Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5: Ezekiel 12 – 14:11; Psalm 105:37-45; Proverbs 27:3; Hebrews 7:1-17



Overview

            Ezekiel: The Lord told Ezekiel that he lived with a rebellious people who don’t pay attention. He is to act as if he were being sent to exile, packing his baggage, digging through the wall, and covering his face so he can’t see the land. He did it and the next morning the Lord asked him if anyone one asked what he was doing. He was to tell the people that he was a sign for the prince and people in Jerusalem. The prince will try to escape but will be captured and taken to Babylon but won’t see it. The people and his servants will be scattered among the nations and escape death so they can confess their sins and know God is the Lord.
            The Lord told Ezekiel to eat and drink with trembling and anxiety. That is what will happen to the people in Jerusalem before the city is laid waste. They will know that God is the Lord.
            People keep saying that the visions never come to pass. Ezekiel is to tell them it will happen soon. He will end the fake visions and he will do what he has promised. They also say the visions are for the distant future. Ezekiel is to tell them God will not delay any longer.
            Ezekiel is to warn the false prophets about their prophesies from their own spirits claiming it comes from the Lord. The Lord hasn’t sent them and they are lying. God says he is against them and will reject them from Israel. They have misled the people by claiming peace. Their claim is like a white washed wall that is broken down in a storm and flood. The whitewash disappears. The Lord’s wrath will be the storm against the wall and they will be the whitewash that perishes.
            Ezekiel is also to prophesy against the women who prophecy their own thoughts. They also participate in witchcraft by hunting for souls. They think they can keep their own souls alive. They kill those who should live and keep alive those who should die. They do this for bread. The Lord will hunt them and free the souls they trapped and know that he is the Lord. They will no longer see visions or practice witchcraft.
            Some of the elders came to Ezekiel wanting to hear from the Lord. The Lord told Ezekiel that they had idols in their hearts. The idols block their vision of the Lord and are stumbling blocks. The Lord will answer them according to their idolatry. Ezekiel is to tell them to repent and turn from their idols. People in Israel and foreigners among them who have idols and come to the Lord are in trouble because the Lord will be against them. If the Lord entices a prophet to make a false prophecy, he will be guilty, and the Lord will destroy both the prophet and the one who inquires while still seeking idols. The people will then no longer stray from the Lord.
            Psalm: The Psalmist finishes his praise and thanksgiving to God by describing how the Lord took Israel out of Egypt. They were given gold and silver. He protected them with a cloud and fire at night. God fed them with quail and bread from heaven. He gave them water in the desert. He remembered his promise to Abraham and gave them the land and possessions of nations. He did this so that they would keep his statutes and observe his laws.
            Proverbs: Putting up with a fool’s goading is harder than lifting a stone or carrying bags of sand.
            Hebrews: Melchizedek was king of Salem (peace) and a priest of the Most High God. His name means, king of righteousness. Abraham gave him a 10th of the spoils after defeating kings. There is no mention of his father or mother, his birth or his death, so he resembles God’s Son and is a priest forever.
            Melchizedek was so great that the father of Israel gave him a 10th of everything. By the Law, priests were to receive a 10th from the people, the other descendants of Abraham. But Melchizedek received a 10th without being of Abraham’s family and blessed Abraham, who had God’s promise. It is obvious that the greater person blesses the lesser person. The priests are mortal and receive tithes, but Melchizedek still lives. Because Levi was a descendent of Abraham, he gave a tithe to Melchizedek through Abraham.
            If the Levitical priesthood could bring perfection, there wouldn’t need to be another priesthood to come in the order of Melchizedek. Since there is a change in the priesthood, there must also be a change in the Law. Jesus belonged to Judah and no one from that tribe served as priests according to Moses. But Jesus has become a priest, not by the Law but by having a life that couldn’t be destroyed. It is also said about him in Scripture that he is a priest forever in the same order as Melchizedek.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them?” (Ezek 14:3).
            Psalm: “For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant” (Ps 105:42).
            Proverbs: “A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool's provocation is heavier than both” (Prov 27:3).
            Hebrews: “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace” (Heb 7:2).

