Today’s readings.. (2 kings 11), (2 Kings 12), (Ezekiel 2), (2 Corinthians 8), (2 Corinthians 9)

Yesterday we started reading the book of Ezekiel.  He is a priest (1 v.3) and is with those taken into captivity and placed by the Babylonians “by the Chebar canal” [v,3].  Jerusalem and the Temple have not yet been destroyed, indeed we calculate from the dates given, that its’ destruction is still about 18 years in the future.  Those in captivity with Ezekiel are setting their hopes on being able to return to their homeland.
Ezekiel’ s initial commission after seeing the Divine visions recorded in ch. 1 is, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me.  They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” [2 v.3-5]
It is evident that these captives had no sense of being in awe of the LORD. God’s message through Ezekiel is the very opposite of what, from a human point of view, is a good message – and the Bible’s message for the world today – as to its’ immediate future – is the very opposite of a  good message.  It seems fitting to describe the vast majority today as being “ignorant and stupid” or as ‘The Message’ Bible puts it, “hardened in their sin” – but we have a responsibility to give a message so that “they will know” what God’s word plainly predicts.
Then the LORD addresses Ezekiel personally, “Be not afraid of their words, be not dismayed … for they are rebellious … but you … Be not rebellious …. open your mouth …” [v.6,8] and he is given a scroll “… and there were on it …“words of lamentation and mourning and woe.” [v.10]  The burden of Ezekiel’s message, in the first half of his book is very similar to that of Jeremiah, both were giving God’s message at the same time, but in different locations.
We must be the very opposite of being rebellious.  May it be true of us as was now happening in Corinth; Paul is rejoicing at their renewed spirit. We read today his joy for  “… you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness …” [2 Cor. 8 v.7]  The believers there were showing their great love for their Lord and for Paul by the ready financial support for those in trouble.  It was not a matter of tithing as some practice today – without any Scriptural warrant, for tithing was practised only under the law of Moses; but the believers, writes Paul, “…gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints” [v.3,4]  May we be so motivated to give from what we are blessed to possess – and that includes our time – in serving the Lord.

 

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