Friday, November 21, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 23, 2014

Over 68,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A NEW BEGINNING
(GOD provides an inheritance for all of HIS people)
(Ezekiel 47:13-23)

In Ezekiel 47, verses 13-23, we see laid out by GOD, the instructions for the boundaries of the land of Canaan, of which the twelve tribes of Israel, (which now included two shares for the tribe of Joseph, one for each of his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh), would share in.

 “These are the boundaries of the land: The northern border will run from the Mediterranean toward Hethlon, then on through Lebo-hamath to Zedad;  then it will run to Berothah and Sibraim, which are on the border between Damascus and Hamath, and finally to Hazer-hatticon, on the border of Hauran.  So the northern border will run from the Mediterranean to Hazar-enan, on the border between Hamath to the north and Damascus to the south.
 The eastern border starts at a point between Hauran and Damascus and runs south along the Jordan River between Israel and Gilead, past the Dead Sea and as far south as Tamar. This will be the eastern border. The southern border will go west from Tamar to the waters of Meribah at Kadesh and then follow the course of the Brook of Egypt to the Mediterranean. This will be the southern border. On the west side, the Mediterranean itself will be your border from the southern border to the point where the northern border begins, opposite Lebo-hamath”. (NLT)

The Israelites were to divide the land within these boundaries among the tribes as an inheritance for themselves and the Gentiles who had joined them, and were raising their families among them, under the rules of the GOD of Israel. Those who were once foreigners would be treated just like native-born Israelites, and would be given land within the specified territory with whatever tribe they resided among in the family of Israel, after their return from Babylon (Vs.21-23).
The land as it was, had been divided among the tribes of Israel by Joshua (Joshua chapters 13-21) but had never really been under the exclusive control of its people. Some of the tribes, because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness to GOD, never conquered the specified lands of their inheritance. And even though David and Solomon seized a bit more of those lands during their respective reigns, the Israelites continued rebellion against GOD led to their losing, first, northern Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C., and then later, the remainder of the nation of Israel to Babylon in 586 B.C.
Here in Ezekiel 47 GOD tells his prophet, in no uncertain terms, that the land was still all under HIS control, and now HE was ready to return it back to HIS people, and, to the Gentiles who dwelled among them. It would be considered a new beginning, not because they deserved it, but rather, because GOD remained faithful to HIS promise to Abraham and David, and HE also wanted to restore honor to HIS OWN name, which had been damaged considerably by HIS chosen people, while they were having an adulterous love affair with the world.
After witnessing the restoration power of the living waters flowing from the temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12), Ezekiel could now see and understand clearly, the new message from GOD regarding a new and wonderful future for all people whose hearts were with HIM. And just as GOD had new plans for the people of Israel on the other side of their Babylonian captivity experience, so GOD has plans for all HIS people in this day, on the other side of our earthy experience in this life. HE has plans for the better, if we choose to obey and put our trust in HIM, and for the worse, if we don’t.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, November 14, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 16, 2014

Over 68,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

LIFE NEEDS WATER
(GOD’s glory brings us life)
(Ezekiel 47:1-12)

