Bible reading for weekend September 3 -- 5
Sep 3 -- Ezekiel 6 and Psalm 44
Sep 4 -- Ezekiel 7 and Psalm 45
Sep 5 -- Ezekiel 8 and Psalm 46-47
"According to their way I will do to them, and according to their judgments I will judge them, and they shall know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 7:27)
JUDGMENT UPON IDOLATRY (ch 6-8). The big thing to note in these chapters is that God's judgment is coming upon Israel (specifically, Jerusalem and Judah) for her idolatry. She, called to be a people who worship God alone, has become just like the pagan nations. There are even idols in the courts of the temple of the Lord. What's so bad about idolatry? Mainly it dishonors God. But also it's a lie. When I was a boy some of my friends would carry a lucky rabbit's foot. I was never sure how the foot of a dead rabbit might bring good fortune, but it was a popular belief. Idolatry runs the gamut from silly superstitions to Satanic orgies. At the heart of it lies a belief or a fear or a hope or a passion that some created thing -- an object, a system, a mantra, a person, a ceremony, money, sex, human strength and beauty, possessions, etc. -- holds power for us (and over us), which power rightly belongs only to the true and living God. The Lord has given us creation as a testimony to himself, and the things of beauty and power in this world are provided that we might be led to worship and trust him (Ps 19). But as John Calvin once wrote, "The human heart is an idol-making factory." Humankind has an inward bias of turning away from truth to lies, from Creator to creation, from light to darkness, and from life to death. We chronically veer away from trusting God to trusting, loving, and fearing created things (Rom 1:18-23). Christians too can be guilty of idolatry (Eph 5:5; 1 Jn 5:21).
KNOWING THE LORD. Take note of a statement repeated many times throughout Ezekiel: "...and then you (or they) shall know that I am the Lord". The purpose of God's judgments in this world are to lead us to the realization that things, people, and we ourselves are not God. God alone is God. One of my favorite science fiction quotes comes from Philip K. Dick: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." God is the great reality that people may try to disbelieve, cancel, or avoid, but he will not go away. God's judgment, like his miracles of mercy, are designed to restore us to our senses, to true reality. Idolatry is a kind of fantasy; judgment is a kind of shock therapy. As C. S. Lewis said, God "shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world" (The Problem of Pain).
AN OVERVIEW. The Bible Project does a wonderful job sketching overviews of books of the Bible. Take a few moments and watch this presentation on the first part of the book of Ezekiel, it's done very well.
"Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" (Psalm 46:10)
THE SONS OF KORAH. Most of the first eight psalms of the second collection in the Psalms are attributed to the sons of Korah. These were the descendants of Korah, a Levite who rebelled against Moses and perished in a judgment from the Lord (Num 16). His family line, however, remained faithful to God and served in the temple for many generations, primarily by singing in worship (1 Chron 23:30; 2 Chron 20:19). What a valuable service! What a privilege it is to lead God's people in worship.
THE PROBLEM OF SUFFERING (Ps 44). At first reading it would seem that the Mosaic covenant promised freedom from suffering, sickness, and poverty for those who obeyed the Lord. So then, why do God's people still suffer? Read more about this psalm here.
A ROYAL WEDDING (Ps 45). The setting for this psalm is a wedding, likely that of King Solomon. Like Psalm 2 this is categorized as a "royal psalm." In it the king typifies (foreshadows) the Messiah. Not every detail pertains to the coming Messiah, but the psalm is like a shadow or a lens that allows us to glimpse something greater to come. Read more about this psalm here.
THE LORD REIGNS (Ps 46-47). In Psalm 46 we see that raging waters, probably an invading army, threaten to engulf Jerusalem like a flood. But God is a fortress, and inside the city, his city, he brings gladness to his people like a gentle stream. They will not be overcome by the raging flood. They need not fear. Help will come in the morning (that is, soon). "Be still and know that I am God" may be addressed to God's people (in the sense of "cease striving; stop panicking") or possibly, to the enemies at the gate (in the sense of "give it up, abandon your attack"). Either way, in this psalm the Lord asserts that he is sovereign over world affairs and he is the One who will bring warfare to an end. And Psalm 47 speaks of God ruling as King over all the nations. The God of the Bible is not a regional deity or a mascot of one nation, he is Lord over all the earth. He is active in history and judgment.
Image credit: photo of Thien Hau Temple, Vietnam, by Chinh Le Duc 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.