Year 3 Day 39
Read - Daniel 9v24-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Welcome to part two of our look at the seventy weeks of Daniel chapter nine! If you want a whirlwind tour of the first sixty-nine weeks then I point you to Thursday's devotion. Today we'll consider the final week of the seventy. The Lord God sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel in response to the prophet's heartfelt prayer of repentance.
Gabriel told Daniel that a seventy week period lay ahead. This isn't a literal seventy weeks that we can count on our calendar but instead a symbolic number which tells the story of human history until the return of Christ. The first seven weeks saw a return of the exiles to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. The next sixty-two weeks moved from the rebuilt temple to the first coming of Jesus. Sixty-two plus seven is sixty-nine, leaving one more week to discuss.
Gabriel said that in one week "he shall make a strong covenant with many" (v27). Who is the "he" of this verse? It is Christ. Some have argued that this verse speaks of an end-times figure who makes a new covenant with the people of Israel. Others say that the "he" is the "prince who is to come" from verse twenty-six. But the Hebrew language behind this verse does not speak about a "new" covenant but a confirmation of an existing covenant. The "he" of this verse is Christ and the strong covenant he confirms with many is the covenant of grace. This covenant declares that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.
How can we be so sure? It is only Christ who fulfils the six standards of verse twenty-four. The last week of the seventy speaks of Christ's ministry and it's impact. Jesus was the sinless suffering servant. He has finished transgression by putting away sin. Sin is still in the world but Christ has broken it's back. He has paid for the sins of His people - He has finished transgression and put their sin away. Jesus has atoned for the iniquity of His Bride and He has brought them everlasting righteousness. The one who trusts in Christ has the righteousness of Jesus imputed to their account. He has fulfilled the vision of Daniel and Christ Himself is the true prophet. Finally Christ's work has anointed a most holy place. Where is this place? Jesus is the place. He is the true temple that was torn down but raised on the third day.
With that stated what did Gabriel mean when he said that Christ would put an end to sacrifice and offering for half the week (v27)? Christ's sacrifice was enough, glorious and sufficient. The sacrificial system centred around the Jerusalem temple was temporary and brought to a close by Christ. When Jesus died the curtain of the temple was torn in two. How could the blood of bulls and goats ever compare to the blood of the Lamb of God? It could not and cannot. Christ's sacrifice does not need to be repeated. He has put an end to sacrifice and offering and He did it at Calvary.
Finally during the first half of the week there would come one who made desolate (v27) Who is this one? Jesus would later refer to Daniel when He spoke of the abomination of desolation (Matthew 24v15) relating it to the destruction of the temple in 70AD. Therefore this phrase in Daniel speaks of Titus and his Roman legions who brought great destruction and death to Jerusalem. They destroyed the temple and to this very day it remains in ruins.
So half of the final week is taken up by Christ ending sacrifice and making a strong covenant with many. His work was majestic and all who believe in Him will be saved. Then in the middle of the week Titus marched into Jerusalem and smashed the temple into bits. What about the rest of the week?
My friends the final three and a half days describe the period in which we currently live. Can I support that statement? I believe so. Scripture interprets scripture and in Revelation John would speak of the period between Christ's ascension and His return in various ways. He would speak of forty-two months and 1260 days (Revelation 11v2-3) The woman is comforted by the Lord for 1260 days (Revelation 12v6) and time, times and half a time (Revelation 12v14). Finally, the beast exercised authority for forty-two months (Revelation 13v5) What do all these phrases have in common? They all describe three and a half years. Daniel's three and a half days is the same period as John's three and a half years. It is the period of time between Christ's first and second coming.
What do we make of all of this? Quite simply history centres around the person and work of Christ. His sacrifice means that many will be saved. History isn't about the Romans, the British or the Russians. Biden and Putin may be on the news but one day they will give account to Jesus. Christ alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Finally, we are living in the last days of human history. Time is short. Hear the Word of God...
"Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." (Romans 13v11-14)
Q42 What is the sum of the ten commandments? The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.
Year 3 Day 38
Read - Ezekiel 2:9-3:15
Message - Alan Burke
Are you a foodie? Not just one of those people who just eats plain pasta with a drop of tomato ketchup, being picky about the brand of pasta and the brand of tomato ketchup doesn’t count! Even if you are a foodie there is bound to be one or two things you don’t like or if is served up in front of you that you would really prefer not to eat. I have two things I just can’t stand, Lasagne (so please don’t ever try to feed me it) and the other is tomato pasta no matter what brand of pasta or brand of tomato ketchup or tinned tomatoes I simply can’t do it. After that I’m willing to try just about anything, although maybe not eating a full scroll as Ezekiel was tasked with although I’d at least try it, just not tomato pasta!
