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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB November 17

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Nov 17
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Today's One Year Bible Reading

Ezekiel

35:5 "Your eternal [nice word] hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins." Of course we know that it was not eternal hatred. But there's a point here. Have you ever experienced punishment that does not fit the crime? Perhaps you made a mistake and people dragged you through it far worse than you deserved, especially since God had already disciplined you for your mistake? I have so been there and it is so comforting to know that God sees the injustice of the mean spirited punishment of people. How will God deal with these merciless punishers?

35:11-13 "Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will pay back your angry deeds with my own. I will punish you for all your acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will make myself known to Israel by what I do to you. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have heard every contemptuous word you spoke against the mountains of Israel. For you said, ‘They are desolate; they have been given to us as food to eat!' In saying that, you boasted proudly against me, and I have heard it all!" Now remember, we are talking "spiritual Israel" here at this point in history (today). Basically God says, "If you mess with my chosen, you are messin' with Me."

36:22-23 "I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord." So basically, this has nothing to do with our righteousness or deservedness (which we already know), and everything to do with God protecting His namesake. Somehow, He is using us in spite of ourselves to fulfill His promises to the world. Very humbling!

Now on another level here, I see another picture forming. Israel came from the name and the person, "Jacob." I recently noticed something amazing:

Abraham is a picture of God the Father. It is through His (God's) offspring that all the families of the world would be blessed and He would have offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and sands on the seashore.

Isaac is a picture of Jesus the Son. He was offered (willingly) as a sacrifice and through Him the promise to Abraham would continue.

Jacob is a picture of the chosen, or those on this earth through whom God would work to bring about His promises to mankind. Jacob is born a deceiver and con man, but through an encounter with God, he is given a new nature and a new name (Israel or "God rules"). And it is through Jacob/Israel/overcomers in Christ that God is working out His promises. Interestingly, once God conquers all of us Jacob's, He rules OVER us, and later, He will rule THROUGH us. Isn't that amazing?

Interestingly, in Jacob's life, he was sent away from his home because of his own sin, but God promised to "bring him back again" to his homeland. In the same way, as we see in this passage, God scatters Israel but promises to bring them back again. Not because they deserve it, but because God is faithful. This too is why he brought Jacob the person back and why He will bring Israel back. I believe "back to our homeland" for spiritual Israel is not about a physical Israel, but our destination of reigning with Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom.

36:24 For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.

36:25-27 "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ahhh...here we have another promise of the New Covenant.

36:32 But remember, says the Sovereign Lord, I am not doing this because you deserve it. O my people of Israel, you should be utterly ashamed of all you have done! As I read the history of Jacob this week, I was reminded of just how awful and deceiving he was. He paid a heavy price too! God totally turned the tables and made Jacob taste his own medicine of how it feels to be deceived. Jacob's family was about thee most dysfunctional family in the Bible, yet God used his family to be the household of the promise. This verse is a great reminder that it is because of our righteousness that the Lord uses any of us. He takes a bunch of sinful, dysfunctional deceivers, and He goes about working on our character to conform us to the image of Christ so that we might receive a new nature and become a resident of the house of spiritual Israel.

James

Audience: To the twelve tribes who are dispersed (in the Diaspora) abroad. I think it's interesting that it's to the 12 tribes. So it includes Judah as well as the tribes of Israel scattered among the nations. Judah is the tribe receiving the scepter (rule or dominion) in the spiritual kingdom (Jesus) as well as in the coming Millennial Kingdom and Israel is the tribe receiving the birthright (fruitfulness mandate of bringing forth the manifested sons of God both now and in the Kingdom). Now understand that some people are going to say that this book does not apply to Gentile Christians, but we have studied this year that the NT teaches that true believers have been grafted in as spiritual Jews and spiritual Israel. This is every bit to us! However, we must apply it as the early Church Jews would so we understand what they are saying.

1:4 (NAS) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Again, this is to the aspiring overcomers. This is about becoming perfected so we can complete the race (see vs. 12)!

1:9-10 (NAS) But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. In God's economy, it is all about opposites. Can you imagine...the poor should glory in their "high position"? Very cool thought.

1:12 (NAS) Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. What is the "crown of life"? I believe it is more than what we've realized. The overcomers will reign and rule with Christ as kings and priests. I think the crown is a reference to this.

1:18  (NLT) He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

1:18 (NAS) In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

When we compare the two verses, there are vital and pronounced differences! He brought us forth by the "word of truth." Haven't we learned that not all that calls itself truth is truth? But He reveals His truth to those who are seeking Him in Spirit and in truth. Another vital point is the difference between prized possession and first fruits. As we know, this is about the Harvests and it makes all the difference how you say it. A first century Jew would have no idea what you were talking about if you said "prized possession." God never calls them that. The overcomers are the first fruits in the first resurrection over the coming harvest of mankind. This, they would understand.

Psalm

116:6  The LORD preserves the simple (NLT: those of childlike faith); I was brought low, and He saved me. Cool reminder! We have to go low before we realize we need a Savior!

Contradiction:

116:15 (NLT) The Lord's loved ones are precious to Him; it grieves Him when they die.

116:15 (NAS) Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones. Now why would this verse get changed so dramatically?