The Meaning of Jezreel Reveals Jesus in Hosea

TODAY’S READING: HOSEA 1-4

“And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” – Hosea 1:11

If you are familiar with the Bible, then when you think of the book of Hosea you probably think of the man who married a prostitute, Gomer, for a wife. However, the Spirit showed me this morning that misses the heart of the story.

There are five people mentioned in the first chapter of Hosea. There’s Hosea, Gomer, Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People. Jezreel is at the center of these five people. So, in a sense, the story revolves around him. Yet, Jezreel seems to be the forgotten person of the book. He is only in the story a brief period of time. And, does anyone talk much about this Jezreel? I would say much more attention is paid to either Hosea and Gomer or No Mercy and Not My People.

The Spirit revealed Jezreel as the heart of the story to me through the meaning of the names in the first chapter of Hosea.

Hosea is the same name as Hoshea. Many probably know that the same means salvation. The name Jesus is simply the Greek transliteration of the name Hosea. Hosea was the son of Beeri. The name Beeri means well of God, well of the Lord, or my well. So, when we read Hosen, son of Beeri, we could read it as salvation of the well of the Lord.

Therefore, I first saw Hosea as a picture of Jesus. While this could be, since Jesus and God are one, as I moved through the meaning of the names I saw that here Hosea was more a picture of God the Father.

Gomer means completion or complete, perfect. This is somewhat strange because Gomer was anything but complete or perfect in the spiritual sense because she was a prostitute. Gomer was Hosea wife’s. And, Israel is portrayed as God’s wife throughout the Bible. So, Gomer is a picture of Israel. She was the daughter of Diblaim, which means twin fig cakes or two cakes of figs. I think this represents Judah and Israel.

Fig cakes are made from dried fruit. So, they are lacking water. But, Gomer completed, made perfect, or matured, which is to say no longer, when she marries Gomer who is the salvation of the well of the Lord.

Their first child, a son, is Jezreel. Jezreel means God sows or he will be sown by God. Jezreel comes from the Hebrew root word to scatter seed. Jesus was the son of God and Israel, Hosea and Gomer. And, Jesus is the seed sown by God. Speaking of his soon coming death and resurrection, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

Jezreel’s blood was shed (Hosea 1:4), which is an obvious reference to Jesus. And the shedding of his blood would bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel, which is also a reference to Jesus.

The second child of Hosea and Gomer is No Mercy. When Hosea wrote it seems to me that No Mercy represented Judah. But, with Jesus in mind, I believe No Mercy represents all the people of Israel.

Why does No Mercy symbolize Israel?

It was not because God would show no mercy to Israel. God is the father of mercies. And, we are told, “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful”(Luke 6:36).

Rather, it was because Israel showed no mercy to Jesus and crucified him. This is why Jesus had to say to the Pharisees, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'” (Matthew 9:13) It is why Jesus told the Pharisees that they had neglected the weightier matters of the law, including mercy (Matthew 23:23).

The third and final child of Hosea and Gomer was Not My People. In the context of what Hosea wrote, Not My People seems to represent the ten northern tribes of Israel that was separate from Judah. But, with Jesus in mind, I believe Not My People represents the Gentiles.

We just need to look at the context of when Jesus said he would be a grain of wheat that dies and is sown into the ground to bear much fruit. Just before Jesus said that, he said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Why did Jesus say that his hour had come to be glorified?

John 12:20-21 says, “Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.'” Just before Jesus said he was to be Jezreel, who had his blood shed and is he who will be sown by God, the Greeks, who were not Jesus’ people, came and asked to see him.

So, in No Mercy and Not My People, we have the Jews and the Gentiles, the complete spiritual Israel, God’s people. Therefore, Hosea 1:10 says, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.'”

Where is that place?

The cross.

Ephesians 2:14-17 says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two [Jew and Gentile], so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off [Gentiles] and peace to those who are near [Jews].”

This brings us back to the passage quoted at the start of this post. “And the children of Judah [Jews] and the children of Israel [Gentiles] shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”

Who would they appoint as their one head?

Jezreel, for it was his day that was great.

Who is the one head of the Jews and Gentiles?

Jesus.

Colossians 1:18-20 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.”

So, Jezreel truly is a picture of Jesus. But, Jezreel seems to be the forgotten man in the story. And, that seems to be fitting for Jesus. For while he has done everything for us through the cross, making us all one, how easily we forget Jesus.

How often do we teach and preach, do church, minister, etc. and it has little to nothing to do with Jesus?

The Time of Insight and Understanding

TODAY’S READING: DANIEL 9-12

“While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding.'” – Daniel 9:21-22

At the start of chapter nine, Daniel says that he perceived that there would be 70 years before the desolations of Jerusalem. However, while Daniel understood that there were 70 years, he did not understand the full meaning of the 70 years. So, Gabriel came to give him insight and understanding into the meaning of the seventy years.

Gabriel was the angel that came to Daniel during his vision of the 2,300 evenings and mornings that I wrote about in yesterday’s post. But, Gabriel did not give Daniel the full meaning of the vision. Rather, he told Daniel to seal it up, obstruct it, or put a veil over it. In the post, I noted that Paul tells us that it is Christ crucified that removes the veil because seeing Jesus crucified causes us to repent or change our minds so that we can see things in a new way.

Why was Gabriel unable to give Daniel full insight and understanding in this second encounter and not the first encounter?

The answer is in Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4-19. In this prayer, Daniel repents.

Daniel starts his prayer with confession. He states that God keeps covenant and steadfast love. Daniel says that everyone in Israel has sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned aside from God’s commandments and rules.

