Ezekiel 18:1-19:14 ~ Hebrews 9:1-10 ~ Psalm 106:32-48 ~ Proverbs 27:10
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Old Testament - Ezekiel chapter 18 is a powerful chapter! What we are seeing in this chapter is the Old Covenant - which I do believe was compassionate & "fair", but different from the New Covenant, which I believe is compassionate & graceful (which may not necessarily be "fair" - but which is good news - Gospel - for us sinners!). Verse 30 is a good look at the Old Covenant: "Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn from your sins! Don't let them destroy you!" Verse 4 of course stands out too with: "And this is my rule: The person who sins will be the one who dies." You read this at a high level and you'll get a bit nervous, no? :) Indeed this is the Old Covenant: your actions will dictate your death or your life. It's up to your actions. It's up to you. You'll get what you deserve. And this is certainly "fair." However, this changes through Jesus Christ's atonement for our sins once and for all on the cross. Under the New Covenant, through God's gift of grace, we now simply need to have faith that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, died for our sins and rose from the dead. As we've been reading in Hebrews currently - we simply need to have faith in Christ as our High Priest. God's grace and our faith becomes the key (regeneration). Not our actions on their own. This being said, after our salvation (justification) through grace and faith, God is very interested in our actions and wants us to live a life of holiness (sanctification). This is a lot of theology here... and more than I can blog on without goofing it up - actually I probably already have. :) Check out a good overview of justification and sanctification (and regeneration!) on bible.org at this link. Also, I'll copy this image below, which I found interesting. I may not agree with every point on this image, but overall I find this useful: (though, I'd say you could take a thick black magic marker and just write "Jesus" and "Grace" all over this image below too, and that would really be all you need to know :)
Verse 32 can be argued to be the single most important point in all of the book of Ezekiel - "I don't want you to die, says the Sovereign LORD. Turn back and live!" This is a powerful verse. Think this verse shows us that God is compassionate? Think this might be the single most important point in the book of Ezekiel? Think this verse can apply to our lives today? Are their areas of sin in your life which God is calling you to turn back from? Calling you to turn toward true Life? And to be free from the slavery of sin? Will you turn back? Will you repent?
Ezekiel Chapter 19 is a funeral song and allegory about the land of Judah and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the lioness and the lions are two of her sons, two kings - one who ended up trapped and deceived by Egypt and the other by Babylon. The last sentence of verse 14 is a sad one... "This is a funeral song, and it is now time for the funeral." As we know, it is now time for the funeral for Jerusalem in Ezekiel's time. However, of course, there is the redemption to come and the continuation of the house of David. The promise to Abraham won't die here! There is another Lion of Judah yet to come...
New Testament - Hebrews chapter 9 is a fairly brief reading today on the Old Covenant rules for approaching God. We also read today about the ark of the covenant. Below are a couple of good images of the tabernacle, which you'll recall details about from our readings in Exodus chapters 26 & 27 earlier this year:
One thing that stands out in my mind when reading this chapter today is that just after Jesus dies on the cross there is an earthquake, which shakes the Temple in Jerusalem where the Most Holy Place was located at the time of Jesus' death. The curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the Temple is torn in two. This is incredible imagery that shows that no longer is the Most Holy Place and an earthly high priest the only way to God. Jesus has torn that veil in two and Jesus is our new and eternal High Priest ushering in the New Covenant!
Psalms - Psalm 106 verse 39 stood out to me today, speaking about the Israelites: "They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the LORD's sight." I think this Psalm verse stands the test of time with our modern world today. Do you believe that we still defile ourselves with our evil deeds today? Do you believe that our love of idols is adultery in God's sight? How can we stop defiling ourselves with evil deeds and stop loving idols in our modern world today? Who can save us from ourselves?
Proverbs - Proverbs 27:10 is interesting and not something I would think of on my own: "Never abandon a friend--either yours or your father's. Then in your time of need, you won't have to ask your relatives for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a relative who lives far away." I would of course think it's better to ask a distant relative for help than a friend. But, this Proverb tells us differently... Why do you suppose this is? I guess as I think about it, it is probably because when our "time of need" comes we will first turn to our neighbors in our local community - to call the fire department or call the police or call the paramedics or whatever the case may be. We'll need our neighbors during that time of need initially. And then, longer term, yes we'll need our relatives who live far away. But that unforeseen time of immediate need is just one more reason to live in loving community with our neighbors! And let us always be ready to serve our neighbors when they need us. Do you really know your neighbors? Are you a good neighbor?
Worship God: Today's Proverb reminds me of JJ Heller's song "What Love Really Means:"
Do you know what love really means? Click here for LOVE!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you — better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away." Proverbs 27:10 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that you will never forsake your friends when disaster comes their way. Pray that you will be a good neighbor. Pray that you won't be forsaken by your friends and neighbors might disaster strike you.
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you from today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
Grace, love, peace, and joy!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our One Year Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our One Year Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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