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Ezekiel Part 2

February 16th, 2016
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Last time I mentioned how Jesus saw himself as the fulfilment of the great temple restoration prophecies in Ezekiel.

This is quite evident when one studies the book of John which we will do next year.

Today we will look at one example to illustrate the point. This should help us to see the early church saw that Jesus was the fulfilment of all the promises of God. And that it is in him we can look forward to the future God is preparing. In a very major way, he is the future. And the good news is that it does not depend on us and our speculations. We can go forward confidently to receive it. And it will eclipse anything we desire or even imagine.

Why? Because at its core is the eternal life of the Father and Son in the Spirit: a life together of love undiminished, a way of life utterly sinless and pure, work and responsibility without fatigue, deep emotions without tears of mourning, worship without restraint, genuine and united. We only experience glimpses of this today.

The book of John reveals that Jesus was not just claiming to a preacher of the word: he was the living Word among them.

That is how John introduces his gospel:

John 1:1-4, 14.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This helps us to understand the Christian view of the scriptures

Gary Deddo wrote:

The gracious gift of revelation as it traces through history does reach a crucial high point. All the prophetic words prepare for and look forward to the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. All the apostolic writings look back to the time and place where God himself, as himself, reveals and interprets himself in and through Jesus Christ.

In Jesus, we don’t have simply another inspired word about God, but we have the Living Word of God himself, in person—in time and space and in flesh and blood. Jesus tells us that he is, himself, the Way, the Truth and the Life. He does not show us a way or tell us about the truth or give us things that lead to life. He himself is these things.

Jesus, then, is the centre of the centre of God’s revelatory work and so stands at the very centre of all of Scripture.

Jesus does not give us words from God, he is himself God’s Word to us. He expresses the very character of God as a speaking and communicating God. To hear Jesus is to hear God himself speaking to us, directly, in person, face to face.

So Jesus is at the centre of the written Word, Scripture. But he is also behind all the words, the whole of the Bible, as its source, as the speech of God to us. He is the original Word and the final Word of God, the Alpha and Omega. In other words, by the incarnation of the Word of God, the author of the written word of God has come into the play, he has shown up in the person of Jesus. And as the author, Jesus himself indicates that he is at the centre and behind it all.

So when we come to Jesus’ ministry we should expect a dramatic new interpretation of scripture: not a Jewish one or an Islamic one. It is now centred on a person.

This means that the scriptures are no longer just an objective truth to be dissected according to human logic and reasoning.

They are to be understood in a dynamic relationship with the one who is truth. That’s why Jesus knew his Father must draw people to see who he is. It wasn’t something open to human deduction from the scriptures.

So when we read scriptures like Ezekiel, particularly the great restoration of the temple with all the cultic practices of the Old Covenant, we must hear how Jesus interprets it.

I want to focus on one dramatic event.

John7:37-39

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

 John specifically mentions that Jesus spoke the words of John 7:37-38 on “the last day, that great day of the feast.”  This could have been the seventh day of the Feast, a day known in Jewish tradition as Hoshana Rabbah (literally the “great Hosanna”).  It is also possible that this was the eighth day,

In any case, commentators agree that Jesus made his statement in the context of the water libation ceremony, a major part of first-century celebrations of the Feast in Jerusalem before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.  This ritual was carried out on each of the first seven days of the festival.

38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

 From whose belly would the living waters flow–the believer’s or Jesus’?  The explanation given most often is that the waters flow from the believer in a new, spirit-led life.  This is the reading that is implied in the KJV and given explicitly in the NIV.  It is supported by John 4:14, in which Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well,

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (KJV)

It is worth noting that the Greek word for “springing” in John 4:14 is the same as the one used to describe the lame man “leaping” in Acts 3:8 when he was healed by Peter and John.  The words of John 7:38 and John 4:14 picture the Holy Spirit as a Producer of dynamic, life-giving results in the lives of Jesus’ disciples.

The view that Jesus is saying that the living waters would flow from the believer is also supported by the punctuation given in the oldest known punctuated manuscripts .

On the other hand, there is another reading (used in the NEB and Jerusalem Bible and mentioned in a footnote in the NIV) that is based on a different punctuation of the text.  In this version, Jesus’ invitation is rendered,

“If any man thirsts, let him come to me;and let him drink, who believes in me. As the scripture said, from his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

Here “his” could be interpreted as a reference to Jesus himself.

  We note that in either case, Jesus Christ is the ultimate Source of the Spirit, the One to whom we must come to receive this life-giving “water.”

39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 What does that mean when the Holy Spirit has been active throughout Israel’s history?

Lets look at the context of the statements and then we will look at the implications.

Read more…

Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Bulletin January

February 9th, 2016
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Church Matters February

February 8th, 2016
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The February edition of Church Matters is now available. In this issue we have an update from Buduburam and Kenya and a report of the recent PNG meeting.

To view please click here.

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