They haven’t listened to the prophets. Jesus speaks to the failure of Israel to listen to the prophets several times. He alludes to it in the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21:33-40. The owner of the vineyard, God, sent servants, the prophets, to speak to the tenants, Israel, but the tenants beat, stoned, and killed the prophets that God sent instead of listening to them.

Jesus spoke to the failure to listen to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus said, “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to tem from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

And, Jesus directly said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

But, in his prayer, Daniel is acknowledging the need to truly listen to what the prophets are actually saying for the prophets spoke in the name of God. When we understand what the prophets were saying, we have come to an understanding that Jesus Christ had to suffer to restore us and redeem us.

Daniel declares that mercy and forgiveness belong to God and asks the Lord to forgive.

I believe that God’s forgiveness is the greatest revelation of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus was perfectly innocent. Yet, all of mankind judged him guilty and executed in the most shameful, violent way anyone could be killed. Yet, during the midst of the crucifixion, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

And, three times Daniel acknowledges that Israel had not listened to and obeyed God’s voice.

God had always wanted a people that would listen to his voice. The law written on tablets of stone was given because Israel refused to listen to God’s voice. In John 5:37, Jesus said the Jews had never heard God’s voice because his word was not in them and they did not believe the one he sent. But, in John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

In John 15, the night before he was crucified, Jesus told the disciples to abide in his words. He was saying to listen to his voice and obey it. They were not to listen to the voice or writing of anyone else, including Moses.

So, we see that much of Daniel’s prayer centered around the a heart change that was related to the crucifixion of Jesus.

And, note the time that Gabriel came to Daniel to give him insight and understanding. Gabriel “came to me swiftly at the time of the evening sacrifice.” The time of the evening sacrifice was the time that Jesus dies on the cross.

It is Jesus Christ crucified that opens our eyes and ears, our minds and hearts, to what God is truly wanting to reveal to us about himself. It’s only when we come to the cross and allow its full impact upon us that we are ready for true insight and understanding.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says that Jesus Christ crucified removes the veil so that we can see God clearly. But, Paul says the same thing about our time of insight and understanding in a different way in Ephesians.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” – Ephesians 1:7-10

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in heavenly places.” – Ephesians 1:17-20

What Is the Meaning of Daniel’s 2,300 Days?

TODAY’S READING: DANIEL 6-8

“Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, ‘For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled?’ And he said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.'” – Daniel 8:13-14

If you google this passage of scripture, then you are going to find all kinds of interpretations for the meaning of the 2,300 days in this prophecy. Even all of the commentaries take different approaches, although there are two main interpretations. One is to take the 2,300 evenings and morning as literal days. These interpretations then try to tie this prophecy into Antiochus and his desolation of the temple. The other is to take the 2,300 evenings and mornings as years (the whole one day is a 1,000 years with the Lord thing). Most of these interpretations tie this prophecy into the Catholic church and say something was to supposed to happen in 1800 something.

I have no idea whether either of these interpretations are right or wrong. But, I do know that very few, if any, of the interpretations I looked at make Jesus the center of the interpretation. And, in truth, Jesus as the key to the interpretation is the only interpretation that truly matters.

How do we know this prophecy is about Jesus?

Revelation 19:10 says, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” In other words, all prophecy is about Jesus. Not coincidentally, John wrote this statement after an angel told him to write something and he fell down at the angel’s feet to worship him. John’s situation was pretty similar that of Daniel in his prophecy.

Even more, we know that Daniel’s prophecy is about Christ crucified.

How so?

Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Jesus said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus that he had to suffer the crucifixion to enter his glory. And, this is what Jesus showed them that Moses and all the Prophets spoke about.

Daniel was a prophet. So, his prophecy was about Jesus and about Jesus crucified.

Further, Daniel 8:26-27 says, “‘The vision of the evenings and the mornings that has been told is true, but seal up the vision, for it refers to many days from now.’ And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days. Then I rose and went about the king’s business, but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.”

Daniel was given a partial interpretation of the prophecy by the angel Gabriel. But, when it came to the 2,300 evenings and mornings, the angel only told Daniel that the vision was true but that he should seal up the vision. In other words, the angel wasn’t going to tell Daniel what it meant. In addition to meaning “seal up,” the Hebrew word here can mean to block or obstruct.

What blocks or obstructs are understanding of Old Testament prophecies?

A veil.

Who removes the veil that blinds our understanding of Old Testament prophecies?

1 Corinthians 3:12-16 says, “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”

Daniel could not yet turn to the Lord. So, he could not have the veil removed. Therefore, the vision was sealed, obstructed, and Daniel could not understand the interpretation.

In Revelation 5, an angel asks, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break it seals?” John tells us that it was a slain lamb, Christ crucified, that was able to open the seals of the scroll and reveal what it says. Again, we see that it is Jesus Christ crucified that provides us the understanding we need to interpret prophecy.

Within Daniel’s prophecy, the key to understanding it is the statement “Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”

The Hebrew word sanctuary might be more literally translated “holy thing.” The King James version of Luke 1:35 says, “And the angel answered and said unto her, ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore all that holy thing  which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.'” Jesus is “that holy thing” spoke of in Daniel 8:14.

At the end of the 2,300 days, Jesus, “that holy thing,” would be restored to his rightful state. Philippians 2:6 tells us that Jesus had the form of God. In other words, he had God’s glory. But, he gave up that glory to take on flesh and blood and bear our sin on the cross. So, the night before Jesus was crucified, he prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” After his crucifixion, Jesus would be resurrected and restored to his rightful state, to the glory he had with the Father in eternity.

However, even if we go with the common translation of sanctuary or temple, then we still see this as referring to Jesus. We should also keep in mind that the phrase “shall be restored to its rightful state” can also be translated properly restored, vindicated, made right again, or cleansed.

The last possible translation mentioned, “cleansed,” is an interesting one. For, when do we see Jesus cleansing the temple?

