TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- EZEKIEL 47:1-48:35

In Chapter 47, Ezekiel once again is guided by ‘the man’, the angel who has been serving as his tour guide in the temple and providing specific measurements. We met him in Chapter 40:3

Ezekiel 40:3 3 So He brought me there; and behold, there was a man whose appearance was like the appearance of bronze, with a line of flax and a measuring rod in his hand; and he was standing in the gateway.

Ezekiel 47:1 1 Then he brought me back to the door of the house; and behold, water was flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east, for the house faced east. And the water was flowing down from under, from the right side of the house, from south of the altar.

There are many profound parallels between Ezekiel’s vision of the river of life in Ezekiel 47 and the river of the water of life that the Apostle John describes in Revelation 22.

Ezekiel 47:7 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

Revelation 22:1-21 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 

The river brings life wherever it flows.

Ezekiel 47:9 9 “It will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there and the others become fresh; so, everything will live where the river goes.

Trees flourish and produce leaves that have healing value. 

Ezekiel 47:12 12  “By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

The water that comes from the temple flows by way of the altar (the cross) over the thresholds of the south side of the house and traveling to the east, vivifying all that is in its path.

Some commentators see the river following the natural contours of the Kidron Valley, and then through the Wadi En-nar, which finally turns eastward on the Jericho road to the Dead Sea.  However, we learn from the prophets, Joel and Zechariah, that there will be a drastic change in the topography when the Messiah returns and splits the Mount of Olives in two. This will create a valley which would give the water a more direct route to the Dead Sea.

Zechariah 14:4-8 4  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5 You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! 6 In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. 7 For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light. 8 And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter. 

Jerusalem has no flowing rivers or perennial streams, but it does have 8 to 10 springs, systems of cisterns, reservoirs, conduits, and aqueducts that give the city an ample supply of water. The idea of water literally flowing from the temple mount is certainly plausible.

Joel 3:18 18  And in that day The mountains will drip with sweet wine, And the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; And a spring will go out from the house of the LORD to water the valley of Shittim.

Zechariah 13:1 1 “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.

These waters are meant to impact us. The angel guide leads Ezekiel through the water. He is to experience the water of life coming from the throne. He starts wading in the waters, first ankle-deep, then knee-deep, then to the waist, and finally, he is meant to be swimming in it! And so are we. And we are never the same!

Living water is a major theme in the New Testament. Drink it, and you never thirst again. Such is the life of Christ mediated to us by the person of the Holy Spirit. When we put our faith in Christ, we become alive to God by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, and we are all made to drink of one Spirit.  There is only one source of water supply in God’s kingdom. It is Christ. We must turn away from our idols and heed the words of Jesus:

John 7:37-38 37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

This He spoke of the Holy Spirit.  He ministers the life of Christ TO us and IN us so His ministry can flow THROUGH us!

Jerusalem is located 34 miles east of the Mediterranean and 24 miles west of the Dead Sea. The Ophel-Moriah ridge, which includes the Temple mount in Jerusalem and Mt. Calvary/Golgotha, is at 2,500 feet above sea level. The Dead Sea is the lowest depression on the earth at 1,292 feet below sea level.

Currently, the Dead Sea is 26% mineral content compared to normal sea water, which averages 4% to 6%. Because of this extremely high mineral content, the water is toxic to aquatic life.  But when this new source of water flows into it, all that will change. The toxic water will become fresh (v.8). The desert of En-gedi on the western shore will become a fishing area! Water from the sanctuary will cause the fruit-bearing trees on both sides of the river to flourish.

In Chapter 48, the Lord gives instructions for the apportioning of land to the tribes of Israel. Unlike the earlier division of lands in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 14:1-5), this will not be determined by the casting of lots but by the Word of God. The land will be assigned to the tribes with their original tribal names. Each tribe will receive the same size allotment.

Allotments are given to the priests, the sons of Zadok, and the Levites in the sacred district (45:1-8; 48:8-20). Land will be allotted to the prince on both sides of the sacred district (48:21-22).

Provision is also made for foreigners who are adopted into the family community.

Ezekiel 47:22 22 You will allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners living among you, who have fathered children among you. You will treat them like native-born Israelites; along with you, they will be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.

The book closes with a description of the eternal city (48:30-35). The city is not named, but it is clearly the New Jerusalem and will be named: “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35). 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT -1 PETER 2:11-3:7

You are “aliens and strangers”. Because we are citizens of heaven and have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Colossians 1:13), we are no longer ‘at home’ in this world. We are ambassadors for Christ, and we represent the values of the kingdom that will come to fulfillment in the future.

We see what the kingdom rule of God is like in Jesus. God’s glorious presence tabernacled in His human body. The apostle John could say, “We beheld His glory.” Because we belong to heaven, we are called to be proactive in purging ourselves from the fleshly lusts that war against our souls and represent the ‘kingdom life to come’ now.

