Ezekiel 30 and Psalm 78:40-72

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 30 is a lament for the fall of Egypt. The once great nation will need subdued under the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Though Egypt still exists today as a country, it has never regained its prominence since the invasion by Babylon.

The Bible Reader’s Commentary provides some insight about the pharoah at that time,

Broken arms (30:20-26). The message is directed against Pharaoh Hophra, who in 588 b.c. had halfheartedly tried to draw Babylonian forces away from the siege of Jerusalem (cf. Jer. 34:1; 37:5). Egyptian monuments show a flexed arm was a symbol of Pharaoh’s strength, and one of Hophra’s formal titles was “strong-armed.” With both arms broken, Pharaoh would be totally unable to resist.1

Psalms

I really enjoyed the insight that D.A. Carson gives for this morning’s reading on the second half of Psalm 72,

But you and I are today reading these lines while at the same time reading Ezekiel, and we know that David’s line provided little enduring stability. Within two generations the Davidic dynasty lost the northern ten tribes, and its history from that point to the exile turned out to be as fickle and as repulsively wicked as anything described in this psalm, which scans the period from the Exodus to the beginning of the Davidic dynasty. In other words, this psalm looks back on the debris of failure and the well-deserved wrath of God, but sees the appointment of David and the choice of Zion as spectacular marks of God’s grace and goodness, an encouraging basis for stable faithfulness in the years ahead. But when we look back from the perspective of Ezekiel or Jeremiah, we find a still longer string of failures and still more well-deserved wrath. So is Psalm 78 simply naive?

At each stage of the Bible’s plot-line, in the midst of wrath God intervenes in mercy. The human race was sliding into a miasma of sin, so God chose Abraham. In the debauchery of the twelve sons, God chose Joseph. In the abyss of Israelite slavery, God chose Moses. In desperate cycles of rebellion, God raised up the judges. Each step marked glorious hope. And now God raises up David. But living as we do three millennia later than David, we look back and breathe our profound thanks for how God disclosed himself “in these last days” (Heb. 1:1-4)—in the finality of his Son.2

The truth is that every human solution prior to the coming of Jesus was only a temporary solution at best, fraught with mistakes and sin. Jesus was the second Adam who would perfectly fulfill the law and who would reign as the true and righteous king.

1 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 502.

2 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 29 and Psalm 78:1-39

Ezekiel

In Ezekiel 29, Egypt is the next nation to receive God’s judgment for her sin. Egypt was guilty of offering refugee to Israel when she could not deliver it (Ezek. 29:6; cf. Isa. 36:6 = 2 Kings 18:21).

Egypt is told that she will never again be a great power. Some nations that received judgment ceased to continue to exist (the Assyrians, the Hittites, etc.). Egypt is still here today, but she has not since been the great power that she once was.

Finally, God will allow Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Egypt to pay for his previous war against Tyre. It is an amazing display of the sovereignty of God that He controls the affairs of men and nations. It is something worthwhile to remember today when we find ourselves fretting about politics and the current events in the news. Carson reminds us,

Not for a moment should one think that any of the nations acted out of conscious obedience to the Lord (cf. Isa. 10:5ff!). But the Lord is no one’s debtor, and these are the arrangements that Almighty God is making.

We would not know these things apart from revelation, of course. But they warn us against pontificating too loudly about what is going on in our day, when we see so little of the big picture as to what God himself is doing.1

Psalms

Psalm 78 begins with a reminder of the critical importance of passing the testimony of our faith down to our children and grandchildren. Psalm 78:4,

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.

While a lot of our faith is “caught” by our children, we must also be deliberate about verbalizing our faith too them. The old phrase,“Daddy never told us he loved us, but we knew it by his actions” is not only deficient, but it does not cut it when it comes to teaching our children and grandchildren about God and faith. We must be verbal fathers and mothers!