John 2:14-15 says, “In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.” Here is Jesus cleansing the temple.

The Jews were angered by this and asked Jesus, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”

Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John tells us that Jesus was speaking not about the physical temple but the temple of his body, which fits perfectly with what we have already seen in the prophecy by Daniel.

But, the Jews responded to Jesus, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?”

Now, this is an interesting response.

Why was it significant to include that the temple had taken 46 years to build?

Because the number 2,300 is 46 x 50.

The number 50 immediately calls to mind the jubilee. And, it was Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection that would usher in the greatest of all jubilees were everyone and everything that believed in him would be set free.

John 8:31, 36 says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'”

Surely these numbers are not coincidences, right?

Notice that Jesus says that abiding in his word makes us disciples and causes us to know the truth so that we can be free. And, even this ties into the number 2,300.

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the physical manifestation of the Word of God, the logos. And, he dwelt among. But, the Greek word for dwelt is literally tabernacled. Jesus was literally God’s sanctuary, God’s dwelling place, among us.

It is the Word made flesh, God’s living tabernacle, that ties into the number 2,300.

2,300 is 4 x 575.

The number 4 symbolizes the physical creation. So, here we have the physical manifestation part of Jesus as the Word.

What about the number 575?

Throughout the prophets we read a phrase that typically says “and the word of the Lord came to me.” This phrase and its slight variations occur 45 times in Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah.

Care to guess what the numerical value of that phrase is?

Try 575.

So, we have 4 x 575 = 2,300, or the physical manifestation of the word of the Lord coming to us as a sanctuary.

The number 2,300 is also 23 x 100. The number 23 symbolizes death and resurrection life throughout the Bible. And, the number 100 symbolizes the child of promise, which of course is Jesus. So, we see the number 2,300 as the death and resurrection of the child of promise, Jesus.

And, all of this fits beautifully with what we read in Daniel 8:13.

“For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering.” The burnt offering was to be offered every evening and morning. But, we know based on this prophecy that at the end of “2,300 evenings and mornings” the burnt offering would come to an end. It was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that brought it to an end. Hebrews 10:11-12 says, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”

This is followed by “the transgression that makes desolate.” The transgression of all transgressions in history was the crucifixion of the most innocent person to who have ever lived, Jesus. And, it was the crucifixion of Jesus that made the temple desolate, empty, and ultimately brought about the destruction of Jerusalem as the Jews turned away from the way of peace that Jesus was showing them.

This is followed by “and the giving over of the sanctuary.” Jesus, the sanctuary, the tabernacle, the temple, was given over to the Romans by the Jews to be crucified. They delivered him up to Pilate.

This is followed by “and the host to be trampled underfoot.” Who is the host of the sanctuary, the tabernacle, the temple? The one who lives there. Jesus it the host of the tabernacle. And, he was trampled under the feet of the Gentiles at his crucifixion.

So, whenever we read prophecies, particularly those that seem difficult to understand and interpreted by many in all kinds of ways, we need to always look to Jesus for the true meaning. For, it is the testimony of Jesus that is the spirit of prophecy. All scripture truly speaks of Jesus and what he needed to suffer to enter his glory and deliver us from sin and death.

Who Is the King that God Sets Up?

TODAY’S READING: DANIEL 4-5

“Till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” – Daniel 4:25

“Until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of mean and gives it to whom he will.” – Daniel 4:32

“Until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.” – Daniel 5:21

The first two verses above were spoken by Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar in interpretation of a dream about his kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar thought it was himself and his greatness and glory that made him and his kingdom great. The last verse was spoken to Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, as a reminder of what happened to his father as Daniel was interpreting the handwriting on the wall for Belshazzar. The next day Belshazzar lost his kingdom.

We tend to read statements about God choosing a king whom he wills over the kingdom of men as a statement of fact that God has hand selected every king that has ever ruled over any kingdom, government, or nation on the earth.

But, in order to believe this, one would have to believe that God hand selected Genghis Khan, Hitler, Pol Pot, and every other evil leader to rule these nations. If this is true, then there is a lot of innocent blood on God’s hands.

Not only that, but if we believe that God has appointed every ruler over the kingdom of mankind, then we must believe that he appointed Satan to rule over us. For Satan had the rule over every kingdom of this world.

Matthew 4:8-9 says, “again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'” Satan could not have made this offer to Jesus if he was not truly ruling all the kingdoms of this world.”

In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Paul indicated that Satan was the ruler of the kingdom of mankind when he said, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

1 John 5:19 says “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

In John 12:31, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.”

Surely, God would not have made Satan the ruler of the world only for Satan to blind us to the truth of God so that God could send his son to cast Satan out of this world so that we could know the truth about God. This could kind of view makes God a jumbled mess working against his own purposes.

So, instead of reading “the Most High God rules the kingdom of men of mankind and sets over it whom he will” as a statement that God has handpicked every king, we need to read this as a statement that God has always had in mind a king that would ruled mankind according to his own will.

And, that king is Jesus.

Go back to Genesis 1:26, which says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion.” Genesis 1 is a take on all the creation myths of the ancient near-eastern cultures. These myths were used by the kings in these lands to show that they had descended directly from the gods to rule over all the people. But, in Genesis 1, God is overturning that way of thinking, saying that he had appointed all mankind to have dominion according to his own image.

Further, Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” But, it is not just men that were created in God’s image to rule, women were created in God’s image as well. And, as we read on into Genesis 2, we find the man and the woman, Adam and Eve, are actually a picture of Jesus and the church, the man and the the woman, that are to have dominion over the earth according to God’s own image.

Therefore, in Genesis 1 and 2 we see God desires a ruler over mankind as he wills. And, the ruler God wills has to rule according to God’s image.

