Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

From Priest To Prophet August 6, 2010

Filed under: Ezekiel,Uncategorized — womenembracingfaith @ 4:40 am
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Ezekiel was 26, married, and serving as a Priest in the temple at Jerusalem when the Babylonian raids began.  His service in the temple facilatated the offering of sacrifices of sheep, bulls, goats, pigeons.  It was bloody work.  The ashes from the altar had to be swept, the fire maintained, the animals slaughtered, the basins cleaned and refilled, the priests’ portions of the meat cut-up and distributed.  It was his service so that people could be right with God again in spite of their sin individually and corporately.  The whole process prefigured the promised Savior’s death as a payment for the sins of God’s people.  Ezekiel had been instructed in, and might have had access to, the scrolls containing Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, some of  Psalms and Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah.  His work as a Priest was a respected position.  Unfortunately, many of the Priests strayed far from what the written Word of God actually said. Their lives did not measure up to the moral precepts nor did they warn the people of the consequences of ignoring the sovereignty and holiness of God.

Those consequences began with the Babylonian raids upon Judah starting in 597 BC.  Ezekiel and his wife soon were living in exile near a canal flowing into the Euphrates River in Southern Iraq.  (This was what God had told Habbakak would happen.years.) It was at this point that Ezekiel’s job description changed dramatically.  God appeared to him, showed him a glimpse of His glory and holiness, and called him to become a Prophet.  He was to listen to what God said ”expressly” to him and tell it to the people whether they listened or not. (1:3;3:7). It is quite a story.  Read it in Ezekiel 1-3.

Protestant Reformers defined a prophet as one who heard God’s word directly from God, and then spoke them to the people.  A priest officiated in the temple worship, but a prophet actually added to the revelation from God.  It was an awesome experience for Ezekiel and a big jump in his responsibility.  What a task he had before him now. 

Since a prophet added to God’s revelation of Himself and His plans for providing a Savior and a final judgment, the Reformers stressed that Revelation completed the revelation of God. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ had come, died, and risen just as was promised all through the Bible.  So the Reformers believed that there was no vision or experience after John’s that would add to the completed revelation of who God is and His plans for salvation and justice.  This is important as we look at the claims made by the Mormons, Moslems, or even some Evangelicals whose vision or experience is used to add to what we know about God.

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book,….” (Revelation 22:18).

 Application

Who are you listening to?  Is it someone who claims to have “special revelation?”  Or someone who follows someone who makes that claim?  Know what your teachers believe.

I hope this helps you as you read Ezekiel these final days of summer.

You can always ask me questions on Facebook (Carol Cook Brandt).  Just send me a message.  I try to keep this blog focused on the Scriptures, but questions and comments are welcomed on Facebook.

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Bible Story For Children January 11, 2010

Filed under: Bible Story For Children — womenembracingfaith @ 5:21 pm
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Today I’m starting a new Category to help you tell Bible stories to children.  Of course, there won’t be pictures to look at together as you talk.  Their imaginations can provide those pictures if you encourage it.  After all, that is what the Bible does all the time, i.e. the Holy Spirit is like a refreshing stream or fountain; God is like a Rock, a refuge; Jerusalem’s survival from the Assyrians is like a flag waving on a hill.  So encourage that kind of thinking in your children as you tell the story.  And be sure they know it is a real story; it actually happened.  Adapt your vocabulary and the details to fit the child. Always apply the story to their life as you go along.  The idea for this story came from my grandson’s fascination with the water drains in our neighborhood and from Roger Ellsworth’s explanation of the passage.

II Samuel 5: 1-10     King David’s City

Even though everyone knew David had been chosen by God to be the King, he had to hide in caves and deserted places for many years.  A lot of people came to help him, but Saul and his friends kept trying to kill David.  What did he feel like having so many people trying to kill him?  He wrote a lot of songs about it. (Psalm 35  is one of them. Jesus was probably comforted by this Psalm while the religious leaders were seeking to kill Him.)

Anyway, David finally became king of God’s people.  He stayed King for forty years!  But during those years,  he had to fight those who hated God and His people.

There was one group of people whose city was on a hill with valleys all around three sides, and a big wall on the fourth side for protection.  They made fun of David.  They said his army could never capture their city.  His army couldn’t come across those valleys, climb up the hill, or come over the wall!  Have you ever had someone make fun of you and dare you to do something?  These people were really making fun of God and daring David to do something about it.

My town has water drains to protect us against floods.  Each drain is connected  by a big pipe to an even bigger pipe that lets all the water flow into the river and out to the ocean.  It is fun to look down the drains and try to figure out how they get the water to the ocean.

This town on a hill, soon to be named Jerusalem, had to get water into the town for drinking, bathing and things like that.  David found out how to get into that big water pipe. David’s army came quietly up that big shaft right into the city!  They had arrows, some swords, and spears, and other weapons.  They fought and took over the city. The wall, the hill and valleys couldn’t keep the army of God out!  David was standing up to the people who made fun of God.  It became known as the city of David, Jerusalem.  The city changed completely after David took over.  No more idols.  Only the worship of God was allowed.