The rest of today’s reading from this Psalm is a recounting of the failure of Israel to obey God and trust Him when they left Egypt and wandered in the wilderness. it it’s a reminder of the consequences of their rebellion. When we reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness to future generations, then they will have better context with which to process the working of God in their lives.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

Ezekiel 28 and Psalm 77

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 28 is an interesting chapter. It is both judgment against Tyre and also a lament for the great fall that she experienced. God recounts the great blessings that he gave to Tyre, riches, in fact he even likens them to being present in the garden of Eden and enjoying rich blessings. Yet Tyre became proud and because of her pride she forgot about God and considered herself a god. D.A. Carson summarizes this chapter,

The iniquitous dimensions of the arrogance are highlighted by the many allusions back to Genesis 2-3 (clearer in Hebrew than in English translation). They thought of themselves as being in Eden, the garden of God (28:13), as being God’s guardian cherub (28:14), but they will be expelled (28:16). In other words, their sin is of a piece with that of Adam and Eve. They, too, wanted to be like God, independent, knowing good and evil themselves without anyone (not even their Maker!) to tell them. In both cases the result is the same: ruinous disaster, death, catastrophic judgment. There is but one God, and he rightly brooks no rivals.1

Later in Ezekiel 28:20-24, the prophecy continues but this time it is judgment against Sidon, a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast northwest of Israel. The chapter closes with the promise of protection for the remnant of Israel (Ezkeiel 28:25-26).

This short interlude in the midst of the oracles against the nations serves to remind Israel that they can ultimately look forward to a time of redemption and restoration brought about by Yahweh’s defeat of all their enemies.2

Psalms

The commentary, Opening Up Psalms does a fantastic job of explaining Psalm 77,

Why would a good past cause Asaph to be so exercised? And the answer is that it made him sharply conscious of how his present circumstances did not measure up. He could look at the past and see marvellous instances of God at work in his life and in the lives of those around him. But the present seemed to be utterly devoid of such instances. It was of such a nature that it appeared as if God had cast him off for ever (Ps. 77:7), had decided to be favourable no more (Ps. 77:7), had caused his mercy to cease for ever (Ps. 77:8), had failed to keep what he had promised (Ps. 77:8), had forgotten to be gracious (Ps. 77:9) and had, in anger, locked up all his tender mercies and thrown away the key (Ps. 77:9).

The good news is that Asaph did not continue in his distress. In Ps. 77:10 he turns the corner and begins to come out of his misery and woe. As he reflected on the past, he began to realize that he had been looking at it in the wrong way. Instead of letting past glory depress him, he should have been letting it bless him. The fact that God had worked mightily in the past meant there was hope for the future. The God of the past had not changed! He is the same God. No matter how great the darkness of present circumstances, it is not greater than God.3

Those are very thoughtful words to remember when present circumstances seem overwhelming and God seems distant.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

2 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Eze 28:25–26.

3 Roger Ellsworth, Opening up Psalms, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 67.

Ezekiel 27 and Psalm 75-76

Ezekiel

Today’s reading is from Ezekiel 27. It is Ezekiel’s second pronouncement against the city of Tyre. I gather from my reading that this city must have been a place of great pride and arrogance. The Faithlife Study Bible says,

Ezekiel’s second lamentation for Tyre depicts the city as one of its grand merchant vessels, heavily laden with products for trade and shipwrecked on the high seas. The identification of the prophecy as a lamentation (or qinah) signifies a funeral dirge. The prophets adapted the genre to express the loss of city and nation as well as people.… While the details may be partly obscured by the difficult language, the overall message is clear: Tyre’s worldwide influence and reputation is meaningless when divine judgment comes.1

Psalms

Today’s reading is from Psalm 75-76. In Psalm 75:1, the pianist reminds me that I need to frequently reflect on God’s wondrous deeds. He is the one who holds up the pillars — the support structure — when life seems to be crumbling beneath me (Ps. 75:3). Final and true judgment comes only from God, not from men (Ps. 75:7 also Ps. 75:9).

The fear of the Lord is the themes of Psalm 76. It is stated in Ps. 76:7,

But you, you are to be feared!…

There is a strong reminder in Ps. 76:11, to keep the promises we make to God. Often when I am pressed, I will covenant with God that something will change in my life when He brings deliverance. The big question that I must ask myself is whether I keep those promises. They are a big deal to God and they should be a big deal to me.

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Eze 27:1–36.

Ezekiel 26 and Psalm 74

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 24 is the pronouncement of judgment against Tyre. Tyre was condemned not only for celebrating and participating in the demise of Jerusalem, but also in its role of introducing its false idolatry to Israel.