Genesis 5:1 says that “when God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.” But, Adam chose not to remain in that likeness. Adam chose to rule according to his knowledge of good and evil. So, when Adam, indeed all mankind, produced offspring, he did so according to “his own likeness, after his image,” according to Genesis 5:3.

So, all men and women are the image of Adam, not God. Therefore, no man or woman ruled as God wills. No earthly king, and certainly not Satan, ruled in the image of God. Therefore, none of these kings were hand selected by God to rule the kingdom of mankind.

But, Colossians 1:15 says, “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Jesus is the one that the Most High God wills to rule over the kingdom of mankind.

This is just what Paul goes on to say in Colossians 1:16-20. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

God even directly proclaimed that Jesus was the one he had chosen to rule over the kingdom of mankind. When Jesus was baptized, Mark 1:11 says, “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Then, on the mount of transfiguration, a picture of Jesus in his ascended glory on the throne of God, Mark 9:7 says, “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”

Why are we to listen to Jesus?

Because he is the true king, the one whom the Most High God has willed to rule over mankind from the foundation of the world.

Notice that Paul said in Colossians 1:20 that all of this was “by the blood of his cross.” And, in John 12:32, just after he said the ruler of this world would be cast out, Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

So, we see that Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary to reveal the true king of mankind. For, it is the cross, God’s giving of his own life for us, that revealed the greatness of God’s love. Not only did the cross reveal the greatness of God’s love, but it revealed that God is love. God is the self-sacrificial giving of self for the benefit of others. This is only possible because God is three in one. For, if God were singular, the God could not be love in his eternal nature. There would have been nobody, no other, to love.

God’s three-in-one nature brings an interesting element to the handwriting on the wall that judged Belshazzar, who is a picture of the ruler of this world and all men who have sat as a king over men.

The handwriting on the wall was “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin.” Daniel interpreted this as Belshazzar had been numbered and weighed and found wanting, meaning that he did not have what it takes to rule. He was not in God’s image of love and therefore not qualified to rule. Therefore, the kingdom was divided and taken from him.

What I find fascinating is that the handwriting on the wall – mene, mene, tekel, parsin – that revealed Belshazzar unfit for the throne over mankind has a numerical value of 1,118. This is the exact same numerical value of what the Jews call the Shema.

What is the Shema?

It is Deuteronomy 6:4, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, the Lord is one.”

Do you know what the next verse says?

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” According to Jesus, the greatest commandment, which stems from knowing that the Lord our God is one. Three in one. God is love.

Surely it is not a coincidence that the judgment of Belshazzar has the same numerical value as one of the most important revelatory statements in all of scripture. And, it is this judgment, this statement of who God is, three in one, love, that reveals who is the one, Jesus, that is in God’s image whom God wills to be on the throne ruling over the kingdom of mankind.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah Picture Jesus

TODAY’S READING: DANIEL 1-3

“Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah  of the tribe of Judah.” – Daniel 1:6

The book of Ezekiel starts with a vision of four living creatures that represent the four aspects of Jesus through the four gospels. Each of the four faces of the four living creatures displayed Jesus seen from a certain angle. I wrote about this in Four Creature, Four Faces, Four Gospels, All Jesus.

I believe we something similar in Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

First, let’s look at the meaning of their names.

Daniel means God is my judge, God rules me, or judge of God.

Interestingly, in Matthew, the gospel of Jesus as king, Jesus never spoke of himself as a judge or judging, even though a king has the right to judge. Although, Jesus himself is judged by men and men deemed him worthy of death. In Mark, the gospel of Jesus as servant, the word judge does not appear for a servant has no authority to judge. In Luke, the gospel of Jesus as “the” man, the only time Jesus referred to himself in the context of judging he said, “Man, who made a judge or arbitrator over you?”

It’s really only in the gospel of John, which presents Jesus as God, as the son of God, that Jesus refers to himself as one who judges.

Jesus said in John 5:22, 26-27, “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son…For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”

Jesus said the Father gave him the judgment. But, he qualified this by saying that has life in himself and has given the son this life also. And, it is this life, this giving of life, that is the authority by which Jesus judges. Jesus’ judgment gives life.

Jesus goes on to say in John 5:30, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Jesus’ judgment is just because he judges only as the Father tells him to judge. Because God is life, the judgment is life.

Jesus said in John 8:15-16, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. Yet even If I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.” We judge according to the flesh and for retribution. But, Jesus does not judge according to the flesh, which means he judges according to the Spirit. Therefore, he judges by the Father who is spirit and who is life. Jesus judges life and this is why his judgment is true.

Hananiah means Yahweh has been gracious or graciously given of the Lord.

I believe this corresponds to Jesus as seen in the gospel of Matthew. As I have said, Matthew presents Jesus as king. We expect a king to judge according to the law, to enforce the law, to rule according to the law. According to man’s ideas, a should be about justice in the sense that even should get what they deserve and pay someone back in kind for the wrong that they have done. This, retribution, was the basis of the Hebrew law.

But, Matthew presents Jesus as a different kind of king. Matthew presents Jesus as a king who deals graciously with people. Jesus as a king sets things right instead of merely doling out justice through punishment and retribution.

This is the entirety of the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. This is the declaration, the promulgation, that initiates the kingdom of God and the law of King Jesus. And, throughout most of his declaration, Jesus overturns or flips on its head the law that Jews heard through Moses. Instead of retribution – an eye for eye – Jesus says his law is about grace and restoration. Jesus says his law is epitomized by loving your enemies, doing good to your enemies and not evil, for God pours out his rain, his favor, his grace, on the good and the evil, the just and the unjust.

The name Mishael (also Michael) means who is like God or, perhaps more literally, what is God like?