In Ezekiel 47, verses 1-12 we see depicted, an eschatological “river of healing” that will flow from beneath, and through, the Temple at Jerusalem, as Ezekiel’s vision now moves far into the future once again. Here the prophet describes a river that is clearly not the “New Jerusalem” river that is described by the Apostle John in Revelations 22. However, it is also clearly not the kidron brook that flowed through the Temple in post-exilic times, because here Ezekiel tells us that this stream of water will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea into “fresh water” like in a typical lake. And so that is something that still has not happened, even to this day, as the Dead Sea remains “six times saltier” than all of the oceans of the world.
In this passage the angelic being brings Ezekiel back to the entrance of the Temple where he saw a stream of water flowing pass the right (south side) of the altar. The angelic being then brought him outside the wall through the north gateway and led him around to the eastern entrance of the Temple. There Ezekiel could see the stream flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
The angelic being then led Ezekiel along the stream, and he took measurements as they went. First he measured off a distance of 1750 feet and told Ezekiel to cross over the water at that point, to the other side. As Ezekiel waded across the water, it only came up to his ankles. The angelic being then measured off a distance of another 1750 feet and instructed the prophet to cross over again. This time the water had risen up to his knees. The angelic being then took a third measurement of 1750 feet and when Ezekiel crossed the water this time it had risen up to his waist. Then the angelic being measured off a fourth and final distance of 1750 feet, and this time, Ezekiel had to swim across to get to the other side (Vs.3-5).
The angelic being instructed Ezekiel to keep in mind what he had seen, and then, he led him back along the riverbank. As they walked along, Ezekiel, much to his surprise, noticed that many trees and vegetation had sprung up along both sides if the river. Then the angelic being said to him, “this river flows east through the desert into the Jordan Valley where it then enters the Dead Sea”. He also tells Ezekiel that the waters from this stream will heal the salty waters of the Dead Sea, and make them fresh and pure, and not only that, everything that touches the waters of this stream will live. Every kind of fish will abound in the Dead Sea, something that has never happened before, and fishermen will stand on the shores and fish all the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim. The shores will be covered with fish nets drying in the sun, just as it was along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (Vs.6-10).
The angelic being told Ezekiel that the marshes and swamps would remain salty, and in fact, would become an important source of salt. And all the fruit trees along the banks of the river will continue to bear fruit all year round, and the leaves will remain green. There will be a new crop every month, without fail, because they are watered by the waters flowing from the holy Temple, and the leaves on these trees will be used for healing (Vs.11-12). Now that’s real “Holy Water”.
The life-giving waters talked about here in this passage presents a lovely picture of how the life-giving blood of JESUS symbolizes the only thing that can satisfy the thirst that GOD has put inside of each of us, innately, from birth. In fact, GOD, as our CREATOR, has continued to offer us this free “living water” that is needed for life itself here on earth, and, for eternal life with HIM in Heaven.
The living water of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST that is offered by HIM to each of us personally, right now at this moment, will cleanse us from all sickness and death, and brings us into eternal life with HIM, starting in HIS Millennial Kingdom here on earth, and carrying on into the new Heaven and earth (Revelations 21), talked about by the Apostle John in the book of Revelations.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, November 7, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 9, 2014

Over 68,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE ALTAR, A SIGN OF HOPE
(Redemption comes according to GOD’s blueprint, not ours)
(Ezekiel 43:13-21)

After GOD decides to return HIS divine glory back into the Temple in Jerusalem, and reside there once again among HIS people, HE tells Ezekiel to describe the Temple plans, that, HE had shown him, to the people of Israel, and, to do it in such a way that, it would bring to remembrance, the shame of all of their past sins. GOD wanted the people to “feel the shame” for all of the profane things that they had done in the old Temple, and let it be a deterrent from re-visiting those same old trespasses again, after they begin to assemble in the new Temple. Only if the people repent of their past behavior, was he to describe the specifications of the construction of the new Temple to them.
GOD wanted HIS people to be able to see HIS grace through HIS promise of restoration, and be led to repent. Here HE stressed one basic primary law of the new Temple that must be adhered to at all times, and that is; ABSOLUTE HOLINESS! In fact, GOD says that the entire top of the hill where the Temple is built will be holy! And the Temple itself must be adorned with holiness, not human ideals and ingenuity.
Here, and in Ezekiel 44:5-9, GOD is demanding “absolute holiness” from his people, the people who call themselves by HIS name, and in today’s society, that means “Christians”. The only way that man can be holy is by closely adhering to the Word, wisdom, and directives of GOD at all times, especially in the Temple. Man has already proven that he will not adhere to GOD’s holy standards when given a chance to administer his own human ingenuity into GOD’s program in the Church. Eventually he will began to totally favor his own program and religious ideas, and began to ignore GOD altogether.
We must turn from the practice of allowing people to minister in the Temple, who do not exhibit through their behavior, that they really have a heart for GOD. There is to be no hiring of people to work on staff who are not firmly rooted in the word of GOD, and who have not first proven themselves by testing (dedokimasmetha), to be free of worldly ideas that can be used to profane the Temple.
Only those who have experienced a “spiritual circumcision” of the heart, and exhibits such through their behavior at all times, may be able to minister in the Temple. This is something that Ezra, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and the returning exiles heavily stressed when they began to put GOD’s plan, that, was given to Ezekiel, into practice (Ezra 4:1-3, Nehemiah 13:1-9).

