A Wall of Separation #1553

He measured it on the four sides; it had a wall all around, five hundred cubits long and five hundred wide, to separate the holy areas from the common. (Ezekiel 42:20, NKJV)

Ezekiel’s visionary temple (Ezekiel 40-43) was measured by a man whose appearance was like bronze and who had “a measuring rod in his hand” (Ezekiel 40:3). Ezekiel was to look, listen, and fix his mind on everything God showed him in the vision so he could tell the house of Israel everything he saw (Ezekiel 40:4). This is not a literal temple to be built sometime in our future. It is a figurative, prophetic description of the temple of God that exists today, the church (Ephesians 2:19-22). The description of this temple was to cause Israel to “be ashamed of their iniquities” as they “measured the pattern” (Ezekiel 43:10, 11). Notably, Ezekiel’s temple is distinguished by the presence of God’s glory and by its holiness (Ezekiel 43:1-5, 12). The wall surrounding the temple marks a separation between holy places and what is common or profane (Ezekiel 42:20). God, who is holy, demands that His people are also holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Defiled priests could not serve in Israel’s tabernacle and temple (Leviticus 21). Neither can Christians (who are priests in God’s house) serve God with defiled hearts, hands and lives (1 Peter 2:1-12). To dwell with God we must come out of sin and live separately unto Him (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

God’s Plumb Line is in the Midst of His People #1552

7 Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said: “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.” (Amos 7:7–8, NKJV)

Amos’ message was far from positive. God’s prophet had a dreadful message of punishment for the northern kingdom of Israel. Instead of standing upright against idolatry, immorality and injustice, they had participated in them. God’s plumb line, His truth, was in the midst of Israel, and they were not straight. God had repeatedly called them to repentance, but they would not return to Him. It was time to meet God (Amos 4:12). God’s word remains the standard of morality, teaching and faith. Everyone is judged by it (John 12:48-50; Romans 2:16; Revelation 20:12). God is longsuffering toward sinners, calling them through the gospel to repent (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4). But, God is also just. His day of wrath will come, and we dare not have an impenitent heart toward His judgment (Romans 2:2-5). Like Israel, the church today is under threat of compromise with sin. Many have already accepted the world’s values and practices. The house of God will not escape judgment when we fail to stand upright and  be faithful to the word of God (1 Peter 4:17-18). God’s plumb line is in the midst of His people (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 John 9).

“Be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy” #1551

And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine. (Leviticus 20:26, NKJV)

Have you ever read Leviticus? It is a detailed record of many of the laws God gave Israel concerning the priesthood, sacrifices and offerings, purification and moral living. The overriding theme of the book is “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). The holiness of God is the compelling reason His people must be holy. Whether we speak of Israel under the Sinai law, or the whole world under the gospel of Christ, we cannot live unholy lives and then somehow demand that God accept us “as we are” and even reward us in our unholiness. Yet, that is the attitude of many toward God. The context of today’s verse commanded Israel to keep all the statutes and judgments of God “that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out” (Leviticus 20:22). Today, if God’s people neglect the salvation we have in Jesus Christ we will not escape an even worse punishment (Hebrews 2:1-3). Holiness demands we make a distinction between what is clean and unclean, what is sin and righteous, what is evil and good (Leviticus 20:25). God separated Israel so it would be holy before Him. We must separate ourselves from unholiness or we, like Israel, will be defiled and condemned (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” #1550

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (Psalm 51:12, NKJV)

Joy is connected to salvation from sins. When the Ethiopian believed and was baptized “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). The Philippian jailer and his household rejoiced after they believed and were baptized in obedience to the word of the Lord (Acts 16:31-34). God’s gracious forgiveness refreshes the soul with a joy that “no one can take from you” (John 16:22). How then could it be said that the joy of God’s salvation needed to be restored to David? Simply because David had separated himself from that salvation’s joy by his sins of adultery, deceit and murder (2 Samuel 11-12). His ability to rejoice in God’s salvation was restored because he acknowledged his sins and God washed him of his sins (Psalm 51:1-4, 7-9). We cannot sin and expect salvation and its joy to continue with us. Such would be a high-handed view of holiness that disrespects God and His justice (Psalm 51:4). Sin brings shame, sorrow and death. It does not perpetuate joy. Salvation brings joy because of the victory of faith we have in Jesus (1 John 5:4). Jesus gives His faithful disciples the joy of salvation, and exhorts all who follow Him to “be of good cheer” because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Sin’s Death, Shame and Fear #1549

