Ezekiel 47 & Psalm 103

Ezekiel 47

    Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

    While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever.

    “As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out. This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.

    “These are the measurements of the altar by cubits (the cubit being a cubit and a handbreadth): its base shall be one cubit high and one cubit broad, with a rim of one span around its edge. And this shall be the height of the altar: from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, two cubits, with a breadth of one cubit; and from the smaller ledge to the larger ledge, four cubits, with a breadth of one cubit; and the altar hearth, four cubits; and from the altar hearth projecting upward, four horns. The altar hearth shall be square, twelve cubits long by twelve broad. The ledge also shall be square, fourteen cubits long by fourteen broad, with a rim around it half a cubit broad, and its base one cubit all around. The steps of the altar shall face east.”

    And he said to me, “Son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: These are the ordinances for the altar: On the day when it is erected for offering burnt offerings upon it and for throwing blood against it, you shall give to the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok, who draw near to me to minister to me, declares the Lord GOD, a bull from the herd for a sin offering. And you shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the ledge and upon the rim all around. Thus you shall purify the altar and make atonement for it. You shall also take the bull of the sin offering, and it shall be burned in the appointed place belonging to the temple, outside the sacred area. And on the second day you shall offer a male goat without blemish for a sin offering; and the altar shall be purified, as it was purified with the bull. When you have finished purifying it, you shall offer a bull from the herd without blemish and a ram from the flock without blemish. You shall present them before the LORD, and the priests shall sprinkle salt on them and offer them up as a burnt offering to the LORD. For seven days you shall provide daily a male goat for a sin offering; also, a bull from the herd and a ram from the flock, without blemish, shall be provided. Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it. And when they have completed these days, then from the eighth day onward the priests shall offer on the altar your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, and I will accept you, declares the Lord GOD.”

(Ezekiel 43 ESV)


Psalm 103

Of David.

    Bless the LORD, O my soul,
        and all that is within me,
        bless his holy name!
    Bless the LORD, O my soul,
        and forget not all his benefits,
    who forgives all your iniquity,
        who heals all your diseases,
    who redeems your life from the pit,
        who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
    who satisfies you with good
        so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
    
    
    The LORD works righteousness
        and justice for all who are oppressed.
    He made known his ways to Moses,
        his acts to the people of Israel.
    The LORD is merciful and gracious,
        slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
    He will not always chide,
        nor will he keep his anger forever.
    He does not deal with us according to our sins,
        nor repay us according to our iniquities.
    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
        so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
    as far as the east is from the west,
        so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
    As a father shows compassion to his children,
        so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
    For he knows our frame;
        he remembers that we are dust.
    
    
    As for man, his days are like grass;
        he flourishes like a flower of the field;
    for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
        and its place knows it no more.
    But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
        and his righteousness to children's children,
    to those who keep his covenant
        and remember to do his commandments.
    The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
        and his kingdom rules over all.
    
    
    Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
        you mighty ones who do his word,
        obeying the voice of his word!
    Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
        his ministers, who do his will!
    Bless the LORD, all his works,
        in all places of his dominion.
    Bless the LORD, O my soul!

(Psalm 103 ESV)

 The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...

 

ONE OF THE LOVELIEST OF THE PSALMS IS Psalm 103. I reflected on it in volume 1 (meditation for June 11). Here I want to return to several of its themes:

(1) “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (103:8). That truth is often expressed in the Old Testament. For example, when the Lord passes before Moses while the latter is hiding in a cleft in the rock, he intones, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness . . .” (Ex. 34:6). Yet that is not the impression that many readers of the Old Testament have of God. Somehow they think he runs on a short fuse, never very far off from an outburst that can wipe out a nation or two. Why do they have that impression?

Probably in part because they do not read the Old Testament very closely. Or perhaps they read the Old Testament impressionistically: there are all those passages in the prophets where the Lord is threatening judgment, and they can leave a sour taste and a smell of sulfur. But should we not see the Lord’s mercy in them? He delays judgment, which may be postponed for years or even decades. On the first signs of genuine repentance, he turns from wrath, for the Lord is “slow to anger, abounding in love.” Strict justice would be immediate — an easy thing for Omniscience! The truth is that God “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (103:10).

(2) “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (103:13-14). It is almost as if this God is looking for reasons to be as forbearing as possible. But it is also true that a human father is likely to be far more compassionate and forbearing with a son or daughter who “fears” him and basically respects him. Then each confusion or failure or mistake is likely to be treated with more forbearance than the conduct of the son or daughter who is profoundly anarchic. In any case, this heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves. Who better than he can tell us what we are made of?

(3) In our guilt before a holy God, what we need most is to be forgiven all our sins (103:3), to have them removed far from us: “as far as the east is from the west [a distance without limit, unlike north to south], so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (103:12). With that assurance, all other blessings of any worth will one day be ours; without the forgiveness of sins, any other blessing we have received is worse than worthless: it may be deceptive.