Year 3 Day 70
Read - Ephesians 4
Message - Scott Woodburn
The first three chapters of Ephesians are worth reading and re-reading. Indeed some might argue that you would do well to commit them to memory. They are filled with the glory of the Gospel telling us that even when we were dead in sin, God made us alive together with Christ. Jesus has broken down the dividing line of hostility between Jew and Gentile. The Gospel is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone and regardless of your background this is how you must be saved. Once the inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God was a mystery but now God has revealed this mystery and the good news is proclaimed to the ends of the earth. Wonderful! But what now?
Paul tells the Ephesians that in light of everything he has just told them, they are to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel (v1). We are not saved by works but true faith in Christ will be evident in our lives. What evidence will we see of our salvation? Marks of the Christian are humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another (v3). We don't seek personal glory, we live and speak with gentleness, we are patient under trial and we seek to love our brother even when he makes it very difficult.
Such Spirit worked characteristics should be evident in a follower of Christ and they are underpinned by an eagerness for unity (v3). In other words the Christian will not be seeking to gossip, slander or otherwise work for the disunity of a fellowship. There is only one church, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God (v4-6). We would do well to remember this when our ego gets out of control and we are tempted to believe that the world revolves around us. Additionally when our actions harm the local fellowship we should be quick to repent - Christ loves His church and will certainly oppose the one who seeks to harm His Bride.
Jesus is the One who descended to the earth and He is the One who ascended back into glory (v9-10). Yet He didn't leave us as orphans. Jesus sent the Spirit who dwells in the hearts of Christians and He gave gifts to the church. He gave us the unique and closed offices of the apostles and prophets (v11). These foundational ministries are over but their impact is felt every single time we open the Scriptures and heed the words of God's messengers. Christ has gifted us with evangelists - those who take the Gospel and declare "you must be born again" Jesus has given us the shepherds - those who draw near to the flock to help them and care for them. Finally, Jesus has given us teachers - those who open the Scriptures and help us to understand what is contained within.
These individuals work to equip the saints helping them to continue on their walk to glory. They do the work of ministry in the local church and they seek to build up the body of Christ (v12) with the end goal being the spiritual maturity of the local body (v13). Paul calls the Ephesians to growth in Christ (v15) and to be part of a body which works properly and grows in love (v16).
The Gospel is not a "get-out-of-hell-free-card" but it is a Gospel that transforms. In response to Christ's finished work we are to put aside our old ways. The sensuality, greed and impurity of our past life must go (v19) for this is not what we have learned from Christ (v20). As we put off the old self we are to put on the new self. The Spirit's great work is to transform us in every way and to shape us into the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (v24).
The Christian puts aside falsehood (v25), anger (v26) and gives no room for the devil. The follower of Christ does honest work and is happy to share his harvest with those in need (v28). The believer shuns talk that corrupts and instead seeks to build up and encourage with the words from his lips (v29). Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and slander are replaced by kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness (31-32) and the child of God strives not to grieve the Holy Spirit (v30). We grieve the Spirit when we gossip instead of encourage. It grieves Him when we refuse fellowship instead of building up. It grieves God the Holy Spirit when our anger causes irreparable damage to the church.
Brothers and sisters, devour the first three chapters of Ephesians and allow the scale of the Gospel to penetrate deeply into your soul. It is rich, glorious and good - feast on it! Then, with a soul filled with Gospel good, respond to it by walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel. For Christ's sake. Amen.
Q68 What is required in the sixth commandment? The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others.
Year 3 Day 69
Read - Deuteronomy 7, Ezekile 6:1-7
Message - Alan Burke
Knowing what happened in the past helps us to make sense of the present. Today we are going start in the book of Deuteronomy and think what happened between then and Ezekiel’s day as we start, we are going to let scripture interpret scripture. We all know how God had redeemed His people from slavery in Egypt, he had brought salvation to them, they were his chosen people. In Deuteronomy 7 Moses speaks the Word of God to the people, it sets out what God requires of his people, it is to be an exclusive relationship that is seen in their conquest of the Land and their worship of the Lord God himself (Deut 7:1-26). They had been told how there would be blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience as they entered the promised land (Lev 26) and in Deuteronomy 7 the Lord makes clear what they were to do when they entered it.
