EZEKIEL 29:1-30:26 | HEBREWS 11:32-12:13 | PSALM 112:1-10 | PROVERBS 27:17
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The prophecies of Ezekiel are not limited to the children of Israel. It is all of Israel’s neighbors’ who must also face the wrath of the the Almighty.
In today’s reading, Egypt receives a verbal lashing, and Ezekiel serves as the Lord’s mouthpiece for these words:
“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it,” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush. 11 The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.
Furthermore, these are the other nations that will meet the same fate as Egypt’s. Ezekiel informs: 5 Cush and Libya, Lydia and all Arabia, Kub and the people of the covenant land will fall by the sword along with Egypt.
Cush is modern Sudan, and Lydia and Kub were cities in western Asia Minor, now Turkey.
This is then repeated further down as follows:
Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against Pharaoh king of Egypt. I will break both his arms, the good arm as well as the broken one, and make the sword fall from his hand. 23 I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries. 24 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon and put my sword in his hand, but I will break the arms of Pharaoh, and he will groan before him like a mortally wounded man. 25 I will strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but the arms of Pharaoh will fall limp.
Turning now to our reading of the book of Hebrews, we find the writer putting the last touches into the case that he has been building up regarding the great ancient men and women of faith through the ages.
And after having cited the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, the writer says:
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.
Having offered up these many examples of people who have exhibited great faith, the writer encourages his readers to do the same — to hold fast to the faith that they have placed in Jesus Christ as the son of God. The writer has spared no detail or argument in making a clear case of the divine priesthood of Jesus Christ, and how all Jewish practices are to from henceforth be viewed as futile owing to the great work of the cross that Christ has accomplished.
And now, he says: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Having made his case regarding the supremacy of their faith in Christ Jesus, the writer now wishes to encourage his readers to grow strong in their faith, and in particular, to not become discouraged in the face of adversity.
He explains it like this:
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find in this one, David, king of Israel, offering up a description of a righteous person. May it be that we might always strive to live up to this standard in the very least. David says:
6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs, in which Solomon, wise king of Israel, offers some food for thought:
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.