I believe this corresponds to the picture of Jesus as seen in the gospel of Luke. Here, Jesus is presented as “the” man. In Luke, Jesus shows us that God identifies with man.

Hebrews 2:14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.”

Therefore, Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Not only does God identify with man, but God became man.

Jesus, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus as “the” man shows us just what God is like.

Azariah means helped of God, Yahweh has helped, the Lord has helped.

I believe this corresponds to the gospel of Mark where Jesus is presented as servant. A servant is one who helps. This is just what Jesus does at all times.

So, we have four separate men, but when taken together they give us the complete picture of Jesus as seen in the gospels.

But, three of these gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – are similar in nature while one – John – stands out as distinct. Matthew, Mark, and Luke present Jesus more as a man who is a king, a servant, and “the” man or priest that mediates God’s presence. However, John presents Jesus as God, the son of God.

So, we see a similar distinction in the book of Daniel. Daniel is often presented by himself in a given story while we see Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as we may more commonly know them) acting together in a given story.

It’s actually a quite common feature in scripture that when we see a list of four things that three of them of them are similar and one is unique. This is meant to remind us of the nature of Jesus as seen in the gospels.

So, notice in Daniel 2 in the story of Nebuchadnezzar dreams about the image we see Daniel basically acting alone.

Nebuchadnezzar’s image, a statue made of different metals and some clay, is a picture of man’s kingdoms that attempt to rule the world. But, Daniel reveals that Nebuchadnezzar’s image will be destroyed by a rock not cut by human hands. Of course, this rock is Jesus. And, Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

So, it’s fitting in this story that we see Daniel acting alone as this story is about which image will rule the world. Will it be the image and kingdom that man has constructed or the image of God, Jesus, the son of God, the kingdom that has not been made by human hands?

But, in Daniel 3 we have a story about an image that Nebuchadnezzar had made. Again, this image about the rule of man as the dimensions of the statue feature the number 6, which often symbolizes man.

However, the story is not about who is the image but will you worship the image. So, in this story we see Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – the three pictures of Jesus as man – refusing to bow down and the worship the kingdom that man has created.

So, the four men – Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah – are needed to give us the complete picture of Jesus.

What Is Ezekiel Pointing Towards?

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 47-48

“The circumference of the city shall be 18,000 cubits. And the name of the city from that time shall, The Lord Is There.” – Ezekiel 48:35

This is closing verse of Ezekiel. In a sense, we could say this closing sentence is everything that Ezekiel is pointing towards.

So, how do we Jesus in what Ezekiel is pointing towards? And, what do the names of the tribes, the allotment of the land, and the gates of the city have to do with seeing Jesus in Ezekiel’s closing statement?

We know that in the last verse of Ezekiel that the city being referred to is Jerusalem. More properly, given everything the vision Ezekiel had, we should think of this city as the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2-3 says, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

So, the new Jerusalem, the holy city, is likened to a bride. This city is the dwelling place of God with man. God himself will be with his people there. Indeed, the Lord is there.

We are even told about the gates of the new Jerusalem. Revelation 22:12-13 says, “It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed – on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.” This connects back to Ezekiel because this is exactly what Ezekiel said about the city he saw in his vision.

This it the city that Abraham was looking for when obeyed God and left the land and household of his father.  Hebrews 11:10 says, “For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”

All of this points to the city in Ezekiel’s closing sentence as not a physical city but to Jesus. Specifically, Jesus dwelling with his bride.

We read in Revelation that the city had 12 gates with the names of the tribes of Israel on them. And, this is the case in Ezekiel. But, to get the full meaning of Ezekiel, we need to take a step back. For this city was in the land of Israel that was allotted to the 12 tribes.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the meaning of the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and the names of Manasseh and Ephraim in The Story of Jesus and Israel through the 12 Tribes and  The Story of Jesus and Israel Is Incomplete without Manasseh and Ephraim. Throughout the Bible, the 12 tribes, which are actually 13 tribes, are listed in different orders. When we consider the order of the tribes and the meanings of their names, we can discern something about what God is trying to say in that particular passage of scripture.

In Ezekiel 48:1-29, when we read of how the land was allotted, the order of the tribes are:

  1. Dan
  2. Asher
  3. Naphtali
  4. Manasseh
  5. Ephraim
  6. Reuben
  7. Judah
  8. Benjamin
  9. Simeon
  10. Issachar
  11. Zebulun
  12. Gad

So, if we took the sentences spoken at each of the births of the son that fathered these tribes, then we would have a paragraph like the following:

God has judged me and heard my voice. Happy I am for women have called me happy. With many wrestlings I have wrestled and prevailed. For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house. For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, my husband will love me. I will praise the Lord. The son of my right hand, the highly regarded son. Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband. God has endowed me with a good endowment and now my husband will honor me. Good fortune has come.

Now, remember that this was how the land was allotted. So, we are not in the city, the dwelling place of the Lord, at this point.

So, notice how the paragraph seems to start with us. We were judged. We wrestled. We forget our hardship. We became fruitful in the land of our affliction.

But, it is not until the middle of this paragraph that we begin to see Jesus. My husband will love me. I will praise the Lord, the son of his right hand, the highly regarded son.

And, by the end we know the good that God has endowed us with. Good has come to us.

While Levi did not receive an inheritance, an allotment, in the land, he is inserted into the middle of the tribes and the description of their allotment. This is interesting because the Levites were the priests. The function of the priests is to mediate the presence of God to the people. That is, they are to join God and the people.

This is exactly the sentence spoken over Levi at his birth. “This time my husband will be attached to me.” In the paragraph above, Levi is their to join the people to God.