When the people took possession of the promised land, the land that He the Lord their God was giving them, they must devote the people of that place as well as their idols to destruction. God’s people must destroy it all, and they were told not to intermarry, how they must break down the altars of those people and dash them in pieces, chop down their idols and burn their carved images with fire (Deut 7:1-5). The reason is that they ‘are a people holy to the LORD’ (v6).
It may sound a little extreme to our ears, sure we live in a land that has a variety of idols worshipped but God’s people were to do this. His people were to listen to his word! The reason why they were to be devoted to complete destruction is two fold, it is because the sin of the people there had reached its climax and God was bringing judgement upon them, but it was for their own protection and if they failed to listen they would be vulnerable to the evil of the people. They didn’t listen and well what happened is they intermarried, they began to worship the false idols, they mixed the worship of God with idolatry and idolatrous practices, they didn’t do what the Lord God had commanded and they had been warned. As we come to Ezekiel 6 we learn more about the coming of the Lord’s judgement upon his people, as it moves from Jerusalem to the high places because of their idolatry, because they rebelled against the Lord. (See also Num. 33:52; Deut. 12:1–3; 33:29).
Their apostasy began years before and now God’s judgement was being announced, it would begin with Jerusalem (ch 4-5) then turn against the mountains or rather the high places where the peoples idolatry was focused (Ez 6:4-5). The rot set in years beforehand and now God’s judgement had come. God’s people were to live in an exclusive relationship with their God, they were His chosen people, and their worship was to be exclusively to Him and for Him. The church in Israel and the seven churches listed in the book of Revelation are a warning to us but sadly we haven’t listened. The ‘church’ today does not see fidelity to the Word of God as important, we are more concerned about stuff and entertainment than we are about worship.
If we ever doubt or wonder why the church is in such a state we shouldn’t, we have not followed God’s way. Sadly the word Ichabod is the name of many places across this land for the ‘Glory of the Lord has departed’ (1 Sam 4:21) and they are but graveyards with a service that is conducted by an undertaker. The the Church in Sardis the angel of the church wrote; “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Rev 3:1). The church was the church of the living dead, they were called to repent!
Let us repent, individually, collectively for our unfaithfulness to God and His Word, and remember that the Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him (WSC2). It is not what we want, nor what the church down the road is doing, nor what we have done in the past that should be the vision of your church, rather the church should be founded upon and agreeable to the word. If not it is time to flee from the church of the living dead and repent!
Q67 Which is the sixth commandment?
The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. (Exod. 20:13)
Year 3 Day 67
Read - Ephesians 3
Message - Scott Woodburn
There are people in the world who believe that they live next door to Lord Lucan, Elvis Presley works at their local post office and the moon landings were faked. This is an age were mysteries and conspiracy theories abound - did Donald Trump really lose the last election? Is Bill Gates responsible for Covid 19? I'll leave you to your thoughts on those questions but I'm glad to say that the Bible is in the business of revealing not concealing.
When Paul speaks of a mystery he means that there was something once hidden but it has now been made known. A great mystery now revealed is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and members of the church of Christ. The promises of God given to the Jews are also for the Gentiles (v6). Past generations did not have this truth fully revealed to them but it has now been revealed to the Apostles and the Prophets (v5). With the mystery revealed Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (v7-8).
The Lord does not require us to go on a spiritual trek to try and figure out what He commands. We do not need to crawl up a mountain to seek a holy man at the top. Christianity is not a faith of "hidden knowledge" but a faith of truth and light. By the preaching of the Word the Lord is bringing light to this dark world (v9). As the church proclaims the Gospel she is bringing to the world's attention the manifold wisdom of God (v10).
None of this is by accident. The Lord's eternal purpose is being worked out in and through the work of Christ Jesus (v11) and this same Jesus gives us boldness, access and confidence as we come before Almighty God (v12). This is all well and good but might seem a little bit "theological" for some. God has revealed the mystery of His salvation and the Gentiles are included...what help does this give me tomorrow at work?
Paul sees everything he has just written as a great encouragement to the Ephesians. Paul was suffering much as he sought to take the Gospel to the Gentiles and so he tells the church in Ephesus "Don't lose heart and don't give up. You might hear about me being beaten, mocked and scorned but keep your eyes on Christ! The mystery has been revealed, God is working out His eternal purposes. Rejoice but don't retreat!" Paul was confident in God's revealed plan and he was confident that anything he had to suffer would result in the glory of the Ephesians (v13). How does that work? Don't we believe to God alone the glory?
