TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- EZEKIEL 40:28- 41:26
Here we have the description of the temple as Ezekiel saw it. He is instructed to declare to the house of Israel what he sees (40:4). In chapter 41, he describes the temple’s structure and the ornamentation.
The tabernacle in the wilderness was a visible sign of the terms of the Mosaic covenant. The Law outlined the demands of righteousness. The tabernacle outlined how the demands of righteousness would be fulfilled through the finished work of Redemption. All the ordinances and sacrifices of the tabernacle foreshadowed the ‘once and for all’ perfect sacrifice our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. It was a portable sanctuary that traveled with God’s people through the wilderness.
The temple, however, was a more permanent sanctuary, built on the same pattern as the tabernacle in the wilderness, foreshadowing God’s desire to establish His kingdom and make His presence dwell permanently on earth.
There are seven temples of God in the Scripture.
- Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6-8). It was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587/586 B.C.
- Zerubbabel’s Temple (Ezra 3:1-8; 4:1-14). This is the temple that was built when the exiles returned. The foundation was laid in 535 B.C., and the temple dedicated in 516 B.C.
- Herod’s Temple. Zerubbabel’s temple was refurbished and enlarged after Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated it in 169 B.C.
- The Present Temple. The present temple is the life of a believer (1 Cor 6:10-20; 2 Cor 6:16-18) and the local churches (1 Cor 3:16).
- The Temple of Revelation 11 (The Tribulation Temple). This is a temple that is in existence during the time of Jacob’s trouble, the seventieth week of Daniel, known as the Great Tribulation.
- Ezekiel’s Millennial Temple. Ezekiel 40-48 likely refers to a future temple to be built in Jerusalem during the millennium for Israel’s use in worship, commemorating the new covenant with Messiah.
- The Eternal Temple. John records that God Himself will dwell with His people. He will be the temple of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3, 22).
As you read the description, you will notice the enlarged size and the perfect symmetry. There are three gates that lead to a large outer courtyard that surrounded the temple sanctuary on three sides: north, east and south. There were three gates into the courtyard. The gates had posts with ornamental tops shaped like palm trees, which are symbols of the national life coming to full bloom, with strength and glory. The outer court is called the ‘court of the women’ and the inner court (middle court) is where Ezekiel would receive the visions of Chapters 43-46.
There are Sacrifice preparation rooms and preparation, or slaughter, tables. There were eight at every gate. 4 on each side. Then there was the temple sanctuary accessible by a flight of stairs.
The temple sanctuary had three divisions: 1. A porch 2. An outer sanctuary (the holy place), and 3. An inner sanctuary (the Holiest of All). Careful measurements are made. The outer court was 20 cubits wide by 40 cubits long. The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits by twenty cubits. Both the outer and inner sanctuary structures had the same floor size dimensions as in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:20).
The full temple size was 100 cubits by 100 cubits.
The ornamentation is worth noting. The cherubim, the living creatures that were pictured upholding the expanse that upheld the throne in the earlier visions, are pictured here again. But now, they are depicted with two heads, rather than four, each one looking to the carved ornaments on the right and left sides of engraved palm trees, representing the completed nation of Israel.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – JAMES 4:1-17
This Epistle reminds us of practical truths of authentic Christianity. Christianity is about the supernatural relationship that Jesus Christ has made possible- friendship with God.
When you are a friend of God and living as such, your heart is satisfied and no longer covetous. Therefore, you are free from the discord and quarrels that stem from the self-centered heart. When you are a friend of God and living as such, you recognize that the world is an enemy of God, and you dismiss its ungodly influences accordingly.
God has given us a way to appropriate the victory of the cross. We are to live in moment-by-moment fellowship, drawing near to God by 1. Submitting to His Word 2. Resisting the devil 3. Cleansing our hands by letting go of sin 4. Purifying our hearts by delighting in the Lord 5. Mourning any condition that resists the rule of God and 6. By humbling ourselves in the presence of the Lord.
None of us can bring a final verdict in judging a brother or sister. James reminds us that our final appeal is to the One who is both Lawgiver and Judge.
James 4:12 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
We should not boast as if we ourselves were the all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present, Sovereign God. Recognize your limitations as creatures and His glory as Creator and Redeemer.
We can easily be deceived by measuring ourselves incorrectly as if our deeds earn us some merit before God. James reminds us that if we are going to measure ourselves by the law, our sins of omission surely disqualify us from any right to boasting.
