Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14: Ezekiel 29 – 30; Psalm 112; Proverbs 27:17; Hebrews 11:32-12:13



Overview

            Ezekiel: On the 12th of the 10th month of the 10th year, the Lord told Ezekiel to prophecy against Pharaoh and all Egypt. Pharaoh thinks he is a dragon that made the Nile for himself. The Lord will pull him out and he will die in the wilderness. Then the people of Egypt will know God is the Lord. The sword will come upon Egypt because Israel trusted in them, but Egypt couldn’t deliver any help. Egypt will become a waste. From Midol to Syene and the border of Cush, it will be waste for 40 years. Egyptians will be scattered among the nations. After 40 year he will restore the nation, but it will be a lowly kingdom and never again exalt itself over others. Israel will not rely on it again because they will remember that they sinned by doing so.
            In the first of the first month of the 27th year, the Lord told Ezekiel that he was giving Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as payment for his hard work at capturing Tyre. He had worked hard doing it ang didn’t get paid by capturing it.
            The Lord told Ezekiel to prophecy against Egypt that a day was near and it would fall. Its wealth will be carried away and its foundations torn down. Its allies will also be wiped out. They will fall by the sword. They shall be desolated countries and their cities laid waste. They will know he is the Lord when he does this.
            God’s messengers will go by ship to surprise and terrorize Cush. They will be in anguish when Egypt’s doom happens. The Lord will use Nebuchadnezzar to take Egypt’s wealth and wipe them out as if the Nile were dried up. He will destroy the idols, kill the princes, and bring judgment on the cities. Then they will know he is the Lord.
            On the 7th of the first month of the 11th year, the Lord told Ezekiel that he had broken Pharaoh’s arm and now he would break the other also. He will scatter the Egyptians. He will also strength Nebuchadnezzar’s arms. Then the will know he is the Lord.
            Psalm: The Psalmist praises the Lord because a person is blessed when he fears the Lord. He has multiple blessings in descendants, wealth, riches, and righteousness forever. He is kind, gracious, generous, just, and fair. His righteousness will never fail and he will be remembered forever. He isn’t afraid of bad news or enemies because he trusts in the Lord. He will give to the poor and he will be exalted. The wicked person sees it and becomes angry. All he desires will perish.
            Proverbs: As two pieces of iron rubbing against each other sharpens them, so does a healthy debate sharpen two people.
            Hebrews: Hebrews lists several Old Testament saints who did some incredible things by faith. Other unnamed ones were also had been persecuted and killed in various ways. Many were destitute and hid in the desert and caves. These specifically were commended for their faith but never received their promises. The reason is that God has prepared something even better that we will be sharing with them.
            All these Old Testament saints have provided a testimony to us that should encourage us to get rid of sin in our lives. Sin hinders us from living a godly life. Like running a race, we should follow the markers and keep on running. We should focus on Jesus who has shown us true faith. Just as he focused on the joy he would have at God’s right hand, he was able to get through the cross. We should be like him and not become weary.
            Very few people have had to shed blood to fight sin in their lives, but everyone has had to be disciplined by the Lord. We shouldn’t be upset by his discipline because he does it out of love for us, his children. We need to endure this testing by God. Every father disciplines his children but not those who are someone else’s children. We should submit to the Lord’s discipline even when it hurts because it will yield a more righteous life with peace. Therefore strengthen yourselves and do what is right.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezek 29:9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 26).
            Psalm: “His righteousness endures forever” (Ps 112:3, 9).
            Proverbs: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17).
            Hebrews: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb 12:4).

Insight

            Ezekiel: The Lord told Ezekiel that Egypt would never be a nation that ruled over others again. It is interesting to note that in Israel’s six-day war, Egypt was the prime instigator but the prophecy is still being fulfilled because they were not able to win the war and exercise control over Isreael.
            Nineteen times in the book of Ezekiel, the Lord says he will do something that “they will know that I am the Lord.” Six of them occur in these two chapters. These are spoken after the Lord tells of the judgment that he will bring. You would think that we would know better after seeing how many time in the Old Testament that the Lord judges nations for their wickedness. You would think that we wouldn't walk right into sin and expect not to suffer the consequences. But we don’t as individuals and as societies.
            That is the problem with fallen mankind. Until the Lord regenerates our spirit so that we can obey him, we will continue to be sinful and do sinful things. That’s why the Lord tells us that we need a new heart (Eze 18:31) and that he is the one that will give it to us (Eze 36:26). It is only through Jesus that we can get a new heart. It is by faith and that is a gift from God. We should be very thankful that we aren’t among those who were devastated for their sin but we are among those called by God to live new lives with new hearts. We should be praying for those who don’t have a new heart yet so that the Lord would work his salvation in them.
            Psalm: A person who fears the Lord is indeed blessed. His wealth and riches in this world, which may not be great, are only temporal, but his righteousness will endure forever. That is a promise we can take wherever we go. Another big blessing is never being afraid of circumstances or adversaries.
            The wicked can’t stand to see the righteous blessed. Just like Saul couldn’t stand to see David exalted while he was humbled. David’s fortunes didn’t turn around all at once, they got worse. We sometimes need to wait for the blessings to appear, but we don’t have to be afraid. Our future is secure.
            Proverbs: If you rub two pieces of iron against each other in the wrong way, they both can become damaged instead of sharpened. The same thing happens with people. If you rub someone the wrong way, the relationship can be damaged or worse. Arguing, belittling, and other unhealthy means of communication are no substitute for a healthy debate.
            Healthy debate or bouncing ideas off one another is a great way to keep a person sharp. This is especially true when the Word of God is the subject and the goal is to bring glory and honor to the Lord, not prove yourself right and the other wrong (not including when one person is advocating a heretical or sinful interpretation of Scripture). The goal is accomplished in understanding and knowing the Lord better resulting in a godlier lifestyle.
            Hebrews: For those who think that resisting sin is too hard, we need to look at what some of the Old Testament saints had to endure. These things are listed in the last part of chapter 11. We could also look at other Christians around the world who are being persecuted. You can read about those who have been beheaded and tortured for their faith. But the message to us who live in a country where we can freely worship without penalty, the author of Hebrews makes the point that we haven’t had to shed our blood to resist sin.
            That is a very sobering statement. These people in the past and in the present often die to keep from sinning by denying the Lord. What do we do when we lose our temper? What do we do when we tell a lie? We certainly didn’t put much effort into resisting our sins. If we had resisted, it certainly wouldn’t have cost us persecution, harm, or even death. No, it would have only cost us being less selfish and looking out for someone else instead of yourselves.

Application

             When I think of how selfish my sins are, I’m ashamed to say that I never considered that resisting them is so much easier than the persecutions others face. While I believe I would never deny the Lord if confronted with the same kinds of persecutions, my track record with resisting my selfish sins isn’t a good indicator of my ability to keep from sinning in the face of extreme hardships. But, I still have to trust the Lord that I will be able to do it if called upon. I must remember it any power to resist any sins is only by Christ living in me.

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