Monday, September 21, 2015

God's faithfulness to preserve His people

1 Peter 2:9-12 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observethem, glorify God in the day of visitation."

The visions of Ezekiel 38-39 are connected to the visions we saw in yesterday's post on Ezekiel 36-37. Although the timing of the visions are difficult to discern, their purpose is clear: God is going to restore the nation of Israel, save her and defend her against her enemies. Ezekiel 36 begins the sequence with God promising to pour out His Spirit upon Israel, resulting in a large number of Jewish people turning to Him, believing on their Messiah and being saved. Israel is God's chosen people, and His reasons for choosing her stems not from her as it does God standing by His character and love for her. Ezekiel 37 depicts then how God will prepare Israel for this massive time of her salvation, with the valley of dry bones predicting the nation being brought back to life from the brink of death, followed by her conversion to faith in her Messiah. Many have pointed out that the first stage of seeing Israel become a nation occurred in 1948 with Israel and her language being brought back from extinction - an event unheard of for any other nation or people. If we take these events to occur at the time of events leading up to Christ's second coming during the end of the Great Tribulation, then the suggested timing of Ezekiel 38-39 can be set in that same general vicinity. Ezekiel 38-39 depicts a confederation of Arab nations and perhaps Russia to the North arraying themselves against Israel, only to be defeated by the Lord. God protects His people and will not allow them to be destroyed. 

Whenever you arrive at 1 Peter 4, twice we are reminded of Christ's second coming and the judgment upon this world. Why? 1 Peter 4:1-11 is urging Christians to live their lives in the world but not of it. As Christians, we are to serve the Lord and love one another with fervent love, for time is getting shorter. Then in 1 Peter 4:12-19 we see once again a reminder that judgment's beginning starts at the threshold of the church proclaiming the Gospel. We warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come. Suffering will be the inevitable outcome for Christians who remain faithful to their Savior, however we know we can rely upon Him to see us through up to the time He returns. Like Israel, we can say that God will protect the faith of His people and that they will persevere to the end.