Ezekiel was allowed by GOD to see the same glory that had once adorned the Temple of old in Jerusalem. Now GOD, would be coming back to Jerusalem, and resting in a rebuilt glorified physical edifice, where HE would also restore the Israelites relationship of friendship with HIM, and fulfill the covenant that HE had made with Abraham.
As Ezekiel’s prophecies continue to waver back and forward between pre-exilic, post exilic, and eschatological times, here in the passage of Ezekiel 43, verses 13-27, we find perhaps one of the more stronger arguments that the prophet’s foretelling of the coming post-exilic Temple may not be descriptions of a yet to come future eschatological restoration of Israel. Beginning in verse 13 of this chapter, we see the detailed description of plans for a sacrificial alter to be built in the new Temple.
Here we can see that there is a theologically based problem with this being an eschatological reference, instead of a post-exilic one, since CHRIST JESUS is the once-and-for-all-time sacrifice that won us our salvation. Therefore, this passage begs the question, Why will we need a sacrificial altar in the “Millennial Kingdom Temple? And the answer is that, we won’t. Here in this passage Ezekiel is clearly prophesying of the Temple that was built by the exiles who would return to Israel from Babylon.
In the Millennial Kingdom Temple there will be no need for a sacrifice altar or Levitical priests of the family of Zadok to minister before the LORD on behalf of the people for their sin because there will be no sinning in the Millennial times here on earth under the direct rule of CHRIST. GOD will have already cleansed us of our sin nature and filth and we will only have the desire to live like CHRIST (Ezekiel 36:26-29). There will be no sinful desires in the Millennial Kingdom as satan, sin, and death will be locked away for a thousand years. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, October 31, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday November 2, 2014

Over 67,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

GOD’S DIVINE GLORY RETURNS
(We can see GOD’s glory when we follow HIM)
(Ezekiel 43)

In Ezekiel chapters 8-11 Ezekiel described how GOD’s glory left the Temple that King Solomon had constructed. HIS withdrawal symbolized HIS temporary removal of protection from the city of Jerusalem, and, from the Israelite people in general. Here in Ezekiel 43, the “angelic being” in Ezekiel’s vision brings him back around to the East Gateway of the Temple area. It is there that the glory of the LORD suddenly appears before Ezekiel just at it had before, at the Kebar River, and again, when GOD came to destroy Jerusalem. The sounds of HIS coming were like the roar of rushing water, and the whole landscape shone brightly when HE arrived, and came in through the East Gateway of the temple (Vs.1-4). Then the HOLY SPIRIT took Ezekiel into the inner courtyard as the glory of the LORD then filled the Temple itself. As the angelic being, who was assigned by GOD to measure the temple area, stood beside Ezekiel, a voice spoke to Ezekiel from inside the Temple saying;

“Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place where I will rest my feet. I will live here forever among the people of Israel. They and their kings will not defile my holy name any longer by their adulterous worship of other gods or by honoring the relics of their kings who have died.  They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and me. They defiled my holy name by such detestable sin, so I consumed them in my anger.  Now let them stop worshiping other gods and honoring the relics of their kings, and I will live among them forever” (Vs.7-9) (NLT).

And so GOD would “conditionally” bring HIS divine glory back into the Temple in Jerusalem after the exiles returned, and HE would reside there once again among HIS people. However, in verses 10-12, GOD tells Ezekiel to describe the Temple plans, that, HE had shown him, to the people of Israel, and, to do it in such a way that, it would bring to remembrance, the shame of all of their past sins. GOD wanted the people to feel the shame for all of the “profane things” that they had done in HIS Holy Place, the old Temple, and let it serve as a deterrent from re-visiting those same old trespasses again, after they begin to assemble in the new Temple. And only if the people repent of their past behavior, was Ezekiel to describe the specifications of the construction of the new Temple.
GOD wanted HIS people to be able to see HIS grace through HIS promise of restoration, and be led to repent. Here HE stressed one basic primary law of the new Temple that must be adhered to at all times, and that is; ABSOLUTE HOLINESS! In fact, GOD says that the entire top of the hill where the Temple is built will be holy! And the Temple itself must be adorned with holiness, not human ideals and ingenuity.
Ezekiel was allowed by GOD to see the same glory that had once adorned the Temple of old in Jerusalem. Now GOD would be coming back to Jerusalem, and resting in a rebuilt glorified physical edifice, where HE would also restore the Israelites relationship of friendship with HIM, and fulfill the covenant that HE had made with Abraham.
As Ezekiel’s prophecies continue to waver back and forward between pre-exilic, post exilic, and eschatological times, here in the passage of Ezekiel 43, verses 13-27, we find perhaps one of the more stronger arguments that the prophet’s foretelling of the coming post-exilic Temple, may not be descriptions of a “yet to come” future, eschatological restoration of Israel.
Beginning in verse 13 of this chapter, we see the detailed description of plans for a “sacrificial alter” to be built in the new Temple. Here we can see that there is a theologically based problem with this being an eschatological reference, instead of a post-exilic one, since CHRIST JESUS is the once-and-for-all-time sacrifice that won us our salvation. Therefore, this passage begs the question, “Why will we need a sacrificial altar in the “Millennial Kingdom Temple?” And the answer is that, we won’t. Here in this passage Ezekiel is clearly prophesying of the Temple that was built by the exiles (led by Ezra, Zerrubabel, & Nehemiah) who would return to Israel from Babylon.
In the Millennial Kingdom Temple there will be no need for a sacrifice altar or Levitical priests of the family of Zadok to minister before the LORD on behalf of the people for their sin, simply because there will be no sinning in the Millennial Kingdom here on earth, under the direct rule of CHRIST JESUS. GOD will have already cleansed us of our “sin nature and filth” by then, and we will only have the desire to live like CHRIST, going forward (Ezekiel 36:26-29). There will be no sinful desires in the Millennial Kingdom, as satan, sin, and death, will all be locked away for a thousand years (Revelations 20:1-6), and we’ll be able to see GOD’s Glory, because we will earnestly be following HIM in everything we do, and, in every thought that we have. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website