Insight

            Ezekiel: In today’s reading, we discover more about the evil that was prominent in Judah before their destruction. The description of the occult practices is quite astonishing. Some of the women were hunting for souls of people by sewing bands and veils. These women are tied to the false prophets as both of them prophecy lies. When I read this, I thought of the “dream catchers” that have become popular recently. According to legends, the night air is filled with dreams and the dream catchers collect the bad dreams and destroys them.[1] It would seem to me that these women were catching souls like these dream catchers trap dreams, instead of trapping the bad ones, they are allowing the false visions to be manifested and spoken as prophecies from God. As people believed these false prophets, they were trapped in their desires to do what they wanted and were supported by these evil women. When the Lord kills them, he sets the people free from the false visions and they would be able understand and know that God is the Lord.
            Paul warned us that this is what happens with all of us before we are saved. Satan blinds us to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor 4:3-4). He is the ultimate soul hunter and mind clouder. But Jesus is the one that makes his light shine in our hearts and removes that veil (2 Cor 4:6) just as the Lord destroyed the soul hunters power over people.
            A very important principle is revealed in Ezekiel 14:1-11. This is something that we can apply directly to ourselves. The Lord declares that when someone comes to him with an idol in his heart, it blinds that person from seeing the Lord. When we make anything in this world more important than serving the Lord, we can’t see the Lord because that thing, that idol, is right in our face. The Lord will answer us according to our idols. If we don’t repent, that idol will destroy us. It destroys us by taking us away from the Lord and leading lives that are not what God wants for us.
            I know we are not all perfect and some of our idols are very subtle. Some of the problems we face in life are a direct result of those idols. If we want to come to the Lord and consult him, then we should not ignore him when he reveals these idols to us. We must repent or suffer the consequences. One of those consequences is being led deeper into sinful behavior by rejecting God’s plan for us.
            Psalm: After recapping the history of Israel from the patriarchs to taking over the Promised Land, the Psalmist explains that he did this so that Israel would obey the Lord. There is much to give thanks about from the beginning of the Psalm to the end so that it is easy to miss how the beginning (giving thanks) and the end (obedience) are tied together. When we think back over the way the Lord has blessed us, do we ever think that the reason he has done this involves our obedience to him? I think we are too often caught up in ourselves that we forget that God does things to bring glory to himself. He remembered his promise to Abraham, but even in doing that, he brings glory to himself. He loves us and cares for us because demonstrating his love glorifies him. He works all things for the good of those who love him because he is working in us to make us more like Jesus (Rom 8:28-29) and that brings glory to him. When we respond in thankfulness and singing but don’t obey him, that doesn’t bring glory to him. Jesus said that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom but only those who do the Father’s will (Matt 7:21).
            Proverbs: Being patient with people is hard enough, but when some fool is targeting you with insults or other nasty things, it is even harder to be patient. This is when the power of the Holy Spirit is needed to keep from retaliating and becoming no better than the fool.
            Hebrews: This passage about the Melchizedek is fascinating. Just the interpretation of his name and his position as king of Salem identifies him with Jesus. It doesn’t mean he is a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus as some suggest, but he has the qualities that are attributed to Jesus. He is the king of Peace, the translation of the name Salem. Jesus is declared to be the Prince of Peace even before his incarnation (Isa 9:6). Melchizedek’s name means king of righteousness. Jesus is declared to be the Lord of Righteousness (Jer 23:5-6).
            At the time he appeared to Abraham, important people were identified in Scripture with their genealogy. The absence of Melchizedek’s genealogy along with Psalm 110:4 ascribes immortality to Melchizedek. Psalm 110 is talking about the Messiah who is declared to be God in verse 1. Ultimately, Jesus is the one that will be a priest forever, and I don’t doubt that Melchizedek is there with him right now. Jesus is proven to be this priest because he died and is resurrected. You can’t kill God and expect him to stay dead.
            This Hebrew logic isn’t the same as Greek logic that we normally use in the West. It makes it hard for us who are trained in a different way of thinking to absorb and believe what is being said. However, this is God’s word and it is just as true as all the rest of the Bible. When we read more, we’ll see why this is so important to prove that Jesus is our high priest who lives forever.

Application

             I need to make sure that I don’t have idols that obscure my sight of and obedience to the Lord. When he reveals them to me I want to be able to repent and remove them so that my life will reflect the life of Jesus more and more.


[1] K. Shabi, "Dreamcatcher Meaning: History, Legend & Origins of Dream Catchers," LEGOMENON: What is the Meaning: Online Literary Journal & Magazine, July 14, 2016, accessed November 05, 2017, http://legomenon.com/dreamcatcher-meaning-legend-history-origins.html.

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