Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17- God's Do Over

November 17, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Ezekiel 35:1-36:38; James 1:1-18;
Psalm 116:1-19; Proverbs 27:23-27

My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on. 
 ~Forrest Gump

Ezekiel 35:1-36:38

In the game of golf a mulligan happens when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action.  This is sometimes referred to as a "do over."  As I read the book of Ezekiel, I get the feeling that with the nation of Israel, God is formulating an end times mulligan. A cosmic do-over is in the future for the people of Israel and the land, which God has promised to them. As we have studied the Old and New Testament, we have seen God's chosen people be in an almost constant state of rebellion against their Maker. Stubborn and stiff-necked, God's people have been pursued and punished by God throughout their long and sordid history. Even when their Messiah came to the earth and personally taught the nation of Israel, his sacrificial death left the majority of the Jews cold and disengaged. The book of Romans explains that God had a purpose in this. The Gentile nations have been grafted into the body of believers, in part, because the majority of the Jewish people have languished in their faith. But this will not always be the case. The book of Ezekiel shows us the future of the Jewish nation. God's do-over reveals a day when the land and the people will be blessed. 

Before this day of blessing occurs, Edom, Israel's ancient nemesis, will be judged. Mt. Seir is the home base of Esau's descendants. You will recall that Esau was Jacob's (Israel's) twin brother. His descendants are called the Edomites, who represent all enemies who come against the Jews. God warns through Ezekiel that all enemies of Israel will be judged prior to Christ's millennial reign on earth. The Antichrist will be the political, commercial, and religious head of this movement against the nation of Israel. The Antichrist's efforts will fail, and Israel's enemies will be judged and defeated by God. God calls Ezekiel to literally prophesy to the land, the hills, and the mountains. For some reason, God is interested in the people and the land.  He intends to restore people's souls and restore the groaning land of the earth, which was also affected by the Fall. This prophecy brings the earth full circle from the book of Genesis. Paradise lost is restored.

The mountains of Israel are promised that the people of Israel will return from the nations to which they have been scattered. The land will receive back her people and no longer be a shame among the people of the earth. Israel, the land, will no longer be despised. The sins of the people that also affected the land such as their murders, lies, idolatry, and adulteries, will be forgiven by God. God will put a new heart into the people and wash away their sins with clean water. God promises to put His Spirit into the people causing them to obey His laws. These three promises, forgiving sin, changing the inner man, and putting the Holy Spirit inside of them is the essence of God's New Covenant found in the New Testament. In the land, they will be His people and He will be their God.  All that was wrong in the past will be made right.  God does not promise to do this for the Jews because they deserve it.  He promises to do this to protect His Holy Name and preserve His Name forever.

What was a god-forsaken land will become like the Garden of Eden according to Ezekiel 36:35. Those who see Jerusalem and the Middle East in our present day know that this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.  This future day will include peace and prosperity that mankind has not experienced in all of known history.  This is a special promise to Israel.  This is God's personal do-over for His chosen people.  God's do-over is done to honor His own Name.

What do you think of God's story and His desire for resolution to the ongoing conflict with the nation of Israel?

James 1:1-18

Now we come to the book of James.  There are at least four men named James in the New Testament.  Most scholars believe that this book was penned by the half brother of Jesus. James, Jesus' brother, was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. This epistle is written between 45-50 AD, prior to the conversion of many Gentiles in Asia Minor.  It is addressed to the universal church, but practically, it would have been targeted to the Jewish believers throughout the known world at the time.

The book of James is a rubber-meets-the-road type of epistle. Although James' main theme is faith, the author strongly emphasizes that faith results in certain behaviors. Faith affects one's works, words, and worldliness.

Who among us gets through this life without trials? None. Therefore, as a Christian, your perspective about your trials is key. According to James, trials are an opportunity for joy. How and why? Trials are where your faith is tested by God.  Just as metal must be tested by fire to authenticate it's purity, a Christian will be tested by trouble in order to purify reliance upon God in all things. To realize this should produce joy that God is concerned with our growth and authenticity.  Trials endured through faith will cause us to be people who can face anything.

James tells us that God wants to pour out wisdom generously.  In our relationship with our Creator, we are encouraged to ask Him what His will is for us in life. We should ask for wisdom. We should demonstrate faith in believing that He will answer us. We should not waiver in trusting our Lord.

Even poverty is an opportunity to be glad. Why? Because God intends to meet the needs of the poor.  The rich have an opportunity to be humble. Why? Because everything that we possess is a gift from God and will fade just like flowers fade in the field. Riches are an opportunity to acknowledge that the things of this world do not last.

God blesses people who endure testing with patience. Do you whine and complain at every trial? God wants you to accept and endure. God does not tempt people to do evil and He should never be accused of doing such. Temptations are part of our evil and fallen natures. If you have any thing that is truly good in your life or any aspect that is perfect, it must have come from God. He is not shifty or unpredictable like human beings. He is faithful and sure. It is mankind that God has chosen to make His own possession out of all of the creatures.

James gives us perspective.  Is your life marked by Christian perspective?

Psalm 116:1-19

The psalmist begins this song by saying that he loves the Lord because he hears and answers his prayers. This is what James was talking about.

Proverbs 27:23-27

Here is a proverb about sheep. The Lord cares for His sheep.

What are you realizing as you read God's Word?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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