September 11 — Israel’s Future — Ezk. 35-37. The attitude Edom had toward Judah in Ezekiel’s day was very much like that of the Arab nations surrounding Israel today: “… the anger and envy that you showed because of your hatred against them” (35:11). God’s prophecies about Israel returning to its land have been partially fulfilled but there is more to come. God said He would eventually “put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (36:27). When that happens, the Messiah, “My servant David shall be king over them, and … I will make … an everlasting covenant with them … and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore” (37:24-25). God is not finished with Israel.
September 12 — Gog and Magog — Ezk. 38-39. The identity of Gog and Magog is clouded in mystery. In Ezekiel, Gog is the human leader of the land of Magog; in Rev. 20:7, Gog and Magog are “the nations that are at the four corners of the earth.” The prophecy refers to events that are far into the future (“After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years …”—38:8). Rev. 20:7 puts it at the time “when the thousand years are ended.” Twice, Ezekiel says these attacking people will come “from the uttermost parts of the north” (38:6; 39:2). The current country farthest north of Israel is Russia, and Moscow is almost directly north of Jerusalem. The invading force will be huge. Twice, Ezekiel says the northern armies “will be like a cloud covering the land” (38:9, 16). A similar description in Rev. 20:7 is that “their number is like the sand of the sea.” Their death will be caused by God, sending fire from heaven (Rev. 20:8). Twice, Ezekiel mentions the consuming fire (38:22; 39:6). What will be the purpose of all this? Apparently, this: “The house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God, from that day forward” (39:22).
September 13 — Ezekiel’s Temple — Ezk. 40-41. These chapters describe details of the construction of the Jerusalem temple that Ezekiel saw in a vision. I have attached a diagram from the ESV Study Bible that should be helpful to have in view as you read the description. His earlier vision of the temple (ch. 8-11) described how it was desecrated by the priests and people, causing the glory of God to depart from it. In our reading for tomorrow, we will see God’s glory return in a dramatic way.
September 14 — Temple Interpretation — Ezk. 42-43. The temple that Ezekiel saw was one that God said would be built in the future: “… when it is erected for burnt offerings …” (43:18). But although these detailed dimensions were provided to Ezekiel during the Babylonian exile, the temple built by Ezra and Zerubbabel after the exile was not the one described to Ezekiel. Neither was it the one replaced by King Herod in Jesus’ day. It is a temple for the future, in which God said, “This is the place of my throne … where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever” (43:7). But why would this temple, with its sacrifices, be needed after Jesus’ final sacrifice on the cross? Several interpretations have been offered to try to explain this. Here is a summary of some mentioned in the ESV Study Bible: (1) a literal rebuilt temple with Israel’s tribes dwelling in the land in a future earthly millennial kingdom, (2) a metaphor predicting the presence of God in the new covenant age of the Church, (3) symbolic of God’s presence among his people in the new heavens and new earth, (4) both literal and symbolic elements describing future realities beyond Ezekiel’s ability to describe. In my opinion, all of them leave unanswered questions. Do you have it figured out?
September 15 — Mysterious Kingdom — Ezk. 44-45. The mystery of this future kingdom continues with human kings (“princes”—45:8), sacrificial sin offerings (45:23), and priests who are descendants of the faithful Zadok (44:15), who served during the reigns of David and Solomon. This mystery reminded me of the song we used to sing in church: “We Shall Understand It Better By and By” — Charles Tindley (1906).
September 16 — Special City — Ezk. 46-48. The prophecy of Ezekiel concludes with a description of the future end-times city in Israel and the division of the land according to the 12 tribes. From inside the temple flows a river that provides life for the land, even freshening the Dead Sea so that “there will be very many fish” (47:9), a situation that certainly does not exist today in a body of water that is over 8 times saltier than the ocean. It is interesting that Ezekiel never calls this city “Jerusalem” in this prophecy but he reveals its special name in his last verse: “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The LORD Is There” (48:35). The Lord’s presence makes it perfect.
September 17 — Daniel — Dan. 1-2. I love the stories in the first half of Daniel. They are so full of faith and of honor to God. Daniel, probably as a teenager, went to Babylon with King Jehoiakim (1:1) in the first wave of exiles from Jerusalem in 605 BC and stayed there until Cyrus became king in Babylon in 539 BC (1:21), which is 66 years. Daniel showed great faith when he asked for an appointment with the king to interpret his dream before God had revealed it to him (2:16). His next step was to get his friends to pray for God to reveal the dream (2:17). As soon as God showed him the dream and its interpretation that night, he “blessed the God of heaven” (2:19). Even when the king heard the interpretation, he told Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods” (2:46).