Accountability is a big theme in today’s reading. Ezekiel is given a message from God and was held accountable for sharing it with the Israelites – as in, he would be held responsible for those who didn’t repent if he didn’t tell them too. Our reading in Hebrews also explains that once we know the gospel, we will be held accountable regarding whether we follow it or not. So what are you accountable for?
- 16-18 – God puts a lot of pressure on Ezekiel here. He either gives the people God’s message or their destruction will be, at least partially, on his hands.
- 27 – It was still on the people to make the decision whether or not to be faithful, but it was on Ezekiel to share the message of righteousness and repentance.
- 1-17 – Ezekiel was to take on the punishment of Judah. They would see, through him, the ruin that was to come for them.
- 10 – Yes, this sounds weird, but was a practice of some of the other pagan groups. God is basically telling his people they’re on their own for now and he knows that they will take on the practices of other people groups.
- 1-10 – We have a greater advantage towards faithfulness than those following Moses and Joshua did. Yet it is still possible for us to hear the good news and still fall short of all God intended for us. Many people hear the good news and still turn away from it.
- 12-13 – Scripture is wonderful because it gives us opportunities to know God more, but once we know it, we are held accountable for what it teaches us.
- 14-16 – Jesus faced the same things we face and came out of it without sin. We are not being asked to do anything he has not already done.
- 24-30 – This is a continuation of how God powerfully and intricately cares for creation.
- If we create opportunities to harm others, it will ultimately come back on us.
Do you remember learning, in elementary school, that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile? It is kind of surprising that we have to make special effort to frown. This is kind of like when we think about what Hebrews tells us today – it is easier to stray from God’s path than to remain faithful. Shouldn’t it be easier to remain faithful? Unfortunately, there are a lot of outside forces pulling us away from faithfulness. This is why we need to surround ourselves with other faithful folks to help bounce us back on the righteous path.
- 1-3 – This gives the context of Ezekiel’s visions from God, which he is now prophesying.
- 4-28 – This sets the scene of what Ezekiel sees as he receives his visions. The creatures, wheels, and dome, all play a part in showing God’s majesty as he speaks to Ezekiel.
- 2 – Ezekiel, more than any other prophet, makes the Spirit an emphasis.
- 2:8-3:3 – Ezekiel is twice instructed to eat a scroll. This is, in effect, asking him to fill himself with the word of God.
- 12-15 – God’s wind takes Ezekiel from the sweetness of ingesting God’s scrolls back to the stark contrast of the harsh reality of the exiles. Ezekiel becomes bitter.
- 1-6 – Moses, like David and Elijah, was highly revered for his acts of faithfulness by Jewish people. The author, here, is explaining that as great Moses was, Jesus is higher.
- 12-15 – It is harder to live faithfully than it is to fall away because temptation and complacency are constantly pulling us away from faithfulness. This encourages us to help each other stay faithful.
- 16-19 – The author encourages the believers to learn from the Israelites wandering in the desert’s mistakes.
- This psalm offers a series of the many ways God provides for his creation. Each is so thoughtful and intricate.
- 24-26 – Hate in our heart can be masked by kind sounding words, but will eventually shine through.
Today is a nature themed day. In Isaiah, we read about God making the sun move backwards, and in our psalm, we read of God’s provision for the earth. Isn’t it fascinating how creation works? God’s intricate design allows us to breath air that plants then filter so we can breath it again. Water evaporates and then condensates in clouds so it can rain and provide for plants, animals, and us. It’s pretty incredible when you really think about it.
- 1-7 – Hezekiah is a faithful king and reaches out to Isaiah to seek his help in calling upon God in his time of distress.
- 4 – “Rabshakeh” is the Assyrian king’s chief cupbearer, which would make him a very high-ranking official.
- 14-20 – Hezekiah is not pleading to God based on his own merit, he is pleading to God’s sovereignty and goodness. He also asks that God save his people so that God may be glorified. This should be our desire in everything we ask God – that he might be glorified through showing his goodness.
- 21-35 – God responds to Hezekiah’s prayer.
- 36-38 – God told the people of Judah they didn’t need to worry and then he proved it.
- 1-22 – Hezekiah pleads to the Lord to extend his life and the Lord does.