Notice where Levi falls in the description of the allotment of the land – between Judah and Benjamin. Judah means “I will praise the Lord.” Benjamin means “the son of my right hand, the highly regarded son.” So, it is in the midst of praising the Lord, Jesus Christ, the son of God’s right hand, that we are joined to God.

It’s also interesting that Levi does not fall exactly in the middle of the allotment of the tribes. In other words, there are not six tribes on one side Levi and six tribes on the other. Since Levi falls between Judah and Benjamin, there are seven tribes before Levi and five tribes after.

Seven is the number of spiritual perfection. As we progress to being joined with the Lord we are spiritually perfected or matured.

Five is the number of grace. Having been joined to the Lord through spiritual perfection or maturity, we truly experience God’s grace.

Ezekiel 48:30-35 tells us about the gates of the city. When we come to the 12 gates of the city, the order of the tribes is different. Not only is the order of the tribes different, but the tribes themselves are different. Here is their order:

  1. Reuben
  2. Judah
  3. Levi
  4. Joseph
  5. Benjamin
  6. Dan
  7. Simeon
  8. Issachar
  9. Zebulun
  10. Gad
  11. Asher
  12. Naphtali

And, here is the paragraph we get from the meanings of these names.

Because the Lord has looked upon my affliction, my husband will love me. I will praise the Lord. This time my husband will be attached to me. God has taken away my reproach. May the Lord add to me another son. The son of my right hand. The highly regard son. God has judged me and heard my voice. Because the Lord has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also. God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband. God has endowed me with a good endowment and now my husband will honor me. Good fortune has come. Happy am I for women have called me happy. With many wrestlings I have wrestled and prevailed.

When I read this paragraph, I see it starting with Jesus and the cross instead of me. My husband will love me, which we only know because of the cross. My husband will be attached to me, which we only know because asked the Father to forgive us from the cross. God has taken away my reproach through Jesus’ death on the cross.

In the middle of this paragraph, we focus on the son. The Lord adds a son. The son of his right hand, the highly regarded son. I have been judged by this son. But, the judgment of the son from the cross is forgiveness.

By the end of the paragraph, we are extolling what God has done. A good endowment. Good fortune, Happiness or joy.

But, notice that when we get to the city, when we want to enter the city, that Manasseh and Ephraim have been dropped from the list.

Manasseh means “God has made me forget all my hardship all my father’s house.” Truly, when we enter the city where the Lord is, we forget all of our hardships, all of our struggles, and our father’s house that we had to leave, like Abraham, to reach the city whose builder and maker is God.

Ephraim means “For God has made me fruitful in the land of affliction.” When we enter the city, no longer are fruitful in the land of our affliction, a strange land. Now we are fruitful in the city where the Lord is.

Instead of Manasseh and Ephraim we have Levi and Joseph. We are joined or attached to the Lord because of another son, Jesus. We are the bride of Jesus. Therefore, in Revelation, John describes the new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down from God in heaven, as a bride, the bride of Jesus.

And, this brings to Ezekiel’s closing sentence.

The only way to enter the city was through the gates of 12 tribes. In other words, as the paragraph above shows, the only way to enter the city was through the work, the cross, of Christ.

The circumference of the city that contained these gates was 18,000 cubits.

Why is this significant?

The Hebrew word life has a numerical value of 18.

And, 1,000 is 10 cubed. The number 10 symbolizes orderly perfection. But, when a number is cubed it magnifies and intensifies the meaning of the number.

So, in the number 18,000 we have the magnification or intensification of the orderly perfection of life. Since this is the circumference of the city, when we enter the city we are surrounded by the intensity of life.

Also, it is interesting that the numerical value of the Hebrews words for 18,000 is 1,071.

What else has the value of 1,071?

In the Hebrew, the phrase “the righteous shall inherit the land” has a value of 1,071.

In the Greek, the phrase “white robes” and the words “joint-heirs” and “sinless” all have the numerical value of 1,071. Those in the city have put on the white robes of righteousness. They are sinless. They are joint-heirs with Christ.

The number 1,071 is interesting because it is 7 x 153. Seven, as I have said, is the number of spiritual perfection. And, 153 is that seemingly oh so strange number of fish that John records the disciples catching out of the sea after Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus told them to drop the net. So, the city is filled with the spiritual perfection of the lives saved by the gospel.

And, this city is name The Lord is There. In the Hebrew, this name has a numerical value of 371. The number 371 is 7 x 53. As, I just said, seven is the number of spiritual perfection.

But, what about the number 53?

Here are some of the words in Hebrew and Greek that have a numerical value of 53: stone, prophecy, message, the jubilee.

These aren’t just random words. These are all words that related to Jesus. Jesus is the stone that builders rejected. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. Jesus gave us the message that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.

As the cornerstone, Jesus is the foundation of the city that Abraham was looking for. Paul says that the foundation that has been laid is Christ and that no other foundation can be laid. So, when we enter into the city whose name is The Lord Is There, we have come to the true spiritual understanding of who Jesus is and the message who came to give us.

I Am Their Inheritance

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 44-46

“This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession.” – Ezekiel 44:28

The their in this sentence is the Levites, or the priests. More specifically, it is the Levites that are the sons of Zadok. The name Zadok means just or righteous. The priests that are sons of the just or righteous receive no possession in the land of Israel. However, God is their inheritance.

But, who are the priests, the sons of Zadok?

In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.”

Revelation 1:5-6 says, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.”

All those that are loved by Jesus and have been freed from their sins by the power of the cross are priests. And, as priests we do not receive an inheritance in the land of Israel, a physical inheritance, but we receive God himself as our inheritance.

In the gospels, Jesus speaks of inheriting the kingdom that was prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Also, Jesus is asked several times what must be done to inherit eternal life.

In the rest of the New Testament, we read of inheriting the kingdom of God.