Well yes we do. But don't lose sight of the beauty of the church. The church is the bride for whom Christ died and the church is the kingdom of God. To the church has been given the Gospel, the Holy Spirit and the ordinary means of grace. You may not think or believe it but the glory of God is displayed in the local church. Paul saw his suffering as worthwhile as it resulted in the glory of God displayed in the church at Ephesus.
As the Apostle considered all of these things it caused him to fall on his knees in prayer (v14). He prayed that the Ephesians would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit (v16), that Jesus would dwell in their hearts by faith (v17), that they would be rooted and grounded in love (v17b) and that they would understand the extraordinary scale of of Christ's love for them (v18). Paul's prayer was that the Ephesians would be filled with the fullness of God (v19). He wanted them to be a mature Christian fellowship which existed for the glory of God.
With his prayer for the Ephesians finished, Paul breaks into a doxology - a song of praise to Almighty God. The Lord is able to do so much more than we could ever possibly imagine, so to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (v20-21). Absolutely. Our God has revealed once hidden truth to the church. His Gospel is for both Jew and Gentile and all who would call upon the name of Jesus. Who deserves all glory, honour and praise? It is no mystery. To God be the glory, forever and ever, amen.
Q66 What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment? The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity (as far as it shall serve for God’s glory, and their own good) to all such as keep this commandment.
Year 3 Day 66
Read - Ezekiel 5:13-17
Message - Alan Burke
As we come to the close of chapter 5, there is something that it important for us to notice and understand which we see in the previous section, v9 and v11 and it is the word ‘because’. This judgement of God that came upon the people was ‘because’ of their sin, the peoples sin. Today sin is a concept that we seem to have lost and the true heinousness of sin before a holy God, the exceeding sinfulness of sin but in Ezekiel’s day it was it is because of sin that the wrath of God came upon these rebellious people. Their sin and the outworking of that sin in their rebellion and idolatry that had seen them turn from the Lord, not following His decrees or keeping His laws, it was seen in how they would turn to cannibalism to try and survive rather than hold to the sanctity of life (10) and as a result the Lord would not look on them with pity (11).
This judgement of God wasn’t one that just came on a whim and the Lord just lost His temper. No, this is the result of their, that is the peoples deliberate rebellion against the Lord. Yes the Lord is slow to anger but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t get angry, nor does it mean that His people can just keep on sinning so that grace may abound. While the Lord had covenanted himself to His people and He had been faithful to them they had been faithless. It wasn’t that they just failed to live up to the standards of God and that they had tried, rather it was that they didn’t even try, they were worse than the nations around living as they pleased not as pleased God.
Jerusalem and the people of God were to be a beacon of light to the nations around but it was a place of darkness and the people were living in sinful rebellion. Israel’s failure to live as God’s people, meant that they instead would face the judgement of God, Jerusalem would lie in ruin, they were judged severely as a warning not only for the remnant that survived but also the nations around. They were judged because of their faithlessness, for although they were to be the people of God, living as the people of God they did not. God had spoken, the sword was against His people because of their sin.
For all of us, the heinous of sin deserves the wrath of a Holy God and we are all deserving of the Lord’s wrath, in the book of Hebrews we are reminded that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:21). Only when we understand the heinousness of our sin before a holy God do we understand the magnificence of the Grace that he has shown to us. For while we deserve his wrath, for those who repent and believe the wrath that we deserve was placed upon another, for Jesus became a curse for us, he suffered and died in our place that we might be forgiven for our sin. So terrible was that wrath that the son of God who had been with the Father from eternity past faced, that there on the cross he cried out with the burden of sin placed upon him, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46), Jesus there experiencing the terrible wrath of God on our behalf that we might escape the judgement due to us for our sin.
Q65 What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing any thing against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations. (Matt. 15:4–6, Ezek. 34:2–4, Rom. 13:8)
Year 3 Day 65
Read - Ephesians 2
Message - Scott Woodburn
Without the Gospel our lives would take a familiar and devastating path. Paul describes it as spiritual death. Everyone is in the same boat, dead in trespasses and sin (v1) and following the path of this world and Satan himself (v2). The individual who is not "in Christ" marches to the beat of their own drum, such a person follows their own passions and desires giving no consideration to their eternal doom (v3). Paul's description of the human condition is that without Christ we are "children of wrath" (v4), we are dead in sin and heading for the righteous wrath of God to be poured out upon us.
