 23 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 34

The new era will be different from what has gone before, because of a change of shepherd, i.e., ruler.
1.     What, according to verses 1-10, was the inherent vice of the rulers of the past, which brought disaster upon the nation? Contrast their methods (verses 4-6) with those of God (verses 11-16) Cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-4.
2.     What blessings are declared in verses 23-31 as following the coming of the Messiah? Interpreting them spiritually, what may we learn from these verses concerning God’s gifts to us in Christ? Cf. Ps. 23; Heb. 13:20, 21.


07 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 22 — Ezekiel 33

Introductory Note to Chapters 33-39
These chapters all belong, to the second period of the prophets’ ministry after the fall of Jerusalem (see Introduction and Analysis). The only mention of a date is 33:21, but the prophecies all presuppose that God’s judgment upon the guilty city and nation, long predicted, has come to pass.


Study 22 From the Book of Ezekiel is: Ezekiel 33
The prophet had known from the first that part of his commission was to be a watchman (cf. 3:16-21), but now the time had come to put it into practice: for in the new era that was dawning, only those who individually repented and returned to God would live.
1.     In what terms does Ezekiel express the need for repentance? What kind of behaviour is expected of the wicked man when he repents? Cf. Acts 26:20; Rev. 2:5.
2.     Compare the two current sayings quoted in verses 10 and 24. Observe where they were current, and how the one is despairing, the other confident. What is God’s answer in each case?
3.     Why did the prophet suddenly become more bold to speak, and the people more curious to hear his words? See verses 30-33. What, however, was lacking in their new interest? Cf. Mt. 7:26, 27.


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06 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 70 — Psalm 89: 38-52

Study 70 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 89: 38-52

With this study from the book of psalms we are taking a pause here and tomorrow we will go back once again to the book of Ezekiel.
1.     Notice the repeated ‘thou’ in verses 38-46. It is the same God of steadfast love, faithfulness and power, extolled in the earlier part of the psalm, who has brought about the downfall of the king and the desolation of the land. This constitutes the psalmist’s dilemma. What bold requests for God’s speedy action does he make (verse 46-51), and on what does he base them?
2.     What may we learn form the psalmist’s example when circumstances seem to call God’s character and promises into question? How does faith survive in such situations? Cf. Gn. 18:25; Rom 11:29, 33; Phil. 1:6.
Note. Verse 52 is a doxology to close Book III of the Psalms


05 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 69 — Psalms 89: 1-37

Study 69 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 89: 1-37

This psalm vividly depicts the conflict of faith. In the first part (verses 1-37) the psalmist praises the Lord, who is reverenced in heaven and on earth, as the Victor over chaos, and the covenant God and Father of Israel’s king and people. In the second part (verses 38:-52) , however, it is clear that the king has suffered a serious military reverse.
1.     Verses 5-18 expand verses 1 and 2. What attributes of God are extolled? How is the blessedness of God’s people described?
2.     Verses 19-37 expand verses 3 and 4 concerning God’s covenant. Ponder the scope, the conditions and the generosity of God’s promises.
Notes
1.     Verse 3. The original occasion is described in 2 Sa. 7, recalled in 2 Sa. 23:5, and celebrated in Ps. 132: IIff.
2.     In verses 9:14 the pronouns ‘thou’ and ‘thine’ are emphatic.
3.     Verse 10. Rahab was originally used to refer to the forces of chaos subdued at creation (cf. Jb. 26:12). But here and in Is. 51:9 (cf. Ps. 74:12ff.) the imagery is used to refer to the exodus from Egypt, when God’s mighty power was shown in redemption.


04 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 68 — Psalm 88

Study 68 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 88

In some respects, this psalm depicts the sufferings of the Jewish nation in exile. The Christian may find in it a picture of the sufferings of Christ. But, the language of the psalm is universal, and no one specific application exhausts it; hence its continuing relevance.
1.     Summarize the main features of the sufferers’s distress. The sufferer cleaves to God most passionately when God seems to have removed Himself most completely. How do you account for the persistence of his faith?  Cf. Is. 50:10; Hab. 3:17, 18.
2.     Verses 4-6, 10-12. With the psalmist’s view of death and its sequel, cf. Ps. 6:5; 30:9; Is. 38:18. Contrast it with that of the Christian and note whence light and hope come. See 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14, 15; 1 Cor. 15: 17, 18, 51-57.


03 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 67 — Psalms 86 and 87

Study 67 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalms 86 and 87

1.     Ps. 86. List (a) the psalmist’s petitions, and (b) the reasons for his confidence that his prayer will be heard. Note especially in verses 8-13 the concentration of his thought on God in worship and thanksgiving. Can you pray verse 11, and mean it?
2.     Ps. 87 is a kind of prophetic expansion of Ps. 86:9. Zion is seen as the city of God’s special choice and sovereign purpose. Individuals from the nations that were Israel’s enemies are to become citizens of Zion. Are you one? What is the significance of the birth register, and being ‘born there’? Cf. Jn. 3:3, 5; Heb. 12:22-24; Rev. 21:27.
Notes
1.     86:2. ‘I am godly’: the adjective speaks of devotion to God, and loyalty to His covenant.
2.     86:11. ‘Unite my heart to fear thy name’: cf. Dt. 6:4, 5; Je. 32:39. The psalmist desires in singleness of heart and harmony of purpose to be wholly and exclusively devoted to God’s worship and service.
3.     87:7. The city resounds with joy, each worshipper declaring that the one source of all his blessing is Zion and Zion’s Lord.


02 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 66 — Psalms 85

Study 66 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 85

1.     Verses 1-7. To what does the psalmist make appeal in his prayer, and for what does he pray? Note that his prayers are not for himself, but for God’s people. Do you have any comparable conviction and concern?
2.     Verses 8-13. In His answer, what blessings does God promise, and to whom? What is the guarantee of fulfillment?
Notes
1.     Verse 8b. The mg. suggests that there is here an abrupt warning to God’s pious ones not to ‘turn back to folly’. For what is meant by ‘folly’, see Ps. 14:1; Rom. 1:21, 22.
2.     Verse 9b. The ‘glory’ is that of the revealed presence of God. Cf. Ex. 40: 34; Zc. 2:5.




01 July, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 65 — Psalms 84

Study 65 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 84

1.     Verses 1-4. ‘Blessed are those who dwell in thy house. ‘Consider the significance of the language which the psalmist uses. Note particularly the names he gives to God. What was the object of his deepest delight?
2.     What characteristic of the pilgrim to Zion are mentioned in verses 5-9? Whence does he derive strength to continue his journey? What is the basis of his security? What self-discipline must be practice? What are his crowning rewards (verses 10-12)?
Notes
1.     Verses 5b. The meaning seems to be ‘those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage’ (i.e., to Zion).
2.     Verse 6. ‘The valley of Baca’: some dry and barren valley where balsam tree (baca) grow, which the travellers approach with dread only to find that the God-given rain has transformed it.
3.     Verse 7. Far from being wearied by their journey the pilgrims are also strengthened by the prospect of the vision of God in Zion.
4.     Verse 9. A reference to the king, the Lord’s anointed, i.e., the Messiah.