Vs. 1, “Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.” Here we are given another break with a time between the sixth and seventh seal. John sees a mighty angel who comes bearing a little scroll. Much of this imagery we see was indicative of the times of John. John was to withhold what the seven thunders spoke (vs. 4). Why? Because, we are not always going to be privy of God’s intentions; God does as He pleases. Question: What is the significance of the scroll? Similar to the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2), John was instructed to eat the scroll (vs. 9). It is sweet because it is a message of ultimate hope from God, but sour because there will be very difficult times.
Regarding application…Consuming God’s Word. Vs. 10, “I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” Speaking metaphorically, we too are to digest God’s word. It’s not enough just to read it, we must chew on it and let if affect our lives. God’s word reveals to our souls the bitterness of the reality of this world. It is through the opening of our eyes and hearts that we are to be completely motivated to share the truth (vs. 11). There is a people who walk in darkness that need the light of Christ. It isn’t always easy to digest the things that God has told us will come. Let us do our part in trusting in Him and sharing His love to a world that needs hope.
Vs. 1, “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” We now move into a section of Revelation that will speak to the things that will happen in the future. It’s a pretty humbling and awesome glimpse into the events that will happen in heaven. Reminiscent of the prophets before (Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) John language and vision is similar. John is transported immediately to the throne in heaven (vs. 2). Contrary to great detail of other prophetic pictures of a God in His throne room, John actually doesn’t elaborate too much. This actually adds to the mystery and reminder that God is not impressed by earthly grandeur. Question: Who are the twenty-four elders? We are not given specific detail, but their purpose is clear; worshipping God. Some say angels, some say a mixture of Old & New Testament believers, others think it could be the twenty-four priests over the course of time (I Chronicles 24:4). These elders represent us, much like congress represents their people in their state. Question: What about the four living creatures? Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1) also gives us his version of what these creatures looked like. They are beyond human description, yet John does his best to explain them. The fact they have eyes all over their body denotes that nothing is hidden from them. Their purpose we see here is to proclaim the holiness of God. The twenty-four elders response of falling down before the Lord reminds all of us that He alone is worthy of praise (vs. 10-11).
Regarding application…How Great is Our God. Vs. 8, “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” God deserves our worship and praise. Notice, how the twenty-four elders lay their crowns at His feet. All that we have and all that we are must be laid down before the Lord. God isn’t just great because He is the creator of the universe. God is worthy of our worship because of the lamb that was slain for us. God created us in His image with mind, will and emotion. We have the ability to grasp the great love and sacrifice He Himself gave for us. Now the onus is upon each of us to respond to our great God. How will you respond? Will you lay down your crowns?
Vs. 35 “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits. “And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there” YHWH (Yahweh) Shammah = the Lord is there. There was importance to the allotment of the land to each tribe, but more importantly, we are reminded that God is present. There must have been much comfort to those who heard this message of hope back in Ezekiel’s time. Unlike the allocation of land in Joshua’s time, Ezekiel outlines a very fair distribution this time around.
Regarding application…Our Future. Question: Wouldn’t it be nice to know our future? In some sense, we already do! God is intentionally showing us a future hope, that despite our current struggle, we may not get too discouraged. From the beginning, God has desired to be with His people. Adam & Eve in Eden was a setback, but God would send Jesus, Immanuel (God with us) to reconcile the broken relationship we had. Our future is told in the Old Testament as well as the Apostle John reminding us in Revelations. It’s always nice to end a book on a good note! So when life gets rough and there seems to be no hope, remember our prophet Ezekiel and the hope that God gave us!
Vs. 3, “On the Sabbaths and New Moons the people of the land are to worship in the presence of the Lord at the entrance to that gateway.” Ezekiel continues to give us some insight regarding worship. Question: Just who is this prince? Some scholars believe it can’t possibly be Jesus, while others state it is Jesus. Regardless, notice how the prince helps to set the example with the others in rightful worship. It’s also important to see the order of worship, for many would come on these days (vs. 9). I really appreciate the order of worship and details that God put importance with inheritance and food sacrifices.
Regarding application…God in the Details. Vs. 24, “He said to me, “These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple will cook the sacrifices of the people.” It’s kind of cool to think that food is a part of the worship details! Even in the church today, we institute communion. I’m known to be a very detailed person, and I love how there are specific roles in the kingdom of God. I think the challenge for many of us today is not forgetting how details can be a very underestimated part of the worship/church experience. The location of each speaker, where the drums go, the lighting and ambience, the arrangement of the chairs are all important aspects of details that go unnoticed. Of course, in the end…the whole purpose of all these things is the worship of our Lord!
Vs. 1, “When you allot the land as an inheritance, you are to present to the Lord a portion of the land as a sacred district, 25,000 cubits long and 20,000 cubits wide; the entire area will be holy.” We now go from instructions of holy living to instructions on land. Question: What’s the significance of this? Remember, from Abram (Abraham), to the Jews in Egypt, to the captives in Babylon…there was always the hope of being in the Promised Land. There is something about owning land that is sweet to the soul The first time I bought my house, though my yard wasn’t too big…there was a sense of accomplishment to be able to say that I own this land! Don’t forget that this is a vision of the 1000 year reign of Christ after the Tribulation.
Regarding application…Why Sacrifices? Vs. 25, “During the seven days of the Feast, which begins in the seventh month on the fifteenth day, he is to make the same provision for sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings and oil.” Question: Didn’t Jesus do away with the Old Testament forms of sacrifice? Though there are differing views regarding this, I feel strongly that they are instituted because it brings glory to God. Just as we remember the significance of communion today, one day we will remember God’s faithfulness through these sacrifices. We do these things in remembrance of Him. Question: What are you sacrificing in your life to show God that He comes first? Sometimes to be free in Christ, we must let go of things in our life.