Friday, October 24, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 26, 2014

Over 67,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

WHO’S IN CONTROL?
(Admitting wrongdoing and submitting to GOD’s wisdom)
(Job 42:1-10)

The strength to face difficult times is not found in our “knowing why” we must face them, but rather, it lies in “the confidence that we have” that our great GOD loves us completely, and that HE is still in charge of everything that goes on in this world. Ultimately, Job came to realize that fact, and he also came to realize how we as human beings don’t need answers to life’s problems, as much as we need GOD HIMSELF.
In Job 42:1-6, we see Job’s repentant heart being manifested in his final recorded response to GOD. There he declares;

I know that YOU can do anything, and no one can stop YOU. YOU ask, “Who is this that questions MY wisdom with such ignorance?” It is I, and I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me. YOU said, “Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them”. I had heard about YOU before, but now I have seen YOU with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (NLT).

In Job 42:10, after Job had shown “a forgiving spirit” toward his friends who had questioned his integrity, GOD restores Job completely by releasing him from his suffering, and restoring him back his fortune, twofold. GOD, through HIS perfectly scrutinizing vision, saw Job’s need for minor improvements in his relationship with HIM, and Job showed that need to us by way of his statement of doubt and hidden fear in Job 3:25, where he says;

What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be” (NLT).

It was a statement that displayed a deeply embedded “iota of mistrust” in GOD, despite all of the blessings that GOD had previously bestowed upon him. GOD allowed satan to squeeze Job until it was brought to his attention, and when Job realized his fault, he quickly repented, and he also took back all that he had said in his ignorance about the power and sovereignty of the Almighty GOD (42:1-6).
Back in Job 14:14, Job asked the question, “If mortals die, can they live again?” He also goes on to say, that, “this thought would give me hope, and through my struggle, I would eagerly await for my release”. In the Gospel of Saint Mark, in chapter 16, John Mark gives us a vivid description of the events that occurred on that early Sunday morning, surrounding the resurrection of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. This particular morning went down in history as the greatest morning to ever dawn on the souls of mankind, and it brought with it, a realization of that “hope of release” that Job had so prophetically spoke about, all those years earlier. It was, quite literally, “the dawn of the Christian Hope”.
When JESUS came, bringing healing to men’s bodies, and salvation to men’s souls, HE, in effect, had begun “the work of creation” all over again. Remember, in the beginning, all things had been made good (Genesis 1:31), however, since that time, the sins of man had ruined it all. But on that glorious resurrection morning, and in fact, throughout JESUS’ three-year earthly ministry, we see HIM bringing back “the beauty of GOD” to a world, that had long ago, been rendered “ugly” by the sins of man.
The story of Job is the supreme example of suffering in the Old Testament times, however, “the passion of CHRIST”, is the supreme example of suffering, for all time. GOD released Job from his suffering, because of his faith, and because of his righteous obedience to HIM. And likewise, JESUS can and will, release us from our suffering, for precisely the same reason. 

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website







Friday, October 17, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 19, 2014

Over 66,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

DEFIANT FAITHFULNESS
(GOD brings justice how and when HE chooses)
(Job 24)

