07 November 2010

Nov 7

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today we continue the personification of Israel and add in the surrounding nations, especially Sodom and Samaria. Like Israel, they all are terrible, sinful places. Amongst other things we read,
Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.
I would like to note that the standard popular assumption about Sodom's source of sin is not mentioned here. Moving on, after talking about how much all of these nations suck, and will be (or have been) punished, God says that he will restore Israel and her sisters, and nations like Sodom and Samaria will be brought under Israel's covenant.

The representation of Sodom and Samaria as Israel's sisters who will one day be restored like Israel seems like Ezekiel's attempt to deal with the deep contradiction between the idea of a universal god and a god who pays so much attention (both good and bad) with the single nature of Israel. Ezekiel tries to reconcile this contradiction in a way that retains Israel's importance.

Following the graphic but comprehensible comparison of Israel to an adulterous wife, we read a comparison of Israel to a cedar tree planted by an eagle which turned to another eagle for water. This one requires a bit more head scratching (not surprising since it was described as a riddle). Fortunately, we receive an explanation: this is all about the puppet king of Israel breaking his oaths with Babylon and turning to Egypt for help. Since the oath was taken in the Lord's name, he is super mad about this. However, I would think that the first oath, even if it was made in the Lord's name, was probably coerced. Like the oath of Jephthah which caused him to sacrifice his daughter, I would think that the Lord should show a bit more understanding of the circumstances.

New Testament

Today is when we get hit on the head with Hebrews equivalent of platonic duality. Jesus is the ultimate high priest. He ministers at the real tabernacle in heaven and all of the duties of the temple priests on earth are but a shadow of this perfect worship.

As usual, the author of Hebrews stretches credulity. His scriptural justification for the idea that there is a perfect tabernacle in heaven: God's statement to Moses that the tabernacle must be built following God's directions exactly. To this my reaction is, that's the best you can do?

After that we get a rather long passage describing the new covenant. It should sound familiar because it's from Jeremiah.

Psalms and Proverbs

Only one good proverb today:
The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.