OT: Ezekiel 40:28-41:26
Oh my heavens. The temple measurements continued throughout today's reading. That was all there was. Measurements. So many details, and yet I don't have the foggiest clue what this thing looks like. I'm just picturing a lot of walls and alcoves and palm trees and cherubim. Everything is very symmetrical and uniform. And beyond that, I don't have a clue.
All I know is that it appears to be a vision of the restored temple. Maybe tomorrow we will see where he is going with this.
NT: James 4: 1-17
Thank goodness for good ol' practical James. It is a wonderful counterbalance to the tedium of Ezekiel right now.
Today, James warns us to resist the selfish "desires that battle within you" (1). Such desires lead to coveting, quarreling, and even murder. They also sabotage our prayers by infusing them with impure motives (3). Instead, we are to resist such worldly impulses, separate ourselves from the world, fight the devil, and submit to God (4-7).
I love the simple, parallel wording found in verses 7-8: "Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." My favorite phrase in there is, "Come near to God and he will come near to you." That is one of those verses that comes into my head often, one that has built itself into the foundation of my faith.
Verses 11-12 talk about judgment. I have been interested in the NT's teaching on judgment lately, b/c my mom has enlisted my help in writing a lesson on the subject. Specifically, the lesson addresses how we are supposed to treat our brothers and sisters. My mom falls firmly on the "don't judge" side, as do I...and yet, there are several passages in the Bible that seem to advocate some level of "in house" judging, or judging among Christians. These verses in James, however, support the other side of the coin. They warn against the folly of judging others, and conclude by asking rhetorically, "But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?" (12).
In verses 13-15, James warns against the presumption of treating future plans as if they were set in stone. I don't know if it was b/c of a sermon I heard one time, or what, but these verses have deeply influence my way of thinking, to the point where I can hardly relate future plans without throwing in a knee-jerk, "God willing." Although the words can be reflexive and shallow, I am appreciative of these verses for providing the constant reminder that my future is not in my hands. We are not the masters of our own fate, and it is delusional to act otherwise.
The praise psalm continues, and in it, we find the famous verse,
"The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone" (22).
It's famous because Jesus quoted it in all the synoptics. (Confession: I was sure that Paul had quoted it, maybe in Corinthians, but I looked it up to be certain. And I was truly flabbergasted that it was Jesus who had quoted it, and in all three synoptic gospels. Peter also preached it in Acts 4, and it is mentioned in 1 Peter. But not Paul, ever.)