Humanity might seem to be on an endless progressive upward curve but regardless of our technological advances our greatest issue is sin. Human history from start to finish is bathed in rebellion and sin which God will one day bring into judgement. These are depressing thoughts which hopefully lead us to a place where we ask "what can be done?" The answer is that we can't do anything, we need someone to do it for us.
After outlining our wretched position, Paul drops two words which change absolutely everything..."BUT GOD" (v4). Here is hope for wretched humans. We are unable to save ourselves and unable to change our misery...BUT GOD! What has God done? Out of sheer mercy and love, even when we were sinful wretches, He made us alive together with Christ (v5). Paul here speaks of our spiritual resurrection, our being born again. It is a supernatural work whereby the Word of God goes forward and the Holy Spirit breathes life into a spiritually dead person.
The dead can't raise themselves BUT GOD steps in and causes hard dead hearts to soften to the sweet tones of the Gospel. This is all of grace. The sinner described in verses one to three deserves nothing but wrath, BUT GOD has poured out His unmerited favour upon those who deserve judgement. In a wonderful way He has raised us to life in Christ and even now it is true to say that we are seated with Jesus in the heavenly places (v6). What does this look like? Jesus remains true God and true man. Flesh and blood is at the right hand of the Father. Because we are "in Christ" and because Jesus lives and will never die again, His presence in glory is a sure testimony that all the promises we have believed are "yes and amen!"
In the ages to come we will see and know the "immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." (v7) Brothers and sisters, we think we know God and at times we love the blessings of the Christian life but in reality we see dimly. A day is coming when we will be filled with awe at the size and scale of God's love for us. It is all by grace that we have been saved, through faith (v8). We have not worked our way into God's good books. The Lord has gifted us with saving faith and even our good works were prepared by God Himself (v8-10). He owes us nothing and yet has given us everything.
This glorious news applies to all who have received Christ by faith. Once in human history the church and the Gospel were primarily focused in ethnic Israel. Gentiles were seen as unclean by the Jews and indeed Gentiles were far from the things of God with no hope and without the Lord (v11-12). But then Christ came. His blood was shed for the sins of his people (v13) and He Himself ushered in a new age where the hostility between Jew and Gentile was done away with (v14).
Christ is the true prophet, priest and king. The old sacrificial system is fulfilled in Christ. The temple is no longer required because Jesus is the true temple. Christ has made one new man instead of two and has brought peace to His people from every age (v15). This work was accomplished at the cross and today regardless of your background, by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone we have access by the Spirit to the Father (v18).
What a journey Paul takes us on in this chapter! Starting with our pitiful wretchedness he takes us to the monumental words "BUT GOD" before showing the Gospel in glorious vivid colour. No words could finish this devotion better than those Spirit inspired words of the Apostle. Hear them...
"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." (v19-22)
Q64 What is required in the fifth commandment? The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals.
Year 3 Day 64
Read - Ezekiel 5:5-12
Message - Alan Burke
I remember back in my school days that if you got caught doing something that you shouldn’t outside of school wearing your school uniform you’d face consequences in school. I’m not sure the same thing happens today though. The idea behind it was that you in your uniform represented the school, you were a witness as such, your actions spoke about the type of character the school was, and as a result we knew that it was important to take our blazers off so that we wouldn’t face the consequences of our behaviour. Wearing the blazer we represented the school, our actions had a direct correlation on how that school was viewed by the public, if one of us was seen spraying something on a gable wall then the school got a bad name, if someone was seen breaking a window then the school got a bad name, you get the idea!
Well God’s people were to be His people, a people who were a light to the nations, they were to live as God’s peoples under His word and rule. Well the fact of the matter is that although they were to to be a light, they lived in darkness! Not because God had not revealed himself to them but that they choose not to live as God’s people under His word and rule, they were a rebellious house. What had happened is that they had taken their status, their calling, their privileged position in the world for granted. Even though the Lord God in His gracious purposes had set them in the centre of the nations we are told here (v5) they were an example of a faithless people to a faithful God, they were disobedient, rebellious, they were worse than the nations around them, they rejected God’s laws, and failed to follow His decrees. They were worse than the pagan nations that surrounded them. This is an inditement on them, they were to represent God to the nations around, they were His witnesses, His witnesses, how they lived correlated to how the nations around viewed God.