- 7-8 – There is one other account of God stopping or moving the sun. It is found in Joshua 10 when Joshua needed the sun to stand still in order to defeat their enemies.
- 1-5 – We are to care for our friends and help each other out with our difficulties. We have to be careful not to allow this practice to cause us to take on the other person’s sins though.
- 7-10 – From the good we do in the world, good things come. This might mean we are blessed or someone else is, but good comes.
- David gives God praise for all the ways he provides for the earth. God not only created nature but he made it beautiful and beneficial. He deserves praise for this.
- It makes sense that a father would delight in a wise, righteous son.
How do you see God? Where do you connect with him most? For many people, including myself, God is very clearly revealed through nature. Getting out in creation shows the intricacy and majesty of God’s work. Give it a try sometime. And while you’re out there, read today’s psalm.
2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14:
- 1-8 – Faithful kings like Abijah make faithfulness look so easy and rewarding. It makes you wonder why other kings chose not to be faithful.
- 1-7 – Azariah gives Judah a pep talk encouraging them to continue to be faithful to the Lord.
- 8-15 – Asa heeds Azaraiah’s prophecy and turns the people of Judah to God.
- 2-9 – Though Asa had tried to remain faithful to God, he still wanted to hedge his bets.
- 6-8 – Where lineage use to determine your place in the family of God, now salvation did. It was available to those who descended from Abraham as well as those who did not.
- 10-13 – This passage is to solidify the point Paul makes in verses 6-8. Just being born as a descendant of Abraham does not assure that you are part of God’s family. Jacob was chosen to continue the line. Esau was not.
- 14-18 – This doesn’t tend to sit well with us. We don’t like readingna that people are chosen and not chosen, but we have to trust that God is for our good and is in control. Many of the greatest sins throughout Scripture are based on trusting something more than we trust God.
- 1-2 – There are several Scripture passages suggesting that God is revealed and glorified through nature.
- 1-11 – These take time to praise God for a variety of reasons.
- 12-13 – After praising God, David makes his requests of the Lord.
- Handle your liquor or don’t have it at all.
Even for faithful folks, it’s easier to focus and spend our time on the things that are most imminent, those that we can see and touch. Even more than that, we tend to have things that scream for our attention. Those demand that we give them our time and attention. In today’s Romans reading, we are reminded of how easy it is to give ourselves over to whatever idol is placed before us. But we must remember that none of these things will satisfy like worshipping God.
1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36:
- 1-24 – David prepares a huge celebration for the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.
- 29 – This is the same story that’s found in 2 Samuel 6 when David dances undignified before the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant returns to its rightful place and people.
- 8-36 – Like Moses, Mary, Zechariah, and others, David has a song for the Lord to praise him for a specific situation but also uses that time to praise God for his overall goodness.
- 20 – This verse explains that God’s character and attributes are revealed through creation – aka we can know that he gives us new life when we see leaves reappear on trees in the spring, or we can see his power and majesty through the mountains, etc. This is an answer to many people who wonder about people who have never heard about God. They have seen him all around them.
- 22-23 – It is easier to worship the things we see, touch, and are familiar with. This is why the Israelites wanted some tangible thing, even just a golden calf, to convince themselves that there was a god to worship and take care of them.
- 24-27 – Four times in a row, Paul explains that people exchanged God’s perfect plan for something counterfeit. He explains that God gave the people over to the counterfeit thing they desired.
- 28-32 – Those who are not righteous not only practice these things that are listed, but they also encourage others to practice them as well.
- The psalmist seems to be describing someone who is wicked and sinning purposefully. And seemingly, it is someone who is sinning and wicked towards him. Though the judgment and request for punishment sounds harsh, we would probably feel the same way towards our true enemies.
- This is also the psalm of people who, in frustration, watch others get away with bad things.
- Once again we’re confronted with our bias towards wealth. Poor men tend to be left in a lurch by everyone where as people come out of the woodworks for someone with money or influence.
I hate negative consequences, don’t you? I like to try to skirt around them as much as possible even though I totally deserve them. The sailors in today’s Acts reading are like that. They sailed far later in the season than they should have and have now put themselves and others at risk. They’re trying to figure out any way to not face the music. I can relate.