Vs. 1, “Then the man brought me to the outer sanctuary and measured the jambs; the width of the jambs was six cubits on each side.” Now the angel gives Ezekiel the specific measurements of the Sanctuary within the Temple. Being a detailed oriented person, it’s pretty comforting that God is in the details! The Temple is a little bit longer than half of a football field. It’s also interesting to note that there is no mention of the veil that would only allow high priest once a year to enter through it. Of course, this is because when Jesus died the veil was torn in two.
Regarding application…Hope in the Future. When I was young, my family used to have a tradition where we would go once a year on a vacation. I would be so excited to find out where we would go as summer was approaching each year. My wife and I have continued that tradition and love going on vacations to new places! There is a sense of hope from rest and excitement in experiencing a new place. For example, we have enjoyed going on cruises. The other day we saw a documentary on one of the largest cruise ships called the Oasis of the Seas from the Royal Caribbean company. It can hold 6000 plus guests, has all sorts of grand features (surfing simulation, mountain climbing, zip lines, indoor mall, a central park indoor garden, ice skating rink, etc…) As grand as that ship is…the details of the new Temple should illicit an incredible hope for our future destination! Take time to thank the Lord for a future hope in this crazy world we live in!
Vs. 2, “In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city.” Question: When will this vision be fulfilled? At the time of this vision, Jerusalem and the temple Solomon had built had sadly already been destroyed. While another temple was built about 57 years after this vision of Ezekiel, the temple that we see here is the temple that has yet to be built! This time is referring to the temple that will be built in the Millennium (the 1000 year when Jesus will reign on earth!) While the measurements don’t mean too much to us, they would have brought much joy to those who would hear a new glorious temple would be built! These measurements are increased too. Question: What about the sacrifices? Some interpret this as more of a symbolic meaning, others look at it like the church practice of communion…but it won’t have the same purpose at the Old Testament practices.
Regarding application…Tell the World. Vs. 4, “The man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.” Just as Ezekiel was to tell others what he saw and heard, we too are to tell the world! Question: What are you waiting for? Put yourself in Ezekiel’s place! Imagine…You were a part of a church that had an incredible church sanctuary! It was the pride and joy of your church. Suddenly, we are invaded by another country who destroys all the churches and takes Christians as captives. Wouldn’t it be exciting if God gave you a vision of a new promise and a more beautiful church?!?! I’m sure Ezekiel would have been very excited to share this vision. Likewise, we have God’s visions and prophecies of our future written in the Bible (God’s living Word). Let’s be excited to tell the world of the hope we have…especially with the Christmas season soon approaching!
Vs. 2, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him.” Question: Just who is Gog? Even the readers of Ezekiel’s time would not have known who he was referring to. Gog is a future leader or nation that comes from the north. Bear in mind that Ezekiel was a prophet and often times these prophecies pointed to the time of the Messiah’s first coming and second coming. In this case, Ezekiel is giving a prophecy of the time of Tribulation (second coming). This attack would be during the seven years under the pretense of false peace led by the antichrist himself.
Regarding application…God is Revealing Himself. Vs. 23, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Question: Why would God bring calamities upon evil nations? So that the world will know God is God. There is no other. Evil will have its day for just a little while. Do you know God? When disaster, storms and struggles come…they begin to reveal to us how small we are. It is these times that tug at our heart and help us realize that there is a higher power at work. From the beginning of Genesis to our very lives today…God has been faithfully revealing himself in all situations. Remember God’s faithfulness in the storms of your life and let that be the catalyst that increases your faith and your healthy fear of a God who is mighty to save!
Vs. 1, “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.” About 1 ½ ago, I preached on this very passage! Question: When will this vision come to fruition? Many biblical scholars point to this vision as the restoration of the physical and spiritual Israel. In the past century, Israel has become an official nation again. And, according to your biblical doctrine, God will one day restore Israel and Jesus will reign with them for 1000 years. But going back to the vision: It must have been quite a scene to see a valley of skeleton bones all over. God restores the dry bones and gives them life. We also see the illustration of the two sticks becoming one to unite God’s people.
Regarding application…Make Us One. Vs. 22, “I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” While the verse is a prophecy to Israel, the application is useful for all of us. Many of us are dead in our transgressions and don’t realize we are like the dry bones. As He breathes life into us, we will one day be restored as one body in Christ! When I think about the heartache of broken families, broken churches, broken nations…it grieves so many. This hope for a better future is something that not only brings comfort now, but should inspire us to do our part in hastening that day. What can we do now to help bring about God’s will of restoring that which is broken?
Vs. 8, “But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.” In times of struggles, a message of hope is quite welcomed. And this is exactly what God would now instruct Ezekiel to do. Mountains have been and still are a symbol of turning to God…and God would now speak from the mountains. As God speaks of the restoration of His people, we too can take comfort in realizing there is a dual meaning to this in our lives. While God allows consequences to come, there is also the eternal hope we have. We see one of the most beautiful passages in the latter half of this chapter as we are reminded of God’s grace.
Regarding application…How is your Heart? Vs. 26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Perhaps this is a question we should be asking ourselves daily. Israel had lost her way because they had chosen to turn away from God. I’m reminded of Lot’s wife when she turned to look back and became a pillar of salt (it was immediate). The moment we start to turn away from God, our hearts can become like stone. That is why it is so important to turn daily to the Lord in prayer and reading of His word. Open your heart today and see what God can do with a spirit and heart that beats for Him!