As the Lord speaks once more though the prophet Ezekiel, tells them that “I myself am against you”. The Lord God was bringing judgement, He was against this people for they were wickedness and rebellion. They were to be His people but they were worse than the nations around them. Since they did not live as they should, then the Lord would make them an example, not and example of His Grace and mercy but an example of His judgement. God’s people were example of his judgement, the land of Judah was left desolate, the nations ridiculed her and at the same time these nations would see the hand of God at work against his own people, it served as a warning that God could and would do the same to them. Notice in all of this, in this declaration to the people nothing mentioned of the hope that was declared to Ezekiel of the few hairs that were folded in his garment, God was bringing judgement and even though there was hope in the midst of it they they were unaware of it.
Today the mission that was first given to the nation of Israel has been given to the church, the people of God, we are to live as God’s peoples under His word and rule. 1 Peter 2 makes clear, that we; “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once we were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pe 2:9–10).
The implications of this is that we are to live in a way that conforms not with the world, but with the Word of God. We are to be a people that look to the word of God as our rule and guide. We are to be a people that live as God wants rather than the culture around us. We are to take the things of God seriously, instead of becoming a people who like the rebellious nation that the Lord was bringing His judgement upon have turned, rejecting the laws and decrees of God as they had done. If we don’t and we may not think that it matters too much but how we live correlates to how those around us view God, for we are His witnesses in this world of darkness, how we act and behave should be in accordance with the word of God in response to the salvation we have received.
Q63 Which is the fifth commandment?
The fifth commandment is, Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exod. 20:12)
Year 3 Day 63
Read - Ephesians 1
Message - Scott Woodburn
It was once said that those who gain Christ lose nothing. Do you believe that? Paul certainly did. He was sure that God had blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (v3). How? By bringing us to salvation in Christ. Those two words "in Christ" ring out throughout these opening verses.
Christians have been chosen "in Christ" before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before the Lord (v4). Here is the great doctrine of election. In eternity past the Father chose a people for salvation, the Son would die for these people and the Spirit would draw these people to the Son. We call this the Covenant of Redemption and it is utterly humbling. All have sinned and no one deserves salvation, indeed if we had been left to our own devices no one would ever have turned to God. Thanks be to God therefore that He chose a multitude for salvation "in Christ".
The Lord's choice was not based on anything He saw in us. He didn't gaze at sinful humanity and pick the best ones. The Lord's sovereign election was dependent upon His great and perfect love (v4b). In this love He decreed that some would be adopted into the family of God "through Christ" (v5). This choice was according to the will of God and results in the praise of His glorious grace (v6). That grace, that unmerited favour to people deserving God's wrath is another blessing that we discover "in Christ" who is called "the Beloved" (v6).
In Christ we have been redeemed by His precious blood. Jesus has paid the price to redeem us from slavery to sin (v7). In Christ and by His amazing grace our sins have been forgiven (v7b). This grace has been lavished upon us and the grand mystery of salvation has been revealed. Jesus was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. In the fulness of time Christ came to save His people from their sins and one day things in heaven and on earth will be united "in Christ" (v10).
"In Christ" we have obtained an inheritance that makes our Granda's farm look like a poor offering. The Christian's inheritance will never perish, spoil or fade. We are bound for glory and will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth with Christ Himself (v11-12). "In Christ" we heard the Gospel, believed the Gospel and received the gift of the Holy Spirit who was sent by Christ Himself (v13). Those "in Christ" have the Holy Spirit as a sure guarantee of our inheritance (v14). We will be saved, we will be raised, we will dwell secure for eternity - the Holy Spirit guarantees it!
As Paul reminds the Ephesians of the immeasurable benefits of being "in Christ" he can't help rejoice thanking God for the Ephesians and remembering them in his prayers (v15-16). For what does he pray? That the Lord would give them wisdom and knowledge in the things of God (v17), that the Lord would give the Ephesians a grander vision of the hope they have in Christ, that they would grow to understand the riches of Christ's glorious inheritance in the saints (v18) and that the Lord would expand their vision of God's immeasurably great power towards His people (v19). Our congregations would do well to pray this consistently for our own fellowships.
Paul understood that the God who raised Christ and seated Him at the right-hand in glory and placed Him above all powers, authorities and dominions and made Him head over all things including the church, is the same God who is for us and has called us to be "in Christ"
Ephesians chapter one is glorious. There is no-one like our God and there is no greater privilege than to be "in Christ" Brothers and sisters, those who gain Christ lose nothing. Rejoice!
