Ezekiel 10

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Ezekiel 10

This chapter is substantially the same as chapter one. Here is Fairbairn,” The presentation of this glorious vision to the eye of the prophet took place in the midst of the appointed executions of judgment—one part being already past, while the another was still to come. And the leading object of it seems to have been to bring distinctly into view the immediate agency of God in the matter, and to show how all proceeded, as by a law of imperious necessity, from the essential holiness of his nature.” He also mentions that, “such displays of the divine presence and glory were needed to qualify him (Ezekiel) for the discharge of his high function, and for maintaining the arduous conflict he had to wage against unbelief and corruption.” The same could be said of Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and Paul (Acts 9). The coals of fire that are to be rained down are for the destruction of temple and city c.f. Revelation 8:5 and 15:7, they are symbols of holy wrath and judgment in the Chaldean conquest and as history repeated itself in 70AD! It is worth noting how Isaiah also prophesied this in Isaiah 33:12ff…also worth noting the phrase “everlasting burnings” as they prefigure and indeed stand for hell itself, the ultimate judgment for all unbelievers and idolaters. John Gill believes that the movement of God’s glory to the outer court represents his leaving of Israel and his going to the Gentile nations with the gospel (Matthew 23:38). He believes the cherubs (angels) represent ministers of the gospel and the wheels true churches that follow them, full of eyes, that is enlightened ones. They move straight unswervingly in the path of faith and duty and over them as their head is the God-man even Christ. Very reasonable interpretations, in my opinion, of difficult visions!

 

Ezekiel 9

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Ancient inkhorn

Ezekiel 9

There follows a vision of merciless judgment where six angles led by a seventh who is most likely a theophany of Jesus Christ, dressed in the fine linen of a priest and carrying an inkhorn, slaughter the population of Jerusalem starting with the idolatrous elders in the temple and including men, women and children. It is akin to the destruction of Sodom and the flood in that until the elect are marked and brought out of harms way, the judgment cannot fall. It is also a harbinger of the final day when all judgment is given unto the son of God. The fact that all ages were judged and condemned shows that the depravity of man is from conception and reprobation set from before conception! The Lord knoweth them that are his! Note what marked the elect–distress at the wickedness in their contemporary society.

Ezekiel 8

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Ezekiel 8

 

In the sixth year of the captivity, the prophet, sitting with elders in the captivity by River Chebar, is given a vision of the Lord as amber fire (just as John in Revelation) and then taken to Jerusalem to see the abominable things the elders of the remnant who remain under Zedekiah are doing there. He sees an image of jealousy, which might be Baal, or Moloch or Astarte, and many idols who are being offered incense thinking God does not see them. He sees women weeping for Tammuz (Aramaic name for Adonis, Venus’s lover who was killed by a boar and then restored to life) and representatives of the priesthood worshipping the sun (II Kings 23:5,11). He is also told how violence fills the land and one just has to think of India to see how violence against women and Christians is the direct result of gross idolatry. Their superstitious actions betray their practical atheism and their complacency and lack of assurance their formality, just as in Romanism today. As a result God will vent his fury and spare not.

Fairbairn, in his commentary, says that instead of being witnesses of the true God to the nations, the Jews have fallen before the heathen corruptions, which it was their calling to resist! As a result these heathen have become the instruments of his vengeance.

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Moloch

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Far Eastern Demons

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Adonis

 

Hosea (History 11) The divided kingdom

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Read I Kings 12:20-33…the Kingdom divides.

Hosea in keeping with recorded O.T. history speaks often of:

  1. Two kingdoms. The reading gives the background to the split between the northern kingdom of Israel (often called Ephraim) and the southern kingdom of Judah which occurred under Rehoboam around 975 B.C. References: Hosea 1:11, 4:15, 5:5, 9-13, 6:4,10 and 11:12. Amos likewise does in Amos1:1 and 2:4,6.
  2. Two capitals. They were Jerusalem in the south and a series in the north starting with Shechem which was strategically placed high and central and had been where the rebellion occurred (also worth mentioning that it lay precisely between the places where the curses and blessings were proclaimed in Joshua 8:30-33), then Tirzah (I Kings 14:17, 15:21, 33, 16:8, 23-24), then Samaria. See also Hosea 7:1, 8:5, 10:5,7, 13:16 and Amos 3:9, 4:1 and 8:14.

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Present day Shechem

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Location

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Halloween

Halloween-a sensible article (somewhat adapted)

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Jeremiah10:2 ‘Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

10:3 For the customs of the people are vain:’

Colossians 2:15 ‘ And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.’

1 Peter 5:8 ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:’

Hebrews 10:27 ‘ But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.’

Christians and Halloween

Halloween. It’s a time of year when the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. Retailers also rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year.

It’s a good bet retailers won’t entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market. Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighbourhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

The question is, ‘How should Christians respond to Halloween?’ Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season–are they overreacting?

The Pagan Origin of Halloween

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The name “Halloween” comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. “All Hallows Eve” was eventually contracted to “Hallow-e’en,” which became “Halloween.”

As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in “Christianizing” a pagan ritual–the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That’s what happened to All Saints Eve–it was the original Halloween alternative!

The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn’t make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today’s Halloween celebrations.

The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced “sow” “en”) celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days–October 31 to November 2. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living–ghosts haunting the earth.

Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought “divine” spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world’s “blessings” on a couple’s romance.