The rebellious house of Isreal would not listen but Ezekiel was to listen, he ate the scroll likely that of leather. What makes this scroll that Ezekiel was to eat unusual though, is that it was written on both sides, and Ezekiel could identify that which was written on it, the words of lament and mourning and woe (9). As he digested the words of lament and mourning and woe, that the Lord feeds Ezekiel, and the scroll fills him, this unappetising leather scroll, with words of lament, mourning and woe, that we would expect it to be bitter, unpalatable, but it was as sweet as honey in his mouth.
Ezekiel was being equipped by God and sent to take his message among the exiles and it was going to bring message of bad news, and there would be plenty of it, but in the end although we have to wait until much further in the book there does come hope. Ultimately they will reject what Ezekiel the prophet of the Lord will bring, and the reason why is because they are ultimately rejecting the Lord God. They will not listen to him because he brings the word of God. As a result of this reality, Ezekiel went away in bitterness and in anger of his spirit. He was overwhelmed at what he was tasked to do, he was overwhelmed because the people would not listen to the message that the Lord was sending him with, he was overwhelmed with it all and it took him seven days to overcome the shock and despair of that which was told to him.
We might think in the midst of it all what was the point, but it was God’s will to bring him glory to address the sin of his people, their rebellious ays. God still calls men it minister in places today, across this world and in this land, place that are not very far from here where God has put minister in places that are full of contempt for the word of God, full of briars thorns and scorpions and sadly they are more common than we might like to believe.
Yet for all who hear, for those who are willing to listen, even though the message may not be what we want to hear, of lament, mourning and woe, as the word confronts us with our own rebellion as sinful people, in the judgement that comes there is hope! For as we close there is another Son of Man who has come, he though unlike the first Adam who failed in his test of obedience, he in his life and death, in his active obedience as he lived, in his passive obedience as he willingly went to the cross and died in our behalf has provided a way that we might escape the judgement, the wrath of God that we deserve. For Jesus Christ the true and better Adam, by his obedience, as he took on our humanity, partook in our flesh and blood, so that he could die in our place and destroy the one who has the power of death and deliver us, this is the hope of all who hear the word of God (Heb 2:14-15).
Q41 Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?
The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. (Deut. 10:4, Matt. 19:17)
Year 3 Day 37
Read - Daniel 9v24-27
Message - Scott Woodburn
Today's devotion is a two-parter which by the grace of God we'll finish on Saturday. The passage before us is a tricky one and worth taking our time over. Gabriel has been sent by God to answer Daniel's prayer. The seventy years of exile are nearly over and so Daniel prayed that the Lord would restore His people to their home in Judah. In response the Lord told Daniel about a coming "seventy weeks".
How are we to understand this seventy week period? Let's break it down. Remember that seven is the number denoting perfection in Scripture. The Lord created in six days and then rested on the seventh. The Holy Spirit is called the seven-fold spirit of God. Seven equals perfection. Often in Scripture we also see numbers multiplied by ten. Ten is seen as a full number and so when Peter asked if we should forgive seven times, Jesus replied "seventy times seven" or in other words, seven times ten times seven.
So what about the seventy weeks? Seven times ten gives seventy and there are seven days in a week. Daniel is therefore told about a period of time which will last four hundred and ninety days. Many see this as a literal prediction of four hundred and ninety days (some even argue for four hundred and ninety years) but I respectfully disagree. This is a symbolic number just as Christ's word to Peter was symbolic - we are to forgive much more than four hundred and ninety times!
Daniel is being taught about a perfect and complete period of time which amazingly will run from the exile's return to Jerusalem to the second coming of Christ. Can I prove that? I think so. Gabriel tells Daniel that during this period of seventy weeks six things must take place "to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place." (v24) Christ does this work at Calvary and will bring everything to completion at His return. So Daniel's prayer is answered in a local and then a universal fashion. God tells him that the exile is coming to an end but it is only a small part of an even greater return from exile. The small story is part of a massive picture. Just as the Jewish exiles would return to Jerusalem, so too will Christian exiles one day see heaven.