Psalms

Psalm 74 is a psalm of anguish by Asaph. Carson shares a very helpful introduction,

It is appropriate to reflect on Psalm 74 at this stage of our reading of the major prophets. It sounds as if it was written at a time of national disaster, perhaps the devastation of 587 b.c. (compare Ps. 79, 137; Lam. 2:5-9). The worst blow of all is that all the prophets are silent (74:9). Then suddenly in the midst of the gloom and havoc is a breath of praise (74:12-17), before the darkness descends again (74:18-23). The interruption is dramatic, and reinforced by a sudden switch from the first person plural (“we,”“us”) to the first person singular:“But you, O God, are my king from of old” (74:12). Noteworthy features include… The anguish of this chapter emerges out of faith, not skepticism, still less cynicism. These people know God, but cannot see what he is doing. They are not so much protesting his punishment of them as its duration: they act as if they know the punishment is deserved, but is it open–ended? Is there no relief? “Why have you rejected us forever, O God?” (74:1). “Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins” (74:3). “How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever?” (74:10).1

Book: Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest

This morning, I returned to reading the book I started awhile ago by Ed Welch. In the chapter I read today, he addressed fear with Palm 46,

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Yes, the psalm is a stretch for us, not because of the potential brutality of the situation, but because of the psalmist’s radical trust in God. So let it stretch you. Let the psalmist take you places you could never go on your own. Let him be your guide through perilous times. He, after all, is a person like you. The faith he had can be your own and more, because you live on the side of history where the Spirit of God has been poured out on you. The Spirit gives you the knowledge of God. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble.” A good friend was in the hospital with surgical pain so severe he couldn’t think, and he assumed he was going to die. The only words he could say were these words. That’s what we are aiming for. We want these words to be automatic when trouble comes knocking. What do they mean? That God can be found when we need him. Don’t forget that he was found by Israelites who were not even looking. How much more will he be found by those who call out to him in their desperation. Here is the challenge. When you call out, you might feel like he isn’t present or easily found. That is the nature of pain. The worse it is, the more alone you feel. But this is a time when the words of God must override your feelings. There are times when we listen to our feelings and times when we don’t. This is a time when we don’t.2

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

2 Edward T. Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 272.

Ezekiel 25 and Psalm 73

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 25-32 begins Ezekiel’s pronouncement of God’s judgment against surrounding nations. God holds each nation accountable for its national sins against Him. It reminds me of Proverbs 14:34:

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people

Psalms

The tenor of Psalm 73 is very interesting. The psalmist finds himself believing that though he is trying to do what is right, it seems like the arrogant and wicked prosper and excel up to the time of death (Ps. 73:3-4).

For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek.

It wasn’t until Ps. 73:16-17 that the psalmist realized that God’s sovereignty was over all of this,

But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.

Often, I ponder the seeming success of those who turn their backs on God yet appear to prosper in almost everything they do. I contrast this with those who are attempting to do their best to please God, yet suffer in many different ways. “Why?” is the question that comes to my mind. I feel like I can only leave the question open to God. His ways are sometimes a mystery to me and I am left to simply trust His goodness as my only answer.

I love the closing part of this psalm. It reminds me of the song that takes its lyrics from Ps. 73:25-26:

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.

Ezekiel 24 and Psalm 72

Ezekiel

I confess that this morning’s reading from Ezekiel 24 made me catch my breath. How could the prophet bear the loss of his wife who was the delight of his eyes (Ezekiel 24:16) and follow the command of God to not show any emotion? And beyond that, how could God bring this into his life? Read the following paragraph from Carson:

A tiny hint of how Ezekiel viewed his wife peeps through the expression that God uses:“the delight of your eyes” (Ezekiel 24:16). If Ezekiel was thirty years of age in the fifth year of the exile (Ezekiel 1:1–2), then now in the ninth year (Ezekiel 24:1) he could not have been more than thirty-four or thirty-five, and probably his wife was no older. Ezekiel is not the only leader of God’s people to suffer devastating personal bereavement. Here he is told in advance that the blow will come (to know in advance is both a blessing and an agony), but he is also commissioned not to grieve: his silence on such an occasion, in a society known for its uninhibited expressions of grief, becomes another symbolic prophetic action.1

I cannot understand all of God’s ways, all I can do is trust His hand. This event in Ezekiel’s life is reminiscent of an event in the life of Isaac — an impossible command and an impossible response done in the powerful trust in the powerful God. I wonder what impact this has in the minds and emotions of the exiles.

