OT: Ezekiel 44:1-45:12
Well, it really does seem like we are getting an update on the Law. I wonder why this new version never comes up in the NT, particularly in the gospels. Lots of times, they refer to the law of Moses. But not the law of Ezekiel. Granted, I don't have a good enough memory of Mosaic Law to know how much of this new stuff is repeat and how much is new. But I think the stuff about the sacred districts is new, as is everything that has to do with the temple.
The description of priestly attire in verse 44: 18 is interesting: "They are to wear linen turbans on their heads and linen undergarments around their waists. They must not wear anything that makes them perspire." I don't know that any mention of this was in the Mosaic Law (and I'm too tired to look it up right now), but my preacher preached an interesting sermon around this verse. He theorized that the idea behind this command was that God did not want the priests to be all sweaty, causing people to stop and say, "Wow, look how hard they are working." If that happened, it would take the focus off God and onto the priests themselves. And when the focus was on the workers, it distracted from the Lord. The application was that, as workers for God, people should not see us "sweat." Whenever we mention what we are doing for God, or draw attention to how hard we are working, we are taking the focus off God and putting it onto our own efforts. I thought that was an interesting theory behind and application to this verse.
NT: 1 Peter 1: 1-12
We've moved on to the next book, which is yet another reminder that we are on the home stretch.
According to the intro, the author is Peter, and the audience is the persecuted and scattered church. Peter's purpose in this first section seems to be to give some much needed encouragement to the beleaguered Christians. He starts by reminding them of all the good stuff that comes with following God:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade..."(3-4a).
As Christians, we have been born into a new life, full of the hope of eternal life. And that was good for these guys to hear, b/c of all they were going through. Peter even puts a positive spin on all that:
"In this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (6-7).
Peter emphasizes the short duration of the trial ("a little while"), as well as all the good that is going to come from these trials (refinement of faith; praise, glory, and honor).
He also points out how these early Christians enjoy a privileged position in the grand narrative of God's relationship with man. Unlike the prophets who came before them, they have knowledge of the Christ.
I liked how the psalmist referred to himself as "a stranger on earth" (19), b/c that designation is what Peter gave to his audience. He called them "strangers in the world" (2).
I also love verse 32:
"I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free."
Three proverbs against corruption. The first speaks out against collecting exorbitant interest. The second is against ignoring the law. The third warns against leading others astray.