Q62 What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment? The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.
Year 3 Day 62
Read - Ezekiel 5:1-4
Message - Alan Burke
We all make informed choices every day. Some of those choices are neither here nor there, others can and will lead to consequences. Think of how are to eat 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, it’s good for your health but we may have a better chance of eating 5 portions or variety of biscuits daily. Also we should choose unsaturated oils and spreads but how many of us are unwilling to give up butter. I’m not a doctor, I tend to avoid them, but I know enough, actually we all know enough that if we never ate fruit or vegetables and only ate biscuits that were not going to be too well or even eating too many biscuits. We also know enough to know that if we fried everything in dripping and then spread an inch of butter on it before we eat it, then heath problems are coming if we don’t that is experience them already. While we make informed choices many of us still try to bury our heads in the sand and think that we are the exception and our choices will never impact us!
I want to take you to the book of Leviticus as we start (Ch 26), you can read it although it is not essential for this devotion. There God made His covenant with His people, in it He was clear that if His people obeyed His word and kept the covenant then there would be blessing. But and this is key, for if they did not keep the covenant then there would be curses for their disobedience. The Lord God made it clear, live in my way and good things will happen, don’t live in my way then bad things will happen. It wasn’t rocket science, it wasn’t that they were ignorant of how to live, they had all the information necessary to make an informed choice and they chose, well, to go their own way. Sin reigned among them!
Now Ezekiel is told by the Lord that he is to take a sharp sword, use it as a barbers razor and to shave his head and beard. There is a reason though why God was telling Ezekiel to do such a thing, well there are two reasons. Firstly it is because the sword speaks of the judgement that is coming upon the people at the hands of the invading army and the other point, well for that we have to let scripture interpret scripture. Israelite men were prohibited from from shaving or cutting parts of their beard (Lev 19:27). Ezekiel before hand would have had likely a big strangely beard and long hear, and although saving was a sign of mourning, of distress, priests themselves were prohibited from shaving, Leviticus 21 tells us “’Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies.” (Lev 21:5). If a priest shaved his head he was seen as defiled, meaning he was no longer Holy. God in telling Ezekiel to do this was to be a visual aid for the people, that as Ezekiel had become defiled, that he was no longer holy. The point is this, they too as a people were defiled they were no longer holy and they would suffer by the sword but in a much worse way than Ezekiel did.
Yet in the midst of this judgment notice how there is hope! For Ezekiel is to take a few strands of hair and tuck them away in the folds of his garment (3). Yes some would be thrown into the fire that would spread to the whole house of Israel but not all of those that were to be placed in his garment would be lost. Some, the remnant of the people of God would be saved. Even in the midst of the coming judgement God did not fail to show His mercy. In the judgement that comes they would know indeed that the Lord is God, the remnant would repent and turn once more to Him and one day through the remnant one would come, who now has come Jesus Christ. We are by our nature unholy, we are unable to come before a Holy God, yet Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God came to deal with the sins of His people, all those who repent and believe. That is the good news of the gospel, that our sin has been dealt with through another, through Jesus and we have experienced the mercy of God that we do not deserve though faith in Jesus Christ.
Q61 What is forbidden in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, (Amos 8:5, Mal. 1:13) and the profaning the day by idleness, (Acts 20:7,9) or doing that which is in itself sinful, (Ezek. 23:38) or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations. (Jer. 17:24–26, Isa. 58:13)
Year 3 Day 60
Read - Galatians 6
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Christian life is not like going to the gym. In such a place the focus is on our own self improvement, Vera might be struggling on the treadmill but that is no concern of ours. We are there to improve our own strength, our own fitness, our own body. But the Christian life is not lived in such isolation, instead we are to do good to everyone and especially the church (v10).
The letter to the Galatians finishes with such a reminder. If anyone is caught in sin the more mature Christian is to seek to restore the fallen brother. This should be done without arrogance lest the mature brother also fall (v1). Christians are to bear one another's burdens for this fulfils Christ's command for us to love one another (v2). As we live together in fellowship we are to put aside self-righteousness - the church is not the place for egos or superstars (v3). Indeed we are to pay attention to our own work and motives. We carry our own load and in this way it keeps us from snooping on the liberty of our fellow Christian (v4-5). We are to submit ourselves to the teaching of our leaders and we are to provide financial support to those who labour for the Lord (v6).