The seventy weeks are made up of three periods. Firstly, there will be seven weeks. This period began when the word went out to restore Jerusalem in 538BC at the command of king Cyrus. Ezra therefore was the promised prince who led the people to rebuild the temple and renew sacrifices to the Lord.
The second period was for sixty-two weeks and began with the rebuilding of the temple and Jerusalem and ended with the first coming of Christ. It was a troubled time (v25) with Jerusalem under the boot of many enemies including Antiochus and then the Romans. But a light would shine again with the arrival of Christ. Jesus was the anointed one who was to be cut off and have nothing (v26). Christ was cut off for our sake, He was left with nothing - forsaken by His friends and by God. Then in 70AD the Romans stamped out a Jewish rebellion and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. It is this event that was foretold by Gabriel in these verses.
The angelic messenger would say "The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary." (v26) which spoke of the Roman soldiers under Titus who turned Jerusalem upside-down. Since those days the temple has not been rebuilt. As the Romans rampaged through Jerusalem there were indeed "desolations" with blood flowing down the streets and even cannibalism among the starving people.
There is one more week spoken of in this chapter and by the grace of God we'll consider the final week on Saturday.
Daniel had prayed for God's mercy and for a return to Jerusalem. What the Lord gave him was an even grander explanation of world events and history. Nothing is out of God's control. He is not surprised by anything and He knows when a bird falls out of a tree. He has declared the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. Do not tremble in these dark days for our God remains absolutely sovereign over all and He is working out His plan for the redemption of His exiled people.
"Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2)
Q40 What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience? The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience, was the moral law.
Year 3 Day 36
Read - Ezekiel 2:3-8
Message - Alan Burke
As we read scripture one of the things that we should be looking for is repeated words and phrases, they help us to understand what is going on. Some words and phrases are weaved throughout the scripture like ‘covenant’, others are more specific to a book or a passage. Did you notice the repeated phrase that is used here, of course some English translations are better than others but did you see the words ‘rebels’, ‘rebelled’ and ‘rebellious’? They are in v3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 if you missed them. A rebel, or rebellious person is one who has resisted, opposed those who rule over them. This is God’s people, they are a rebellious nation, who have rebelled against God himself.
The Lord is making the prophet be in no doubt the issue, the issue is Isreal, he is being sent to those who were the people of God, who were his people and yet even though he had been faithful to them they had been faithless. They rebelled, revolted, they were obstinate and stubborn, no longer does call them “house of Isreal” now they are a rebellious house. It wasn’t that they had simply strayed, it wasn’t that they had forgotten, no it was that they had chosen to go this way, knowing fine well God called them to be faithful.
Think of it like this, you warn someone, yet they continue to behave in the same way. You warn them again and things get worse, you warn them again, you tell them the dangers and they intentionally give you a two finger salute and they don’t care of the consequences and they are hurting themselves and everyone around them and even though they know the consequences and see the damage they are doing they keep doing it. That was these people who God had called as His people but there is nothing of that mentioned here.
This is the kind of people that the Lord is sending Ezekiel to speak to, they are those who didn’t care what the Lord God would say. Look to v5 whether they listen of fail to listen, it shouldn’t surprise Ezekiel if they don’t listen to a single thing that he would take them, the Lord is preparing Ezekiel for not only how the would not listen but they would not welcome his message, or rather the message that he takes them from God.
What matters most is not if they listen or fail to listen it is something else, it is Ezekiel himself. The people would not listen to the word of the Lord that he takes but they would know that a prophet has been among them (5). When they finally realise the truth of what Ezekiel tells them they will then understand that the Lord God had been there by His prophet warning them of what was about to happen.
Do not be afraid the Lord tells him, even though the Lord warns Ezekiel of the briars, thorns, scorpions, twice Ezekiel is told not to be afraid of them by the Lord. Yet as there is at least some comfort in the midst of all of this, as v7-8 make clear. For it wasn’t Ezekiel that would be responsible for them listening, it wasn’t within Ezekiel’s power or ability to make the listen, he had one task, it was to speak the words that the Lord gave to him, in spite of opposition.
You know there is something that we are confronted with here, that the word of the Lord is not always heard, and not only that it is also fiercely rejected, it is opposed. Here we are reminded in our interaction with people, and that we see elsewhere in scripture is that the word of God produces these responses, it shouldn’t surprise us. Ezekiel couldn’t change the hearts of the people and neither can we change the hearts of people, it is God alone who changes heart, he is the one who enables people to listen. If you have heard the word and responded to it then it was God’s work in your life by His Spirit that enabled you to listen, and that you are a child of God, nothing can change that.
