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dawn of a new day September 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Ezekiel 43:18- 46:24

A New Day

A new day is often a sign of hope. Christians, we have been forgiven, freed from the prison of our sins, saved by God's grace and given a glorious hope. Now it is a new day. How should we then live? That is the question God answered for the exiles in Babylon in the 5th Century before Christ, and the answer is similar to what God might expect of us today. He wants us to live differently.

When the nations of Israel and Judah were in their land, they became very wicked and idolatrous, more so, in fact, than all the other nations they had displaced to claim their inheritance. God gave them hundreds of years to repent, but they kept getting worse and worse. Finally, God used Assyria and Babylon to remove them from their land. Now it was just a place of charred rubble and their temple was gone. The survivors were now in exile and in despair. In God's grace he shared with them a plan for a new temple if they would only do one thing - genuinely repent. That was Amazing Grace. Could they go back to their land and live as they did before? No! God would not allow that. They needed to re-establish some good godly habits but do them from the heart.

“Say to the rebellious house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Enough of your detestable practices, O house of Israel! In addition to all your other detestable practices, you brought foreigners uncircumcised in heart and flesh into my sanctuary, desecrating my temple while you offered me food, fat and blood, and you broke my covenant. Instead of carrying out your duty in regard to my holy things, you put others in charge of my sanctuary.’”

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and flesh is to enter my sanctuary, not even the foreigners who live among the Israelites,’” (Ezekiel 44:6-9, NIV).

Foreigners with their foreign gods and detestable practices were what got Israel and Judah into trouble. They were now not allowed to go into God's sanctuary unless they became circumcised spiritually (spiritually converted) and physically (at that time circumcision was a sign of identification with God's people).

Furthermore, the leaders of the people, who apparently had stolen land from their rightful owners for their own profits were not to do that anymore. They must behave honestly and justly in all their dealings with property and business (45:9-10).

There were also some consequences for a religious group who had led the nation astray. God gave Ezekiel these instructions:

“The Levites who went far from me when Israel went astray and who wandered from me after their idols must bear the consequences of their sin. They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. But because they served them in the presence of their idols and made the house of Israel fall into sin, therefore I have sworn with uplifted hand that they must bear the consequences of their sin,” declares the Sovereign LORD.

“They are not to come near to serve me as priests or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; they must bear the shame of their detestable practices. Yet I will put them in charge of the duties of the temple and all the work that is to be done in it.”

“But the priests, who are Levites and descendants of Zadok and who faithfully carried out the duties of my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood,” declares the Sovereign LORD, (Ezekiel 44:10-15, NIV).

A mystery person in the new city and temple is the prince. He would offer sacrifices for himself and the people as a priest, and worship God. He would occupy a special position and have special access through the same eastern gate that the presence of God would enter. He would also father children and be given land for an inheritance. Who is this prince? Ezekiel 37:24-25 identifies him as David, former renowned king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart. If this Scripture is taken literally, then David would be resurrected from the dead to once again live a human life, capable of sinning and fathering children. A problem exists with this interpretation, however, because like Moses and Elijah, David is in his glorified state. Why would he leave that to become human again? Though a literal interpretation is always possible because God is in control, it seems more reasonable that there will be a prince like David in the same way that John the Baptist was likened to Elijah. Perhaps he will be a human descendant of David.

It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths-- at all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel. (45:17, NIV).

No more will Israel bring blemished or maimed animals for sacrifices to the LORD. The offerings will be just as God requires and will be accepted by him.

Lessons to live by: When we are cleansed from our sins it is a new day for us as well. God wants us to live differently. He still wants us to go to church and participate, but he wants us to do it from our hearts; and whereas we used to do bad things, God wants us to change our minds and our habits (Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-14).

If you wish to inquire into the meaning of the offerings meantioned in this reading, go to more...

Today's Bible memory verse: Romans 6:13

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. (NIV)

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