09 November 2010

Nov 9

Reference links:
Old Testament

I find it odd how Ezekiel refers to Israel rather than Judah. Maybe since the kingdom of Israel had fallen, the author feel Judah can lay claim to the name? Or maybe the distinction between the two is not important to the author?

In any case, men of Israel have come to Ezekiel for a message of God. God's answer contains what  seems like an odd (or at least oddly translated) turn of phrase coming from God,
a land I had discovered and explored for them
"Discovery" and "exploration" don't really seem like the right words for a supposedly omniscient God to choose.

God then goes on to recount (once again) how the terrible lack of fidelity shown by the people of Israel. We also learn that the only reason he did not crush the Israelites sooner is that he didn't want it to seem like he had made a mistake bringing them out of Egypt.

Throughout this we read repeated statements that obeying God's regulations would have given the Israelites life. This is interesting since Paul goes on and on about the insufficiency of the law on its own. Now, Paul's take was generally along the lines that the law could not be kept rather than a claim that it was insufficient (although, if I remember correctly, he sometimes veered near that territory). However, in today's reading, God implies that it was perfectly reasonably for him to expect the Israelites to keep his regulations (that or God's implying that he's a major jerk for trying to hold people to regulations they could never follow).

God finishes his review of how terrible the Israelites were by emphasizing that they are still terrible. However, he strikes a hopeful cord by stating that when he brings them back from exile, they will worship him properly. This is the thread of optimism that runs through Ezekiel. There is always the hope that Israel will be restored, exile ended, and then people will worship God correctly and prosper. How different reality has been from that dream (although I suppose there is some minuscule possibility that it could still happen; however, I am guessing that sacrifices will no longer be so popular as the Ezekiel supposes).

Also, the brushlands of the Negev will burn.

New Testament

Today we read what I have always consider a particularly repugnant explanation of the necessity of Jesus' death: As the blood from animal sacrifices was purifying, Jesus' blood was even more purifying. It provided the ultimate purification and thus no more sacrifices were needed. The idea that God considered animal blood to be magically purifying always seemed like a primitive holdover.  Thus, a God who demands human blood (from a very specific and special human, but human blood none the less) seems even more primitive.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note.