Q39 What is the duty which God requireth of man?
The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will. (Mic. 6:8, 1 Sam. 15:22)
Year 3 Day 35
Read - Daniel 9v20-23
Message - Scott Woodburn
Daniel's heart was broken for his people. They were under the judgement of God and so the prophet had turned to Lord in repentance. He understood “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3v10-12). Humanity is sinful, wretched and lost BUT GOD in His mercy and grace sent His only begotten Son to crush the serpent's head and to pay the price for the sins of His bride the church.
Brothers and sisters, it is good to repent and to repent often. It is also good to consider our standing before a Holy God. Child of God, even with your sins, your faults, your failings and your frequent unwillingness to repent...by faith in Christ...you are greatly loved (v23).
This is not a love that shrinks or fades. It isn't the love of your father who you haven't seen since he walked out on your mother. It isn't the love of a friend who no longer speaks to you. It isn't the love of your first boyfriend who dropped you as soon as the fumble in the car was over. Love in this world is fickle, but the love of God towards redeemed sinners is steadfast and sure.
Daniel poured out his heart in repentant prayer and out of the sheer love and mercy of God, Daniel's cries were answered. The angel Gabriel visited Daniel and told him that he had come to bring insight and understanding to the current situation (v22). God had heard Daniel's pleas for mercy and had sent Gabriel in response (v23).
Why would God bother to answer an insignificant human being? Why would God waste His time on sending a message to one person in a massive universe? God owes us nothing. We do not complete Him. We add nothing to Him AND YET in His mercy and grace the Lord of the universe answered the cries of his servant Daniel. Why? Because Daniel was greatly loved (v23).
You and I cannot expect a visit from the angel Gabriel but we are treated in a way that we do not deserve. The God most high, the God of grace, still answers the prayers of His people. When you call to Him about the war in the Ukraine or your son's depression or your own illness or your local church or your money worries or the upcoming Gospel mission...whenever you call to the Lord...He hears your voice. His answers may not always seem evident but please understand that the Lord is not deaf to your pleas.
What a privilege it is to pray! Sinful humans, saved by grace can draw near to the throne of God Himself. We can do so because we have had our sins forgiven. We have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. With confidence we can enter the holy places by the blood of Christ. What an extraordinary privilege! The Lord hears us and the Lord answers us according to His will and purpose.
So my friends, be encouraged this day. Do not give up on prayer, instead pray without ceasing. Why? Because in Christ you are greatly loved.
Q38 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection? At the resurrection, believers, being raised up to glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.
Year 3 Day 34
Read - Ezekiel 2:1-2
Message - Alan Burke
In C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia there is a name given for male and female humans. If you have read the books you’ll know it, although the significance of it may have passed you by. The Narnian name for a male human is ‘Son of Adam’ and for a female human it is ‘Daughter of Eve’. They are those who are created by the Emperor Beyond The Sea, the father of Aslan. The imagery that C.S. Lewis uses is that of scripture and the point that is made by calling male humans ‘Son of Adam’ and female humans ‘Daughter of Eve’ that we are their descendants.
In the fall, Scripture teaches that Adam and his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression. As Sons of Adam or Daughters of Eve we are sinners by our nature. I start with this because although the English translation of the Word of God before you from Ezekiel says ‘Son of man’ literally it is ‘Son of Adam’ (there might be a footnote to this effect).
Here we have Ezekiel a son of Adam, a fallen sinful man, in the presence of the living and true God and he is invited to stand up, on his feet. It wasn’t though in his own strength. Notice how Ezekiel is able to stand, v2, for as the Lord spoke the Spirit came into him, raised him up. It is not Ezekiel who by his own power was able to stand in the presence of the Lord it is by the work of God though the Spirit that came and raised him to his feet.
Ezekiel had witnessed some of the greatness of God, he fell flat on his face as a sinful creature yet is enabled by the Spirit of God to be able to stand in the presence of the Holy God, the Lord God Almighty. God in his Grace, revealed himself to Ezekiel, and invited him to come and stand in his presence, but not only invited, enabled him for he could not stand before the Lord as a Son of Adam as a sinful man, but the Spirit at work enabled him to do so.
