Monday, November 19, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Ezekiel 41-42 and Revelation 10

Ezekiel 41 – Ezekiel describes the “Hekal” [Hall] and Debir [Sanctuary] of the new Temple  – its dimensions and place in the vision he has of Jerusalem. He mentions some side structures, the wooden altar and doors.  There are few places in the Scriptures where the writer describes what he is talking about in such excruciating detail: Noah’s ark, the building of the first Temple and now here. I love Ezekiel for his poetry and his amazing vision of what will change in his people’s faith-lives, but these parts are a little boring, and some commentators maintain that the dimensions outlined are not anything like what was built..

Ezekiel 42 – This chapter describes the various buildings outside the Temple and the measurements of the court itself. The impression is that the vision God is giving Ezekiel is precise and something that might actually be used in a building project, but the notes to various parts of the plan indicate that the dates are “obscure” and not necessarily part of the historical Temple that was actually built.

Revelation 10 – Another angel is seen “coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were pillars of fire” (10:1).

“In his hand he had a small scroll, unrolled” (10:1). He places his right foot in the sea and his left foot on the land and shouts so loud “it was like a lion roaring” (10:4). At his roar, there are seven “thunderclaps” and he is told to keep the words of the seven thunderclaps secret because it is not yet the time of their fulfillment.

He says, “The time of waiting is over; at the time when the seventh angel is heard sounding his trumpet, God’s secret intention will be fulfilled, ‘just as he announced in the Good News told to his servants the prophets’” (10:7). The prophet is told to take and eat the small scroll he is offered. It will taste sweet but turn sour in his stomach. He is told to prophesy again but this time to the nations.

The Jerusalem Bible note indicates that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet the definitive establishment of God’s kingdom – God’s Church; but it is a victory that will still involve suffering.

I have to say I do not understand how these chapters are to be received by modern readers. The one thing that meant something to ME when I first started teaching the biblical narrative to kids at Friends in my Quakerism class, was that the entire book – the Old and New Testaments together – purported to tell the ENTIRE narrative of man’s time on earth and God’s WHOLE dedication to the project from beginning to end. I liked that feel and still do. We can differ on interpretations but the “big picture” is KEY.

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