Luke 17:20-21 says, “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered the, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.'” So, the kingdom of God is not a physical thing to be seen, but it is something in the midst of us, in our hearts.

Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Remember in Matthew 6 Jesus told us not to go seeking after what we need to eat and drink and wear but to seek first the kingdom of God.

In Galatians 5, Paul says that those who do the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom. The very next sentence is “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Paul is saying that when you have the kingdom in your heart, then you will display the fruit of the Spirit. So, the kingdom that we inherit is the fruit of the Spirit. Notice how Paul’s statement about the fruit of the Spirit is expanded version of what he says about the kingdom of God.

So, we do not inherit a physical kingdom, but the kingdom of God. Indeed, we inherit God himself. And, this means that we inherit wisdom and life.

This is what Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:17-18, which says, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”

 

Our inheritance is Jesus, wisdom, eternal life, God in our hearts.

Filling Ezekiel’s Temple

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 41-43

“Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was…just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” – Ezekiel 43:1-5

In yesterday’s post, I wrote that the vision of Ezekiel’s temple was fulfilled by Jesus Christ when he died and raised the temple, his body, three day later. And, ultimately, since we are the body of Christ, we are the third temple in Ezekiel.

In today’s reading, we see more evidence that links Ezekiel’s temple with Jesus and us. Ezekiel says that the vision of his temple is like the vision he had by the Chebar canal. I wrote in my first post on Ezekiel that the vision by the Chebar canal was a vision of Jesus’ baptism. In Jesus’ baptism, Jesus, the tabernacle of God in our midst, was the filled with the Holy Spirit, the glory of the Lord. This is why the vision by the Chebar canal is like the vision of Ezekiel’s temple. They are both about the Spirit filling with the glory of the Lord.

The language of the the glory coming and the earth shining with God’s glory reminds me of John 1.

John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Matthew 3:16 says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming to rest on him.”

After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, he began building his temple that was destroyed. It started with his own resurrection body that was filled with the Holy Spirit. But, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit in his disciples too. John 20:22 says, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'”

Then, the Holy Spirit fell on the 120 disciples in the upper room. Acts 2:3-4 says, “And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Finally, Paul says that we the temple that the Holy Spirit is building for a dwelling place for God. Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

The New Testament is quite clear that Ezekiel’s vision of the temple is fulfilled in the body of Christ that is God’s temple, God’s dwelling place. And, in the end, this temple covers the whole earth because God will be dwelling in all people.

Jesus Is Ezekiel’s Third Temple

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 39-40

“In the twenty-fifth year of exile, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was struck down, on that very day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me to the city.” – Ezekiel 40:1

This is the introduction to the vision of Ezekiel’s temple. Many Jews and many Christians are looking forward to the construction of this temple. The Jews have plans to build this temple and have already begun constructing some of the furniture. Many Christians are donating toward this effort.

But, is Ezekiel’s vision of a third temple about a physical temple that is to be constructed in the end times?

My answer is no.

Because of Jesus!

John 2 describes the scene of Jesus driving the animals out of the temple and flipping over the tables of the money changers. The Jews asked Jesus, “what sign do you show us for these things?” Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews (an apparently many Christians still today) though Jesus was referring to the physical temple because they asked Jesus how he would raise it up in three days when it took 46 years to build the current temple.

But, John 2:21-22 says, “But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Did you catch that? They believed what Jesus said. But, in addition to that, there was scripture that declared what Jesus had spoken as well.

Could it be that when we read Ezekiel 40:1 through the lens of Jesus we see that the third temple that Jesus said he would and did build, the temple of his body, is the same temple Ezekiel is describing?

The timing of this vision is no coincidence. And, I believe the timing reveals that the temple in Ezekiel’s vision is none other than the temple of Jesus’ body that he raised three days after he was crucified.

The vision takes place in the 25th year of the exile on tenth day of the month. While the month is not given, we know that it is the first month because Ezekiel writes the vision was “at the beginning of the year.”

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word dwelt is literally tabernacled in the Greek. Jesus tabernacled, or was a temple, among us and because of that we saw God’s glory, which was full of grace.

Further, John 1:16 says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Grace is symbolized by the number five throughout the Bible. “Grace upon grace” would be 5 x 5, or 25.

Jesus came to us in grace and we have received from him “grace upon grace.” So, this statement by John corresponds to Ezekiel’s vision coming to him in the 25th year of the exile.

Now, it was on the 10th day of the first month of this 25th year of the exile that Ezekiel had this vision of the third temple. The first month is the month of the Passover. And, the 10th day of the first month is the day that the Passover lamb was selected.

This corresponds precisely with Jesus’ crucifixion. Hence, Jesus is the Passover Lamb. Notice that Ezekiel says in his vision God brought him to the city, referring to Jerusalem, on the 10th of the first month. This was the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem and was selected as the Passover lamb. And, it was three days after Jesus was crucified that he raised up the temple of his body.

Therefore, the timing of Ezekiel’s vision of the third temple coincides perfectly with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, which Jesus said was the rebuilding of the temple of his body and the authority for what he did in the temple in John 2.

Ezekiel further says, perhaps in a parenthetical phrase, that this vision occurred in the 14th year after Jerusalem was struck down. Fourteen symbolizes deliverance in the Bible. And, it was Jesus’ death on the cross that delivered us from Satan, sin, and death. This was the work Jesus was sent to do by the Father.

Given that this was Jesus’ work, we should not be surprised that this third temple that Ezekiel sees is marked by the number 6. This is not true of the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon.

Notice that the measuring reed that was used for Ezekiel’s temple was six cubits long. Measuring reeds are symbolic of judgment. So, we can see that everything will be measured by the work of Christ. Whatever does not measure up to the work of Christ will be burned up. What does not measure up is the dross of the silver that needs to be burned away so that the pure silver, which symbolizes our redemption, can be revealed.

