Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November 7: Ezekiel 16:43 – 17; Psalm 106:13-31; Proverbs 27:7-9; Hebrews 8



Overview

            Ezekiel: The Lord says he will repay Jerusalem for her sins because she forgot her youth. He then compares her to a family of wicked people saying her parents were from nations the Lord abhorred. Her sisters are Samaria and Sodom, but Jerusalem has done the same and worse than them. She should be ashamed because her evil makes those other cities look righteous in comparison.
            The Lord will restore Samaria, Sodom, and Jerusalem. At that time Jerusalem will be ashamed of her past. But now, even Syria and Philistia hate her because of her abominations. The Lord will punish her but will remember his covenant and give the other two cities to her as daughters so that she will know he is the Lord. She will remember and be astonished when the Lord atones for her and all she has done.
            The Lord tells a parable about two great eagles. The first takes a branch from the top of a cedar and plants it in another land. He plants a seed in the land and it becomes a vine that flourishes. But the vine sends it roots to the second eagle. The first then pulls up the vine and it withers.
            The Lord explains the parable. The first Eagle is the king of Babylon who took princes of Jerusalem to Babylon. He made a covenant with the one left in Jerusalem to be submissive. But he rebelled and sent to Egypt for help. The Lord says that the covenant he made with Babylon is his covenant. The Lord will punish the prince and take him to Babylon for breaking the covenant. His troops will be decimated.
            The Lord says he will take one of the branches from the tall cedars and plant it in Israel. It will bear fruit and become mighty. Ever bird will nest in it and all the trees of the field will know the Lord is God. The high green trees will be made low and dry; the low dry trees will be made green and high.
            Psalm: The Psalmist started the Psalm giving reasons to praise the Lord and give him thanks. Previously, he told of Israel being taken through the Red Sea.
            In the wilderness, Israel had wanton cravings and tested God. God punished them. They were jealous of Moses and God punished them. At Horeb they made a metal calf and worshiped it. They forgot God who brought them out of Egypt. Moses interceded so that God didn’t destroy them. Then they despised the Promised Land and didn’t go in. God then made them wander in the desert so that they died in the desert. Then they worshiped Baal at Peor and did evil. The Lord punished them with a plague that stopped when Phinehas intervened and was counted as righteous to him.
            Proverbs: When you are full, you don’t even want dessert, but a hungry person will think even bitter food is scrumptious. A person leaving home (wife and kids) is like a bird that abandons its nest with the eggs or young in it. Good counsel from a friend is like perfume and oil that brings gladness.
            Hebrews: We do have a high priest who is at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven. He serves in God’s sanctuary set up by God and not men. The earthly priests offered gifts according to the Law. Their temple is only a shadowy copy of the heavenly one. Even so, they had to build it according the pattern given to them by Moses. In that old covenant, Jesus wouldn’t even be a priest, but he is the mediator of a better covenant because it has a better promise.
            If the first covenant had been prefect, then there would not have been a reason for the new covenant. But God found fault with it. He announced that in Jeremiah 31:31-34 saying he would make a new covenant not like the old one because the people didn’t remain faithful and the Lord turned away because of it. In the new covenant, the Lord will put his laws in the hearts and minds of the people. People won’t need to teach each other to know the Lord because they will all know him. He will forgive all their wickedness and not remember their sins. Because God called the covenant new, it makes the old one obsolete and it will soon disappear.

What Stood Out

            Ezekiel: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: As I live, surely it is my oath that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. I will return it upon his head” (Ezek 17:19).
            Psalm: “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt” (Ps 106:21).
            Proverbs: “Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home” (Prov 27:8).
            Hebrews: “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13).

