Old Testament: Ezekiel 39:1-40:27
Ezekiel 39:1-40:27 Hell On Earth
Chapter 39 This chapter naturally flows from the previous chapter. It is a continuation of the description of the battle between Israel and the Gog-Magog coalition. They will be destroyed (vv. 6-7).
The description is of “Hell on Earth” which, I believe, is the most potent argument for the church being Raptured before the seven-year Tribulation begins. Why would God bring a group through Hell that He has promised to spare from Hell? The battle described is not Armageddon which takes place at the end of the Tribulation. This battle most likely occurs somewhere around the mid-point of the Tribulation. The Jews will burn the enemies’ weapons (vv. 9-10). It will take seven years to burn them all (v. 9)! It will take seven months to bury all the dead bodies (v. 12)! Hamonah in verse 16 means “multitude,” perhaps referring to the heaps of dead bodies and thus the name of the town that is the center of the clean-up operation. Another chapter of Ezekiel ends with an encouragement to the exiles in Babylon that despite all that Jews will suffer, there will be a future for them (vv. 25-29).
Chapter 40:1-27 This chapter contains a description of the Temple that will be featured in the Millennial rule of Christ for a thousand years (cf. Rev. 20:6). It is another example of an encouragement to the exiles in Babylon. There will be a future for Israel. It is to be taken literally or why would Ezekiel write about an angel (“man,” v. 3) giving literal measurements? This Temple is bigger than Solomon’s. It is where Jews will worship during Christ’s future reign.
New Testament: James 2: 18-3:18
James 2:18-26 Faith Validation
James continues the discussion from earlier in the chapter. He is saying that no one can tell you have faith if it is not expressed by action (v. 18). James’ step-brother, Jesus, certainly showed Who He was by what He did. If Jesus only had faith, He could not have witnessed to the world. James knew this because although he did not believe in Jesus before Jesus was crucified (John 7:5), he did put his trust in Him when he was the first person that Jesus appeared to after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). Faith without deeds does not result in any witness in the world (v. 20). Even demons believe but they have no good deeds to witness to the glory of God (v. 19). Abraham showed his faith in offering up his son, Isaac (v. 21). He was able to obey God because he had faith. His faith worked itself out in obedience (v. 22-23). Rahab also showed her faith by hiding the spies who were staking out Jericho (Josh. 6: 17). Her faith was “justified” or validated by what she did (v. 24). Faith without its validation is useless (v. 26).
James 3:1-18 Ruder Or Rudder?
Teachers will be judged some day based on how closely their lives conformed to their own teaching (v. 1). Large horses are guided by small bits and large ships are steered by tiny rudders (vv. 3-4). So little ole tongues need to be controlled if a person is going to be able to do God’s will (vv. 2, 5).
Just as gigantic forest fires are started as small little flames, so the little tongue can also start huge conflagrations (vv. 5-6). Although men can tame animals, they don’t do as well with tongues (vv. 7-8). The same tongue can be used to praise God on Sundays but curse men on Monday morning on the way to work (vv. 9-10a). James said that that doesn’t make any sense (v. 10b). A fountain only spews one kind of water, either pure or bitter but not both (v. 11). Trees only produce according to their kind and no one can get fresh water out of salt water (v. 12). Jesus put it this way, ” . . . the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man” (Matt. 15:18).
Jesus said in the Sermon in the Mount (Mt. 5: 9), “Blessed are the peacemakers.” James says if anyone is truly wise, they will be peacemakers (vv. 13-18). They will not be jealous or selfish (vv. 15-16). They will be pure, gentle and reasonable, merciful, genuine and will do good things (vv. 17-18).