In Acts 26 as Paul is recounting his experience on the road to Damascus (9:1-19), speaks of how when Jesus appeared to him, as he lay on the ground in the presence of the Lord Jesus, there Jesus likewise commands Paul to stand. The Triune God was at work also calling and commissioning Paul, changing his heart, Paul could not stand until the Lord graciously invited him to do so. The reason why is that the invitation is given, this command to stand, is to consciously participation in God‘s concerns, to be poised for action on his behalf.
This is something that we who have repented and believed in the gospel are likewise able to do. Our sin is such that none of us can stand in the presence of the Holy God, yet Romans chapter 5 reminds us we are able to stand in the grace of God, we have access to the presence of the living God though faith. No longer are we the enemies of God, for those in Christ Jesus have peace, no longer do we have to lye prostate before him or do we have to knee but we can stand in the presence of the God of grace for we have been elevated to a position of privilege.
Q37 What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory; (2 Cor. 5:1,6,8, Phil. 1:23, Luke 23:43) and their bodies, being still united to Christ, (1 Thess. 4:14) do rest in their graves, (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection. (Job 19:26–27)
Year 3 Day 32
Read - Daniel 9v1-19
Message - Scott Woodburn
Every Sunday school child knows that Daniel was a man of prayer, daily he prayed three times. But Daniel was also a man of the Word. He was in "the books" (specifically the book of Jeremiah) and had read there of God's promise that after seventy years He would bring His people back from their Babylonian exile (v2).
How do you respond when you read the marvellous promises of God in Holy Scripture? Daniel's response was to pray. He wore sackcloth, sat in ashes, abstained from food and called upon the Lord (v3). Daniel's prayer is a humble rebuke to us when we rush straight to the Lord and recite our list of demands.
Daniel wanted God's people to return home but he also realised the scale of their sin and betrayal. Daniel's prayer therefore was full of repentance. What is repentance? Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
A repentant sinner knows his sin and hates it. He runs from his sin to God seeking His mercy and forgiveness in Christ and leaves the place of prayer endeavouring to walk in a new obedience. This is true repentance and sadly most of us aren't very well practiced in it.
Daniel knew the depravity of sin and repented before the Lord. Our God is good, keeping His covenant and His love towards those who fear Him (v4). But we are not good. We have sinned against the Lord and failed to keep His commandments (v5). Like the people of God in Daniel's day we have refused to heed the Word of God. We don't read it or listen to it (v6). The Lord is righteous but we are shameful. It was this attitude that had caused the inhabitants of Judah to be carried off to Babylon (v7).
We are often hearers but not doers of the Word of God. We refuse to obey His voice and to walk in His laws (v10). We seek loopholes to enable us to bypass the plain meaning of Scripture. In the Law of Moses there were blessings for obedience but also curses for disobedience. Daniel understood this and remembered that nothing that had happened to Israel was undeserved. They had transgressed the law of God and the curses in the Law of Moses had now been poured out upon them (v11).
God's punishment of His rebellious people had served to confirm His Word. He did not and does not make idle threats. The wise individual heeds the Word of God lest they are overcome by calamity (v12). Yet even in the midst of trouble, unrepentant sinners still do not turn back to the Lord and seek His favour (v13). Daniel's prayer was humble. He offered no excuses for there were none. Instead he fell before the Lord and admitted "we have sinned, we have done wickedly." (v15).
Yet just as repentance hates sin and flees to God for forgiveness, true repentance also has an understanding of God's mercy in Christ. Daniel knew this too and asked that the Lord would turn His anger away from His people (v16). He entreated the Lord to listen to his plea for mercy and to make His face shine again upon Jerusalem's temple (v17). He begged the Lord to see all the destruction that had been brought upon Jerusalem (v18). He did not plead because of his own righteousness but because he knew God's mercy (v18) and so Daniel prayed and called upon the Lord to forgive His people and to act on their behalf (v19).
