04 November 2010

Nov 4

Reference links:
Old Testament

Yesterday's vision continues. We get another detailed description of the many winged, many faced, wheel accompanied cherubim. Ezekiel really wants to emphasize that these are the same creatures he saw in his earlier vision. Exactly the same. To be sure we get the point, he repeats various parts of his description several times.

Then Ezekiel, in his vision, prophecies judgment against the leaders of Jerusalem. They will, not surprisingly, be slaughtered.

The Lord then emphasizes to Ezekiel that he is still the God of the exiles even though they are no longer in Jerusalem. This is actually quite the significant advancement in Jewish thought. Even as the idea of God changed from a tribal God to a universal God, he was still strongly associated with a place: Israel, Jerusalem, the Temple.

Now, Ezekiel has a vision which tells him that the exiles are still God's people. However, the connection to the homeland is still strong. Ezekiel is also told that the people will return to their homeland and then live the way that God wants them to live.

This point is emphasized symbolically when the glory of God (which is distinct from the spirit of God) leaves the Temple and Jerusalem.

New Testament

Today's reading in Hebrews does not quite seem aligned with other New Testament books. Those books seemed to emphasize the fundamental, essential truths. Today, the author of Hebrews tells people that continued teaching of those basic truths are not valuable; they should already be known. These two ideas are not explicitly contradictory, but there is certainly tension between them.

The author of Hebrews also seems to think that once a believer has stopped believing, they can never turn back. They have forever removed themselves from favor. I think many a modern Christian would disagree with that sentiment and be surprised that it was stated so explicitly in the Bible.

The author then goes on to make some questionable claims about oaths. Oaths from God in particular, but the sentiments apply to oaths in general:
Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding.
Why do I say this is questionable? It implies that oaths are good and proper; the binding power of the oath is what gives God's promises power. However, this reliance on oaths seems to contradict the spirit of words attributed to Jesus. From Matthew 5:33-37:
“You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
Psalms and Proverbs

A couple good proverbs today:
Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring.

Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.