OT: Ezekiel 31:1-32:32
Ezekiel's prophecies against Egypt continue today with three new installments. I thought it was interesting that the second one was called a lament (32:2), and in the third one, God instructs Ezekiel to "wail for the hordes of Egypt." All this destruction, though from God, is portrayed as a tragedy. In the first prophecy (chapter 31), a lot is made of Egypt's grandeur, and it would seem that the tragedy of this great kingdom was that they put themselves above God. In verse 10, God says, "Because it towered on high, lifting its top above the thick foliage, and because it was proud of its height, I handed it over to the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness" (10-11). In chapter 32, its fate is compared to that of Assyria, another grand nation that apparently got too big for its britches.
Another interesting fact that the last prophecy brings up is the terror that Egypt and Assyria caused (32:23, 24, 25, 26, 27). Several of these verses seem to indicate that their terror-spreading is one of the factors that led to their punishment. For example, verse 25 says, "Because their terror had spread in the land of the living, they bear their shame with those who go down to the pit; they are laid among the slain." But then, verse 32 brings up a point that had already occurred to me, namely that God "had [Pharoah] spread terror int he land of the living." So I'm not sure if the terror-spreading is listed as a reason or as an irony. There's more going on in this section--several different refrains, and a particularly enigmatic verse 32:31--but I don't have the mental energy or the insight to explore right now.
NT: Hebrews 12:14-29
This section contrasts the old and new covenants in ways that are alternately comforting and challenging. Verses 18-24 are comforting b/c they contrast the fear and mystery that surrounded God in the old covenant with the joy and accessibility that are characteristic of Him in the new covenant. To make this point, the Hebrew author contrasts the stormy and stern Mt. Sinai with the joyful and crowded Mt. Zion.
In verses 25-27, however, the writer points out that, given our immense accessibility to God, we have no excuse to turn our backs on Him. After all, "if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?" (25). I'm wondering if the person who "warned them on earth" was their particular priest and prophet, b/c the one who warns from heaven seems to be Jesus, who is specifically described in verse 24. Regardless, these verses definitely induce some fear of God, but in a good way.
I like the picture of God's kingdom in verse 28. It is called "a kingdom that cannot be shaken." As a person who craves stability, I love that image.
All I can say about these praise psalms was that I was really amused by the image of "mountains [that] skipped like rams" (14:4). I definitely pictured that one, and it made me smile.
Prov. 27: 18-20
You reap what you sow; your heart is the source of your identity; and your eyes are never satisfied.