Bible reading for September 22 -- 23
Sep 22 -- Ezekiel 25 and Psalm 73
Sep 23 -- Ezekiel 26 and Psalm 74
"She shall be in the midst of the sea a place for the spreading of nets, for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. And she shall become plunder for the nations, and her daughters on the mainland shall be killed by the sword. Then they will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 26:5-6)
ISRAEL'S NEIGHBORS NOT SPARED (ch 25-26). The Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and the city-state of Tyre, are all called out for judgment. They too will experience the military wrath of Babylon. Read more here from the NET Bible notes on Ezekiel by Tom Constable.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 74:18-19)
IS HE WORTH IT? (Ps 73) The Psalmist Asaph (see 1 Chron 15:16-17) is asking: what benefit is it to serve the Lord when others don't serve him, and yet they seem better off than we are? This psalm is categorized as "wisdom" or "didactic" (like Psalm 49), the purpose being to teach a life lesson. Why do godless people prosper? Why doesn't God judge the rich and powerful who spurn him? Sometimes, it seems pointless to seek the Lord, all the while being treated poorly in society, and while others -- who don't give God the time of day -- are blessed beyond measure? Asaph said he was worn out trying to understand it (v 16). But the turning point came in the presence of God (v 17) when he understood how the story would end (vv 18-20). He saw that he had been resentful and brutish (vv 21-22). And then he spoke of all the blessings he had in the Lord (vv 23-28). "Portion" in verse 26 refers to inheritance. Asaph said that the Lord -- not land, family, possessions -- was his ultimate inheritance. And whether he felt it or not, the Lord was with him, and near to him forever.
ETERNAL BLESSING. Sometimes it is really hard to follow the Lord, to give up everything for his sake. Satan would lie to us and present the pleasures of sin, but he does not tell us of the eternal judgment to follow. Jesus tells us the truth about the hardships we incur by following him, but he promises that this is followed by eternal pleasure. And even in this life there are benefits to following Christ (Matt 19:27-30). So, which would we choose: temporary pleasure, followed by eternal pain? Or, temporary pain, followed by eternal pleasure? Here's another principle: If you seek blessings (or things) apart from the Lord you shall lose both the Lord and those blessings. If you seek the Lord himself you will have every blessing added (Rom 8:32).
ARISE, O GOD! (Ps 74). The setting of this psalm seems to be the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and with it, the destruction of the temple by the Babylonian forces. From the beginning (Cain and Abel; Gen 4:8-10) the righteous have always been a target for the unrighteous. All the way to the end, God's people cry out, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" (Rev 6:10) The righteous are called "the poor", and likened to a defenseless dove (74:19). However, we believe in a day of reckoning, when the enemies of God's people will face God himself. It may be in this life, or at death, and certainly at the end of human history, but the day of reckoning will inevitably come (Revelation 11:17-18). A. W. Tozer once wrote, "The resurrection and the judgment will demonstrate before all worlds who won and who lost. We can wait!" God's glory will be seen both in salvation and in judgment. We can pray for his soon coming but we must also be patient in tribulation. Pray today for those who are especially mistreated as followers of Christ.
Image credit: photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.