James 4:16-17 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 118:19-29
This Psalm fits the Hallel for the Triumphal Procession. How wonderfully it speaks of the Messiah. The gates of righteousness open only to Him, the Lord our Righteousness (Psalm 118:19-21).
He is the one who brings the day of salvation. But first, He must be rejected by the builders. They will crucify Him. But God will raise Him and make Him head of the corner (Psalm 118:22-24).
The people cry, ‘Lord do save! Hosanna!’ (v. 25)
He is the One foretold by the prophets: “Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord” (v. 26).
He has given His body to be bound with cords of love, as a festal sacrifice, to pay our ransom, provide our pardon, that we might receive His life, and His life is the light of men.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 28:3-5
Proverbs 28:3-5 3 A poor man who oppresses the lowly Is like a driving rain which leaves no food. 4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive with them. 5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand all things.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – TIMOR LESTE
(from Operation World Prayer Guide and Prayercast.com)
The Southeast Asian island nation of Timor-Leste is one of the world’s youngest, becoming an independent nation in 2002. Located just northwest of Australia, this nation’s road to freedom has been grueling and filled with sorrow. Colonized by the Portuguese during the mid-16th century and occupied for nearly 500 years, Timor-Leste declared itself free from Portugal in 1975, only to be invaded and conquered by Indonesia 9 days later. The people endured a harsh 25-year Indonesian reign, during which an estimated 100,000 Timorese died as a result of war, famine, and disease.
A densely populated nation, the island spans a mere 9 miles (14.5 km) and is inhabited by more than 1 million people. The population is 95% Timorese, and the official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, the latter spoken by most. In 1999, just 3 years before the Timorese gained full independence, the Indonesian military plundered and demolished 75% of the nation’s infrastructure and economy. Rebuilding the nation will likely take decades. Poor health and illiteracy are prevalent, and the average worker makes an estimated $1.20 per day.
With 87% of the population claiming Christianity as their faith practice, Timor-Leste is one of only two predominantly Catholic nations in Asia. Just 2% of the population are evangelical, and while the protestant church has seen slight growth, they are widely viewed with prejudice and suspicion. The streets are flooded with children and young people who have lost everything, and as a result, they often form dangerous gangs. The physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the Timorese are great, but the power of Jesus is greater, and He is able to heal, restore, and save. There is a call and great need for Gospel-equipped Christian leaders in Timor-Leste, as workers are few and Christian resources almost non-existent.
Eastern half of Timor and the Ocussi-Ambenu enclave in Indonesian West Timor and Atauro Island.
Population: 1,171,163 Annual Growth: 3.38%
HDI Rank: 162 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Official language: Portuguese (13.5% understand), Tetum (and its dialects) is understood by 91%. Bahasa Indonesia is also common, understood by 43% Languages: 19 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Timor’s traumatic birth left deep scars. The vindictive destruction and forcible removal of many Timorese by the departing Indonesian military and its Timorese militia allies left a legacy of hatred and trauma that will take decades to heal. Internal tensions – between Eastern and Western, disaffected armed gangs and rival political factions – cause violence and unrest to persist, despite the presence of international (mostly Australian and some Portuguese) peacekeepers. Pray for peace for Timor, that grievances might be laid to rest and that reconciliation might begin to take root.
Timor appears caught in a descending spiral of poverty, poor health, and illiteracy. It is the poor who suffer most from the violence and destruction wrought by various factions. With a shattered infrastructure and ill-equipped public servants, the nation needs transformation in all spheres of life. Major investments are needed in education, job creation, health care, and training of leadership. The oil and gas fields of the Timor Sea will hopefully bring the finances required. ; pray that Australia will be fair and generous in sharing the revenues and that the income will be justly and wisely invested into projects that benefit the whole population and not just enrich a few.
Protestant churches emerged only recently, and their growth is modest. There is a great need for biblically trained and spiritually active pastors. Pray that evangelical churches may be planted among every people and in every area of Timor. Pray for true unity among national church leaders.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, You have made Yourself known to us through Your Son, the Living Word. He speaks to us of Your great mercy. He demonstrates Your great love by coming to our rescue. As You have spelled out Your terms of redemption in the Law and the Tabernacle, we can appreciate how the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us. He Who was born under the Law, fulfilled the Law on our behalf. By His perfect atoning sacrifice, He redeemed us from the curse of the Law in order that we might be forgiven and adopted into Your forever family. Help us to walk worthy of this great calling today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.