14 November 2010

Nov 14

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's prophecy is all about Egypt. Because Egypt did not effectively held Judah, God will punish them. This despite the fact that it was supposedly a terrible betrayal for Judah to ask Egypt for help in the first place. Part of Egypt's punishment will be 40 years for desolation. Somehow I feel that would be recorded a bit more widely if it had actually happened. So once again (for the umpteenth time) either the prophecy was false, exaggerated, or symbolic. Personally, I think Ezekiel's about as good a prophet as your average political pundit.

A side comment makes it sound like the conquering of Tyre we heard so much about did not go so well:
Son of man, the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon fought so hard against Tyre that the warriors’ heads were rubbed bare and their shoulders were raw and blistered. Yet Nebuchadnezzar and his army won no plunder to compensate them for all their work.
Generally plunder is the first order of business, so Babylon could not have been particularly successful if they did not even achieve that much.

In any case, because the attack against Tyre did not generate enough plunder, God gives Egypt as a replacement gift. A God who would give women into slavery to pay those who helped him seems rather a monster. Then again, we have strongly established that Ezekiel's vision of God is angry and vengeful; cruelty and depravity should come as no surprise.

New Testament

The list of faithful folks ends with a list of names without comment. I am surprised to see Samson there since seemed to be more as an arrogant jerk than a good example of faith. I am also surprised to see Jephthah there; I guess sticking to your word enough to murder your daughter is a good thing in the eyes of God?

I would also like to point out that one of the examples of faith is Barak (worked with the prophetess Deborah back in Judges). Hmmm, something familiar about that name? Oh yes, the president of the US, whose name people thought made him sound too Muslim, is named Barack.

In any case, for some people faith resulted in triumph, in others it resulted in torture. But none of these faithful received what was promised to them. But that's okay because Jesus also endured hardship, and God's discipline is good for people.

I find the author's discussion of discipline to be rather limited. On the one hand, he makes a good point that discipline is necessary for raising children. However, he neglects to mention a key point: discipline is only effective if there is a clear connection between the punishment and the wrong which caused it. If the person disciplined cannot understand the connection between the two, then the discipline effectively becomes abuse.

By that understanding, much of the so called discipline of God starts to look abusive rather than fruitful and educational.

Psalms and Proverbs
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
I take this to mean that friends should push and challenge each other. However, there is also an implication that you should only do this with friends who are of the same caliber as you. If, for example, you try to have an iron debate with a talc friend, neither of you will benefit.