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:6–10, NKJV)

Sin intruded upon the idyll setting of Eden’s fellowship between God and mankind, bringing death, shame and fear. Committing sin produced knowledge of their nakedness, prompting Adam and Eve’s attempt to lessen their shame with fig leaf coverings. Their sin also caused them to experience fear for the first time. Hearing God’s voice heightened their sense of shame, and being afraid because they were naked, Adam and Eve hid themselves. Their leave coverings had not remedied their nakedness, nor did it remove the shame of their sin. Sin causes shame and fear as it separates us from God. Thank God, we do not have to live in the shame, fear and death of our sins. God provides forgiveness of our sins in His Son, Jesus (1 John 5:11-13). In Christ there is life instead of death, fellowship instead of shame, and faith instead of fear.

Walk with the Wise #1548

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20, NKJV)

It has been said that courage is contagious. Wise king Solomon said wisdom is, too. Of course, neither courage nor wisdom can be forced into someone’s heart. We must be willing to accept their influence. That’s where choosing to be around people who make wise choices comes into play. Connect with wise people. Watch, listen, and ask their counsel. It will help you become wiser. At the same time, walking life with wise people helps you escape the calamities that confront fools. “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ESV). Truly, who we spend time with matters! It is no wonder the psalmist said, “Blessed in the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly” (Psalm 1:1). The ungodly are truly foolish about what matters most (Titus 2:11-12). Walk with those who live wisely. Seek and follow heavenly wisdom and you will be blessed with wisdom (Ephesians 5:15; James 3:13-18).

Hear the Word of God and Keep It #1547

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28, NKJV)

Those who hear God’s word and keep it are more blessed than the womb which bore Jesus and the breasts which nursed Him. That’s impressive, since Mary was truly blessed among women (Luke 1:30, 42, 48). Jesus put a premium on keeping the word of God, not on merely hearing it. Indeed, it is keeping the word of God that shows one has “ears to hear” (Luke 8:8). In Luke 8:5-15 the parable of the sower and the soils depicts three hearts that hear the word of God, yet bear no fruit and are lost. It is only the good ground (“those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience”) that has “ears to hear” and are saved. When a sinner hears and keeps the word of God he is “saved by grace, through faith” – he has earned nothing (Ephesians 2:8-9). Why is that so difficult for some to accept? Well, to apply the words Jesus used when He taught this parable, because “seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand” (Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10). Either their heart has been hardened by unbelief, or it is spiritually shallow, or it is filled up with other things (Mark 4:13-20). Jesus promises His blessings when you hear word of God and keep it. Receiving His blessing depends on you.

Are You Listening? #1546

26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (John 9:26–27, NKJV)

Some people do not want to believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Put another way, some people do not want to believe the truth even when it is staring them in the face. The blind man whom Jesus healed had already told the Pharisees and Jewish leaders what happened and how he could now see (John 9:8-17). His parents agreed their son, who was born blind, could now see. But, instead of accepting the evidence of a great miracle and believing in Jesus as the Son of God, the Pharisees and Jewish leaders resisted and argued. They were not listening, nor did they care to listen. Their minds were made up. The evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God is abundant (John 20:30-31). May it never be that we reach a point where we prefer to defend ourselves and our opinions (which is what they were doing, John 9:14-16) instead of humbly yielding to Jesus Christ and His truth (John 8:31-32). If we do, we have joined hands with the enemies of Jesus, and will die in our sins (John 9:39-41; 8:23-24).

Dominion Over God’s Works #1545

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen— Even the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6–8, NKJV)

David’s soliloquy of praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh expanded as he considered outer space and humanity’s relation to it: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?” (Psalm 8:3-4) David recognized our smallness in the presence of such splendid power and expanse. Yet, he also marveled at the position of authority and responsibility God gave us over this world He created. Would that mankind would have such regard today! Instead, untold millions ignore the Creator while deifying Earth, His creation. It is all the work of God’s hands, yet He has given the world’s stewardship to us. What honor and who responsibility God has given us (Psalm 8:5)! God created the heavens and the earth to sustain life on earth so that we would honor Him as we live on it (Acts 14:15-17). We – humanity – are God’s crowning creation. We are humbled by His greatness and by the magnitude of His blessings toward us. “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)