~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Ezekiel 44:1-45:12 ~ 1 Peter 1:1-12
Psalm 119:17-32 ~ Proverbs 28:8-10
Old Testament - In Ezekiel chapters 44 and 45 today we see the priesthood restored to Israel! It's interesting that the Levites are taken down a notch in how they can serve in the temple and the Zadokites are elevated. Zadok was a priest during the time of David & Solomon and a descendent of Eleazar and ultimately Aaron. Below is a fresco of Zadok by Michelangelo from the year 1611 and is in the Capella Sistina at the Vatican in Rome:
Chapter 44, verse 28 really stood out to me today: "As to property, the priests will not have any, for I alone am their inheritance." I like that! God alone is the priests' inheritance. What is our inheritance? Is it property? Is it things of this earth? Or could our inheritance be God as well? Should God be our inheritance? How is God our inheritance? If the Lord is not our inheritance, what then do we inherit? The wind? It's an age old debate as you'll see in the image above. Where do you stand? Can we inherit eternal life through the grace of God and faith in Jesus? Or do we simply inherit the wind? (Nothingness) What does your heart tell you? Most importantly, what does the Bible tell you?
In Ezekiel chapter 45 verses 1 through 8 today we read about the division of the land for Ezekiel's temple vision. A nice simple image for these verses is below:
New Testament - Today we begin the Apostle Peter's first epistle! Below is a Russian Orthodox icon of Peter -
~ First Peter ~
Author: Peter the apostle
Place: Uncertain, perhaps Rome
Date: A.D. 63 or 64
Content: The apostle Peter wrote this letter near the end of his life to comfort and encourage the Jewish Christians who were living in Asia Minor. He points out that suffering is part of the Christian life and that God has an imperishable reward reserved for those who trust him. In case any were thinking of returning to Judaism to escape from persecution, Peter points out that the church is now the chosen nation and the priesthood of God. Hence any thoughts of returning to Judaism were futile. Peter then presents the example of Christ who suffered and admonished the believers to be prepared for the same experience.
Theme: The theme of First Peter is triumph through suffering. Early Christians lived difficult lives, often paying for their faith with their lives, but this letter shows us that it is worth it, no matter what the price. God knows all that is occurring and in his eternal plan will work everything out for the best. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 32)
A great overview of First Peter and the other “Non-Pauline Epistles” by J. Hampton Keathley is at this link. Scroll down just below his commentary on Hebrews & James to get to his commentary on First Peter. Below is an oil painting of Peter by the artist El Greco (known as "The Greek", but the artist's real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos) from the early 17th century -
1 Peter 1:4-6 are powerful verses: "For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while." These verses tie in nicely with the Ezekiel 44:28 comments above, no? :) Are we truly glad about this priceless inheritance? Do we believe there is a priceless inheritance for us in heaven? Do we understand that we may have to endure many trials in this life before receiving this inheritance? Will you endure the many trials that will come your way, knowing that God's inheritance is awaiting you through His grace and your faith in Christ?
Verse 8 is a beautiful thought about Jesus and our relationship with him (and ties in nicely with this picture above) - "You love him even though you have never seen him." Even though you have never seen Jesus, do you love Him?
Psalms - Wow. Psalm 119 verse 29 is powerful - "Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your law." Do you ever lie to yourself? If you answered no, are you lying to yourself now? :) I think that lying to ourselves is part of our fallen human condition. I think we're probably pretty good at it. And I think that maybe the cure for this is even found in this same verse - the prayer of "give me the privilege of knowing your law." It is a privilege to know God's Word. It is a free privilege, but a privilege that I think we can often take for granted or simply ignore. Through our study of God's Word let us pray that we allow God to show us any area of our life where we might be lying to ourselves. And let us allow God to redeem that area and give us the clarity of Truth. Like this Psalmist, will you pray to God and ask Him to keep you from lying to yourself? Will you pray this prayer often?
Proverbs - Proverb 28:9 makes me simply say yikes... "The prayers of a person who ignores the law are despised." This proverb is quite the opposite from yesterday's readings in James telling us the prayers of a righteous person are powerful in James 5:16b: "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results." Think there is a correlation between what these two verses teach? Lord, please let our earnest prayers be heard!
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!