Friday, November 3, 2017

November 3: Ezekiel 7 – 9; Psalm 105:1-15; Proverbs 26:28; Hebrews 5



Overview

            Ezekiel: The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel and told him that the Lord was going to end Israel because of the abominations. He would not pity or spare. The day is near and it will be a day of doom. He will judge them by their abominations and pour out his wrath. Then they will know he is the Lord. None will return to the wealth they once had. Buyer and seller will both be judged for their iniquity.
            They may want to fight back but can’t. Outside the city, they are killed by the enemy and inside they die by famine and disease. Survivors will mourn over their sins. The ones in the city mourn with sackcloth and in shame. Their riches can’t buy food because they used the wealth the Lord gave them to make idols. Therefore, the Lord is giving them to their enemies who will profane the temple.
            The Lord will use the worst of nations to end their pride. The people will want peace, but it will not happen. They will get no peace from the prophets, priests, elders, or king. Everyone will be paralyzed by terror.
            In the sixth year, sixth month, and fifth day, the Lord appeared to Ezekiel while he was sitting in his house with the elders of Judah. The Lord took him in a vision to Jerusalem to the temple court. An idol was there that provoked the Lord to jealousy. The glory of the Lord appeared as he had seen it before. The Lord asked him if he saw what they were doing to drive him from the temple. He was then told to dig through the courtyard wall and found a hidden doorway. Inside were images of unclean creatures on the wall that the people worshiped. Jaazaniah and 70 elders were offing incense to the creatures and idols. The Lord took him to the north gate and there, women were crying for the god, Tammuz. In the inner courtyard 25 men turned their backs on the temple and worshiped the sun. The Lord said that they also were leading the whole nation into violence insulting the Lord. He will respond without pity and not spare them even if the cry for mercy.
            The Lord loudly yelled to bring executioners and six men came with weapons along with a man with a writing case. They stood by the bronze altar. The glory of the Lord stood at the temple threshold and told the one man to put a mark on everyone’s forehead who mourned over the abominations. He told the other six to kill everyone, young and old, who didn’t have a mark. Ezekiel asked if he would destroy all the remnant in his anger.
            The Lord answered that Israel and Judah’s guilt is severe because they shed blood, are unjust, and think the Lord doesn’t see it all. He is bringing their deeds on them.
            Psalm: This is Psalm of witnessing. We are to be thankful and make his name known. People who seek him will be joyful. We are to remember all he has done. He is Lord and he judges the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the promises to Israel. When Israel was small and wandered in the desert, he didn’t let anyone oppress them.
            Proverbs: Not telling someone the truth show you hate the person. Flattery instead of the truth causes problems.
            Hebrews: The high priest is chosen to act on behalf of men before God. Since he is weak and sinful, he must first offer a sacrifice for his own sins. They don’t choose themselves but are called by God like Aaron. Christ didn’t pick himself but was chosen when God said in the Psalms that he was God’s begotten Son and would be a priest forever like Melchizedek.
            When Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers with cries and tears to God who could save him from death. God heard him because of his reverence. Even though he was a son, he suffered obediently. This showed that Jesus was a perfect high priest and the source of eternal salvation to those who obey him.
            The author of Hebrews says this is hard to explain and will say more but his audience hasn’t really paid attention. They’ve been Christians long enough to be teachers but instead need to be taught the basic doctrines again. Since they haven’t really studied, they are not skillful in understanding the word. If they had, then they would be able discern good from evil.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “And the Lord said to him, ‘Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it’” (Ezek 9:4).
            Psalm: “He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth” (Ps 105:7).
            Proverbs: “A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin” (Prov 26:28).
            Hebrews: “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:14).

Insight

            Ezekiel: Today’s reading is very grim. We think the world is exceedingly spiritually dark today, and it is. If you look at the idol worship in some parts of the world, it is exactly what was going on in Jerusalem and Judah. The Lord announced his furry over them and not the rest of the world because he had been in their midst. His temple was his point of contact with them and they had erected idols there, they turned their back on him to worship the sun, they worshiped all sorts of things and gods. If that wasn’t enough they also were robbers and murders. There was no sense of justice.
            However, there were still some who hated what had happened and worshiped the Lord. These are the one he marked so that they would not be killed. We can look at this and recognize that not everyone succumbs to the evil around them. The Lord will take care of them. It doesn’t mean we will be preserved from all problems. Those who survived will suffer greatly in exile or in poverty as they are left in the land. Christians are not exempt from physical suffering, but we are exempt from eternal suffering.
            We can also see that those who should know better and reject the Lord are the ones who will suffer the most. We may not see it in our lifetime in the same way that the Lord warned the people for many years, but their eternity is at stake. This doesn’t mean that those who haven’t heard about the Lord are exempt, but those who live in a country where Jesus is freely proclaimed and don’t want to have anything to do with him will pay more dearly.
            We need to be a watchman like Ezekiel and warn everyone, those who have heard about Jesus as well as those in countries where his name hasn’t reached. We can do it personally and we can do it by helping those called to other places.
            Psalm: This is a good passage to study after thinking about the Lord’s judgment of Israel and Judah. We have to remember that the Lord is the judge over all the earth. There isn’t any place or people that he won’t judge. As we saw earlier in Ezekiel, he judges each person according to his deeds whether someone has warned them or not. While we are called upon to make Jesus known among all people (Ps 105:1), if we fail to get to some people group, it doesn’t excuse them from judgment. If we had the ability to get there (or help someone get there) and didn’t do it, then we will be accountable, but it won’t change the fact they will be judged.
            Proverbs: You hear it all time. A person tells a lie to keep from hurting a person he loves. According to Proverbs 26:28, that is fake news. We tell lies because we don’t really love the person enough. Instead we are loving ourselves to keep from having to deal with the fallout of the truth. When the truth does come out, the lie makes it worse than had the truth been told in the first place. Which is more loving? Flattery is just another form of lying and the results are the same.
            Hebrews: This reading takes us from the great theological explanation of Jesus being our high priest to the reality that many Christians don’t have the interest to do anything more with their faith than get saved. We all grow and mature as we read and study the Bible. To be the high priest, Jesus had to be a man and he is because he was established by being called God’s begotten Son (Ps 2:7). He also had to be chosen to be a priest. He couldn’t become one on his own. Though during the time between the ending of the Old Testament and Jesus’ arrival some people managed to do that, they were not legitimate because they were not appointed by God. That’s why God’s statement in Psalm 110:4 is important. God appointed Jesus to be priest hundreds of years before he came. He was appointed to a priesthood that predated the Levitical priesthood. He is a perfect priest because he suffered without sinning and only God could do that.
            If you are asking why all this is important, then you will have to wait for the explanation in the following chapters of Hebrews. If you don’t think it is important, then you are either a new Christian or in the same boat with the ones the author chastises. If you are new, then I pray these chapters will excite you as we understand more about Jesus as our high priest. If you have been a Christian a long time I pray you will take this time to energize your faith and get excited about knowing more about Jesus. Whichever category you fit in, I pray you will have your powers of discernment trained to distinguish good from evil.

Application

             I want to know more about Jesus because I’m supposed to be changed more into his image. It’s tough to make the change when I don’t know much about him. I want to be able discern good from evil better and better. As an example, it helps when tempted to flatter or lie to others.

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