Psalms

Psalm 72 is a palm written by Solomon and is a foreshadow of the Millennial reign of Christ. The Bible Knowledge Commentary shares this introduction,

Two psalms (72; 127) are attributed to“Solomon.” If Psalm 72 is his, it may describe his reign. Also it speaks of the millennial reign of the Messiah. The psalm describes the blessings that flow from the righteousness of God’s theocratic ruler. The psalmist fully expected that the king would reign in righteousness and peace on behalf of the oppressed, and that his dominion would extend over many kings, from sea to sea. The psalmist prayed for the blessing of peace and prosperity, basing his appeal on the fact that the king is a savior of the oppressed and is therefore worthy of honor, power, and dominion.2

These are three verses that caught my attention this morning from Psalm 72. Ps. 72:12 and Ps. 72:13, the Lord is the champion of the needy. Her is the Deliverer of the person in a vulnerable place. The third verse is Ps. 72:19. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

2 Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 846.

Ezekiel 23 and Psalm 70-71

Ezekiel

Ezekiel 23 is a chapter that is written with very strong language. The metaphor of two sisters who are prostituting themselves (The ESV uses a coarser term) is harsh to read. One sister represents the northern tribes of Israel who sold themselves out to idolatry and other wickedness and were subdues and taken captive into Assyria (more could be read about how cruel and wicked the Assyrians were). And the younger sister representing the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin — the southern kingdom. The blindness and folly of ever–increasing capitulation to sin is obvious when coupled with this metaphor. It’s not simply a story about a sinful woman, it is a truth about the sinful heart of all men and all women.

The synopsis of the story is found in Ezekiel 23:8-10. A sad fact is that the southern kingdom fell even deeper into sin as evidenced by the elevation of the description of sin committed by the second sister. God’s pronouncement of judgment against her is found in Ezekiel 23:32-35,

Thus says the Lord GOD:

		“You shall drink your sister’s cup 
			that is deep and large; 
		you shall be laughed at and held in derision, 
			for it contains much; 
		you will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow. 
			A cup of horror and desolation, 
		the cup of your sister Samaria; 
			you shall drink it and drain it out, 
		and gnaw its shards, 
			and tear your breasts; 

for I have spoken, declares the Lord GOD. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten me and cast me behind your back, you yourself must bear the consequences of your lewdness and whoring.”

Math is such a simple yet profound reflection of God. Math is truth and God is truth. In the context of this chapter of Ezekiel 23, the math equation is simple:

sin = judgment.

Psalms

During my first reading of Psalm 70 and Psalm 71, I highlighted all of the verses that speak about God’s deliverance

  • Ps. 70:1
  • Ps. 70:5
  • Ps. 71:1
  • Ps. 71:2
  • Ps. 71:3
  • Ps. 71:5

However, after reading the scheduled devotional from D. A. Carson’s “For the Love of God Volume Two”, the emphasis seems to be more on God’s protection of saints who are older.

Old age. It is not something our generation likes to talk about very much, at least not in realistic categories. We talk about preparing for retirement, but only with the greatest reluctance do we prepare for infirmity and death. Very few talk about these matters openly and frankly–without, on the one hand, dwelling on them (which shows they are frightened by them), or, on the other hand, suppressing them (which again shows they are frightened by them).

It is much more responsible to learn how to age faithfully, to learn how to die well. This the psalmist wanted. “Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. … Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Ps. 71:9, Ps. 71:18). From his youth, he knew, God had taught him (Ps. 71:17). Now he prays against abandonment in old age.1

As I grow older, I pray that God will strengthen my faith and my dependance on Him. I pray that I will not fear getting older nor fear the final journey of death which is really a gate to eternal life.

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

Ezekiel 22 and Psalm 69

Ezekiel 22 is an indictment against Israel for the horrible sins she has committed. Ezekiel 22:7-12 lists a few of the many violations against God that Israel committed. Fraud, murder, rape, assault, cheating, and extortion are just a few of the crimes and if you take the time to consider each of these horrible transgressions in the list and compare them to the pervasive wickedness of today, it gives you great pause to regard how wicked the heart of man is. By nature, that same evil would control me if not for the grace of God.