Our hearts are like this city.  Suddenly God can sweep into our heart, change things, clean it up, give us a new heart that wants to love God and follow Him. In this story, King David reminds us of our Savior, Jesus, who conquers our sinful hearts and is our King.  Jesus lived a perfect life, and then died so we could know God.  He was related to David, yet He is God!  He saves His people from all over the world.

Ask God to come quietly into your heart one day just like King David and his army came up the water shaft into Jerusalem.  Your sins will be forgiven and conquered.  You will grow to love God more and more.

 

Do You See Yourself In This Picture? October 20, 2008

Filed under: Isaiah — womenembracingfaith @ 1:10 am
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We are seeking to apply Isaiah’s message to our lives today. He lived more than 2700 years ago, predicted several changes in world powers, specific events and people, and the coming of the Savior. Some of his predictions aren’t completely clear to us yet, and so these passages continue to stymie and divide Christians today. Read Isaiah 1-6 to get a fuller picture of the context. Then look for yourself in these snapshots.

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, And reb uke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob, come and let us walk
In the light of the LORD (Isaiah 2:1-5).

AVOID ASSUMPTIONS, BUT REMEMBER BIBLICAL THEMES
Often one’s end-times views are imposed on this passage’s interpretation. Assumptions are made about its meaning based on whether one is pre-mil or not. Notice it does not mention a 1000 year period at all, but it is speaking of things to come. Instead, this is a plea to Judah and Jerusalem (2:1;5) to think about the future. They could be a part of God’s peaceful and glorious kingdom–eternal and world encompassing. But, they must be willing to live in the light of the LORD–to trust in His redemption and obey His commandments. Do you see yourself in this snapshot–going up with many kinds of people to God’s house to hear His teachings and enjoy His peace.

They shall go into the holes of the rocks,
And into the caves of the earth,
From the terror of the LORD
And the glory of His majesty,
When He arises to shake the earth mightily (Isaiah 2:19)

Here is another glimpse of the future. Condemnation is horrible. God is majestic and just. Without the salvation found in Christ Jesus alone, we will be terrified IN THAT DAY. A specific time of judgment. You aren’t in this snapshot, are you?

APPLICATION TO JUDAH IN 730-586
For Jerusalem stumbled,
And Judah is fallen,
Because their tongue and their doings
Are against the Lord,
To provoke the eyes of His glory.
The look on their countenance witnesses against them,
And they declare their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it (Isaiah 3:8-9

Isaiah applies this specifically to Judah by predicting the siege of Jerusalem in the 500’s BC. Instead of walking in the light of their promise-keeping God, they provoke Him by the arrogant look on their faces. I hope you do not see yourself or your church in that picture.

See how to use the Bible’s themes to help you figure out what a passage means? And how to avoid letting your pre-conceived assumptions take you too far in your interpretation? We want to be women who handle the scripture carefully as we tell Bible stories to our children and grandchildren. Don’t leave your thinking caps off at the church or the children’s church door!

 

Knowing and Weeping March 20, 2008

Filed under: applications — womenembracingfaith @ 1:31 am
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The details of Jesus’ life between Palm Sunday and Easter have been of particular interest to me over the years. Luke paints a contrasting picture between the palm-waving entry and Jesus’ tears of reality as He thinks about Jerusalem’s attitude toward Him. He knew the palms didn’t mean much. They really had rejected Him. They had hardened their hearts. They refused to hear! And He knew what sorrows lay ahead for them because of that. In less that forty years, the Romans would destroy the city, tearing it down rock by rock. He weeps as he predicts this judgment to come (Luke 18:41-44).

Often we have something to cry about. A friend’s failing marriage, perhaps. Cancer reoccurance. .Hearing that one in four teens have some kind of sexual disease to pass on to others. Or that our leaders still muck around with whomever and we have to hear the details on the evening news.

They could have known “the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” What things? As Paul would later explain, we have peace and hope only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). This was nothing new to the residents of Jerusalem. They knew the story of Abraham’s belief in God’s promise and how his faith was counted as righteousness. And now, Jesus had just raised Lazarus from death a couple of weeks earlier as a public demonstration of His power and claims. He was continuing to say He was the promised Savior and would be killed for our trespasses and raised for our right standing with God. In explaining this hardened unbelief, Paul quotes Isaiah’s prediction of a “spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear” (Romans 11:8). Hidden truths, blind eyes, deaf ears….

We can’t know or predict in the same way Jesus did.  Our knowing is limited; we don’t always know the whys. But, notice Jesus wipes His tears, then calls for the temple to be a house of prayer and continued proclaiming the good news of salvation each day (Luke 19:45-20:1). That is what we need to be doing too. So wipe away your tears, and keep on praying and telling others why you have hope. Jesus is alive! The Holy Spirit is with us.