Old Testament

Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 4

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Gog and Magog Against Israel

There has been a lot of debate about Ezekiel 38 and 39. Those who think they ought to be read symbolically appeal to the apocalyptic character of the descriptions.1 But it appears sometimes that appeals to certain genres are a little too convenient; the word being placed over the text like a kind of detour sign in the middle of a road, preventing people from drawing the “wrong” conclusion. Other expositors find little difficulty with unpacking the details of the two oracles, other than the identification of the names and places.2 Stuart, Alexander, and others have shown that it is unwise to attempt to identify “Rosh” in these chapters with modern Russia. No one can pinpoint “Rosh” as an ancient land,3 and students of the Bible are not to try to surmise predictions of future nations from mere names. We are not to read Holy Scripture like the quatrains of Nostradamus. All commentators seem to agree that Ezekiel 38-39 is for the purpose of reasserting God’s defense of Israel.4

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Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 3

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A Valley Full of Dry Bones

The first vision in Ezekiel 37 is the best known in the book. If people are ignorant of everything else in the book, they are often aware of the valley of dry bones, though frequently they have no idea what it means. It surely doesn’t help when commentators apply the whole passage to the Christian church.

The bones stretch out over a wide area, and the prophet is given an aerial view of them. When the inspection is over, God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man,1 can these bones live?” (Ezek. 37:3). The prophet is wise. He knows that the answer to all such questions lies with the living God. So, the Lord gives Ezekiel a command to speak over the bones, and as He speaks the words of God the bones came together and flesh covered them (Ezek. 37:7-8). As so often in the biblical record, the Lord does not bypass the human instruments He has created to exercise dominion upon earth. Ezekiel speaks for God and God’s power stands behind the words.

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Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 2

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On the Mountains of Israel

Ezekiel 34 – 39 is bound together by the theme of the return of the presence of God. But one should also note the repeated refrain “the mountains of Israel.” The phrase is a favorite one with Ezekiel, who uses it seventeen times. In fact, it is only found elsewhere in two verses in Joshua (Josh. 11:16, 21). Up until chapter 34 all four times it is been used it has rung a negative note. But things change in these markedly eschatological chapters. And whereas in Joshua the phrase was merely topographical, in these last chapters “the mountains of Israel” are not only mentioned topographically, but they are viewed wistfully, even when in Ezekiel 39 the refrain is used of the defeat of Israel’s end-time foe.1 The words summon up thoughts of Israel restored to its land.2

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8 Reasons to Reject Stanley’s Irresistible: Reasons 5 - 8

5. He posits that the Old Testament has been completely fulfilled.

Stanley is correct that the church has at times incorrectly understood the Old Testament and in some cases has used the Old Testament to subjugate and coerce others. Rather than discussing the hermeneutical mistakes and complexities that led to abuses, Stanley simply posits that the entire Old Testament is now fulfilled and should be detached from the New Testament.

He incorrectly argues that the mere appearance of fulfillment formula in the New Testament refers to complete, exhaustive fulfillment of all Old Testament promises and prophecies. He repeatedly cites the Abrahamic promises as being completely fulfilled, since Abraham was blessed by God and since Christ came through Abraham’s lineage. Stanley writes that Jesus uses the fulfillment formula as His way of saying “God’s conditional, temporary covenant with Israel was coming to an end, the intended-from-the-beginning end” (109). Meanwhile, Stanley ignores the unconditional land promises given to Abram and his descendants (Israel) that have not yet been fulfilled. He ignores all the future unfulfilled promises in the prophetic literature. And he discredits the Song of Solomon as well, since the writer had over 300 wives.

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8 Reasons to Reject Stanley’s Irresistible: Reasons 1 - 4

Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin © Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.

Andy Stanley is a master communicator, popular author, and prominent pastor. In his book Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed from the World, Stanley argues that the church with its modern version of faith is ineffective and too easily resisted. He conjectures that people resist the modern church and Christianity because the Old Testament is mixed into it. Consequently, when believers defend the Old Testament’s historicity and accuracy, they alienate what he refers to as “post-Christians.”

Irresistible is filled with clever phrases, including chapter titles such as “Temple Tantrum,” “Splittin’ Up,” “Homebodies,” “The Apoplectic Apostle,” “Trending Horizontal,” “Obsolet-r Than Ever.” Using wit, humor, satire, anecdotal comments, wordplay, and wordsmithing, Stanley presents his belief that the church must become “unhitched” and “unmixed” from the Old Testament. He uses his rhetorical skills to urge believers against integrating Old Testament truth into Christianity, thus dissuading believers from defending the historical reliability and believability of the Old Testament. His arguments, however, exemplify logical errors, simplistic exegesis (which is often eisegesis), errant theology, reductionism, and very serious hermeneutical errors. Consider these eight reasons to reject his thesis.

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Covenant in Ezekiel, Part 1

The Glory of the Lord

Ezekiel begins with a vision of what appears to be a moveable throne, with a kind of platform beneath it (Ezek. 1:22-26). At its sides, just below the platform were wheels (Ezek. 1:19-21), and creatures full of life (“living creatures”), who had some sort of symbiotic attachment to each other; the creatures energizing the wheels.1 These are identified later as cherubim (Ezek. 10:1ff.). The “voice of the Almighty” seemed to be heard in the wings of these creatures (Ezek. 1:24), and the Figure on the throne is identified as “the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” (Ezek. 1:28). It is significant that a rainbow is seen around the throne and the Figure (Ezek. 1:28); perhaps alluding to the covenant in Genesis 9:11-13.

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Is It Wrong to Draw Moral Lessons from OT Figures?

"It’s important to distinguish between 'moralism' and 'morality.' One is anti-gospel, the other is a byproduct of the gospel. Moralism focuses on outward behavior and is generally encouraged for personal profit and reputation. Moral transformation and conformity to the will of God is rooted in the fear of God, the pleasure of God, and is demonstrably tied to the Word of God." - TGC

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