Exekiel closes the chapter with perhaps the worst indictment of all. He states in Ezekiel 22:30 that he looked for a man who would “stand in the gap” but He could find no one. I have heard many sermons from this passage, but this morning this verse hits closer to home. Not only is God calling me to share the gospel message of salvation, He is calling me to address the issue of sin, first in my own heart and then in the culture around me. God is looking for someone like me to “stand in the gap” and not be ashamed of the gospel!

D. A. Carson gives context to Ezekiel 22,

We should first reflect on this passage in its own textual and historical context. Ezekiel 22 condemns the sins of Jerusalem, this “infamous city, full of turmoil” (Ezekiel 22:5). In particular, it focuses on the sins of the leaders—the kings and princes, the priests, the prophets—and shows the ways in which their sins have brought ruin to the people as a whole. In any declining culture much of the declension comes about by leaders and preachers who are self–serving or even rapacious, corrupt, and perhaps vicious, people who are far more interested in retaining power than in serving, people who devote more attention to the “spin” they will give to public answers than to the truthfulness of their answers. Pretty soon the entire fabric of the culture unravels. Corruption is soon tolerated, then expected. Cynicism becomes the order of the day. More and more people do more and more of what they think they can get away with. Integrity becomes so rare it is newsworthy.1

In Psalm 69:1, the psalmist pleads to God for deliverance. He is near the end of his rope and needs rescue immediately. When I read this verse, it resonated with me. I need God to intervene, to show Himself mighty in my life and my circumstances.

He goes on in Psalm 69:3 to share the effects that his suffering has had on himself. He also confesses in Psalm 69:5 that he is culpable for his own sinful folly and asks for God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 69:13, he reveals that he is ultimately trusting in the sovereign hands of God for deliverance. The often repeated phrase “the steadfast love of God” it’s found both in Psalm 69:13 and in Psalm 69:16.

The last verse that I highlighted this morning is Psalm 69:29,

But I am afflicted and in pain; let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

1 D. A. Carson, For the Love of God: a Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word., vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 25.

Ezekiel 21 and Psalm 68

I struggled with Ezekiel 21 today. There was nothing specific that grabbed my attention. However, after reading Matthew Henry’s synopsis of Ezekiel 21, I came to the conclusion that this chapter tells me that facing the judgment of God is very bleak and I should be grateful for the work of the cross to cover my sins and pay the penalty of my judgment.

In this chapter we have, I. An explication of the prophecy in the close of the foregoing chapter concerning the fire in the forest, which the people complained they could not understand (v. 1–5), with directions to the prophet to show himself deeply affected with it (v. 6, 7). II. A further prediction of the sword that was coming upon the land, by which all should be laid waste; and this expressed very emphatically (v. 8–17). III. A prospect given of the king of Babylon’s approach to Jerusalem, to which he was determined by divination (v. 18–24). IV. Sentence passed upon Zedekiah king of Judah (v. 25–27). V. The destruction of the Ammonites by the sword foretold (v. 28–32). Thus is this chapter all threatenings.1 (emphasis mine)

There are a few verses in Psalm 68 that caught my particular attention today. The first one is Ps. 68:3 — there will be a glorious rejoicing when God finally overthrows His enemies. I feel a particular burden lately for the implicit press this culture is pushing toward those who believe and rejoice in the glory of God. Evil feels like it is gaining the upper hand and though believers in our nation do not experience the oppression of those in other nations and that of believers in history, it feels like it is marching toward us. Maybe I am particularly melancholy this morning or maybe circumstance shadow the hope of the future. Nevertheless, I long for the time when there is no time and my King is highly exalted by all. Then truly, “…the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God;”

The other two verses that I highlighted are Ps. 68:5-6. There are real people who are facing oppression of circumstances today. I think of a dear one who recently lost her husband and is facing financial strain. I think of children who have lost parents and face the fear of insecurity and uncertainty. I think of people who are lonely and live life by themselves absent the regular love and affection of family and friends. These verses from Ps. 68:5-6 are a reminder that God is present in each of those circumstances — we are never really alone nor forsaken!

1 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1380.