Today If You Hear His Voice, Do Not Harden Your Hearts

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EZEKIEL 1:1-3:15 | HEBREWS 3:1-19 | PSALM 104:1-23 | PROVERBS 26:24-26

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We enter a brand-new book today titled Ezekiel, that is also the name of the prophet and writer of this book. 

Ezekiel was one of thousands taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzer, King of Babylon, at the time of the first fall of the Temple in Jerusalem that scholars date to 597 BC. 

Almost ten years later, there is another larger deportation of prisoners of war to Babylon when the Temple is completely destroyed.  And so, it is in exile that Ezekiel receives a calling to go back to his people in Judea.  His commission comes to him in a vision that is as fantastic as it is awesome.

In this vision, Ezekiel is told to go to his people and tell them the words of the Lord.  It is a testament to the amazing power of the freewill endowed in human beings that God himself acknowledges the children of Israel to be “rebellious,” “obstinate,” and “stubborn,” and therefore there is no telling as to whether or not they will heed Ezekiel’s words.

Nonetheless, this is what God tells him:  3 “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. 7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Following this, in his vision, Ezekiel is made to eat a scroll that has laments and woes written on it, but yet tastes like honey.  He is commissioned to go to his people with the words of the Lord.  We shall see how Ezekiel handles this calling.

In the meantime, let us return to our reading of the book of Hebrews.  Addressing a Jewish-Christian audience, the writer wishes to make the distinction between the old Law of Moses and the new Law in Christ. 

He says: 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

There is a difference in the circumstances between Moses’ time and the present, yet, the quality of rebelliousness appears to be common to both.  The writer is therefore urging his readers to not be like their ancestors—rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn in hearing the word of God. 

Albeit this is a new form of obstinacy that insists on following the Mosaic Law, the writer is persuading his readers to take a step back, if only to understand that the time for observing the Mosaic Law is over and done with.  That was then, but this is now.  They might be a little late in reforming their rebellious behavior, but it is never too late to turn themselves around to accepting this new gift of God in the person of Jesus Christ.  The writer says this:

Today, if you hear his voice,
   do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”

Turning now to our reading of the Psalm for the day, we find the first few verses of this psalm set the tone for the entire psalm.  It is a psalm of great praise and thanksgiving for the mighty provision of the Almighty.  All of nature’s bounties are attributed to the awesome power of its creator.  The Psalmist says:

1 Praise the LORD, my soul.

   LORD my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty

Finally, we turn to our reading of the Proverbs, and find Solomon, wise king of Israel, offering more words of advice on being aware of those who engage in insincere speech:

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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