When GOD began testing Job with various forms of suffering, it prompted him to think a lot about the seemingly unfair sufferings of others who were less fortunate than himself. Perhaps he had not considered these things for quite some time because he had been blessed with such an opulent lifestyle for so long.
Maybe one of the reasons GOD allowed these things to happen to Job, that are highlighted here in his book, is to allow him to get back in touch with his compassion for those who were less fortunate, and were not closely related to him. After all, JESUS does remind us (Matthew 25:31-46) that when HE returns to judge us, HE will do so, by basing those judgments in accordance to “how we reacted to human need”.
Here in Job 24, even though Job does recoil a bit from actually confronting GOD, he does seem to question what he believes is GOD’s indifference in judgment of good and evil. In this passage the pressure weighing down on Job, is causing a frustration in him, that has led him to thoughts that GOD is unfair, or at least, lackadaisical in HIS attitude toward sin in this world. It is an accusation that I myself have heard from people many times over the years, “why does GOD allow bad things to happen to (so-called) “good people”, which is an arrogant thought in itself, because the Scripture teaches us that none is good, except GOD HIMSELF. Everyone is deserving of punishment, based on our rebellious lifestyle against GOD, at one time or the other, and are deserving of whatever form of discipline GOD chooses to correct us with, whenever HE chooses to correct us.
Here in this passage, Job seems to arrogantly think that he can dictate to GOD who, when, and how HE should judge mankind. And even though he raises some very good questions, he raises those questions without an ounce of the wisdom that it takes to make such divine decisions about GOD’s universe and mankind’s effect on it, and, on each other.
Man cannot think from the standpoint of GOD, no matter how good his intentions may be, because he can never have the infinite wisdom that only GOD can safely possess, or the purity that GOD embodies. Man (the created) can’t “(krino) judge” other men, simply because we are all, ourselves, “men under judgment” and scrutiny from the CREATOR, GOD.
Only GOD can make the decision as to when, how, and even why, HE judges, or blesses anyone. It is not for man to tell GOD what is “fair” or “unfair”, seeing how HE is the CREATOR of the aspects of both terms, and gives both terms their definitions. What is fair, is what GOD says is fair, not man, and what is unfair, is what GOD defines as unfair. It is beyond man’s ability to re-define any term that GOD has already defined (i.e. marriage), and even if we do, it doesn’t count for anything in GOD’s mind, because HE remains sovereign in all things, no matter what we think.
In verse 1 of this chapter Job asks, “Why doesn’t the almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the GODly wait for HIM in vain? Job then goes on a poetic tirade listing several injustices, and bad choices that people make in this world that affect, themselves, and the lives of others, even in this day and age (Vs.2-17):

2 Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers.
    They steal livestock and put them in their own pastures.
They take the orphan’s donkey
    and demand the widow’s ox as security for a loan.
The poor are pushed off the path;
    the needy must hide together for safety.
Like wild donkeys in the wilderness,
    the poor must spend all their time looking for food,
    searching even in the desert for food for their children.
They harvest a field they do not own,
    and they glean in the vineyards of the wicked.
All night they lie naked in the cold,
    without clothing or covering.
They are soaked by mountain showers,
    and they huddle against the rocks for want of a home.
“The wicked snatch a widow’s child from her breast,
    taking the baby as security for a loan.
10 The poor must go about naked, without any clothing.
    They harvest food for others while they themselves are starving.
11 They press out olive oil without being allowed to taste it,
    and they tread in the winepress as they suffer from thirst.
12 The groans of the dying rise from the city,
    and the wounded cry for help,
    yet GOD ignores their moaning.
13 “Wicked people rebel against the LIGHT.
    They refuse to acknowledge its ways
    or stay in its paths.
14 The murderer rises in the early dawn
    to kill the poor and needy;
    at night he is a thief.
15 The adulterer waits for the twilight,
    saying, ‘No one will see me then.’
    He hides his face so no one will know him.
16 Thieves break into houses at night
    and sleep in the daytime.
    They are not acquainted with the LIGHT.
17 The black night is their morning.
    They ally themselves with the terrors of the darkness.
(NLT)

In HIS infinite wisdom, GOD ultimately decided to create mankind, and HE endowed him with “wills that are free”. HE doesn’t force us to choose neither good, nor evil, in fact, all HE does is present us with both scenarios to choose from. In other words, we have the GOD-given right to choose between “good” and “evil”, which are two more terms that are defined only by GOD. HE tells us in HIS Word, those things that are good, and HE tells us about those things that are evil, but then, HE leaves it to us to choose which route we wish to take. If we choose what HE says is right, we can enjoy special favor and blessing from HIM, and if we choose what HE says is wrong, or evil, then, we invite curses upon ourselves and others, which is the opposite of blessings (Deuteronomy 28).
In the end (Vs.18-25) Job shows us that he is certain that the wicked will be punished, in fact, this section of this passage even seems to contradict the first 17 verses entirely. Still, in the end we see Job confirming to his friend, Eliphaz, his confidence that GOD will eventually hand the obedient, and the wicked their just rewards, or punishment.
Job shows here that he understands that both the righteous, and the wicked, suffer and prosper, in the same world, at the same time, and that, GOD brings justice how and when HE chooses, to both sides, regardless to what we think HE ought to do, and when we think HE ought to do it.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website