Old Testament: Ezekiel 47:1-48:35
Ezekiel 47:1-48:35 Swimming In It
Chapter 47 Chapters 47 and 48 close out the book of Ezekiel. They, again, are a description of the one thousand year reign of Christ after He returns visibly to the world.
The picture in chapter 47 is of a river. McGee sees verse 4 as portraying prayer. The river came up to Ezekiel’s knees. In verse 5, he could “swim” in the river. He believes this portrays a believer having the fulness of the Spirit. He sees the trees in verse 7 as depicting the fruit in a believer’s life.
Chapter 48 Although the tribe of Dan had been excluded from the roll call of tribes in Revelation 7:4-8, they are shown as having a portion in the land in Ezekiel 48. God shows his mercy to a tribe that had been heavily involved in idol worship in the Old Testament.
The last section of Ezekiel, chapters 40-48, depicts a new temple, a new land and a new system of worship. What a wonderful hope we have! We will live forever with the incarnate Jesus Christ, beginning with His Millennial reign.
New Testament: 1 Peter 2:11-3:7
1 Peter 2:11-25 An Alien Concept
Did you know you were an alien? Not from Mars, perhaps, but you are an alien from Heaven. Remember in Philippians Paul told us that our “citizenship” was in Heaven (Philippians 3:20)? Peter meant, of course, that since they weren’t from earth really, they shouldn’t be acting “earthly” (v. 11). They shouldn’t be letting their “lusts” get the better of them. We are to “be above reproach” (cf. Phil. 2:15) so the world can have nothing against us in our witness for Christ (cf. our model, John 8:46).
Even though Peter had seen mistreatment of Jesus at the trial of Jesus (Jn. 18: 15) and had himself been beaten (cf. Acts 5:40), he encouraged his flock to submit the government (v. 13). In fact, he tells them that the leaders in government are there to protect earthly citizens (v. 14). It would be a bad witness to Christ to rebel against the government (vv. 15-17). Peter also understood, also, that it was sometimes necessary to oppose authority if they were in conflict with God Himself (cf. Acts 5:29).
The apostles did not not see their mission to change society but to be the best witnesses they could be in their culture. So they did not campaign against slavery but rather encouraged slaves to be a good model of Christian character (v. 18). They should be upright even if their bosses were not (v. 18b). God approves of us when we have to bear up under unjust abuse (v. 20b). This includes unjust treatment under our leadership, from employers, in marriage, family or anywhere (vv. 19-20).
Christ was an example of Someone Who suffered unjustly (v. 21). He didn’t ever sin (v. 22, cf. Heb. 4:15). He was like a sheep who remained quiet though being led to be killed (v. 23, cf. Isa. 53:7). He didn’t fight back or retaliate.
One of the most important doctrines in the Bible is called “substitutionary atonement.” Peter gives a clear explanation of it in verse 24-25. Christ died in our place. Jesus bore a punishment that we deserved because we couldn’t. We were, in fact, straying like sheep. Christ as the perfect God-man was able to represent Himself sinless to God as a flawless sacrifice. But He also could represent mankind to God since He was human. He fulfilled the requirements of a perfect sacrifice to God. As someone once said, “He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.” Christ died in our stead but we have to trust Him (cf. John 1:12; Rev. 3:20).
1 Peter 3:1-3:7 Men Are From Mars, Women Can Be Venal
Peter exhorts men to be understanding to the wives. They are not weaker spiritually or emotionally, Peter says they are usually physically “weaker” than men and need to be protected (v. 7). Men are to show wives utmost respect. They are equal before the Lord though the husband is the “head” of the household (cf. 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23). If they don’t honor their wives, their prayer lives could be impaired (v. 7c). This is a sober warning.
When a husband acts the right way, it is much easier for a wife to defer to him. But why did Peter write so much more to women than to men (vv. 1-6)? It may be because it is a lot harder to submit than it is to just “live in an understanding way” (v. 7a). It also may be that since Peter was teaching a way of life that was revolutionary for the wives that there needed to be more instruction for them. Also, there appears to have been many wives that were living with unbelieving husbands (v. 1b, “won without a word”).
If wives followed the example of Sarah in the Old Testament, they would be able to “win” their husbands over to Christ by their behavior. Mainly, they had to be submissive and have a beautiful inner being rather than worrying about make-up and dresses (vv. 3-6). Sarah is given as an example though her husband acted like a dork and lied about her to save his own skin, not once but twice (cf. Gen. 12:13; 20:2)! Despite that, she submitted to him. She was some woman! God protected her despite her husband’s cowardice (read the stories in Gen. 12 and 20).
Sarah called her husband “lord” (v. 6). Gloria Steinem would roll over in her grave (if she was dead). We have probably lost any idea of how a Biblical marriage should work in our day and age. Feminism has ruined much of the Biblical model. There are not many models left in our churches of how great a marriage can be if women truly fulfilled their roles as a “helper” (cf. Gen. 2:20). But then, I can’t speak highly of many husbands either!