Brothers and sisters, we must remember daily that we are not good people. We are "simul justus et peccator" - at the same time just yet sinful. With that in mind may the Lord stir our cold hearts again to the fire of repentance. May we have eyes that are quick to see our sin and knees that are quick to fall before the Lord in repentance and by the Holy Spirit may the Lord make us as holy as pardoned sinners can be. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Q36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification? The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Year 3 Day 31
Read - Ezekiel 1
Message - Alan Burke
Today we think to the reaction of Ezekiel to when he saw this theophany, this visible manifestation of the Lord God. Think back to the wonder of what Ezekiel had seen, v4-14 The Living Creatures v15-21, The Wheels in Wheels, v22-24 The Expanse Above, v25-27 The Throne And The One Seated On The Throne. He gives a wonderfully vivid description, detailed of all these things and what does Ezekiel do, he falls facedown when he heard the voice of the one speaking. It was not the cherubim, the wheels, the expanse or the throne that made him fall facedown it was the when he saw the Lord there seated on the throne.
Moses took off his sandals in the presence of God (Ex 3:5). Job covered himself with dust and ashes and confesses his sins in the presence of God (Job 42:6), Isaiah cried out “woe is me for I am ruined in the presence of God” (Isaiah 6:5), John in the book of Revelation fell at his feet though dead (Rev 1:17). In each case, when the Lord God comes in His glory, when He reveals himself this is what we find, the Glory of God leads sinful men to respond, not with laxity, informality, but with reverence and awe.
The God that we worship is not some wooden idol, made in the image of a creature or the figments of the imagination of a man, the Lord God is like no other, and in everything we have seen, what should be clear to us, is that God is not like us, our domesticated view of God has allowed a familiarity that has robbed God of the Glory due to his name. The living God should not be a domesticated deity, like the images or the imaginations of men, this is why we have been given the second commandment because when we make an image of Triune God no matter how beautiful we rob from God some of the wonder and the glory that is
His. And as we come before Him it should not be with laxity, informality, but with reverence and awe.
Even though today God has been pushed to the fringes of society, His church is an irrelevance and that shouldn’t surprise us after all this world is under the power of the evil one, but we should not forget the God that we come before, the God of this world, the Lord God who is the divine warrior who will one day come to judge all, he comes not only to punish the wicked but also to redeem all those who have repented and believed in the Saviour Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God the Father. In the present, in the midst of this unbelieving world, no matter how hopeless things make look God is at work.
Q35 What is sanctification?
Sanctification is the work of God’ s free grace, (2 Thess. 2:13) whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, (Eph. 4:23–24) and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. (Rom. 6:4,6, Rom. 8:1)
Year 3 Day 30
Read - Daniel 8
Message - Scott Woodburn
Another vision was given to Daniel in which he saw a two horned ram charging over the earth with no beast being able to stand against him (v1-4). But soon a male goat joined Daniel's vision. This goat moved so quickly that his feet didn't touch the ground and he had a great horn between his eyes (v5). The goat attacked the ram and destroyed him and soon the goat became great (v8). Yet just when it seemed that the goat was untouchable, his great horn was broken and four other horns grew up to take it's place (v8).
From those four horns came a little horn which grew great towards the land of Judah - called the glorious land (v9). The little horn was so great that it threw down the stars of the sky (v10) and burnt offering was stopped and the sanctuary overthrown (v11). The sanctuary would not be restored for 2300 evenings and mornings (v14)
At first glance none of this makes much sense to our modern eyes. But thanks be to God, for just as he gave Daniel this vision, so too did He interpret it via the angel Gabriel. The ram represents the Persian empire which grew great during Daniel's lifetime (v20). The fast moving goat represents the Greek empire under Alexander the Great who is seen in this passage as the great horn (v21).
Alexander died in his early thirties and in his place four of his generals ruled over his empire. The generals are seen in this passage as the four horns which replaced the broken horn (v22). The kingdom of Alexander continued under these men but they never enjoyed his power (v22). Then just as the days of the four horns were coming to an end, another little horn rose up. Gabriel tells Daniel that this little horn would be bold in countenance and great in power. But who was he?
History tells us that his name was Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a name which means "god manifest". Antiochus attacked Jerusalem, he turned the temple into a centre for worshipping the false god Zeus, he slaughtered almost 80,000 people and he stopped sacrifice to the Lord completely. These twice daily sacrifices would be stopped for a period of 1150 days (2 sacrifices per day X 1150 days = 2300 evenings and mornings (v14)). He opposed Christ Himself (the prince of princes (v25)) and therefore can rightly be called antichrist.
Eventually the temple would be cleansed and the altar rebuilt, an event called Hanukkah which is still celebrated by Jews today but Daniel was so overcome by this vision that he lay sick for some days (v27).