Insight

            Ezekiel: When people who are supposed to be righteous do what is evil, even other evil people recognize it and are astounded. When Christians do wrong, it makes unbelievers look good in comparison. This should never be, but it unfortunately happens all the time. We shouldn’t think that the Lord will excuse our behavior. Fortunately, there is still hope for us by repenting and there is hope for the unbelievers as well. We can be restored to fellowship with the Lord and they can be saved even when we’ve been a bad example.
            When we make a promise, sign a contract, or make a covenant with someone, we are not doing it alone, if we are Christians. When Zedekiah took an oath to obey Nebuchadnezzar, the Lord said that oath then became a covenant with God. When Zedekiah broke the covenant with Nebuchadnezzar, he despised the oath by breaking the covenant with God as well (Ezek 17:19). We are told to let our yes be yes and our no be no. When we promise things, we are supposed to keep those promises. Because Christ lives in us, there isn’t any contract that we make that isn’t made along with the Lord. This is why divorce, bankruptcy, not fulfilling contracts, and just reneging on promises are so bad. They are all done in the presence of the Lord and bring disgrace to his name when we break them. None of these should be done broken lightly. We don’t want to be people who make unbelievers seem more honorable than we are.
            Psalm: This Psalm turned quickly. Yesterday, we were seeing all the reasons to thank and praise God. Now we see Israel as rebellious and constantly punished for their sins. What happened? Psalm 106:21 concludes that they forgot about God. This is the same thing that God said about Jerusalem (Ezek 16:43). They focused on their problems and the “good” life they had back in Egypt. We are so much the same. When we sin, we are looking back at the good old days when we sinned and God didn’t seem to care. We forget that we are saved out of darkness and into God’s wonderful light. Some of the “fun” we had back then is still alluring. If that is happening, then we have forgotten about God and his holiness. We have forgotten that our future with Jesus is much more glorious than any sin could offer. Maybe, if sin is so alluring, we may be like those who fell in the desert and were not saved into the Promised Land. Maybe we need to test ourselves to see if we really are saved (2 Cor 13:5).
            Proverbs: When I was little, I hated peas. They were yukky. One cold snowy day my brother and I were helping my dad gather wood. Our tractor and wagon got stuck about a half mile from home. Dad sent us home and we trudged through knee deep snow. When we got home, we were cold and hungry. I thought on the way home that even if Mom had peas, I was going to eat them. Mom had hot food ready for us – with peas I’ve loved peas ever since. It just shows that having the right perspective makes a whole lot of a difference in how we view things. The Israelites were not thankful about being taken out of Egypt and it went the wrong way. Being thankful changes the way we view life, not just peas.
            Hebrews: The author of Hebrews has established that Jesus is a superior high priest to the priests of the old covenant. He now starts making the argument that the new covenant is superior to the old one. Since God is the one who guaranteed the old covenant, he shows why the old was flawed. It is flawed because the people didn’t keep it. God kept the covenant, which guaranteed blessing for the people if they kept his commandments and curses if they disobeyed. The Lord fulfilled his side of it when he punished them. However, at the same time, he told them that he would replace the covenant with a better one.
            Of course, we know that the new covenant is established by Jesus’ blood and his death on the cross. The Lord fulfills his promise by giving us his Holy Spirit so that his laws are truly in our minds and on our hearts. Because Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant, it will never end because he lives forever.
            Here is one point we shouldn’t overlook. The old covenant didn’t disappear all at once. In Hebrews 8:13, the author says the old is ready to pass away. When this was written, the temple, and all the sacrifices were still being made even though the ark of the old covenant was missing. Once the temple was destroyed and everything in it in AD 70, the old covenant truly disappeared. There is no way that the laws and regulations can be kept by anyone without them. This is a stumbling block for Jews today. Though they can’t fulfill the Law, for most of them, they still refuse to see this and accept Jesus as their Messiah and high priest. Instead, they have invented a form of Judaism that is actually foreign to the old covenant and in opposition to the new covenant. They have done what all other religions do, and that is invent a way to God that isn’t through Jesus. There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus. That is for both Jew and Gentile.

Application

             I want to be a person who honors the Lord by keeping promises and obligations, whether written or spoken. I also want to do this to make sure I don’t become a stumbling block to others who don’t know Jesus. I also want to make sure that when I witness to others that I make sure they know the only way to the Father is through Jesus.

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