1 Chronicles 9:1-10:14:
- 2 – After a long time in exile in Babylon, the Israelites were allowed to slowly return to their land.
- 17-27 – The position of gatekeeper was one of honor. It was passed down through generations. This position guarded the gates of the temple and the chief gatekeeper manned the gate the king would enter through.
- 39 – This is Saul, the first king of Israel. We know he was from the tribe of Benjamin so that’s the tribe we’re talking about now.
- 1-7 – This is the event that finally allows David to become king. We read about this previously in 1 Samuel.
- 30-32 – The sailors were desperate and wanted to save themselves thinking they would be better off without all the other ship passengers. Paul recognizes their attempt and explains that if they leave the rest of the passengers are doomed.
- 33-36 – Whether because they were too busy with managing the storm or because they wanted to conservatively ration in case they had to be on the boat a lot longer, the people hadn’t been given food for a while even though they had it.
- 38 – With a lighter load, the ship could sail closer to shore because it would float higher.
- David writes this Psalm seemingly overwhelmed and in awe of the majesty of God’s creation and the goodness he shows to us through it.
- This is encouragement to choose friends carefully. You can’t be best friends with everyone and it’s not wise to try.
Psalm 139 is a powerful one about how intimately God knows us and how purposefully he made each one of us. It is futile to attempt to run from him and why would we want to? He knew us before we were born and loved us before our parents knew we were on our way. Here is a modern interpretation of the psalm:
2 Kings 1:1-2:25:
- 2 – Reminder: Ahaziah is the king of Judah. It is obviously not good that he’s seeking advice from Baal-zebub.
- 3 – A little sass from Elijah – clearly God was present, but Ahaziah chooses to consult other gods.
- 8 – This is very similar to the outfit John the Baptist was described to have worn. John the Baptist was considered the second Elijah.
- 9-16 – The first two captains with soldiers the king sent were most likely intending to do Elijah harm, this is why he wants to have them killed. The third captain and soldiers come more peacefully.
- 8 – Very reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea.
- 11-12 – Elijah is the second person in the Old Testament who doesn’t die. Enoch was the first who was simply taken to heaven.
- 23-25 – Most commentaries explain this as the boys having such disrespect, as did all their people, for the prophet Elisha or anything else representative of God. Elisha’s curse was also representative of the fate of the rest of the people in the city who rejected God. All in all, this is a strange and disturbing passage.
- 44-47 – The Jews, who were jealous of Paul and Barnabas’ crowd, denounced what Paul was saying. Paul reminds them that Jesus came for them first but was rejected. The gentiles now had a shot.
- 1-7 – Though the readings have, at times, been misinterpreted as such, the Jews weren’t bad. Throughout Acts, many come to faith. Some of the Jewish religious leaders, however, did oppose Jesus’ mission and ministry and cause problems.
- A beautiful psalm explaining the depth to which God knows us. He knew us in our mother’s womb. He knows our movements and our thoughts.
- 23-24 – A powerful request for God to fully search your heart and take away the parts that don’t please him. A difficult prayer to pray, but the results would be life changing!
Today’s proverb paints a beautiful picture of the intricacy and wisdom with which God created the earth. As you read, picture what it’s describing in your mind.
- 15 – How had people become rich or poor since they all came out of slavery and all have been wandering in the desert? Possibly some had plundered the Egyptians more fiercely than others.
- 1-6 – Bezalel and Oholiab probably thought their talents were going to waste as they made bricks in Egypt and wandered in the desert, but God had a plan to use them.
- 16 – Keeping the Sabbath holy is resting and dedicating a day to only worship God.
- 51-54 – How often do we take matters into our own hands instead of trusting God’s plan for us?
- 59-64 – The religious leaders have been trying to trick Jesus into saying something they can arrest him for throughout his ministry. Jesus calling himself the Son of Man and referencing that he would sit at the right hand of Power seems to be enough.
- This is one of many Psalms where David references various ways God protects him. David was often at war and many nations were against Israel so it makes sense that he would relate to God in this way.
- God created the earth with wisdom – this makes sense because of the complex balance and intricacies in the environment.