“That’s Rich” – One Year Bible Reading – November 21

Old Testament: Ezekiel 42:1-43:27

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Ezekiel 442:1-43:27     Deja Vu All Over Again Again

Chapter 42  The Temple in the Millennium will be much larger than the Old Testament Temple.  It will be a square of 875 ft. on each side.   According to Dallas Seminary professor, Thomas Constable, that will be 18 acres or larger than 13 American football fields. The grounds will be 765,625 sq. ft  (or 70,756 sq. meters, Ryrie).  Someone has estimated that it will be 500 acres or two-thirds the area of Central Park in New York (Rashi, The Jewish Study Bible Ezek. 42:15-20).

Chapter 43   The Shekinah glory had left the Temple in Solomon’s day (cf. McGee).  Ezekiel had seen it leave (Ezek. 10-11, spec. 10:18–22 and 11:23).  But in verses 1-12 the glory returns.

The Old Testament sacrificial system is reinstated in the Millennium (vv. 18-28 through the descendants of Zadok, the priest, a relative of Aaron, the first high priest).  Why would sacrifices be offered where Christ is ruling in person, one may ask.  The answer is that they had looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ.  In the Millennium they will be reminders of the cost of our salvation but looking backward to Christ.  The Lord’s Supper memorial will be celebrated in the Millennium (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), why not the Old Testament sacrifices?

New Testament: James 5:1-20

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James 5:1-20  That’s Rich

James had a thing about the rich.  He’s already tweaked them in chapter 2 (vv. 1 -7).  Here he tells them they shouldn’t be that happy with themselves or their lives (v. 1).  He gives them a piece of reality.  Their beautiful clothes are going to rot and their precious metal jewelry is going to tarnish (v. 2, cf. Matt. 6:19). And they’ve done all this when they should have been focused since they were living in the “last days” (v. 3).  How more appropriate is his warning now, two thousand years later!

The rich have taken advantage of the poor who had done their manual labor (v. 4, cf. the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:10-31).  The Lord has heard the cries of the poor laborers whose work made the rich man rich.  The rich had lived well and bought whatever they wanted while persecuting the righteous (vv. 5-6).  It might be OK to own money and use it for the Lord.  But the rich that James was addressing were owned by their money.

I went to a Christian fund raiser a few years back.  The speaker said that “you can’t take it with you.”  Then he added, “but you can send it on ahead.”  That is the concept James is teaching his hearers in verse 7.  If they could be patient, the Lord will return and set everything straight.  Just as a farmer must be patient for his harvest so Christians should be patient and wait for the Lord.  They will reap what they have sown (v. 8, cf. 2 Cor. 9:6; Gal. 6:7; also Eccles. 11:1).  James offers Job and the Old Testament prophets as examples of those who waited patiently and endured in the midst of trials and were rewarded (vv. 10 -11, cf. Mt. 5: 12 Sermon on the Mount).  Job didn’t even realize why his life had turned south and that Satan had gotten permission to torment him.  The prophets didn’t know what rewards awaited them after their lives on earth ended.  They are good models for us.  God will judge our lives either at the bema judgment for Christians (Rom. 14:10, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 2 Cor. 5:10) or the White Throne judgment for unbelievers (Rev. 20:11).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned against swearing and taking oaths (Matt. 5:33-37).  James said the same thing.  It should be enough to just stand on character and answer yes or no (v. 12).

James give instruction to those who were suffering.  Since he was known as a faithful pray-er, we can trust his advice.  He said if we were suffering we should pray (v. 13a).  If anyone was especially happy, they should praise the Lord (v. 13b).  If anyone was sick, he was to call for those who were recognized as spiritual, the elders, to pray for them (v. 15).  The elders were to put some oil on the forehead of the individual, symbolizing the work of the Holy Spirit.  Oil often represents the Holy Spirit in Scripture (cf. Mark 6:13, 1 Samuel 10:1, 6-9; Lev. 2:1-2). It is implied by verse 16 that the person would confess his sins to the elders as well.  As a result his sins will be forgiven in case they were the cause of his sickness.  A person who is pure before the Lord has extra power in his prayers (v. 16b).

Elijah is a good example of someone who had power in his prayer.  He prayed that it wouldn’t rain and it didn’t rain for three and half years (v. 17)!  Then he prayed again that it would rain and the skies opened up and ended a famine (v. 18, cf. 1 Kings 17-18).

James’ purpose has been to exhort believers to holiness and sanctification. He concludes by encouraging the spiritual believers to rescue back-sliders (“wander,” NIV, “strays,” NASB).  If anyone can help turn a sinning believer’s life back to the Lord, he could save him from physical death.  This phenomenon of premature death is found in  1Co 11:30 when some “fell asleep” by not respecting the Lord’s Supper.  John speaks of believers who commit a sin that leads to their physical death in 1 John 5:16. We saw in Hebrews 12:5-11 that God disciplines His children.  Some who do not respond to discipline are prone to  having their chain yanked early.  Ananias and Saphira are examples of those who came to an early demise.  James shows care for everyone in his flock, even those who were falling away from the Lord.  He does not want anyone to miss all the rewards that God has in store for them.  The spiritual ones were to rescue the straying sheep and in that way would “cover a multitude of sins” (v. 20, Gal. 6:1).

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