Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19- The Final Battle

November 19, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Ezekiel 39:1-40:27; James 2:18-3:18;
Psalm 118:1-18; Proverbs 28:2

Thus I will demonstrate my glory among the nations.  
~Ezekiel 39:21

Ezekiel 39:1-40:27

Trying to figure out God's story in the Bible can be confusing. The prophesies from Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel are sometimes about events that are in the near future to the times of these men and sometimes are about distant future events that signal the very end of God's story. As we piece together what it all means, we see repetition of themes and concepts. One theme is that man has fallen and needs to be redeemed. 

When man fell, the earth consequently was affected and conditions became harsher on the planet.  God promised to redeem man through a son of Eve who would defeat Satan, the enemy of God and man (See Genesis 3).  And God promised to redeem the land in the future. God chose the nation of Israel, through the seed of Abraham, to bring the Redeemer Child into the world.  He promised Abraham a certain land as a sacred place for God's Name to Be Known. God chose King David as the royal line through which this King/Redeemer would be born in this sacred land. Once on earth, Jesus, the son of King David as promised, fulfilled His role as the Redeemer and sacrificed his life as a ransom for many. This satisfied the need for death as a result of sin. The punishment of death was paid for by Jesus Christ for all of mankind.

Once resurrected, the story goes that Christ will return to the earth one day to rule in a paradise restored in the Promised Land. This fulfills God's promise to the nation of Israel that God would provide them a king to rule in the Promised Land forever. We learn in the book of Revelation chapter 20 that Satan is bound and thrown in an abyss during this thousand years that Christ rules on earth. During this time, Temple worship is reinstated and Christ has a vice regent prince on earth who rules under him. Children are born during this time of peaceful reign and people are taught about Christ and his past work on the cross through Temple worship and ritual. The end of the book of Ezekiel describes some of these events.

Today, Ezekiel prophesies about a man called Gog.  The name Gog means ruler or "the man on top."  Gog is a ruler over Magog.  Magog was a grandson of Noah and son of Japheth. In Scripture, Magog represents the people of the North who come against Israel and are the enemies of God. This would represent a person/ruler during the Millennial reign of Christ who heads up a rebellion that occurs when Satan is released from the abyss, deceives the nations again, and takes his final stand against Jesus.  You may wonder who in the world on earth during this peaceful reign of Christ would dare to rebel against God?  The Bible indicates that Christ's reign on earth is a time when people are taught about Christ's sacrificial death pointing backwards to his death on the cross in the past. The people who are taught will still have the ability to reject the Messiah. Humans still be capable of sinning during this time and able to reject truth. Many people born and raised during this time will apparently choose to reject God and His message, even though they have seen a peaceful and perfect kingdom on this earth.  This is all within the confines of God's will and His sovereignty over His own story.  When Satan is released from the abyss (see Revelation 20), he finds willing and able human beings who are deceived into thinking they can fight against the Creator of the universe. 

God promises to rain down fire from heaven in an event similar to what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. With the mound of bones that results from God's victory over this final rebellious group, the land is finally cleansed. These rebellious hordes are the final sacrificial feast of the wicked offered up to the beasts of the fields. There will be so many dead bodies that it will take seven month to bury them.  Seven is the number of completion in the Bible. God's power over evil will be confirmed. God's promise of restoring Israel and pouring out His Spirit upon them will be accomplished.

I notice that God has three separate incidents of Satan leading a rebellion. The first is in the Garden of Eden.  Eve follows Satan and Adam follows Eve.  Mankind is started down the path of self against God. The second is when the Antichrist leads the world astray and Armageddon is fought. The third time is this final battle with Satan taking his last stand towards the end of Christ's millennial reign. God likes the number three. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are satisfied to fight Satan and evil in three epic events. In the end, God wins.

Chapter 40 brings us to the portion of Ezekiel where Ezekiel is taken to Jerusalem in the distant future during Christ's millennial reign.  An angel with a measuring rod begins to measure the walls and gateways to the Temple. This Temple is much larger than Solomon's Temple and is the central place for worship of God during Christ's earthly reign.  Past Scriptures that deal with measurements have been literal places. We can assume that this Temple is a literal earthly place during Christ's reign.

What are your thoughts on all of this?  Does this story fascinate you?  If you believe that Isaiah's prophesies of the suffering Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus, can you now contemplate believing Ezekiel's prophesies of a ruling King Jesus on earth for one thousand years?

James 2:18-3:18

Now let's switch gears from the distant future to practical Christian living today. James argues that faith without good deeds is a dead faith that is not faith at all.  To believe there is a God is not enough.  James argues that even demons know there is a god.

Abraham is set forth as an example of someone who acted upon his faith. He willingly took Isaac and was prepared to sacrifice him to God because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. His action completed his faith. His action showed the faith that made God declare that Abraham was righteous.

Rahab was another person who acted upon her faith by protecting the spies of the people who she knew were the people of the True God of the Universe. This was a good deed prompted by her faith in God.

What actions have you taken prompted by your faith in God?

James deals with the tiny tongue and how it is the hardest thing to control. One practical way to show your faith is to begin to control what you say to others. We read beautiful illustrations from James on the tongue being a tiny spark that sets a forest fire. We can tame animals, but the tongue is hard to tame. Our mouths pour forth both blessings and curses. James laments that this should not be so.

God's wisdom and goodness do not manifest themselves in bitterness and jealousy. If your life is marked by these qualities, perhaps you are living a lie. The Devil motivates these sorts of behaviors.  Selfish ambition is evil. What does wisdom look like? It is peace loving, gentle, and willing to yield to others. It is filled with mercy and good deeds. It is not partial to certain people and is always sincere. Peacemakers plant seeds of peace and harvest a crop of good deeds.

This is a great goal for all who love God. Let us examine ourselves.

Psalm 118:1-18

Have you really contemplated that God's love endures forever?

Proverbs 28:2

Wow. Think of the USA as you read this proverb...
"When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily. But with wise and knowledgeable leaders, there is stability."

What are you learning?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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