We can only imagine the brutality of Antiochus and we don't want to imagine the scale of the slaughter in Jerusalem when his armies swept through the great city. Yet as we well know, Antiochus is dead and gone and even now lies in a grave. He wasn't destroyed by human might but by the power of God (v25) and this in itself teaches us a valuable lesson.
As we journey through this world we will certainly meet trouble and antichrists like Antiochus IV Epiphanes will come and go. How do we respond? By taking up the weapons God has given us. The Christian church does not fight with weapons of war but with the ordinary means of grace that the Lord has given to His church. Brothers and sisters do not fear those who can kill only the body but instead fear God who can kill body and soul (Matthew 10v28).
Remember the exhortation of our brother Paul "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." (Ephesians 6v10-18)
Q34. What is adoption? Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.
Year 3 Day 29
Read - Ezekiel 1
Message - Alan Burke
Alright today’s passage is a biggy. I’m not going to try to go through everything that is said in these verses because what I have discovered in the past few days is that there are many weird and wonderful theories of what Ezekiel saw, hovercrafts, spaceships, aliens but some of the more imaginative theories. Did you notice though in this passage many times there are words for example “like”, “likeness", “appearance”? What we have is Ezekiel who saw this vision of God, as he dictates it to us it is as if words fail him to portray the truth of the full wonder of what he saw. Nothing that Ezekiel had previously experienced had prepared him for witnessing the awesome approach of the glory of God (4-28).
The truth is that those weird and wonderful theories miss the point, Ezekiel tried to explain what he saw but words failed him, the wonder, the magnificence, the splendour of it all. As the Lord gave this vision to Ezekiel, and as he thus gives us this description of what it was ‘like’, as he describes the ‘likeness’, the ‘appearance’ of the approaching glory of God it is described to us here giving us a literally picture. There are no images, photographs, no drawings or doodles, yet it is vivid picture that is full of the Glory of God and as he approaches.
What we have here in this vision is the coming of the Living God, who is far beyond what our finite minds can even begin to comprehend. Here Ezekiel tries to portray some of the glory of God, some of the glory that he displayed in this theophany, that is a visible manifestation of the Lord our God and we have the following; v4-14 The Living Creatures v15-21, The Wheels in Wheels, v22-24 The Expanse Above, v25-27 The Throne And The One Seated On The Throne, v28b Ezekiel’s Response.
Ezekiel gives a wonderfully vivid description, detailed of all these things, notice what happens when Ezekiel hears the voice (v25). When the Cherubim hear it they lower their wings, all becomes still and Ezekiel, with this his gaze returns to the platform above the heads of these Cherubim. There he saw the throne made entirely of sapphire we are told, but rather it is literally lapis lazuli, lapis is a stone that is prized for its intense colour of blue one of the most precious stones known to the ancients.
Yet the throne cannot keep Ezekiel’s gaze no matter how wonderful it was, for seated on the throne was a regal figure, like that of a man, but he was no ordinary man, he was one who was enveloped, who was surrounded by light. This vision closes on a glorious note, as the prophet speaks of the rainbow on a cloudy day shining forth in brilliance. The rainbow a reminder of God’s promise-making and promise-keeping character (Gen 9:16). It was an affirmation that the one who came in all this wonder and glory was the God of hope.
As Ezekiel saw this vision of God, as he dictated it to us, the picture described is so wonderful, four creatures holding a glorious crystal platform with a throne of blue lapis, and stead there was the Lord in human form. The wonder of this vision is one that we might think if only Ezekiel had left us a photograph, some video footage of the multi sensory experience that he had, so vidvid and descriptive even though he struggles to portray the full wonder of what he saw having to use like, likeness, appearance to describe this vision to us. To this vision Ezekiel responds by falling face down.
From this vision of Ezekiel, know that, God is not like us, he is Holy, Omnipotent meaning all powerful, he is Omnipresent, present with us in what we face, and he is Sovereign working out his purposes as divine ruler of all. This is the God that we come before today, the one that we can come before, the one that we can stand in his presence, bringing our petitions to Him in prayer all in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, worked in us by the Spirit that we come into the presence of the living God with reverence and awe The God of all the Earth!
Q33 What is justification?
Justification is an act of God’ s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, (Rom. 3:24–25, Rom. 4:6–8) and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, (2 Cor. 5:19,21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, (Rom. 5:17–19) and received by faith alone. (Gal. 2:16, Phil. 3:9)