For others the focus on death, occultism, divination, and the thought of spirits returning to haunt the living, fuelled ignorant superstitions and fears. They believed spirits were earthbound until they received a proper send-off with treats–possessions, wealth, food, and drink. Spirits who were not suitably “treated” would “trick” those who had neglected them. The fear of haunting only multiplied if that spirit had been offended during its natural lifetime.

Some traditions developed, which believed wearing a costume to look like a spirit would fool the wandering spirits. Others believed the spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable (the Scottish used turnips) and setting a candle inside it–the jack-o-lantern. We use pumpkins today. Into that dark, superstitious, pagan world, God mercifully shined the light of the gospel. Newly converted Christians armed themselves with the truth and no longer feared a haunting from departed spirits returning to earth. In fact, they denounced their former pagan spiritism in accord with Deuteronomy 18: 10-13.

‘There shall not be found among you anyone…who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord’.

Nonetheless, Christian converts found family and cultural influence hard to withstand; they were tempted to rejoin the pagan festivals, especially Samhain. Pope Gregory IV reacted to the pagan challenge by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century–he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to “Christianized” superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a “trick” being played on their property from drunken young people.

Halloween didn’t become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.

Hollywood has added to the “fun” a wide assortment of fictional characters–demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. That certainly isn’t improving the American mind, but it sure is making someone a lot of money.

The Christian Response to Halloween

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Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That’s not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighbourhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but adults often engage in shameful acts of drunkenness and debauchery.

So, how should Christians respond?

First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God’s Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). God has forever “disarmed principalities and powers” through the cross Christ and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]” (Colossians 2:15).

Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behaviour–drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.

Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.

Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn’t just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls “a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God’s] adversaries” (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God’s wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner–now that is truly terrifying.

Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination–death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry–as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian’s ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.

There are several different ways Christians will engage in Halloween evangelism. Some will adopt a “No Participation” policy. As Christian parents, they don’t want their kids participating in spiritually compromising activities–listening to ghost stories and colouring pictures of witches. They don’t want their kids to dress up in costumes for trick-or-treating or even attending Halloween alternatives.

That response naturally raises eyebrows and provides a good opportunity to share the gospel to those who ask. It’s also important that parents explain their stand to their children and prepare them to face the teasing or ridicule of their peers and the disapproval or scorn of their teachers.

Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called “Harvest Festivals” or “Reformation Festivals”–the kids dress up as farmers, Bible characters, or Reformation heroes. It’s ironic when you consider Halloween’s beginning as an alternative, but it can be an effective means of reaching out to neighbourhood families with the gospel. Some churches leave the church building behind and take acts of mercy into their community, “treating” needy families with food baskets, gift cards, and the gospel message.

Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honour God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it’s a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

Travis Allen

http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/a-brief-history-of-halloween-by-dr-c-mathew-mcmahon/

Ezekiel 7

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Ezekiel 7

 

A recurrent phrase in this chapter is,” I will judge thee according to thy ways.” It occurs four times. The word “abominations” also occurs four times.  The basic abomination was idolatry, but from other accounts in I Kings I have no doubt sodomy also contributed. Violence and bloody crimes also were typical in the land. God would bring the worst of the heathen to defile the temple, slay many and exile many more. They wanted idols–God would give them plenty in Babylon! They were violent–God would give them violence! They abandoned the true God–he would abandon them! In the New Testament we have Galatians 6:7-8,” Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Church leadership is exclusively male.

Reading I Timothy 2 and 3 and Titus 1 it cannot be clearer that Scripture forbids women in church office, whether it be deacon or elder.

“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man…”

“if a man desire the office of a bishop….a bishop must be the husband of one wife…”

” let the deacons be the husbands of one wife..”

“if any be blameless, the husband of one wife..”

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Elders at Covenant Protestant Reformed Church.

Our church order speaks exclusively of “brother” and “brethren” in the forms of ordination.

 

Ezekiel 6

Ezekiel 6

 

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The prophet addressing the mountains of Israel (the people) says their altars and idols will be smashed and the people’s bones strewn around them (v5). The only mention of grace and mercy concerns some who will be scattered among the nations who will eventually come to loathe their sin (v9). Utter desolation is coming upon the land!

Good luck!

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Who or what governs the universe and our lives? Is it the stars?–then read your horoscope. Is it pure luck?–then good luck to you! Is it other gods?—then by all means bow down to them! The definition of luck (or chance) varies: for some it is “a purposeless, unpredictable and uncontrollable force that shapes events favourably or unfavourably for an individual, group or cause”. Others say it is “events that influence one’s life and are seemingly beyond one’s control”.[2]

When thought of as a factor beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result, there are at least two senses that people usually mean when they use the term, the prescriptive sense and the descriptive sense. In the prescriptive sense, luck is a supernatural and deterministic concept that there are forces (e.g. gods or spirits) that prescribe that certain events occur very much the way laws of physics will prescribe that certain events occur. It is the prescriptive sense that people mean when they say they “do not believe in luck“. In the descriptive sense, people speak of luck after events that they find to be fortunate or unfortunate, and maybe improbable.

Therefore, cultural views of luck vary from perceiving luck as a matter of random chance to attributing to such explanations of faith or superstition. For example, the Romans believed in the embodiment of luck as the goddess Fortuna, Carl Jung viewed luck as synchronicity, which he described as “a meaningful coincidence”.

Adapted from Wikipedia

As Christians we discount these notions which dethrone God and purposely rob him of his glory! We believe in the God of the Bible who rules over all and in his son who said “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Any Christian who believes in luck is not worthy of the name! Moreover our theology can be summarised thus:

 

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Slides based on Ron Hanko’s “Doctrine according to godliness.”

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