All of this stood in direct contrast to the impact of the false teachers. Their doctrine of self-righteousness produced envy, strife, bitterness, jealousy and gossip among the flock. Instead of bearing one another's burdens, Christians were always mindful of each other's failings and successes. The faith became a competition to be won and a ladder to be climbed. This has always been the result of false gospels. What is sown in the flesh always results in corruption (v8) but thankfully what is sown in the Spirit results in eternal life.
So the follower of Christ is to shun the works of the flesh and not grow weary of doing good (v9). I know we can grow frustrated when no one seems to notice the work that we do. At times the lack of encouragement can wound and our legs can grow weak when it seems all we hear is criticism, but again, brothers and sisters do not stop doing good to everyone and especially our fellow Christians (v10). In due time we will certainly reap a glorious harvest (v9b).
Galatians is perhaps Paul's earliest letter and he finished it in a Christ exalting manner. Those who insisted upon circumcision sought only to boast in the flesh (v13). They wanted a crowd gathered around them who once again had submitted to a yoke a slavery. Paul pointed in another direction. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counted for anything (v15). What really mattered was salvation and the new life it brought. Therefore Paul refused to boast in the flesh despite the fact that his body bore many scars and wounds from persecution (v17). Instead Paul boasted in the cross of Christ (v14).
Brothers and sisters, we bring nothing to the Lord that impresses Him. We do not work our way to salvation and we do not work to stay saved. When you are tempted to believe it is all about you, may you remember that it actually is all about Christ. He kept the law perfectly and became a curse for us. Through faith in Jesus we are declared righteous and as the Spirit works we are being sanctified. Let no one convince you that it is any other way. Salvation and sanctification belong to the Lord and in response we love and serve the Israel of God (v16).
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (v18)
Q60 How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Year 3 Day 59
Read - Ezekiel 4:16-17
Message - Alan Burke
What we have been told so far is that Ezekiel is to draw Jerusalem on a clay tablet, besiege the clay tablet with ramps, camps, battering rams. He was to place an iron pan between himself and the clay tablet representing Jerusalem and this iron pan is to represent the barrier between God and His people. He was to eat a meagre ration that was neither one thing or the other that, he was to cook in excrement and his water it rationed also.
So that Ezekiel could be in no doubt why he was to make this model, why he was survive for 430 days on such rations, he is now told by the Lord. Jerusalem would be under siege, God would cut their supply of food and water, ie they would face the consequences of the siege against them. The reality is that they would waste away as a result of starvation, all of this results because of their sin. What was coming, the Babylonians the siege, the starvation, was because of the sin of the people.
How did it get to this? Sadly it was because for years they tolerated sin in their midst, they didn’t do anything about those who claimed to be part of the people of God and made a mockery of it. They were a rebellious people who had failed to do anything about the sin of the people in their midst, it was the impact of sin in the lives of his people had caused the coming judgment. The holy God was about to judge his unholy people because of their sin. The closing words of this chapter make that clear, they will waste away because of their sin. All that would fall on the people was because of the peoples sin.
God did not turn a blind eye to His peoples sin then nor does he now. We are warned in 1 Corinthians how a little leaven can impact the whole, how it can transform. This is what sin does! It only takes a little that is tolerated among a people before it affects and infects the whole. (1 Cor 5). For those sins that are public they should be dealt with publicly, for those sins that are private they should be dealt with privately, but sin should be dealt with and not just ignored.
God will not turn a blind eye to our sin and he will hold churches accountable for their failure to address it. In Revelation 2:5 to the Church in Ephesus the Lord warns that if they do not repent, he will come and remove their lampstand. Things may look healthy in churches but unless the preaching of the word is central and sin is addressed then the Lord will indeed remove our lamp stand. How sad a place it would be if we like the people of God in Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s day thought we were alright but failed to see that God was bringing his judgement, His discipline on us. The good news is for the Christian is we are those who have received Christ and escaped the eternal judgement and wrath of God that is due to us because of our sin. That good news though is not an excuse to keep on sinning, we are to repent, believe in the gospel, and a mark of that repentance and belief is the continuing to repentance of sin.
Q58 What is required in the fourth commandment?
The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself. (Deut. 5:12–14)