Peter, who gave us an example of sanctified civil disobedience in Acts 4:19-20, reminds believers that they are to respect those in authority, even if they don’t agree with them (1 Peter 2:18-20). He gives the example of Jesus Christ, who lived moment by moment in a world in which governments were hostile to Him, “entrusting Himself to Him (God the Father) who judges righteously.”

Peter also interprets Isaiah 53 as a prophecy about Jesus Christ reconciling guilty sinners, who like sheep have gone astray. The healing here refers primarily to having the breach between man and God healed. Elsewhere in the New Testament, it also includes the full aspect of redemption that includes the redemption of the physical body, in both temporal healing and eternal glorification.

1 Peter 2:24-25 24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

In Chapter 3, Peter continues the theme of submission, now addressing wives in relationship to their husbands. He gives the example of Sarah being submissive to Abraham and cooperating with his walk of faith.  Women are encouraged to win their unbelieving husbands to Christ by living an exemplary life of kind deeds reflecting the love of Christ.

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 119:49-64

The Word gives us hope (v.49), comfort, and revival in affliction (v.50). The Word gives us songs in the house of our pilgrimage (v.54). The Psalmist takes God’s Word to heart and makes it his own (v.56).

Can you say this?

Psalm 119:57 57 The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words.

It is only because He is our portion that we can say that.

Verse 63 beautifully reflects New Testament Church life:

Psalm 119:63 63 I am a friend to all who fear You, to those who keep Your precepts. 

 TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 28:12-13

Proverbs 28:12-13 12 When the righteous triumph, there is great rejoicing, but when the wicked come to power, people hide themselves. 13 The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.

Pray for good government (1 Timothy 2:1-4). When those who pursue righteousness have to hide, it is a time of trouble. We all need to walk in the light. Those who confess their sins will find mercy (1 John 1:9). 

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – TURKEY

(from “Operation World Prayer Guide” and Prayercast.com)

Turkey

Republic of Turkey

Asia

Geography

Area: 779,452 sq. km

Straddles two continents; 3% in Europe (Thrace), 97% in Asia (Anatolia). Also controls the Bosphorus Strait and the Dardanelles, vital sea links between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Its strategic position has made the area of prime importance throughout history.

Population: 75,705,147    Annual Growth: 1.24%

Capital: Ankara

Urbanites: 69.6%

HDI Rank: 79 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)

Peoples

Peoples: 60 (63% unreached) All peoples
Unreached Peoples Prayer Card

Official language: Turkish    Languages: 45 All languages

Religion

Largest Religion: Muslim

Religion

               

Pop %

Ann Gr

Christians

163,140

0.21

-1.4

Evangelicals

7,267

0.0

1.2

Muslim

73,159,940

96.64

 

Challenges for Prayer

Turkey’s transformation from guardian of Christendom to unevangelized nation has been almost comprehensive. For over 1,000 years, the region was a bastion of Christendom, but it later became a strong propagator of Islam. The Christian population has declined from 22% to 0.21% since 1900. Only 0.008% of people in Turkey are evangelical; many are ethnic Turks and Kurds, but others are expatriates or from historically Christian minorities. Few of the 73 million Muslims have ever truly heard the gospel. Turkey’s location along the ancient Silk Road routes connected it deeply to Islam for centuries; pray that it might also be used as a bridge between Europe and Asia for the transmission of a revitalized Christianity.

A Church amongst Turks has at last become a visible reality, but it still only constitutes 0.005% of the population. Pray for:

a) Renewed church growth. The increases of the 1990s and early 2000s slowed in the face of spiritual, legal, and cultural opposition. While this has caused an increase of prayer and focus on discipleship, the evangelism and church planting impetus of the past generation must be kept alive.

b) The Association of Protestant Churches of Turkey (TeK), founded in 1989. This body links most evangelical fellowships and leaders and provides them with advocacy and support, increasingly important in this time of heightened pressure.

c) Strong relationships within churches. Close family ties and the security this confers often make family rejection after conversion traumatic. Pray for fellowships that have had to become surrogate families. Backsliding is common, compromise in marrying non-Christians frequent, and relationship breakdowns between believers disheartening. Pray also for families to see and accept a new life in Christ as something good and separate from simply conversion to a foreign religion.

d) Indigenous yet biblical faith expressions. Doctrinal extremes, legalism, personality clashes, and disunity are all potential stumbling blocks. Denominationalism has not been an issue but could become so. Pray that Turkish leaders may be discerning and wise in developing sound relationships bolstered by both wholesome biblical applications and structures designed for holistic, reproducible growth.

PRAYER: Gracious God, You have provided us who were dead in our sins, a resurrection life source in Christ Jesus. We drink from the well of His salvation and are satisfied. Through His redemptive work, we have forgiveness of sins and deliverance from the kingdom of darkness. As citizens of heaven, the Holy Spirit is at work reproducing the fruit of His character in us. Thank You for the friendship we have with those who fear You. Teach us to humbly submit to Your Word and fulfill our calling. Continue to give us hope, comfort, light, and new songs as we abide in Your Word, in Jesus’s Name. Amen. 

Pastor David