Ezekiel 37: 1—38: 23
“Dry bones listen to the word of the Lord!” Goodness, I have never been more thankful for the Word of God. It is powerful enough to make dry bones spring to life. And this is why we cling so tightly to the actual Word of God. Being adjacent to the Word of God, singing about the Word of God, talking about the Word of God, posting about the Word of God, or hanging signs in your house about the Word of God will not cause your dry bones to come alive. You have to pick it up for yourself, read it and LISTEN to Him.
Ok side note. So, on the biblical timeline there is this spot we learned about in bible school labeled “God and Magog.” We were learning stuff so fast at bible school that I did not have the bandwidth to dig deeper into who Gog and Magog were. I mean knowing what happens during that spot makes it obvious they are enemies of God, but for all I knew they were two brothers whose parents were not creative with names. So, imagine my nerdy delight to come across them today! It makes so much sense now! Remember when God uses the words “at peace,” and “regathered” with Israel he is referring to the End Times when he will regather them and finally cleanse them fully of sin and give them a new heart. Well get this, we learned today from the section that even though God is evident by the fact that He is in the world cleansing it, there are still a group of unbelievers who will rise up and stand against Him—enter Gog, and Magog. They are group of people formed from surrounding nations that want to stand against God, and as we will read about later, they are under the control of Satan. This whole endtimes thing will get so much clearer as we read through Revelation. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be afraid. God will prepare us for it so we don’t have to live in fear of the zombie apocalypse, oops I mean, End Times.
James 1: 19–2: 17
Well we finished up Hebrews and now we are starting James. James, as in, half-brother of Jesus. It has to be said, from a human perspective, can you imagine having Jesus as your brother? I don’t know where I have heard this so I can’t really take credit for this joke, but can you imagine Mary saying to James, “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus, He is Perfect.” LOL—That cracks me up every time. There was definitely some family drama because we see in the Gospels that his brothers show up at one point to take Him home because they think He has lost his mind. But James at some point realized his brother actually was perfect and his Savior.
This Epistle was written sometime between 45 and 48 AD. James is writing to the scattered Jewish believers that are living “abroad.” Probably in Mesopotamia and Babylon. We cannot forget the most important thing in this book: He is writing to believers. They have already put their faith in Jesus. They are not having to be scolded for putting their faith in other things to save them. These are people who have been saved by Jesus but stopped at Salvation. They have not stepped into that idea that Romans 12 tells us about—giving our bodies as a living sacrifice, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, etc. This book gets misused to beat people into working themselves to death to prove they are saved. And I would like to stand here as living proof that if you don’t seek to understand what the author is saying to the scattered people you will end up using this letter to justify your busy life. Please learn from my mistakes and don’t do that.
What James is encouraging them to do is to live out their faith by doing what the Word of God says. Remember we learned to day Ezekiel that dry bones come alive when we actually listen to the Word of God. James takes that a step further and says basically, “Now that your dry bones have come to life, let them walk out your faith by loving others.”
And let me also say that I had a crisis of faith when we went through this book in Bible School. As I read it, I started to feel like James was contradicting everything I knew to be true about faith. So, if you are like me and are having a hard time with it, come back tomorrow and we will dig in further. Please believe me when I say that James is not contradicting the fact that we are saved by faith alone.