The Lord is Full of Compassion and Mercy

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EZEKIEL 42:1-43:27 | JAMES 5:1-20 | PSALM 119:1-16 | PROVERBS 28:6-7

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Ezekiel’s vision about the restoration of the temple is a lengthy one.  The “man in bronze” continues to go over the many dimensions of the walls, gates, and various other rooms and structures that will comprise the temple when it is rebuilt. 

This is indeed a grand design, and Ezekiel receives these words from the Lord concerning it: 

10 “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection, 11 and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.

Next, there is a detailed description of the restoration of the altar in the temple — the place where atonement was made by way of various offerings.  This was the manner in which God communed with his people, and the way in which man communed with God.  God, or the “glory of God” as described by Ezekiel, was to be found within the confines of the temple. 

But no matter how perfect a design this might have been, God himself dismantled it and replaced it with a new covenant when he sent his own son, known as Jesus Christ, to be the perfect and permanent sacrifice as the everlasting atonement.

And once this was done, God did not choose to reside in a temple built by human hands — instead, he chose to reside in the human heart! 

So great is this change that in a manner of speaking, it is taking everything we possibly know and understand about God up until this point in time, and turning it upside down. And yet, when we truly pause to think about it, the new design is even more perfect than the most perfect of dimensions and measurements that were revealed to Ezekiel.

This is a God that wishes to engage with his creation in the most intimate way.  No temple can contain him, but he will deign to gladly enter every human heart that invites him in! 

How brilliant a concept — how grand a design!

We turn now to our reading of the book of James, and find James offering an exhortation on the virtues of patience.  He says: 

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

And then, he has some very clear and concise advice on the matter of swearing, or taking oaths.  He says: 

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

Next, he expounds on the great virtue of faith, and urges the reader to engage in prayer for everything — small or big, and offers as an example the person of Elijah.  He says:

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

And finally, he speaks to the great service of a believer who helps a fellow-believer who might have fallen back in his old ways.  He says:

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. 

Next, we turn to our reading in the book of Psalms, and find David reflecting on his own inadequacies while beseeching God in all humility.  May it be that like David, we are also quick to say:

5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
   in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
   when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
   as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
   do not utterly forsake me.

And may we also continue to weave into our own prayers and supplications, these very humble prayers as offered by David:

10 I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs, authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel, that offer food for thought:

6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless
   than the rich whose ways are perverse.

7 A discerning son heeds instruction,
   but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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