Ezekiel tells us that the wall of the temple he sees is six cubits high and six cubits thick. Further, he tells us that the threshold, or the width, of the gate on the east is six cubits. So, to enter the temple from the east you had to enter a cubed spaced that was 6 x 6 x 6.

This cubed space symbolizes the work of Jesus. And, we must enter into the temple, God’s presence, through the work – the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Even the New Testament authors tell us that the third temple is not a physical temple but the body of Jesus.

In Acts, Stephen says that God does not dwell in temples made by man’s hands. The very purpose and idea of a temple is for it to be a dwelling place of God. But, Stephen says that God does not dwell in physical temples made by the hands of man. So, we have no need to look for a future physical temple in Israel. God won’t be dwelling there.

Paul says that we are God’s temple. We are the third temple that Ezekiel saw in his vision. For, we are the body of Christ, which is the temple of God that was raised up three days after the crucifixion. Paul was able to see this because he no longer read the Old Testament by the literal letter and through the veil that covered it. He know read the Old Testament through the crucified Christ, who tore the veil that kept us from seeing God so clearly. I believe that Paul would say that all those looking for another physical temple would like the Jews, who are still reading the Old Testament through the veil (see 2 Corinthians 3 and 4).

As is always the case, Jesus transforms and then fulfills the visions and prophecies of the Old Testament.

How Does God Act for the Sake of His Name that Was Profaned?

TODAY’S READING: EZEKIEL 36-38

“But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.'” – Ezekiel 36:21-23

Israel was to be a light to the nations. They were to be a people that revealed the glory of God to the nations around them.

But, when Israel went to the nations, instead of being a light, revealing the glory of God, Israel had profaned the holy name of God.

How did they profane the name of God?

Ezekiel 37:17-18 says, “When the house  of Israel lived in their own land, they defiled it be their ways and their deeds. Their ways before me were like the uncleanness of a woman in her menstrual impurity…for the blood that the had shed in the land.”

Ezekiel uses the metaphor of woman in her menstrual impurity to show that Israel had profaned the name of God by shedding blood.

What does it mean to profane something?

The Hebrew word translated profane means to be defiled, to profane, to desecrate, to render unholy, to put into use. According to the Lexham Theological Workbook, this Hebrew word describes the act of defiling something holy by treating it as common.

In English, the word profane means to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt; to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use.

Israel took the name of God, which was holy, and made it common. They treated the name of God with abuse, irreverence, contempt. They debased the name of God by putting it to use in a wrong, unworthy, and vulgar manner.

How did they profane the name, the character, of God? How did they make God’s name, his character, unholy?

Israel made God’s name and character unholy by shedding blood, by warring, by killing their enemies.

But, God said he was going to act. He was not going to act for the sake of Israel. No, he was going to act for the sake of his holy name, his holy character. God was going to restore, to vindicate, the holiness of his name. And, when the nations saw the vindication of his holy name they would know that he is Lord.

What is the holiness of God, of God’s name?

1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”

We are to be holy in the same way that God is holy.

Jesus said this another way in Matthew 5:48, which says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” To be perfect is to be spiritually mature, to be complete, to be holy. Therefore,, Jesus is saying to be holy as God is holy.

In verses 5:46-47, Jesus tells us what being perfect, being holy, as God is holy is not like. He says, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

The Gentiles love as the world loves. They love their own and hate their enemies. The Gentiles shed the blood of their names. And, notice that Peter said not to be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. Peter is saying don’t love the way used to, loving only your brother or those that love you. For, this is what Israel was doing when Ezekiel prophesied that they profaned the name of the Lord by shedding blood.

Loving as the Gentiles did and Israel did in its former ignorance was to love those who love you and hate those who hate you. But, this was not being holy as God is holy, perfect as God is perfect. Rather, it was to profane the name of God, to put God’s name and character to common use. For, it is quite common to shed the blood of your enemies.

So then, what is being holy as God is holy, perfect as God is perfect?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43-45. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Is it not clear what it means to be holy as God is holy, perfect as God is perfect?

It means to love your enemies, to do good to your enemies. This is what makes God holy. This is what makes God uncommon, unique, set apart. And, it is the same for us.

We are not holy because we hold to a set of rules, to some more guidelines. We are holy because love as God loves.

How do we know God loves us?

1 John 4:8-10 says, “God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

We know God is love because Jesus Christ died for us.

When did Jesus die for us?

Romans 5:6, 8, 10 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Chris died for the ungodly…But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”

God loved us, Christ died for us, while we God’s enemies.

This is what makes God holy. God is not holy because he cannot tolerate sin and what destroy all sinners in an everlasting fire forever and ever. No, God is holy because instead of killing his enemies he dies for them.

Throughout the ages, men have used God’s name as justification to kill their enemies. The Old Testament shows that Israel did this repeatedly.

But, in Ezekiel, God said he would act to vindicate the holiness of his name. He wa not going to act for the sake of Israel. He was going to act for the sake of his name.

The singular act, the sine qua non, that God performed to vindicate the holiness of name for all ages was to die on the cross, to die the most shameful death ever devised by men, the most wicked and vile intention of all the evil intentions of man’s heart.

God vindicated the holiness of his name by shedding his blood not by shedding the blood of others.

The singular act of Jesus crucified on the cross defines the name and character of God. This act is what makes God holy. This is why Jesus was the slain lamb before the foundation of the world. He is so because this is who God is.

And, in case you are wondering, for Jesus to come again to slaughter millions, to confine people to an everlasting, eternal judgment of fire, to destroy millions, would be to profane the name and character of God.

God doesn’t kill his enemies. He dies for them.